Atheism – The Ultimate God Flip-Off (The Atheist Does Not Fear God)

If one does not believe that God exists, then naturally there is no “fear of God”. With no “fear of God” there is no true wisdom according to the writer of the Book of Proverbs. Lacking wisdom, the atheist flips God off, and lives as if He doesn’t exist.

The Book of Proverbs talks a lot about getting wisdom. Wisdom means seeing everything in the light of God. It’s a healthy respect for God and His Word and His Ways. If you flaunt them, the consequences are very, very real. The fear of God also would include a relational aspect. One is drawn into the mystery of God, to know Him and obey Him.

In the book of Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is mentioned nearly 20 times. It’s the motto for the whole book. God has self-disclosed, that is, He has revealed some things about Himself – what He loves, what He hates, who He loves to bless, and how He likes to see us live our lives. Wisdom is loving what God loves, hating what God hates, and actually living like God has asked us to live. God is bigger than me; He’s more powerful than me and I ought to listen to Him. You step back in awe when you fear God. That is one aspect of the fear of the Lord. In other words, don’t be ripping life from the womb. Don’t be trampling on sacred marital ground. Don’t be redefining the family. Be careful when you assert that God does not exist. There is even a contingency within liberal Christianity that rejects all the central doctrines of the faith. A God without wrath brings men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a Cross. Pure heresy. Be careful.

But the fear of the Lord doesn’t stop with just stepping back in awe. The fear of the Lord also includes drawing close in relationship. God is not temperamental. You can trust Him and He wants you to be close to Him. Jesus makes this very clear. God is awesome and wants to catch you up in sacred romance. God is beautiful and warm. He is mysterious. He can make your life complete and worth living. You will be fulfilled in ways you never were before when you decide to come to him. So, to fear God is too stand in awe of him, but it is also and desire to know Him and be close to Him, even though He is totally Other than us.

Look at what the Proverb writer has written:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. The assumption is that many people will not fear God. They’ll flip God off.

Proverbs 1:28-31 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. 29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. So many live any way they want and when that way of life all but destroys them, they finally cry out to God, “I’m ready to listen to you now God.” But this cry comes too late. The damage is done. Sin will take you further than you want to go, cost you more than you want to pay, and keep you longer than you want to stay.

Proverbs 2:1-5 1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. This is not something we do a few times; wisdom is the pursuit of a lifetime.

Proverbs 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Someone who is proud, arrogant, characterized by evil behavior and speech have no fear of God.

Proverbs 9:10 10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 10:27 27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. This is not a promise; it’s a probability. The genre of proverb simply states probabilities, not promises.

Proverbs 14:26 26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. If you have good godly parents, your family will reap the benefits of it.

Proverbs 15:16 16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.

Proverbs 15:33 33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 16:6 6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

Proverbs 19:23 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Again, a probability. You live for God and you will eliminate a lot of trouble because you’ve stayed out of trouble.

Proverbs 22:4 4 Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life. This is a probability.

Proverbs 23:17 17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. You’ve got to live with the long view in mind.

The fear of God is not the terror that sends us running in horror, and on the other hand, it is not simply a quiet respect. The fear of God is living with an acknowledgement that we live in relationship to the God who created us, who even created the universe. It is the sobering reality that teaches us that God is vastly superior to us and must be placed first in our lives. We could say then that wisdom is full of awe for God.

A fully educated mind not in awe of Him may know all sorts of things, but they will not be truly wise and have the skill they need in life. The fear of God is not so much fear, but awe and total respect. Awe and reverence is the experience of being overwhelmed, of confronting someone or something much more powerful than ourselves. Where fear makes us want to run away, awe makes us want to draw closer to the mystery, even though we hesitate to get too close. Instead of resenting our own smallness or weakness, we stand in appreciation of something greater than ourselves. And we want to linger and even more important, obey Him (Parrott, Relationships). To fear God is to put Him first, above all things and to obey Him in simple trust. To fear God is to know that a moment of existence without Him is hell.

Donald Miller said, “I realize it isn’t a big deal to fear God these days, but I do. By that I don’t mean I have just a deep respect for Him or a healthy appreciation for Him; I actually get a general sense of terror. It isn’t because I think He is a bad guy, because I don’t. The sense of terror comes more from the idea that He is so incredibly other… (Searching…37).” It takes metaphor and analogy to try to describe God. Eyes of fire. Voice like rushing wind. He speaks a word and nature jumps. Angelic beings fall to their faces in His presence. The most powerful telescope cannot reach the end of the cosmos that He created. There is a God and He’s very big and He understands everything. He made all this and He understands it’s physics. He is so incredibly other.

You see the Biblical God is dangerous, but He’s good. He shakes me from my complacency. He is about holding you accountable, making you whole and holy, confronting your sin, knocking you down, standing you back up again, calling your name, and winning your heart so that you will align with His broad purposes for our world.

“Course He isn’t safe” says the Beavers in Narnia. But it’s the only God that would be worth believing in, living for, and dying for. God doesn’t tap the window pain with his cane and says to those who flaunt His ways: “Go away. Shoo! You’re getting close to the edge” and sometimes they back away from the edge and sometimes they don’t. That kind of a god is of little help in a world that is cruel and evil and where bad things happen to those who don’t deserve it – where wives are stolen, people we love are murdered, our most prized possessions destroyed, our true God is belittled, our loved ones die in accidents and families are falling apart.

You and I need Somebody who can do more than just “Shoo” away his enemies and principalities and powers of darkness, and merely have them come back once His attention is turned in another direction. I need Someone who has the power to ultimately and finally deal with evil, and hurt and misfortunate and heartache and genocide and abortion and infanticide and atheistic regimes and forsaken and abandoned families. “Course God isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you” says Beaver in the Chronicles of Narnia. So we can obey and trust him without fear, even when He asks us to do some really hard things, unsafe things, like forgiving someone who had done evil and harm toward us.

What does it mean to fear God? To fear God is to stand in awe of Him, to be drawn into the mystery of Him, and to pursue relationship with Him with a desire to obey Him fully. To do all of these things is to be declared truly “wise”. It means to be anxious and eager to meet Him. It means to build our lives around the call of being His Bride, to anticipate the pleasure of obedience. To fear God is to be lost in His presence and to orient all of life with God at the center.

Atheist, stop flipping God off. Instead, fear Him and you can be truly wise. Stop living your life as if God does not exist. He does exist and you don’t want to mess with Him.

Steve Farrar in one of his books was talking about the fear of God. He said a few years ago his then 14 year old son was telling him about his friend that had gotten into big trouble. As Steve and his son discussed it, Steve’s son said,

“You know what the real problem is Dad?”

“No,” Steve replied. “What is it?”

“When you get right down to it, he has no fear of his father. He knows that his dad doesn’t mean what he says. His dad has never followed through and disciplined him. That’s the real reason he’s in trouble.”

God exists. He means what He says. Don’t flip Him off. Stop droping His name like an ace card (even though you don’t believe in Him ironically enough) and stop making these ridiculous claims like “God doesn’t exist.” Read the proverbs I’ve quoted above to see what eventually happens in the lives of those who flip God off.

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55 Comments

Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Fear of God, Theism

55 responses to “Atheism – The Ultimate God Flip-Off (The Atheist Does Not Fear God)

  1. shamelesslyatheist

    Really…. Do you not get it yet? We atheists can’t flip off something that does not exist. Do you really think that quoting from a discredited source which has zero evidence for the claim that it is the word of god is going to have any effect other than laughter? Thus, we do not at all give credence to any proverbs.

    Fear of punishment/expectation of reward are bad reasons to do anything. Extortion/bribery is recognized in the criminal code as a serious crime. Even assuming such an evil god exists, why would I even consider praising such a monster?

  2. ophalm

    I was going to comment, but shameless did a good job of stating the problem with your argument – in a more direct way than I probably would have done though 😉

  3. sumpteretc

    “Fear of punishment/expectation of reward are bad reasons to do anything.”

    But it’s the only thing that gets most people to work on Monday mornings. 🙂

  4. theophilogue

    @ Shamless,

    Your right atheists can’t flip off something that does not exist. Owen never said that, thought. He is assuming God does exist based on his own worldview and presuppositions, just the way you did when you critiqued him. You assume the Christian Bible is a discredited source, God does not exist, fear of God implies that he’s a monster, desire for reward is a bad motive for doing good, etc. Now … You never gave an argument for any of these, but that’s OK. Neither me (nor, I think, Owen) would expect you to.

    We all have different points of view and we evaluate each others statements according to our own perspectives. It seems like you have a hard time accepting that we just see the world very differently. You should learn to be more tolerant and less dogmatic. You seem to be desiring some sort of argument to supplement everything he says, but that’s not how the blog world (and real life) works.

    That’s not so say that you shouldn’t feel welcome to express your differences with Owen, just that your expectations for his post seem out of place and open to recrimination.

