By Jesse Morrell
I. DEFINITIONS OF TERMS AND EXPRESSIONS USED IN THIS LECTURE
- Atheism: The belief that there is no God. Some atheists will say that they do not make the absolute claim that there is no God, but only that they have not seen enough evidence or proof that there is a God. They claim that they have not been presented with sufficient reasons to believe in His existence.
- Theism: The belief that there is a God who created all things.
- Presupposition: That which is supposed, assumed, or taken for granted beforehand or from the onset.
- Axiomatic: That which is self-evident. That which is taken for granted or presupposed by all, based upon an intrinsic merit. An axiom, maxim, statement, or principle which is assumed by all as a first truth of reason.
- Syllogism: A deductive scheme of formal argument or reasoning consisting in a major and a minor premise and a conclusion.
- Fallacy: An unsound syllogism or line of reasoning. An argument which is contrary to the laws of logic. A deceptive and misleading line of reasoning.
- Axiology: The study of values and judgments especially as it relates to ethics.
- Metaphysics: The study of the fundamental or essential nature of reality.
- Epistemology: The study or theories of the nature and grounds of knowledge, especially with reference to its validity and limits.
- Empiricism: A particular epistemological theory that states that all knowledge is acquired by, and limited to, the five senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell. It is a perspective that states only the physical or material world exists.
- Theodicy: The defense of the character and ways of God, especially in reference to His goodness in light of the existence of evil.
- Arbitrary: That which is without sufficient reason. That which is based solely upon the mere will of a being, independent of any rational from his mind.
- Finite: That which has limitations, particularly the limitations of a beginning and end.
- Infinite: That which has no limitations, particularly that which is without the limitations of a beginning and end.
- Transcendent: That which exceeds, surpasses, or lies above and beyond the natural limitations of the material world.
II. PRELIMINARY REMARKS
- Atheists often misrepresent and slander the character of God. It is often necessary to engage in theodicy when reasoning with them.
a. Do not be afraid to study the strongest arguments atheists have against God, as these are the most necessary to be refuted.
i. Atheists often charge that the God of the Bible endorsed and promoted slavery, genocide, etc.
ii. Study the Bible intensely, therefore, to see what the Bible says about these things.
1) Genocide is the murder of a people group based upon their ethnicity. God’s judgment upon people is based upon their ethics. The destruction of cities and people was not because of the color of their skin but because of the corruption of their sin (Exo. 23:23; Lev. 18:28-29). God’s destruction of people groups was therefore not genocide.
2) Slavery in Babylon was used by God as a temporary punishment upon Israel, which is certainly a more merciful punishment than total annihilation, as annihilation would exclude the possibility of the nation of Israel surviving, being delivered, and ultimately repenting and being restored back into a right relationship with God, but their slavery as a punishment would not exclude these. And God delivered them from the unjust slavery and oppression they suffered in Egypt (Exo. 3:9). There was no bankruptcy option in the legal system of the Jews, so if a person had a large debt that they could not pay they were punished with indentured servitude for six years and then released on the seven year of jubilee (Ex. 21:2). Though slaves were not viewed as economic equals to their masters, they were equals in regards to their intrinsic value. The Bible says that if a man sheds another man’s blood, his blood should be shed (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:12, 20). It was an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. By teaching that the master who kills his slave should be put to death, it was presupposed that the master was the equal of the slave. And it was forbidden in Jewish law to steal a man and sell him into slavery. It was an offense punishable by death (Ex. 21:16).
b. Sometimes it may be a misunderstanding of the character of God that keeps an atheist back from submitting, serving, and worshipping Him.
i. Therefore, believers ought to study the Scriptures diligently to know and understand the good character and just ways of God, in order to properly and adequately defend Him from the attacks of the world.
- When seeking to engage in an intellectual discussion or debate with an atheist, it is good to be familiar with the laws of logic and the various logical fallacies that exist.
a. A simple search on the internet on this issue will provide you with an array of sufficient examples to become familiar with the laws of logic and fallacies. There are exhaustive books on the subject for a more thorough study. Asa Mahan has a good book on logic. An entire lecture may be dedicated strictly to this topic in the future.
b. As we are commanded to love God with all of our minds, and view our intelligence as a great gift endowed to us by our Creator and as one of the great privileges we have being made in God’s image, Christians therefore ought to seek to be the most educated people in society.
i. Atheists have prided themselves as being intellectuals while Christians have been categorized as believers in blind faith. This ought to be shown by our behavior and speech as utterly fallacious, slanderous, and out right false.
