Diversion Pole and Dilemma Pole

“If the logic of God’s truth pulls in one direction and the logic of unbelief pulls in the opposite direction, unbelief will never face the full logic of either. Both destinations would be unthinkable, though for entirely different reasons, as both would mean the end of unbelief. The logic of God’s truth would lead to God, and the logic of unbelief would lead to disaster. Unbelief therefore lives in tension between the two worlds. As Francis’s Schaeffer pointed out (and his whole apologetics turned on this point), ‘The more logical a non-Christian is to his own presuppositions, the further he is from the real world; and the nearer he is to the real world, the more illogical he is to his presuppositions.’

There are therefore two poles in the unbelieving mind and heart, which I call the ‘dilemma pole’ and the ‘diversion pole.’ The dilemma pole expresses the logic of the fact that the more consistent people are to their own view of reality, the less close they are to God’s reality and the more likely they are to feel their dilemma. The diversion pole expresses the fact the less consistent people are to their own view of reality, the closer they are to God’s reality, so the more they must find a diversion. Neither pole is necessarily closer to God, because unbelief as unbelief will not bow to God either way, but the people at either pole are relating to God and to their own claims to truth in entirely different ways.

Expressed like that, it is obviously that most people would prefer to be closer to the inconsistency but comfort of the diversion pole, rather than to the courage and consistency but discomfort of the dilemma pole. In other words, most would prefer to live as if God were there, with all the benefits that makes possible, even though they deny God in both theory and practice. The reverse is harder to carry off, and for that reason it is also rarer.”

(Guiness, Fool’s Talk, 96)

Apologetic Dialogue on Laws of Logic

Apologetic dialogue on laws of logic here 

A:What I fail to see is if laws of logic are “universal, unchanging, and necessary,” how do you get to those laws by saying “God did it”? If these laws are such, then God cannot create them. God can only conform to them himself, just like everybody else, if they are actually “unchanging and necessary,” so hypothesizing a God doesn’t help. No entity can create something that is necessary—that’s what makes it necessary. The premise that logic must be “universal, unchanging, and necessary” might be a correct premise, but you can’t get to any God from that. Or at least, I don’t see how you could.

B:Your evaluation and question is really good! I have wondered about the exact same thing. I think there are two possibilities: 1. God CAN only conform to universal laws of logic. The fact that these laws exist does not prove a God, but it does force us to consider and respect their authority which far exceeds human limitations. The fact that God exists, under this scenario, grant confidence that we can rely on truth and comfort to us as humans. 2. Clearly humans have limitations in both physical ability and mental comprehension. The second possibility is that a universal, unchanging, and necessary God who has a defined character of being consistent and rational created and set forth the laws of logic which humans recognize and respect. The laws of logic we know about may even be secondary to higher, more advanced laws of logic which are beyond our comprehensive faculty. Whichever way it is, the fact that God exists, creates a guarantee that we can rely on the authority of truth and logic.

A: I’m not sure I understand what “relying on the authority of truth and logic” means. Nor do I understand what you mean when you say “it does force us to consider and respect their authority which far exceeds human limitations.”

Why is trust in an authority even relevant? “2+2=4” doesn’t require trust or faith or authority to be consistent. Mathematically, we can prove that it is consistent—no trust is needed.

And your second point is just a restatement of what my original comment doubted. I don’t see it as a candidate possibility, for the reasons I’ve already described. You are just supposing a need for a god, when you describe logic and conform to it just fine without ever appealing to the notion of a deity. In the question of whether 1=1, I don’t see any need to insert God into that question—and moreover, saying “well, because God said so” doesn’t make sense of why 1=1. In the pursuit of logic, I see little practical value in bringing up God at all.

B: When we prove 2+2=4 mathematically, we are relying on the authority of mathematics. We are saying it has the capacity to prove a numerical equality. That is what I am saying about logic. We can only expect another individual to honor our appeal to logic, if logic is something that is outside us. Otherwise, the other person can simply dismiss it as our individual subjective preference. For example, we can only legitimately hold someone accountable for a crime if the “wrongness” of that crime is something that we are both subject to. Otherwise, the other person can say “I believe I had the right to break into Walt’s house so how dare you arrest me.” and the police should just let him go on stealing because they have no reliable basis to stop him.

I will try to clarify what I am saying in the second scenario: On a basic level, it is at least a theoretical possibility that God established laws of logic to allow for civil society among humanity to be possible. In our frame of reference – which I think everyone would admit is limited – we do not definitively know how God could establish truth and logic as universal and unchanging, but it is at least an internally consistent, plausible answer.

A scientific example which I think is helpful (it is for me at least) is Einstein and his research in quantum physics. Originally he hypothesized that all light behaved as a wave, but could not reconcile that with the discrete, packets of light discovered during his famous experiments. Therefore, he was lead to change his views and say that light can behaves both as a wave and a particle. Humanity has still not acquired a full understanding of the nature of light. Going back to truth and logic, we do not have a mechanism to prove the origin of a non-material concept like logic. We can not prove with absolutely deductive certainty that a God beyond human comprehension was the originator of logic apart from any previously excepted premises and have everyone accept our proof. It is a comprehensive, internally consistent answer though and if you do not accept it, what equally probable theory for the origin of logic exists?

A: “When we prove 2+2=4 mathematically, we are relying on the authority of mathematics.”

I don’t know why “authority” is the right word here. I think you may be confused about what a “law of logic” entails…

You then bring up laws of the state, as though they are analogous to logical laws. The two senses “law” are distinct. Laws of your state or province are indeed granted by an authority, by the legislature to make the laws and police to enforce them. But laws of logic are different, because you can’t actually disobey them, like you can disobey a state law. For instance you can believe that one apple and another apple makes five apples, but you won’t actually have 5 apples if you wish to disobey the laws of math. Whereas you could actually break into my home, logically speaking. You can violate state laws, and thereby commit crimes, but mathematical laws are inviolable, so you can only pretend to violate them.

“that God established laws of logic to allow for civil society among humanity to be possible”

I think you are conflating “laws of logic” with “moral laws.” The two aren’t the same. It is not logically impossible to murder someone, but it is logically impossible for 2+2 to equal 5. Again, you can violate one kind of law, but not the other.

“we do not definitively know how God could establish truth and logic as universal and unchanging, but it is at least an internally consistent, plausible answer.”

No. That’s the point of my original post. It ISN”T internally consistent. One can pretend that it somehow makes sense internally that God can create logic, but practically speaking, we can’t even imagine how it could make internal sense. You are just claiming that that is one of God’s abilities, even though we can’t imagine any way that an entity could create binding laws of logic.

As such, I don’t think I have any burden to explain an “equally probable theory for the origin of logic,” because as far as anyone has demonstrated thus far, God cannot plausibly create logic. I described why this is so in my original comment.

Apologetic Dialogue on Objective Morality

A discussion on objective morality here

A:Another deaf christian who cannot here the answers to his questions for atheists. The old “I didn’t like what you said so you didn’t answer the question’ idiot response.

B:What question did Bahnsen not answer? And while you’re at it, can you respond to the transcendental argument for God?

A:Its not that he didn’t answer any questions. He did the usual thing where he asks a question, didn’t like the answer so ignored it and said it never got answered.

