Monday, July 28, 2008

A Worldview Challenge

Christians, myself included, have often argued that no one can know that God does not exist for one cannot prove a negative without knowing all things and being an omniscient being oneself. However, atheists’ counter that they believe in nothing and Christians believe in something, therefore the Christian has the burden of proof of proving God’s existence. They also counter that it is lame to assert that just because you can’t prove God doesn’t exist ought to follow in accepting that He must exist.


Of first importance, I never intend for anyone to believe God exist simply because there is no evidence to prove He does not exist. The argument often presented, that one cannot prove a negative, is simply meant to show that maybe there is reason to at least consider His existence based on a multiplicity of supporting evidence. It is not the end all argument that closes the debate and expects the atheist to all of the sudden accept the existence of the Christian God.


However, this business about atheist having nothing to support because they believe in nothing and therefore the Christian, asserting something supernatural, must be the only one who defends that proposition is not completely fair.


I agree that I hold the greater burden of proof as one who claims to know, not only that God exists, but to know Him personally. I do not profess to know all that He is, for I am not omniscient. But I do profess to have a tangible relationship with Him. Therefore, I carry a great deal of the burden of showing unbelievers whether atheists or otherwise.


That being said, it is still important for the atheist to assert a reasonable defense for the application of their worldview to reality. How does it answer the problem of evil in the world? How does it give credence to the existence of good in the world? How does it answer our need for justice and moral judgment? How does it answer our ability to reason?


I challenge people from any worldview and any stream of worldviews to answer these questions and check their worldview with reality. Does it work practically? Does it line up with what is real? I’ve been answering these questions on my blog from the Christian worldview. I challenge others to do the same from their worldview to add to the exchange of ideas and to sharpen our thinking.


16 comments:

Craig said...

This can go into many areas such as prophecy and creation which can lead to a burden of proof to both sides.

I've also noticed that you listed 'The Case for Christ' as a favorite book. I have also read it and found it interesting. There are plenty of archeology that supports the Bible. However, I think the part you mention about having a relationship with God is the most proof.

The change that happens to believers is evedent to everyone that something supernatual has happened.

Also, faith plays a major factor and in my opinion the ultimate proof will be when Jesus Christ returns.

By the way, I like your blog and anyone who likes the Supertones is alright by me.

Karla said...

Thank you Craig. Welcome to my blog. I did enjoy Case for Christ. Though I would have to say that C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and Ravi Zacharias are my all time favorite authors.

Yes when the supernatural becomes evident in one's life it is easier to be the bearer of proof. However, in a blog forum, all I have is words to work with.

Faith ought to always be based on what is knowable. We know God to be and we know Him to be trustworthy through experience, revelation, and reason so we put our faith in Him.

I haven't listened to a Supertones CD in quiet sometime, but I always found them to be a fun band.

I hope you'll visit again. I am always writing and adding new post.

Craig said...

You bring up an interesting point about proof through words and faith being based on what is knowable.

No matter what you say or write there are always going to be people who won't believe until the day Christ returns and establishes His kingdom.

Therefore, what I practice in a blog forum of what I base as knowable is that the Bible is the inerrant written word of God and I use that as the authority. I match everything with the Bible and base opinions on what scripture says.

My point is to stay consistant and the way to do that is having biblical support. There are always those who will try to undermine God.

I will visit again and add a link to your blog on my blog.

Karla said...

Some may never be open to listening. Others will. I just try to do what God leads me to do. The Holy Spirit must do the rest.

Kevin DeGraaf said...

Are you going to censor my previous comment, then?

Karla said...

what previous comment are you referring to? And why would I censor it?

Kevin DeGraaf said...

I submitted a comment last night. Perhaps the system ate it. :-(

I suppose I should have given you the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming that you chose not to approve it.

Karla said...

I never saw it. I have never deleted anyone's comment, but my own once when I made a typo and wanted to edit it. I have never encountered any reason to delete a comment. Please feel free to try again.

Anonymous said...

Yay! An uplifting blog that empowers Christians in their defense of the faith!

I stumbled across your blog from reading your comments on my friend's blog, Godless Woman.

How exciting! : )

Jaclyn

Anonymous said...

"The argument often presented, that one cannot prove a negative, is simply meant to show that maybe there is reason to at least consider His existence based on a multiplicity of supporting evidence."

May I ask if you consider the possibility of the existence of all the other gods that have been conceived, or do you only keep the option open for your particular god? Once you open yourself up to this type of argument, what basis do you have to exclude anything that anyone can dream up?

"That being said, it is still important for the atheist to assert a reasonable defense for the application of their worldview to reality."