    @ Sumpteretc

    Good point. I don’t put my hand on the stove (a good thing I don’t) because I fear it’s heat will scold my skin. Good action motivated by fear. I don’t see how this motive somehow makes my action ethically deficient.

    Bradley

  5. theophilogue

    Oops. I referred to the author of this post as “Owen,” but I was mistaken.

  6. Return of Tofu

    Joey, it shouldn’t be hard to see why this line of argument is not convincing. Go through your post, replace every instance of “god” with “Zeus.” Now read it and see if it spurs you towards Zeusism.

  7. But the text doesn’t say Zeus though. None of the proverbs talk about Zeus that I’m aware of. They do reference the one true God (Yahweh, known as Elohim or Adonai). And basic to ancient wisdom is a basic fear of God in the sense that I’ve shared in my post. When it talks about fearing God, it has to do with a specific deity (much of the Old Testament is about showing the uniqueness of the true God and the utter failure of other gods). In fact, the early Christians were accused of being atheists; they wouldn’t worship any of the pagan god deities, including Zeus, a very familiar and common god.

    Granted, proverbs are probabilities, not promises or fool-proof guarantees. You may be an atheist and live a long life with a fine family and solve some calculus equation for the good of mankind and offer your life to Zeus, but if you are an atheist toward the one true God, you cannot be said to be truly wise from the perspective of the ancient proverb writer. In fact, a case could be made for the descriptor of “fool” to be assigned to a Yahweh atheist. Run the term “fool” in an online concordance and it’s amazing what we learn about foolishness. If one does not fear God, then all those “probabilities” referenced in the post stand to rear their heads in the life of an atheist and in the lives of those who believe in God, but don’t fear Him. If you don’t fear God, you will not obey God.

    This is the most important fear to get right in life. If you fear God, you will fear everything else a lot less, including Zeus.

  8. I’ll share a story with you and I know that you’re going to be all over it and demonstrate how mean God is. But think about it in the context of this post.

    Max Lucado, a popular Christian author, was touring the Holy Land and the tour guide was describing how Uzzah had carried the Ark of the Covenant in a way that God did not allow (2 Samuel 6 – evidently, the group was touring the area where this incident took place). The Ark tipped, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady it, and he was struck dead.

    Someone in the touring group questioned: How could God do that? The guide responded. That’s not really the issue. The amazing thing is that God allows any of the rest of us to live, unholy as we are, and stubborn in doing things our own way.

    God is very particular in how we think about Him, describe Him, and define Him and whether or not we obey Him and honor His Word. We want a god who is safe, nice, pampering, just so long as he keeps his distance. Provide, don’t intrude. Protect, never demand. Care, but don’t judge or meddle in my business. I’ll move the Ark of the Covenant the way I want to move it. Don’t crowd me.

    All of life is lived under the watchful eye of God. He doesn’t miss a thing. The fear of the Lord is to have an appropriate awe and respect for God’s holiness and power, and to hate evil as God hates it and to live life as he has asked us to and not just “shrug” him off and do any thing we please, regardless of what He has said about it.

    The amazing thing is that God allows any of the rest of us to live, unholy and rebellious as we are.

    (There’s one primary reason, however, that I would offer as to why God allows us to live: the Cross. But that’s another post)

  9. Return of Tofu

    “But the text doesn’t say Zeus though. None of the proverbs talk about Zeus that I’m aware of. ”

    So? How do you know the writer(s) were an expert on the subject.

    Something inside those ancient writers was telling them- Zeus does exist. Rather than yield to his love, they convinced themselves some other god existed.

    Matthew 5:22
    Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

  10. ophalm

    Joey – once again you seem to fail to grasp the objection. It’s not like atheists are presented with God and then rejecting him. They are faced with a religion that claims it worships the one true God, they state they don’t believe in the religion or the God. Consequently they “reject” what they consider a false God. They see no evidence for this God.

    Your assertions that God is real does nothing to further the argument. How do you know that your God is the one true God? You can’t know, you can only believe and have faith. And that belief and faith is what the athiests have trouble with.

  11. No. This is not about religion. It’s about evidence for a Creator, an Intelligent Designer, a Moral Law Giver, a First Cause. And, about what He has self-disclosed. We learn that He is very powerful and loving, holy yet gracious, just and merciful. And those who aspire to be wise will “fear” Him. And atheism has the audacity to assert that He doesn’t exist when the existence of a Someone is so overwhelming. Flaunt the moral principles given by the Moral Law Giver and see what happens. In fact, you’re seeing it in our world today – no fear of God.

    No other “religion” has the kinds of evidential claims that Christian Theism espouses. It’s not about one religion “winning” over another. It’s about what truth claims can be supported, verified and substantiated when all the evidence is considered. Has God spoken? Yes. How? A Creative word (the Creation)…. a written Word (the Bible)… and a living Word (Jesus)….

    Don’t patronize with this, there is “no evidence for this God”. There’s plenty of evidence. The question is: Will I allow it to lead me to where it naturally is leading me?

  12. ophalm

    But what is this evidence? You think you see evidence in the world but that’s just your perception of the way the world works.

    Please, tell me what this evidence is. If it relies on the bible then that is barely good enough evidence. To base an entire faith and belief system we should require more than a 2000 year old set of documents with little outside verification.

    All your assertions are based upon an assumption that you’re right about God. What makes you so sure?

  13. aforcier

    Joey, i will leave mother nature out of the conversation for once.

    why does your god need to be feared? human slave masters and other kinds of rulers want to be feared… overbearing parents insist on being feared, low intelligenced bullies control by fear… abusive dictators operate on fear… torturers delight in their prisonners fears…

    is he the model for all these twisted wanabe gods?

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  14. Return of Tofu

    I too wonder what evidence you have other than the Bible and the naked assertion that god created everything. Be specific.

  15. I’ve done this before. I will do it yet again. Here we go. We know there is a God by the following evidence…

    A Creative Word: Intelligent Design / First Cause / Just Right World / Human Personality & Conscience
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/a-first-cause-intelligent-design-and-sacred-romance/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/intelligent-design-and-evolution-how-did-it-all-begin/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/how-do-i-miss-god-an-ancient-poet-answers/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/yellow-and-pink-a-childrens-book-gets-theism-and-intelligent-design/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/10/08/a-just-right-world-created-by-a-someone/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/the-first-cause-and-the-imagination/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/what-we-cannot-not-know-the-witness-of-deep-conscience/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/irreducible-complexity-occams-razor-and-the-anthropic-principle-for-a-new-year/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/god-is-i-really-do-exist/

    A Written Word: Special Revelation / Bible
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/why-do-we-have-a-bible/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/06/what-makes-the-bible-so-special/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/the-new-testament-summed-up-for-atheists/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/the-old-testament-summed-up-for-atheists/

    A Living Word: Jesus – The Greatest Argument for God’s Existence
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/allow-yourself-to-be-grasped-by-love/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/attraction-of-jesus/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/11/the-unblinking-cosmic-stare-smiled-at-christmas/
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/11/god-and-the-gods-arent-angry-anymore/

  16. Return of Tofu

    “A First Cause – Intelligent Design and Sacred Romance”

    You state that there is a first cause but don’t provide any evidence.

    “Intelligent Design and Evolution: How Did It All Begin?”

    Design argument. You fail to see the difference between living organisms and rocks. You misrepresent evolution. You state that everything was placed by a designer, but the only way you back this up is to say that other explanations are unlikely.

    “How Do I Miss God? – An Ancient Poet Answers”

    You say that god exists because the Bible says people who don’t believe in him are fools. You state that the existence of god is obvious, but don’t give any examples.

    “Yellow and Pink – A Children’s Book Gets Theism and Intelligent Design”

    You once again fail to see the difference between living organisms. You don’t provide any evidence for design except for saying that evolution is wrong.

    “A “Just Right” World – Created by a Someone”

    You finally present an actual argument! The anthropic principle. The answer to this one is that we are suited to our environment, not the other way around. It came first. Given that the vast majority of the universe is in fact completely hostile to human life, one wonders how good this “design” actually is.

    “The First Cause and the Imagination”

    First cause argument… You say everything has a cause, but god is exempt for some reason.

    “…Since the universe appears almost limitless in extent, the First Cause must be virtually infinite. Since the universe appears almost endless in duration, the First Cause must be virtually eternal. Since the universe pulsates with energy, the First Cause must be virtually omnipotent. Since the universe in phenomenally complex and contains intelligent life, the First Cause must be virtually omniscient. Since the universe (namely man) contains feeling and emotions and love and human relations, the First Cause must be personal. Since the universe contains goodness and righteousness and love and justice, the First Cause must be moral.”

    You quote Henry Morris. Could you expand on this?

    “What We Cannot NOT Know – The Witness of Deep Conscience”

    You state that atheists KNOW that god exists. you don’t explain how you reached this conclusion.

    “Irreducible Complexity, Occams Razor, and the Anthropic Principle for a New Year”

    You bring up the discredited idea of IC, don’t provide any examples (You bring up the eye in the comments if I recall corectly, but the eye is not IC).

