Thursday, December 30, 2010

TAG at 25

As 2010 draws to a close, it seems hard to believe that it has been 25 years since Greg Bahnsen’s presuppositional apologetic first laid waste to atheistic philosophy in his debate with Gordon Stein. It was in that debate that Bahnsen referred to Van Til’s presuppositional approach as the "Transcendental Argument for God" or TAG.  The short sloganized version of the argument is Van Til’s statement that the Christian God exists because of the impossibility of the contrary.

Since that time there has been plenty written about TAG – a lot of it more noise and confusion based on a total misapprehension of the issues involved in the argument. To understate it, TAG is misunderstood by many. In fact, a lot of the noise surrounding TAG has come from Christian apologists of the so-called “classical” and "evidentialist" schools of apologetics. The most frequent of these charges is that TAG is circular. As well, this is a charge that occasionally comes from the man-in-the-street as a first-blush objection.

To dispel the mistaken charge of circularity, we should note first that historically Bahnsen’s debate opponents, Gordon Stein and Michael Martin, never made such a charge. Stein, for one, realized he had no answer to TAG and after the debate stated that he was working on a rebuttal; Stein never published a rebuttal. If the rebuttal were that TAG was circular, it is rather remarkable that an educated and intelligent man such as Stein never produced it. Then there is the professional philosopher, Michael Martin.  Martin has not charged TAG with circularity. If it were, Martin, too, would have had no problem producing the proof of circularity.

An oft-quoted aphorism states that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Martin, in fact, attempted to mimic TAG with his failed TANG (Transcendental Argument for the Non-existence of God). TANG, though not properly transcendental, attempted to be – and, as such, is a testament that Martin clearly understood the issues involved in TAG and recognized TAG’s power. But TANG, as Martin stated it, is intended to be a “counterexample” to TAG that thereby “logically” establishes that TAG is unsound. Therein lies the rub. Providing a supposed counterexample is not a transcendental refutation and is rather simply a restatement of an opposing worldview. To construct a transcendental argument, we must ask what are the contents of a worldview, and are they coherent, intelligible and not self-contradictory or self-refuting? In short, do they withstand the transcendental critique of being internally consistent (non-self contradictory) and non-arbitrary. Indeed Martin's worldview contents do not!  In fact the pluralistic godless world of Martin's TANG describes an impossible world which, in turn, proves God's existence!

In Martin’s case, his worldview is atheistic pluralism which he posits as the “necessary preconditions” for the non-existence of God. Of course, if God does not exist, he has no properties whatsoever (or whatever properties Martin wants God to have so that he would not exist under the postulates of his atheistic pluralism). The co-ultimate components of Martin’s pluralistic universe are nature, logic and morality. The God Martin describes in TANG is like one who awoke after an eternal nap and discovered himself surrounded by nature, logic and morality. In other words, physics, logic and morality are all ultimate and God is not. Such a God is not the God of Christian theism. The God of Christian theism is the ultimate being – and He is as He has revealed himself. To construct a counterexample based on a being who is not ultimate is simply a straw man, a logical fallacy, and misrepresents Bahnsen's point. So much for TANG being a counterexample to TAG and invalidating TAG!

So in the end, we have that TAG is not circular in the trivial manner that is charged – and this from the examples of atheists of repute among atheists.

What still remains then is the challenge of TAG to unbelievers, such as Martin, who merely posit the existence of one or more of the eternal uniformity of nature, morality, and abstract realities such as logic and mathematics. This is an incoherent mix of eternal impersonal ultimate things with no essential relation to each other. (And this does not include the additional challenge against the metaphysical irrationalism of the atheistic interpretation of quantum mechanics which calls into question any ultimate uniformity of the physical universe.)   Martin's incoherent mixture multiplies unrelated particulars and compounds unexplained irrational mysteries (for example, what is the source or basis of interactions between, physics, logic, and moral laws?).  On top of all this are the internal contradictions that spring from this mixture of "co-ultimates."

Since Martin is unable to provide an intelligible account of his absolutely independent and non-interacting eternal brute facts, he is unable to argue against Christianity on any ground whatsoever – whether it be morality, science, or logic.

