Saturday, February 16, 2008

Links and things

I added a couple of new links in the sidebar. The first is a link to a blog by Vincent from Singapore called Viva Vox Dei. The second is to Matt's blog, Resistant to Change. Check 'em out.

In my next post I'd like to respond to some of the comments that Anonick has made about science and the laws of nature (that, by the way, evidence the "I don't know but I do know" contradiction in atheist thought). But I've been busy lately, and I'm not sure if I'll get to that today.

In the meantime, check out Bahnsen's Defending the Christian Faith lectures:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Knifed in the back: evolution turned upside down

Controversy! Uproar!

What else could you say about possible reaction to the new book, The Upright Ape: A New Origin of the Species, by Aaron Filler?

Apes evolved from man? Wow. Evolutionists are far more foolish than they sound, to say the least.

Problems for Unbelieving Worldviews

Atheists and Christians alike would do well to watch the following videos:

Problems for Unbelieving Worldviews (9 Parts)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Worldviews in Conflict: A Second Rebuttal to Samuel Skinner.

When I refer to a "worldview" I am referring to a person's basic or foundational assumptions about life/reality. I suppose it doesn't necessarily have to be termed "worldview." You could also call it one's "basic ideology" or "theory of reality" or "philosophy of life." A worldview is a network of presuppositions concerning metaphysics (what is real? what is possible? what is existence?), ethics (what is right? how do we know what is right or wrong?), and epistemology (what is knowledge? how do we know? how is truth determined?). Related to this are a person's beliefs about where we came from, who we are, what our purpose is, and where we are headed. A worldview is a set of assumptions or presuppositions by which we reason and interpret our experiences.

Some people haven't given a whole of thought to their worldview or tried much to articulate it; some have. Some don't even care much to think about it; some do. But everyone operates according to a worldview. For example, if someone says something like, "Stealing is wrong," the reasons they give for upholding that statement begin to reveal something about their worldview as is pertains to ethics. Or if I say something like, "A truth proposition has the opposite value from its negation," my explanation for believing that begins to reveal something about my worldview as is pertains to epistemology.

A person's worldview is most poignantly revealed when the issue of God's existence arises. This is because one's belief about God is at the centre ("center" for my American friends) of one's worldview. In fact, what a person believes about God conditions his beliefs about metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology. One's beliefs about God have a significant bearing upon what one's worldview will be. This is the case for the Christian theist like myself and for the atheist. But when the theist and the atheist debate the existence of God, they do so in accordance with their worldviews. Both regiment their worldview when they reason about and debate God. This means, therefore, that the debate over God's existence isn't just a debate over isolated claims (e.g. God exists, Jesus rose from the dead), rather, it is actually a clash of entire worldviews.

Recall what I just said, that our worldviews are determined by what we believe about God. And yet, we use our worldviews as a basis on which to reason about everything, including God's existence. Both the atheist and the theist can be found reasoning in a circle. What the theist deems acceptable evidence and argumentation for God's existence will not always be found compelling by atheist because the atheist operates according a different epsitemology informed by his rejection of God. The only way to solve the dispute between the theist and the atheist is to place the one worldview beside the other and reason about them on their own terms to see which one can provide the necessary outlook on life to know or prove anything whatsoever.

The problem for the non-Christian, then, is that if you're going to reject God, if you're going to write off the Bible and Jesus Christ as superstition, can you come up with a worldview that makes sense out of reality? Can you account for right and wrong, truth and falsehood, possible and impossible, given your rejection of the God who created you and calls you to repentance for your sin? The problem for the atheist is that, if he's consistent with his atheism, it's not possible to come up with a workable worldview that offers a foundation for knowing or proving anything.

