Evidence of God from Christians questionable

zJustin says:

I’m an atheist myself and I’m not presenting any doubts about my atheism with this question but I seem to have trouble with trying to get evidence from theists who want to try to convince me that God exists.

I was talking with a very fine gentleman, who is my neighbor and a strong believer in Christ and God. He asked me why I don’t believe and as is the standard reply there is not enough evidence to prove the existence of God. I told him I am a person of science and logic, and I need proof in the form of hard, observable evidence.

So he is convinced one form of evidence is that we each have an unseeable spirit and soul within us, and since it is only God that can create us with a spirit inside, God must exist. And his supporting arguments for this spirit, hence God are various documented miracles witnessed. We didn’t have time to go into detail about it but he quickly explained something about a woman without a womb giving birth to a child.

So anyway the problem I have really revolves around how “miracles,” that may have been observed and apparently interpreted as such, actually specifically prove the Christian god? I asked for hard evidence, something explainable; scientific but Christians keep citing observations that are in themselves miraculous events.

I mean if the event is currently unexplained by science, how do we know Allah or Shiva didn’t do it? Or perhaps there was a sorcerer or leprechaun in the room. Miracles, or for that matter anything that seems amazing or incredible are lousy at proving god. But I need a way to explain that to Christians. But at the same time I’m having a hard time figuring out what exactly good evidence, that’s not miraculous or magical but could prove god if we found it, might look like.

44 Responses to Evidence of God from Christians questionable

  1. The Atheist says:

    I would begin by asking your friend to clarify exactly what he means by “soul” or “spirit”. I would imagine that by “soul” or “spirit”, he means a consciousness that is not dependent on the physical for its existence. However we don’t know of a single instance of consciousness that exists separate from a functioning physical brain. If there is no evidence for the existence of “spirit”, then “spirit” is no evidence for the existence of God.

    If however by “spirit” he simply means “consciousness”, then at best your friend can say that, because we don’t understand much about consciousness, then its origin must be God. One problem is that there is no reason to accept God as a default answer when something is unknown. “Unknown” means “unknown”; “unknown” doesn’t mean “known to be God”. Another problem is that we can observe a long-term trend of the god-of-the-gaps shrinking over time as science continues to reveal more over time. I think it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll continue to learn more about consciousness as the field of neuroscience continues to advance.

    Personally, I would settle for evidence that any miracles have occurred, regardless of whether the evidence supports the existence of the Christian God or any other gods. So far I haven’t seen any convincing evidence for any claims of miracles.

    If a theistic God existed (i.e., a personal creator God like the Christian God who wants us to know of his existence), then I wouldn’t expect him to have any difficulty letting us know. The fact that Christians search hard for shreds of evidence (that they can’t produce), or settle for circular reasoning to support their beliefs (the Bible proves that God exists because the Bible is the Word of God) implies that God isn’t as real to them as they let on.

    • zJustin says:

      Thanks Mr. The Atheist for your reply. So a kind of difference in the perception of miracles we have here is that you imply no miracles have ever occurred. Or all known evidence supporting miracles are faulty, insufficient or likely subject to misinterpretation and hearsay. I tend to like to play it safe as opposed to speaking in absolutes so that I will not claim no miracles have ever occurred, despite what the evidence has presented us. In order to safely say no miracles have ever occurred, I would have to have absolute knowledge of everything that has ever occurred in the universe, it’s not really about the evidence.

      Regarding what you said about God, if he existed, would have no trouble letting us know, I wasn’t worried so much about God initiating contact with us, I was concerned more with US becoming able to detect the presence of a deity. And in a way that would be a reliable, testable and consistent form of evidence. What exactly might that entail? This is why I’m so skeptical about “miracles” per say, they’re like answering a question with a question. I think if God exists, and we are able to find evidence of him/her, it will be quite plain, boring and un-miraculous.

      • The Atheist says:

        zJustin, to clarify, I don’t assert that no miracles have ever occurred, only that I haven’t seen any reason to accept that they have. Every claim I’ve ever seen for the occurrence of any miracle has been shown to be false or has otherwise been unsubstantiated. My objective isn’t to “play it safe” or to protect my current beliefs, but rather to arrive at the best conclusions.

        Indeed the implications are that no miracles have occurred. It’s possible that a miracle occurred but went unnoticed. That doesn’t seem plausible in light of claims that a key objective of miracles is to inspire faith. It’s also possible that a miracle was noticed but not reported. That doesn’t seem plausible either since people normally report extraordinary events, especially when the event is life changing. I can think of other scenarios where it’s possible that a miracle occurred but was not substantiated, but I can’t think of any that are more plausible.

        If we have no reason to believe in an extraordinary claim (like a miracle or a Pink Unicorn), it is more reasonable to reject the claim. Most of us would agree with this when applied to any context other than spiritually related claims.

  2. Jason says:

    It’s said that god gave us the gift of free will and that he performs miracles, TA. A miracle would take away free will, so miracles can’t exist. More contradictory concepts from the inerrant word of god.

  3. zJustin, great question.

    I think the best evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible comes from a presuppositional approach. This takes a look at whatever truth we presuppose and weighs it against reality we experience. Here it is…

    The first thing is for the Christian to admit that his argument is ultimately circular reasoning, because he is appealing to the Bible as his best evidence for the existence of God. In other words, Christian theism appeals to Christian theism.

    On to the atheist’s position: You state you are a man of science and logic. Science is done by applying the laws of logic, so let’s say that human logic is your ultimate commitment and authority. Logic dictates the major decisions you make in life and drives your conclusions about God and the universe. Is that a fair assessment?

    Now what is the basis for you claiming logic as your ultimate commitment? It’s logic. You defend the use of logic by virtue of logic, therefore your argument for your ultimate authority is ultimately circular.

    So atheism and Christian theism, and for that matter any other worldview, are on equal ground when it comes to circularity of its logic. They appeal to their own ultimate authority to justify their own ultimate authority. ALL arguments are, at their most foundational level, circular. Does this make sense?

    So which worldview is true? It would have to be the one, if any, that makes sense out of our sensory experience. That’s really the best we can do, since any facts we find or evidence we observe is experienced by our senses.

    Here is where I think atheism does NOT make sense of the world and Christianity DOES.

    Atheism and accompanying Naturalism does not explain our basic dependence of logic and reason. What is there about a universe that began with basically matter and motion that could have given rise to the laws of logic and reason?

    The Bible describes a God who uses logic as a part of His nature, who created man in His image (Gen. 1:27) and invites us to reason (Is. 1:18). On Christianity, logic and reason make sense.

    Atheism and naturalism do not explain the origin of absolute, objective moral law that everyone is aware of. We may disagree on the interpretation, but everyone lives as if laws of right and wrong exist. They couldn’t logically have evolved within humans because it’s impossible to imagine the first moral act that doesn’t appeal to some other moral standard for good or kindness or truth. And if they evolved within humans, humans would have no basis for applying them to other humans or to the idea of God, as many atheists do when they morally condemn God actions in the Old Testament. Atheist may clam no universal moral code exists, but when they do they appeal to some universal moral code that says they are right in their claim, which is self-contradictory.

    The Bible describes a moral God who is transcendent, exercises moral judgment, and has written moral law on our hearts, to which our consciences bear witness (Rom. 2:15).

    Atheism and naturalism do no explain the laws of nature and scientific dependence on uniformity, that experiments done the same way will yield the same results, that things will happen in the future the way they happened in the past. In a universe of undirected chain reactions, this type of apparent direction doesn’t make sense.

    The Bible describes a God who set the universe in motion at creation (Gen. 1:1) and established the regularity of the earth’s rotation (Gen. 1:14-19; Jer. 33:20), seasons (Gen. 8:22, Psalm 74:17) planting/harvest cycle (Jer. 5:24, Mark 5:26-29) and is responsible for the whole natural order (Col. 1:16-17, Eph. 1:11, Heb. 1:3). We take all this and more for granted, but there is no logical reason for our base assumptions on Atheism.

    Only the God of the Bible when compared to other gods in various world religions can be shown to be internally consistent and His Word consistent to the reality we experience.

    Since every worldview is ultimately circular in its defense, EVERY belief begins with faith, even a system that purports to be based on “fact” and “evidence”. Christianity is set apart because it actually makes sense of the world.

    • The Atheist says:

      godandneighbor,

      When you say that:

      You [zJustin] defend the use of logic by virtue of logic

      Can you clarify what syllogism(s) you have in mind? Here is my (incorrect) attempt to come up with one, just to clarify the problem I’m having understanding your criticism:

      major premise: My authority is logic
      minor premise: logic is an authority
      conclusion: Therefore logic is my authority

      Also, could you clarity the analogous syllogism that you propose for a worldview based on faith rather than reason?

      • The Atheist, happy New Year!

        “re: ‘You [zJustin] defend the use of logic by virtue of logic’: Can you clarify what syllogism(s) you have in mind?”
        Yes, I am happy to…

        1. An argument that appeals to itself is circular.
        2. Logic appeals to logic.
        3. Therefore any argument for the ultimate authority of logic is circular.

        “could you clarity the analogous syllogism that you propose for a worldview based on faith rather than reason?”

        1. Worldviews are based on our ultimate commitments.
        2. Ultimate commitments cannot be proven.
        3. A worldview based on human reasoning as an ultimate commitment is accepted on faith.

        It’s not common to question the validity of A Priori assumptions, but philosophically we can. In return, I would like to see a syllogism that says why we should depend on logic. :) I don’t think it can be done without employing logic because logic is a necessary component to logical syllogisms. My point is that avoiding circular reasoning ISN’T the point—in fact it’s impossible. Christians never (or shouldn’t) say we shouldn’t use logic, reason, science, etc. We just say that the God described in the Bible makes sense of our use of them.

      • The Atheist says:

        Happy new year, godandneighbor!

        Sorry if I wasn’t clear: my request was not that you state a syllogism that you use to illustrate logical circularity in general, my request was that you clarify what syllogism of zJustin’s that you are refuting – that is, the syllogism that you see zJustin positing which you find to be circular. zJustin is not claiming that “Logic appeals to logic” so the syllogism you provided doesn’t sound like his.

        Your major premise, “Worldviews are based on our ultimate commitments” isn’t valid. Sire notwithstanding (I haven’t seen any coherent arguments for his position), the term “worldview” is not commonly understood to be ultimate commitments. “Worldview” is most commonly understood to be a set of beliefs that result from observing the universe. When our observations change (for example when we are able to observer that our universe is not geocentric), our worldview changes accordingly. We modify the earlier worldview, which is evidence that our commitments to it were not ultimate.

        Your minor premise, that “Ultimate commitments cannot be proven” needs clarification. If you define “ultimate commitments” as beliefs that are held without reason, then it doesn’t serve to support your conclusion that “A worldview based on human reasoning as an ultimate commitment is accepted on faith.”

        I would like to see a syllogism that says why we should depend on logic…without employing logic because logic is a necessary component to logical syllogisms

        You seem to be asking for a logical statement that doesn’t use logical statements. The answer of course is that by definition, there is no logical statement that does not use logic. I don’t see a paradox here. But the new request for a logical statement with no logic seems orthogonal with the original position you are trying to justify: that justification of logic, like religion, is necessarily circular.

        Logic in the general sense is not a conclusion that must be justified, it is a definition; a definition of a way of reasoning. That we reason is a premise – it’s something we observe in humans and other animals. Premises based on observations don’t require justification. Faith in the general sense is also not justified, it is also a definition; an acquired set of beliefs. That we and other animals hold beliefs in general is also a premise based on observation. However a statement that “faith is better than logic” or “logic is better than faith” requires support, and it also requires a more specific definition of the kind of faith (the particular set of beliefs) that is better, the kind of logic (the particular claim) that is better, and what “better” means. Those are arguments we can indeed make.

        There is an argument for logic to be made from naturalism:

        * if we desire to live, then that which helps us to continue living is desirable
        * the ability to predict how what we observe behaves helps us to continuing living
        > the ability to predict is desirable

        * if logic helps us predict how what we observe behaves, then logic is desirable
        * rules of logic were developed and honed over time to increase our ability to predict
        > rules of logic are desirable

        Notice how my use of logic here isn’t itself an appeal to logic for the reasons already explained above: that we use logic to understand is a premise based on observation, and not something that needs justification. However you might ask if we should in general use logic. Since the use of logic in general is an integral part of who “we” are (animals who have evolved a brain that reasons), then the question is meaningless because “we” wouldn’t be the same “we” without logic.

