Ali bin Abi Talib, who was one of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad and fourth caliph of the Muslims, stated: "Knowledge is a small dot, magnified by the ignorant." Meaning that in the presence of widespread ignorance, simple concepts must be expounded upon in order for some to understand. In recent years science has discovered that human beings are "hard-wired" from birth to believe in the existence of a higher power, something which was discussed in Islam centuries earlier. Prophet Muhammad said that every child is born upon a natural disposition towards belief in one God, but that it is external influences (family, society, etc.) that alter this understanding. So when human beings deviate from such a simple and natural concept, they require textual and intellectual arguments in order to be convinced.
It's ironic that you should mention gravity, considering Isaac Newton had to defend his theories on gravity, some of which were challenged in modern times (Einstein's theory of relativity answered these objections). But when we look at Newton's beliefs we find that he believed in one God and was not a believer in the Trinity. He said about his book, Principia Mathematica: "I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity", meaning he wanted intellectual people to reflect upon the existence of God through the signs shown in physical science. He also said: "Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done." His statement: "Such a wonderful uniformity in the planetary system must be allowed the effect of choice" is an echo of an intellectual argument presented in the Qur'an, centuries before Newton. Newton's theories provide the basis of what is known about gravity, yet his scientific aspirations didn't deter him from his innate disposition towards believing in one God.
This answer is wrong by definition because atheists exist.
That is the crux of your mistake. You fail to realise that atheists are those who geniunly (not in spite, in rebellion, or whatever) - again - geniunly lack belief in supernatural. In general, they also lack belief for other things not supported by evidence (or else they would be fools) but in the case of atheism, it is a genuine lack of belief in theism.
Therefore, your answer is wrong by definition because atheists exist.
Also, the contents of your link are mistaken. Even if everything ultimately was random, that does not mean that there cannot be local non-random knowledge.
This is the same fallacy as quoting thermodynamics to assail, say, evolution. The fallacious argument concludes something like this: Since everything tends towards disorder, then we can't have complexity.
This is a fallacy because local complexity is possible at the expense of global entropy. (e.g. Dissipative system)
The existence of people who claim to lack a belief in God is perfectly consistent with the Christian worldview, as my column explains. This in no way defeats Christianity, but rather demonstrates that it's claims are consistent with the evidence.
However, these people's claim to KNOW that they lack a belief in God is NOT consistent with the atheistic worldview, in which no one can know anything at all, since no belief can be justified, since every belief and every interpretation of every fact is founded upon nothing more than random accidents, and thus every belief is unjustified.
Atheism is not consistent with the evidence you present, whereas Christianity is.
When a child realizes that God has failed to behave the way the child was taught that God would behave, it makes sense that the child would question the source. And so more and more arguments are needed to eliminate the difference between the expectation and the experience.
When a child realizes that Gravity has not failed to behave the way the child was taught that Gravity would behave, it makes sense that no more arguments are needed. The experience matches the expectation. Done.
You say that the concept of God is both simple and natural. I can agree that the concept is natural. I agree that everything is non-supernatural. So everything is natural to me, but if God is so simple your holy books would have just a few words, and I know they have many, and folks spend years studying them.
While naturalism presumes only the lowest common denominator of existence itself, and has no problem saying "I don't know" to some of the toughest questions, Christianity knows all its facts by examining an ancient mountain of presumptions, some of which are incoherent, contradictory, or both.
The over-arching purpose of this website is not to prove the columnists' views, but rather to describe them. Sometimes the columnists decide to engage in proof-offering, but generally speaking, almost every question asked on this site is expected to be answered by the columnist according to his or her views, presupposing their truth. This means that those who read our answers should pretty much always expect me to begin my answer with "according to the Bible..." since I am answering questions from within the Christian perspective. We would expect a Muslim to respond beginning with "according to the Qur'an..." or something similar, and an atheist to begin with "since there is no god..."
The primary purpose of this site is to explain WHAT is believed, rather than WHY it is believed.