- It is important to analyze a discussion with any unbeliever to see if you are on the offensive or the defensive. It is necessary for a believer to both defend the faith and to attack that which is contrary to it, but you must be mindful not to let an atheist keep you in the defensive the entire time, as their position is the weakest one of all and ought to be exposed as such.
a. Example: Atheists often claim that Christianity is a crutch.
i. Atheists charge that Christians are simple minded people who need to believe in life after death in order to deal with the harshness of reality. Christians, they claim, are unwilling to wake up to the harsh reality that there is no God. In responding to this charge, a Christian is on the defensive.
ii. After addressing the charge of the atheist, it is possible for a Christian to counter argue that atheism itself is a crutch. Atheists are individuals who, admittedly, do not want a supreme being to rule over their lives. It is convenient for them, therefore, to argue against the existence of such a rightful ruler and conducive to their lifestyle to reject the notions of a Law-giver, Judge, Judgment Day, eternal hell, etc. It can be said that they are unwilling to wake up to the reality that there is a God who has a rightful claim on their lives, who is worthy of our worship and service, and who will judge their lives. In stating such, the Christian is on the offensive.
1) If the atheist’s presupposition is that a belief is shown to be wrong if it shown to be a crutch, then their own system has been shown to be wrong.
b. Example: Atheists claim that religion has killed more people and has caused more wars than anything else.
i. The Christian would be on the defensive by stating that atheists are exaggerating, as it’s estimated that 200,000 died in the crusades, at most 200,000 died in the European and American witch hunts, and around 2,000 people were killed in the inquisitions, etc.
ii. The Christian would be on the offensive by stating that atheism has killed millions, particularly through the Soviet Union, as atheism was one of their fundamental beliefs. The atheistic Soviet Union murdered 61,000,000 people!
1) If the atheist’s presupposition is that a belief is wrong if it ultimately leads to war and death, then their own belief is consequently shown to be wrong. You can turn their presupposition against their own system.
iii. There were 6,000,000 people killed in the holocaust because they were viewed as lesser evolved by the Nazi’s who held to their evolutionary notion of an Arian, supreme, higher evolved raced. Evolutionists have killed more people than those killed in the name of Christianity.
iv. In these examples of the argument atheists advance against the Christian faith, they are presupposing an absolute moral truth – that killing is wrong – which their particular worldview provides no basis for. There is no basis in atheism for the authority of “thou shalt not kill” since there is no infinite or transcendent mind who says so, and especially because the intrinsic value of human well-being cannot be accounted for by our being created in the image of God. If we are the random and meaningless accidents of the universe, why is it wrong to kill on another? This is an example of a Christian taking the offensive position.
c. Do not be so preoccupied with answering the attacks of an atheist that you never get to expose the foundation of his worldview as insufficient and faulty. If you allow it, an atheist will keep you on the defensive so that you their own foundation and worldview is never challenged or critiqued.
i. The arguments of atheists will continue to come against God and against Christianity unless it is shown that they have no ground to stand upon. Therefore, a defensive approach will only be useful if it is coupled with an offensive approach as well.
4. There many questions respecting God which we will never be able to fully answer, but this does not necessarily mean that there is no God, for you would expect that if an infinite God existed there would be many things about Him that we cannot fully comprehend or explain.
Further, God’s mind is infinite and He may have good and sufficient reasons for doing what He does, which our finite minds in their present form are not fully capable of understanding. This too is what you would expect from an infinite mind far superior to our own.
5. In reality or from the Christian perspective, it is impossible for atheists to exist according to their own definition.
a. They claim that an atheist is merely someone who hasn’t encountered enough evidence or sufficient reasons to believe in the existence of God. They pretend to be unbiased individuals who would believe in God if they were presented with proof of His existence.
b. The knowledge of God’s existence is an inescapable revelation in this world.
i. “…The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:1-4).
ii. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” (Rom. 1:18-22).
iii. Everything we see is proof that there is a God. This will be further explained later in this lecture.
iv. Atheists are, therefore, liars in the truest sense. They claim that they do not believe in God, but in their heart of hearts they know He exists. They claim that they haven’t encountered enough evidence or sufficient reasons to believe in God, but in reality they have suppressed the inescapable knowledge of God’s existence.
v. An atheist is someone who knows that there is a God but who doesn’t want to serve Him.
vi. I know from personal experience that atheists believe in the existence of God because I have seen them get mad at Him! Who is really the unreasonable one; the one who believes in a God that he cannot see, or the one who is angry at a God he doesn’t believe in?
6. Atheists try to say that belief in God ought to be a logical conclusion, and that they haven’t concluded God’s existences because they haven’t been presented with sufficient reasons for doing so, when the Bible establishes theism as a presupposition or first truth. The Bible nowhere tries to prove the existence of God. Rather, Genesis 1:1 presupposes God as axiomatic. The existence of God is a necessary starting point or presupposition, as will be explained in greater detail later on in this lecture.
a. Belief in God cannot truly be a logical conclusion, as the existence of God is necessary for the existence of logic. What is logic but the laws which ought to govern our thinking? And what basis or origin can there be for these absolute laws, other than the infinite mind of God? Finite minds cannot be the origin or basis for the absolute and universal laws of logic by virtue of their finiteness. Our logical minds could not have been caused by an unintelligent cause, as then the effects would be greater than the cause. God is, therefore, a necessary presupposition. The existence of God is the necessary starting point for any logical discussion, as His divine mind is the basis for logic itself. There is a sense in which it is possible to logically conclude that there is a God, in that it is logical to believe in God’s existence; however, logic itself cannot be accounted for apart from the existence of God. More on this will be explained later.