        You’ve conceded that Faith in Christianity is circular, and I’ve argued that ‘using logic to justify using logic’ is a straw man. I can show using arguments like the ones above that circular reasoning is fallacious logic, and that fallacious logic is not as good as valid logic. If you also concede that the “Christian hypothesis” is not falsifiable, I can show that non-falsifiable hypotheses are inferior to falsifiable hypotheses:

        * I can invent any number of non-falsifiable but mutually exclusive hypotheses about our universe
        * there is no way to test which if any of my hypotheses are valid
        > non-falsifiable hypotheses do not contribute valid knowledge about our universe

        * I can invent falsifiable but mutually exclusive hypotheses about our universe
        * there is a way to test which if any of my hypotheses are true
        > falsifiable hypotheses contribute valid knowledge about our universe

        • “Sorry if I wasn’t clear: my request was not that you state a syllogism that you use to illustrate logical circularity in general, my request was that you clarify what syllogism of zJustin’s that you are refuting – that is, the syllogism that you see zJustin positing which you find to be circular.”

          An argument that appeals to itself is circular.
          Logic appeals to logic.
          Therefore any argument for the ultimate authority of logic is circular.

          Worldviews are based on our ultimate commitments.
          Ultimate commitments cannot be proven.
          A worldview based on human reasoning is accepted on faith.

          I havent claimed that zJustin has made any circular arguments. He has only described how logic seems to work and hasn’t tried to provide a basis for it. I want to know how Atheism explains how logic came to be.

          Why wouldn’t James Sire’s definition of worldview not suffice? His is: “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

          I essentially agree with his definition, and yours, to an extent. You say worldview is “a set of beliefs that result from observing the universe.” A set of beliefs about what? sire says they are basic and foundational convictions about how live. So far your definition is compatible. You say our observations change, and i agree. wouldnt you say that our conclusions, the meaning we ascribe to what we observe can change also? therefore worldviews, whichever definition we use, are changeable.

          Sorry, I should have clarified terms better in the process. Clearly We differ on the meaning of ultimate. Your claim that Changing world views are “evidence that our commitments to it were not ultimate” indicates that you think ultimate means final and unchanging in this case. Ultimate in this sense means greatest, most basic, most foundational. So the first premise, that our beliefs about the world are based on our greatest and most basic commitments (which may change) is valid.

          “If you define « ultimate commitments » as beliefs that are held without reason, then [premise 2-ultimate commitments cannot be proven] doesn’t serve to support your conclusion that « A worldview based on human reasoning as an ultimate commitment is accepted on faith. »”

          I think it does because a worldview that holds reason in the highest regard cannot justify it by reason. At best it is assumed.

          So my request for a logical statement that doesn’t use logic, which is the type of argument required to justify the basic presupposition of logic, was rhetorical. I know it can’t be done. I believe that there is something greater and more foundational (more ultimate) than human reason, and that is the God of the Bible, who gives us reason as an extension of His own nature.

          Turns out I can’t justify God’s existence with anything greater, more foundational or more ultimate either. It’s another A Priori accepted on faith. It’s my ultimate commitment, naturally unprovable, but justifies our use of logic and reason.

          “Logic in the general sense is not a conclusion that must be justified, it is a definition; a definition of a way of reasoning.”

          Logic is part of a definition for many other terms, but logic itself isn’t a definition; it’s something that has a definition. (https://www.google.com/search?q=define+logic&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari).

          “Logic in the general sense is not a conclusion that must be justified” because in most logical arguments we are using logic to justify what can be proven by greater and more foundational, ultimate truths. But, this is not such an argument; it’s one of ultimate commitments. God is the ultimate commitment of Christian theism because CT holds that God is the creator of all things, and logic is the ultimate commitment of atheism, because on atheism here is nothing greater or more ultimate than logic. The thing we use to justify everything else (for me, God; for you, logic) can’t appeal to anything greater. That’s why all such reasoning is circular, and ultimate commitments to logic and God are made on faith.

          The syllogisms you used don’t appeal to logic because you’re not arguing for logic; you’re arguing for something else–the usefulness of logic. A bicycle is useful, but that doesnt explain how it got here. I’m asking for a rational argument for the origin and preeminence of logic on atheism.

  4. zJustin says:

    Godandneighbor you are basing most of your argument on the premise that both a logic-framed and a Christian-framed type of reasoning are circular. No that is completely incorrect and faulty and that fault unravels the rest of your entire argument. Logic itself is the absence of circular reasoning. Your argument even mis-defines the term circular reasoning because you explain circular reasoning occurs when you make an argument with someone who agrees with you. Completely wrong, how valid a form of reasoning is has nothing to do with how much you appeal to your listener. You’re either right, wrong or just completely making no sense at all.

    Let me give you an example; pretty simple: All Greeks are human and all humans are mortal; therefore, all Greeks are mortal. It’s a valid argument, it makes logical sense. A lot of Christianity fails this because there’s so much expectation that for people to conform with it, no questioning must occur and if people simply use logic to challenge biblical directives it’s so easy to find fallacies, nonsense and inconsistencies. But I think many Christians are fine with that, the human brain naturally seeks authority that is not always logical, just one who’s only objective is security, watchfulness and confidence. And that’s what matters – for them. As for me, I am not satisfied, I want knowledge that is as close to reality as possible, and I think the only way to achieve that is through logic and reason. Every instance I’ve seen from the point of Christianity, theism and references in the Bible fail miserably and ridiculously, to be honest.

    • “Logic itself is the absence of circular reasoning.”

      Not exactly. An argument is circular when the reasoner begins with what he or she is trying to end up with. If you decide to justify logic because it is logical to do so, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

      “Your argument even mis-defines the term circular reasoning because you explain circular reasoning occurs when you make an argument with someone who agrees with you.”

      Where do you think that I said that? Because I actually didn’t make that argument.

      “A lot of Christianity fails this because there’s so much expectation that for people to conform with it, no questioning must occur and if people simply use logic to challenge biblical directives it’s so easy to find fallacies, nonsense and inconsistencies.”

      Example?

      “I want knowledge that is as close to reality as possible, and I think the only way to achieve that is through logic and reason.”

      Right, many people think that the only way to understand reality is through logic and reason. But, as I explained, there is no way to justify your love for logic and reason without using logic and reason (you’re doing it right now). :) You can accept any proposition on faith to acquire a belief, but not all beliefs make sense of reality. Christianity does.

  5. zJustin says:

    1st part: no and no. When did I say there was any purpose to justifying logic? You utilize logic to reach a conclusion about what you are trying to discover or answer. You’re twisting definitions again using a convoluted (nonsensical) logic of your own. Just slow down and think dude.

    2nd part: You did say that because you claimed someone, whether atheist or Christian might want to *admit* their argument is circular, and it’s ok because it “appeals” to the corresponding philosophy. You can debate whether you said this or not, I’m mostly debating that it just doesn’t make sense from the perspective of the logic and reasoning process. If it’s supposed to make sense, explain it again because so far very little of what you said makes sense.

    3rd part: you want an examples? Noah, Adam & Eve, resurrections, Hell, God himself. Like I said I wanted evidence from Christians and all I get are citations of more miracles, and very little evidence they’re also all not hogwash also.

    4th part: love of logic? Are you serious? And again I don’t need to justify logic, it’s the method to get from point A to B in understanding. As an analogy I might choose to drive a car instead of swim to get from A to B. Driving is simply practical and available. A Christian like you who thinks others must love logic, but you yourself don’t might prefer swimming because he or she is told that is the best way, even though there is no water between point A and B.

  6. Atheists can actually say “I don’t know” about something that is currently unexplained. Religious people always have to have an answer, and they just invent one about God being the cause of the unexplained event. If we just wait long enough and keep a spirit of exploration, many of our current unknowns will be solved – and we will find new unknowns to research. Think of the myriad things people 100 years ago never thought we would discover but we now take for granted – and the questions we are asking today that people 100 years ago couldn’t even imagine asking.

  7. “you claimed someone, whether atheist or Christian might want to *admit* their argument is circular, and it’s ok because it “appeals” to the corresponding philosophy.”

    Yes, I think people should understand that any argument for an ultimate conviction is circular, but that is not a requirement for circular logic. Most circular arguments are fallacious because of the relative size of the circle—they appeal to something that could actually be supported by something greater and more foundational. But at the most foundational level, circular reasoning is unavoidable because we’ve run out of things that we can prove and are left to presuppose an ultimate conviction. That ultimate conviction (for me, God; for you, autonomous human reasoning) is accepted by faith.

    “When did I say there was any purpose to justifying logic? You utilize logic to reach a conclusion… it’s the method to get from point A to B…”

    You DIDN’T say that there is any purpose to justifying the use of logic, but I don’t think you could come up with one if you were asked to. You don’t see the need because for you, it’s just there. You presuppose it, because it’s “simply practical and available.” You’re a “man of science” so you don’t ask why, but I’m asking, Why do science? Why are there LAWS of logic?

    We presuppose (assume, take for granted) something basic and foundational that we can’t prove or support with anything MORE basic or foundational. It makes sense that an atheist, who thinks there is no God and no creator or first cause, would look at something like the laws of logic and say we should just assume them, rather than actually utilizing that same logic to explore how they got there in the first place. You could think about it, but it’s most likely your atheistic worldview that prevents you from doing so.

    I have no problem with using logic; it’s what God gave us to reason, learn and discover Him. Obviously it only gets you so far, because holding it in the highest regard leaves you without any purpose or even desire to look into why it’s there, even to the point of abandoning logic.

    “…you want an examples? Noah, Adam & Eve, resurrections, Hell, God himself.”

    On Christianity, these are not fallacious, nonsensical or inconsistent. They only are on atheism, a worldview that can’t make sense out of the world we observe.

  8. zJustin says:

    Why do science, why place logic in such high regard? Sure I can answer that. Think of the universe as basically a giant computer. When we use a computer we perceive the output in the form of images and sounds that are made to process in a way that makes sense to the user. But at the most foundational, basic level all that information is just a series of 1’s and 0’s which would be incomprehensible to humans if we viewed it in that format.

    The universe is the same, there is a subatomic, basic building block of energy, matter thus reality itself all of which can be decoded by pure mathematical reasoning. Some things are still unexplained like the behavior and relationship of certain particles that make up dark or empty matter, but were getting closer. However this giant computer called the universe came about, even if God made it, it’s still bound by the laws of logic EXCLUSEVELY as the language that explains reality.

    I am not depending on logic because I “like it better, and relying on it isn’t a matter of presupposing it as the best available option, it is the ONLY option. I don’t even count the explanation from God’s perspective as an alternative because the origins of that language, that mindset, were developed before the concept of logic was evident to us. They (the authors of the bible) did have a kind of logic but the tools and methods of observation were inadequate to them. There’s no doubt that all the political strife during that period of history was extremely counterproductive to logic and reasoning as well.

    You say I as an atheist my ultimate conviction is autonomous human resoning as opposed to your source of reasoing are both accepted by faith. Why? You need to explain why that is true. I don’t think faith applies in my case at all, so the two approaches are simply incomparable. Logic is the default, it doesn’t need validation. God, or just saying it is so because God says it’s so, does need validation because it VIOLATES logic.

    You have repeatedly stated assertions to the contrary but no evidence backing it. You can keep stating those, and I’m sure you believe them yourself because either you keep saying it to yourself, or others keep telling you this unsubstatiated information, so that even reasoning becomes useless. It’s no concern of mine if this is comforting for you, and it’s better actually if that’s what gives you comfort and reassurance. But for me it’s inadequate, my way is to question, doubt and reason until I’m closer to making sense of the world. Religion and God can’t do that because it’s impossible, I’ve tested it and tested it and results have come up with a failing grade almost every time. It’s not by choice or belief, it’s just what the evidence has SHOWN.

  9. “You say I as an atheist my ultimate conviction is autonomous human resoning as opposed to your source of reasoing are both accepted by faith. Why? You need to explain why that is true. I don’t think faith applies in my case at all, so the two approaches are simply incomparable. Logic is the default, it doesn’t need validation.”

    Zjustin, you already demonstrated that you accept the supremacy of logic by faith: You say’s it’s your default and it doesn’t need validation. That is a presupposition, something you just assume because you can’t support it with any kind of evidence. Think about it: You rely on the laws of logic because to you they require no validation. They can’t be proven by logic. When you believe something without proof, that’s faith.

    Not only that, but you admit an understanding that logic is a law. Law requires a law-giver. You also call logic a language, and language doesn’t happen on its own; it’s written. And no one looks at a “giant computer” and says, “We don’t know how it came about, but it sure wasn’t any intelligent being.”

    Now how does the idea of God “violate logic” when you can’t postulate a better reason why we use logic?

    I imagine that civilizations 2,000 years in the future might look back at the world of 2012 and say something like “political strife during that period of history was extremely counterproductive to logic and reasoning.” That’s true today! :) There is no marked difference between our use of logic and the ancient world’s—technology, yes, but not basic human reasoning.

    The fallacious emotional appeal aside in your last paragraph, you say that your way “is to question, doubt and reason” but you won’t question your use of reason. How can that be? And what sort of tests have you run on God that you conclude that He is impossible?