For one example, Martin wants to appeal to “abstract logic” in TANG. But logic is a formalization of laws of thought -- that is of valid deduction -- and as such, logic presupposes a mind, and then a thinking being.  To postulate eternal mindless laws of thought is an absurdity.  But Martin doesn’t tell us where, when or how a mind came into being, whether there was always a mind (an eternal personal mind is something that is too close to theism for him, no doubt) or that it was born from matter-in-motion.

If Martin appeals to reality as just eternal matter and that the laws of physics are just expressions of the inherent properties of matter, one should see that the laws of logic are not inherent properties of matter. And if minds sprang out of matter, they are not free, and rather are always subject to the laws of physics – laws of thought nowhere enter the picture.

Without human free agency, one cannot provide an account of how matter obeying physical laws can generate actions that appear to conform to laws of logic, such as modus ponens, as just one example.  If someone would violate a law of logic in an argument and reach a false conclusion (compelled by physics, of course) it would be ridiculous to say the laws of physics were in error.  But such is one of the many contradictions of atheism.  Atheism is still transcendentally refuted by TAG.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Inexplicable! And That's No Lie!

Every fact of human experience is proof of theism and, therefore, a disproof of atheism and, thereby, also of agnosticism. This is the transcendental argument for the existence of God -- God exists because of the impossibility of the contrary.

The other day I was pondering the slogan that some people make about our former President, "Bush lied, people died."

But what is this human act called "lying"?

First, lying requires intentionality. A lie is to knowingly utter a statement contrary to the truth in order to deceive. In this regard, the slogan above is a claim that Bush intentionally said there were WMD in Iraq, while he knew there were none.   Thus, the slogan is an extraordinary claim since most of the world's leaders and intelligence agencies believed Iraq possessed WMD. Regardless of why the nearly worldwide agreement on intelligence data was faulty, without that moral dimension, speaking or believing a falsehood is not a lie -- it is merely an error.  Otherwise, students answering examinations incorrectly are the biggest group of liars in all of creation.

Moreover, lying is a sin!  Sin is the breaking of God's commands.  But for atheists, lying could not be considered a sin, since to them, there is no God. In that case lying becomes "good" or "bad" according to situational relativism.  Of course "good" or "bad" is not absolute to the atheist -- "good" or "bad" means "good" or "bad" in terms of consequences for oneself or the conventions of one's social group.

For many of the godless, lying is a means to an end.  But this brings us to the crux of the problem for atheists.

The laws of physics have the property that they have no memory of the past and no goal for the future.  They are "ignorant" of the past and "blind" to the future (to use the usual anthropomorphizing of an insensate material universe) . The atheist worldview of materialism embodied in the laws of physics states that the future depends only upon the state of reality now.  This implies two things:
  1.   There is absolutely no teleology in physical systems -- there is no goal-orientated direction.  
  2.   The future is compelled by laws of physics channeled via irrational quantum chance.
This means that if man is purely a material system, as atheism claims, there can be no "means to an end."  And to the atheist, since man is quantum mechanically predetermined -- and his acts ultimately produced by irrational randomness -- even describing lying as a "means to an end" is inexplicable. 

It is further inexplicable that man as an absolute physically determined system can utter a false description of reality in order to deceive and attempt to alter, influence or otherwise elicit a desired response from other humans to achieve a self-centered goal.   Man's mental states, being no more than mere results of "random" quantum mechanical fluctuations, can then have no causal efficacy -- they cannot cause electrons to swerve from their paths. Mental states are to the physical brain as a person's shadow is to the body.  As a result "mental" states cannot alter physical brain states, just as the body's shadow cannot produce body motions.

"Lying" as an immoral act rests upon the presuppositions of mental causation, logical laws, human free agency, intentionality, and moral laws, none of which would exist in a purely physical reality.

The very act of lying is impossible and inexplicable in a Godless reality. So then, the human act of lying is proof of God. On the other hand, the atheist believes in things -- such as lying -- that his fundamental presuppositions deny.  Such are the contradictions of atheism and its self-refuting pretensions.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More on Hawking's Grand Design (and Penrose)

In the few weeks since my previous post on Hawking's book, more has emerged on the "The Grand Design." 