III. HOW TO REFUTE ATHEISM
- All major worldviews have three major categories within which we are to launch our attack.
a. Metaphysics: Their theory of the nature of reality.
b. Epistemology: Their theory of knowledge.
c. Axiology: Their theory of ethics.
- In seeking to refute atheism, we must not abandon our Christian worldview or act contrary to it.
a. We must not adopt their perspective of themselves, that they haven’t enough reasons or evidences to believe in God, and thus try to reason with them merely on an evidential level. Our worldview says that they are without excuse because of the inescapable revelation God has already given them of Himself.
i. Argumentation on a purely evidential level will be futile and endless, as all evidence that is presented will be reinterpreted by the presuppositions of their own world view.
ii. For example: An atheist can look at the similarities there are between different species of animals and concludes that they had a common ancestor from which they evolved. A theist will look at the similarities of various species and conclude that they had a common designer. The same exact fact is interpreted by each person’s presupposition to fit their particular worldview.
iii. “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him” (Prov. 26:4).
b. We must hold fast to our faith, specifically Genesis 1:1, and affirm God to be a necessary presupposition or starting point for any intelligible system of thought.
- A worldview or system of thought needs to internally critiqued.
a. An external critique is when you challenge someone else’s worldview using the premise and propositions of your own worldview.
i. For example, arguing, “I do not believe in Hinduism because the Bible says…”
ii. An external critique may give you as a Christian a reason not to accept someone else’s view, but it does not give the Hindu a reason not to, as the Bible is not the authority that they recognize.
b. An internal critique is when you take for granted, for the sake of argument, someone else’s presuppositions and critiques their worldview from inside of it.
i. By adopting their premise, show them that the logical conclusions that can be drawn from that premise are absurd. Take their system to a conclusion which you know they will not be willing to accept, but show that this conclusion is inevitable given their premise. This method is called “reductio ad absurdum” or “reduce to absurdity.”
1) An example of an internal critique that reduces a position to absurdity is found in the logical reasoning of the Apostle Paul. He took for granted, for the sake of argument, a false presupposition and took it to a conclusion that he knew they would be unwilling to accept: “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15:13).
ii. By assuming their presuppositions, point out their systemic contradictions.
1) For example, an atheist might say, “I cannot believe in anything unless I see it. If it cannot be observed, I cannot believe in it.” Well, how did they come to this realization that all knowledge must come through observation? Such a principle is conceptual and therefore cannot be observed itself. So if all knowledge is to be acquired by observation, how was the knowledge of this principle acquired? It could not have been acquired by observation, seeing that this concept is immaterial, and yet still they hold to it. This is a systemic contradiction within their system.
iii. By taking for granted their presuppositions, show them that their system is self-refuting – that it cannot stand on its own foundation and that it destroys itself.
1) For example, the notion that “truth is relative” is a self-defeating position. If truth is relative, then that statement is relative, which means that there is room for absolute truth. The proposition defeats itself. If truth is relative, than relativism is relative, which means relativism is not absolutely true.
iv. “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit” (Prov. 26:5).
v. We are not to take for granted their presuppositions to try to prove our own worldview, as this would never work, but rather to take their presuppositions to disprove their own worldview. That is, we are not to try to prove Christianity to the unbeliever by assuming that their epistemology, metaphysics, or axiology are accurate and providing to them arguments based upon their requirements. Rather, we are to assume their presuppositions or step into their shoes and look out through their eyes, in order to show that their own system is faulty and false. Then we are to show that our own worldview is consistent within itself which they would see, if they adopted our own presuppositions.
1) For example, an atheist presupposes the epistemology of empiricism. Since the atheist has established his own senses as the ultimate authority by which he tests all things and through which he claims all knowledge is acquired, should we try to prove God to him using empiricism? No, his epistemology is unchristian and even anti-God, since from the onset it establishes the boundaries to the material only and thus excludes even the possibility of the immaterial God. So instead of trying to prove the existence of God by adopting his presupposition, and thus answering a fool according to His folly and becoming like him, we should adopt his presuppositions and use them to show his own system to be faulty. We should show him that empiricism destroys itself as an epistemology, and thus answering a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own conceits. More on this will be explained through greater examples soon.