    • zJustin says:

      The language of logic is autonomous to human intervention because, as I’ve demonstrated reality at its most basic building blocks is like a basic series of 1’s and 0’s that make up all data that a computer expresses as images and sounds. I just happened to have determined this method of interpreting reality works best. The fact that interpreting reality requires logic is not faith, and the fact that I trust it is not faith either because I’ve gained adequate evidence that logic is reliable in the same way you know seatbelts will help save your life in a crash. Faith does not compel you to use seat belts, logic dictates that you will not fly through the window of your car in a collision if you wear your seatbelt. Faith is being compelled to believe something that contradicts obvious and available evidence that what you believe is false. Your assertion that my dedication to logic is anyway remotely a type of faith is patently ridiculous. I suggest you seriously take a look at what you’ve determined the definition of faith to be.

      To answer your question about testing God, just observe the workings of religion. People are told to pray, sometimes prayers are answered from believers perspective but a casually observing relative or friend can easily deduce a coincidence occurred that the praying believer got overemotional about when their sickness went away for example. Churches ask for your money and ask you spread the word of God: it’s a business with an objective only to benefit itself. It doesn’t care about congregants it feeds off off the ignorance of the many that are taught to ignore or manipulate evidence and distrust the very logic that makes humans perfectly capable of answering life’s mysteries for themselves. And you my friend are a poster child of this very same form of manipulation and deceit. You just don’t see it and won’t accept it.

      Furthermore, I have said repeatedly in my arguments “what if God was real?” What would that look like from an evidential understanding of his existence? I keep referring to the “What if?” scenario which in case you didn’t realize it is a form of LOGIC argument that given a particular form of evidence gained would actually support a shift in my position about a godless universe to a godly universe. There’s another test you asked me to provide an example of. However the results still point to and confirm a godless universe. Your ramblings give no indication whatsoever that you could conceive of the possibility of a godless universe. You are so unREASONABLY convinced that is not possible it clouds any hope of you ever even accepting LOGIC as an answer. But there’s a name for that, and I guess it’s fine for you: it’s called FAITH.

  10. […] This is an ongoing debate at AskAnAtheist.com. […]

  11. “The language of logic is autonomous to human intervention”

    If by this you mean that it is independent of humans, you’re right on that. We discovered the laws of logic; we didn’t invent them.

    “I just happened to have determined this method of interpreting reality works best.”

    Well you’ve done nothing more to hypothesize the origin or purpose of the laws of logic. You’ve only observed how they work. Observing a computer in action does not explain where it came from and how you came to use it. You refer to the basic structure of the universe as a language of 1s and 0s and intelligible data and relating it to a computer, which destroys any argument that such a basic structure is a natural and random process. That alone should compel you to look a little deeper; obviously such a structure requires the input of intelligence and design, and of course, logic.

    “The fact that interpreting reality requires logic is not faith, and the fact that I trust it is not faith either because I’ve gained adequate evidence that logic is reliable in the same way you know seatbelts will help save your life in a crash.”

    That’s assuming that the future will be like the past, which is something we all rely on. It’s called the Principal of Uniformity, the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate now always have across time and space, and from that we assume they will continue to operate the same way into the future. Uniformitarianism seems very reliable, BUT it’s still an “assumption” (look it up and see). You are depending on the laws of logic to be upheld by the laws of uniformity, WHICH you still can’t logically account for on Naturalism. It’s just another presupposition to accept by faith. Christianity accounts for the principal of uniformity (see my first comment).

    By the way, 53% of drivers and passengers killed in car crashes in 2009 were not wearing restraints, and that means 47% of them were wearing seatbelts. So much for faith in uniformity. :) ( http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811363.PDF)

    “Faith is being compelled to believe something that contradicts obvious and available evidence that what you believe is false.”

    I think that most if not all available online definitions of “faith” would disagree with yours. Faith is belief WITHOUT proof or evidence, not in contradiction to it, or against evidence to the contrary. That’s quite an equivocation. :) So it stands that if you cannot support your use of logic or your assumption that the future will be like the past, you are clinging to those beliefs by faith.

    “To answer your question about testing God, just observe the workings of religion.”

    Your attempting to test people here, not God, but frankly you’re not very scientific or logical about it. You make some sweeping generalizations and wild assumptions about the intent of churches that may be true of a few of them but plainly false on the whole. That’s no test, it’s just crazy spouting.

    “I have said repeatedly in my arguments “what if God was real?” What would that look like from an evidential understanding of his existence?”

    Um… I couldn’t find “What if” anywhere in your previous comments, so where did you repeatedly ask this? Anyway, I don’t see how you can say “the results still point to and confirm a godless universe” when you can’t account for your position, other than by saying that logic is just “available and convenient” and that it seems to work. That is a non-answer, and requires much more faith than I’m capable of.

    • zJustin says:

      I don’t really get what you mean by whether the future must be like the past in how it relates to the validity of logic. The difference between the future and the past is that we’ve gained more in a continuum of logical conclusions that build up upon themselves as far as human understanding. To you that may seem like a system that feeds off of mistakes or inadequacies, because there are many, but it is always open to revision. If it was proven to be faulty, how could we reliably know more now, almost everything really about the universe than we did in the past? That understanding doesn’t change reality itself, only how much less we leave things up to imagination and superstition to explain things.

      Eventually logic may replace faith altogether because, as I still feel correct in justifying, it’s flawed. My previous definition didn’t exclude that “faith is belief without proof or evidence,” but as we both agree it is that also. But even that definition alone supports the claim of its gross inadequacy in applying it to unlock the mysteries of universe. It’s important and useful for the faithful because some people don’t care about the nitty gritty details of “Why?” When a Christian sees the sun come up every morning they can thank God based on faith that it is his power that grants us a new day every morning. If that’s fine for you too, I’m glad.

      Logic naturally tells me it’s more than that because I know there’s plenty that goes on behind the scenes that really there’s little pratical value in knowing. The sun rises every morning the same way today and into the forseeable future as it did thousands of years ago. So looking at that example are you suggesting that if I was alive 500 years ago I couldn’t have used logic to figure out God had nothing to do with the sun rising? I don’t see how the use of logic itself would differ, but the big difference is that I would much more likely lack the tools and prerequisite information to deduce how the sun is rising. I’d imagine even then some individuals let doubt creep in about the prevailing, and inaccurate, assumption. That doubt is logic at work and wasn’t it Galileo the one such individual who took that doubt further and turned it into evidence?

      • “I don’t really get what you mean by whether the future must be like the past in how it relates to the validity of logic. The difference between the future and the past is that we’ve gained more in a continuum of logical conclusions that build up upon themselves as far as human understanding.”

        Logic depends on the fact that future seems like it will be like the past, based on past experience that every time we do something a certain way, it achieves the same result, with very few exceptions. From that experience, we ASSUME that in the future this will continue to be the pattern. Christians have faith in a Creator who set up the universe to behave in a very ordered and consistent manner. Humans observe these patterns of consistency and give them names: The Law of Uniformity, the Law of Cause and Effect, the Laws of Logic, etc. Christians and athiests both have faith that the future reflects the past, but Christians do because we trust that a consistent Creator caused the universe and makes sense of it. Atheists have faith that the future reflects the past simply because as far as we can recall or observe it always has. It’s just there. That’s a logical reason to continue to have faith in the laws of nature and logic, but it’s not based on anything but experience. The Christian’s faith in the Creator who set the universe on its course and makes sense out the laws of nature and logic. The atheist has faith in laws, the existence of which he can’t explain on his own worldview. This requires more faith than a theist’s faith in God, because here the atheist is, using logic for which he has no basis, because he has no evidence whatsoever that Naturalism can produce logic, uniformity, morality, mathematics, music, or any of the things we empirically observe.

        Meanwhile, atheists continue to describe these patterns of logic and nature as laws (which require a law-giver in any logical sense) and language (which requires a writer in any logical sense) and complex computers (which require a designer and builder in any logical sense), borrowing from theism in the use of these things, but denying the obvious. You’ve actually made a very good case for Christian theism. :)

        You seem to think that faith equals religion and you’re far removed from it. Faith is held in any belief system, including atheism. Christianity can justify it, whereas atheism only can by borrowing from Christianity.

        “how could we reliably know more now, almost everything really about the universe than we did in the past? “

        We certainly do not know “almost everything” about the universe. We know really very little. And you concede that there are “mysteries of the universe” yet to be unlocked, presumably by logic and science. Why do you put so much faith in the idea, with so little that we know about the universe, that God does not exist? It’s this confidence that makes me surprised at your great faith in atheism. I think when you say “I know there’s plenty that goes on behind the scenes that really there’s little pratical value in knowing”, you’re including God in this, and that may be why you refuse to look any further.

        Enjoy your weekend. :)

  12. 123rmichel says:

    Most anything I say that contradicts a believer of a “revealed” religion will only make that believer more determined to convince me of his way of thinking.

    I have found it easiest to get out of these discussions by simply saying:

    “I have been told that faith is a gift … a gift, by the way I have not been given. I presume if your god (or any other god) want me to have that gift, I will receive it. Until then, I will be a productive, useful person just because it is what i like to be … not because some deity will punish me for acting poorly”.

    … keeps me out of “waste of time” discussions.

  13. @jaycuratolo says:

    I have watched this thread with a great deal of interest. I have nothing revolutionary to contribute, only the following thought: zJustin, I’ve always felt it takes more faith to deny the existence of God, than to embrace it. If that’s weak-minded faith, so be it. Logic tells me to buy medical insurance in case I get sick. I don’t need proof of my own potential disease to know that I need to provide coverage for its possibility. I would say that logic could suggest there may come a day when a very real God may just prove Himself to you in a most mind-blowing manner. And at that point, it may simply be too late for it to make any difference. Then again, maybe none of that will ever happen. I, however, will take my chances with the faith side of logic… just in case.

    • zJustin says:

      The number of claims I’ve heard from Christians that it takes more faith to deny the existence of God than to embrace it just boggles my mind. Isn’t it conceivable to think what they’re really saying is that it takes more *effort* to deny all the *conditioning* that has been impressed upon them?

      You’re already convinced that God exists but there are these occasional slivers of doubt from others and within yourself. They may seem insignificant compared to the possibility of changing, which can seem very frightening and its a prospect that might seem awkward to friends and family who have known you as a Christian and always expect you to stay that way.

      What you might pass off as faith as a prerequisite for disbelieving in God doesn’t even apply to people who are already atheists. Either they’ve never been a theist or they’ve shed that conditioning I’ve mentioned above through logic and reasoning that religion is all just too preposterous to hang on to. It’s not a new type of faith, rather it’s the REMOVAL of faith from their lives.

      Agreeable?

  14. @jaycuratolo says:

    If we’re having a discussion about “faith vs. non-faith”, I believe what we have here is a simple case of a difference in terminology. You seem to have a passionate apprehension against applying the word “faith” to your set of beliefs, preferring instead to refer to your atheism as the “absence” of all faith. I still have to differ with your definition. I would suggest that you’ve placed an enormous amount of faith in your belief that there is no God. And I’m always intrigued that in order to be satisfied, atheists demand proof of the existence of God, while “believers” don’t demand that the existence of God be disproven. But for the sake of abandoning the word “faith” in regards to your personal convictions, lets’s try another word – “trust”.

    Consider for a moment if everywhere within this thread, we replace the concept of “faith” with the concept of “trust”. I claim to have faith in an all-powerful God/Creator who is actively involved in the affairs of this world, including providing a means of salvation for my otherwise doomed soul through the perfect sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus. But can my faith in this also be described as a deep trust as well? Are faith and trust synonymous? Or does one birth the other? Let’s examine this for a minute.

    If I want to sit down in a chair, I need to have faith that the chair will hold me up. But having faith that the chair won’t collapse beneath me is not quite enough. My relationship with the chair doesn’t truly begin until my faith in it transfers to trust – by actually acting upon said faith and sitting down. I don’t have faith in the chair only AFTER I sit down – I already had it. The act of trusting it only serves to CONFIRM the faith I had in it in the first place. The outcome of the chair holding me up deepens my faith in the chair itself, but I had to start somewhere. Based on this line of thinking, faith leads to trust, not the other way around.

    So how does this apply to my faith in God? I didn’t begin my relationship with Him by demanding He prove Himself to me. I decided to believe, then placed that belief in action by trusting, then witnessed the manifestation of His faithfulness, which in turn deepened the faith that started it all. A cycle began that continues today.

    So how does this apply to your non-faith? You demand a reversal in the rules – That the evidence be shown to you prior to your responsibility in taking the initial step. We don’t demand that our fiancé prove the evidence of her faithfulness to us prior to saying “I do”. We believe first in her word of honor, trust her, then allow our faith in her to grow.