    You also seem to think that disproving evolution proves design, but this is untrue. You don’t provide any positive evidence for design other than the anthropic principle.

    You misuse Occams Razor by claiming that an infinitely powerful and complex being is the simplest explanation for life.

    I’ve covered the main objections to the anthropic principle.

    “God Is… “I Really Do Exist” ”

    You say god’s existence is self-evident, but fail to provide any examples.

  17. theophilogue

    All atheists,

    It seems you guys are relying heavily on the laws of logic (e.g. critiquing arguments, demanding evidence, looking to the logical principles of science, etc.). Help me understand how you would go about answering this question: Where is your evidence that the laws of logic exist, from which you critique Joey’s worldview?

    Bradley

  18. Return of Tofu

    Hm, cool question.

    First of all, logic isn’t really a thing. It’s more of a way we describe how reality operates. We use it to evaluate hypothetical situations when making decisions.

    I trust in logic and science because they get results. They seem to be the best way to get information about the universe we live in and to apply that information to manipulate that universe.

    Logic has made possible all the technology we use today. We figure out that burning fuel creates pressure, and that that pressure can be harnessed to spin a wheel. We don’t arrive at this conclusion through faith or some kind of inner knowledge.

    I’m not sure if that fully explains everything, but maybe it’s a start.

    If you have some system that’s somehow better than logic for deducing things about the universe, please explain what it is.

  19. ophalm

    @ theophilogue:
    the evidence is 1000s of years of those rules working and never once breaking down. it’s the same evidence we have for gravity – sure it might change tomorrow, but we have absolutely no reason to believe so whatsoever.

  20. ophalm

    first cause
    it’s just an asserted statement. it’s not proof, it’s a perspective. and why is God the first cause, what made him? if he’s intelligent then he must have needed an intelligent designer? I know you’ll handwave that away but why? it’s a valid question that you have no answer for. and since we don’t know what was the “first cause” (to use that term) why assume it was God since it raises the same questions?
    intelligent design
    how is this “proof”? once again it’s a perspective of looking at the world and seeing things that don’t make sense to you unless you invoke God.
    how do I miss God
    what is this question? it answers the question of “where is the evidence” with “everywhere”. the article assumes that’s a sufficient answer, but it’s not. nothing in nature requires God to explain it.
    yellow and pink
    another uninformed argument based on intelligent design, attacking evolutionary understanding via a strawman, also invoking something that doesn’t happen in real life, someone coming down from heaven and checking on his creation after they wonder about it
    just right
    states that the world is just perfect for life. chances are somewhere in the universe is going to be. it doesn’t prove anything, no more than a person running across a highway and not getting hit proves that God was watching out for him
    first cause and imagination
    did it earlier
    conscience
    evolution did it. those aspects of humanity evolved because they were the most likely to pass on their genes

    I can’t be bothered going through the rest. if they’re evidence for you I’m glad for you, but for me I need more than that. I need some concrete, that can’t be denied. God did so many of those kinds of things 2000 years ago, why not today when they could be recorded and shown to the whole world? why is it those things happened in a time before most people employed critical thinking or understood the world in a scientific way? could it be it was their way of understanding the mysteries of life?

  21. You make two grave errors. One, you have assumed that science can answer everything. Two, you have not seriously considered the claims of Jesus, the greatest argument of God’s existence.

  22. ophalm

    I don’t believe that science can answer everything, I think some things are out of the realm of science, like morals, ethics etc – which are more the realm of philosophy.

    Also, I used to believe in Jesus and his claims. But then I realised that what I know about Jesus comes from the bible, so I made it my job to find the evidence for the canonisation and veracity of the gospel. I won’t say there is no evidence to back up his claims, but the evidence is quite lacking and mainly consists of a couple of contemporaneous writers that mention that he existed and that there was a religion following him.
    Jesus’s claims about himself ride on the resurrection, but how can we be sure of that? People are so easily deluded today, how much easier would they have been 2000 years ago?

    I’ve been wrong once, I might be wrong again, but I see no reason to believe. Do you think you could be wrong too?

  23. The issue is: what does all the accumulated and combined evidence point too? No one piece of evidence makes this an open and shut case. The overwhelming conclusion that we can safely draw is that this world has purpose and design built into it; that it is impossible for something to come from nothing, thus a supernatural intervention is required – a First Cause; that a person came to this planet and did something that no one else has ever done – he raised people from the dead and He himself raised from the dead. Thus his words mean something and we can be sure that they are true.

    I may be wrong about many things. But there’s one belief system that answers the deeper questions of life: where we came from, why we’re here, what went wrong in the world, what is being done to fix it, how suffering is eventually resolved, what our final destiny is, and what eventually happens to earth – it is Christian Theism. That there a God who has spoken to us in Jesus, His greatest, living Word (Hebrews 1:1-3). I will go to my grave believing, based on the evidence, that this is the only true worldview by which men and women can do life the way it was meant to be done. Truth can be found in other belief systems, but as a system, Christian Theism hangs together; it is coherent, historically verifiable, and existentially repugnant.

    Its not about me being wrong or your being right. It’s about what is true, where the evidence points, and what we can conclude from the data.

  24. Regarding First Cause – Many want an “explanation” for the “explanation” when we talk about who caused/created God. Believing in God and looking to him for an explanation of how and why things came to be, does not require that He have an explanation. God is “I AM.” An explanation of the explanation of the explanation of the explanation of the explanation of the explanation… is what ends up happening and where our “logic” breaks down when we try to explain where God came from.

    The I AM refers to the time when God revealed Himself as “the ultimate explanation” of all things, timeless, eternal, infinite – not I WAS, not I WILL Be; but I AM (Exodus 3). It’s based on a Hebrew verb that means “to be.” God’s “Name” becomes a summary statement of his own nature. “I Am Who I Am” is the explanation for all things, and emphasizes God’s dynamic and active self-existence. He, who cannot be explained, explains. He discloses intimacy, but preserves mystery. He cannot be reduced to a definition or a single idea, and thus be controlled by our explanations. But it is from the Unexplainable that we have explanations, good explanations that don’t need explained. And yet not everything is revealed by the I AM; He transcends us.

    An atheist friend says it best: “You seem to be suggesting that an explanation which requires a further explanation isn’t a very good explanation. I would say that along with there being no proof for God it also doesn’t explain anything but, as you pointed out, merely brings up more questions.” (Lucy)

    There is an undeniable law of cause and effect in the universe. Everything (except God) is the result of a chain of event which is rooted in the First Cause. When we study the “effects”, we can draw some implications about what this First Cause must be like. And no effect can be greater than the cause. Because the universe is beyond measure, the First Cause is beyond measure. Because the universe contains intelligent life with personality, the First Cause is intelligent, knows things, and has personality. And since the universe has a sense of justice built into it and because we as humans have a sense for right and wrong, the First Cause must be moral.

    Upon closer investigation, the First Cause is none other than the God of the Bible.

  25. ophalm

    You are right in that truth is regardless to what you and I believe. I try my hardest to find out what the truth is, if that changes my mindset then so be it. That’s why I left christianity in the first place.

    Your first effect argument, I don’t get it. You say everything needs a first cause, so you give God. When I ask for a first cause for God you say that God says it’s irrelevant, or you say that when we reach that question, logic is no longer relevant and the question has been answered.. It hasn’t answered my question, and the problem is still there, whether or not your personal desire for understanding has been satisfied.

    I get the impression you’re not interested in the truth as much as you’re interested in christianity as the truth.

    The reason I asked about being wrong/right, is because I was asking if you’re truly open minded to the truth?

  26. theophilogue

    @ Return of Tofu

    Thanks for taking my question seriously without being argumentative. I appreciate that.

    I would like to point out something to you that you may not have considered before about the way you think about logic. You may not agree with my thoughts, but at least hear me out.

    1. You said that logic is not actually a thing, but more of a relationship of other things that are actually real. Logic is just a descriptive term about how reality works.

    2. The reason you trust in logic is because it gets results (such as technology’s proven).

    3. Given #2, you wouldn’t consider trust in logic as some kind of “faith.”

    I list these in case I have misunderstood you in such a way that you might easily go back and show me where I messed up in interpreting your answer.

    So … Here are my thoughts. They are short, but I think key to understanding something:

    The only way you could ever prove that there is enough evidence for logic to trust it’s ability to “get results” or even accurately describe “how the world works,” is to first assume all kinds of logical relationships in the first place. You have to start by assuming (trusting) logic before you can make conclusions about the implications of evidence and assumptions about the law of causality (e.g. that the laws of logic “get results,” that is, have a causal agency in accomplishing things, etc.).

    Thus, you have to start by assuming logic first before you can ever be certain that it’s even trustworthy for determining what real and what’s not, what true and what’s false, what follows from the evidence and what doesn’t, what the nature of evidence is, what arguments are valid and which one’s are not, etc. etc. etc. It’s circular reasoning.

