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Presuppositions of Science

By Philip Carlson

Often I am told that science should be the ultimate arbitrator of truth. While it would be nice if this were true it just does not hold up under scrutiny. Science would need to be the final authority on all matters and while that might be a nice thought, it can’t stand under its own weight.

Presuppositions of Science

We should believe only what can be scientifically proven. But is such a statement provable scientifically? What of these other ideas that seem inaccessible by science? Statements such as, “She is beautiful,” “That is wrong,” “Abortion is evil,” “Red is a color,” “One is an odd number” and the like.It is clear that many issues would need to be explored to further vet this idea known as scientism. One of these areas involves the many presuppositions of science itself. How can something claimed to be the sole arbitrator of truth; the only source of knowledge, depend on anything else?

It is easily seen that if P is a presupposition of Q, then P is fundamental for Q, that is, P is a necessary condition for Q. If one is to abandon P, then he must also abandon Q. What are the P of science? It seems that there must exist some presuppositions for science (if you are a scientific realist) to operate.

John Kekes states in his Nature of Philosophy,

“Science is committed to several presuppositions: that nature exists, that it has discoverable order, that it is uniform, are existential presuppositions of science; the distinctions between space and time, cause and effect, the observer and the observed, real and apparent, orderly and chaotic, are classificatory presuppositions; while intersubjective testability, quantifibility, the public availability of data, are methodological presuppositions; some aaxiological presuppositions are the honest reporting of results, the worthwhileness of getting the facts right, and scrupulousness in avoiding observational or experimental error. If any one of these presuppositions were abandoned, science, as we know it, could not be done. Yet the acceptance of the presuppositions cannot be a matter of course, for each has been challenged and alternatives are readily available.”(1)

He makes a good case here as to the failure of scientism. If there are definite things that must be in place for science to hold then those things must be yet more fundamental and foundational to what truth is. Many say that we should go to peer reviewed scientific journals to find reliable true statements about how the world is. This statement assumes the honesty of those reporting the results. This is an assumption that should not be taken for granted as the number of retractions, plagiarism and even criminal prosecutions are seemingly ever apparent for out right fraud on the authors behalf.

There are additional philosophical presuppositions that must be held for science to be done. J. P. Moreland gives a decent list of these presuppositions of science in a number of his works.(2-4) He lists (2) at least ten:

1. The existence of a theory-independent, external world
2. The orderly nature of the external world
3. the knowability of the external world
4. The existence of truth
5. The laws of logic
6. The reliability of our cognitive and sensory faculties to serve as truth-gatherers and as a source of justified beliefs in our intellectual environment
7. The adequacy of language to describe the world
8. The existence of values used in science
9. The uniformity of nature and induction
10. The existence of numbers

Each of these serves as a foundation to carrying out science as it is typically thought of. These ideas must be established and argued about before science can be wrought. (At least they must be assumed implicitly.) The consistency and coherence of these presuppositions depend on the worldview of the holder. It is very difficult for an atheist to posit a number of these things in any consistent manner, yet he is likely the one to be putting forth this view (or a version of it).

An entire book could be written about each of these ten items. There are so many positions held, and nuances of position to be explained that to do so in any exhaustive manner would use up more time than one would undoubtedly wish to devote to this topic. We will look over these presuppositions in more detail as well as associated ideas about how science relates to Christianity in general over the next few posts. Rest assured that science will continue to be carried out while we look over the finer debated details of how it is performed.

 

This blog post was originally published on the CAA website. Visit the CAA here.