    Based on this premise, the evidence of God you are seeking so desperately may only come after you make the first required move. These are the rules of the game.

    With all of this said, I don’t claim to be a very deep thinker. I’m a simple guy with simple thoughts. And I hope that’s OK. If I’ve added nothing of value to this conversation, I apologize. But I’m enjoying the dialogue – thanks.

    • TaraZ says:

      I’ve see this exact reply posted by someone else not long ago, but I think it bears repeating.. So, the story goes, God made man in his image in a reasonable and logical way. Then when two brand new people made a single mistake he cursed them, and not only them, but all their children after them.

      Then he sent a part of himself down to earth, to fix the mess he himself had made, And this other self, by the way, said that a man should not forgive wrongs seven times, but seventy times seven. Then god killed this part of himself and then he took the body away so that people could believe in emptiness.

      And where in all this is any logic?

      To be scientifically accepted, a theorem has to be provable over and over again, with separate studies done by different groups.You can’t just have christians point to things and say ,”Ta da!”

      And finally, I just plain refuse to believe in any god who creates pain or torture, and I refect the idea that troubles are sent to us to teach us a lesson. You don’t teach dogs lessons by torturing them. We used to train wild horses by breaking them, but we’ve learned better . And if you do train something by cruel treatment, you are a heartless monster and have no right to be respected by anyone.

      I’ve personally seen, not just read in newspapers, more than I want to of chldren who were tortured and killed by their earthly creators. Why I would be asked to believe in a “supreme being” who did the same thing i cannot imagine.

      I think that’s my main reason for refusing to believe in a christian god.

      • TaraZ says:

        (edit) I REJECT the idea that troubles are sent to us to teach us a lesson.

      • TaraZ, I know of a similar story… Atheist posts her view of the story of the Bible and gets it wrong, turning the blame for man’s sin on God, turning a blind eye to the severity of sin, turning fullness into emptiness. Blind to sin, she sees no need for the blood of Christ as payment for it. She seems to take comfort in the self-delusion of a Creator-less creation, a Godless universe, and yet make moral accusations against the same God and assert inherent rights that shouldn’t be possible in a Godless universe.

        Is there any logic to defending logic by virtue of logic alone with no explanation for its existence?

        Can you prove the scientific principal that says a theorem has to be provable over and over again with separate studies done by different groups? The very foundation of how you establish proof is unprovable, so you accept the foundation of what you believe on faith.

        “I just plain refuse to believe in any god who creates pain or torture”
        https://askanatheist.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/do-atheists-judge-gods-morality/#comment-45689

        • The Atheist says:

          Personally I think the question about what would be considered evidence is a good one. However listing examples of what is acceptable shouldn’t limit the evidence that is presented or accepted. For example, Darwin’s contemporary opponents probably would not have listed DNA as evidence they would accept for evolution.

          If we agree that claims are believed because they are supported by evidence, then any claim should be presented with its evidence if we expect others to believe it.

    • The Atheist says:

      jaycuratolo, simple (uncomplicated) thoughts are sometimes the best kind! Welcome to the blog.

      It might help the discussion to disambiguate the word “faith”. Faith when there’s insufficient evidence to support the object of Faith is different from faith supported by inductive reasoning. I’ll refer to the first kind of Faith by capitalizing it to distinguish it from the other kind. To illustrate the difference, Faith allows us to believe in alien abduction, ghosts, and Zeus. However, faith that the sun will rise or that our dining room chair won’t collapse when we sit in it is based on inductive reasoning. In this example, our faith stems from our experience that the sun has always risen and that the chair has always supported our weight.

      As you correctly point out, trust is yet another thing we might mean when we say “faith”. I personally would trust God if I had Faith that He exists, yet I lack faith that any gods exist.

      You say that

      I decided to believe [in God]

      What prompted your decision?

  15. You state that you want hard evidence for the existence of God. My question is “What would be considered evidence for the existence of God?”

    The way I see it is that what one man considers to be evidence is different from what another believes to be evidence.

    Your neighbor may find it reasonable to believe in the Christian God on the basis of miracles whereas another may base their disbelief of Christianity on those same miracles or occurrences.

  16. zJustin says:

    “Can you prove the scientific principal that says a theorem has to be provable over and over again with separate studies done by different groups? The very foundation of how you establish proof is unprovable, so you accept the foundation of what you believe on faith.”
    So let me ask how do you establish how absolutely certain that a God does in fact exists and actively intervenes in the daily workings of the universe? You keep saying proof is unprovable, which I still completely disagree with and find your notion to be nonsense still after all of what you said.

    The onus is whether there is a god or not not whether our evidence of what we believe is legitimate or can be legitimate or not. I challenge you with the *IF* again: *IF* suppose our universe lacks a god of any kind, shape or form what would your claim be about evidence (evidence of anything, not just god)? Can you still say no one can rely on evidence without faith?

    Either way I still find it a more reliable method to gain knowledge about reality than just blindly trusting it’s all just there because a creator willed it to be. That’s just an empty promise of why us as miniscule life forms in this grand and beautiful universe would really be granted with that knowledge anyway. Isn’t it better to search and discover for ourselves and the only method I think even you would agree is suitable is logic and reason, not *being told it’s so* (getting us back to the circular logic of faith).

    • zJustin,

      “…how do you establish how absolutely certain that a God does in fact exists and actively intervenes in the daily workings of the universe? You keep saying proof is unprovable, which I still completely disagree with and find your notion to be nonsense still after all of what you said.”

      As I’ve said, perhaps not so clearly, I CAN’T prove God exists, and no else can either. I accept what the Bible says on faith. The God of the Bible is my ultimate authority, just as an A Priori commitment to the laws of logic is your ultimate authority. ANY commitment to any ultimate authority has the same problem. It’s accepted on faith because it can’t be proven. All first principles must be accepted on faith. All truth claims are either A Priori (prior to experience) or A Posteriori (after, or on the basis of, experience). Your claim THAT logic works because it has been seen to work is A Posteriori because it’s based on past experience. But you can’t use the same logic for WHY logic works because you assume it A Priori. You don’t know why it does, and any attempt to answer that question is circular. In other words, YOU can’t prove YOUR god (human reason) either. Now maybe you’ll say that observing logic in action is enough, but the problem is that on Naturalism there is no logical pathway from a mindless universe to the logic we observe now. On Naturalism, you MUST exclude anything outside of nature as a cause for logic because you’re bound to, by your worldview, to say that it’s cause is within the box of nature. Now you haven’t offered any plausible cause for logic, just observations that it exists, which we can all see. I don’t think (and maybe you don’t either) that there is anything in Naturalism that would be a suitable cause for logic. If the God of the Bible does exist (which we can’t prove), He would be a suitable cause, because, among other reasons, logic is described in the Bible as part of His eternal nature and that He made us in His image.

      “…suppose our universe lacks a god of any kind, shape or form what would your claim be about evidence (evidence of anything, not just god)? Can you still say no one can rely on evidence without faith?”

      Whether or not we know what caused the universe, we still ultimately rely on faith because we assume what we can’t prove about our ultimate convictions. Even if you had all the knowledge and foresight available to you to know all there is to know about the universe, you would still have to assume (by faith) that your eyes and ears were correctly communicating to your brain what what around you. We know that eyes and ears DO fail for a number of reasons, and that minds can perceive what is different from reality, so we ultimately accept on faith that what we’re experiencing is generally real and true. Our sensory experience and use of reason are evidence for God (not necessarily PROOF because proof is person-relative, meaning it’s only proof if it convinces you) because our use of them only makes sense if the God of the Bible does exist (and without God, they couldn’t exist).

      “…I still find it a more reliable method to gain knowledge about reality than just blindly trusting it’s all just there because a creator willed it to be.”

      Blind trust is what happens when you presuppose something that doesn’t make sense on your worldview, such as our use of reason on atheism/naturalism. Our use of logic and our trust in it makes sense on Christian theism. Christians trust, but the fact that the trust makes sense on Christianity means we don’t hold that trust blindly.

      “Isn’t it better to search and discover for ourselves and the only method I think even you would agree is suitable is logic and reason, not *being told it’s so* (getting us back to the circular logic of faith).”

      Is the reason you think logic is the most principal method for making sense of the world because you first of all learned it from someone else? Did you employ logic at first because someone—a teacher, parent, whomever—told you it was so? I actually think we reason before we have the process explained to us, or learn it in class. An infant uses basic logic when he cries and knows it will cause someone to feed him, does he not? Logic in its simplest and most basic form is innate.

      Romans 1 says that all people know of God innately too. Not the details that we can later learn from a parent or teacher or pastor… but a basic revelation of a Creator from creation (Rom. 1:20) and from basic sense of morality (Rom. 2:15), eternity (Ecc. 3:11), and a need to worship something greater than ourselves (Col. 1:16). The truths of Christianity from the Bible I accepted on faith from being taught, yes, just as the truths of logic you carry were learned.

    • The Atheist says:

      godandneighbor,

      If you believe that God exists because you “accept what the Bible says on faith”, then the Bible is your ultimate authority, and not the God of the Bible as you say, insomuch as you believe that the Christian God exists because of your faith in the Bible and not the other way around.

      You’ve also indicated in a previous post that in your worldview, logic is subordinate to faith in that faith is deemed valid even when there is no logical support for it. Do you then agree that the worldview of someone who claims the Vedas as an ultimate authority because of an a-priori faith is as valid as your worldview? If not, is your critical comparison of the Hindu worldview relative to the Christian worldview based in logic? Do you recognize that these two worldviews are mutually exclusive? For example the Bible teaches that you get one chance on this earth to be accepted into heaven while Hinduism teaches that you get unlimited chances to be accepted into heaven. How do you reconcile the contradiction?

  17. The Atheist,

    “the Bible is your ultimate authority, and not the God of the Bible as you say”

    On Christianity, the Bible is authored by God and is His message and revelation to us, so to hold the Bible as our ultimate authority is effectively the same as holding God as our ultimate authority.

    “in your worldview, logic is subordinate to faith in that faith is deemed valid even when there is no logical support for it.”

    Faith comes first on Christianity because God rewards faith with understanding.

    “By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible. … Now without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who approaches God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:3, 6)

    The “beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10) and the “reward” of, among other things, a rational understanding of the world, comes from a faith-first approach. On our own, we are corrupt and blinded by sin, and that kind of cognitive condition is not conducive to finding truth. Some scoff at the idea, at least until someone shows them that their own worldview, atheism, Hinduism, whatever it may be, is also adopted by faith.

    Accepting a belief by faith is no guarantee of keeping the belief though, as you realize that worldviews change. God doesn’t expect us to believe something that is clearly contrary to observations of the world and ourselves. Fortunately, Christianity makes sense of our use of logic, the objectivity and universality of moral law, uniformity in nature, reliability of sense experience, etc. rather than contradict these realities as other worldviews do.

    We can still use logic to examine our beliefs to discover that while we don’t initially believe in something based on empirical evidence because the fundamental principals of any belief aren’t available for physical examination (they are “self-evident”), the belief comports with what we can observe and test about the world.

    “Do you then agree agree the worldview of someone who claims the Vedas as an ultimate authority because of an a-priori faith is as valid as your worldview?”

    An examination of Hinduism and the Vedas, at least by those who have managed to get through the vast volumes that make up Hindu scripture, reveal a myriad of contradictions with itself and what can observe and test about the world. On that basis, regardless of the faith utilized in stepping into the belief, it doesn’t make sense to continue to believe it. We can logically examine any worldview the same way.

  18. The Atheist says:

    godandneighbor – this post is long (sorry!) but there we several lose ends that needed to be tied up.

    the Bible is authored by God and is His message and revelation to us so to hold the Bible as our ultimate authority is effectively the same as holding God as our ultimate authority.

    That doesn’t seem consistent: you can’t claim foundational knowledge that God wrote the Bible without first accepting the claims of the Bible as your foundational authority. Therefore the Bible and not God is your ultimate authority (as you have defined “ultimate”: basic, foundational, greatest).

    You may want to rethink the definition of “ultimate” here because as you can see, you might prefer to consider God your greatest (ultimate) authority, even if you must concede that the Bible is your foundational (ultimate) authority. If the Bible is the Christian God’s product, then the Christian God is greater than the Bible. However you only know of the Christian God through knowledge of the Bible.

    If you decide to reconsider the definition of “ultimate”, then let’s also revisit Sire’s definition of Worldview.

    Faith comes first on Christianity because God rewards faith with understanding.

    This is inconsistent with what we observe (and therefore represents a conflict in your worldview). We observe that those that do not believe in the Christian God also have understanding. In fact, most worldviews (understanding about the universe we observe) overlap considerably.

    God doesn’t expect us to believe something that is clearly contrary to observations of the world and ourselves.