That's not really true, is it? Why do I have to defend a position that simply says that your position is not supported? It is up to you to show me why you feel your position is supported by facts and evidence. Of course, I can always give you the logical proofs that show that most conceptions of the Xian god are logically inconsistent and impossible, but you can always find some place for your god to hide, thus making the exercise futile for me. (For example of a disproof of god, consider that an omni-max god is inconsistent with the concept of our free will, or that the presence of hell is inconsistent with an omni-benevolent god. Epicurus layed out a very easy dilemma hundreds of years before Jesus which you can find here: http://riddleofepicurus.com/)

OMGF

Karla said...

Only the Christian God lines up logically with true reality. Other religions either have finite gods which are not extrapolated by even their followers to be God or they have impersonal gods which cannot account for man having personal relationship with God. You will hear me say often that truth by its very nature is exclusive of non-truth. I disbelieve in these gods not because I have never encountered them, but because they don't offer a consistent life supporting worldview.

As for atheists adequately answering these questions as a defense for atheism. If you want to remove the foundation of all thought: God from the equation because you believe He is unsupportable logically, reasonably, scientifically etc. then you need to replace the God foundation with something else and show how it makes better since of the world.

If atheism cannot plausibly account for the existence of good and evil, knowledge, reason, love, the origin of life without appealing to God's existence or borrowing from the Christian worldview then it does not hold up as a supportable worldview.

Christianity can give the answers to these questions as I am delineating in my posts and as many much more qualified people have done for years. I think atheists must give solid reasonable answers to these questions or else I'm not sure they really uphold reason the way they say they do.

Anonymous said...

"Only the Christian God lines up logically with true reality."

Obviously, I disagree.

"Other religions either have finite gods which are not extrapolated by even their followers to be God or they have impersonal gods which cannot account for man having personal relationship with God."

Except for Islam, Judaism, and I'm sure some others that I just can't name off the top of my head. Still, the type of god worshipped doesn't necessarily make that god true or false. Simply because a deist sees a god that sets the world in motion and then sits back and enjoys the ride doesn't mean that it is wrong.

"As for atheists adequately answering these questions as a defense for atheism. If you want to remove the foundation of all thought: God from the equation because you believe He is unsupportable logically, reasonably, scientifically etc. then you need to replace the God foundation with something else and show how it makes better since of the world."

This is faulty logic. You are making the assumption that god explains all, and that the "explanation" using god has to be replaced, else the argument is faulty. In reality, I can point to the world and say, these things are. Life exists, good and evil exist, even if we don't know how they do, I don't have to disprove that god is behind it in order to note that they exist and there seems to be nothing metaphysical involved.

"If atheism cannot plausibly account for the existence of good and evil, knowledge, reason, love, the origin of life without appealing to God's existence or borrowing from the Christian worldview then it does not hold up as a supportable worldview."

These things don't need to be accounted for, since they already exist. Of course, we can account for them through evolution for the first bunch. The origin of life is an on-going scientific study, but does not need a creator. And, no, we don't need to borrow from Xianity.

"Christianity can give the answers to these questions as I am delineating in my posts and as many much more qualified people have done for years."

I disagree. I see little utility in the maxim that "goddidit." How did life arise? "goddidit." But, that's not really an answer. It doesn't give us any insight into how he did it, why he did it, when he did it, etc. It's passing the buck, so to speak. You've "answered" one question by adding a non-explanatory layer that simply raises more questions.

OMGF

Karla said...

Firstly, I'm not simply advocating "God" as the solution to unknowable questions. I am saying more than God did it. In my blog I am providing reasons of why He must have done it and why it is important that He did it and how His truth brings out the greatness of creation.

I didn't expect you to accept my answers as truth as I have not provided in a simple comment enough substance to give you much to go on, as I only gave a short response to a complex question that deserves a longer response. I think I touch on some of your questions in greater detail throughout my blog posts.

Logically an impersonal God doesn't work and finite gods don't work. Worldviews should be tried and judged against truth. You saying that we know good and evil exist because they do and that we don't need to explain it is no more of an answer than if I simply said God did it without a reason as to why and what it all means. As you can see I start an answer in my last post entitled "Goodness Derived from God" and will expound upon that foundation once I've given time for people to ask questions and give comments.

I don't offer a simple God did it. I ask that others don't offer a simple it just is the way it is. Or evolution did it somehow someway because it is.

Anonymous said...

"Firstly, I'm not simply advocating "God" as the solution to unknowable questions. I am saying more than God did it. In my blog I am providing reasons of why He must have done it and why it is important that He did it and how His truth brings out the greatness of creation."

That's fine, as I obviously haven't searched the whole of your blog, so it's hard for me to comment. I was speaking in generalities. Still, I wonder how it is that you even started with the idea of god to begin with. When you objectively look at some phenomena, how do you leap from that to a conclusion that not only some god exists, but that this god is responsible for what you are seeing? It simply can't be done; it's begging the question.

"Logically an impersonal God doesn't work and finite gods don't work."

I don't see why not. A deistic god that sets the rules in place and allows the universe to run its course is not logically impossible. Please explain why you think it is.