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(1) Kekes, John; “Nature of Philosophy” (Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1980) pp.156-157
(2) Moreland, J. P.; “The Creation Hypothesis” (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1994) p. 17
(3) Moreland, J. P.; Craig, William Lane; “Philosophical foundations for a Christian worldview” (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2003) pp. 346-366
(4) Moreland, J. P.; “Christianity and the Nature of Science” (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1989)

Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America

If I began this post by asserting, “I can’t write a word of English,” you’d probably recognize the contradiction. My sentence betrays its own claim, doesn’t it? Such is the nature of self-refuting statements. Wikipedia describes such utterances as “statements whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act or situation of holding them to be true.” You might be surprised how often people are prone to saying something that is self-refuting, but there are number of common statements we hear (or use) every day that fall into this category:

“Don’t bother me, I am asleep right now”
“I’m not going to respond to that”
“I can’t talk to you right now”

There are times when our words collapse under their own weight. As I train university aged Christians around the country and listen carefully to their common college experiences, I’ve started to collect some of the more popular self-refuting statements uttered by college professors. Here are the top four:

“There is no objective truth” / “Objective truth does not exist”
Perhaps the most obviously self-refuting, this claim (or something similar to it) is still uttered in many university settings according to the students I train. Like all self-refuting claims, it can be cross-checked by simply turning the statement on itself. By asking, “Is that statement objectively true?” we can quickly see that the person making the claim believes in at least one objective truth: that there is no objective truth. See the problem?

Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America

“If objective truth does exist, no one could ever know with confidence what it is” / “It’s arrogant to assume you know the truth with certainty”
Once again, the professor who makes such a claim appears to be confident and certain of one truth: that no one can be confident or certain of the truth! The statement falls on its own sword the moment it is uttered.

“Science is the only way to determine truth” / “I only trust things I can determine through a scientific process”
University students report this statement often, and it may take a little more thought to recognize as self-refuting. When a professor makes this claim, we simply need to ask, “Can science determine if that statement (about science) is true?” or “What scientific experiment provided that conclusion for you?” It turns out that there is no scientific process or procedure can be employed to validate this claim. It is a presumptive philosophical statement that is outside the analysis of science.

“It’s intolerant to presume that your view is better than someone else’s’” / “Tolerance requires us to accept all views equally”
An even more hidden self-refuting statement lurks here in this common errant definition of tolerance. Folks who hold to this corrupted view say they accept all views as equally true. But if you make the claim that some ideas are patently false and have less value than others, they will quickly reject your statement. In other words, they will accept any view as equally valuable except your claim that some views are not equally valuable. See the inconsistency? People who embrace this definition of tolerance cannot consistently implement their own view of tolerance.

This last claim related to tolerance may be the future battleground of self-refutation. Most of us, as Christians, recognize this assertion and have been accused of intolerance at one time or another. The exclusive claims of Christianity related to salvation (through faith in Christ alone) place us in the bulls-eye for such criticism. In my next post, I’ll examine the true nature of tolerance as we help each other navigate the concept and learn to defend the classic definition.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianityand God’s Crime Scene.

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Can Evolution Account for Rationality?

By Tim Stratton

The topic of my master’s thesis while at Biola University focused on what it means to genuinely be a “freethinker.” This argument — called the Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism — deductively proves that not only does libertarian free will exist, but so does the human soul. If the human soul exists, then the worldview of naturalism goes down the drain.

This has led many who hold a blind faith in naturalism to bend over backwards attempting to refute my argument that concludes their faith is faulty. Some attempt to counter my case by stating evolutionary theory can account for rationality. Can evolution refute the Freethinking Argument? No. The only way evolution could account for rationality is if it could account for libertarian free will (as I explained here). But, the reason most naturalistic scientists reject the notion of libertarian free will is because if all that exists is nature, then everything is determined by the laws of nature.

The well-known atheist, Daniel Dennett, on the other hand, has tried to make a case that “freedom evolves.”[1] However, we must recognize that this “freedom” Dennett argues for is not the same kind of freedom I discuss in my Freethinking Argument. It is not genuine libertarian free will; rather, he argues for compatibilism, which is simply faux determinism “covered with frosting!” The famous atheist and evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, has realized Dennett’s mistakes and has forcefully disagreed with him:

Where does Dennett find freedom in a determined world? As his title implies, in evolution. . . .  Even though evolution tells us why we make certain “choices,” they still are not choices in the classical free-will sense: situations in which we could have decided otherwise. . . . In the end, I saw (Dennett’s) argument as a type of philosophical prestidigitation, in which our intuitive notion of free will had suddenly been replaced by something that, at first, sounded good, but ultimately didn’t comport with how we see “free” choice.  I felt as though I’d been presented with a cake, only to find that it was hollow in the middle, like a hatbox covered with frosting. . . . I see free will as the way most of us conceive of it: a situation in which one could have made more than one choice. If that’s how you see it, and you’re a determinist—which I think you pretty much have to be if you accept science—then you’re doomed.  You’re left with the task of defining free will in some other way that comports with determinism. . . . we aren’t really responsible for anything we do.[2]

 

Coyne appears correct: if naturalism is true, we are simply not responsible for anything we do. It logically follows that we would not even be responsible for any of our thoughts and beliefs. However, this also means that Coyne was not responsible for his beliefs that he was forced to state in response to Dennett. Similarly, Coyne should not be aggravated at Dennett’s argument, because he could not help thinking about or writing it in a determined world. It simply was not his fault.[3]

The FreeThinking Theist,

Tim Stratton

 

For more articles like: Can Evolution Account for Rationality? visit Tim’s site at FreeThinkingMinistries.com


 

NOTES

[1] Daniel C. Dennett, “Freedom Evolves” Penguin Books, London England, 2003

[2] Jerry Coyne, “Did Freedom Evolve?” http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/did-freedom-evolve/ (Accessed 8-30-14)

[3] Peter van Inwagen logically demonstrates that there is nothing “free” about compatibilism via his “Consequence Argument.”  An Essay on Free Will(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 16.

Rule Alpha: There is nothing anyone can do to change what must be the case (or what is necessarily so).

Rule Beta: If there is nothing anyone can do to change X, and nothing anyone can do to change the fact that Y is a necessary consequence of X, then there is nothing anyone can do to change Y either.

The Forbidden Fruit of Atheism; What question they cannot ask?

By Billy Dyer

When God created man he gave us free-will. He did this so that He could have genuine children who loved Him. For love by its very nature has to be freely given and freely received. Therefore, He had to give mankind some kind of law so that they could choose to love Him or disobey Him. The Devil tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. He attacked on three levels:

  1. God’s Word–“Indeed, has God said”
  2. God’s Character–The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”
  3. God’s Goodness–“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We all know the story. Eve ate and gave some to her husband and he ate of it. That was the only thing God forbade them to do. So the moral of the story is to eat more bacon because fruit can ruin the world…..ok just kidding!

Today we use the phrase “forbidden fruit” as a metaphor for an object of desire whose appeal results from knowledge that it should not be obtained. Admittedly, the common human experience is that we all are tempted with our own forbidden fruit. But I’d like to suggest that Atheism, as a worldview, has a common forbidden fruit and that is asking the question, “Why?”.

Atheist don’t like to ask that question for two reasons.

  1. They’d rather state their view then have to defend it
  2. There is no why

As to the first reason I understand it is a general statement and not all atheists are like this. But when you do not have evidence to support your worldview it is a lot more comfortable to simply assert your belief than defend it. As to the second view I believe the atheists can speak for themselves.

Richard Dawkins said, “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (River Out of Eden) We see here that there is no rhyme or reason to atheism. We just are in this sort of universe. If we ask “why” the answer is “just because” or “there isn’t a why”. When we begin to examine this thought it is very disturbing. It is like there is something inside of us screaming that this is wrong but we don’t necessarily know why. The Bible on the other hand says that God has set eternity on our hearts (Ecc 3:11). There is something hard-wired within us, by God, that longs for something more than this world. We intuitively know we are different. That is why all humans across the board, regardless of the answers they decide on, struggle with the questions, “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?”.

Dawkins goes on to say, “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” (River Out of Eden). I always laugh at statements like this because they are so self-refuting and the authors who say them don’t even live by them. Let us think about this for a second. If we are really just dancing to the music of DNA then that means we are like a soda can that is simply fizzing because we were opened. We didn’t decide to fiz and we don’t even know that we are fizzing. We simply fiz as a chemical reaction. If this is the case then why try to convince me of it since I don’t even have the ability to change my mind? In fact, according to Dawkins’ view, I believe what I do about God as a chemical reaction. These atheists can’t even live by their worldview. If we are all simply reacting to chemicals in our brains without abilities to make conscious decisions then why ask me to make a conscious decision to change my worldview and accept yours?