The TAG argument fails because you are still arbitrarily saying god must exist because things like morality and logic exist. Its not just absurd its intellectually lazy

B:So the TAG arguments fails because you personally think it’s intellectually lazy? That’s not much of a response, to be honest. Morality, logic, science, experiments, uniformity of nature, the principle of induction (that the future will be like the past), all are completely meaningless and unjustifiable in a godless atheistic worldview.

A:Why are these meaningless without your particular god? In fact it is you who have the problems when invoking a deity. Take morality for instance. You cannot claim the high ground with some sort of absolute morality when the most heinous crimes against humanity are sanctioned or committed by your deity.

B:Because there are no absolutes in your worldview, no truth, no objective morality, nothing but pure relativism. Whenever an atheist accuses God of doing anything immoral, that atheist is presupposing the existence of an absolute/objective moral standard, but such a standard can only exist if God exists, so the atheist’s argument against God is built on the foundation of God’s existence. Atheism is intellectually bankrupt.

A: Because there are no absolutes in your worldview” What do you consider an absolute? What can you prove to be absolutely true that supports your particular view of reality?

“no truth..” Truth tends to be subjective.

“no objective morality..” That is because there is no objective morality. It is subjective. Man will justify the most heinous acts and call them righteous. See the bible for examples.

“Whenever an atheist accuses God of doing anything immoral..” Impossible. An atheist by definition does not believe gods/goddesses exist. To accuse a character in a narrative of being immoral only works relative to that narrative. I would say the make believe god of the bible displays some very immoral characteristics. But that is just my opinion.

“that atheist is presupposing the existence of an absolute/objective moral standard..” Wrong. Such a thing does not exist. See previous statements.

“…but such a standard can only exist if God exists..” Non-sequitur. I have stated that the absolute standard does not exist therefore that proving the existence of any god does not follow. Are you getting now why things like the TAG argument fail so miserably.

“..so the atheist’s argument against God is built on the foundation of God’s existence.” Mental and verbal gymnastics.

“Atheism is intellectually bankrupt.” Oh the irony

B: Wow, there are so many errors in your comment, that I was wondering whether there is any reason in responding…

“Truth tends to be subjective.”

Oh boy… post-modernism destroys reason. Is 2+2 equal with 4? Is that an objective or subjective truth? If I say that 2+2 equals 5, am I correct? You should stop drinking pickle juice in the morning, it makes you say weird stuff.

“That is because there is no objective morality. It is subjective. Man will justify the most heinous acts and call them righteous. See the bible for examples.”

1. Is it always wrong for anyone to torture babies merely for their own entertainment?
2. Men’s justification of heinous acts does not indicate the nonexistence of an absolute moral standard, that is the difference between the epistemology of morality versus the ontology of morality. In other words, if every single person on the planet thought that 2+2 equals 5, would 2+2 equal 5? Of course not, the result would still be “4” even if nobody believes that. That’s what an absolute/objective truth means, something that is completely independent of man’s opinion.
3. There you go again, can’t you understand that you cannot call something immoral/evil if you have no objective moral standard that dictates what is moral and what isn’t? Is this really that difficult to comprehend?

“Impossible. An atheist by definition does not believe gods/goddesses exist”

What on earth does your response have to do with anything I said in my previous comment? All I said was “Whenever an atheist accuses God of doing anything immoral…” … how can any rational person respond to that quote of mine with what you’ve just responded? Did I defined what an atheist is? No. Are there atheists who accuse God of doing something evil? Yes, you for example.

“I would say the make believe god of the bible displays some very immoral characteristics. But that is just my opinion.”

Exactly, in a godless atheistic worldview, all you can do is give your own opinions, but you can’t make absolute statements. You can say torturing someone is immoral, and ISIS can come along and say it is perfectly moral, and there is NO way you can prove that your personal and subjective opinion is better than the person and subjective opinion of ISIS.

So, claiming that rape is immoral is exactly on the same level of claiming that vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream. There is no standard, it’s just your opinion versus someone else’ opinion. That is why atheism entails moral nihilism.

“”..so the atheist’s argument against God is built on the foundation of God’s existence.” Mental and verbal gymnastics.”

That’s what one says when he doesn’t understand the argument that was just made.

A: “Is 2+2 equal with 4? Is that an objective or subjective truth?” You know damn well that we aren’t talking about mathematical proofs. Well I hope you know we are not talking about mathematical proofs.

“1. Is it always wrong for anyone to torture babies merely for their own entertainment?” And you will find that subjectively most people agree. This does not prove that there is an objective morality. It only proves our subjective consensus.

“In other words, if every single person on the planet thought that 2+2
equals 5, would 2+2 equal 5? Of course not, the result would still be
“4”….” MATH PROOFS!!!!! Not relevant to this discussion. The axiom 1+1=2 has nothing to do with thinking female circumcision is a moral act. You are comparing apples and oranges.

“can’t you understand that you cannot call something immoral/evil if you
have no objective moral standard that dictates what is moral and what
isn’t? Is this really that difficult to comprehend?”
Is it so hard to comprehend that I don’t need your subjective opinion that there is some sort of objective morality to operate in a moral framework. Just because you can think of something that is so morally cringe worthy that we all subjectively agree it is “immoral” does not automatically point to some outside moral law giver. It just shows we all subjectively think it is wrong.

“Exactly, in a godless atheistic worldview, all you can do is give your own opinions..” Please enlighten me to what extra thing you can give that does not ultimately rest on your opinion?

“You can say torturing someone is immoral, and ISIS can come along and
say it is perfectly moral, and there is NO way you can prove that your
personal and subjective opinion is better than the person and subjective
opinion of ISIS.”
Of course I can.

“So, claiming that rape is immoral is exactly on the same level of claiming that vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream.” How ridiculous.

“There is no standard, it’s just your opinion versus someone else’ opinion.” And the huge amounts of evidence of harm. Saying rape is wrong is not an arbitrary statement. It has supporting data that shows determent.

Let me ask you this. Is there anything that would be out of bounds if you were sure god wanted you to do it? Is there any action you can think of that would make you say “no I am not going to do that”?

B: ” And you will find that subjectively most people agree. This does not prove that there is an objective morality. It only proves our subjective consensus.”

So it’s not torturing babies merely for your own entertainment is not inherently immoral in and of itself, right?

“Please enlighten me to what extra thing you can give that does not ultimately rest on your opinion?”

The Scripture is my ultimate authority. And because I can tell what you’re response will be, I have to say that the misuse of a sufficient and perfect source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient and perfect source.

“Of course I can.”

How exactly can you prove that your subjective moral standard is better than someone else’s subjective moral standard?

“”So, claiming that rape is immoral is exactly on the same level of claiming that vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream.” How ridiculous.”

That statement of mine is perfectly true for a worldview that embraces moral nihilism, a worldview that negates the existence of inherent moral values in place of personal preferences regarding the moral status of a certain action.

“And the huge amounts of evidence of harm. Saying rape is wrong is not an arbitrary statement. It has supporting data that shows determent.”