    Now … I realize that I’m using logic to argue that trust in logic is circular. But I’m Ok with that. It’s a lot like what Joey is doing, and a lot like what most Christians do. They assume God exists, and that he has revealed himself in Jesus especially, and in the Bible. When you ask them to prove it, they usually aren’t able to prove it to the satisfaction of those who unwilling to allow for certain assumptions to be made in order for it all to make sense.

    One more thought … given #2, I would hope that you would allow for Joey’s convictions to be considered “logical” also, since his faith in God and Jesus and the Bible probably “get results” for him spiritually in a lot of ways, and one’s faith can do miracles for them (e.g. transform their entire moral reference point and thus their life, make them better people, cause them to give to the poor, cause them to live for others instead of themselves, cause them to treat their wife better, help them to quit using drugs and abusing alcohol (or any other addiction they desire to be free from), etc. etc. etc.

    Your thoughts?

    Bradley

  27. theophilogue

    Hey Joey,

    How come I can’t link to people’s blogs from your the comment thread? Only yours?

    Bradley

  28. Appreciate the observation on logic. Not sure what the link problem is. Will check settings in wordpress.

  29. OK. I’ve checked out settings and can’t seem to find anything that would hinder linking to someone’s blog from their comment. I’ve looked over some previous comments, and some of the people have a live link to their blog and some don’t. Not sure why?

    Can anyone advise?

  30. Return of Tofu

    “The overwhelming conclusion that we can safely draw is that this world has purpose and design built into it;”

    The problem is that you haven’t backed up this argument. Your examples of design (such as the eye) have explanations that don’t require a deity.

    What’s also funny is that you use things like rocks and sand on the beach as contrasts to living organisms, saying they don’t seem designed. If your god actually created everything shouldn’t it ALL seem designed?

    “But there’s one belief system that answers the deeper questions of life: where we came from, why we’re here, what went wrong in the world, what is being done to fix it, how suffering is eventually resolved, what our final destiny is, and what eventually happens to earth”

    Just because it has answers doesn’t mean it has the correct answers, or that there even are answers.

    I’m pretty sure Buddhism also has answers to these questions, but I don’t see you accepting it as fact.

    “Regarding First Cause – Many want an “explanation” for the “explanation” when we talk about who caused/created God. Believing in God and looking to him for an explanation of how and why things came to be, does not require that He have an explanation. God is “I AM.” ”

    Special pleading. If you say god doesn’t need a first cause, then why does the universe need a first cause?

    “And no effect can be greater than the cause. Because the universe is beyond measure, the First Cause is beyond measure. Because the universe contains intelligent life with personality, the First Cause is intelligent, knows things, and has personality. And since the universe has a sense of justice built into it and because we as humans have a sense for right and wrong, the First Cause must be moral.”

    No effect can be greater than the cause? Ever heard of an avalanche?

    The fact is that some things are not caused by one single thing, but the interaction of many different forces. Complex forms can arise from simplicity. This is called emergence.

  31. Return of Tofu

    Theophilogue, I have thought about this stuff before, although maybe not in as much depth as possible. Maybe clarifying my position will help.

    Essentially, I trust in logic because it seems to be accurate when it comes to making predictions about reality (which I assume exists and follows certain rules).

    I don’t trust in Christianity because it does not seem to be accurate (for example, if Christianity was true, you would expect prayer to heal diseases, but this is not the case).

    I guess what we’re really talking about is utility. It’s possible that the world was magically created five minutes ago and disguised to look old, but knowing this is true doesn’t help us manipulate reality in any way- it functions in every way as if it were many billions of years old.

    I could assume that everyone I meet is actually a hippo, but I will be constantly confused as to why all these hippos I meet keep talking to me, and how they’re able to operate cars and such. The assumption is not borne out in reality.

    So my assumptions that reality exists and follows certain rules are useful, to the extent that they allow me to interact with reality in a predictable fashion.

    “I would hope that you would allow for Joey’s convictions to be considered “logical” also, since his faith in God and Jesus and the Bible probably “get results” for him spiritually in a lot of ways, and one’s faith can do miracles for them”

    By “results” I really should have said predictive value. In this instance, it’s the beliefs causing the behaviour change, not necessarily the entity that’s being believed in. After all, members of other religions “get results” in the same way, but I don’t think you would suggest that they are all true.

  32. Return of Tofu

    In any case, Joey is attempting to make logical arguments to prove the existence of god, so they warrant logical counterarguments.

    I don’t really see what alternative to logic we have, unless you want to claim that reality is a matter of opinion.

  33. theophilogue

    Return of Tofu,

    Thanks for such a lengthy response. Most of your response were subordinate to your main point, “I don’t trust in Christianity because….” Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t arguing that you should trust in Christianity or heed Joey’s arguments. I also wasn’t addressing your assumption that reality exists, people are people and not hippo’s, etc. Most of your response, then, wasn’t helpful in terms of its relevance to my point.

    I was raising the point that you use circular reasoning for trusting in the accuracy of the laws of logic.

    But you didn’t miss me totally. You made a couple comments that were helpful. I will list them for helpful reference.

    1a. “Essentially, I trust in logic because it seems to be accurate when it comes to making predictions about reality (which I assume exists and follows certain rules).”

    2a. “So my assumptions that reality exists and follows certain rules are useful, to the extent that they allow me to interact with reality in a predictable fashion.”

    3a. “By ‘results’ I really should have said predictive value. In this instance, it’s the beliefs causing the behavior change, not necessarily the entity that’s being believed in. After all, members of other religions ‘get results’ in the same way, but I don’t think you would suggest that they are all true.”

    I’m having a bit of trouble now with your position.

    In #1, your claim that you assume reality follows certain rules seems to go against your own principles of science, which will only allow for belief in rules that can be demonstrated to occur over and over through scientific experimentation. Only then can they be considered a “rule” or “law” (e.g. the law of gravity). You don’t assume reality follows certain rules, you conclude on the basis of logic applied to scientific experimentation. I think you would agree with me here, so perhaps you didn’t mean to say that you just “assume” reality follows certain rules?

    Scientifically speaking, in order to establish these rules, one must first utilize the scientific method (which already utilizes the laws of logic) and then after applying the scientific method, one must make conclusions about the experiments (which further utilizes logic). My point here is that science doesn’t prove the laws of logic before it takes them for granted. Rather, it assumes them in order to establish the scientific method itself. You can’t first use scientific method in order to prove the laws of logic, for the scientific method already takes them for granted. It’s inescapable circular reasoning. It has to be. There’s no other way to proceed with making sense of reality. One must assume/trust in the laws of logic without first proving them, for proving them would entail using them.

    Also, in #1 you say that you trust in the laws of logic (which you have defined as a way of describing reality, which amounts to a language) because they seem to be accurate in predicting reality (I assume you mean prediction about how reality will behave in the future). I just want point out something about this statement which you may already know, but which I would simply like to draw attention. In order to conclude that the language one uses actually causes accurate prediction about reality, one must first assume the law of causality. Therefore, you still have not escaped circular reasoning. And this was the only point that I was trying to make in my previous response to your answer to my question, “Where is your evidence that logic exists?”

    In #2, you sum up the reason you trust in logic with one word: utility. They allow you interact with reality in a certain way that you deem valuable. I would like to point out here that religion can do the same thing: help people to interact with reality (other people and their environment) in a way that they deem valuable, and in a way that society at large often deems valuable too (I won’t go to the trouble of listing these unless you really think I need to). On this point, then, it seems you must conceded that Joey has as much reason to trust in God and the Bible as his revelation as you do in trusting the laws of logic.

    Concerning #3, NOTICE: My point is not that Christianity is therefore true, but only that Joey has at least as much reason to trust that God revealed himself in the Bible as you have to trust in the laws of logic. Belief in God and in Jesus Christ can cause mental and behavioral reorientation that results in their being able to interact with reality in a way that they deem valuable (and that society often deems as valuable). ALSO, NOTICE: I’m aware that the same beliefs may not be deemed as “valuable” to everyone, and I’m aware that the same beliefs, one might argue, can cause them to behave in ways that society at large would agree is harmful. But this is not, in my judgment, a defeater for my point.

    Your thoughts?

    Bradley @ theophilogue.wordpress.com

  34. theophilogue

    Joey,

    Perhaps you have the ability to click on people’s profile pic or name and link to their website, but I am unable. When I run my mouse overtop the avatar or the name, it doesn’t respond.

    Bradley

  35. sumpteretc

    Yes, Joey, your name on each post is a hyper link but everyone else’s is just text.

  36. Return of Tofu

    “Most of your response were subordinate to your main point, “I don’t trust in Christianity because….””

    I wouldn’t say that’s my main point at all. My main point would probably be the utility thing, but I am just throwing thoughts out there to see what sticks.

    “I think you would agree with me here, so perhaps you didn’t mean to say that you just “assume” reality follows certain rules?”

    That would be correct.

    “It’s inescapable circular reasoning. It has to be. There’s no other way to proceed with making sense of reality.”

    I don’t see any way to deny this. I would agree with you.

