Existence of God

Weariness and the Existence of God

2015 proved to be one of the most wearying years of my life. As a family we had to contend with my father having a major illness that eventually led to his death in August and the aftermath of that event as we put his affairs in order. Personally, I was involved in teaching multiple classes at church and on a local college campus, doing maintenance both at home and at my parent’s house since my dad was too sick to do so himself, and involved in a major writing project that required six months of intense research. On top of this I also changed jobs after eleven years in the same position.

As we closed in on Christmas it was a fair assessment to say that I was weary. Not the weariness that comes after a hard day’s work, but the weariness that extends all the way to the soul. The weariness that eliminates the desire to do anything of importance. The weariness that robs the mind and heart of strength and desire. The weeks before and after Christmas proved to be a blessing as the focus on Christ’s incarnation and future return helped to rejuvenate and refresh my soul. (more…)

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The Freethinking Argument

Atheists love to label themselves as “freethinkers” because they claim to have no restraints to follow the facts wherever they lead. These so-called freethinkers state that a modern-day atheist is “someone who has heard the claims of various religions, has read the books on which those claims are based, and has found the claims to be ridiculous.” There are a couple of problems with this statement. For one, just because a freethinker subjectively judges certain religious claims as ridiculous, it doesn’t logically follow that they are, in fact, ridiculous.

Moreover, if these atheists happen to be right, that God does not exist, it is also highly implausible that the immaterial aspect of humanity called a “soul” exists. This has led me to the conclusion that it is impossible for an atheistic naturalist to really be a “free thinker.” Sure, they can join the club and call themselves “freethinkers,” but if they happen to be right about atheistic naturalism, no one could freely think anything.

If God does not exist, it is difficult to see how anyone could ever freely think about good evidence and argumentation and choose to deliberate and think rationally to come to the most logical conclusions. I will demonstrate this in an argument I crafted after dwelling upon what it means to freely think:

The Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism 

1- If naturalism is true, the immaterial human soul does not exist.

2- If the soul does not exist, libertarian free will does not exist.

3- If libertarian free will does not exist, rationality and knowledge do not exist.

4- Rationality and knowledge exist.

5- Therefore, libertarian free will exists.

6- Therefore, the soul exists.

7- Therefore, naturalism is false.

8- The best explanation for the existence of the soul is God.

Basically, premise (1) is synonymous with “If naturalism is true, nature is all that exists.” That is pretty straightforward. Premise (2) is tantamount to “If all that exists is nature, then all that exists is causally determined via the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the big bang.” Premise (3) is equivalent with “If all things are causally determined, then that includes all thoughts and beliefs.” If our thoughts and beliefs are forced upon us, and we could not have chosen better beliefs, then we are simply left assuming that our determined beliefs are good (let alone true). Therefore, we could never rationally affirm that our beliefs are the inference to the best explanation – we can only assume it.

Here is the big problem for the atheistic naturalist: It logically follows that if naturalism is true, then atheists cannot possess knowledge (no one could)! Knowledge is defined as “justified true belief.” One can happen to have true beliefs; however, if they do not possess warrant or justification for a specific belief, their belief does not qualify as a knowledge claim. If one cannot freely infer the best explanation, then one has no justification that their belief really is the best explanation. Without justification, knowledge goes down the drain. All we are left with is question-begging assumptions (a logical fallacy).

Obviously humans possess rationality and knowledge. To argue this would affirm it. If one rejects knowledge, why should anyone listen to them? Therefore, libertarian free will and the soul (or some immaterial aspect of humanity) exists, and therefore, naturalism is false.

Returning to the original question, how can an atheist (if he’s right) truly be a “freethinker?” If God, and therefore, the human soul, does not exist, people are nothing more than material mechanisms bound by the laws of chemistry and physics. To put it bluntly, human beings would be nothing more than “bags of chemicals on bones,” or “meat robots.” If this is all we are, we do not possess libertarian free will. If humanity has no free will, then we are not free to think anything (in the libertarian sense). Therefore, knowledge, rationality, and morality are illusory. We would not be free to choose to be reasonable or to engage in logical argumentation or even to freely choose to follow evidence wherever it leads. Ultimately, if atheistic naturalism is true, we are not free to choose anything; that includes what we are going to choose to believe or think.

A naturalistic atheist has no justification to label himself as a “freethinker.” I think a better name for the freethinkers would be the “determined determinists.” Given naturalism, there’s no freedom to think otherwise!

Bottom line: The supernatural must exist for the naturalistic atheist to “freely think” that it doesn’t.