The columnists, as I said, are not prohibited from explaining WHY something is believed, but that is not the main purpose of the site.
I hope this explanation is of benefit.
As an atheist, I do not presuppose that there is no god - I go where the evidence takes me, that's all.
How do you interpret the evidence though? "Evidence" by itself leads nowhere without an interpretive framework.
For example, it may be a fact that you exist, but without presupposing the law of non-contradiction, the fact that you exist is not necessarily mutually exclusive to the possibility that you don't exist. In other words, you may exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way, unless the law of non-contradiction is valid.
Facts by themselves are essentially useless without an interpretive framework -- a way in which to understand them. The Bible provides a coherent interpretive framework. Atheism denies the possibility of any coherent interpretive framework, because it denies the possibility of justified belief, since atheism by definition denies the existence of a self-justified justifier.
As per usual you are entirely evading the question and retreating into meaningless verbiage. However I will answer your question, if it helps. I am a scientist and trained in the scientific method. That is how I interpret evidence - by which specifically I mean systematic observation and the testing of hypotheses.
Be that as it may, I am interested in your assertion (and it IS only an assertion) that that the bible provides a “coherent interpretive framework”. To return to my earlier question - which I would be enormously grateful if you would provide a clear answer to – how does the fact that the bible refers to talking snakes and talking donkeys (creatures for which not a shred of evidence exists and which in the real world do not and never have had the physical apparatus for speech) impact on the bible’s so-called “coherent interpretive framework”?
Tim, regarding "atheism by definition denies the existence of a self-justified justifier" this is incorrect since existence can be a self-justified justifier (without all the extra mysteries of pre-supposing a god)
In what way does 'existence' inform us that it is a justification for anything? If it does not justify itself to us, it is not justified for us. Has existence declared that if it is, then it is, or is that something that must be presupposed before examining existence? Has existence declared, authoritatively, that things cannot both be and not be?
I'm not aware of existence declaring anything to us or by itself informing us of anything at all. There is no sense I know of in which 'existence' has justified itself to us. Only a personal entity could conceivably do this. Therefore, from our perspective, existence alone is not self-justifying in any sense. This leaves us, if existence alone is our justification for our beliefs, without any justification for our beliefs, since existence does not justify itself.
Well? I'm waiting.
Existence is self-justified because without existence there wouldn't be anything, including justification.
In that sense, existence is the bare ultimate fact, the final axiom, if you will, and a much simpler and obvious one than the superstitious beliefs of people thousands of years ago, wouldn't you agree?
The Bible provides a coherent interpretive framework in that it provides us with rules for thought dictated by the only One who knows how everything operates, because He made it all. God declares that He is, and since He is, He is. The Law of Identity is essentially His own proper name (Exodus 3:14). There is, and can be, no other basis for humans to grant the Law of Identity than divine revelation. He tells us that He, who created all things, does not deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). If He creates something, it is created. He never creates something that He doesn't create, thereby denying Himself. The Law of noncontradiction is now also established through divine revelation as a reliable law of thought for us. Further, these laws are inherently known and understood by God’s creation because He made us to understand them insofar as they reflect the nature of God (Romans 1:20), so Adam and Eve were aware of these laws of thought before the Bible was written.
The Bible confirms therefore that we know these laws of logic because God intentionally implanted knowledge of them in us, and that we can rely on them for accuracy because they reflect the character and nature of God, who has universal sovereignty. Atheism not only does not offer any justification for the laws of logic, but said laws cannot possibly be confirmed or denied if atheism is true, making them nothing more than pure, subjective, hypothetical fancy. Christians thus have a coherent interpretive framework -- a proper way to think about things. Atheism denies the possibility of any coherent interpretive framework, while atheists consistently use the Christian framework as though it was their own.
As a scientist, what basis do you have for holding to the laws of causality (for example) apart from divine revelation directly imparted to you from the First Cause? What basis do you have for holding to the possibility of any kind of knowledge apart from, ultimately, divine revelation? You say you practice the scientific method, but said method is meaningless without the Laws of Logic presupposed. But why presuppose them? Simply because you feel like it? What Authority do you have behind such a presupposition?