    “…because they seem to be accurate in predicting reality (I assume you mean prediction about how reality will behave in the future).”

    By prediction, I don’t just mean future prediction. I mean it in the sense that we can say “given A, we can predict that B will be true.”

    “On this point, then, it seems you must conceded that Joey has as much reason to trust in God and the Bible as his revelation as you do in trusting the laws of logic.”

    Ok, but I’ve never argued that there is no reason to believe in god, only that there is no logical reason. If someone wants to say that they believe in god because that belief helps them get by that’s fine.

    Joey is attempting to use logic to prove the existence of god, and I’m trying to show that his arguments are not in fact logical. That’s why I was kind of confused when you first brought up the topic (although I am finding it to be quite interesting).

    I could also bring up Occam’s Razor, but that would be a logical proposition, wouldn’t it?

  37. From Tech Support – WordPress on Linking to someones blog from a comment:

    That is because they have failed to link their usernames to their profiles as indicated here:

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/7-things-to-know-before-posting-in-wordpresscom-forums?replies=1

    It is not your responsibility, and you cannot do this for them. They have to do it themselves.

  38. theophilogue

    1. “By prediction, I don’t just mean future prediction. I mean it in the sense that we can say ‘given A, we can predict that B will be true.'”

    Although you are attempting to rid your statement of a futurist element, the way you have restated your position still demands such an element :: that B “WILL BE” true. But, I think you meant to say that B actually “IS” true. This would help you escape a futurist element in your understanding of logic, but appears to lessen certainty for whatever B claims, since you are speaking about it as a “prediction” rather than a “truth” or “reality.” It’s possible, however, that you intend to actually claim that B isn’t merely probably true (as in predictions), but that logic helps us determine what actually IS true. Is this so?

    2. “Ok, but I’ve never argued that there is no reason to believe in god, only that there is no logical reason.”

    I have already established to your own satisfaction (you said, “Ok”) that Joey has just as much logical reason to assume/trust/believe that God exists and has revealed himself in Jesus Christ as you have given me for your own assumption/trust/belief in the laws of logic. Therefore, if you say there is no logical reason to believe in God, you must also say that there is no logical reason to believe in the laws of logic, for I have demonstrated that the reasons can be the same.

    3. “If someone wants to say that they believe in god because that belief helps them get by that’s fine.”

    First, my point wasn’t that Jeoy’s faith helps him “get by,” but that his faith causes him to interact with reality in a way that he deems valuable, just as your belief in logic helps you interact with reality in a way that you deem valuable. Therefore, I might say the same thing to you: If you want to believe in the laws of logic (*the very foundation of all your critiques against Joey’s worldview*) because it helps you “get by” (i.e. interact with reality in a way that you deem valuable) that’s fine.”

    Ockam’s Razor is indeed a logic principle; a cousin of the law of causality :: one need not attribute a cause which goes beyond sufficient preconditions for that cause. Or, to say it in simpler terms :: one need not attribute a cause greater than the effect. Bring it up if you must, but not to me unless it bears direct relevance to one of my points.

    Also … just to clarify :: NOTICE: I’m not saying that your logical cross examination of Joey’s arguments are out of place. Given the apparent assumptions of your own worldview, they make sense. I’m simply making the point that once Joey has assumed that God exists and the Bible is God’s revelation, he has all the grounds necessary for making the claims he is making (all he needs to do is say, “The Bible says …”). If the Bible is God’s Word, certainly it would be logical to assume it is therefore true.

    POINT: Just as Joey starts with an unprovable assumption that we might call his “controlling principle” (for it determines how he comes to believe what is true and what is false), so you too, start with an unproven assumption (the laws of logic) that we might also call your “controlling principle” (which determines how you come to accept or reject things as true or false). My point is that both of your foundations are built on unproven assumptions, and are therefore equally circular. If Joey’s is to be faulted for assuming God exists and reveals himself in the Bible, so too, you could be faluted for assuming the laws of logic based on the same principles. Once you assume the laws of logic, you have all the grounds to claim the scientific method and whatever conclusions follow from it :: Just as once you grant Joey’s assumptions, he suddenly has the grounds to make truth claims based on whatever God says (i.e. in his case, whatever the Christian Bible says).

    Now … one difference between Joey’s worldview and yours is that Joey’s worldview encompasses God AND the laws of logic at the same time. If God made the universe, and he is logical (as the Bible portrays), and man (who inescapably assumes and utilizes these laws) then such logical laws are part of the very fabric of The Deity’s creation, and therefore yield more than a mere “predictive” calculation (if and when man’s conclusions are not proven to be vulnerable to logical fallacies) :: they yield absolute truth.

    NOTICE: I’m not saying Joey’s worldview is therefore true.

    Your thoughts?

    Bradley

  39. Ah hah.

    Thanks Joey. I fixed it. Now people can link to my blog.

    EVERYONE :: It appears that when WordPress was working on its system last week, our profiles were tampered with. We have to go back and re-do parts of them.

    Bradley

  40. From theophilogue:

    My point here is that science doesn’t prove the laws of logic before it takes them for granted. Rather, it assumes them in order to establish the scientific method itself. You can’t first use scientific method in order to prove the laws of logic, for the scientific method already takes them for granted. It’s inescapable circular reasoning. It has to be. There’s no other way to proceed with making sense of reality. One must assume/trust in the laws of logic without first proving them, for proving them would entail using them.

    Personal questions:How would you prove that God exists without using a Bible, but relying on reasoning? How would you tie the use of logic to story? How would you use logic to prove thta God is good without using a Bible? Personal questions that interests me if you care too.

  41. Joey,

    1. It depends on what you mean by “prove.” Help me understand and I might be able to answer your question.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by “tie the use of logic to story.” Help me understand, and I might be able to answer your question.

    Bradley

  42. Hi Theophilogue/Bradley, appreciate your comments and clear lines of reasoning.

    By prove, I mean “substantiate” “validate” to move toward “belief”. How would you go about substantiating that God exists, without using a Bible. Some talk about “infallible proofs” that move us to “beyond a reasonable doubt” conclusions. What do you think would be a good approach in moving someone from “unbelief” toward a “belief” in God’s existence?

    This question is probably about a methodology as much as it is about the content of what you would actually say…

    Additionally, the concept of story, larger story, sacred romance, and meta-narrative are all powerful concepts, at times defying human logic (God, the Father, giving a Son in our behalf)… In your opinion, why does it take the larger story to give life to the tightly reasoned arguments of man? Again, this is more your opionion… Why do arguments “seem” to present a great case, yet fall short of convincing, but yet story is so compelling and actually something that the arguments must hang on?

    If you care too….

  43. Return of Tofu

    “Although you are attempting to rid your statement of a futurist element, the way you have restated your position still demands such an element :: that B “WILL BE” true. But, I think you meant to say that B actually “IS” true.”

    Would you agree that you can use logic both for prediction and to discover present truths?

    Actually, is there even any difference? Saying “given a and b, c will happen five minutes from now” is actually as much a claim about the present as it is about the future.

    In theory, if we had perfect knowledge of all evidence and all relationships, we should be able to make absolute predictions and truth claims. There’s no way to test this though, obviously.

    “First, my point wasn’t that Jeoy’s faith helps him “get by,” but that his faith causes him to interact with reality in a way that he deems valuable, just as your belief in logic helps you interact with reality in a way that you deem valuable.”

    Joey’s argument isn’t that belief in god is logical because it helps him interact with reality. Since this is an argument only for belief in, and not the existence
    of god, it doesn’t really get us anywhere.

    So I suppose I was in error when I said there were no logical reasons to believe in god. However, it wasn’t the argument Joey was using, and his other arguments are logically weak, in my opinion.

    My reference to Occam’s Razor was because I have often heard it as “the scenario with the least assumptions is most likely true.”

    Joey and I both use logic, and it’s use is not in contention. Our debate is taking place within the logical domain.

    It seems to me that Joey is trying to show that god’s existence is provable even when we assume only logic, and that assuming god’s existence from the beginning is not necessary.

    If it is necessary, then Joey’s position has two assumptions, logic and god, whereas mine has only one: logic.

    I fully expect you to be able to rip this post to shreds, and eagerly await your response.

    One question: What would you say is your controlling principle?

  44. 1. “Would you agree that you can use logic both for prediction and to discover present truths?”

    Yes. But you were apparently desiring to categorize both of these (present truth and predictions about the future) under the language of “prediction.” You said …

    “By prediction, I don’t just mean future prediction. I mean it in the sense that we can say “given A, we can predict that B will be true.”

    I’m thinking perhaps you meant to say, “given A, we can logically reason that B is true.” It seems a bit strange to talk about present truth discovered from the use of logic (if a and b, then c logically follows) as “prediction.” But the whole reason you initially described it that way is because you were trying to give me a reason why you trusted in logic. You said …

    “Essentially, I trust in logic because it seems to be accurate when it comes to making predictions about reality (which I assume exists and follows certain rules).”