The FreeThinking Theist,

Tim Stratton

NOTES

To read an expanded version of this argument click here.

The Reality of Morality

Does objective truth apply to morality? This question has major ramifications depending on how you answer it, because it ultimately asks, “DOES GOD EXIST?” We can see this demonstrated through the use of logic in a deductive syllogism known as “The Moral Argument.”[1] Here it is:

1- If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2- Objective moral values and duties exist.

3- Therefore, God exists.

To avoid this theistic conclusion, those committed to their atheistic presuppositions desperately seek to find a way to refute at least one of these premises. Many wind up stating that objective moral values and duties do not exist. By making this move, however, they affirm that there is nothing really wrong with Hitler’s Holocaust, the molestation of young boys in the Penn State locker room by Jerry Sandusky, or the murderous actions of ISIS. Since rejecting premise (2) tacitly affirms the atrocities of these evil men, they feel the pressure to either find another way to ground objective morality, or become theists. Some atheists, such as Sam Harris, have attempted to find a logical way to ground objective morality in the “science of human flourishing,”[2] stating: “Whatever advances the flourishing of humanity is objectively good and whatever hinders human flourishing is objectively bad.”

Harris has failed on several accounts. For instance, even if (and that’s a very big “IF”) moral values could be grounded via this “science of human flourishing,” it would be powerless to explain why the flourishing of humans is objectively good. After all, in the movie, The Matrix, Agent Smith referred to the flourishing of humanity as a “virus,” and a “cancer of the planet.”[3] Is Agent Smith objectively wrong, or do we simply have differing subjective opinions? It would be circular reasoning to argue that the flourishing of humanity is objectively good because one assumes it is objectively good when humanity flourishes.

I’ve also heard it said that human flourishing is objectively bad for the earth and all other forms of life. A fellow human actually argued, “If all insects on earth disappeared, within fifty years all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within fifty years all (other) forms of life would flourish.”[4] So perhaps it is objectively bad for humans to flourish, at least from the subjective perspective of “all other forms of life.” The question then becomes, why is it good for humanity to flourish, even if human flourishing hinders other forms of life?

Atheism cannot answer why the flourishing of humanity is objectively good. All the atheist can do is simply presuppose and assume it is. On the other hand, if God exists and created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to know, love, and enjoy a relationship with God for eternity, then it is objectively true (independent from human opinion) that it is objectively good (and right) for humanity to flourish.

Moreover, atheism is impotent to explain why we are obligated to fulfill or align our lives with any of these moral values that lead to human flourishing. If one were not to carry out any of these moral codes leading to human flourishing, and instead devoted their lives to kidnapping, rape, murder, etc., the worst they could be accused of is merely acting unfashionably, nothing more![5] The last time I checked, no one has made a case that it is objectively wrong to be considered “uncool,” or a “nerd” by the subjective opinion of the majority. Although it seems implausible that objective moral values can exist apart from God, it is logically impossible to ground objective moral duties if atheism is true.

On top of all of this, to make matters worse, this atheistic philosophy is ultimately self-refuting! Harris, as a naturalist (the view that only nature exists), holds to “scientific determinism,” which means he believes our thoughts and actions are causally determined by natural forces like physics, chemistry, and the initial conditions of the big bang. All of these things are outside of human control. Harris makes his view clear:

“Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have. Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less), in that it cannot be made conceptually coherent. Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them.”[6]

Therefore, humans could never freely choose any action, including actions with supposed moral properties. Given these objections to the idea of a scientific foundation for an epistemology of objective morality, we must come to the conclusion that science cannot derive an ought from an is, and therefore, cannot tell us anything about how we must conduct our lives in any ethical or moral sense. If naturalistic atheism is true, we have no logical grounds of objective moral values, no logical grounds of objective duty to align our lives with any set of subjective code of ethics, and no ability to do otherwise since all would be determined by outside causal forces.[7] Since ought implies can, and there is no ability to do otherwise in a cause and effect/determined universe (on atheistic naturalism), it follows that it is completely nonsensical for the naturalist to talk about how we ought to think, act, or behave.

Bottom line: If moral values and duties are objective, God must exist!

Stay reasonable my friends (Phil 4:5 ESV),

Tim Stratton

Notes:

[1] The Moral Argument: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/moral

[2] Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate: https://youtu.be/yqaHXKLRKzg

[3] The Matrix, https://youtu.be/L5foZIKuEWQ

[4] This quote was attributed to Jonas Salk; however, I cannot find the source. Be that as it may, some people actually believe it is better for insects to flourish than it is for humans to flourish.