- The presuppositions of an atheist need to be challenged through internal critiques, showing that they are self-defeating, reduced to absurdity, contradictory, insufficient, and utterly groundless.
a. There are many things which an atheist takes for granted which they have no right to do so, granted their worldview.
i. METAPHYSICAL CRITIQUE: An atheist takes for granted his own sentient existence. Apart from an infinite sentient first cause, how can he account for his own finite sentient existence? It is a matter of fact or a first truth of reason that what is finite requires a cause, and that a cause must be equal to or greater than its effect. This is the established scientific law of cause and effect. Cause and effect is a law of logic. Our sentient existence is finite as it had a beginning and therefore required a cause. How then does an atheist account for his own sentient existence? As consciousness is greater than unconsciousness, unconsciousness cannot be the cause of consciousness. Our first cause cannot, therefore, be anything that is unconscious. But as atheists reject the notion of an infinite sentient being who created us, what adequate first cause of consciousness can they suggest? If there is no infinite sentient God, the consciousness of an atheist cannot be accounted for.
ii. EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND METAPHYSICAL CRITIQUE: An atheist takes for granted His own intelligence and He launches His attacks against God by the use (or misuse) of His reason and logic. But how can he account for the existence of these things granted his presupposition that there is no God? The Christian can account for the intelligence of man by stating that we have been made in the image of God. However, the atheist cannot give such an account for human intelligence.
1) Intelligence cannot come from non-intelligence, as that would mean the effect is greater than its cause. What adequate cause of intelligence can the atheistic worldview provide? All that has a beginning must have a cause. Human existence and consequently human intelligence had a starting point. Therefore, it must have had a cause. But if there was no intelligence in the beginning, how could intelligence come about? There would be no adequate cause to bring about its existence! God’s existence is therefore a necessary presupposition for the existence of intelligibility.
2) Reason and logic have no adequate cause or source of origin in the atheistic worldview, as we were not made in the image of a reasonable and logical God. Where did man’s reason come from in their view? What, besides a reasonable Creator, can be the adequate cause of rationality within man? It is unreasonable for an atheist to even believe in reason, given his presupposition that there is no God. He has no right to believe in reason as he cannot provide the necessary foundation of it.
3) If an atheist is going to limit himself to his five senses, or empiricism, he has no right to use or believe in the laws of logic. Empiricism says only what is material exists and if we cannot experience it with our five senses, we cannot affirm its existence. The laws of logic are not material but are immaterial. We cannot experience the laws of logic with our five senses. They are conceptual, an idea or thought of the mind. Therefore, an empiricist or an atheist cannot use the laws of logic since according to their own system the laws of logic do not exist!
4) If an atheist is going to limit himself to empiricism and claim that only the physical world exist, then how can an atheist believe in any thoughts or ideas at all? Thoughts or ideas are not physical objects. They cannot be examined with any of the five senses. Thoughts and ideas are immaterial. Yet if an atheist claims that only the physical exists, then nothing immaterial exists. In this case the atheist has essentially argued that thoughts and ideas must either be physical objects, which is absurd, or that thoughts and ideas do not exist, which is even more absurd!
Empiricism is a thought or a notion which states only what is physical exists and can be known. Empiricism itself is not a physical object and therefore, according to its own standard, it cannot exist or be known!
The notion of empiricism itself is an immaterial thought, and therefore, the notion that only the physical world exists is refuted by the existence of the immaterial idea of empiricism. In other words, the existence of the thought of empiricism refutes the point of empiricism. The existence of the thought refutes the point of the thought. It would be equivalent to saying, “I do not think that thoughts exist.” If you think that thoughts do not exist, then apparently thoughts do exist. So your thought, that there are no such things as thoughts, is proven wrong by the existence of your thought.
iii. EPISTEMOLOGICAL CRITIQUE: An atheist takes for granted the accuracy of his five senses and empiricism.
1) In almost all that we do, we take for granted that our five senses are accurate. In order for an atheist to show up at a debate, he has to assume this. Every time he takes a step, stops at a stop sign, has a conversation with someone, etc, he is assuming the accuracy or reliability of his senses. It would be impossible to have a conversation with an atheist if he didn’t, as he couldn’t know for sure what you were saying and couldn’t be confident that you would hear what he was saying.
As effects cannot be greater than their causes, what adequate cause can atheists put forward for our five senses? Certainly, they would not say a being that has any senses is that first cause. They choose to admit a senseless first cause, which is not an adequate cause of senses at all. Atheists take for granted that they have these senses, but they provide no adequate cause or state any intelligible account of how they have these senses.
If we are the product of mere time and chance and our existence is the random accident of the universe, upon what basis can trust be placed upon our senses being accurate? In other words, as Christians we can trust in the reliability of our senses knowing that we were created and designed by God who gave us these senses to perceive the material world around us, but if an atheist cannot account for how he has these senses, upon what can he base his confidence for their accuracy or be able to account for their accuracy? A person has no right to take for granted the accuracy of their senses and has no ability to account for their accuracy, unless they presuppose that they have been designed and created by an intelligent and sensible God.
2) Since empiricism states that all knowledge is to be acquired by empirical means, did the atheist acquire the knowledge of empiricism through empirical means? Since empiricism states that only that which is empirically proven can be affirmed, can empiricism itself be proven empirically?
Empiricism cannot be empirically proven as it is purely conceptual, an immaterial presupposition which cannot be touched, tasted, seen, heard, or smelt. Empiricism then, as an epistemology, destroys itself. It is self defeating. It cannot live up to its own requirements! It cannot exist under its own premise! If empiricism says that only the material world exists, and empiricism itself is an immaterial notion or concept, then empiricism is saying that empiricism does not exist!