Can’t you see the many loopholes in that response that you’ve given? What if the woman is in a coma? How would that harm her? It wouldn’t. So if there’s no harm, then the action is perfectly moral.

And besides, who gets to decide that harming someone is immoral? What if an economic crisis will began (that doesn’t seem to far-fetched considering those 2 presidential candidates of the US) where people will fight for their own survival by robbing other people? What if robbing people at gun point would be the social norm? Would it make it moral to rob people at gun point?

“Let me ask you this. Is there anything that would be out of bounds if you were sure god wanted you to do it? Is there any action you can think of that would make you say “no I am not going to do that”?”

Since God is infinitely holy and just and the very paradigm of goodness, He would never ask me to do anything unjust or immoral.

A: “So it’s not torturing babies merely for your own
entertainment is not inherently immoral in and of itself, right?”

An action is not inherently anything. We are the ones who
are right, wrong, moral and immoral. You should stop using this as well. Why
put the qualifier “merely for your own entertainment” on it? Is there any
instance that torturing a baby for any reason is the right thing to do? It
makes you look like you are saying that you sometimes might need to torture a
child, either emotional or physically, but if you do it just for fun that is
bad.

“The Scripture is my ultimate authority.”

Ok but you still are subjectively assessing that authority.
You even had to jump in and try to preempt my response because you know
subjectively I asses it a totally different way than you. You are part of a
percentage of people who see scripture as the ultimate authority. I am part of
a large percentage that doesn’t. How much more subjective can you get. Words
are like actions. It is us that assign value, not the words themselves.

“How exactly can you prove that your subjective moral
standard is better than someone else’s subjective moral standard?”

I answered this in the other parts of the response. We weigh
it up through the impact it has. This is a gross oversimplification but not
that hard to understand.

“Can’t you see the many loopholes in that response that
you’ve given? What if the woman is in a coma?” WOW!! Just frikin’ WOW. Ok I
will play the “what if” game with this one. So we are not going to look at the
physical ramifications of getting raped but what about the rapist themselves?
He is harming himself through these actions. He is perpetuating a mentality
that it is ok to do things like this if you can get away with it. In what
instance could that be seen as helpful to anyone. Any selfish action like that
has immediate gratification but what are the long term results? Also ask
yourself this; if you were in a coma for 3 years and found out that you were consistently
abused while unconscious, how would that make you feel? No harm while it’s
being done according to you. What happens when you see the video he took on his
phone? What if, What if, What if.

“What if an economic crisis will began…. where people will
fight for their own survival by robbing other people?”

Robbing people is always the lazy and/or desperate action
that gets you short term gain. Subjectively someone can justify stealing my
food to save their child but if my child starves to death then subjectively I
will see that as immoral.Was the stealing inherently anything? We are a social species. We survive by banding
together, pooling resources and helping each other. People like robbers and
rapists harm themselves by doing the things they do and getting ostracised. If
you are antisocial then you have problems finding a mate who will help you pass
on your genes, thus diluting that sort of behaviour out of the gene pool. We
now have populations that are occupied by people who either know their
antisocial behaviour is wrong or view antisocial behaviour as wrong. The
dynamics of evolution gave us our morals.

“Since God is infinitely holy and just and the very paradigm
of goodness, He would never ask me to do anything unjust or immoral.”

This is
the answer I always get to this question and it is no way an answer. Do you not
read your bible? The narrative has him killing children and asking others to
kill children for him. How do you know that you will never be asked to kill a
three year old boy? Numbers 31:17-18

So can I take your answer to be “if god asked me to do it I
would just do it”?

B: can’t you see how you reject objective morality, and then start making moral claims? Amazing is the inconsistency of atheism… So, according to you, the very action of torturing a baby merely for your own entertainment has absolutely no moral value whatsoever, it only gets a moral value based on the opinions of each society, so if a society decided that they should torture a baby for their own entertainment once a year, then that action would be perfectly moral and right in that particular society, and if YOU ever witnessed that, you couldn’t say that there’s anything wrong being done there, because it would be your subjective opinion versus theirs. Why can’t atheists see the conclusion of their negation of objective morality?

A: first of all there is no “objective” morality. Morality is a human construct based on our complex social structures. It is not about opinions. It is about what makes a society work ( another very complex set of circumstances). What possible set of beneficial social circumstances could come from torturing a baby for your own enjoyment?
You however have to ask yourself a specific question if you are going to be honest and not a hypocrite; Would you torture a baby if you thought your particular god wanted you to do it?

Apologetic Dialogue

Apologetic discussion from youtube comments section here:

A: All down through history there have been many arguments for the existence of God. Arguments about the prophecy, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ. There has been the cosmological argument, the ontological argument, and the teleological argument. There have been arguments made for the historicity of the Bible, the Miracles contained within the Bible, and even concerning the phrasing of the Bible itself. Since the question concerning the existence of God is answered, either true or false. There seems at least to my mind, an overwhelming effort on the part of the theist to present his case. The Atheist on the other hand, has had only three counter-arguments. First he argues against the policies of God, claiming that if God does evil as measured by the mind of man he cannot exist. Secondly, he argues against the power and Majesty of God by claiming that if he cannot understand how Miracles are done then God cannot be real. Lastly he argues against the authority of God claiming “who is he” that he can make demands upon men.
Yet is this type of argumentation methodology rational? Absolutely not! It makes no objective sense to declare that God does not exist simply because you disagree with the power, policies, or procedures, enacted by God. That would analogous to saying that cheeseburgers don’t exist because you don’t like their taste. What the atheist should be doing is refuting the argument given by his opponent or giving a counter argument relating directly to the existence of God. This is the correct debate protocol. What we have is two diametrically opposed worldviews competing for or attempting to harmonize with the world in which we live.
At the end of the day the Atheist knows that he does not have a workable worldview . And it is this gaping hole in his epistemology that acts as a ball and chain at every turn. Mathematical probability, evolution, time itself, causality, abstractions and induction. These are just a few of the many roadblocks that he faces. Instead of trying to harmonize his worldview with reality he engages in the childish Act of name calling, and or fault finding. These amount to nothing more than an Ad hominem attack against his opponent. Likewise, he uses a strawman tactic by arguing against proofs his opponent had never offered for the existence of God. Since the proof (TAG), offered by the theist, argues for the impossibility of the contrary; The atheist should in theory have a very easy job of refuting the theist’s position. How? Simple show how his worldview comports to reality in the areas of ethics, induction, and universal abstracts. None of which has been done to this date! TAG-you’re it!

B: Hi Michael, If you’re up for it I’d like to invite you to a google hangout to discuss your views on presuppositionalism. If not that’s totally fine though.

A: I was always told to be carful to whom I hung out with! LOL
What is your position on Presuppositionalism? Are you educated in the area of Philosophy? Do you have a working knowledge of Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Axiology? Are there ground rules or is this just a casual conversation? TAG-you’re it!

B: I’m just looking for a casual conversation to better understand your views. I’m not particularly educated in philosophy and I’m not a presuppositionalist, so maybe you could teach me a few things. There are a number of reasons why I’d rather have a live discussion over G-hangout than a dialogue over text, but I won’t bore you with those reasons unless you’re interested. Like I said, if you don’t want to it’s no problem at all.