[5] William Lane Craig, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/navigating-sam-harris-the-moral-landscape

[6] Sam Harris, Free Will, (Free Press, New York, 2012), Page 5

[7] See my Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism here: http://freakengministries.com/freethinking-atheists-are-oxymorons/

The Kalam (Part 3)

I have recently been defending one of my favorite arguments for God’s existence known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA). The argument is based on two simple premises that lead to a logical conclusion with theistic significance. The KCA looks like this:

1- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2- The universe began to exist.

3- Therefore, the universe had a cause.

(more…)

The Kalam (Part 2)

In my last article we examined one of my favorite arguments for God’s existence known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA). The argument is based on a simple syllogism utilizing only two premises. The argument is simple; however, it leads to a logically deductive conclusion with significant theistic implications. The KCA looks like this:

1- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2- The universe began to exist.

3- Therefore, the universe had a cause.

In my previous article I provided logical support for both premises. I believe logic is always the best evidence to have as science itself is based on logic. That is to say, a scientist cannot even get the scientific method off the ground without first assuming the laws of logic. I appealed to logic alone to prove the space-time universe had an absolute beginning. Be that as it may, many today ignorantly dismiss logic and won’t accept a statement as true unless they have scientific data supporting the proposition in question. This assumption is based on a logically incoherent philosophy called “scientism” (that science is the only way to know things).[1] Although this worldview is logically bankrupt, it is always nice to possess scientific data supporting the conclusions we have already reached based on logic. We have exactly that when it comes to supporting the second premise of the Kalam.

Scientific Validation 

Let’s look at scientific data that the universe is not infinitely old. Take the second law of thermodynamics, for instance. It states that all of the useful energy that already exists in the universe is being used up and is being transformed into non-usable energy. This refers to a process called entropy. If the universe were infinitely old, then it would have already used up all of its usable energy an infinite amount of time ago. Therefore, we would have reached a temperature of absolute zero, and the heat death of the universe an infinite amount of time ago.[2] There would be no heat, no light, no life, not just in our galaxy, but also anywhere in the entire universe.

Now, since there are pockets of useful energy left in the universe, the universe had to have had a starting point. Moreover, scientists can show us through the study of big bang cosmology that we live in an expanding universe.[3] Imagine watching a video of the expansion of the universe. Push “pause,” and then hit the rewind button. Eventually you will come to the beginning of what was expanding. It must have had a starting point.

Moreover, if this wasn’t enough, three of the leading physicists in the world today, Arvind Borde, Allan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, constructed a theorem (the BGV theorem of 2003) which reaches the same conclusion – nature had an absolute beginning. No matter what model one holds, none of them can be extrapolated into past infinity. Dr. Guth (The “G” in BGV) concluded there was a “mother of all beginnings” and stated: “… Even within the context of inflation with many bubbles forming, there would still be somewhere an ultimate beginning.”[4] Dr. Vilenkin makes this point even stronger:

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”[5] 

Therefore, if nature had an absolute beginning, it is incoherent to state, “Nature existed before nature existed.” Therefore, the cause of nature must be something other than nature. This is what philosophers call “supernatural.”

The Logical Conclusion 

So if the two premises that we have examined are true, it leads us to a startling, but very logical conclusion: Therefore, the universe has a cause. The definition of the word “universe” is anything and everything that is in time and space, including time and space, that is physical, material, and can be tested scientifically.[6] Given this definition, the “cause” cannot be anything that fits within the definition of the universe. Otherwise the universe would have had to exist before it existed. But, what could have caused the universe to exist if nothingness (not anything physical) existed before the universe began to exist?

“Nothingness” is causally impotent, so what could have caused the universe to “bang” into existence? This leads to some very important questions. What could exist apart from space-time and matter and still have a causal relation with the material universe? If so, what attributes or properties must this cause possess? This will be the focus of my next article.

Stay tuned…

Tim Stratton

 

NOTES 

[1] A.J. Roberts (our fellow Apologer) talks about the difference between science and scientism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N4Y411HE3U

[2] Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 97

[3] Tim Stratton, Stealing Defeat From the Jaws of Victory, http://freakengministries.com/stealing-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory/

[4] Closer to the Truth, http://youtu.be/Z79FGmh50Xo (Accessed 8-30-14)

[5] Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), 176.

[6] JP Moreland, Arguments For the Existence of God, The Christian Apologetics Program Biola University