Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Real Life Apologetic Exchange with Stephen

The dialogue below is a real dialogue I had with an individual named Stephen on Google+ over at one of the atheist communities. Enjoy and please feel free to leave your comments.

Stephen says: If your god is real (which I doubt) let him tell me ! I'm waiting!!

Christian response: Psalm 19:1The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 
Romans 2:15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them. 
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

God has spoken to you and made himself know to you both through external creation and your internal conscience. This fact best explains your emotion-laden arguments against God.

Stephen: Tell me if you can when did god actually create the earth?

Christian response: all the evidence we have points to around 6k years ago give or take. But since God created the universe instantly, the usual scientific approach is incapable of fixing an age to the universe because it assumes natural processes, not supernatural, instantaneous creation. For instance, Adam was created a man rather than having been conceived and then naturally growing into a man over a number of years. Looking at Adam and assuming natural processes we would date him at 30 years old or so...even though he looked the same when he was 30 seconds old. Apply that to how science measures the age of the universe and you see, in probably overly simplistic terms, the flaw in how science dates the universe.

Stephen: Why do you pander to a deity who created evil just so you could pray to him for forgiveness for the sins he created? Sounds like an egomaniac to me.

Christian response: First, Stephen will have to justify his belief in absolute evil in a universe that is the product of pure contingency. This he cannot do. His objection collapses. Second, God did not create evil. All that God created was good. Christianity would say that God is not the immediate cause of evil in the world even though he is the ultimate cause. Nevertheless, that God would be the ultimate cause of evil is not an indictment against God for the reason which I will outline below. The atheist has no weapon to launch a sustainable attack because he is unable to justify his belief in absolute evil (something most atheists deny by the way). Now, that evil is in the world and that God's plan is the ultimate cause of evil is still not a contradiction. The arguments look like this:
If God were all powerful he could prevent evil.
If God were all good, he would want to prevent evil.
Evil Exists.
Therefore, God is either not all good or not all powerful.

From this it follows that the Christian God is a contradiction and hence, cannot exist. But the Christian frames the argument differently.

If God were all powerful he could prevent evil.
If God were all good, he would want to prevent evil.
Evil Exists
Therefore, God has a morally sufficient reason for evil.

God's standard is Himself, not some puny human pretending to know something about God and about reality apart from the very God that created both him and his reality. Additionally, logically speaking, it does not follow that just because we do not like it, that the conclusion must be false. The standard for the second argument is Scripture. Scripture testifies that the premises in the second argument are true. Scripture tells us that God has a morally sufficient reason for evil even though it limits the information it provides about that reason. We are left to take God at His word, and that is, after all, what being a Christian is about. Stephen's objection fails because it attempts to hold God to an external, arbitrary standard that he claims is absolute, even though his entire worldview depends on the idea of pure contingency. 

Stephen says: Your religion is so full of contradictions.

Christian response: In order for laws of logic to make sense, they must rely on an ordered structure within human thought. But in a contingent universe, belief in such a structure is without justification. You cannot get laws of nature or logic from pure contingency. So, in order for Stephen to justify his belief in contradictions, he must justify his belief in structure, design, order, regularity, and uniformity. He must claim that uniformity comes from contingency. But such a claim is entirely unwarranted and epistemically indefensible. The laws of logic are necessary laws and necessary laws do not follow from pure contingency. Thus, Stephen uses logic to object to Christian theism but is unable, in his own worldview, to justify his belief in the laws of logic. Without such justification, he cannot use those laws to sustain his objection.

Stephen: And you still hav'nt explained to me if all the other thousands of gods being worshipped are real and if not what makes your god real and nobody else's? 

Christian response: Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player of his time. There were hundreds of basketball plays that MJ competed against. One could ask the question, how can MJ be the best if he has not individually played and beaten every other competitor one on one? Well, we could settle that argument by bringing them on, one at a time and see how it goes. Stephen could offer up whatever religion he wishes and we can subject it to an internal and external criticism and see how it goes. But there are millions of them, in fact, hundreds of millions of them. The fact is that we could never work through all the hundreds of millions of competing religions. (SIDEBAR: I am convinced that all religions and belief systems reduce down to one worldview: the non-Christian worldview.) There is a better way. We can examine Christian theism to see if it is defeasible or not. The argument would look like this:
p --> q

If p is true then q is true. In this case p happens to be true. Therefore q is also true. To bring this into our discussion would look like this:
If Christianity is true, then all other religions are false.
Christianity is in fact true.
Therefore, all other religions are false.
This means that if we prove that Christianity is indeed true, we do not have to focus on all the other religions and false gods in existence or their claims. All we have to focus on is the truth of Christianity. Sadly, Stephen seems uninterested in taking the conversation in such a serious direction. He seems far more satisfied waving his hand and imagining that this is ground enough for him to ignore Christian theism and more importantly, God's claim and demand on his life. More sadly, he is dreadfully wrong.

This concludes our apologetic interaction with Stephen.

One final comment: when I say that all we need to focus on is the truth claim of Christian theism one might be tempted to consider that I am moving in the direction of subjecting Christianity to autonomous human reason or the idolatrous dictates of science. Nothing could be further from the truth. How we go about justifying the truth of Christian theism is profoundly important to our overall apologetic approach. Our method for such a project must be faithful to Scripture and our standard must be consistent with the message we preach. Scripture, being self-attesting will serve as our standard for how we justify our claim that Christianity and Christianity alone is the one true system for how man should understand himself, his world, and his God.


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  2. You are also like most presupptionalists are arguing from a double standard

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  4. Except you can't prove christanity to be true as you demonstrated many times on your blog

    1. Assuming that I need to prove that Christianity is true, the presuppositional method actually does offer such proof. It is called arguing from the impossibility of the contrary. Essentially, this is a transcendental argument that claims to demonstrate that Christianity must be true because it's contrary (contradiction) is necessarily false. And we all know that if the contradictory of a proposition is proven false, then the proposition itself is true. I hope this helps clear things up for you.