A: Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. As you can see…. texting is my first… best option for discussing presuppositional apologetics. Yet, I am able to answer any question in that area if you like.

B: In order to receive Biblical revelation, don’t you first need to presuppose your own existence, the existence of a mind independent reality, the reliability of reason, deduction, memory and other cognitive faculties? If so, wouldn’t it be viciously circular to try and justify those presuppositions though appeals to Biblical revelation if you have to assume their reliability in the process?

A: Chad Ellis i think that we need to first, talk about what are presuppositions . we all all have presuppositions….. you, me, well everyone has them. Presuppositions dealing with metaphysics epistemology and axiology. Each of which are broken down into subclasses about the universe, man and God . When you bring these nine areas together you form what is known as a network or web of beliefs. When all sensory experience is filtered through this web of presuppositions, the results become the basis for our philosophy of life. Presuppositions are not justified…. they are assumed in all reasoning by both the theist and the atheist. Thus the two main camps of thought become either naturalistic or supernaturalistic. The transcendental argument for the existence of God argues that there are necessary preconditions in order to make experience meaningful. In a sense he is arguing that the naturalist presuppositions undermine meaningful experience. This is why you often hear it called, the argument for the impossibility of the contrary. Consider the uniformity of nature…… the atheist axiological presupposition would be that the universe is non-telelogical. Opposed to this would be the theist and his theological position. The theist philosophically, understands that God has created and orders the universe. So in that sense he’s able to explain how the future will be like the past.
The Atheist has no philosophical reason to expect the future to be like the past. For him there is no one at the wheel driving the universe. It is said to be pure chance or random . As a presuppositional apologetics I do have to ask…. can you expect the future to be like the past? And will it comport to your philosophy of life?

B: Under the Christian worldview, would you consider the presuppositions I listed in my last comment to be justified beliefs rather than presuppositions? Also, would you say that your belief that the future will be like the past is not a presupposition since you have a justification for it?
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Well the prior probability of things remaining unchanged is rather high, so there’s at least sufficient reason to regard it as more probable than not that the parameters which have remained unchanged will continue to remain unchanged, though there doesn’t appear to be any way to prove that the future will be like the past. If, hypothetically, you found out there’s no god, would you then think that there’s a 50/50 chance that the sun will come up tomorrow? I’m not sure why you think that we should expect chaos or irregularity if there’s no one at the wheel. As far as I can tell that’s just an assumption, but I’ll assume it’s correct for the sake of argument. Isn’t your belief that the future will be like the past founded upon a presupposition that the Bible accurately describes the creator of the universe as consistent and unchanging? Why is that a more reasonable presupposition than the belief that the universe just behaves consistently by it’s very nature?
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Would you agree that there can’t be any reason why God has the characteristic of eternal consistency, since a reason would imply not only a prior cause but also an ontological change to God’s existence?

A: Chad Ellis You wrote , ” would you consider the presuppositions I listed in my last comment to be justified beliefs rather than presuppositions?”. No not at all. There are many things in life that are presupposed; I mean would you consider the atheistic worldview presupposed or an conclusion? You wrote , ” though there doesn’t appear to be any way to prove that the future will be like the past. “. Exactly! But in reality we do expect the future to be like the past. As an analogy only…. consider the following. You are driving down the highway in your car. All that you see in your rearview mirror is your past. Likewise all that you see in your windshield is your future…. now let go of the steering wheel! Without God this is what the universe would be like. There has never been a plausible naturalistic explanation the order that we see in the universe other than from the theistic philosophy. You wrote , ” Isn’t your belief that the future will be like the past is still founded upon a presupposition that the Bible accurately describes the creator of the universe as consistent and unchanging?”. That is not an accurate statement. Again this is a type of rehash of your opening question. As a Christian philosophically speaking…. the Bible says that we are created in the image of God. Egro, we are born being able to reason, learn think and much more. It is this reality that we all take for granted that does not comport to the atheistic worldview. As silly as this may sound a person does not conclude that he can reason. He reasons because he was designed that way. The ability to learn or induction is just one of many problems that the atheistic worldview is unable to deal with it. TAG-you’re it !

B:Myself : “Under the christian worldview, would you consider the presuppositions I listed in my last comment to be justified beliefs rather than presuppositions?”

Michael : “No not at all.”

Then you’re admitting that positing god doesn’t justify the belief that those presuppositions are accurate. You said “presuppositions are unjustified” and then you acknowledged that you presuppose your own existence, the existence of a mind independent reality, the reliability of reason, deduction, memory and other cognitive faculties. If invoking a god doesn’t serve to justify these beliefs then what’s the point?
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“There are many things in life that are presupposed;”

I agree.
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“I mean would you consider the atheistic worldview presupposed or an conclusion?”

It depends on whether the person examines the evidence first.
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“As an analogy only…. consider the following. You are driving down the highway in your car. All that you see in your rearview mirror is your past.”

Image you’re on a 20 year car ride in which you’re looking in the rearview mirror and every five minutes you pass a speed limit sign. Wouldn’t that be a good enough reason to at least consider it more likely than not that you’ll pass another speed limit sign within the next 5 minutes?
_____
“now let go of the steering wheel! Without God this is what the universe would be like.”

I don’t see how an analogy like that, or any analogy for that matter, could prove what the universe would be like without a god. I could just as easily construct an analogy where you’re on an autonomous train that just keeps going without anyone having to steer to keep it from going off the tacks. Obviously that wouldn’t demonstrate that the universe would be consistent and orderly without a god.
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Myself : “Isn’t your belief that the future will be like the past still founded upon a presupposition that the Bible accurately describes the creator of the universe as consistent and unchanging?”.

Michael : “That is not an accurate statement.”

Interesting, I’ve asked at least two other presuppositionalists that question and they’ve said that it is an accurate statement. I’m not entirely sure which part of the statement you believe is inaccurate so feel free to explain why you disagree with the statement. Setting aside the bible, would you say that your belief that the future will be like that past is founded on a presupposition that god will continue to maintain the future as he has done in the past? If not, what is the basis for your belief that god won’t change things tomorrow?
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“As a Christian philosophically speaking…. the Bible says that we are created in the image of God. Egro, we are born being able to reason, learn think and much more.”

Didn’t you have to assume the reliability of your reasoning abilities in order to trust your interpretation of that verse?
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“As silly as this may sound a person does not conclude that he can reason.”

I would say that many people conclude that they can reason, but only after they use their reason.

“He reasons because he was designed that way.”

Did you conclude that we reason because we were designed that way, or did you presuppose it? You acknowledged earlier that you presuppose the reliability of your reasoning abilities and that presuppositions are unjustified by definition, so unless you wan’t to claim that you didn’t employ your reasoning in order to say that we were designed to reason, it would appear that you’re in the same epistemic boat as the atheist. According to Romans 1, we know that god exists “ from the things that have been made ”. If Romans is correct then we look around, we experience the word, and from that we infer that it must have had a creator. This would require the use of reason which you said we presuppose the reliability of. So if it is the case that we all have have knowledge of god, that knowledge must be founded upon an unjustified assumption that reason yields reliable results.