Christians are commanded to ask questions and seek (Lk 11:9; Prov 1:2, 4:7, 23:23, et al.) for answers. There is no fear with the truth. We have the truth on our side. Our interpretations may change but the Word of God is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, I have no problem asking the question “why” or any other question about Christianity. Every time I’ve questioned my faith it has led me to a deeper understanding of God and a stronger faith. There are good answers out there it is just a matter of whether you want to do your homework to find them. What questions do you have about Christianity or your faith right now?

Visit Billy’s website: Dyerthoughts.com 

Billy Dyer is a CrossExamined Instructor Academy Graduate.


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8 Ways that Anti-Intellectualism is Harming the Church

By Brian Chilton 

When asked to identify the greatest commandment in all of the Law, Jesus answered the inquiry by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command” (Matthew 22:37-38).[1] It seems that one aspect of this commandment has eluded the modern church. Yes, the church notes the great need to love the Lord with the heart, that is the will and emotions. The modern American church also focuses on the love that one must hold for God with one’s soul, that is, one’s conscious being (life). However, the third aspect of the great commandment seems to have escaped the modern American church. The Christian is also commanded to love the Lord with his or her mind. Extreme fideism (believing that the Christian life is only about faith without reason) has led the church into a state known as anti-intellectualism. Anti-intellectualism is defined as the state of “opposing or [being] hostile to intellectuals or to an intellectual view or approach” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In this case, the intellectual approach is the intellectual approach to the Christian faith. Anti-intellectualism not only hinders one from keeping the great commandment, but such an attitude is also damaging to the church. This article will present eight ways that anti-intellectualism harms the church.

1. Anti-intellectualism harms the church theologically.

By theologically, I simply indicate how the church views God. Dr. Daniel Mitchell, one of my theology professors from Liberty University, once said, “The more you study God, the bigger God becomes.” His statement proved true. So often, anti-intellectuals limit their scope of God. Because anti-intellectuals fail to examine, research, and contemplate, they miss out on the vast nature of God. While the Christian may understand the basic fundamentals of God’s omniscience and omnipotence, one who allows oneself to contemplate and study these attributes of God will be left in great awe of the greatness of God Almighty. We love God with our minds when we study God. “Search for the LORD and for His strength; seek His face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11).

 2. Anti-intellectualism harms the church doctrinally.

By doctrinally, I simply indicate how the church views God’s interactions with humanity. How does the church view salvation? How does the church view humanity? The modern church has allowed pop culture to dictate these issues according to social fads and the like. The anti-intellectual will relish in having loads of moving music, will jump with excitement with the latest form of entertainment, but will be left with no basis for examining whether such songs and activities fit within the parameters of orthodoxy. So often, modern Christians leave their churches feeling great excitement, yet are left without any solid foundation for knowing what the church stands for and why it stands for certain things. Issues of salvation have become universalized, issues of eternity have been compromised, and issues concerning humanity have been radicalized because many modern Christians fail to love the Lord with their minds.

 3. Anti-intellectualism harms the church apologetically.

Those who know my testimony knows that I left the ministry for seven years and nearly became an agnostic. Why? My faith was shaken by the Jesus Seminar. When I asked Christian leaders why it was that I could trust the Bible, they responded by saying such things as, “Because it’s the Bible;” “the Bible says we should believe the Bible;” and “you shouldn’t ask such things!” It wasn’t until I came across the works of Christian apologists like Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, and many others that I began to realize that there were good reasons for why I should believe the Bible. Many of those evidences came from outside of the Bible (e.g. archaeology, manuscript evidence, and et. cetera). Had I been given this information earlier, I would not have left the ministry. Anti-intellectualism is killing the church today because we are left with no defense from the attacks arising from secularists and the like. We must remember that we are instructed to “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). To do otherwise is to neglect the love that we have for God with the mind.

