Hi, everyone.

My goal here is not to argue that Christianity is true, but that I'm reasonable to be a Christian. I don't care if you agree with me about Christianity, but I do want to persuade you that I'm not stupid, crazy, insane, or in any other epistemically lamentable state, for being a Christian. What follows is a sketch that I can expand as people ask reasonable questions.

Keeping this as short as reasonably possible, I'm a Christian because I think that God exists and that God resurrected Jesus. As Pascal suggested, if I think both of these claims are probably true, then it makes sense for me to foster a belief in the Christian religion by going to church, praying, and so on. Christianity will be the "best bet" in that event, such that it will make more sense for me to foster a belief in Christianity than to foster a belief in another religion or foster no belief in any religion. So, the question is whether or not I can justify my belief that both of these claims are probably true.

My justification for my belief that God exists is an inductive argument for the existence of God which it isn't easy to express briefly, so I won't try. However, I will say that it pulls on the following versions of the following arguments.

(1) A cosmological argument from the existence of a complex physical universe
(2) A teleological argument from temporal regularity
(3) A teleological argument from spatial regularity, or "fine tuning"
(4) An argument from beauty
(5) An argument from moral awareness
(6) An argument from consciousness
(7) An argument from our ability to make significant decisions, or "providence"
(8) An argument from miracles
(9) An argument from history

The above arguments come together to form a cumulative case which I think is sufficient to justify the following.

(10) Therefore, it is at least as likely as not that God exists.

I then introduce the following propositions.

(11) If X is as likely as not to exist based on the other evidence, and if additionally I have an experience that seems to be of X, then X probably exists.
(12) I have had experiences that seemed to be of God.

So, from (1)-(9) I inductively infer (10), and from (10), (11) and (12) I deductively infer that God probably exists.

I have my belief that God exists based on the above arguments, but I have my belief in the Resurrection partly in the basic way. The idea of a properly basic belief takes off from the observation that we all have to begin building our structure of knowledge from certain plausible assumptions, and to me, one of these assumptions is that the Resurrection occurred. This, in combination with my belief that God would have reason to resurrect Christ if he had the moral character displayed in the Gospels, seems to me to warrant a belief that God probably resurrected Jesus.

So, given that I think God probably exists and that God probably resurrected Jesus, it's reasonable for me to cultivate a belief in the Christian religion by the methods suggested by Pascal.

Views: 935

Comment by Robert Karp on May 31, 2012 at 1:15pm

Ladies and Gents....I give you Cara!! Well done!

Comment by Morgan Matthew on May 31, 2012 at 1:15pm

@Cara Coleen /bravo :]

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on May 31, 2012 at 1:16pm

and A Universe from Nothing - Laurence Krauss video

Comment by William Occam on May 31, 2012 at 1:18pm

If you actually care what our perception of you is, you'll see that we've successfully dismissed practically all (save consciousness, sort of) of your reasons for believing in the Christian god and you now look merely stubborn.

I think what you're saying is fairly reasonable. Let me explain, please.

In my blog post, I said I was presenting a sketch that I could fill out as people asked reasonable questions. I'm used to being on forums where there is a lot of give-and-take, where I can fill out my arguments and premises over the course of a discussion, go back and clarify things, etc. I guess that's not the protocol here, and if I'd known that I would have written a much longer and more careful blog post.

Here's how I perceive you: I think you are misunderstanding nearly all of my arguments, and that your criticisms are not decisive against my particular variants of them. I think you are very intelligent and honest, and have read a lot about this, but you're missing some subtleties and are dismissive of my attempts to share them with you.

I'd definitely like to continue this conversation. You know what this forum is like better than I do, so I'll just ask how you think I could best convey my position to the people here. Because whatever I'm doing right now does not seem to work.

Comment by CJoe on May 31, 2012 at 1:37pm

Well, please do clarify what you mean then. I'm familiar with these arguments from previous readings, but I guess they've been infused with more meaning since? If I'm missing subtleties, it's because they were not mentioned. I don't see where you've shared them and I have been reading along even in the discussions I'm not directly involved in.