    In Matthew 17:20, Jesus expects his disciples to believe they can move a mountain by speaking to it. In Matthew 21:21-22, Jesus expects his disciples to believe they can curse a fig tree. These claims are contrary to observation.

    An examination of Hinduism and the Vedas, at least by those who have managed to get through the vast volumes that make up Hindu scripture, reveal a myriad of contradictions with itself and what can observe and test about the world.

    Can the Vedas be an ultimate authority for Hindus in the same way that the Bible is your ultimate authority such that logic is subject to this authority?

    Are these true contradictions or only “apparent contradictions”? What is an example of a true contradiction in Hindu scripture? Faith often means accepting something that only seems contradictory, like for example two contradictory reports about how Judas Iscariot died, which I presume you “accept by faith”.

    He [zJuston] has only described how logic seems to work and hasn’t tried to provide a basis for it

    When you ask about a “basis”, are you asking to “justify the basic presupposition of logic” or “why we should depend on logic” as I did earlier? Or by “basis” are you now asking how logic came to be? In other words, is this the old question that I responded to earlier or is the new question below (that I’ll respond to here)?

    I want to know how Atheism explains how logic came to be…I’m asking for a rational argument for the origin and preeminence of logic on atheism.

    Atheism per se doesn’t offer explanations for anything. Atheism simply rejects claims about the existence of various gods as invalid for various reasons. That said, most atheists (most people, actually) regard science as a good method for understanding our universe. Evolutionary sciences show the progression of simple nervous systems to complex nervous systems capable of recognizing the relationship between cause and effect. Humans have codified rules, which we refer to as logic, to better understand cause and effect.

    [S]ire says [worldviews] are basic and foundational convictions about how [we] live. So far your definition is compatible.

    I think this is actually where Sire diverges from an accepted definition. How we live is informed by our worldview. How we live is not what defines our worldview.

    You said something earlier that I didn’t see a response to yet so I thought I’d comment. You said:

    there is no logical reason for our base assumptions on Atheism.

    A key atheist assumption is that we should accept extraordinary claims that we can verify and challenge extraordinary claims that we can’t. The reason is that it prevents us from believing in extraordinary fantasies like Santa Clause, Pink Unicorns, and Flying Spaghetti Monsters.

    So the first premise, that our beliefs about the world are based on our greatest and most basic commitments (which may change) is valid.

    You defined “ultimate” to mean “basic, foundational, and greatest”, and you defined “commitment” to mean “beliefs without reason”.

    Then:
    1. Worldviews are based on our ultimate commitments.
    2. Ultimate commitments cannot be proven.
    3. A worldview based on human reasoning as an ultimate commitment is accepted on faith.

    Becomes:
    1. Worldviews are based on our basic/foundational/greatest beliefs we hold for no reason.
    2. Basic/foundational/greatest beliefs held for no reason cannot be proven.
    3. A worldview based on human reasoning as an basic/foundational/greatest beliefs we hold for no reason is accepted on faith.

    Some problems arise:
    1. The major premise is a false premise since worldviews are based on observations and not basic/foundational/greatest beliefs we hold for no reason.
    2. The minor premise is true.
    3. The conclusion based on a false premise. It also includes a contradiction: To paraphrase: “A worldview based on human reasoning is based on no reason.

    Worthy of note, if we further replace “Worldview” with the definition you take from Sire, “how we live”, we are left something pretty close to the charge that atheists often levy against the faithful, which is the same the charge that the faithful often levy against others who hold different faiths:
    1. How we [the faithful] live Is based on our basic/foundational/greatest beliefs which we hold for no reason.

    Turns out I can’t justify God’s existence with anything greater, more foundational or more ultimate either. It’s another A Priori accepted on faith. It’s my ultimate commitment, naturally unprovable, but justifies our use of logic and reason.

    Premises are validated by first-hand experience. How is the existence of God as a premise validated?

  19. The Atheist,

    “you can’t claim foundational knowledge that God wrote the Bible without first accepting the claims of the Bible as your foundational authority. Therefore the Bible and not God is your ultimate authority (as you have defined “ultimate”: basic, foundational, greatest).”

    The Bible claims to be the word of God. If this is true (a position first accepted by faith) then what the Bible says is what God says. We can then understand God to be the originator, or foundation, of the Bible, but rely on the Bible for an accurate description of who God is. That’s why while naming God as the ultimate authority is technically accurate, we don’t know the details of that authority apart from the Bible—in the same way I don’t ignore what you write here because it isn’t the source of the worldview you project in your writing (you are). In terms of pointing to a ultimate authority, there is no useful distinction that needs to be made between God and His word.

    “However you only know of the Christian God through knowledge of the Bible.”

    The patriarchs of the Bible didn’t have the Bible, yet Moses, Abraham and others had knowledge of God, who revealed Himself to men in different ways before His written revelation was complete. Still now, all men know of God in a general sense innately (Romans 1). The Bible is our primary source for understanding the deeper truths of God, but it can’t be said that we only know of God from reading it.

    Hopefully with that clarification you can see that defining ultimate as I do is consistent with any dictionary you’ll find.

    1. last; furthest or farthest; ending a process or series.
    2. maximum; decisive; conclusive.
    3. highest; not subsidiary.
    4. basic; fundamental; representing a limit beyond which further progress, as in investigation or analysis, is impossible.
    5. final; total.

    “God rewards faith with understanding…is inconsistent with what we observe (and therefore represents a conflict in your worldview). We observe that those that do not believe in the Christian God also have understanding.”

    Certainly everyone has understanding of things, but Hebrews 11:3 refers to understanding of something specific: “that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible.” General understanding is the God-given mind at work, but true understanding of origins and purpose and God, knowledge that ultimately benefits, is normally God’s gift to those who first put their faith in Him; eyes are opened to the inconsistencies of their own worldview and the coherence of a world best explained by God. I say “normally” because most of the time an atheistic worldview prohibits seeing the irrationality of faith in a creator-less universe and local explanations for logic and morality, but sometimes an atheist can see the inconsistency and abandon faith in atheism for faith in God.

    There are simple exegetical errors in your interpretation of Matthew 17 and 21. Jesus wasn’t instructing His disciples to literally move mountains, but illustrating that a small amount of faith in what is true can overcome mountainous obstacles. Similarly, the withered fig tree was illustrative of the fruitlessness of a faithless life (21:21). Jesus is referred to as a Lamb (Jn. 1:29), and calls Himself a gate (Jn. 10:9) and a vine (Jn. 15:2). These are not taken in a literal sense either, but to teach a deeper truth, and it’s usually pretty clear when this is the case.

    “Faith often means accepting something that only seems contradictory, like for example two contradictory reports about how Judas Iscariot died, which I presume you “accept by faith”.”

    The details about Judas’ death is an apparent contradiction. Even though the death of Judas is not a doctrine critical to Christianity (the death of Jesus would be), at least one site gives three possible reconciliations that seem very reasonable: http://www.tektonics.org/gk/judasdeath.html

    Regarding true contradictions vs. apparent contradictions: Granted, there will always be those who do not see obvious congruence and those who believe in contradictions. As far as “an example of a true contradiction in Hindu scripture” I would say the doctrine of one god, no god and many gods existing within one worldview ranks near the top. Hinduism is not blind to the contradictions (and would probably classify them as merely apparent contradictions) but justifies the existence of opposing philosophies with statements like this one: “When one goes beyond the sensory field there are hardly any rules… You can pursue your own path and follow your own convictions, as long as it is in harmony with your true nature. You may worship God in whatever way you want. You may even deny Him, because understandably you are living in a state of ignorance and illusion.” (Jayaram V.)

    “Can the Vedas be an ultimate authority for Hindus in the same way that the Bible is your ultimate authority such that logic is subject to this authority?”

    Handed the above self-contradictory claims, if that is at all an accurate picture of a Hindu worldview (whatever accuracy means on Hinduism), it doesn’t appear that even a Hindu would even say that logic has any basis in Hinduism or the Vedas. Any claim that it makes for the origin or foundational principal of anything ought to be doubted.

    “When you ask about a “basis”, are you asking to “justify the basic presupposition of logic” or “why we should depend on logic” as I did earlier? Or by “basis” are you now asking how logic came to be?”

    I would take either, as I see that the lack of a basis on atheism is linked to the fact that no logical origin can apparently be theorized on atheism. The prevailing response is exactly what you suggest, that “Atheism per se doesn’t offer explanations for anything. Atheism simply rejects claims about the existence of various gods as invalid for various reasons.” As to those “reasons”, the simple rejection of “what is unseen” (Heb. 11:3) seems prejudiced, extending only to that which the atheist may consider divine or religious. Atheists seem to accept many other invisible things by faith. In an older debate over the objective nature of morality, you stated: “In the case of objective Moral values, the claim is that there can be no morality without a Moral standard that lies outside of humanity. The problem (and reason to reject this claim) is that by objective source, you mean a Divine source.” ( https://askanatheist.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/can-atheists-believe-in-an-afterlife/#comment-49014). The problem doesn’t seem to be the logic or soundness of the argument, it seems to be a presupposed blanket rejection of the divine that is called for by an atheistic worldview.

    “That said, most atheists (most people, actually) regard science as a good method for understanding our universe.”

    Agreed.

    “Evolutionary sciences show the progression of simple nervous systems to complex nervous systems capable of recognizing the relationship between cause and effect. Humans have codified rules, which we refer to as logic, to better understand cause and effect.”

    That is where science departs. Evolution demands faith in the invisible (observing variety and inferring “progression”) because it’s in the past and concluded by assuming it in the first place. I agree that there is “recognizing” and that we “understand” the principals of logic and of cause and effect. That is empirical fact. But we come to recognize and understand something that is already there. We even call them laws, which by definition must exist before we “codify” them into a systematic code.

    “How we live is informed by our worldview. How we live is not what defines our worldview.”

    True, and I think that’s the implication of Sire’s definition. What we do definitely flows from what we believe.

    “A key atheist assumption is that we should accept extraordinary claims that we can verify and challenge extraordinary claims that we can’t. The reason is that it prevents us from believing in extraordinary fantasies like Santa Clause, Pink Unicorns, and Flying Spaghetti Monsters.”

    That’s a great assumption for anyone. :) I think that an ordered universe of intelligence and laws derived from a void without an agent for such is an extraordinary claim accepted on faith without verification. Everything else in nature that exhibits from intelligence seem to come from intelligence, and other laws we follow come from a law-giver.

    “you defined “commitment” to mean “beliefs without reason”.”

    Actually, no. A commitment is not necessarily a conviction held without reason. An ULTIMATE (basic, foundational, greatest) commitment is held without reason. Thus, your reworded syllogism still works. There is no problem with the first premise because a worldview can and often is based on unobserved beliefs. Remember that a worldview can be constructed largely on presuppositions. So the conclusion is valid. And “A worldview based on human reasoning is based on no reason” ( I assume “no reason” means no logic vs. no cause) is the logical problem inherent in all reasoning about ultimate commitments, which is the argument I made early on in this thread. All reasoning about ultimate commitments is circular. The limit of logic is that it cannot be used to prove itself. So in our use of logic we ultimately utilize faith that the whole thing works. People can go their entire lives thinking logically without running into this because most people don’t challenge what they take for granted, which is what happens when we talk about ultimate commitments, including God.

    “Premises are validated by first-hand experience. How is the existence of God as a premise validated?”

    I suppose it’s true that premises are validated by firsthand experience since it’s hard to imagine anyone making a claim that they haven’t experienced in some way, or experienced evidence that supports it. In the same way, the existence of God is validated by experience because people experience God.

  20. The Atheist says:

    godandneighbor,

    The Bible claims to be the word of God. If this is true … then what the Bible says is what God says.

    Agree.

    We can then understand God to be the originator, or foundation, of the Bible, but rely on the Bible for an accurate description of who God is.

    Agree.

    That’s why while naming God as the ultimate authority is technically accurate…

    This is wrong. You’ve said that you know about the Christian God because of what the Bible says about Him. You are saying:

    The Bible is true.
    The Bible says that God exists.
    Therefore God exists.

    Your belief that God exists is derived from your premises about the Bible. Your definition of “ultimate” includes “most basic and most foundational”. The premises about the Bible are foundations; your resulting belief about God is your conclusion resulting from the premises.

    Turning back around to say that you believe that the Bible is true because God created it is the blatant circularity. However this is not news because you’ve conceded that Christian Faith is a result of circular reasoning. Here we agree also.

    In an attempt to justify, or perhaps merely excuse, the circular reasoning, you said that all reasoning is circular. However I don’t see where you’ve made that case. Then so far, the atheist worldview, based in observation and reasoning about observation, seems more reliable than the worldview you’ve described which is based on premises that are not supported by observation, notably the premise that ‘The Bible is true.’