This is rather belated, so let me rewind a bit.

In the early days of the book's first reviews, some of my physicist and mathematician colleagues (not necessarily Christians or theists) expressed unreserved dismay at the reported content -- such as the espousal of subjective "theory-dependent-realism."  Some said they doubted they would buy the book even to quench their curiosity. These were remarks that I found encouraging.

Of course, Hawking, the self-described "positivist,"  is wrong on all the big philosophical counts -- though he may be correct on some technical details of a mathematical variety. But without a doubt, his physical monism has no capacity to explain "why we exist," as he has stated.  And by "we" that must include all of human experience. His theory explains nothing of human existence or experience. His hubris goes even further when he states that with M-theory philosophy is dead.  With that remark, and with his adherence to the self contradictory philosophy of logical positivism, I'm certain that philosophy is, without a doubt, dead to him.

There was formerly a day and time when physicists showed a little more sobriety in regards to their profession and realized, and openly stated, that physics only deals with physical theories.  Even today, Roger Penrose, though no friend of theism, correctly speaks of the theory as a theory of the physical universe.  (More below). Years ago,  Eugene Wigner also generally spoke of physics as the study of inanimate matter.  Not Hawking, however!  He asserts that M-theory is the reason why animate beings, such as "us," exists.  

Some of the further details (an excerpt can be found here) that have emerged is that Hawking now espouses the absurd concept of theory-dependent-reality -- as if there could be such a thing as any abstract theory, period, in a purely material reality. That an abstract theory could be legislative of physical laws (which are the only laws that exist in Hawking's universe) is absurd.  A universe ruled by nothing but random quantum processes cannot produce rational beings, such as us, who regulate our reasoning by way of immaterial laws of thought (logic) and thereby produce abstract physical theories such as M-theory -- whether true or not.

Other Reviews
I have read a few customer reviews on various book sites, and agree with those who have described the book as a typical shallow popularization of physics. 

For a pure physical objection to Hawking's views, we have the review of Roger Penrose. Penrose's review avoids discussion of the more pure philosophical aspects of the book. I have always found Penrose to be a bit more sober among contemporary physicists -- though his "Platonistic" pluralism is just as absurd as material monism.  (Though we might say Penrose is an inconsistent materialist.) You can read Penrose's physics critique here: Penrose's Review

So despite Penrose's insightful critique of Hawking, we have the following:

On the one hand, we have the absurd and incoherent monism of Hawking that accounts for nothing.  And on the other hand,  we have the multiple unrelated realities of Penrose's neo-Platonism that posits a mysterious plurality of impersonal, co-eternal and co-ultimate realities of physical matter, mind, and "Platonic" mathematics --a plurality more incoherent than the polytheism of pagan Greece and Rome.  Of course, positing such co-eternal things solves the "which came first" problem, but the cure is worse than the disease of monism.  Atheistic pluralism is incoherent, arbitrary and incomplete. And, we should add that conspicuously absent from both Hawking's monism and Penrose's pluralist metaphysics is ethics.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Atheist's Miracle

The miraculous is the suspension or violation of natural laws.    For Christians,  miracles are the result of the supernatural agency of God.  It should go without saying that atheists of the material monist variety -- for which all that exists are material systems obeying natural laws -- deny miracles.  Prominent examples are Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and the recently discussed William Provine.

Here, we want to examine the atheism of Richard Dawkins.   Dawkins describes himself as a "dyed-in-the-wool monist."  A monist believes there are no "minds," just physical brains, and much like a computer, there are "brain states."  Man, being a purely physical system, must always be subject to purely natural laws.  The brain, too, is a physical system, controlled by the underlying natural laws -- thought being a mere passive epiphenomenon, with no causal agency.   It is a theorem of this worldview then, that man, as such,  cannot be free from natural laws, and, thus, there can be no human freedom.   William Provine can see this easily (as he has said), and -- as an almost-consistent naturalist --  asserts the absence of "free will." To deny this conclusion is to accept a supernatural suspension of natural law -- a miracle -- which Provine, consistent with his unadulterated material monism, rejects.

