Thursday, June 28, 2007

Christianity vs. atheism and the burden of proof, part 3

In this third post on this issue I want to begin by highlighting the fact that the atheist is not at all neutral in the debate over God's existence even though he has deceived himself into thinking he is. He might even say that he's willing to accept God's existence if you meet the burden of proof. But just consider, as was mentioned in the last post, that according to the Christian position everything in this universe is proof of God (e.g. Psalm 19). Now, the unbeliever might respond that if God doesn't exist then that's not true, then nothing proves God's existence. The unbeliever might say that if God exists, ony then can the Christian position be true that everything proves God's existence, so you first have to prove God's existence. Think about that. The demand of the unbeliever is that he'll accept God's existence if you show him proof, but you can't use anything whatsoever as proof because the claim that everything proves God's existence already assumes His existence! As was said, the atheist is not at all neutral in the debate over God's existence, and that includes, as has been the topic of these posts, the dispute over who has the burden of proof in that debate. If everything is proof of God's existence, and this proof is overwhelming, unavoidable, perspicuous and compelling, just as the Christian position states, then the atheist is reasoning in a circle when he says that the believer bears the burden of proof in the debate over God's existence.

According the Christian worldview, God obligates Himself to make Himself known to everyone which He does on His own terms in a way that is completely clear, unavoidable and compelling. Notice a couple of things about that statement. First, God is under obligation from no one but Himself to reveal Himself. After all, God is God -- there is no law above or outside Him that obligates Him to do so. There is no created person who can obligate God to do anything. Second, no one has an excuse for rejecting God. As Romans 1 says, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." No one can reply to God that He offered no evidence. Why do many reject God? Because they "suppress the truth by their wickedness." And as v. 28 says, "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind..." According to Christianity, everyone already knows God. Although, of course, not all know God in a saving fashion; not all know God in His redemptive mercy in Jesus Christ.

So how, then, does God make Himself known? Broadly speaking, in two ways: general and special revelation (See here and here.) God is known immediately, by direct apprehension, in the entire created order, including our own selves. This is called general revelation. From the stars of heavens to the trees of the forest to the genetic make-up of creatures, God's power, sovereignty, and goodness are clearly and unavoidably known. But because sin entered the picture, God also, in His mercy, made and makes Himself redemptively known. Through miracles, theophanies, direct word, the prophets, etc. God revealed Himself, His will for our lives, and His plan of redemption for His people. This was most perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ. Though these events are in the past, many of them have been recorded in Scripture (itself a redemptive event) which, by God's grace, is now readily available.

It's also necessary to remind ourselves that mankind is created in God's image. As such, man is created and constituted by God in such a way as to recognize His "signature" and "voice" in all creation and in Scripture. In the Christian worldview, man is no "tabula rasa." When people look around at the universe or at themselves, or when they are reading Scripture, they know they are beholding their Creator.

Thus, in the Christian worldview, God's meets His own self-obligation to make Himself clearly known to everyone. Not everyone knows God unto salvation, yet no one has an excuse for rejecting God. All men know God but many reject Him because they "suppress the truth by their wickedness." According to Christianity, therefore, the burden of proof has been met beyond reproach by God Himself. The demands of the unbeliever for evidence are based upon his supression of the truth in his wickedness. This does not mean we shouldn't discuss and debate these things with unbelievers, but it does mean that we need to remember that God is God, not us. He validates Himself. Man is not the judge of God to see whether He exists.

We should appeal to the unbeliever's suppressed knowledge of God. I plan to do this in the next post when I reduce atheism to absurdity by showing that the atheist cannot make sense of the very idea of proof itself, and that the idea of proof and the burden of proof only make sense when reasoned about according the Christian worldview. I think I'd like to move on to other topics soon, so I'm going to try and do that in one post.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I'm dying to see your next post where you reduce atheism to absurdity. When are you going to write it?