    The “useful distinction … between God and His word” is that the “His” part of “His word” is an unobservable premise, and “God” is the resulting conclusion, and “His word” is circular reasoning.

    The patriarchs of the Bible didn’t have the Bible, yet Moses, Abraham and others had knowledge of God

    Are you claiming to share the same worldview as the patriarchs? If so, I’d like to point out some differences. If not, then are you no longer defending your worldview and shifting the conversation to a different worldview?

    all men know of God in a general sense innately (Romans 1).

    If I don’t know of God innately, that would seem to serve as evidence that Romans 1 is wrong (if your interpretation is correct). If Romans 1 is wrong that would seem to serve as evidence that it is not God’s word (unless I conceive of a God who makes mistakes).

    The Bible is our primary source for understanding the deeper truths of God.

    It seems to me that you are retracting your earlier statement that the Bible is our primary source to know about God, and replacing that statement with a new one. Is this true?

    … it can’t be said that we only know of God from reading it.

    However it can be said (as you do) that we can only know of the Christian God from reading the Bible, just like we can only know of the Hindu gods from reading the Hindu sacred texts.

    Hopefully with that clarification you can see that defining ultimate as I do is consistent with any dictionary you’ll find.

    1. last; furthest or farthest; ending a process or series.
    2. maximum; decisive; conclusive.
    3. highest; not subsidiary.
    4. basic; fundamental; representing a limit beyond which further progress, as in investigation or analysis, is impossible.
    5. final; total.

    My criticism of your use of ultimate isn’t that you’ve presented a bad definition of the word. My criticism is that your use of that word in the context of ultimate belief conflates “basic” and “foundational” with “greatest”. Your premise about the Bible being true are basic, foundational beliefs. However when you say that God is “greater” than the Bible if God created the Bible (note the “if” to emphasize the circularity), you are not saying that God is the reason you believe the Bible (you still believe in the Christian God because of what the Bible says).

    Hebrews 11:3 refers to understanding of something specific: “that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible.”

    Why should I accept this as an authoritative statement?

    General understanding is the God-given mind at work, but true understanding of origins and purpose and God, knowledge that ultimately benefits, is normally God’s gift to those who first put their faith in Him

    That is the issue in question, isn’t it. If your understanding about origins and purpose are “true understanding”. Your understanding (as you concede) is based in circular reasoning.

    an atheistic worldview prohibits seeing the irrationality of faith in a creator-less universe

    What aspect of the atheistic worldview would prohibits seeing irrationality?

    sometimes an atheist can see the inconsistency and abandon faith in atheism for faith in God.

    Agree to the extent that sometimes atheists become theists (however there is no “faith in atheism” to abandon), but I’m not sure how this supports your position. Can you explain?

    Jesus wasn’t instructing His disciples to literally move mountains, but illustrating that a small amount of faith in what is true can overcome mountainous obstacles…the withered fig tree was illustrative of the fruitlessness of a faithless life

    How do you know when Jesus is being literal and when he is being figurative. Do you believe that someone with sufficient faith can move a mountain? Save a tragic loss of life? Avert a natural disaster?

    What are some examples of things that God would have us believe that someone with enough faith can do?

    Jesus is referred to as a Lamb (Jn. 1:29), and calls Himself a gate (Jn. 10:9) and a vine (Jn. 15:2). These are not taken in a literal sense either, but to teach a deeper truth, and it’s usually pretty clear when this is the case.

    Agree. I can clearly see that these are meant as illusions and not literal, because they makes sense as allusions to well known religious concepts, but make no sense when taken literally. However this doesn’t seem the case in the case of moving mountains or weathering fig trees. Within the context of the narrative, there doesn’t seem any reason to doubt that the statements were meant literally. I think the author of those passages included them in the narrative to make a spiritual point – but that’s the context of the writers motives, and not the context of the passage. If the author of those passages is God, then it’s evidence that God is asking us to believe something that is difficult to believe, something you said God does not do.

    The details about Judas’ death is an apparent contradiction

    My point exactly about putting faith before reason. How is your thinking here different from your charge against Hinduism and how Hindus have faith in what their sacred texts say, even if you find it illogical? When you say that “those who do not see obvious congruence and those who believe in contradictions”, you reinforce that it comes down to faith, and faith does not need justification. If faith is more foundational than reason, why would you be reluctant to validate that their faith is as reasonable as yours?

    the doctrine of one god, no god and many gods existing within one worldview ranks near the top.

    That’s no harder to reconcile than contradictions in the Bible. Other gods are aspects (faces) of the Supreme Being: “principle of Brahman” (something like the trinity): Brahma/creator, Vishnu||Krishna/preserver, Shiva,destroyer. Hinduism sects can contradict each other in a similar way that Christian sects can: Mormanism, African indigenous sects, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science, Gnostic Christianity. There are 2 major sects of Hinduism: Vaishnavaism and Shivaism along with many local-village/minor sects. Hindus have a saying: “Ekam Sataha Vipraha Bahudha Vadanti,” which may be translated: “The truth is One, but different Sages call it by Different Names”

    When one goes beyond the sensory field there are hardly any rules… You can pursue your own path and follow your own convictions, as long as it is in harmony with your true nature. You may worship God in whatever way you want. You may even deny Him, because understandably you are living in a state of ignorance and illusion.” (Jayaram V.)

    Why would you consider Jayaram V. an authority on Hinduism, vs. say a writer who is promoting his books? Do you think that he speaks authoritatively, or even has a prominent voice for any sect of Hinduism? Moreover, is it fair to criticise Hinduism based on particular beliefs of any one person? Do you accept criticism of Christianity on the same basis?

    if that is at all an accurate picture of a Hindu worldview (whatever accuracy means on Hinduism)

    It seems to me that in Hinduism, “accuracy” is first and foremost spiritual truths, rather than observable truths. Do you disagree with this view?

    it doesn’t appear that even a Hindu would even say that logic has any basis in Hinduism or the Vedas.

    Nyaya is one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy with focus on the Nyaya Sutras. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyaya_Sutras

    Any claim that [Hinduism] makes for the origin or foundational principal of anything ought to be doubted.

    Based on logic over faith?

    I asked you: “When you ask about a “basis”, are you asking to “justify the basic presupposition of logic” or “why we should depend on logic” as I did earlier? Or by “basis” are you now asking how logic came to be?” You answered “I would take either”. I’ve given both. Do you agree with the explanations? If not, could you point out where you disagree?

    no logical origin can apparently be theorized on atheism.

    Are you planning to refute my theory about origin? You’re welcome to simply dismiss it out of hand if you can’t.

    he simple rejection of “what is unseen” (Heb. 11:3) seems prejudiced

    I’ve offered more than a “simple rejection” of God in other parts of my blog – I haven’t reiterated them here since you haven’t made any claims yet regarding the Christian God (in fact you’ve admitted your reason for believe is circular and therefore logically unsound).

    Atheists seem to accept many other invisible things by faith.

    Like what? By “faith” do you mean “belief about what we observe” (inductive reasoning) or do you mean “blind acceptance of dogma”? Which type of “faith” best characterizes religious faith?

    In an older debate over the objective nature of morality, you stated: “In the case of objective Moral values, the claim is that there can be no morality without a Moral standard that lies outside of humanity. The problem (and reason to reject this claim) is that by objective source, you mean a Divine source.”

    How is the discussion about objective Morality germane to the question about the basis of logic? Do you concede the arguments here about logic vs. faith and are you ready to move on to faith based on morality?

    The problem doesn’t seem to be the logic or soundness of the argument, it seems to be a presupposed blanket rejection of the divine that is called for by an atheistic worldview.

    Precisely. We should accept extraordinary claims unless they are supported by evidence?

    I said that “That said, most atheists (most people, actually) regard science as a good method for understanding our universe.” and you agree. Science rejects claims of the existence of God – not a priori, but due to lack of evidence for an extraordinary claim.

    Evolution demands faith in the invisible

    Incorrect. The science of evolution begins with the observable, then constructs theories, based in logic, about what we observe.

    observing variety and inferring “progression”

    Incorrect – we observe more than variety. We also observe the relationships between fossils, the DNA evidence, and we observe evolution in action.

    I agree that there is “recognizing” and that we “understand” the principals of logic and of cause and effect. That is empirical fact

    If you agree that it’s empirical fact, then how do you justify earlier charges about the basis (justification) for logic?

    We even call them laws, which by definition must exist before we “codify” them into a systematic code.

    Incorrect – they are laws because we codify them. There is no guarantee the sun will rise tomorrow just because we’ve seen it rise before. We’ve discovered that some laws are wrong – like particles and waves (a photon is both), and ideas that all matter must be created by something (virtual particles).

    I said: “How we live is informed by our worldview. How we live is not what defines our worldview.” You answered: “True, and I think that’s the implication of Sire’s definition. What we do definitely flows from what we believe.” Then Sire is wrong when he says that worldviews are basic and foundational convictions about how we live.

    I think that an ordered universe of intelligence and laws derived from a void without an agent for such is an extraordinary claim accepted on faith without verification.

    Agreed. Are you aware of the support for the theories of how our universe arose? Even without these theories, isn’t it better to say we don’t know how it arose than to accept the God answer by default?

    Everything else in nature that exhibits from intelligence seem to come from intelligence,

    Incorrect. We observe the evolutionary path from simple organism to intelligent organisms.

    laws we follow come from a law-giver.

    “Laws” are our own invention to model what we observe.

    An ULTIMATE (basic, foundational, greatest) commitment is held without reason.

    I think we’ve already established that your specific “commitment” (your worldview), that belief that the Bible is God’s word is held without reason. However I haven’t seen your case that a scientific worldview is held without reason.

    Thus, your reworded syllogism still works

    It doesn’t “work”, except to illustrate that the reasoning is fallacious. Possibly you mean that it “works” in that it clearly establishes the fallacy but that in your view, fallacious reasoning is valid? Note that valid reasoning is the opposite of fallacious reasoning.

    There is no problem with the first premise because a worldview can and often is based on unobserved beliefs.

    When you say “often”, do you mean in religious worldviews? Or do you mean in a scientific worldview? If you include scientific worldviews, can you give some example of unobservable premises?

    Remember that a worldview can be constructed largely on presuppositions.

    True. However when presuppositions are challenged and shown to be baseless, those worldviews collapse.

    So the conclusion is valid.

    You say it’s right, I’ve shown why it’s wrong.

    I assume “no reason” means no logic vs. no cause

    I mean no logic or no observable premise.

    logical problem inherent in all reasoning about ultimate commitments, which is the argument I made early on in this thread. All reasoning about ultimate commitments is circular.

    How is a worldview based in observation circular?

    The limit of logic is that it cannot be used to prove itself.

    I’ve argued that it isn’t necessary to prove logic. Logic is a premise that has not been successfully challenged.

    So in our use of logic we ultimately utilize faith that the whole thing works.

    Let’s take care not to equivocate the word “faith”. There is blind faith that accepts things for no reason, and reasoned faith that accepts things based on reason and observation. Blind faith isn’t required to see that logic “works”.

    I suppose it’s true that premises are validated by firsthand experience

    This is an important admission. Where is the firsthand experience that validated that the Bible is God’s word?

    the existence of God is validated by experience because people experience God.

    Then you agree that the Bible is not the first premise that proves the existence of God?

  21. The Atheist, I ran a half marathon this past year so I’m up for this. :) Good stuff. Btw, trying some html to make quoting more obvious, hoping it works.

    “Your belief that God exists is derived from your premises about the Bible. Your definition of “ultimate” includes “most basic and most foundational”. The premises about the Bible are foundations; your resulting belief about God is your conclusion resulting from the premises.”

    Anything you’ve read that results in a belief can be said to the source of your belief just as much as the author who wrote whatever you adopted as your belief. But, as I’ve said, there’s no meaningful purpose in the distinction in the context of this argument. Yes, God is the ultimate source of the truth we find in scripture, and we know that mainly (aside from general knowledge of God revealed to us, contemporarily, through natural revelation and natural law) by what the Bible says. If the Bible says that the Bible is true and that God is the ultimate source for the Bible, then we can believe that the Bible is true AND that God exists as its (and everything else’s) source. Christian theism includes the doctrine that God is creator and authored the Bible, and also that the Bible is true. Christian Theism ultimately rests on Christian theism, so Christian Theism is therefore ultimately circular.

    “you said that all reasoning is circular. However I don’t see where you’ve made that case. Then so far, the atheist worldview, based in observation and reasoning about observation, seems more reliable than the worldview you’ve described”

    That very statement shows that your reasoning is ultimately circular. Atheism rests on logic as its ultimate foundation—unless you can come up with something greater or more foundational to appeal to. If not, then logic based on presupposed laws of logic is circular.

    “Are you claiming to share the same worldview as the patriarchs?”