    But it seems by your previous comment that you are wanting to include more than just the ability to make accurate predictions about reality. Now it seems you are wanting the term “predictions” to refer to things that do not fit the normal semantic range of the word “predict.”

    Perhaps your thoughts would be further clarified if you gave a few examples of what you mean by “given A, we can logically reason that B will be true.” For this could refer to concrete behavior of material things. For example, concrete behavior: “given that this wrecking ball weighs a ton, we can logically reason that if we swing it at a certain velocity towards a thin glass house it WILL [future prediction] shatter the glass.” This kind of example better fits your language of “prediction.” However, if you change your statement so that you say “given A, we can logically reason that B is true,” this might include more abstract reasoning (“given the fact that anyone who doubts their existence must exist in order to doubt, therefore we can logically reason that they exist”). If you intend to include this second example in the semantic range of the word “prediction,” it would be a strange way indeed of referring to the abstract reasoning process. By referring to a non-predictive present truth as a “prediction,” you make it sound less certain, as if our conclusions were guess work. Personally, I don’t think the latter example (where I used more abstract reasoning) is any less certain than the former (where I used more concrete reasoning).

    Now … there is actually a debate among philosophers about whether or not predictions can in any way be considered “true” in the present, since, even if they are accurate predictions, we would not know unless or until the state of affairs which they predict come to pass. But that is quite an abstract question, and would take too much energy to chase down in this thread.

    2. “Joey’s argument isn’t that belief in god is logical because it helps him interact with reality.”

    I never claimed that Joey was arguing that, only that he could, and therefore has access to a reason for assuming (believing, trusting) that God revealed himself in Jesus and the Bible that is just as logical as your reason for assuming (believing, trusting) the laws of logic.

    3. “Since this is an argument only for belief in, and not the existence of god, it doesn’t really get us anywhere.”

    Actually, this assumes that only arguments that are convincingly persuasive for believing that God exists are relevant to our discussion. But this isn’t the case. Furthermore, my argument wasn’t “for belief in the existence of God,” but for grounding such belief in God on at least as solid logical grounds as your own belief in the laws of logic. And this, I think, is very relevant to our discussion.

    4. “Joey’s position has two assumptions, logic and god, whereas mine has only one: logic.”

    This claim depends on whether Joey’s belief in logic is his starting point, or whether it is something that he trusts in by implication of his faith in God. If the latter is the case, then he still only begins with one assumption: the God of the Bible. From this assumption, he goes about drawing out all the implications of such a belief, much like you would start with your belief in logic, and then go working out all the implications that logic appears to demand.

    If Joey were starting with the assumption that the God of the Bible is real, he would be justified in concluding in the same fashion we have already spelled out (given A, then B must be true) that therefore we can expect that the laws of logic are trustworthy since God created them. But it would be unfair for you to start counting every secondary conclusion that appears to logically follow from his belief in God as a *starting point assumption* in the same way that his belief in God is.

    To say it another way, there are basic assumptions on the one hand (lets call these “foundational beliefs”), then there are beliefs we hold on the basis of those more foundational beliefs (let’s call these secondary beliefs). If Joey’s trust that logic yields reliable truth is a secondary belief, then it does not qualify as an “assumption” in the same way that his belief in the biblical God does, for the latter is a foundational assumption, and the former is more of a secondary belief based on that foundational assumption.

    NOTICE: A significant difference between your worldview and Joey’s, is that once he starts with his belief in the God of the Bible, he is able to immediately and conveniently account for multiple levels of human experience that science cannot really address. It immediately follows, for example, that God made morality, there is such a thing as right and wrong, human beings have intrinsic value because they are created in God’s image, all human beings have purpose, there are objective values, all wrongs will eventually be made right, etc. etc. Now … science can discover many intricacies in the universe, manipulate those entities, and be used to produce fascinating things through higher and higher levels of sophisticated technology, but science can’t tell us what’s objectively right and wrong, what’s worth living for and valuing the most, how human beings “ought” to live (and I use that word “ought” in an objective way), whether life has any ultimate meaning, etc. etc. etc. While Joey’s worldview can account for logic, and therefore the scientific method, and therefore all the things that you probably value about science (predicable laws, technology, etc.), his worldview has the additional feature of being able to also to account for ethics, values, and purpose in a way that your own worldview (sticking only to strict science) cannot. (*correct me if I’m wrong to assume that you only allow yourself to believe in things for which there is scientific evidence [with, of course, the exception of your starting point / foundational assumption of the reliability of logic).

    5. “However, it wasn’t the argument Joey was using, and his other arguments are logically weak, in my opinion.”

    I never said anything about the relative logical veracity of all of Joey’s arguments.

    6. “One question: What would you say is your controlling principle?”

    I think all human beings ultimately have the same controlling principle: their own will. The mind follows the heart. If we want to believe something, we will find reasons to believe it. The smarter we are, the better reasons we will end up with. We are all, in the end, driven by bias. Some of us are just more aware of our own bias (and the bias of others).

    Personally, I am a believer in the One True God Yahweh, and the one Savior Jesus Christ. I didn’t become a Christian because I first carefully examined all the logical arguments for and/or against the Christian worldview, and decided that the Christian worldview had the most logically defensible positions based on pure reason and science. We would be naive to think that all atheists, Buddhists, Christians, agnostics, skeptics, etc. come to hold their positions only after first examining the best arguments on all sides of the issue and then making their decision without any volitional bias. I am no exception. It would take a long time to unpack my understanding of the inevitability of volitional bias when it comes to making one’s choice about a worldview. Passion is what drives the human heart. It’s what drives you to critique Joey’s worldview, and it’s what drives Joey to defend his worldview. For now, that’s all I really have time to say. You can read a brief snippet of my story on my page “MY STORY” on my blog (theophilogue.wordpress.com).

    Your thoughts?

    Bradley

  45. Joey,

    I’m not ignoring your questions, but for now, I’ll have to put it off a day or two until I can get time to answer them.

    Bradley

  46. Thank you Tofu and Bradley for your thoughts. I’ve read with interest.

    I do concur, as stated by theophilogue (Bradley):

    “A significant difference between your worldview and Joey’s, is that once he starts with his belief in the God of the Bible, he is able to immediately and conveniently account for multiple levels of human experience that science cannot really address. It immediately follows, for example, that God made morality, there is such a thing as right and wrong, human beings have intrinsic value because they are created in God’s image, all human beings have purpose, there are objective values, all wrongs will eventually be made right, etc. etc. Now … science can discover many intricacies in the universe, manipulate those entities, and be used to produce fascinating things through higher and higher levels of sophisticated technology, but science can’t tell us what’s objectively right and wrong, what’s worth living for and valuing the most, how human beings “ought” to live (and I use that word “ought” in an objective way), whether life has any ultimate meaning, etc. etc. etc. While Joey’s worldview can account for logic, and therefore the scientific method, and therefore all the things that you probably value about science (predicable laws, technology, etc.), his worldview has the additional feature of being able to also to account for ethics, values, and purpose in a way that your own worldview (sticking only to strict science) cannot.”

  47. aforcier, the goodnews for raj can’t possibly be that scary, can it? Besides, it’s about a Person. While a tree will provide shade or asthetic appeal or oxygen or food, it will not love raj. While a stream may give him something to drink or bathe him, it will not satisfy the quench of his soul. While the sun may light his day, it will not hold his hand. While the log may be a place for him to sit, it will not give insight into what he should do when he gets up. Nature is not the answer for raj.

    Raj, nature is a cosmic cathedral, and earth is the observation point from which we observe all that God made. Nature is God’s workshop. The sky is His resume, stars His sky-jewelry, the earth but a room in His Solar Mansion. It’s God waving hello. But don’t mistake nature for God; it will never love you like God does.

    Raj, if there’s good news, don’t run away from it; run toward it. aforcier and many others will be competing voices.

  48. Joey, I think your last comment may be on the wrong post.

  49. Yep…thanks for your heads-up on that…. I moved it over…

  50. Return of Tofu

    Sorry for the late (and short) reply. I’m having a busy week.

    I’m thinking perhaps you meant to say, “given A, we can logically reason that B is true.” It seems a bit strange to talk about present truth discovered from the use of logic (if a and b, then c logically follows) as “prediction.”

    Perhaps prediction would be the wrong word. In any case, you seem to have understood what I meant.

    “If Joey were starting with the assumption that the God of the Bible is real, he would be justified in concluding in the same fashion we have already spelled out (given A, then B must be true) that therefore we can expect that the laws of logic are trustworthy since God created them. But it would be unfair for you to start counting every secondary conclusion that appears to logically follow from his belief in God as a *starting point assumption* in the same way that his belief in God is.”

    But you have to assume logic works to reach the conclusion that logic is based on god. It’s a logical relationship.