A: Chad Ellis You may want to go back and read again what I said about presuppositions. Presuppositions are not a conclusion they are assumptions made from the outset. You me everyone makes presuppositions about man, God and the universe. So what comes first presuppositions or the justifications to use a presupposition? This is a non sequitur statement. Now, in your experience you can find justification or proof that your presuppositions are true. But they are not necessarily true from the outset.
Analogies are not meant to be used as proof, but rather as a means to drive home a point. But I noticed you didn’t answer my question so I’ll reiterate it. Do you consider the atheistic worldview to be a presupposition or conclusion?
I’m not sure if you’re trying to be conversational or argumentative in this dialogue.
Concerning other presuppositionalist… that’s between you and them, not me. The problem arises when you use the word “founded” in your statement. The presuppositions that you have about the world are not founded or reasoned from anything. You’re trying to make presuppositions something they are not.

B:“I’m not sure if you’re trying to be conversational or argumentative in this dialogue.”

That’s one of the problems with having a dialogue over text. I’m trying to be polite and conversational, while at the same time voice my disagreements. I apologize if it doesn’t come off that way.
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“You may want to go back and read again what I said about presuppositions. Presuppositions are not a conclusion they are assumptions made from the outset.”

I agree. Where did I say or imply that a presupposition is a conclusion? Where did I say or imply that presuppositions aren’t assumptions made from the outset? If I didn’t agree with your distinction between conclusions and presuppositions then I wouldn’t have asked the following : “Did you conclude that we reason because we were designed that way, OR did you presuppose it?” Do you see how the word “OR” draws a distinction between conclusions and presuppositions?
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“The problem arises when you use the word “founded” in your statement. The presuppositions that you have about the world are not founded or reasoned from anything. You’re trying to make presuppositions something they are not.”

I used the word “founded” three times in my last comment and so I’m not sure which statement of mine you’re referring to. However, in each of those three cases I was talking about beliefs being founded upon presuppositions, rather than presuppositions being founded upon other beliefs. So your statement that I’m trying to make presuppositions something they’re not is incorrect.
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“Now, in your experience you can find justification or proof that your presuppositions are true. But they are not necessarily true from the outset.”

Just so I’m clear, when you said earlier that “presuppositions are not justified”, what you meant to say is that presuppositions can be justified, but just not from the outset. Is that correct?

I would agree that some presuppositions can be justified, but as for the presuppositions that comprise our properly basic beliefs (like the one’s I listed earlier), I can’t think of any way to demonstrate the truth of those presuppositions without assuming their truth in the process. Can you?
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“Analogies are not meant to be used as proof, but rather as a means to drive home a point.”

If I understand correctly, the point you were trying to drive home is that a godless universe would be unstable and without uniformity. If your analogy was merely meant to explain this belief, then that’s fine. However, if the analogy was meant to support the belief, then it does no such thing for the reason I explained in my last comment.
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“Do you consider the atheistic worldview to be a presupposition or conclusion?”

Like I said in my last comment, it depends on how the person arrives at the belief or lack there of. If a person analyses the evidence for god and infers that it is insufficient to warrant belief, then that belief would be a conclusion. When it comes to “strong atheism” (the belief that god doesn’t exist), a person might analyze the concept of a disembodied mind with superpowers that somehow exists and acts in the absence of time, and find the idea to be wildly speculative, incoherent, or improbable. In this case the belief that this god probably doesn’t exist would also be a conclusion. It should go without saying that whether this conclusion is rationally justified is a separate question from whether it is a presupposition. A person could have bad reasons for believing god doesn’t exist and yet their belief could still qualify as a conclusion. Conversely, someone could believe god doesn’t exist or that belief in god is unwarranted without actually examining the evidence or ruminating on the concept of god, in which case such a belief would qualify as a presupposition.
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Would you say that your belief that the future will be like that past is founded on a presupposition that god will continue to maintain the future as he has done in the past? If not, what is the basis for your belief that god won’t change things tomorrow?

A:It seems to my mind that when people engage in the topic of presuppositional apologetics the conversation degenerates into trying to have conversation in a palestra of linguistic revision to the point of bantering back and forth Ad nauseam on word usage. So this is my attempt to bring clarity to the conversation. Consider the following:

1. Everyone has presuppositions
2. Presuppositions are presupposed at the outset. They are not inductive or deductive inferred.
3. Presuppositions are that by which we filter all experiences, and are assumed in all our reasoning.
4. Presuppositions relating to metaphysics epistemology and axiology form a Network or web of beliefs.
5. And no…. presuppositions are not theology…. but………! Presuppositions are held to religiously and are not easy to change. If you have ever talked with someone and at some point they said “it’s just that way”, despite your best efforts to dissuade them; then you can appreciate what I just said!
Certain word phrasing can have unspoken connotations to them. So allow me to just say:
1. No it is not unscientific…. it is philosophy!
2. It takes no reasoning to form a presupposition…. but it takes a mountain of evidence to change one.
3. All parties have an obligation to present a case in support of their worldview.
4. Unless you’re a rock with no opinions about nothing…. then atheism is a worldview
5. …… ya! That means YOU !
6. To dispute an argument is not the same as to disprove the argument.
7. I’m sorry but just because you don’t like something….. is not proof that it does not exist!
8. No one comes into a debate neutral.

And finally to say…. you do not like presuppositional apologetist. …. is to shoot yourself in the foot. For you see… all people have presuppositions and apologetics is to give a reason defense. It will amount to the saying that you do not like yourself! TAG-you’re it !

Chad Ellis when I asked you the question do you consider the atheistic worldview to be a presupposition or conclusion; I wasn’t looking for “it depends” answer. I wanted to know how you personally would answer it.

B: At no point in this discussion have I disagreed with anything you just said.
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“when I asked you the question do you consider the atheistic worldview to be a presupposition or conclusion; I wasn’t looking for “it depends” answer. I wanted to know how you personally would answer it.”

I would have answered that question if you had asked ‘do you consider YOUR atheistic worldview to be a presupposition or a conclusion?’ If we define “worldview” such that a single position on a single issue can qualify as a worldview, then my atheistic worldview is a conclusion. My conclusion is that the evidence that I have encountered is insufficient to justify belief in a God, for me.
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“Now, in your experience you can find justification or proof that your presuppositions are true. But they are not necessarily true from the outset.”

Just so I’m clear, when you said earlier that “presuppositions are not justified”, what you meant to say is that presuppositions can be justified, but just not from the outset. –> –> Is that correct? <– <–

I would agree that some presuppositions can be justified, but as for the presuppositions that comprise our properly basic beliefs (like the one’s I listed earlier), I can’t think of any way to demonstrate the truth of those presuppositions without assuming their truth in the process. –> –> Can you? <– <–
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–> –> Would you say that your belief that the future will be like that past is founded on a presupposition that god will continue to maintain the future as he has done in the past ? If not, what is the basis for your belief that god won’t change things tomorrow? <– <–
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–> –> Did you conclude that we reason because we were designed that way, or did you presuppose it? <– <–

A: Chad Ellis First I’d like to thank you for sharing your views concerning your worldview. There are many many atheists out there that would rather sidestep the issue then take the time to say what you just said. I once heard it said …..”that if you don’t stand for something then you will fall for anything!” So again thank you.
You were asking me if my beliefs in the uniformity of nature were founded on presuppositions concerning the character of God… it is my contention that my beliefs from the outset , were not conclusions, based on empirical reference; but rather they were assumed in all of my reasoning . This is one of the reasons that presuppositions are considered foundational. Consider a baby…. What does a baby know other than boob, diaper, sleep! Lol! 😂 in all of his reasoning he assumes the future will be like the past. Now he is older….. he is a man. He starts to think philosophically about life, happiness, the universe, ethics , God, death and the grave, and the uniformity he sees in nature . He comes to a realization that only in a theistic universe can he account for the uniformity that he sees in nature. He likewise knows that the atheist has said that he is unable to explain the uniformity that he sees in nature but he is hopeful the answer will soon follow.
You wrote about Romans chapter 1.