Which brings us to Richard Dawkins, who says:

"I am very comfortable with the idea that we can override biology with free will. Indeed, I encourage people all the time to do it."  (Counterbalance Foundation Interview

What we have here is an unabashed atheist miracle.  After millennia of being subject to physical causation, a physical system called "man" evolved by natural law and then spontaneously broke the shackles of natural law, violated the natural laws, thereby becoming henceforth "free."   Man's brain also became "free" to employ abstract (non-physical) logical principles and to reason.  This is an absurd and irrational miracle.   Dawkins can override biology at will and encourage others to do so, too.   Quite a miracle -- a physical system violating physical laws every second of every day.

Christian miracles are intelligible since God, the rational Being who created and upholds natural law, can intercede according to His will.  Likewise, Christians as dualists (man has both a material body and an immaterial soul), deny man is causally determined by physics.  So then, belief in Christian miracles is rational. . .Dawkins' belief in his atheist miracle of "free will" is irrational.

Richard Dawkins describes Christians as "dyed-in-the-wool-faith-heads" who are "immune to argument." He could not be more wrong -- Dawkins the self-styled "dyed-in-the-wool monist " with a belief that a natural system called man can override biology (which is just physics, after all)  is the one immune to reason.  Dawkins' faith in his atheist creed makes him a "dyed-in-the-wool-faith-head."  He will accept an irrational atheist "miracle," but deny the rational Christian miracles.

And to think Dawkins subtitled his website "...Reason and Science,  A Clear-Thinking Oasis."  Contrary to that slogan, Richard Dawkins is a most muddle-minded irrational "scientist," and that is saying a lot.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hawking's "The Grand Design" -- a new sub-Platonic Cosmogony for Itching Ears

The release of Stephen Hawking's latest book, The Grand Design, is making rounds in the news. 

The use of the word "design" in the title is a bit ironic.  Atheist scientists tend to use words in their popular books in less than precise ways, and no doubt this helps sell more books to the less scientifically literate public.  But, the use of such loose words is contrary to their usual practice of terminological precision in scientific journals. 

We can be sure that "design" does not mean it was designed -- it is Orwellian doublespeak for "description."  Calling it the "Grand Description," and asking "Is Hawking really describing nothing?," may help clear the field in what I describe below.

In this book, we learn that Hawking now explicitly says there is no need for God.  In the place of God, he says we have the mindless law of gravity (quantum gravity, I would presume) to thank for it all.  This bit of "news" should not be a surprise.  Alongside paying lip-service to "God," he had already said much the same in A Brief History of Time.  In connection with his no-boundary conjecture, he had written, "What place, then, for a creator?"

So then, just what is Hawking's "new insight"?  Here is one extract that is being circulated:

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist...".

This type of philosophical nonsense is not even as good as that typically produced by college freshmen.  It is philosophical conjuring, verbal subterfuge  and "creative accounting."   If Hawking's profession were investment management, his accounting techniques would amount to securities fraud, and he would be subject to criminal prosecution.

As a physicist whose special field is General Relativity and Quantum Field Theory, I can attest that the law of gravity and the rest are not "nothing."  Gravity is a property of matter, along with those other laws and other fundamental forces as incorporated in the Standard Model.  If all of these other fields, particles, and laws governing their interactions are nothing, then one is left to wonder how the many details of the structure of the physical universe can be analyzed in mathematical terms.  And by terms I am being explicit!  

All of the physical stuff -- individual particles of matter and their fields -- that supposedly emerges from Hawking's "nothing," by way of gravity, is already in the "mix."  There are explicit mathematical terms describing both the individual particles of matter and the laws that govern the interactions of all that "stuff" in the equations from the "git go."  To talk as if it is not is just simply creative accounting -- all of the physical stuff is already "lurking" there.  And so then the physical universe, too,  is already there.   If they are truly "nothing," Hawking ought to take a red pencil and strike those descriptors from his equations.  