    I claim to believe in the same God that the patriarchs believed in, and ultimately using the same faith approach. The rest of Hebrews 11 describes the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Rahab and others who had proceeded without the complete picture before them. Christ completed much more of that picture. God’s revelation was more direct to the patriarchs, and related to people in different ways than He does now. Despite this, there were still plenty who didn’t believe, hindered by what they already believed.

    “If I don’t know of God innately, that would seem to serve as evidence that Romans 1 is wrong”

    The particulars of your perception of God (including the rejection of His existence) will be your own ideas, but all people are born with an innate sense of God.

    “It seems to me that you are retracting your earlier statement that the Bible is our primary source to know about God, and replacing that statement with [The Bible is our primary source for understanding the deeper truths of God]. Is this true?”

    Not at all. All men know of God in a general sense without the Bible. I said the Bible is our primary source for understanding the deeper truths of God. I.e. that there is only one and not many, and His specific attributes.

    “it can be said (as you do) that we can only know of the Christian God from reading the Bible, just like we can only know of the Hindu gods from reading the Hindu sacred texts.”

    Any concept of any type of ultimate being is a distortion of the God of the Bible that we all know exists. This makes it possible for humans to have little or even no exposure to the Bible and still develop their own religion including some type of deity.

    “My criticism of your use of ultimate isn’t that you’ve presented a bad definition of the word. My criticism is that your use of that word in the context of ultimate belief conflates “basic” and “foundational” with “greatest”.

    In a line of reasoning, the more basic or foundational truth is greater because it supports the others. No conflation there.

    “you are not saying that God is the reason you believe the Bible (you still believe in the Christian God because of what the Bible says).”

    You don’t know me, but you know what I’ve written. What is the source of what you’re reading? It’s Me, as I claim to have written it. You believe I exist because of what I’ve written, and you also understand that I am the source of what I’ve written. IS there a meaningful distinction between me and what I’ve written in terms of the basis of what I’m saying?

    “Why should I accept [Hebrews 11:3] as an authoritative statement?”

    Before anyone accepts it (or anything else) as any kind of authority, they must accept it on faith (“By faith we understand…”), just as the atheist accepts the basic principals of atheism on faith. When a Christian accepts the basic principals of Christianity, it makes sense of the world. When the atheist accepts the basic principals of atheism, i.e. that nature was set in order by nature, it doesn’t make sense of the world. Atheism only makes sense if you ignore or distort the ultimate beliefs that your worldview rests on. There’s no logical way to get to atheism by what you already accept on faith.

    “That is the issue in question, isn’t it. If your understanding about origins and purpose are “true understanding”. Your understanding (as you concede) is based in circular reasoning.”

    As is yours. :) Sorry, I’m not sure the point you are making here.

    “What aspect of the atheistic worldview would prohibits seeing irrationality?”

    Atheism lacks a logical foundation, but foundations are assumed on faith so it’s possible to live in ignorance of the ultimate irrationality by not examining the foundations. All foundations of what we observe are assumed on faith, but not all foundations make sense of what we observe. The reasons for living in such ignorance are varied, but ignorance of foundations is often, in my experience, at least one aspect that blinds the atheist of the irrationality of their worldview commitments.

    “Agree to the extent that sometimes atheists become theists (however there is no “faith in atheism” to abandon), but I’m not sure how this supports your position. Can you explain?”

    This isn’t critical to my point, only another way to say that in terms of faith, the trip between any two belief systems is basically trading objects of faith.

    “How do you know when Jesus is being literal and when he is being figurative[?] Within the context of the narrative, there doesn’t seem any reason to doubt that the statements [Mat. 17:20; 21:20] were meant literally.”

    I think the larger context demonstrates that there was a larger picture in view for the mountain reference and fig tree demonstration. There is no obvious practical use in the text in withering a tree or moving an actual mountain, but there are volumes of practical applications of the teaching of fruitlessness and overcoming obstacles, which Jesus obviously went on to teach. Take the instruction about healing and casting out demons (same chapter) When Jesus taught about this, along with whatever other lesson may have been evident, in the particular act there was an obvious practical use: People were getting healed of illness and freed from demons. So we know that the lesson there is about literally healing people and casting out demons, not something else to be illustrated by it.

    “Do you believe that someone with sufficient faith can move a mountain? Save a tragic loss of life? Avert a natural disaster? What are some examples of things that God would have us believe that someone with enough faith can do?”

    I believe that God can do anything through any person (providing that the “mountain” being moved is in line with God’s will), and that God rewards faith. Extraordinary things do occur. I’m not about to say which extraordinary life-saving event, averted disaster, or overcome obstacle are the work of God, but the Biblical God that can only be accepted on faith is certainly capable.

    “If the author of those passages is God, then it’s evidence that God is asking us to believe something that is difficult to believe, something you said God does not do.”

    I dont think I said that God will not ask us to believe something that is difficult to believe.

    “How is your thinking here [about Judas and ‘apparent contradictions’] different from your charge against Hinduism and how Hindus have faith in what their sacred texts say, even if you find it illogical? When you say that ‘those who do not see obvious congruence and those who believe in contradictions’, you reinforce that it comes down to faith, and faith does not need justification. If faith is more foundational than reason, why would you be reluctant to validate that their faith is as reasonable as yours?”

    Because ultimately what Hinduism says about Hinduism doesn’t make logical sense of the world. What Christianity says about Christianity does. Where we go on faith is then still open to logical scrutiny.

    “the doctrine of one god, no god and many gods [is] no harder to reconcile than contradictions in the Bible. Other gods are aspects (faces) of the Supreme Being: “principle of Brahman” (something like the trinity): Brahma/creator, Vishnu||Krishna/preserver, Shiva,destroyer. Hinduism sects can contradict each other in a similar way that Christian sects can: Mormanism, African indigenous sects, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science, Gnostic Christianity.”

    Orthodox Christianity and Mormonism, JW, Christian Science, etc. are not the same thing and don’t use the same Bible. Mormonism, for example, can be refuted logically using archaeology and textual evidence. That’s not to say that all scholars and archaeologists agree that Christianity or the Bible are completely consistent with the facts. But, there is a degree of conformity to the factual evidence that is far and away greater than that of Mormonism. Hindu’s absurd doctrine of no god/one god/many gods is not something that can be glossed over as a different interpretation of “faces” of a god. Hinduism is not a successful harmonizing of all gods as most ideas of god are mutually exclusive. Jesus claims to be “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6) and Acts 2:42 in fact says “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” There is no allowance for the recognition of other gods as the same, only “by different names.”

    “Why would you consider Jayaram V. an authority on Hinduism, vs. say a writer who is promoting his books? Do you think that he speaks authoritatively, or even has a prominent voice for any sect of Hinduism? Moreover, is it fair to criticise Hinduism based on particular beliefs of any one person? Do you accept criticism of Christianity on the same basis?”

    If not Jayaram V, then who? I would love to have a concise outline of what Hindus believe written by someone who Hindus would generally agree is an adequate authority on Hinduism, but one common criticism of Hinduism is that such a thing probably doesn’t exist. What most agree on is that Hinduism lacks any unified system of beliefs and ideas. There is no ‘one’ Hindusim. The volumes of Hindu scripture are so great that it’s really difficult to catalog the contradictions, thus it seems to benefit Hinduism to say that contradictions are okay. I would welcome criticism of Christianity on the same basis. From my experience, Christianity holds up because it doesn’t rely on self-contradiction and confusion by sheer volume.

    “It seems to me that in Hinduism, “accuracy” is first and foremost spiritual truths, rather than observable truths. Do you disagree with this view?”

    Yes, I disagree. Hinduism is a way of life (Dharma), so it is obviously intended to be observable truth. It’s supposed to be lived out (although it can’t logically be).

    Re: “it doesn’t appear that even a Hindu would even say that logic has any basis in Hinduism or the Vedas.”
    “Nyaya is one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy with focus on the Nyaya Sutras.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyaya_Sutras

    I didn’t see anything there about origin or the basis of the laws of logic.

    “I asked you: “When you ask about a “basis”, are you asking to “justify the basic presupposition of logic” or “why we should depend on logic” as I did earlier? Or by “basis” are you now asking how logic came to be?” You answered “I would take either”. I’ve given both. Do you agree with the explanations? If not, could you point out where you disagree?”

    It’s really all the same thing. I see a justification of the presupposition of logic and why we rely on it as the same thing, and it’s directly related to how it came to be. We follow the laws of logic; we didn’t write them. Where did they come from? You’ve only shown how we use them and rely on them, but you haven’t theorized how such laws can come from a universe that began as matter in motion. The laws serve as the utmost authority in your life.

    “Are you planning to refute my theory about origin? You’re welcome to simply dismiss it out of hand if you can’t.”

    Where is your theory about origin? Is this it? “Atheism per se doesn’t offer explanations for anything. Atheism simply rejects claims about the existence of various gods as invalid for various reasons. That said, most atheists (most people, actually) regard science as a good method for understanding our universe. Evolutionary sciences show the progression of simple nervous systems to complex nervous systems capable of recognizing the relationship between cause and effect. Humans have codified rules, which we refer to as logic, to better understand cause and effect.” This merely describes the processes we use to understand what we see, what’s already there. The basic principals are still assumed.

    “Atheists seem to accept many other invisible things by faith… Like what?”

    Preconditions of intelligibility, which enable us to handle knowledge the way we do, rely on logic, and do science. I outline these in my first response to zJustin on Dec. 26. above.

    “By “faith” do you mean “belief about what we observe” (inductive reasoning) or do you mean “blind acceptance of dogma”? Which type of “faith” best characterizes religious faith?”

    If forced to choose one of these, it would be blind acceptance of dogma, since we don’t arrive at what we presuppose by way of reason. Knowledge accompanies faith after faith is adopted, because that’s when you see whether what you’ve placed your faith in is reasonable, based on whether it makes logical sense of what you can observe.

    Re: In an older debate over the objective nature of morality, you stated: //In the case of objective Moral values, the claim is that there can be no morality without a Moral standard that lies outside of humanity. The problem (and reason to reject this claim) is that by objective source, you mean a Divine source.// “How is the discussion about objective Morality germane to the question about the basis of logic? Do you concede the arguments here about logic vs. faith and are you ready to move on to faith based on morality?”

    No, it just seems that the atheist’s rejection of ultimate presupposition (assumed, by faith) is driven by the notion that such an idea is rooted in religion. I was wondering if that may be your case as well, as in the past you seem to have rejected the idea of objective moral absolutes because of divine implications rather than reason. You imply that all extraordinary claims should be rejected unless supported by the evidence, but if you claim a natural origin to nature, isn’t this very extraordinary? If you claim that we observe laws of logic and morality but there’s no logic source for them on atheism, but still accept atheism, isn’t that blind acceptance on faith? Christianity makes sense of these in that an eternal, sovereign God, like the one described in the Bible, bears reason and goodness as a part of His character, and creates man in His image to bear these qualities also. Atheists believe this God is conveniently contrived. So why doesn’t atheism come up with a similar explanation that makes sense of reality? I don’t think we ought to move on to morality in this thread as we covered it well in the other. And really, moral law is the same and laws of logic. Everyone assumes them rather than finding them by following a line of reasoning. Atheism assumes either no cause or some cause for the universe yet undiscovered. No cause violates the law of cause and effect, an extraordinary claim that ought to be scientifically rejected. A yet undiscovered cause will logically have certain requirements that enable it to be such a source for all we observe in the material world, natural laws and philosophical principals we commit to. Avoiding anything that looks like religion, I think atheists reject God but are willing to accept the possibility of something undiscovered that would necessarily have almost the same qualities as God.

    “Science rejects claims of the existence of God – not a priori, but due to lack of evidence for an extraordinary claim.”

    And do we make science the arbiter because it’s scientific to do so? Science appeals to logic, and logic appeals to the laws of logic a priori, a faith commitment without evidence. That’s extraordinary.

    “The science of evolution begins with the observable, then constructs theories, based in logic, about what we observe….we observe more than variety. We also observe the relationships between fossils, the DNA evidence, and we observe evolution in action.”

    We observe variety, DNA, fossils, because that’s what material we have in the present. Relationships are concluded based on an a priori commitment to materialism. “Speciation” is not “evolution in action” when all that is observed is a reproductive barrier, and small changes corroborate the variety we observe, not the major novel changes that we never observe. We observe a great variance in the degree of intelligence in organisms, but we don’t “observe the evolutionary path from simple organism to intelligent organisms.” This is a materialistic faith commitment.

    “Re: ‘I agree that there is ‘recognizing’ and that we ‘understand’ the principals of logic and of cause and effect. That is empirical fact’” If you agree that it’s empirical fact, then how do you justify earlier charges about the basis (justification) for logic?”

    I’m saying that it’s a fact that we observe these principals; the basis for them is taken on faith.

