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Hi All,

I recently responded to the "I'm Not a Christian Anymore" thread. As a philosophical Christian Theist, I hate to see people reject Christ due to misconceptions. I offered some thoughts.

I was challenged on God's existence and nature so I'll offer some thoughts for anyone who would like to discuss. I find it's always necessary to dispel straw men and define terms first.

Motivation. I am interested in civil dialogue on what I think is the most important issue of all time. I think there are more distractions keeping people from the knowledge of God than at any time in history. Yet, I think there are more reasons to believe Theism is true than at any time! It's too important to just view these discussions as a contest - to win the debate at all costs.

No matter how one feels about the "Religious Right", an obnoxiously religious family member, or atrocities done in the name of God, etc. Theism just may be true.

Humility is required in the quest for truth. Respect is required for those on the quest. I hope to offer both.

Worldview. It all comes down to which worldview best explains the data of the universe. If Naturalism is true, then atheism follows. If Theism is true, I think Christianity is the best theistic option.

Classical (or Christian) Theism.  Something is ontologically ultimate and therefore eternal and necessary. It is either something of the order of matter, or something of the order of mind. Theism holds to the latter and a conceptual analysis leads to God who is the personal Creator, is powerful, transcendent, and distinct from "his" creation yet active in it.

Christianity. The view that God revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ's claims concerning himself are true and he is authoritative in everything he taught or affirmed.

Faith. Broadly, faith is the assent, or trust, or affirmation that a proposition is true. It has been defined on a scale from "blind faith" (fideism) to reasonable (or informed, supported) faith. I hold to the latter.

Faith is not a way of "knowing something",  it is the application of what you know (or think you know). Some form of faith is a component of virtually everything in life - from the scientific method to personal relationships. But faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. All the faith in the world will not make something true.

One ought to place one's faith where the evidence points, even if one cannot prove the proposition 100% or does not have exhaustive data.

Proof. While it is difficult to prove something 100%, one can nevertheless offer and consider proofs (reasons or evidence). 100% certainty is not necessary for a view to be justified or considered knowledge. I offer proofs for Christian Theism not "100% proof".

A cumulative case is also often necessary. I think various arguments combine to show Theism is true.

Burden of Proof. When debating a question, (e.g. does God exist?) anyone offering answers to the question bears the burden of proof. All views make truth claims. All truth claims bear the burden of proof. Whether one defends Naturalism or Theism one ought to offer reasons why.

God of the Gaps. Theists need not argue from what we don't know. Arguments for God can be based on what we do know from science or philosophy.

Further, God can employ Secondary Causation, wherein initial conditions or systems produce perpetual effects (e.g. weather systems produce lightning).

God and Science. An eternal, transcendent Creator does not preclude us from rigorously exploring the universe and discovering how it works.

(You may be interested that I reject "Young Earth Creationism". I don't think it's the best biblical explanation and it certainly is at odds with known science. "Yom" in Genesis can denote long periods of time).

Thank you for reading this far. If anyone is interested I can sketch out some arguments for God for discussion.

 

Kevin H

 

 

Tags: Christianity, God, Science, and, atheism, blind, burden, creationism, earth, faith, More…gaps, god, naturalism, of, proof, the, theism, worldview, young

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Replies to This Discussion

Good point. All the major religions of the world are contradictory in their essential salvific claims. So either one of them is true or they are all false.

Morality is interesting in that all of us tend to agree on basic moral values and duties even though we sometimes disagree on how they are applied. We apprehend a moral realm beyond individuals and societies.

I wouldn't start with people's testimonies concerning the supernatural, rather start with where Big Bang Cosmology is pointing us. Nature came into existence at a given time and is not eternal. So there is something beyond nature upon which the natural world is contingent upon.

So there is something beyond nature upon which the natural world is contingent upon.

Says who?  You?  For starters, just because we don't know why the big bang happened, it doesn't mean we won't ever know.  And even if we don't ever know, it does not mean a supernatural event caused it.  

 

Secondly, even if there is a beginning, it does not mean that that beginning was caused by a supernatural event.  Contrary to popular misconception you CAN get something from nothing.  It happens with matter/anti-matter pairs popping in and out of existence all the time.  

 

Just because you (or I, or even science) can't understand how some aspect of nature works, that does not mean you need to invoke something beyond nature to explain it, it just means we don't understand.  You are setting up a false dichotomy in which you claim "you don't know this, therefore this" which is, as I'm sure you know, a logical fallacy. 

Moreover, it would be the specific logical fallacy that he decries as unnecessary: The God of the Gaps.

Furthermore, the Big Bang theory does not state that everything came from nothing. We have a pretty good idea of what happened back until Planck Time, whereupon our current understanding of physics, in particular quantum gravity, is insufficient to extrapolate what happened before then. "We do not know" does not equal "it came from nothing", "it was created supernaturally", or "God did it".

We have several hypotheses on what may have happened, such as string theory, M-theory, etc, and the LHC might be able to help us test them once it reaches full power.

I appreciate your desire to discuss these issues, unfortunately, I have discussed this for over fifty years and I've heard all of your reasons before and just don't find them plausible.  Once you accept the possibility that some supernatural being "spoke" the universe into being, then anything becomes possible.  I find the whole concept of god and the supernatural to be illogical, irrational, unreasonable, and impossible.  Just how impossible does something have to be, before you won't believe it?

 

Sounds like radical utilitarianism. Something must be "useful" or it's not true!

Also find the belief in the supernatural to be lazy and cowardly, too.  I've had too many heated "discussions" with theists who stubbornly refuse to think because it requires effort and even some courage and instead would rather resort to nastiness.

 

But you are complaining about the persons you've encountered who are theists, not Theism itself.

Doug,

 

I don't find it unreasonable that something of the order of mind is ontologically ultimate rather than something of the order of matter. Something coming from nothing uncaused is what's impossible and unfortunately that is what the Naturalist is left with.

I don't doubt you've studied the issue but how do you know what I'm going to present? I haven't done it yet!

When talking what was before big bang Stephen Hawking answered: "What's northern of the north pole?"
I like that.  Just because a question can be asked (phrased), that doesn't make it a legitimate question.
"What happened before the big bang"!

That's the problem! There is no "before" the Big Bang! "Before" implies time. There was no "time before time"! Anything that science can measure came into existence at the Big Bang. Therefore, anything logically prior to the BB is a metaphysical consideration. And a conceptual analysis can uncover what characteristics the cause would have. Science and philosophy can work together.

"There is no "before" the Big Bang!"

 

That's another fallacious assumption.

Something comes from nothing, uncaused, all the time, all around you. It's called the energy-time uncertainty principle.

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