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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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This will be interesting to watch unfold. I appreciate the brave attempt of Kevin.

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.

 

Sorry, but your burden of proof statements don't work. "Do leprechauns exist? I have heard lots of stories. Prove that they don't" is a ridiculous request. Theism says there is an invisible being that made & controls everything. Atheism says "I don't believe that". That's it. I know you don't see atheism as a default position, but it is, and it doesn't matter how small a minority hold it. You disbelieve everything for which you have no evidence, by default.

Sorry, but your burden of proof statements don't work. "Do leprechauns exist? I have heard lots of stories. Prove that they don't" is a ridiculous request.

If anyone cared to debate whether they exist then evidence could be offered for and against their existence. The evidence would be rather overwhelming that they don't exist.

Theism says there is an invisible being that made & controls everything. Atheism says "I don't believe that". That's it.

Declaring "I don't believe that" is just a description of your psychological state. It has nothing to do with whether atheism is true or false.

I know you don't see atheism as a default position, but it is, and it doesn't matter how small a minority hold it. You disbelieve everything for which you have no evidence, by default.

I think the "default" position, if there were one, would be agnosticism.

"The evidence would be rather overwhelming that they don't exist." 

HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  There is no such thing as evidence that something doesn't exist!

 

It's called deductive reasoning!  Dismiss all the claims of something existing and when all your "evidence" is gone, you're left with the only scenario that something likely doesn't exist!  But one of the basic fundamentals of logic that I learned in, like, GRADE SCHOOL is that something true can't imply something not true.  The something true in this case is "There is no evidence for the existence of entity."  That IS truth!  The something NOT true, then, would be "There is evidence for the non-existence of entity."  The latter can not be implied by the former.  No detective would conduct his investigation based on evidence for something not existing.

 

Now this begs the question.  Are YOU looking for overwhelming evidence that leprechauns don't exist and do you believe that leprechauns DO exist?

<i>There is no such thing as evidence that something doesn't exist!</i>

 

The fact that Harry Potter is a literary creation of an author employing a fantasy genre is evidence (though perhaps not 100% proof) that Harry Potter doesn't actually exist. Right?

If my neighbor said they saw an elephant walking in the mud in my backyard I would expect to find elephant tracks. If the tracks were not there, that is evidence the elephant was NOT there.

We need to address that before we go on to the issue of proving negatives.

"The fact that Harry Potter is a literary creation of an author employing a fantasy genre is evidence (though perhaps not 100% proof) that Harry Potter doesn't actually exist. Right?"

 

Wrong.  That's only proof that a book exists, which was written by an author, who labelled it fantasy.  That's not proof a real Harry Potter doesn't exist.  And even here, we know the book's creator and can get her affirmation that the IS indeed fantasy.  We don't know anything about the Bible and whether it's NOT fantasy.  Indeed, its writing style suggests that it is little different from the Iliad, a book which everybody recognizes as mythology-based fiction.

 

"If my neighbor said they saw an elephant walking in the mud in my backyard I would expect to find elephant tracks. If the tracks were not there, that is evidence the elephant was NOT there."

 

That's evidence your neighbor is either mistaken or an idiot.  And again, that's evidence the elephant wasn't THERE.  That's not evidence there is no elephant.

 

And this is all within the realms of the physical.  The physical evidence suggests that an elephant LIKELY never existed.  There is no physical evidence that a god doesn't exist.  But a lack of physical evidence that a god doesn't exist doesn't mean that a god DOES exist.

"That's only proof that a book exists, which was written by an author, who labelled it fantasy.  That's not proof a real Harry Potter doesn't exist."

 

I clearly said it was evidence that HP doesn't actually exist.

 

"That's evidence your neighbor is either mistaken or an idiot.  And again, that's evidence the elephant wasn't THERE.  That's not evidence there is no elephant".

 

Yeah that's what I said.  


"But a lack of physical evidence that a god doesn't exist doesn't mean that a god DOES exist."

 

We would expect that God, being immaterial, would not leave any tracks in the mud. But, again, what do you think? Can a negative be proven?

Just like the invisible, immaterial, inaudible, non-heat-producing dragon in my garage.
Carl.
Anything leaving literal tracks in literal mud would be located in space, limited, finite, and contingent in it's essence.
Declaring "I don't believe that" is just a description of your psychological state. It has nothing to do with whether atheism is true or false
...
I think the "default" position, if there were one, would be agnosticism.

False. Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. Simply holding the position that opinion that there is no god, proves that Atheism is true (real could actually be a better word). You are miss-defining Atheism as an active denial and disproving of deities. Atheism at it's simplest really is the lack of the theistic belief. It isn't a positive claim and there is nothing else required in order to be an Atheist.

Also, Atheism is the default state simply because it is a lack of belief by definition, not a denial of belief (which can follow). Say a person was born in America but did not know the term American or it's definition. Does that mean they are not American? Of course not. Same goes for religion. A newborn child has no idea of the concept of gods. Lacking this belief or even the knowledge of the concept = Atheist. 

Agnosticism actually addresses a separate claim. It tells us of a state of knowledge, not belief. An Atheist does not believe in a god, while a theist does. Someone who is agnostic, does not KNOW something. So by that, I am an Agnostic Atheist. I do not know for a fact that there is no god, but I do not believe there to be one. The be truly gnostic, one would have to know something as 100% fact.

James, you said,

"Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god"

 

Then you said,

"An Atheist does not believe in a god,"

 

So which is it?

 

Define yourself how you wish. But I think that since "I lack belief in X" is only a description of an individual's psychological state, I think it is better stated, "I think Naturalism is true therefore God does not exist and so I am an Atheist". BUT, if you wish to defend Naturalism you're going to have to give reasons for it!.

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