June 14, 2011

Concluding the Debate with KJR at Atheist Central

I have been going at it back and forth with someone over at Ray Comfort's blog, Atheist Central, about the existence of God, etc. Because the comment box was getting too thin over there, I decided to post here his response to some things I told him, and my answer to it. This is not an attempt to publicly make KJR look bad, but simply to answer him thoughtfully, as the Bible tells me I should (1 Peter 3:15).

We eventually started to discuss some presuppositions. KJR's words are italicized and my answers are given below them...

"You quote the Bible at me like it has some value."

Yes. I believe the Bible has authority over both of us, so naturally I quote it to you. If the Bible is in fact true, then your dismissal of it beforehand does nothing to diminish its authority from God.

"That's step #3. Lets start by showing that God exists. Then showing that the Bible actually his work. Then I'll believe it, and you can quote it."

Why should I follow your procedure in this matter? Why should my quoting of Scripture depend on your acceptance of it? Biology teachers don't quote a biology textbook only after every student accepts that it's reliable. If God exists and the Bible is His Word, it doesn't depend on whether you agree or not. The problem is with your unbelief, not the proof. I have already demonstrated to you that God exists, but you ignored my arguments. Why should I expect you to behave differently with additional proofs? God exists because to deny Him cuts the rug out from under your ability to reason, talk, or even do science.

"Claiming theuniverse is a creation isn't proof, or even evidence. The Bible is just one of hundreds of creation stories. And it doesn't even get through the first chapter without failing to fit observable reality."

To me, as a Christian who accepts the divine authority of the Bible, creation is self-evident proof both of being created and the existence of the Creator. The reason you don't accept it as such is because you are committed to autonomy. You don't believe, so you dismiss any tangible evidence in favor of belief. Even if I had shown you observable physical evidence for the existence of God, would that not in itself be proof from creation? It would be indeed. But as an atheist, you have not observed all the evidence in the universe to know for sure whether there is not more evidence out there for or against the existence of God. You would have to have observed all the evidence that exists to know, which you haven't done. So you are left with pure agnosticism--you can't know for sure. But that itself is a position requiring absolute knowledge about the fact that you cannot know all the evidence, thus the contradiction that demonstrates the impossibility of living consistently with your skepticism. Become a Christian and you will have a basis for knowing things as they are made known by the Creator. As an atheist, you don't know enough about all the existing evidence to tell whether the opening chapters of Genesis are not consistent with observable reality, since you haven't observed all of reality. You only observe a small part of it. You don't have absolute knowledge about the beginning of our universe, nor have you observed it. The question of whether Genesis makes sense in an atheist' universe is irrelevant anyway, seeing we are only self-replicating chemicals. You are just programmed for unbelief by the way you have evolved. But to a Christian, the opening Genesis chapters make sense in that they declare God as the Creator and Designer of all things, and that He purposefully made mankind, putting them in a special position of authority over this world, reflecting His own likeness. That is not unreasonable at all from a believing point of view. Only from your unjustified unbelieving view do you have a problem with it because of your presuppositions.

"Of course, you'll just claim that I can't know anything because I reject your particular God."

Yes, indeed. From my point of view, you are living in YHWH's world and denying it. That's what the Bible says (Romans 1:18-32). So as long as you claim to have knowledge as an atheist, you contradict yourself, because if atheism were true, there could be no immaterial laws governing the universe (destroying your faith in logic), nor could you have all knowledge to know whether there is enough evidence in the universe to prove the existence of God or disprove Him. And as I said, by being agnostic you are also claiming a certainty that you cannot support--the certainty that you cannot be certain, which is a claim to knowledge that you cannot have. So I hope you begin to see why as a Christian I think your perspective is foolish. Without acknowledging that we are made by God, and everything we know is dependent upon Him, we are utterly in the dark about science, evidence, logic, intelligence, design, reasoning and morality, since the underlying principles for these things cannot be accounted for without God. As the late Dr. Bahnsen used to say, "The proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn't prove anything."

"The base assumptions I start with is that I exist, and what I can observe is, in fact, real. Beyond that, everything is my interpretation of that observational input."

If I asked you, what proof do you have to know that you exist? You would likely have to answer me assuming that you already exist. The same is true for how you justify your use of reasoning. That's the circularity of atheism. You believe things without proof, then hypocritically denigrate others, especially Christians, for doing the same. I'm glad you admit some of your presuppositions, but on what basis are you able to trust that your observations are correct, or that your own reasoning is reliable?

"No, I don't have all the answers. I also can't say with 100% confidence that there are no gods. That confidence level, however, is so close to 100% as to make no difference. I am absolutely certain that the Bible is man made and Yahweh doesn't exist. Likewise with the Quran and Allah."

The fact that you claim you can't know "with 100% confidence that there are no gods" is itself, logically a claim to absolute certainty. You simply can't say that you are unable to know with 100% confidence that there are no gods, since you don't have all knowledge to know that. Perhaps you can be 100% confident that there is one God? Now the Christian answer to this problem of certainty is by relying on the One who does actually know all things for certain, and reveals specific things to us by which we can know them. We aren't ashamed of the belief that God moved men to write the Bible (2 Peter 1:16-21). But since you claim to know Yahweh doesn't exist, I challenge you to prove that He doesn't exist. Tell me how you were able to see all the existing evidence with a perfectly neutral mind and finally come to that conclusion after long hours of careful consideration. Perhaps you will then see my point.

The Bible teaches that we must repent by changing our minds toward God and putting our trust in the One He has sent to reconcile us to Him, Jesus Christ, His Son. We submit our wills to His, believing so that His death and resurrection covers our sin and brings us to God in peace. We need an ongoing "renewing of our mind" as we learn of Him who first loved us. You need the same, KJR. If I could, I would show you the real scars on Jesus' hands, feet and side, and the glory of His appearances alive from the dead, so that you would believe. But I can tell you to look in the New Testament. Read the story again. Think about it. Think about it seriously. However, as long as you are committed to your unbelief, even if you saw Him with your own eyes, you would not believe (Luke 16:31, "[Abraham] replied to him, 'If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" NET).

"May Thor not squash you with his Hammer."

If you believe in Thor, why do you then argue against the existence of deities? But since you don't actually believe in him, I have no reason to discuss him with you. Let's keep talking about your unsubstantial belief in atheism and the reasons for my belief in Yahweh.

Thank you KJR.