Most of the members on this site are well-versed in every argument put forth by apologists and theists. We're not asking you questions because we don't really need to; we're merely rehashing debates that have been had, over and over. In fact, most atheists (myself included) come from religious backgrounds, and part of the reason we stopped believing is because we started researching Christianity, religion in general, science, history, etc. If you check some of the many surveys out there, you'll see most atheists have a more robust knowledge of religion than most Christians. We're atheist because we read the Bible thoroughly, and because we discovered science offers much more sensible answers to our questions about life and the universe.

The best way for you navigate these waters is to come to the debate with a thorough knowledge of the arguments for and against theism in general and Christianity in particular. There are some here that aren't going to be at all patient with the fact that you're unfamiliar with the counter arguments, and they're not going to go easy on you. Baptism by fire, if you will.

One suggestion is that you make a separate discussion for each of your premises so they can be dealt with individually. You made a blog here, but for your next topic, click on Forums at the top, and create a new discussion. The format is much better for debate. And prepare yourself for the onslaught. I think most people, in this blog, have been pretty laid back.

Anyway, I'm glad to see you're going to read Krauss' book.

P.S. one more comment on beauty: the mere fact that you disagree with me means beauty is subjective. When opinions define it, it's subjective. ;)

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on May 31, 2012 at 2:21pm

William you have not really argued anything yet. You list various arguments that could be the content listing of a book (by Richard Swinburne??). You have not really elaborated on them to any great extent. So we are not misunderstanding your arguments. I am not going to do a full rebuttal of the Cosmological argument just because you have listed it as one. So if we start with that argument and you explain what is it about it that leads you to believe that a (Christian) God exists we can then reply to your specific points. It will be easier for all to follow them and reply to them. I am open to being persuaded if your arguments can be justified as being more likely than mine. Most likely others here agree with this. Or a new post for each as I have just read Cara’s advice above Doah!

Comment by mwifjsyi on May 31, 2012 at 3:25pm

This post is interesting. I really like all that Cara wrote. Cara you're very patient and thoughtful. After reading the counter-arguments I just feel tired. Reading Christians (even liberal Christians) debating with Atheists seems sad because it's hard for a Christian to embrace what an Atheist believes for the first time.

Many Christians I feel can't see eye-to-eye with Atheists because they are afraid that there is a 50/50 chance or more that their God of Wrath may exist and hell too. Christians take a big risk to ponder the thought that God does not exist because that is the ultimate, unforgivable sin, for which they will go to hell for all eternity. Or at least that is the way it is taught in the bible and many Churches in the South.

I, personally, am just over believing that there is something/someone that needs to save me from condemnation. I don't believe I am going to be condemned. If I do something immoral I may be punished by the laws people have set in place, but I don't feel I need forgiveness or salvation from a diety. I say all this to say that William will have a hard time saying "Ok, Cara you win the debate. Your arguments are stronger." because it's not like they are debating about foreign policy here. The debate is about the existence of God and the consequences for William agreeing that God does not exist could be hell if he is wrong.

I just want you to know William that I do not believe you have a evil soul or deserve condemnation for doubting there is a divine being. I believe there is zero chance there is a God and is or will be a scientific or mathematical explanation for almost everything. And if there isn't an explanation ever it's not right to jump to the conclusion that it's a miracle or that a divine being is responsible. I'm glad you signed on here and wish you the best in your searching.

Comment by William Occam on May 31, 2012 at 3:37pm

Molly, I appreciate your concern, but I think it's misplaced. We haven't gotten into any of my arguments yet in any kind of detail, so feeling sorry for anyone at this point is premature. (And I hope no one here actually thinks I believe atheists go to Hell when they die.)

Comment by William Occam on May 31, 2012 at 3:46pm

Cara Colleen and Reg The Fronkey Farmer,

Thanks for the suggestions. There's a good chance that I'll start a forum thread on the cosmological argument in the near future.

Comment by CJoe on May 31, 2012 at 3:56pm


I concede that a difference of opinion does not mean there is not an objective truth. While there may not actually be an Invisible Pink Unicorn, our opinions on that fact may vary. But are you saying that beauty itself is not subjective? Beauty is an adjective, not a thing.


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