This should be no surprise, since the equations of physical models and theories are deductive in nature, and, therefore, they predict the implications of the theory.  If a theory could not deductively predict its logical consequences, it would violate the very tenets of the scientific method and be useless.  On the surface, Hawking's claim is equivalent to someone deducing "Socrates is mortal" while omitting the minor premise "Socrates is a man" from that famous syllogism.

Hawking has stated nothing new -- he has just restated the standard brute-fact material universe of atheism.  A universe of matter-in-motion not adequate to the task of accounting for all of human experience -- a universe conspicuously devoid of logic, mathematics, morality, human minds and human freedom.

But as Hawking describes the universe, it is something even more absurd than Plato's cosmogony.  In place of Plato's intelligent demiurge acting on eternal matter, we have Hawking's mindless gravity and. . .nothing.  Well, not quite nothing, but a "nothing" describable by some explicit and rather advanced mathematics.  Now that is something!

According to Hawking, after years of work and study in the field of physics, I am now supposed to believe that the elegant mathematics was a description of nothing rather than something. 

If Professor Hawking wants to insist that these are all "nothing," then apparently he is writing about nothing and describing nothing (an oxymoron if ever there was).  Since it would then appear that the latest property of the law of gravity is "forgiveness" -- and it must be so since gravity is the reason we exist -- then he should please forgive those who curtly dismiss his book.

Maybe, he should change the title to Much Ado About Nothing -- but, alas, that title has already been taken.

Monday, August 30, 2010

C.S. Lewis' Transcendental Argument

I am unaware if C.S. Lewis was familiar with Cornelius Van Til's apologetic work. Nevertheless, Lewis' realization of the futility of his objection to Christianity is a concise example of a transcendental critique that is at the core of the presuppositional defense of Christianity.  The transcendental critique of antiChristian philosophies is that they are all self-destructive -- and thus, there is no philosophical standoff between Christianity and antitheistic and antiChristian philosophies such as atheism, agnosticism and other religions.  C.S. Lewis saw that the presupposition of evil and injustice did not comport with his atheism, and thus his attack on Christianity was, in actuality, a fatal self-inflicted wound to his atheism.  Here is his argument in Mere Christianity:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet.  Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist - in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless - I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality - namely my idea of justice - was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple.  If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning. [Mere Christianity, pp.38-9.]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hitchens on Deathbed Conversion. Did Hitchens just say he has a soul?

In a recent interview, which you can view here, Christopher Hitchens, who is dying from esophageal cancer, was anxious to dispel, ahead of time, any possibility that some religious groups might try to exploit a "supposed" death-bed conversion.  He wants to assure us that even if he should utter such a conversion, it would be the chemicals in his brain speaking rather than himself.  As he put it, “It would not have been made by me.  The entity making such a remark might be -- you know -- a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain.”

So, he tells us we can rest assured that despite such an event, the real Hitchens is as unrepentant yesterday as he is today, and so shall he be forever.  Any such turn to Christ would be a "fake" C. Hitchens -- a Hitchens controlled by chemicals.  Which brings us to the inconsistency of Hitchens' claim. 

He acts and speaks as if there is a "real" C. Hitchens distinguishable from chemistry in his brain -- but on Hitchens' account of reality, "he" is only matter controlled by physical laws, and he has always been controlled by physics.  The only way to make sense of his statement is that he believes there is a part of himself that is independent of physical laws and immune to changes in his physical state, and "that" C. Hitchens  is the one he feels compelled to assert is real and unrepentant to the end. But such a part -- a persistent, rationally reasoning part that is independent of physical laws and material reality --   is an immaterial part that Christian theism calls his soul.

But that places him on Christian ground -- a ground that he irrationally denies.   Christopher Hitchens is still suffering from intellectual schizophrenia.  Such are the self-contradictions and the absurdities of atheism.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Authority and the "Heathen"

An agnostic friend has suggested that quoting Scripture in this blog is "preaching to the choir," and that if I really want to reach the heathen I should consider omitting it.  However, the theme of this blog is the presuppositional defense of Christianity.  Christian theism is defended as a whole, and is not a hypothesis to be established by anti-theistic and anti-Christian methodologies. Christian theism rests upon God's revelation in the Bible -- so I am perplexed as to how one can defend Christian theism without a Bible!  Would I first demonstrate the truth of the Bible based on a higher authority than God - an authority that exists independently of God, whether He exists or not?