And an atheist would run into an epistemological dilemma if they attempted to prove empiricism. If an atheist tries to prove empiricism using empiricism, as their system would require, than they are taking for granted their conclusion from the onset. But Empiricism states that all knowledge must be concluded through the experience of the senses and that no knowledge, therefore, is to be taken as a presupposition. However, empiricism itself is assumed or taken for granted as a presupposition and is not knowledge that is acquired through the experience of the senses. To prove empiricism using empiricism, as empiricism would require, is impossible without violating the demands of empiricism. Empiricism is taken as a presupposition in such a scenario and nothing is to be assumed according to empiricism.
And on the other side of the dilemma, if they attempt to appeal to another source of knowledge to show the validity of empiricism, such as an appeal to reason or logic, then they have forsaken empiricism and are now establishing rationalism as their ultimate authority. They have abandoned their principle of empiricism (that all knowledge is to come through the senses) by using reason and logic to try to prove empiricism. For if the knowledge of empiricism comes through reason and logic, then all knowledge does not come through the senses, and thus empiricism is wrong. Empiricism cannot be the sole source of knowledge, if the knowledge of empiricism doesn’t come through empiricism. Empiricism therefore, cannot stand upon its own foundation. It cannot measure up to its own requirement.
3) Empiricism is insufficient to be the sole source of all knowledge, as our senses are limited to the material or physical, but certain knowledge is arrived though immaterial means. The laws of logic, as stated earlier, cannot be touched, tasted, seen, heard, or smelt as they are immaterial. How can empiricists use logic? They have no right to presuppose the laws of logic when their system of empiricism doesn’t allow for their use or even for their existence!
4) Empiricism begs the question of the existences of God. By presupposing from the onset that only the material exists and that only what can be experience through the senses can be affirmed, they are begging the question of the existence of the invisible God. The Bible states that God is invisible (Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:27). It is fallacious to say that you cannot believe in the invisible God unless you can be shown His material existence. It’s a contradiction to say that you can only believe in the invisible God, if you can see Him and He becomes visible to you. They exclude even the possibility of the conclusion of God by defining their requirements in such a way. It would be equivalent to saying, “I cannot believe in what cannot be seen, unless I see it.” If you see it, then it is not that which cannot be seen! If God were material, He would not be invisible. So the atheist sets up the debate in such a way as to exclude the possibility of the God of the Bible from the onset. His epistemology is therefore insufficient to deal with the question of God’s existence.
5) If empirical experience is the sole source of knowledge that we should limit ourselves to, empirically we have only seen life come from life. It has never been empirically shown or proven that life can come from non-life. Even the creation of life within a laboratory would amount to nothing more than to prove intelligent design and that life is required to create life. All the life forms we have ever observed have come from other life forms. Is it not against empiricism then to say that all life has ultimately come from non-life? In this way, atheists contradict their own empirical system.
6) If I were going to limit my knowledge and beliefs to that which I have empirically known and proved, then I could not believe that atheists have brains. I have never touched, tasted, heard, seen, or smelt the brain of an atheist. Others have told me that they have brains. But that is just hear say. They might be able to show me a cat scan of their brain, but that is just a computer picture. Not a single atheist has ever shown me their actual brains. Have I a right, according to empiricism, to assume or presuppose that atheists have a brain? Or can I possibly logically conclude that every atheist has a brain when none of my senses have perceived that each atheist has one? No, in empiricism assumptions and presuppositions are not to be taken for granted and logic itself cannot exist. Unless the brains of each atheist are experienced through the senses, we cannot believe that they have any at all.
iv. AXIOLOGICAL CRITIQUE: An atheist takes for granted a sense of morality.
1) Many of the attacks that atheists make against Christians, the Bible, Christianity, or God, are based upon their own set of standards or sense of morality. “Christians are hypocrites,” “The Bible promotes slavery,” “Christianity has been the cause of wars,” “The God of the Bible is unjust.”
2) Where did the atheist get his sense of morality? What makes his standard of morality authoritative instead of arbitrary? For if the laws of morality are not legislated and revealed to us by a transcendent, infinite mind, the laws of morality are reduced to nothing more than the mere thoughts of finite minds or the arbitrary inventions of our will. There may be thoughts that finite minds haven’t experienced yet, so our finite cannot be the basis for absolute and universal moral law. And an arbitrary invention of a beings will cannot create universal obligation, thus if moral law is the mere arbitration of an individual it cannot have absolute. Atheists do not believe that there is a God with an infinite divine mind, who knows with absolute certainty what behavior is good and beneficial and what behavior is not, and who reveals His infinite and divine thoughts to our minds through the voice of conscience, reason, and the Scriptures.