As an atheist, by definition you have no Authority behind your presuppositions.
Further, how could you possibly know (apart from divine revelation) that donkeys and snakes have never had the physical apparatus for speech? That statement has all the marks of a bare assertion. From an evolutionary perspective, which I am guessing you hold to, there is absolutely nothing absurd about the notion of talking snakes or talking donkeys. Evolutionists believe in talking apes, after all. Note that we do actually have historical accounts of talking donkeys and talking snakes (like those in the Bible), and that in itself is evidence for their past existence. Note that denying the existence of evidence, as you have done, and "following the evidence", as you claim to have done, are in fact mutually exclusive.
To summarize: X is true because it says it is true. Tim is right because he believes X.
X = the bible
(Let's not hint that you can solve for X in many ways, for example: X = koran, X = presidential candidate, X = ubuntu, X = crazy guy, X = pathological liar, etc., or Tim might go (more) nuts)
My vote goes to:
"That statement has all the marks of a bare assertion."
Batman may be a great movie set in a real city, but it is not evidence that Batman is real.
These amateur mistakes in logic are unfortunate, but not surprising. Religion breeds gullibility.
I do consider the Qur'an, the claims of Muslims, the historical traditions regarding Mohammed, the Book of Mormon, the claims of the LDS church, the historical traditions regarding Joseph Smith, the Bhagavad Gita, the claims of Darwin, etc, to be evidence. These things ought to be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.
That's why this website exists.
So you consider the movie Batman to be evidence that Batman exists?
Tim - what you've written is deeply and completely irrational and is clear evidence (as if more were needed) that you are delusional. Sorry about that. Good luck to you.
The Batman movies, books, and comics claim to be fictional. They are evidence, definitely -- evidence that their content is fictional, per their claims... claims that I have no reason to dispute.
If the Batman is too confusing for you, what about The Hobbit, a book I read as a child which tells, among other things, of a ring which makes you invisible.
Would you say, as you have of the bible, that The Hobbit is a historical accounts of an invisibility ring and that in itself is evidence for its past existence?
Or would you say that a single source is not evidence nor historical?
You will note, nowhere in the book does it claim to be fiction: http://tolkienbooks.narod.ru/Hobbit_En.pdf
To the contrary, on page 35 you will find:
"He wanted it because it was a ring of power, and if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were
invisible; only in the full sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that would be shaky and faint."
Is this historical and truthful evidence that a ring of invisibility exists?
Come on Tim. Stop being gullible.
JRR Tolkien claimed that his writing, the Hobbit, was fictitious. If you can produce evidence that Moses made the same claim about the Pentateuch, or that Matthew, Mark, Luke or John made the same claim about their writings, that would certainly be evidence that ought to be considered.
Using your own reasoning, however, you would believe that one claim from Moses that his own writing was fictitious would not actually be evidence, since such a claim would only be one single account. It appears someone else would need to substantiate it for it to be considered "evidence" in your mind.
I myself would see such a claim, made by the author, as evidence, and would in fact seriously consider it.
It seems you are equating "evidence" with "absolute and undeniable proof", but these two terms have quite different meanings.
What you are doing with the bible, when you say "Note that we do actually have historical accounts of talking donkeys and talking snakes (like those in the Bible), and that in itself is evidence for their past existence." is essentially the same as when I said "The Hobbit is a historical account of an invisibility ring and that in itself is evidence for its past existence"
Of course, both are very gullible conclusions to make.
This illustrates how mistaken it is to suppose, as you do, that a single book is historical evidence of anything, especially fantastical things such as rings of invisibility or talking snakes.
Stop being gullible.
But Phil, focusing in on the Hobbit or Batman or the Qur'an, you are completely missing your own point. If ANY author claims his writing is true, then that is evidence that it is true. If ANY author claims that his writing is fiction, then that is evidence that it is fiction.