Romans 1:19-20New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse;

I look at the world in which I live, and I see ethics. As a standard for Behavior they are absolute. In application they are Universal.

I look at the world in which I live and I know the future will be like the past.

I look at the world in which I live and I know that God created me and that is how I got here.

I look at the world in which I live and I know that my philosophy of life harmonizers with what I see!

None of what I just said is an empty Authority claim. To claim the opposite would amount to nothing more then an unsupported assertion.

This dialogue or conversation as to your mind might be construed as amounting to nothing more than a linguistic debate game. But I assure you that being wrong in your philosophy could have serious consequences. I have always said that we are free to believe what we want; but we are accountable for everything that we believe! So please, open your eyes, do the research, find the facts . And see for yourself which worldview harmonizes with what you see!

B: Thank you for the kind words, and merry Christmas to you too. It’s refreshing to discuss this topic with someone as polite and respectful as yourself. So we both presuppose the reliability of logic, reason, and induction. However, the difference, as you see it, is that you feel that these presuppositions are justified under the theistic worldview but unjustified under the atheistic worldview. Is that correct? I’m not particularly confident that I understand your position yet because at first you said that presuppositions are unjustified and then you said that they can be justified or proven true. Could you please clarify what you meant when you said that presuppositions are unjustified? Did you mean to say that they are unjustified from the outset (I.e. when they’re first assumed) but can then be justified later? Also, could you tell me whether you believe that it’s fallacious to assume the truth of a presupposition in the process of justifying or proving that presupposition true? Thanks

A: Chad Ellis I almost think what we’re discussing is what came first the chicken or the egg. Or in this case what comes first, presuppositions or the validations for those presuppositions. I’m saying the presuppositions come first. Then as we experience Romans 1:19-20, we either accept or reject what we see. Let me ask you a question. When something is unjustified in your mind is it’s present state, a conclusion?
To answer your second question, there is no neutrality in the process of evaluating presuppositions. You cannot Divorce Yourself of your presuppositions while in the process of trying to validate them. And no that is not circular! Think about it did you come into this debate as an atheist a Christian or what?

B: Okay so when you said presuppositions are unjustified, you just mean that they are unjustified from the outset. Got it. Now maybe we should talk about the criteria for justification. If I understand correctly, you believe that in order for a person to justify the presupposition that induction is reliable, that person would need to posit an entity, process, or state of affairs that, if real, would render that presupposition reliable. —> Is that correct? <— I ask because if that’s all it takes to justify the presupposition that induction is reliable, then I could easily justify that presupposition.
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“To answer your second question, there is no neutrality in the process of evaluating presuppositions. You cannot Divorce Yourself of your presuppositions while in the process of trying to validate them. And no that is not circular! Think about it did you come into this debate as an atheist a Christian or what?”

You misinterpreted the question, but I didn’t word it very well. When I asked whether it’s fallacious to assume the truth of a proposition in the process of proving it true, I wasn’t asking whether it’s fallacious to prove it’s truth while incidentally believing that it’s true. I was asking whether you think it’s fallacious to use the presupposition in the process of demonstrating it’s truth. So for example, if I were to presuppose that when I get home from work my girlfriend will be on the couch watching Netflix, and when I get home that’s exactly what she’s doing, I just proved the presupposition true while believing that it was true, but I didn’t commit the fallacy of begging the question because I didn’t use the assumption to demonstrate that the assumption is true. However if I were to use my reasoning to justify the presupposition that my reasoning if functioning properly, there would be an element of circularity to that which precludes me from successfully justifying that particular presupposition. Does that make sense?

A:Chad Ellis I said that after experiencing Romans 1:19-20 , we either accept or reject what we see . but I do see your false assumption in your questioning . Your assumption is that I’m trying to justify my position where in actuality it is the “necessary pre conditions in order to make life experiences meaningful”….. that authorize my position. The purpose is not to comport reality to fit into one’s philosophy; but rather to determine which philosophy comports to reality. People can believe whatever they want to; but thats not the same as to say that whatever they believe is true!
Allow me me to answer by coming at it from a different direction. Say you lived all your life believing that something was a certain way. Then later in life you find out that what you believe was not true. That there existed in the world things that did not comport to what you believed or thought about the world. You would then be faced with a choice…. either to accept that your views were invalid about the world, and then change your view to comport to the world. Or live in contradiction to what you see in the world. We don’t try to justify what we believe……. what we believe either comports or does not comports to reality . And that was your false assumption!

B:”Your assumption is that I’m trying to justify my position where in actuality it is the “necessary pre conditions in order to make life experiences meaningful”….. that authorize my position.”

The assumption that there exists a mind independent reality, that induction is reliable, that my senses and reasoning are functioning properly, all of these assumptions allow me to have meaningful experiences, despite my atheist worldview, yet you still dispute the notion that it’s rational for me to hold these beliefs under the atheist worldview. So clearly you don’t believe that just because a belief serves as a precondition for meaning, therefore that belief is “authorized”.
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“The purpose is not to comport reality to fit into one’s philosophy; but rather to determine which philosophy comports to reality.”

The whole reason I asked you about your criteria for justification is precisely because we both think it’s important to determine which philosophy comports to reality. Do you believe that the way to determine whether a belief comports to reality is to consider whether it serves as a precondition for meaningful experiences? If so, why?
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“People can believe whatever they want to; but thats not the same as to say that whatever they believe is true! ”

I agree. Did I say or imply otherwise?
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“We don’t try to justify what we believe……. ”

I try to justify what I believe whenever possible, but I recognize that certain properly basic beliefs simply cannot be justified, and I’m okay with that.

“what we believe either comports or does not comports to reality.”

I agree and have agreed from the start

The Mind Argument for God

The “Mind” Argument for God

“One of the things that we see is that our minds work, that our sense perception and rational intuition help us perceive the real world. But if there is no God, and everything has a physical, natural cause, then we are led to some very disturbing conclusions about our own minds. Thoughts of the brain are only the results of non-rational, non-intelligent chemical processes in the brain. Neuroscientists today tell us that all thinking is the product of chemicals which are the product of our genetic code, brought to us by the long process of evolution. Therefore all our thinking and choices are pre-determined—there is no real freedom of thought. This is an inescapable conclusion of the belief that there is no God or eternal reality. But if our thoughts are not free and rational, but determined, then so are the thoughts that espouse this view, in which case we cannot trust them—they are only conditioned responses. And so we are in the position of listening to a man who says, “don’t trust a word I am saying”. You have to dismiss that sentence as self-refuting nonsense—failing to satisfy its own criteria of acceptability. Any view of the universe which would make it impossible to trust our thinking or minds to tell us about reality has to be dismissed.