    “science can discover many intricacies in the universe, manipulate those entities, and be used to produce fascinating things through higher and higher levels of sophisticated technology, but science can’t tell us what’s objectively right and wrong, what’s worth living for and valuing the most, how human beings “ought” to live (and I use that word “ought” in an objective way), whether life has any ultimate meaning, etc. etc. etc. While Joey’s worldview can account for logic, and therefore the scientific method, and therefore all the things that you probably value about science (predicable laws, technology, etc.), his worldview has the additional feature of being able to also to account for ethics, values, and purpose in a way that your own worldview (sticking only to strict science) cannot.”

    Why do you say this is a significant difference (more significant than any other?)

    How do you know these things exist, and why should science have to account for them?

    Why do you say science can’t account for these things?

  51. No need to apologize. I know what its like. Life is a hustle. … Thanks for continuing this correspondence, it is worth continuing, I think [at least in a subjective sense, worth it for me].

    You said … “But you have to assume logic works to reach the conclusion that logic is based on god. It’s a logical relationship.”

    My response … You could use logic to show that certain things seem to logically follow, but still be skeptical about the absolute reliability of logic in such a way as to hold logic’s demands at arm’s length. I think you are conflating the use of logic with confidence in logic’s ability to accurately determine what actually corresponds to reality. A theist has a grounding for why the laws of logic should be trusted: they are created by God and not the invention of human creativity. They are God’s gift of tools for determining what actually corresponds with reality. Therefore, trust in logic (not merely the use of logic or even the belief that laws of logic exist) is not a theist’s most basic belief, but is grounded in a more “foundational” belief. Granted, they use logic to get there, but they don’t burn their bridge once they get there by realizing they have no good reason to trust the laws of logic that got them there. Thus, a Theist has a grounding for logic in God, whereas an atheist like yourself simply has to trust that the laws of logic are accurate for pragmatic reasons without evidence or even logical arguments that demonstrate logic is reliable to determine what absolutely corresponds to reality.

    You said … “How do you know these things exist … Why do you say science can’t account for these things?”

    My response … I know they exist because “the Bible says,” but since you don’t have the God of the Bible as your foundational assumption you have to ground their existence by way of logical scientific inquiry. I’ve never seen a moral before, it’s not a material entity. Even if one might establish the fact that morals exist in the framework of a exclusively-material worldview (say … as some sort of merely anthropological phenomenon), how would one know WHICH set of morals are “supposed” to be the right one’s … or even if there is such a thing as morals that are binding of all human beings? If you know of a way to ground right’s and wrong’s that are binding on all human beings, please, by all means, do not keep it secrete, for I know of no scientist who has ever attempted such an argument who did not ground it in their belief in a creator God. [not to say that someone hasn’t tried]

    You said … “Why should science have to account for them?”

    My response … Because they determine the ultimate meaning of human life. Because atheists such as yourself have these crazy notions that to molest and rape children is somehow “wrong.” Because no one is indifferent to the question: What will make humans happy? Because no person is indifferent to questions of ethics and purpose and the meaning of human existence. If we use scientific inventions to torture little babies or commit genocide, most people (Christians and atheists alike) will somehow believe that such a thing is wrong. But why? Are such ethical standards binding in all humans in any way? If so, how would you ground such a thing scientifically?

    You said … “Why do you say this is a significant difference (more significant than any other?)”

    My response … I hope it’s obvious from what I have already said in answering your other questions.

    (sorry so curt, just busy, like yourself)

    @ Joey,

    I haven’t forgotten about your questions, but I seem to be having to answer more than I am able in the windows of free time that I am able to get. I will get to them, I promise.

    Bradley

  52. Joey,

    You are asking difficult questions. But I will try to spill some thoughts and give you a taste of my thoughts.

    1. I don’t think we can “prove” through science or logical reasoning that God necessarily exists [especially the Christian God in particular], but I don’t think one has to “prove” it in order to be considered “logical” or “rational” for believing it. I do think that brilliant arguments can in fact be made that are capable of withstanding the cross-examinations of skeptics, I just don’t think they constitute “proof.” I would prefer to say that belief in God is “reasonable.” In fact, I am personally convinced that belief in God is the most reasonable conclusion in light of all the facets of human life (as I have hinted at in my exchange with “Return of Tofu”). For the best book I know of on considering Christian Faith rational even though there’s no hard “proof,” try Alvin Plantinga’s classic “Warrented Christian Belief”: http://www.amazon.com/Warranted-Christian-Belief-Alvin-Plantinga/dp/0195131932/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236222703&sr=1-1

    2. It is particularly difficult, however, once one has shown that belief in a God is “reasonable” that therefore the Christian worldview in particular is true. For taking this next step (from theism to Christian theism), I think N.T. Wright’s book on the Resurrection is persuasive in demonstrating that belief that Jesus rose from the dead is the most convenient way to make sense of the historical phenomenon surrounding Christian origins:http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236222557&sr=1-1

    2. I think that the best way to persuade others of the truth of Christianity is through a multifaceted approach. Pure logical exchange (such as the one we are having with Return of Tofu) is considerably limited in terms of its ability to turn the will of an individual who is skeptical. The reason I believe a multifaceted approach is the best way I have already bought up in my exchange with “Return of Tofu” … namely … the inevitability of volitional bias. I think people choose their starting points based on their volitional bias, even though their starting points are things they are willing to assume without having any rational or logical “proof” of them.

    For example, “Return of Tofu,” I would say, chooses to start with logic :: NOT because he first finds that the laws of logic have been empirically or logically verified as trustworthy, but because he does not WANT to start with God. On the other hand, theists (such as you and I) are more WILLING to start with God, and we don’t start with him only after we have found some way to ground such belief through empirical evidence or logic-tight arguments (although the claim is made that such arguments exists). In the end, me and you became Christians when we have a personal experience of God’s grace. That experience opened our hearts and tuned out wills in the direction of God. After such an experience of grace, we were instantly willing to believe.

    The will, then, is the determining factor for epistemological starting points, for people first choose their worldview, then their mind attempts to play “catch-up” (i.e. find rational support for what they are already convinced of).

    In light of all this, it should be easier to answer your last question: “In your opinion, why does it take the larger story to give life to the tightly reasoned arguments of man? Again, this is more your opionion… Why do arguments “seem” to present a great case, yet fall short of convincing, but yet story is so compelling and actually something that the arguments must hang on?”

    Pure logical arguments are inferior in terms of their persuasiveness because of the complexity of the human person. Stories and metanarratives that address the complexity of the human existential situation appeal to more than one’s logical appetites and have more potential to inspire the will. The will, in turn, determines one’s epistemological orientation.

    Finally … I would have to say along with my personal friend Dr. John H. Armstrong that LOVE is the greatest apologetic.

    Your thoughts?

    Bradley

  53. Your emphasis on the human will and its bias is well taken. I think that’s why Lewis and Wright and others have been driven to write about “Mere Christianity” and “Simply Christian”. They want to remove from our thinking “folk theology” (misperceptions of what it means to be Christian) in order to aid the will in drawing conclusions and seeing the reasonableness of believing faith. Personally, more often than not, I find people refusing Christ (Christian Theism) for all the wrong reasons (some aberrant view of hell, or thinking that my “lifestyle” choices would never allow me to consider the claims of Jesus, or I have some bad habits that I want to keep, etc…, etc…). In addition, I don’t find people as much telling me that Christian Theism is unreasonable, as it is objectionable – and this of course, involves the human will.

    Multifaceted evidence must be the methodology. It simply is a case of how things are stacking up, when it’s all said and done. If consideration is given to all arguments, lines of reasoning, historical validations, theological revelation; it all points in a Godward direction. But these pieces of evidence cannot be forced with a squeezed fist; they must be presented with open palm. Love knows no other way as you mention and I agree. Love tells the truth and sets the truth free to do its work; otherwise, it is not love. But it’s “open palm” kind of love. “Here it is for your consideration….” But be aware of the deceptions of human will; it loves to play pretend-I-don’t-know kind of games.

    The love story hangs over all of this. Humanity needed rescued. A kingdom has invaded our planet (Christmas). A warrior (Christ) has come to battle the powers of darkness (Satan) and to get “the girl” (the Bride-Church) out of the clutches of an enemy who is claiming this world as his own (a False Kingdom). Says Eldredge in Epic: “This is a Love Story, set in the midst of a life-and-death battle (102).”

    It seems that each year, I see this story in a slightly different way. One year it is Incarnation – God becoming a man, laying aside a previous state of glory to walk among us. One year it is Humiliation – God becoming a lowly servant born to humble parents among the cattle in a backwater town called Bethlehem. One year it is Rejection – they had no room for Jesus. The world had the greatest opportunity it has ever known and we killed Him. One year it is Salvation – a promised Messiah has finally arrived after centuries of prophetic messages, and He fulfilled all of them and is without question the Savior and Restorer of our lost glory.