3) If morality doesn’t come from God, where does it come from? If morality is merely the finite thoughts of the collective society, or the arbitrary standards of the individual, then how could any society or individual be morally wrong? If morality is not absolute or like a solid rock, but is relative or like clay that can be molded by each individual and society, then no individual or society could ever be morally wrong. The Nazi’s were not wrong for putting Jews in the ghettos and concentration camps, for that is what their society determined was good to do. Neither are cannibal tribes morally wrong, as that is what their society determined is right and proper behavior. If morality is the invention of the finite individual or comes from the collective society, atheists cannot condemn the crusades, witch hunts, or inquisitions, as that is what individuals and society thought and determined were right and good in their day.
The atheistic system contradicts itself when it provides no basis for absolute morality but rather lays the foundation for moral relativism, and then to make objections against Christianity as if morality were absolute. Since it is evident that their system of thought cannot produce absolute moral law, as it provides no adequate basis or foundation for it, and consequently wicked societies and great evils like that of the Nazi’s cannot be condemned as absolutely morally wrong, there system is evidently reduced to absurdity. But as all men know that society and individuals can be morally wrong, then all men assume that morality is not the mere creation of finite minds or the arbitrary standards of the individual but that it comes from a transcendent and infinite mind that legislates over us.
v. METAPHYSICAL CRITIQUE: An atheist takes for granted uniformity in nature, upon which scientific law is established.
1) Every individual assumes the uniformity of nature throughout their life. It is what stops us from touching the stove when we know it is hot. We know that if it burned when it was hot before, it will burn when it is hot later. It is why we put shoes on before we go for a walk. We assume that the law of gravitation will still be in place, causing us to walk on our feet. It is why we will drink a cold glass of water when we are thirsty, as we take for granted from previous experience that it will quench our thirst. Countless instances can be quoted to show that atheists take for granted the uniformity of nature throughout their life, as does everyone else.
2) Any scientific law, such as the law of gravity, presupposes the uniformity of nature. It takes for granted that what happens in a single instance or in a series of instances will continue to occur in the future, if all the variables are identical and the circumstances are the same. There would be no basis to establish scientific law if the uniformity of nature was not taken for granted.
3) It was the monotheism of the Judeo/Christian worldview that gave basis for the presupposition of the uniformity of nature, which laid the foundation for scientific law. Science is therefore the child of the Judeo/Christian worldview.
In the polytheistic worldview of the ancient world, the elements were not in uniform as the gods of these elements were different personalities, who may change at any moment, and who were often at war with each other. There was a god who controlled the river who was different from the god who controlled the moon, etc. This perspective did not lend to the notion that all of nature was uniform and that what happens in one particular instance would happen in another.
When the polytheistic worldview was replaced with the monotheistic perspective, that there is one God who made and controls the heavens and the earth, then a basis was established to take for granted the uniformity of nature. It was upon the notion that one infinite God controls all and that He established physical laws throughout the universe that scientists like Sr. Isaac Newton was able to discover the law of gravitation.
4) What right do atheists have then to take for granted the uniformity of nature? If there is no law-giver, what foundation or source can there be for law? If there is no Supreme Ruler or Governor of the physical world, is not the belief in a continual and consistent uniformity in nature, upon which scientific law is established, nothing more than blind faith or wishful thinking on their part? It is clear that atheists, as do all people, take the uniformity of nature for granted. But why they are able to do so, given their worldview, is not understandable.
IV. HOW TO DEFEND THEISM
- The existence of a transcendent, infinite, intelligent God is to be defended and argued as a necessary starting point or presupposition, apart from which we cannot account for the nature of things as they are. In other words, we argue for the existence of God upon the impossibility of the contrary.
a. THE METAPHYSICAL NECESSITY FOR GOD: The existence of anything finite necessitates the existence of the infinite.
i. The law of cause and effect is a recognized scientific law that states that all effects must have a cause and that the cause must be equal to or greater than the effect.
Major premise: All effects must have a cause.
Minor premise: An effect is anything that has a beginning.
Conclusion: Therefore, anything that has a beginning must have a cause.
ii. The law of cause and effect is axiomatic. It is a self-evident truth or a truth that goes under the category of a “first truth” or a truth that is known “a priori,” which all assume or presuppose.
1) The law of cause and effect is an intuitive principle developed in the mind as early on as infancy, as babies will cry to try to get something they want. They assume that effects happen as a result of a cause.
2) Everything we do in this world take for granted that we assume the law of cause and effect. Everything from brushing our teeth, to driving to work, to making dinner, all assume the law of cause and effect. Even to argue that the law of cause and effect does not exist, itself takes for granted the law of cause and effect, for you are trying to persuade someone’s mind to change (an effect) with your argument (a cause).
iii. The First Cause cannot be finite but must be infinite.
1) Consider the following syllogisms:
Major premise: All effects require a cause.
Minor premise: All that is finite are effects.
Conclusion: Therefore, all that are finite had a cause.
Major premise: All that had a beginning had a cause.
Minor premise: All that had a beginning is finite.
Conclusion: Therefore, all that is finite had a cause.