The reason that the atheist has successes in acquiring knowledge, making predictions, and accomplishing various tasks is only because reality is what God created it to be. The extent to which the atheist has any successes in his reasoning is only to the extent that he assumes the truth of the Christian worldview. In fact, even the attempt to prove atheism assumes the truth of theism. Both the attempt to prove and disprove Christian theism proves Christian theism because of the impossibility of the contrary. The atheist can't come up with a consistent, workable worldview. They can't account for the preconditions of intelligibility that make proving or knowing anything possible, in which case they can't prove atheism, and even the attempt to prove atheism ends up proving the truth of the Christian worldview.

(Wow, I've used alot of space and I haven't even replied to your comments about science or logic yet. But I'm more than willing to discuss these things if you want. In fact I'd like that because I still don't think you gave an adequate answer to the last paragraph in the previous post about gaps in knowledge. I'll even buy you the next cup of coffee, so to speak. Or perhaps a beer. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about how the laws of logic require God's existence, see this post here.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Is God the God of the gaps? A rebuttal to Samuel Skinner.

In the comments section of the previous post Sam wrote,
God contradicts logic, so I don't see how one would butress the other. Additionally this is the classic how do you know it exists if you can't see it, aka if you doubt god, why do you believe in love? The basic flaw is saying that god is an answer, instead of admitting that it is simply a gap in knowledge. In short this is a god of gaps arguement. (Atheists can't explain x, but theism can. Therefore atheism is false) It is the same as saying history doesn't teach you how to play the flute so history is false.
This deserves a reply.

The Christian position is not that we simply refer to God to explain gaps in knowledge. To say that this is the Christian position is to argue against a straw man. Rather, the Christian position is that all knowledge presupposes the existence of God. The Christian position is that nothing whatsoever can be explained unless God exists. God is the God of the gaps and the non-gaps because He is the God of everything. Both the explained and unexplained cannot be account for unless God exists. That's the position the atheist will have to contend with if he wants to argue against Christianity (though we hope repentance and submission to Jesus Christ will be preferred -- and I don't say that lightly).

Let me add two clarifications. The Christian position is not that the atheist can't explain things or that he doesn't believe things which are true, rather, we say that the extent to which the atheist has any successes in his reasoning and explanation of things is only possible to the extent that he assumes the truth of the Christian worldview. The other clarification is this: there are no gaps in knowledge, not for God. There are gaps for human beings due to our finitude and the noetic effects of sin, but not for God.

Now that we've set forth the Christian position, let's turn our attention to Sam's position. In response to the previous post he admits that the atheist cannot arrive at a proper explanation of the laws of logic: "... it is simply a gap in knowledge." This is a devastating concession of cosmic proportions. One must eventually ask the atheist whether the laws of logic apply to that quote itself. How can laws of logic, which for the atheist are unexplainable, be applied to a gap in knowledge about the laws of logic which can't be explained by the atheist? Sam's position is self-defeating. In fact, Sam can't know whether anything he says whatsoever is true because it can't be known to him wether the laws of logic have been properly applied (since for him the laws of logic are a gap in knowledge.) Thus, Sam has no basis for saying, "God contradicts logic ... ."

He also wants us to think that the following is faulty reasoning: "Atheists can't explain x, but theism can. Therefore atheism is false." Well, it depends what you mean by "explain." I've said that atheists can explain things but only to the extent that they assume the truth of the Christian explanation of things. If the atheist doesn't assume the existence of God, he can't explain anything whatsoever. Therefore, because of that, atheism is false. Therefore, because of that, Christianity is true.

One final point about gaps in knowledge. The atheist believes that there are things unknown. This poses a problem of cosmic proportions for the atheist. If that which is not known can be known though it isn't yet, we have to wonder whether that unknown knowledge will affect the very process of knowing itself, in which case the atheist can't be certain whether he rightly knows anything now. And if that unknown is to become known, can we know it from our current method of knowing? These aren't silly philosophical games here, rather, it highlights the absurdity of the atheist position. The atheist is left not being able to know anything for certain because he can't eliminate the possibility that the unknown will change the very foundation or basis of knowing. But the Christian worldview can make sense out of knowledge and gaps in knowledge because everything is known by God. Everything is interpreted. Everything is analyzed. Everything is explained. Everything is accounted for because God is omniscient. Human beings can't know everything but they can have knowledge since God reveals knowledge through general and special revelation. In the Christian worldview, the human unknowns can't change the preconditions of knowing because God always is who He is. But for the atheist to admit there are gaps in knowledge is to admit his own defeat.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Atheism = "true" by convention?