My friend's suggestion is even more confusing given that he asserts, as do all agnostics, that there are no demonstrations or proofs of theism, or more generally that knowledge of God is not possible -- and so then, by a stronger argument, there could be no demonstrations or proofs of Christian theism.  On that view, don't quote the Bible and don't present any reasons for the defense of Christian theism, because the Bible may be false, reason is supreme and, thus, there is no defense of Christian theism.

That point of view sets up a game with a stacked deck.  How can one "reach the heathen" on such terms?  It's impossible!  On those terms, the heathen are unreachable -- by definition. Of course, the agnostic's assertion of "no proof" is itself a very huge claim about the nature of ultimate reality and of God's place (or non-place) in that reality (to be expanded at a later time).  As Van Til aptly put it, the issue is not between saying something about ultimate reality or saying nothing.  Rather, the issue is between saying one thing or saying something entirely different.  So then agnosticism, as a philosophy, is not "neutral" -- it has said everything about the type of God it might allow. And that God is emphatically not the true God of Christian theism. So much then for the supposed noble "open mindedness" of agnosticism.

You see, agnostics have an ultimate authority, too.  Agnosticism rests on the presupposition of the reliability and authority of autonomous human reason.  But when you challenge an atheist or agnostic to provide the basis for that authority, you will very likely be presented with a look of incredulity.   Some may even think you are denying logic and reason when you challenge them to provide the reasons (on the terms of their worldview) for the authority of reason. Of course Christians are not denying logic and reason.  Again, it is an issue of saying one thing or something entirely different.  On the agnostic's side we have autonomous human reason; on the Christian side we have reason as created in man's mind by God.  The latter is intelligible, the former is not.

Of course, material monism provides no basis for the existence of human reason.  In material monism -- in which all that exists is matter-in-motion evolving in time by way of random physical forces -- there is no room for human freedom.  And what is more, if there is no room for human freedom, there can be no room for free human thinking and reason, either.  So then, no matter how much Dawkins, Hitchens and others appeal to their "independent thinking" guided by the scientific method that led them to their "beliefs"  -- their "appeal"  is incredible and inexplicable.

Furthermore, material monism cannot account for human intentionality guided by adherence to abstract laws of logic/reason.  For in that view, all human "motions" are forced motions produced and determined by ultimate irreducible blind chance.  This "human reason" would have developed from a mindless and unguided universe of matter evolving by chance over time.  On that view, the material universe is mindless, purposeless, alogical, and absent of morals.  So then, materialism not only has no absolute morality and purpose (of all varieties), but it cannot even provide a basis for the existence of subjective morality and relative purpose that the atheist and agnostic alike fall back upon!

So then on the above analysis, neither atheists nor agnostics can account for the existence of reason and the scientific method that are their authorities.  A previous blog entry mentions Professor William Provine, an atheist who -- to his credit -- states openly that materialism leaves no room for human freedom.  As a typical atheist scientist who employs and  relies on the scientific method, he is an example of a walking, talking self-contradiction of atheism.  Professor Provine cannot, on one hand, be a free, independent thinker, guided by logic and the scientific method, and also be a purely and absolutely dependent physical system guided solely by mindless quantum mechanical chance. These two views are antithetical.  Materialism and physical laws are fundamentally a-teleological, while human planning and human reasoning via abstract logical principles are teleological.  Men do actions "in order to...."  Such are the internal contradictions of atheism.

Atheists and agnostics (the "heathen") are sinners in God's creation and need to be presented with their sin in all its manifestations.  Their prideful and irrational faith in autonomous reason and consequent unbelief and rejection of God is sin.  Whether they are "reached" is by grace -- and that grace comes from the God of the Bible.  So then, there are two issues at work here.  There is the apologetic task and there is evangelism -- both require the Bible.  It is true that in the course of the apologetic task, evangelism may also occur, but conviction and conversion are in the hands of God.