4. Anti-intellectualism harms the church emotionally.

The fourth statement may sound counter-intuitive. Often when a case is made for intellectual Christianity, emotionalism is invalidated. However, emotions are important for human beings. Yet, emotions can lead us astray. Anti-intellectualism, such as is found in movements like the prosperity gospel and the like often lead to far more emotional damage than intellectual Christianity. A proper understanding of theodicy, suffering, and the problem of evil will help the believer in times of great distress. Proponents of anti-intellectualism are far less equipped to deal with times of tragedy than those who have a solid understanding of such topics. In fact, I have personally witnessed pastors who advocated anti-intellectualism fall into times of far greater distress and doubt when they are met with times of suffering and stress. Their doubt and stress is at a far greater degree than those who are grounded with an intellectual faith. An intellectual faith grounds the emotions and demonstrates how a person can love God with the mind.

5. Anti-intellectualism harms the church philosophically.

Philosophy and theology are intertwined to some degree. Theology is a branch of philosophy. Philosophy, simply put, is “a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology” (Merriam-Webster), or the “pursuit of wisdom” (Merriam-Webster). How do we see the world? How do we see society? What is the meaning of life? These are questions that everyone must answer. Different people come to differing conclusions. In a culture where every opinion is held to equal value, it is important that the believer understands such concepts as truth, logic, and value. Otherwise, the believer will be led by everything thrown their direction or, in contrast, oppose everything that may have some value. Some oppose philosophy because of Paul’s statement to the Colossians saying, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition” (Colossians 2:8). A closer examination of Paul’s statement will reveal that Paul is not dismissing philosophy, but rather Paul is dismissing bad philosophy. In addition, Paul’s statement on philosophy is a philosophical statement. Thus, it would seem that quite the opposite is being promoted by Paul. One should not avoid philosophy. One should avoid bad philosophy. How does one know bad philosophy? They know bad philosophy because they know good philosophy. Possessing good philosophy is another way that the church loves God with the mind.

6. Anti-intellectualism harms the church socially.

It seems that many are led more by politics rather than their religious convictions. The opposite should surely be the case. When one allows political parties and nationalistic fervor to dictate their beliefs, one may well be found favorable among the populace while being very unpopular with God. Anti-intellectual Christians will find themselves more easily swayed by the great influence of politics. The intellectual Christian, one grounded in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, will understand the great value of all lives despite race, nationality, or gender. Intellectual faith remembers and realizes the truthfulness of Paul’s statement in that “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). When intellectual faith realizes and actualizes Paul’s statement, then one will truly love God with the mind…and will be moved to love their neighbors as themselves.

7. Anti-intellectualism harms the church evangelistically.

While in prison Paul wrote that “what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advance of the gospel…I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12, 16). How would Paul have been able to know how to defend the gospel if he did not know why one should believe the gospel? Many anti-intellectuals hold a limited if not unbiblical view of faith. Anti-intellectuals often consider faith to be the acceptance for which no evidence exists. Or, some may view faith as simply an emotional crutch. Faith is not demonstrated in such a way in the Bible. For instance, consider Jesus’ use of miracles. Jesus did not ask for blind faith. Jesus would back up his claims with a demonstration of power. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5) and then provided the light of physical sight to the man at the pool of Siloam. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus told Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus) as well as everyone else “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live” (John 11:25). Bold words to say at a man’s tomb, don’t you think? Yet, Jesus demonstrated that he was the resurrection and the life by raising Lazarus back to life. Jesus backed up his claims. It behooves the modern Christian to know the evidences for the faith. This will provide great strength to one’s evangelistic efforts. Know what you believe, know why you believe what you do, and know the One in whom you are believing, so that you can tell others about the One you serve. Doing such demonstrates a love for God with the mind.