I listened to the Bahnsen v. Stein debate (audio here / transcript here) again and caught something pivotal in it I had missed before. You'll recall that Dr. Bahnsen went hard after Dr. Stein concerning the laws of logic and whether an atheist could make sense out of them given their materialist/naturalist worldview. Dr. Stein said that he believed the laws of logic were a convention:
Bahnsen: Do you believe there are laws of logic then?
Stein: Absolutely.
Bahnsen: Are they universal?
Stein: They are agreed upon by human beings not realizing it is just out in nature.
Bahnsen: Are they simply conventions then?
Stein: They are conventions that are self-verifying.
Bahnsen: Are they sociological laws or laws of thought?
Stein: They are laws of thought which are interpreted by man.
Later in Bahnsen's remarks he rightly exposed Stein's atheist worldview as having no basis for rationality since for Stein the laws of logic (by which Stein purportedly made truth judgements) were simply a matter of convention -- the logical consequence being that Stein's atheism was a matter of convention. Stein insisted he was being "rational" and that Christianity was "irrational" but he certainly did not want to admit that those comments were based on convention. Bahnsen went on to demonstrate that in the Christian wordlview the laws of logic are not conventional but rather that they are universal, invariant, and abstract -- that is, they are truly laws rather than just agreed upon by people.

What I want you to notice is that Stein unwittingly admitted defeat in the debate during the first cross examination. Check it out:
Stein: Dr. Bahnsen, would you call God material or immaterial?
Bahnsen: Immaterial.
Stein: What is something that's immaterial?
Bahnsen: Something not extended in space.
Stein: Can you give me any other example, other than God, that's immaterial?
Bahnsen: The laws of logic.
Stein: Are we putting God as an equivalent thing to the laws of logic?
Bahnsen: No, only if you think all factual questions are answered in the very same way would you even assume that by thinking that there are two immaterial things that they must be identical....
Stein: I not assuming that. I'm just assuming that because the laws of logic are conventions among men. Are you saying that God is a convention among men?
Bahnsen: I don't accept the claim that the laws of logic - that Christ's laws of logic - are conventional.
What I want you to notice is brought out it greater clarity in the audio verson, but can you see what I'm getting at? Stein wanted to argue that God is just a convention of men! In other words, you can't say for certain that God exists because He's just a convention of men! After all, conventions can't be trusted for certain! And yet Stein openly admitted that his own belief about the laws of logic is that they are a convention! See? The atheist Stein wants to reason about God using laws of logic that he says are conventional, then he turns around and ridicules convention! Stein admits his own defeat.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Ravi Zacharias responds to a student's question about atheism, feminism, and the Bible at Penn State University:

Ravi on whether life is meaningless:

Ravi answers a question about rape and the problem of evil:

6 Part Series: Ravi answers questions from students at Penn State University
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Saturday, January 12, 2008

David's dilemma and the laws of logic

(Link here).

Looks like some atheists are beginning to understand the nature of the challenge of presuppositional apologetics. But I say “beginning” to understand because our friend David in the video above hasn’t yet grasped the full significance of the problem that confronts the atheist worldview. He does seem to understand the transcendental necessity of the laws of logic in that both the attempt to prove and disprove the existence of the laws of logic assume the laws logic. Both the acceptance and denial of them seem to prove them. But how does that demonstrate God exists? -- that’s what David wants to know.