Should I not quote Scripture to defend the truth of Christian theism, and should I not quote Scripture to reach the heathen? What does God say?

"So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."  Romans 10:17.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An "Honest" Atheist? Not quite.

In the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, atheist William Provine of Cornell University unabashedly stated the logical consequence of his materialist atheism when he announced that there is no "free will."  BINGO! As Provine said, this conclusion "follows" rather easily from "belief in evolution."

On the materialist worldview, all processes are the result of random quantum actions at the subatomic level.  Provine's actions would be the determined effects of the "orderly universe"   -- hence there would be no human freedom from the laws of the physical universe (a human being is nothing more than a random collocation of atoms -- mere chunks or physical "subsystems" of the universe, the "Big System").

Is Provine an atheist with more depth of thought than Dawkins or Hitchens? Or at least more honesty?

What doesn't jibe on Provine's worldview is that if there is no "free will," there can be no "free thought," either.  And since honesty presupposes individual freedom from the tyranny of physical laws, Provine's conclusion would not exhibit "honesty."  In materialism, the mind and thoughts are an "epiphenomenon" -- mere effects.  There is no such thing as true mental causation, consequently, no free thinking and no free will.

This undermines Provine's entire exposition on how "reasoning" about Darwinism led him to rejection of God -- and then ironically to rejection of free will, and then necessarily to rejection of "free thought!"  Too bad the real Provine didn't  step forward to the microphone and announce that his "logical argument" or "reasoning" is inexplicable, since he has no free thought. I can understand why he would not, or why he has not thought of such, since that admission would undermine his whole argument, indeed, every word he utters.  It would sound absurd -- which of course it is!

There is irony in Provine's remarks regarding his students near the end of Expelled:

"I don't care what they end up as being.  I don't care if they end up being religious or a young earth creationist. If they have thought their way through the issues and get there -- I'm all for them."

Here Provine speaks as if there is such a thing as free thought, when he has denied such!  On Provine's worldview, Provine can't help himself -- nor can his students!

It seems that Provine is not a better "thinker" than his atheist friends, Dawkins and Hitchens, after all. Christians can legitimately say, that Provine -- a resident in God's universe, in which honesty is a real moral attribute -- exhibits a degree of intellectual honesty. This is more than Provine can say of himself since he denies the existence of morality and that he has any free intellectual actions.  Such is the absurdity of atheism.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Asking the wrong question.

At the end of the movie Collision, Hitchens was asked whether he believes there is “cosmic justice” at the end of time. Hitchens – being somewhat consistent with his materialist worldview – replied that there is none. However, this is not really the right question to ask him, because such a question presupposes that there is such a thing as justice and does not challenge Hitchens to account for justice on his presuppositions.

The question should be not whether there is such a thing as justice whose demands are not satisfied, but rather that in Hitchens' materialist atheism, the world is intrinsically and fundamentally amoral. There is no such thing as "right" and "wrong" inherent in physical processes, and, hence, there is no such thing as justice. Period.

Hitchens – when he attempts to attack Christianity as immoral – is appropriating absolute moral laws which would not exist according to his material atheism.

That was one point Cornelius Van Til made regarding unbelievers – they finance their worldview / philosophy using the borrowed capital of Christian theism. They oppose Christianity by adopting the truths of Christianity. However, such opposition is thereby self-defeating.

When Hitchens attempts to use logic/reason to attack Christianity, he is again using Christian capital to assail Christianity. Logic does not exist in the atheist's world of material monism.

Hitchens' materialist world is not only amoral, it is also a-logical, and a-mathematical. It is impossible to climb the ladder of physicalism -- in which every rung is physical causation via inviolable physical laws – and reach the non-physical “Platonic” heaven of logic and mathematics. Such realities cannot emerge from physical processes. There is an infinite, insurmountable gap.

The alternative, some form of Platonic atheist pluralism (as held by atheist Michael Martin)- in which there are equal absolutely independent ultimates of matter, logic, moral laws, and mathematics - is just as contradictory and incoherent.

Atheism – whether of the material monism variety or a godless pluralism – is irrational belief in the impossible. But more on that another time.