8. Anti-intellectualism harms the church spiritually.

Finally, anti-intellectualism harms the church spiritually. How one might ask? Anti-intellectualism harms the church spiritually in many ways. I will list only two for the purpose of this article. 1) It harms one’s view of salvation. Some have added to or taken away from the gospel message because of an unexamined view of salvation from the Bible. False professions have been made without understanding the submission required for salvation, that is to say one’s submission to Christ as the Lord of one’s life. 2) It harms one’s spiritual walk. Sometimes anti-intellectuals will allow things into their lives which should not be present. When confronted, the person will say, “I have faith and that is all that matters.” Such a view stems from a bad interpretation of faith. If a person had studied their Bibles, researched passages, and held a true love of learning about God, then one would be willing to submit themselves to God fully and completely. Perhaps some of the problems of integrity in the modern church stems from the laziness which is so boldly exhibited in the anti-intellectual movement. Such can be protected at least to some degree by loving God with the mind.

Conclusion

Socrates is noted as saying that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates is right. However, one could stretch the philosopher’s statement in saying that “an unexamined faith is not worth having.” Biblical faith is enmeshed with reason. We should know why we believe in God and why we believe in Christ. If one simply accepts Christ because their family or friends did, is their faith truly legitimate? The Christian should not be afraid of loving God with the mind. One need not leave their brain at the door of faith. In fact, reason and faith are complementary because we serve a real God who provides a real trust. Anti-intellectualism is harmful for the church. It is a trend that must be reversed. Charles Bugg puts it best in saying,

“There is no excuse for preaching that requires people to leave their head outside the church. In the Great Commandment, Jesus taught His disciples to love God with all of their mind, heart, and soul. Some preachers make their living by attacking education or by riding the horse of anti-intellectualism. The result is a kind of demagoguery that creates unwarranted suspicion toward education. Ministers need to use the minds God has given them and to love God with all of that mind. Likewise, they need to call their listeners to love God with all of their minds” (Bugg 1992, 125-126).

Sources Cited:

Bugg, Charles B. Preaching from the Inside Out. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992.

Mish, Frederick C. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.

 Click here to see the source site of this article

© August 24, 2015. Brian Chilton.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted in this article comes from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).

Is Belief In God A Rational Position?

By Ryan Pauly

Is it a rational position to believe that there is an all-powerful God who created the world and gives us purpose? This question has become the topic of many debates over the years. One of the reasons is because its answer has eternal significance. “The existence of a personal, moral God is fundamental to all that Christians believe.”[1]Without a foundation in God, Christianity would crumble to the ground. Without God, man would just be an accident; a result of matter coming together and changing over time. This would create random accidental beings, and there would be no meaning, value or purpose.[2] However, with God, we have meaning, value, purpose, and answers to many questions. But is this a rational position?

Rather than looking at personal likes and dislikes, we need objective arguments based in logic to help us understand if belief in God is rational. To just say, “I feel” or “I think” is not enough. There have been four basic arguments that have been used over the years to prove God’s existence, three of which will be covered here. These are arguments from creation (cosmological), design (teleological), and moral law (axiological). With these arguments we should be able to give a logical and objective approach to see if God’s existence is rational.

1. The Argument Based On Creation

The first argument comes from creation and is called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It states that whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist; therefore, the universe has a cause. The first premise shows to be true because it is clear that whatever begins to exist has a cause. We don’t see things coming into existence every day. Are you able to give an example of anything that came into existence from nothing and without a cause? The second premise stating that the universe had a beginning is supported by philosophy and science. Science and philosophy give us strong evidence that the universe cannot be eternal and has to have a starting point. One scientific example is the 2nd law of thermodynamics. It states that the universe is running out of usable energy. “If the universe is running out of energy, and it has been here infinitely long, it would have run out of its energy infinitely long ago.”[3] Based on the first two premises, the conclusion follows that the universe has a cause. Whatever this first cause was had to be spaceless, timeless, uncaused, all powerful and immaterial. That sounds a lot like God.

