Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Existence of God: Part 1 – The Nature of Evidence and Why Logic?

The above image (source found here) is a classic example of modern secular thinking. Christians are irrational, illogical and unreasonable. They are fools for believing in God and even more foolish for the belief that this Jesus person is the incarnation of God. Atheists, in recent years, have taken the gloves off. They are no longer engaging in polite discourse. Although religion as a whole is under attack, it is Christians who bear the brunt. To find the truth of this statement one simply need only to spend a few minutes on any popular website or public forum such as reddit or facebook. The vast majority of the atheist venom is directed specifically toward the bible, the God of the bible, Jesus and His followers. They have taken the disagreement to the level of mockery and complete intolerance for the Christian perspective. They say belief in God is a psychological crutch for simpletons, unable to handle reality. And why is the Christian so mock-worthy? According to them, evidence contradicts the bible. 

Atheists argue that the evidence against the biblical perspective on origins specifically - but other matters as well - is overwhelming. The universe and life both have “natural” origins; therefore existence itself is not a proof of God. They take this perspective even further. The claim is that science precludes the existence of God. You cannot use God as an explanation for anything in science. In other words, science can’t prove or disprove God and if it can’t be accounted for scientifically it does not exist. Although this line of thinking is full of baseless presuppositions, I’m not going to specifically address those issues at this time, but I will address them (Lord willing) in a future article that will examine the atheist world view in a more general sense. For now we will look at two of atheism’s most basic foundations.

The second biggest (we will get to the biggest in a moment) problem with atheism is its reliance on evidence. Evidence does not prove anything. Much like beauty, evidence is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, evidence must be interpreted, and one must have a framework or basis for how they choose to interpret evidence. This is called a world view. Two quick examples of why we cannot use evidence to prove anything. The atheist will point to starlight and say something like, 

“That starlight you see is billions of lightyears away, so it took billions of years to get here. The bible only allows for the universe to be thousands of years old, not billions. The bible is wrong.”

The Christian might respond,

You assume too much. Perhaps light has not always traveled at its current rate. Perhaps there is some unknown past cosmic event, or property of the universe that we don’t yet know or understand that could account for such a phenomenon. In fact there are Christian physicists working on that problem right now.”

Then the Christian will say,

“Look at comets. Each time they pass by the sun they lose some of their material. Even by the most generous calculations comets can only last for thousands of years, not even close to millions or billions of years. We still see comets today orbiting the sun, so the universe is only thousands of years old. The bible is right.”

Now the atheist can say,

“Well this guy named Oort came up with the idea of the Oort cloud. It’s a cloud of billions of comets around the solar system, and every once in a while there is some kind of gravitational event that throws more comets our way.”

Now I should point out that there is absolutely no reason to believe in the existence of the Oort cloud other than the fact that we still have comets orbiting the sun, just like Christians do not yet have an explanation for distant starlight. You see both sides can argue over evidence all day long, but we will only endlessly come up with reasons why the other's evidence does not affect our world views. Everyone has a world view, and they interpret everything on the basis of that world view. So our task - as the human race in the search for truth - is quite simple, examine the different world views and find the one that makes the most logical sense. But that leads to one very important question, why logic?

Proponent of atheism Dr. Gordon Stein has said, “The use of logic or reason is the only valid way to examine the truth or falsity of a statement which claims to be factual.” In other words, logic is the most fundamental rule by which we measure truth. You can’t prove anything without logic or reason. This is actually something Christians and atheists agree upon. The problem with this standard for truth is that it is in-and-of itself a claim of truth. So the atheist has to now prove by logic and reason, that it is by logic and reason that you prove everything. This is circular reasoning and begging the question, two logical fallacies that prove an argument to be false. The only option left for the atheist is to prove - by some method other than logic or reason - that it is by logic and reason that you prove everything. In which case, they destroy the argument on its own foundation. This is an inescapable trap and the biggest problem with atheism. The atheist perspective on its most basic foundation is totally irrational and self-refuting. The reason for this is that the atheist perspective cannot account for the existence of logic, so they have no logical reason for the use of logic and reason.  According to their own standards, science must be able to account for something for it to exist. But there is no “logic particle” or “planet logic” beaming logic (like radio waves) into the universe. But don’t Christians have the same problem? No they don’t, because their world view can account for logic and give a reason why it must be used. Logic is a reflection of God’s thinking. God is logical, and therefore logic is the standard by which we must think. To do otherwise violates God’s law and is therefore irrational. The same can be demonstrated with all non-physical properties of the universe such as morality and the laws of nature.

In closing there are four ways atheists try to get out of the logical trap their world view creates for them. The first is to try and say matter is logical therefore logic is a property of matter. There are two problems with this argument; the first is that matter changes and logic does not. If logic was based off of matter it would change. The second problem with this is that matter obeys the laws of logic and nature, laws do not obey matter therefore it cannot be the source. 

The second method of escape is to say the laws of logic are like the rules of grammar. They are not laws they are simply conventions among people. If that were true then logic would be different from culture to culture. For instance, in England it might make sense for me to contradict myself and say I am 100% a person and 100% not a person. 

The third escape is to say logic is created by chemical reactions in our brain. It is just how the human mind works. The first problem with this is that people are not always logical. That is why there are logical fallacies. If it was just how the human mind worked we would not have to be taught how to be logical. The second problem with this is that what happens in your brain is not what happens in mine. It is similar to the “matter source” and “conventions” arguments. Logic would then be changeable.

Finally they might try to say something along the lines of, “Just because you can prove something logically does not mean it actually exists.” This is referring, of course, to God. This is not really a method of escape, but rather an attack on the overall argument. What I say to this (and the three methods of escape in general) is that it is the atheist who is forced to deny and attack logic … not the Christian. It is not Christians who have to diminish logic or rational thought to try and uphold their world view. Christians can account for, or give a reason for, the use of logic. The atheist cannot. In fact in the rational world the atheist can’t prove anything because they have absolutely no basis for logic or any other kind of truth. They borrow from the Christian world view to try and fill in the gaps of their world view. The atheist world view is clearly inconsistent and irrational.

In part 2 (eta, soonish) we will broaden our view and tackle the atheist claim of neutrality, and the naturalist world view.

1 comment:

  1. "You see both sides can argue over evidence all day long, but we will only endlessly come up with reasons why the other's evidence does not affect our world views."

    You hit the nail on the head, Scott. I loved reading this article - especially when you discuss how Christians are not the ones attacking logic. It's the atheist that is required to diminish the use of logic or rational thought.