    “they are [natural] laws because we codify them. There is no guarantee the sun will rise tomorrow just because we’ve seen it rise before.”

    If natural laws exist because we codify them, that means we also created them, which means that cause and effect would not be the order of things if humans were not here. Obviously we discovered these processes, identified them as laws, then began applying them in our reasoning. It’s good to acknowledge that the sun may not rise tomorrow, because on atheism there is no observable cause for uniformity and therefore no reason to think it will continue. Christians understand that God set the earth in motion and upholds the process of uniformity (Gen. 1:14-19; Jer. 33:20).

    “What we do definitely flows from what we believe… Then Sire is wrong when he says that worldviews are basic and foundational convictions about how we live.”

    I think you misunderstand him. Surely Sire doesn’t think that our beliefs are informed by observing how we live. The only way we can live a certain way is to first believe in something.

    “Are you aware of the support for the theories of how our universe arose? Even without these theories, isn’t it better to say we don’t know how it arose than to accept the God answer by default?”

    I am aware that there are many atheistic theories, but only Christian Theism makes sense of what we observe about the universe we live in. That’s why I don’t think it is better to assume that all other theories EXCEPT the one that makes sense of the universe are possibilities. “Default” implies that reasons are lacking for the belief. I’ve given plenty of reasons why God as creator makes sense, so God is no default answer. By saying “we don’t know” would mean that you’re at least open to the possibility of a divine creator. Is this true?

    “’Laws’ are our own invention to model what we observe.”

    But we are observe a process that occurs in a pattern of regularity and predictability, so we use the word “law”, the word being a human invention (like all other words:) to describe what we see, something that seems as if it must always be so.

    “I haven’t seen your case that a scientific worldview is held without reason.”

    Posed previously: What is the scientific reason we do science? What is the reason that we hang logic on logic?

    “… in your view, fallacious reasoning is valid? Note that valid reasoning is the opposite of fallacious reasoning.”

    Circular reasoning is only fallacious when it appeals to one thing while something else greater/more foundational is available. An appeal to the greatest/most foundational principal, something that must be assumed because nothing greater/more foundational exists to support it, is of course circle but necessary, and therefore not fallacious. I think you merely assume all circular reasoning is fallacious because that’s as far as secular logic/philosophy professors will take it, but clearly, when circle can’t grow any larger, we dead end at our ultimate commitment. Naturally, when discussing God or other ideas of ultimate origins, we are discussing ultimate commitments, and like it or not, circular reasoning is inevitable.

    Re: “‘a worldview can and often is based on unobserved beliefs.’ When you say “often”, do you mean in religious worldviews? Or do you mean in a scientific worldview? If you include scientific worldviews, can you give some example of unobservable premises?”

    Any worldview can contain unobserved beliefs. And in fact I’d have to say every worldview does, depending on how much thought you give to ultimate convictions. If by “scientific worldview” you mean science and the scientific method are the process by which an individual determines what they think of the world, the decisions they make and the direction they take in life, then such a world is definitely rooted in unobservable premises. Why do it? It’s philosophical. How do you back up the process? With logic, and logic is observable as a reliable process but appeals to laws we can’t explain scientifically or logically.

    “when presuppositions are challenged and shown to be baseless, those worldviews collapse.”

    They should, yes.

    “How is a worldview based in observation circular?”

    A worldview is never fully based on observation.

    “I’ve argued that it isn’t necessary to prove logic. Logic is a premise that has not been successfully challenged.”

    I’m challenging it now. :) Thus far it hasn’t been successfully defended because you have to appeal to logic to do it. It isn’t “necessary” to prove logic on atheism because it can’t be done on atheism, and it does atheism no benefit to try, because the logical conclusions lead beyond what we can directly observe to something like God. If Christians say that it isn’t necessary to prove God, what we assume as our greatest authority and most foundational belief, it’s somehow unreasonable or fallacious. The laws directing logic are just as much of an invisible a priori as God.

    “There is blind faith that accepts things for no reason, and reasoned faith that accepts things based on reason and observation. Blind faith isn’t required to see that logic “works”.

    Blind faith isn’t required to see that God “works”. :) Agreed on the definition of blind faith. I would argue that reasoned or reasonable faith is a proposition accepted at first on faith but is then justified belief when it begins to make sense, which is only possible after the first step of faith. “Seeing logic work” is an observation, but that isn’t the end of the matter. You still can’t or don’t want to justify why it works or how it began to work.

    “This is an important admission [premises are validated by firsthand experience]. Where is the firsthand experience that validated that the Bible is God’s word?”

    People have claimed, myself included, to experience God, which includes seeing that what the Bible says is true about all aspects of life.

    If I say that faith comes before reason, I don’t discount the role of reason. I acknowledge the reality that some things cannot be known by or reconciled with logic and must be, and in fact ARE, accepted on faith. The reasoning is necessarily, blatantly circular. The “some things” that we can’t know logically are always the first layer, the most foundational principals of the things we can know logically. God, naturally, is at the base of all we know. Granted, that God is at the base of all we know, is something Christians accept on faith. But once accepted, the position makes sense of our presupposition to follow and rely on certain laws, specifically reason, morality, uniformity, sense perception, and mathematics.

    • Barbara says:

      If you are truly interested, then I would suggest reading, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,” by Geisler and Turek. This book focuses on those of us who are in need of logical arguements and empirical, scientifically verifyable, evidence of God. Excellent read!

  22. allistairg says:

    zJustin: “I am a person of science and logic, and I need proof in the form of hard, observable evidence.”

    I find this a very interesting comment. You seem to be defining evidence in terms of its ‘observability’, but neither science nor logic defines evidence in this way. Firstly, logic concerns the coherence of ideas with each other and their correspondence to what we already know about reality. Ideas and concepts are not ‘observable’ and neither is logic itself. But without logic there is no such thing as evidence. The ideas of pure mathematics are not ‘observable’ in themselves, and, of course, when we see these ideas written down we can physically see a representation of them, but we do not believe that 2 + 2 = 4 simply because it consists of ink on paper or pixels on a screen. We believe it because of its internal coherence. Now it is true that we can test that idea empirically, but many ideas within pure mathematics have to be accepted on the basis of logic alone, for example, the idea that the set of prime numbers is infinite was proven by Euclid well over two millennia ago, and the proof is universally accepted. This logical proof constitutes rock sold ‘evidence’, but the claim cannot be tested empirically. Therefore there is no ‘observable’ evidence involved in this proof.

    Secondly, science does not limit itself to “observable evidence”, but constructs theories on the basis of inference. For example, the theory of dark matter is built entirely on inference. Dark matter is hypothesised to exist due to its gravitational effects on what we can observe, even though it has not been detected empirically. Another example is the hypothesis of the Oort Cloud of comets. There have been no direct observations of this structure, but it functions as an explanation for the behaviour of comets within the current cosmological model. The Big Bang is also inferred, as is, dare I suggest, much of the theory of common descent (for obvious reasons we have no direct observations of the process of evolutionary change beyond the kind of adaptations Darwin observed on his travels, the kind of evidence that no one – not even the most extreme Young Earth Creationist – denies). The theory of common descent is constructed from inferences (perhaps we could call these “best guesses”) based on an interpretation of what we can observe. It’s an extrapolation, not a direct observation. Sound inferences rely on sound presuppositions, such as, for example, the uniformity of nature, the consistency of cause and effect and the conservation of mass. We could never extrapolate back to the Big Bang event if we didn’t trust in the universal consistency of the laws of physics, otherwise how could we be confident in our assumptions going back so many billions of years? However, as Stephen Hawking has pointed out, the actual event of the Big Bang involves a breakdown of these same laws of physics. This is really a case of science “having its cake and eating it”: an hypothesised event cannot rely for its existence on the absolute authority of something which it then dispenses with once its existence is believed. That would be a case of cutting off the branch of the tree on which you are sitting!

    So you have already limited your definition of ‘evidence’. This is bound to have some bearing on your interaction with theists, who may have a rather different view of what constitutes valid evidence.

    As it happens, there are many different kinds of valid evidence: empirical evidence, inference, circumstantial evidence, the evidence of pure reasoning, the evidence of self-refutation, the evidence of falsification and not forgetting, the evidence of experience. This last form of evidence is generally considered to be invalid by atheists (or should I say, reductionist materialists), because they simply dismiss all spiritual experiences as “brain activity” – not realising that that explanation itself is an unevidenced assumption. Why should we assume that every event should have a naturalistic cause? This implies a commitment to the philosophy of naturalism (aka materialism, physicalism). This philosophy is a definite, ‘positive’ metaphysical claim about the nature of reality, and therefore it bears a burden of proof. It is not the intellectual default position or “null hypothesis”, because it assumes that a certain epistemological theory is correct, namely, empiricism. But, as Bertrand Russell (no less!) pointed out, empiricism is self-refuting. The theory of empiricism is an idea, and as such is not empirically perceived. Therefore to believe in empiricism is to reject the idea that all knowledge comes to us via sense perception, which is what empiricism states (at least the kind of “strong empiricism” which implies naturalism). Clearly we can only navigate reality if we accept the objective validity of certain ideas, which are, of course, non-empirical by nature. To suggest, as materialists do, that these ideas have a material origin, is simply begging the question, or indulging in a circular argument.

    So your neighbour’s (yeah, I’m from the UK, hence the spelling!) argument about the non-observable soul or spirit could constitute evidence that calls into question the philosophy of naturalism. There is no logical reason why we should assume that the soul or spirit or mind has to have an entirely material origin, because there is no logical justification for assuming that the philosophy of naturalism is true, being built as it is on a self-refuting epistemology. We need to look at the nature of what constitutes the soul, and ask whether such a mechanism could have a material basis. There is strong evidence against this view. For example, free will is an inescapable aspect of human life (despite the arguments of people like Sam Harris). Without free will we would not have moral responsibility, and indeed, there would no value in attempting to debate with other people, since we all believe what we do because nature has made us that way, if naturalism is true. Material reactions are deterministic, but moral and intellectual decisions are not necessarily and if they are, then there is no such thing as guilt or indeed education. Matter alone would make us all zombies, or at least mindless fools, for whom ideas only exist as stimuli or memes to aid survival.

    My criticism of the philosophy of naturalism does not, in itself, ‘prove’ the existence of the Christian God, but it casts huge doubt on the claims of atheism, because it requires the existence of some form of ‘super’-nature, that is, a dimension of reality over and above matter, which explains the objective validity of reason and morality and which facilitates the functioning of free will and consciousness.

    By the way… on the subject of epistemology, someone in the comments has made the claim that an appeal to logic constitutes circular reasoning. In one sense it does, but this kind of “circular reasoning” is not invalid, for a very simple and obvious reason. If logic is not considered to be objective valid, then we could never draw the conclusion of circular reasoning, because that judgment itself appeals to logic. The judgment that a particular argument involves a logical fallacy requires a respect for logic, because it is only by logic that we can discern fallacies. If the use of logic is itself fallacious, then that judgment is also fallacious, relying as it does on logic! The fact is that we cannot draw any sound conclusion about any truth claim without using logic. It is simply how the mind works, and is part of the fabric of reality.

    In a discussion with me a few years ago, someone once tried to wriggle out of answering the argument about empiricism being self-refuting by stating that logic is self-refuting, in that it refers back to itself. He was confusing self-reference with self-refutation. Logic indeed affirms itself. Logic is logical. Empiricism (i.e. the claim that ALL knowledge comes to us via sense perception), however, is not empirical but denies itself. Empiricism is an idea, which is itself not empirically detectable. There is nothing fallacious about self-referencing. But self-referencing is not the same as “begging the question”, which is a genuinely fallacious circular argument (such as the one I mentioned in which philosophical naturalists defend their position simply by assuming that ideas have a material cause). Begging the question involves trying to prove that a questionable theory is true by assuming its truth in the premise of the argument. But this cannot be the case with logic, for the very simple reason that no argument is actually possible without logic. Therefore the fundamental validity of logic can never be challenged or questioning without at the same time rendering the challenge impossible.

    Assuming God to prove God is a circular argument only on the assumption that the objective validity of logic does not require the existence of a supreme intelligence, and that this intelligence has to be personal (otherwise it would be an ‘intelligence’ driven ultimately by brute impersonal forces). It is possible to question the claim that objectively valid logic requires the existence of an ultimate intelligence, but I find such a challenge unconvincing. For that reason (among many others) I am a theist, not an atheist.

    aworldworthunderstanding.wordpress.com

  23. allistairg says:

    Typo in my last post: “…the fundamental validity of logic can never be challenged or questioning…” – the last word in this phrase should, of course, be “questioned”.

  24. […] of good reasons to believe in God and ways to show that our faith is logical and coherent, that Christian Theism alone makes sense of the world(1). But if you’ve already determined there is no God or no way of knowing if He exists, […]

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