2. The Argument Based On Design

The cosmological argument open the door for a rational belief in God, and when added, the second argument strengthens our case for a rational belief in God. The second argument is based on design and is the teleological argument. The design argument deals with the presence of order in the universe. This order can be explained by either scientific laws or personal explanations.[4] Scientific laws explain things like the law of gravity or the laws of motion. Personal explanations describe things like ability, intention, or order. For example, there is no scientific law explaining why your phone is lying next to your computer. It is only the person who put the phone there that can explain why he/she did that.

One thing that all of these scientific laws and personal explanations show us is that there is order in the universe. The universe has been so finely tuned that the slightest change would create a disaster. Science has discovered this delicate balance over the last 25-30 years.[5] For example, if the mass of a proton changed in the slightest, there would be no possibility for life. These numbers are so finely tuned that there has to be an intelligent designer. In the same way that a building has an architect, a painting has a painter, a computer program has a programmer, and a code has an encoder, the universe has to have an intelligent designer to explain its order and intricacy.

One scientific finding that has caused problems for many atheists is the information stored in DNA. “Even atheist Richard Dawkins, in his book Blind Watchmaker, admits that the DNA information in a single-cell animal equals that in a thousand sets of an encyclopedia!”[6] It is hard to believe that someone would stumble across a thousand sets of an encyclopedia and think that they just randomly appeared out of pure chance. One scientist figured that the odds for this type of a single-cell organism to form by chance are 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power, and it is infinitely more complex for a human being to emerge by chance.[7] All of this shows that science does not disprove the existence of God but that the rational explanation is that there has to be an intelligent being that created and designed our highly ordered DNA.

3. The Argument Based On Moral Values

We have seen the need for a cause and an intelligent designer, so now let’s see if we need a moral law giver. The first thing to realize is that there really is right and wrong and everyone expects others to follow that moral code. These objective moral laws don’t show us what is, but what ought to be.[8] Unless you are in a position of authority, you cannot tell someone they ought to do something. You could possibly say you think they should or you think it would be better, but this turns into subjective morality. In order for there to be objective moral values for all people at all times, we need someone in an objective position of authority. Even governments can’t be this authority because then each government would create its own morality and everything would return back to being subjective. The only way to explain objective moral laws is to have an objective moral law giver, God.

It is also interesting that in order to deny moral absolutes; you have to make an absolute denial.[9] It is very hard and sometimes even impossible to hold to the point that there are no objective morals. As soon as someone does something you don’t like and you tell them that they shouldn’t do it, you are making a moral statement. You are claiming that there are objective morals and we ought to obey them. Any time someone claims there is evil in the world or that the world is unjust, they are affirming objective morality. So in fact, the attempt to deny the existence of God by using evil in the world actually confirms his existence. Without God there would be no right or wrong, just different decisions. It is easy to claim relativism and say there are no objective moral laws, but it is nearly impossible to live it. “A moral atheist is like someone sitting down to dinner who doesn’t believe in farmers, ranchers, fishermen, or cooks. She believes the food just appears, with no explanation and no sufficient cause.”[10]

These three arguments combined show us the need we have for a cause, an intelligent designer, and a moral law giver. There is no possible way that our universe could begin to exist, be intricately designed, and have objective moral laws without God. These scientific and philosophical arguments make a very strong case that belief in God is a rational position. The odds of having what we have without God would be too large to count. Even if life could be possible, without God it would be meaningless. The best explanation for all of the evidence that we have is that there really is a God and therefore it is a rational position to believe that God exists.

 

Ryan Pauly is a CrossExamined Instructor Academy Graduate.

Original Source For This Article: Is Belief In God A Rational Position?


 

[1] Norman Geisler, When Skeptics Ask (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013) 9

[2] William Lane Craig. “The Absurdity of Life Without God.” Lecture

[3] J.P. Moreland, “Arguments for the existence of God.” Lecture

[4] J.P. Moreland, “Arguments for the Existence of God.” Lecture

[5] J.P. Moreland, “Arguments for the Existence of God.” Lecture

[6] Geisler 15

[7] Geisler 16

[8] Geisler 16

[9] Geisler 287

[10] Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998) 168