You need to remember that the debate between the atheist and the Christian over the question of God’s existence is not merely a debate over single, isolated claims, e.g. God exists, but that it’s actually a clash of entire worldviews. The Christian isn’t simply telling the atheist to believe God exists, but that the atheist needs a complete paradigm shift; that only if he adopts the Christian worldview can he make sense out of things, including the laws of logic.

There are many atheists who do not believe that the laws of logic are immaterial, eternal and immutable. For many atheists only the material exists. They’re empiricists. David, however, seems to have accepted that the laws of logic are immaterial, eternal and immutable. But how is it possible to know that? Not just to believe it but to know? How is it possible to know that the laws of logic have always applied in the past as they do now? How is it possible to know that they will apply the same in the future? Do atheists believe these things without proof? If you’re an atheist, why are the laws of logic immaterial, eternal, and immutable, and not another way? Why don’t they change? Why use the laws of logic? Why can’t I reason whatever way I choose?

Note that the Christian claim is not that atheists shouldn’t use the laws of logic, nor that they don’t try to use them, nor that they don’t believe anything about them. Rather, the Christian claim is that all the questions I've just raised can’t be answered if you reject the Christian worldview. David’s response is that we don’t need to account for the laws of logic. They just are the way they are. They’re going to exist whether we like it or not and they’re going to be the way they are whether we like it or not. But if I said the same thing about God -- He exists because it’s just that way -- atheists would be in an uproar.

In the Christian worldview it makes sense to use the laws of logic because we know that they apply universally and invariantly. Since God is immaterial, eternal and immutable, and since God imposes them universally and invariantly, the laws of logic will always apply and always in the same way. This is who God has revealed Himself to be. The laws of logic are a description of the way God thinks and a prescription for the way we ought to think. The laws of logic do not exist independently and outside of God as if He also is subjected to them, rather, God chooses to reason in accordance with His own character. The laws of logic reflect God’s thinking and He requires that we mirror the way He thinks (as man is created in God’s “image”).

Unfortunately, the atheist rejects this, and the consequences are terrible. The atheist continues to want to use the laws of logic but refuses to give God the glory for logic. Since the atheist rejects God, the atheist is now left not knowing whether the laws of logic apply universally and invariantly. Human beings are finite creatures, limited by space and time. It’s not possible, then, to inquire as to whether we should reason in accordance with the laws of logic because we can’t test or experience what they were like in the past or what they’ll be like in the future. Of course, atheists will continue to have faith that the laws of logic have applied and will apply as they do now, but they do it without proof, without evidence, without verification (which are the very same things they demand in order to believe in God).

The laws of logic, therefore, for the atheist, are not actually “laws.” They can really only be “theories” since the atheist doesn’t know that they will always hold true and always hold true for everyone. He believes they will always hold true but he has no justification for that belief. It’s the right belief to have, but that belief can never be knowledge when extricated from submission to God. So if the atheist wants disbelieve God, what justification does he have for assuming that the laws of logic are universal and invariant? This is, in part, what we mean by accounting for the laws of logic. What justification do you have for the belief that the laws of logic are immaterial, eternal and immutable? If you don’t have that justification then it’s absurd to apply standards that can change -- because if those standards can change then truth can change. And yet the atheist believes that it is universally and invariantly true that belief in God is illogical. If you want to use the laws of logic to justify your disbelief in God then you need to account for the laws of logic, otherwise your disbelief isn’t justified.

Only the Christian worldview can account for the laws of logic. That’s why, David, when you use the laws of logic you assume the Christian position, you assume the existence of God. When you submit to God you “save” rationality, so to speak.

It truly is a joy to be a Christian.

Greg Bahnsen on YouTube

I don't know who did it but someone did:

Cool. It also has two clear audio versions of Bahnsen's debates with Stein and Smith. I'll definitely be adding this link to the sidebar.

I knew I'd come back

Yes, I'm back. I recently dusted off "Van Til's Apologetic" by Bahnsen and started reading it again. It's renewed some of the zeal to continue with this blog.