But surely the process of evolution has given us minds that we can trust, for we could not have survived unless they told us about reality.

Evolutionary biology is no help here at all. Darwinian theory is that absolutely every capacity we have is due to a process called “natural selection”, in which those traits that help us adapt to our environment are passed along genetically (since only those with the “fittest” traits survive). Our minds therefore were not designed by a Creator to perceive the real world; they are produced by a blind process that helps us survive in the world. Now we cannot possibly know that perceiving reality leads to surviving, only that what we perceive leads to surviving. For example, we know that “psychological” survival needs regularly lead us to repress or deny realities. If it is too painful to acknowledge how angry someone is because of our behavior, we may completely deceive ourselves about it—just refuse to “see” it. What proof do we have that the same thing has not happened to our capacities for perceiving the physical world? The simple fact is that evolutionary theory says the purpose of our minds is physical survival, not the production of true beliefs, and therefore it gives us no reason to trust our minds—quite the contrary. In fact, Darwin himself admitted this, when he wrote: “The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of a man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?” At best evolution makes us agnostic about our minds, which means we should then be agnostic about evolution itself, and everything else. But maybe our minds just emerged and do ‘work’—why do we have to have a God for that? This raises an additional problem for the non-theistic worldview. The main reason our minds help us understand the world is what has been called “the uniformity of nature”. The method of generalizing from observed cases to all cases of the same kind is called “induction”. Without it, we would not be able to learn from experience, we would not be able to use language, we would not be able to rely on memory or advance science, all of which involve observing similarities and projecting them into the future. Now if we set the theistic view next to the non- theistic (which sees the universe as the production of random matter-in-motion) and ask: “which view best comports with the inductive principle?” we have to conclude that it isn’t the non- theistic view.

Conclusion

So we see the severe problems with non-theistic thinking—it cannot account for itself! It is belief in God that provides us the necessary pre-conditions for trusting our minds at all, or accounting for why induction and deduction and sense perception works at all. Rational mind appears to be a reality (and to deny it is self-defeating), yet how do we account for it unless there is a rational mind behind the universe? Some say, “though there is no God, I just know that reason works”. What that means is: “though your worldview leads us to expect what we see and mine does not, I am going to hold mine anyway.” But if our premise (that there is no God) leads to a conclusion that is completely impossible to hold (that we cannot trust our minds, including the thought that we cannot trust our minds), why not question the premise?”

(Apologetics, Tim Keller)

Darwin’s Doubt

Notes I took from Mitch Stoke’s A Shot of Faith to the Head- Chapter 5: Darwin’s Doubt: 

Who Knows? Not Agnostics.

Where did our cognitive faculties come from?

If Hume suspends judgment about the origins and purpose of our cognitive faculties, then there’s no telling (for him) whether our faculties are reliable- whether they generally provide us with true beliefs.

One the one hand, it may be highly likely that our cognitive faculties are reliable, that they tend to produce true beliefs in us. On the other hand, the probability may be very low. The reasonable position for Hume to take with regards to the reliability of his faculties is agnosticism.

This leads to further problems though. Any belief of Hume’s will obviously be produced by his belief-forming faculties that came from who-knows-where. But of course his belief that he should withhold judgment in everything is itself a belief. Hume should then withhold judgment about whether he should withhold judgment. And so he shouldn’t believe that he should withhold judgment (nor should he believe that he should withhold judgment).

And he can’t escape his predicament by simply assuming that his senses are reliable. That’s because he’s questioning his faculties. Moreover, that belief (that his belief-forming faculties are reliable) would come from those very faculties.

Atheism: Now You Know It, Now You Don’t

A stronger kind of unbelief. Hume was agnostic about whether God exists and therefore whether humans were designed or merely a cosmic accident. It wasn’t that Hume believed that God doesn’t exist; rather, he didn’t form any opinion- he didn’t know what to think. He neither believed God existed, nor that God didn’t exist.

But there’s another option- atheism. Atheists have a further belief that God doesn’t exist.

Today atheists say that our cognitive faculties are reliable because evolution fashions these faculties for our survival. And to survive, our cognitive faculties must accurately hook up with the world, giving us true beliefs more often than not. It absolutely would not do to believe that there’s not a saber-toothed tiger in front of me when there is. Those organisms that survive have been given a gift.

But evolution doesn’t necessarily sift for cognitive mechanisms that produce true beliefs.

All evolution cares about is survival, getting the organism in the right places at the right times so that it can reproduce. And of source, organisms don’t need beliefs to do that. It also isn’t clear at what point organisms begin having beliefs.

Given unguided or blind evolution, it’s difficult to say how probable it is that creatures would ever develop true beliefs.

Because there’s no telling whether unguided evolution would fashion our cognitive faculties to produce mostly true beliefs, atheists who believe the standard evolutionary story must reserve judgment about whether any of their beliefs produced by these faculties are true. This includes the belief in the evolutionary story. Believing in unguided evolution comes built in with its very own reason not to believe it.

What if Survival Did Require True Beliefs?

Perhaps you think that evolution plus atheism- the probability is very low that we’d have faculties that produced mostly true beliefs. Your view isn’t “who knows?” On the contrary, you think it’s unlikely that blind evolution has the skill set for manufacturing reliable cognitive mechanisms. And perhaps, like most of us, you think that we actually have reliable cognitive faculties and so actually have mostly true beliefs. If so, then you would be reasonable to conclude that atheism is pretty unlikely. If atheism is true, then it’s unlikely that most of our beliefs are true; but most of our beliefs are true, therefore atheism is probably false.

Notice something else. The atheist naturally thinks that our belief in God is false. Nevertheless, most human beings have believed in a god of some sort. But suppose, for argument’s sake, that this widespread belief really is false, and that it merely provides survival benefit for humans, a coping mechanism of sorts. If so, then we would have additional evidence- on the atheist’s own terms- that evolution is more interested in useful beliefs than in true ones. Or alternatively, if evolution really is concerned with true beliefs, then maybe the widespread belief in God would be a kind of “evolutionary” evidence for his existence.

The problem is that on each of these views- on agnosticism and atheism- there’s reason to believe something (that we should withholding judgment about the truth of each and every belief) that paradoxically undermines all beliefs, even belief in agnosticism and atheism. Both views are in other words, self-defeating- forms of intellectual suicide.

We’re Getting Closer

When Christians believe in God without argument, it is a basic belief

Caused by some sort of experience working through some properly functioning faculty (and in an appropriate environment). Is there any such thing for belief in God?

Belief in God can be entirely rational without being based on any argument.

(A Shot of Faith to the Head, Mitch Stokes)

God is Not Silent

Notes I took from James Anderson’s Why Should I Believe Christianity? Chapter 5: God is Not Silent: 

Christians don’t typically deduce that God is the ultimate author of the Bible via some elaborate process of reasoning. Instead, they directly perceive that God is speaking to them through the Bible. They read the Bible, or they hear it read to them, and they recognize the voice of God.