But it goes far beyond that. If you, Phil, claim that something someone else wrote is true, then that is evidence that it is true. If you claim that something someone else wrote is fiction, then that is evidence that it is fiction.
For example, Tolkien's official publisher says the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are fiction:
Any claim that anyone makes is "evidence" of the truth of the substance of the claim.
But that doesn't mean that every claim is true. The evidence, to be of any use in drawing conclusions, must be interpreted via a pre-existing interpretive framework. It is this framework, a framework Christianity provides, that is utterly absent in atheism.
Atheism refuses to allow any claim to have any more weight than any other claim, as all claims, according to atheism, are nothing more than the necessary and unavoidable result of purely random accidents.
Christianity, on the other hand, adds weight to those claims that are based in experience (John 19:53, 2 Peter 1:16), claims that come from those who have a reputation for honesty (Deuteronomy 18:22, Proverbs 14:25), claims that are not internally contradictory (Exodus 3:14, 2 Timothy 2:13), etc.
Supposed "atheists" actually tend to employ a Christian interpretive framework rather than an atheistic one, because deep down inside, every atheist is made in the image of the Christian God and is utterly incapable of escaping this very plain ontological fact.
Just answer me one question please, without going on tangents:
If I write a book about an ring of invisibility or talking snakes and you find it 1000 years in the future, are you going to say it is historical evidence that rings of invisibility of talking snakes existed in the past?
Because if you do (and it seems this is what you have done) then you are gullible, and you shouldn't be.
You wrote - "Supposed 'atheists' actually tend to employ a Christian interpretive framework rather than an atheistic one".
Please explain to me how atheists do this.
Early in the thread one of the atheists claimed to be offended that Tim was "telling him what he believed".
Curiously though, as the thread progressed, the atheists seem to have no problem in resorting to calling Tim 'delusional,' 'gullible', etc.
I know how it is, as I used to be an atheist. I was arrogant too - I think it just goes with the territory. Thank the Lord that He has rescued me from the Veil of Illusion that clouded my vision, for "The Fool says: there is no God".
At any rate we need an argument for God because we exist in a Fallen State.
Lets put this way. The Godhead in its pure essence contains Infinite Possibility. Included in this possibility is the possibility of its own negation (though of course the tendency towards Nothingness can never reach complete Nothingness).
Humans entered this world in a state where they simply 'knew' God. The state of Adam and Eve in the Garden as Christians would say.
What happened, metaphysically speaking, after humans entered the world? At some point, the tendency of the world that moves away from God drew humans in, so to speak, causing the Fall. Humans began to associate themselves with their individual egos rather than with the Transpersonal 'Self' (God-consciousness - the 'Kingdom of Heaven Within Us'). Rather than basically taking part fully in the consciousness of the divine, experiencing what we might call a 'constant theophanic state,' fallen man experiences only the ego consciousness (though there are techniques to overcome this, present in all the great Traditions), which is a constant pulling away from God.
The ego is responsible for all our petty self-justifications of our existence and life in this world.
We can see, in our own time, that people are becoming ever more self-obsessed, the process of moving away from God continues, and is speeding up. This is of course a 'sign of the time,' and I think you could find thinkers from all the great Traditions who would tell you that the end is near. Buddha, I believe, only prophesied the existence of the religion he founded for 5, 500 year periods, which would be ending fairly soon (not sure of exact dates here).
Take heart, for the Lord Cometh, and he will "Sink this world in God."
**In my second post after I said "The Godhead is Infinite and Absolute, the Universe is Finite and Contingent." I should have continued to say: Therefore the Universe is the realization of the possibility of the Godhead's own negation which is inherent in Its Infinity.**
that the word Allah One God, inferring One, in Arabic, which is a finite Language
while the Word God, in English Language, or to a RCC Roman Catholic or to a Christian
can men more than one God, Trinity, Jesus, Godess, and on and On, as is the case in the English Language and or in the use. Unending