"Worldviews should be tried and judged against truth."

Please define truth. If you mean that worldviews should be tried and judged against empirical evidence and logical deduction, then I agree.

"You saying that we know good and evil exist because they do and that we don't need to explain it is no more of an answer than if I simply said God did it without a reason as to why and what it all means."

I don't have to provide a reason in order to account for them is the point. Nor do I have to have an answer for everything. I don't know how the original life arose, but it would be logically fallacious of me to assume then that god created life. Ignorance of something does not necessitate that god fill the gap.

"Or evolution did it somehow someway because it is."

I wouldn't say that, but I would point you to look at our closest cousins and see the homologous behaviors. Where do good and evil come from? They are constructs of our cultures based on our evolutionary heritage as a social animal. Look at apes or other critters (especially mammals) and you can see similar structures. There are rules to society that are imposed within animal groups. Good and evil are simply those rules writ large into a moral system.

BTW, how does a Xian account for evil? Epicurus (I already mentioned him) already posed a problem that gives Xians the fits and has yet to be answered. How do Xians account for natural evil? For the atheist, a tsunami that wipes out thousands of people is not evil, but for a Xian, it can't be dismissed so easily. Why would god wipe out thousands of people like that and with other instances of natural evil? The Xian has no answer for it while maintaining god's omni-benevolence.

OMGF

Karla said...

Truth is defined as "that which is". So a true worldview is one that lines up with reality. (I don't expect anyones worldview to be perfect as none of us can know all of reality perfectly). A worldview ought to be reasonable and logical and be supported by history and it should be practically workable. Meaning it needs to be logical and livable.

Some of the extreme postmodern persuasion advocate there is no right and wrong -- that all actions are equal in morality. This isn't livable. I once had a professor say that there were no facts and no truth. Then later in the semester the students were rationalizing plagarism and she stated at that point that plagarism was a moral wrong and she could not fathom why the students could justify it as right. She was also a history teacher whose class consisted of historical facts and truth. So she could not live her philosophy that there were no facts or truth. Thus somewhere something was incorrrect in her worldview.

The reason I often say that atheists borrow from the Christian worldview is that they accept there is right and wrong and good and evil and they judge much of religions as wrong or not good without any standard to apply good and evil. I know we disagree that there can be no standard outside of the existence of God. But I still fail to see how evolution can produce morality and the need for morality. It can plausibly produce the idea of something being beneficial to survival, but not that something has in essense a goodness or a badness. It's not beneficial for survival for a person to sacrifice themselves for others or even for a weaker person. But humanity is full of such stories.

As for evil. I think I answered that in the other comments, but I am also working on a posts on that topic and should post it a little later today.

Anonymous said...

"Truth is defined as "that which is". So a true worldview is one that lines up with reality. (I don't expect anyones worldview to be perfect as none of us can know all of reality perfectly). A worldview ought to be reasonable and logical and be supported by history and it should be practically workable. Meaning it needs to be logical and livable."

I agree.

"The reason I often say that atheists borrow from the Christian worldview is that they accept there is right and wrong and good and evil and they judge much of religions as wrong or not good without any standard to apply good and evil."

I could just as easily say that the Xian worldview borrows from the Jewish worldview or the Babylonian or Sumerian worldviews. But, it's not a borrowing to note that we do have human concepts such as right and wrong and apply them to situations. Nor does one need a god or absolute standard in order to do this.

"But I still fail to see how evolution can produce morality and the need for morality."

It works like this: let's say that you live in a tribe of very early humans. In your tribe, everyone lives by a code of conduct, not to kill their fellow tribe members, to help them when possible, etc. Now, let's say my tribe is on the next island over, and we are completely immoral. We kill at will, we do what we want, when we want with no regard for anything but ourselves. While your tribe may flourish and grow due to cooperation, mine will not because I'm busy killing off everyone else and gutting my tribal numbers. As the tribe size shrinks, the genetic variation dries up and there are more birth defects leading to a downward spiral until my tribe dies out. I hope this little example is helpful. Besides, we can see this sort of behavior amongst other animals, not just humans. Walruses will go into protective circles to shield their young from hunting polar bears. Apes have social hierarchies and rules of society. Etc.

"It can plausibly produce the idea of something being beneficial to survival, but not that something has in essense a goodness or a badness."

True, but implicit in this is that there is such a thing as an essence of goodness or badness, which is not established.

"It's not beneficial for survival for a person to sacrifice themselves for others or even for a weaker person. But humanity is full of such stories."

Altruistim is rife in the animal kingdom. Animals will put themselves in danger to save others of their group. Did god imbue them with moral compasses as well? A better explanation IMO is that the behavior we see is due to our shared evolutionary history with all other social animals that display the same tendencies.

"As for evil. I think I answered that in the other comments, but I am also working on a posts on that topic and should post it a little later today."

I see that you have posted on the topic, so I'll have to read it when I can.

OMGF