None of the above is meant to be an argument for the Bible. If you don’t already believe the Bible is divinely inspired, none of the above will give you any reason to think otherwise. At this point I’m only explaining what the Christian perspective is.

Has God Spoken?

If God is personal and unlimited in power, then surely God is also able to speak, even if the manner in which God speaks differs from ours. How could God create us with the power to verbally communicate and yet lack that power Himself? Again, the very idea is incoherent. If a personal God is going to enter into personal relationships with His personal creatures, and the normal means of initiating and sustaining personal relationships is through language, then we should expect God to speak to us. Once we connect the dots between the kind of God who must exist, the kind of beings we are, and the kind of relationship we would have with God, we can see that the idea of a silent God is lacking in coherence.

How Has God Spoken?

God would arrange for His communication to be written down. The content of a written communication is not only publically accessible and objectively verifiable; it’s also preserved for future generations.

Where Has God Spoken?

Which of all these writings are the truly inspired ones?

Any divinely authored writings would also have certain recognizable qualities.

We saw in the previous chapter that only a God who is transcendent, perfect and personal can account for the things we take for granted in our lives. So a genuine divine revelation would have to present itself as a verbal communication from that God. That immediately rules out the sacred scriptures of Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism, since those writings don’t present themselves as verbal revelations from a transcendent, perfect, personal God.

The only major religions with scriptures that present themselves as verbal communications from God are the so-called ‘Abrahamic’ religions: Christianity, Islam and  Judaism. Only these religions affirm everything we’ve established so far:

  1. God is the transcendent, absolute, personal Creator of the universe
  2. God has spoken to us
  3. God’s words have been preserved in sacred writings

However, these three religions disagree on which writings are divinely inspired.

Judaism traditionally accepts only Tanakh (the Old Testament). Christianity agrees with Judaism that the Old Testament is divinely inspired, but adds that the New Testament is also divinely inspired. In fact, the New Testament claims to be the proper fulfillment of the Old Testament. So Christianity affirms not only the Old Testament but also the New Testament, the latter bring written as a witness to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church.

Muslims believe that the Quran is a message from God which was delivered through the prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century. However, Islam also teaches that the Quran isn’t  the only divine revelation in history and that Muhammad wasn’t the only true prophet. Rather, Muhammad was the last in a series of prophets, and God delivered earlier revelations through a number of those prophets. Those scriptures include the Tawrat and the Injil, given through the prophets Moses and Jesus, respectively. Muslims will add, however, that these earlier scriptures have become corrupted. Only the Quran is an uncorrupted and reliable divine revelation.

How would we decide between these competing claims about where God has spoken? Once again, it will help to look at things from a worldview perspective. Christianity, Islam and Judaism represent three different worldviews, each with its own understanding of who God is, what God is like, and how God has spoken to us. We we can apply to each one of the worldview tests discussed in chapter 2. Here I want to focus in particular on the coherence test. Which worldview best fits together internally?

Let’s compare Judaism and Christianity first. Judaism accepts the OT but rejects the NT. The problem, however, is that the OT appears to be incomplete as it stands. It contains many promises and prophecies, the most striking of which concern a servant-king who would be sent by God to bring salvation to people from all nations of the world, whom the Jews came to refer to as ‘the Messiah’. Yet we don’t find these messianic promises and prophecies fulfilled in the OT itself. So the OT raises the question: Where’s the completion? Where’s the fulfillment?

Christianity offers a clear and compelling answer: Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of all these promises and prophecies.

Let’s turn now to compare Islam and Christianity.

The Quran doesn’t purport to be the only communication from God. It actually affirms parts of the Bible as earlier scriptures given through divinely appointed prophets such as Moses and Jesus.

There are a number of reasons to doubt the claims of the Quran to be a genuine divine revelation. For example, not only does the Quran reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, it also misrepresents that doctrine when it does so. It implies that Christians actually worship three separate gods- Allah, Jesus and Mary, the mother of Jesus -rather than one God who exists in three distinct persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.The problem here is not that the Quran disagrees with what Christians believe, but rather that the God of the Quran should at least know what Christians actually believe in the first place. It’s one thing for the Quran to say what Christianity teaches is mistaken; it’s quite another for the Quran to be mistaken about what Christianity actually teaches.

The question of coherence

When it comes to claims about divine revelation, does the Islamic worldview cohere as well as the Christian worldview? The basic problem for Islam is that the Quran affirms earlier scriptures while also contradicting those same scriptures. The Quran says that the Torah was given by God to the Jews yet it contradicts the Torah in a number of places. It also speaks about ‘the Gospel’ given to Christians through Jesus, but it flatly contradicts some of the central claims made about Jesus in the Gospels of the NT. For example, the Quran denies that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and that Jesus died by crucifixion  as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Muslims claim that the earlier scriptures were changed by Jews and Christians. That’s why these conflicts exist. The earlier scriptures have become corrupted, and therefore cannot be trusted. This common answer actually raises more problems than it solves. In the first place, the Quran not only acknowledges the earlier scriptures, it encourages Jews and Christians to consult those scriptures to confirm Muhammad’s own message, which implies of course that those scriptures weren’t corrupted in Muhammad’s day. That’s a big problem, because we have physical manuscripts of the OT and NT which have been reliably dated to hundred of years before Muhammad’s  birth. These manuscripts prove that the Bible we have today is the same as the Bible that Christians had when the Quran was written. So it’s hard to reconcile the idea that the Bible has been corrupted with what the Quran actually says and apparently takes for granted.

To compound the problem, the Quran insists in several places that God’s words cannot be changed or corrupted. Yet the earlier scriptures, such as the Tawrat and the Injil, are supposed to have been delivered by God in the same way as the Quran: received through a prophet and then preserved in written form. Muslims will insist that the Quran hasn’t been changed since it was first received. Indeed, they’ll say it couldn’t be changed because (as the Quran says) God wouldn’t allow it. If God is so committed to preserving these later scriptures, why didn’t He preserve the earlier scriptures too? Or to put the point in reverse: if God allowed the earlier scriptures to be corrupted so badly that they now can’t be trusted, what assurance does anyone have that the Quran hasn’t also been corrupted?

The argument in a nutshell: Christianity and Islam both teach that God has spoken to us through inspired scriptures, and those scriptures were given through a series of prophets over a long period of time. Both affirm that there were earlier and later scriptures: Christianity identifies those scriptures as  the OT and NT, while Islam identifies them as parts of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, plus the Quran as the final revelation. Christianity teaches that all the scriptures God provided He has also preserved over the centuries, and those scriptures form a coherent whole: a story of redemption which centers on Jesus. In contrast, Islam has to maintain that all the scriptures except the last have been irremediably corrupted and lost. For some reason, God chose to preserve only the Quran, a book whose teachings deviate at major points from those of the Bible. What’s more, we know that Bible we have today is the very same Bible that Christians had in Muhammad’s day.

When it comes to claims about what God is like and how God has revealed Himself over the course of human history, the Christian worldview is more internally coherent and consistent with the evidence than its two major competitors, Judaism and Islam.

(Why Should I Believe Christianity? James Anderson)