2) This brings us to the notion of the First Cause. The First Cause, by definition, cannot be finite. If it were finite, it would have had a cause. And if it had a cause, it would not be the First Cause. Therefore, the First Cause must necessarily be infinite. Only the infinite qualifies to be the uncaused First Cause as only that which is self-existent or eternal needs no cause.
Major premise: The First Cause cannot have a cause.
Minor premise: All that is finite needed a cause.
Conclusion: Therefore, the First Cause cannot be finite.
Major premise: The First Cause had no cause.
Minor premise: Only the infinite or self-existent can have no cause.
Conclusion: Therefore, the First Cause is infinite or self-existent.
3) What is the proof than that the infinite exists? The answer is the existence of the finite. That which is finite cannot exist if the infinite does not exist. The finite is not self-existent. The finite can only exist if there is a self-existent or infinite First Cause. Therefore, anything finite is absolute proof of the infinite. God is necessarily antecedent to all finite things. As I said earlier, all that we see in this world is proof that there is a God.
Major premise: The existence of the finite necessitates the existence of the infinite God.
Minor premise: Atheists are finite.
Conclusion: Therefore, the existence of atheists necessitates the existence of the infinite God.
Major premise: The proof that the infinite exists is the existence of the finite.
Minor premise: Atheists are finite.
Conclusion: Therefore, atheists are proof that the infinite exists.
Major premise: The existence of finite cause and effect necessitates the existence of the infinite First Cause.
Minor premise: The arguments of atheists against God are finite products of cause and effect.
Conclusion: Therefore, the arguments of atheists against God necessitate the existence of the infinite First Cause.
iv. What caused God?
1. Atheists often ask, “If everything had a cause, what caused God?” This question shows both the illogical fallaciousness of their thinking and their utter misunderstanding of the First Cause argument. It is not that everything has a cause, but only what is finite or had a beginning requires a cause. God, as an infinite self-existent being, requires no cause. There was no beginning to His existence, His consciousness, His intelligence, His complexities, etc. Therefore, these things require no cause.
2. But as it is evident that human beings are not infinite or self-existent, but that we are finite and had a beginning, we therefore needed a cause to bring about our existence.
Major premise: The existence of anything finite required a cause.
Minor premise: The existence of our world is finite.
Conclusion: Therefore, the existence of our world required a cause.
b. An EPISTIMOLOGICAL NECESSITY FOR GOD: The existence of consciousness, intelligence, logic, reason, rational, and personality all requires or necessitates the existence of God.
i. Effects cannot be greater than their cause.
1) If a cause is not equal to, or greater than, the effect, is it is not an adequate cause in and of itself to bring about that effect.
ii. Consciousness is greater than unconsciousness, intelligence is greater than unintelligence, logic is greater than the illogical, rational is greater than the irrational, reason is greater than unreasonableness, sense is greater than senselessness, and personality is greater than the impersonal.
1) These are self-evident truths that are recognized and presupposed by all intelligent minds.
2) That we view consciousness as greater than unconsciousness is evidenced by the fact that we would prefer to be humans than to be a rock.
3) That we view intelligence as greater than unintelligence is evidenced by the fact that we seek to educate ourselves and our children.
4) That we view logic as greater than the illogical, rational as greater than the irrational, and reason as greater than the unreasonable, is evidenced by the fact that we expect to hear logical, rational, reasonable arguments to believe or to do something and look down upon that which is illogical, irrational, and unreasonable.
5) That we view sense as greater than senselessness is evidenced by the fact that when one of our senses is damaged or lost, we recognize this as a terrible misfortune and great loss.
6) That personality is greater than the impersonal is evidenced by the fact that we all prefer companionship with a living person than with a volleyball.
iii. Human beings are personalities that have been giving consciousness and intelligence and are endowed with the gift of logic, reason, rational, and sense.
iv. Our cause, therefore, must be a conscious, intelligent, logical, reasonable, rational, sensible, personable being. As effects cannot be greater than their cause, the First Cause cannot be an unconscious, unintelligent, illogical, unreasonable, irrational, senseless, impersonal, thing.
Major premise: Effects cannot be greater than their cause.
Minor premise: Humans are effects.
Conclusion: Therefore, humans cannot be greater than their cause.
Major premise: The cause must be equal to, or greater than, the effect.
Minor premise: Humans are conscious and intelligent personalities with the ability of logic, reason, rational, and sense.
Conclusion: Therefore, the cause of humans must be a conscious and intelligent personality with the ability of logic, reason, rational, and sense.
Major premise: The existence of intelligence in humans necessitates the existence of intelligence in God.
Minor premise: Atheists try to use their intelligence to argue that there is no God.
Conclusion: Therefore, the arguments of the atheist against God necessitate the existence of our intelligent God.
Major premise: Human intelligence is absolute proof of divine intelligence.
Minor premise: Atheists are humans with intelligence.