    The story aspect that I’m feeling drawn to at this time is Invasion – the world of light has invaded our darkness. The world of good has invaded a broken world of evil. One has been sent to reclaim from Eden’s serpent, what is rightfully His: virgin born (Isaiah 7:14) to a peasant girl, stemming from a long line of broken people, and having no earthly pedigree, our Conqueror slips into a mother’s womb, into our darkness, and is greeted to cattle, and hay in a feed trough. The King of creation sneaked into the enemy camp under cover of a teenager’s womb so that he could whisper words of love to his own: “I have come for you. Don’t be afraid. Your rescue has begun.” Joseph and Mary heard it. The shepherds heard it. Anna and Simeon heard it. The wise men heard it. And, we are now hearing it, yet again. The enemy who has held us in bondage and prison has been invaded.

    “Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter… God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb… God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother (Lucado).”

    Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

    Mark wrote in his gospel: Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    Into this gloomy world, filled with hopelessness and despair, war and bloodshed, God sent a baby. When God really wants to get a message through, a message that will penetrate the hopelessness and gloom of humanity, He wraps it up in a person. And, surprising enough, he cried. He grew. He laughed. He listened to our stories. He lived in our towns. He ate what we ate. He got to know us. He discovered our fear of death and he wept with us as we buried our loved ones. He saw the beautiful world that we live in, as well as the temporal, passing nature of the world in which we live. And into this hopelessness and uncertainty, a light shined on planet earth. A lover grew up and He never stopped loving.

    The Prince of Peace is the beginning of the end of all striving. God is with us now. Winter is over in Narnia. Aslan is on the move! No foe shall fall Him. Glory to God in the highest (Luke 2:14). He is all our reasons, the categorical imperative, the epistemological absolute.

    None of us will make it to New Creation on our own two feet. We will all be carried in by the babe from Bethlehem, the Warrior of Revelation, humanity’s friend. Love…true love…

  54. Return of Tofu

    Hey Theophilogue, if you’re still around.

    I don’t know if all this really addresses your arguments directly, but I just had some thoughts I wanted to throw out there.

    “A theist has a grounding for why the laws of logic should be trusted: they are created by God and not the invention of human creativity. They are God’s gift of tools for determining what actually corresponds with reality.”

    Isn’t this just implying that god follows some sort of logic (ie behaves in a consistent manner)? What reason do you have to believe this?

    You have no more understanding of why god’s nature is the way it is than I have of why reality is the way it is. Why does this specific scenario exist instead of some other one? Neither of us can answer.

    Given that god can supposedly ignore the laws of logic (through miracles) doesn’t this just show that the laws of logic are not reliable for determining what exists?

    “I’ve never seen a moral before, it’s not a material entity. Even if one might establish the fact that morals exist in the framework of a exclusively-material worldview (say … as some sort of merely anthropological phenomenon), how would one know WHICH set of morals are “supposed” to be the right one’s … or even if there is such a thing as morals that are binding of all human beings?”

    I’m not convinced that objective morality can exist. Given that morality is a system where some actions are classified as better than other actions, you have to ask better for what purpose/goal.

    Since all humans differ, they have differing goals.

    Who determines how humans are “supposed” to live? God? Why?

    “For example, “Return of Tofu,” I would say, chooses to start with logic :: NOT because he first finds that the laws of logic have been empirically or logically verified as trustworthy, but because he does not WANT to start with God.”

    Not sure I agree with this. While I would love to believe that I can fly and have superstrength, this belief is inconsistent with observable reality.

    I don’t believe in Christianity because I don’t see the claims of the Bible being reflected in reality. Prayers are not answered, Christians can’t drink poison and be unharmed, etc.

  55. Return of Tofu,

    Thanks for finally responding in spite of your busy schedule. I honestly appreciate your endurance in this discussion, and I can only hope you are not offended by my straightforward approach in dealing with the candid questions/arguments you have kindly presented.

    1. You said … “Isn’t this just implying that god follows some sort of logic (ie behaves in a consistent manner)? What reason do you have to believe this?”

    My response … I have already answered this question (see above): “because the Bible says so” (i.e. … The Bible presents God as a rational being, and everywhere assumes the laws of logic). REMEMBER: We have already established that I have as much logical reason to assume belief in the God of the Bible as you do to trust in the laws of logic.

    2. You said … “You have no more understanding of why god’s nature is the way it is than I have of why reality is the way it is. Why does this specific scenario exist instead of some other one? Neither of us can answer.”

    It seems to me that you are making multiple assumptions here that you have nowhere established. REMEMBER: If I am on just as solid logical grounds as yourself in assuming the God of the Bible (as my starting point), then in order for you to say that I have “no more understanding” of the teleology of God’s nature than you do of the teleology of reality, you would have to prove that there is no revelation in the Bible about the teleology of God’s nature.

    At any rate, it’s not clear to me how this bears on our discussion, for assuming the God of the Bible (as my starting point) in no way necessitates that I first know the teleology of God’s nature outside of the revelation that comes through my starting point, the Bible. It seems (and you are welcome to correct me if I am wrong) that you were perhaps implying that since I lack knowledge about the teleology of God’s nature (in which matter you are mistaken, unless you’ve considered the totality of the nuances of the biblical teaching about God) this somehow makes for a weaker grounding for my worldview. Even if I, for the sake of argument, grant to you that I don’t know why God is the way he is, it is in no way obvious to me how it would necessarily follow that my worldview is any weaker (in terms of logical respectability) than it would be if I knew.

    3. You said … “Given that god can supposedly ignore the laws of logic (through miracles) doesn’t this just show that the laws of logic are not reliable for determining what exists?”

    My response … Christians [and most theists] do not believe that God ignores the laws of logic. You are making an unnecessary inference from the concept of miracles, namely, that they involve the undermining of logic itself. However, the Christian notion of miracles in now way holds that miracles undermine the laws of logic. You are assuming a certain understanding of the notion of miracles that is not part of the Christian worldview. I could also demonstrate (but I don’t care to) that even if God contradicted logic through miracles, it would not necessarily follow that all grounds for trusting in them are swept away). Your argument here involves assumptions and false inferences.

    4. You said … “I’m not convinced that objective morality can exist. Given that morality is a system where some actions are classified as better than other actions, you have to ask better for what purpose/goal.” Since all humans differ, they have differing goals.

    My response … This is where I think your worldview lacks appeal to the general public. Your comments highlight one of the most reasonable grounds for objecting to non-theistic worldviews.

    One person has the goal of being the greatest Mom in the world, the other has the goal of being the most accomplished child molester and genocide executer in the world. Since there are different goals for different people and the concept of morality depends merely on subjective purpose (rather than including objective purpose as in the Christian worldview), therefore the aspiring child molester cannot be considered any less virtuous than the aspiring mom. The person who wants to become famous for killing the most atheists he possibly can because he has hatred in his heart could not be considered less virtuous (objectively speaking) than the atheist who brings about world peace and feeds all the hungry out of sincere compassion and love.

    This is the staggering implication of your view.

    I believe that taking notice of this implication provides one of the most reasonable grounds for rejecting any worldview that does not ground morality objectively. The masses of humanity know better, and that’s why the masses of humanity tend to have religious notions that ground morality in something transcendent, or ethical views that treat morality as though it were objective.

    I hope you realize how ironic it is that according to this view of morality (the view you have articulated), you cannot coherently say that anyone is “better off” in any ultimate sense for being an atheist, believing what is rational rather than what is irrational, appreciating technology, being reasonable (as opposed to being unreasonable), being open-minded, being logical, or trusting in what’s real (as opposed to what’s illusion or fancy). For how do we know objectively that doing/being all of these things is any “better” than being/doing those things which are their polar opposites (being irrational, depreciative of technology, trusting in what is not real, etc.)?
    Thus, it appears to me that by following the logic of your worldview, you undermine its ultimate relevance to the human situation, and render it foolish to reasonable people.

    [Now … if I am here guilty of making the mistake of false inference from your view, please spell out where this logical inference is in no way necessary]

    5. You said … “Who determines how humans are “supposed” to live? God? Why?”

    My response … God. Because without belief that God created such moral principles, we have no reason to think they are “binding” on all humans or “objective” beyond mere human opinion, and thus we would be forced into a most absurd position as I have pointed out (above).

    6. You said … “I don’t believe in Christianity because I don’t see the claims of the Bible being reflected in reality. Prayers are not answered, Christians can’t drink poison and be unharmed, etc.”

    My response … This stumbling block is the easiest for me to remove for you. The Bible doesn’t teach that all prayers are “answered” in the sense that you have assumed, and therefore the apparent contradiction between biblical teaching about prayer and “reality” is a result of your lack of understanding (or misunderstanding) of the biblical teaching, not the result of a lack of compatibility between the biblical teaching and reality. The same thing could be said about your second apparent contradiction between biblical teaching and reality. Perhaps it would be helpful if you read lots of scholarly Christian literature on biblical interpretation before you make haste to declare numerous contradictions between the Christian worldview and reality.

    Your thoughts? [by the way … if you get tired of this discussion, which by the nature our different starting points and ways of thinking, could potentially last for years, I won’t be offended if you announce your desire to retire from it. On the other hand … so long as you are willing to continue, I am willing]

    In good will,

    Bradley

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