Conclusion: Therefore, the existence of atheists is proof of divine intelligence.
c. A METAPHYSICAL NECESSITY FOR GOD: The existence of uniformity in nature necessitates the existence of God.
i. As stated earlier, the basis for the uniformity in nature is the presupposition of a sovereign and intelligent God who has established physical laws to govern His creation.
ii. The physical laws that govern the material world cannot be accounted for apart from the notion of a sovereign, intelligent, infinite Law Giver.
iii. A law cannot exist without a law-giver for the same reason that an effect cannot exist without a cause. If a law existed without a law-giver, then there is an effect without a cause, which is logically impossible.
d. A METAPHYSICAL NECESSITY FOR GOD: The existence of complexity or design in the composition or arrangement of finite existences requires the existence of God.
i. As the finite cannot exist without the infinite First Cause, so complexity or design in the composition or arrangement of their existence requires intelligence from their First Cause.
1) That which is unintelligent cannot arrange itself in an intelligent manner.
2) Intelligence is required for a material object to be constructed or arranged in a meaningful and purposeful way.
ii. The greater the complexity and design in their composition and arrangement, the greater the intelligence of their Cause or Creator must be.
iii. The unfathomable and incomprehensible intrinsic and in-depth complexity of the systems of our material world is all indicative of a transcendent, infinite, and intelligent being as the Creator of these existences.
1) The brilliance of such systems as that of the ecosystem, digestive system, reproductive system, etc, all reveal not only the existence of God, but the genius of His mind.
2) The more microscopic that man’s study of our world becomes, the more complicated that the systems of the world appear. What used to be called the “simple cell” is not considered so simple anymore.
3) Man, with all His intelligence, is incapable of creating a single DNA strand or of composing even one cell or atom.
4) It should be blatantly obvious and self-evident that the mind which created our world is far superior to our own.
e. An AXIOLOGICAL OR ETHICAL NECESSITY FOR GOD: The existence of absolute morality necessitates the existence of God.
i. As was shown earlier, there is no basis for an absolute moral truth or law apart from an infinite transcendent mind that legislates over us and grants us this revelation.
1) If the laws of morality do not originate in God’s divine and infinite mind, then the laws of morality must originate in man’s own finite mind or arbitrary will.
2) There can be no basis for a universal moral law, obligatory upon all, if the origin of moral law is the arbitrary will of the individual.
3) There can be no basis for a universal moral truth, or an absolute morality, if moral laws originate in man’s finite mind, as no two finite minds think perfectly alike.
4) The only way that finite minds can be absolutely sure about the rightness of a moral law, is if there is a transcendent and infinite mind that can be appealed to, or which is the source and origin of the moral law.
5) If the laws of morality are invented by the individual or the society, what is to say that a particular individual or society is morally wrong? There would be no moral standard above society by which to judge the moral rightness or wrongness of it, as the society would have authority over all moral standards. Morality would consequently be relative.
In which case, societies that engaged in genocide, slavery, cannibalism, torture, etc, cannot be objectively or absolutely condemned as morally wrong.
But as all individuals intuitively know that societies have been morally wrong, all individuals presuppose that moral law does not come from the society but is rather above the society and the society is subjected to it, rather than it being subjected to society.
6) All rational moral beings know that there is an absolute standard of morality. For example, we all naturally know that murder, or the unjustified killing of a human life, is wrong. Even a murder knows that murder is wrong, not only because he will suffer from the pains of conscience for doing so, but because he doesn’t want anyone to murder him! He takes for granted that his life is valuable and that taking it would be a bad thing.
Men may talk about morality being relative, but in their hearts they know it to be absolute. And since a sense of absolute morality exists in the rational minds of all men, this shows that ultimately all rational minds presuppose the source and origin of moral law to transcend their own finite minds and arbitrary wills, for if they truly assumed that moral law originated in their own finite minds or arbitrary wills, they could not affirm it to be absolute or affirm its obligation to be universal.
f. THE REAL ETHICAL PROBLEM OF AN ATHIEST: At the root of the issue, an atheist is someone who refuses to acknowledge the truth.
1) An atheist is a rebel against God, who knows that there is a God but who refuses to serve Him (Rom. 1:21).
2) An atheist is someone who has been exposed to more than sufficient reasons to believe in and serve God, but they choose to rather suppress this knowledge and choose darkness rather than light (Jn. 1:9; 3:19; Rom. 1:18).
3) The purpose, therefore, of showing the irrationality of atheism and the self contradictions and self defeating principles of its system is simply to show the atheist that as an atheist, he is a rebel against God who has no sufficient reasons for rejecting the Lord. The purpose is to confront him in his rebellion, exhort him to consider his ways, call him to repent of his enmity against God, and to find salvation through Jesus Christ. Show the atheist the foolishness of his ways, the moral and intellectual repulsiveness of his own system, the sufficient reasons that exist to have faith in God, his guilt and inexcusableness before the Lord, and his desperate need for God to pardon His crimes by His mercy and to remit the execution of His deserved penalty through the atonement of Jesus Christ!