Last weekend, a teenager at church told me that he felt kind of uneasy with a classmate because this classmate claims to be an atheist (through some videos he watched online).
So I thought of posting this because it might help others (who will accidentally be directed to this blog) who are also struggling about things like this.
So what made me stop relying on atheism to give me reasons to run away from God?
… these statements of Dr. Greg Bahnsen in his debate with Dr. Gordon Stein: “Does God Exists?”:
(from page 1 of the transcript)
The personalities of those individuals who adhere to different systems of thought are not really relevant to the truth or falsity of the claims made by those systems. Atheists and Christians can equally be found emotional, unlearned, intolerant or rude in their approaches.
(from page 3 of the transcript)
… This, I think, is oversimplified thinking and again misleading, what we might call the Pretended Neutrality fallacy. One can see this by considering the following quotation from Dr. Stein: “The use of logic or reason is the only valid way to examine the truth or falsity of any statement which claims to be factual.”
One must eventually ask Dr. Stein, then, how he proves this statement itself. That is, how does he prove that logic or reason is the only way to prove factual statements? …
(from page 4 of the transcript)
… In advance, you see, Dr. Stein is committed to disallowing any theistic interpretation of nature, history or experience. What he seems to overlook is that this is just as much begging the question on his own part as it is on the part of the theist who appeal to such evidence. He has not at all proven by empirical observation and logic his pre commitment to Naturalism. He has assumed it in advance, accepting and rejecting all further factual claims in terms of that controlling and unproved assumption. …
There are things that are referred to by Dr. Bahnsen as “presupposed and evidenced”. Atheists also believe in these things without having, what they call, a non-circular reason for believeing in them.
(from page 14 of the transcript)
Stein: So, in other words, the fact that God is good is something that God told you; and that’s why you accepted it rather than moving ahead and assuming it as a presupposition which is what you said a minute ago.
Bahnsen: That’s extremely simplistic. God told me and provided evidence of it.
Stein: But you also said it was a presupposition.
Bahnsen: That’s right.
Stein: Isn’t that a contradiction?
Bahnsen: Not at all. There many things which are presupposed as well as evidenced in this world. For instance: The laws of logic.
Stein: I would disagree with that. …
(Oooops! I think I am presupposing the Christian worldview on this one. But… well… everyone has a worldview. )
I do not yet fully understand what this presupposed-and-evidenced idea is, but I think Dr. Jason Lisle also hinted on this one here:
… An axiom usually is defined to mean something that is unprovable, but is assumed or accepted for the sake of argument. The biblical worldview is a presupposition rather than an axiom. And some presuppositions are provable. I would argue that the Bible is provable and thus we can know for certain that it is true. The Bible itself asserts this in a number of ways (e.g. Acts 2:36, Genesis 15:13, Proverbs 22:20-21, Romans 1:20).
(from page 29 of the transcript)
Bahnsen: Are extra logical things absurd?
Stein: They may seem that way to us, but I would say “no, they aren’t absurd in the grand scheme of things.”
Bahnsen: Can claims about extra logical matters be true?
Stein: That’s impossible to answer; because if we’re using logic to answer if something is true or not, then extra logical things are not something in the analysis of logic.
Bahnsen: Are claims about extra logical entities allowed or disallowed in your world view?
Stein: It depends on what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about things like Zen Buddhism, and they confine themselves to these philosophical speculations, then yes. If you’re talking about science, no.
Bahnsen: That sounds very arbitrary.
(from page 32 of the transcript)
… He wants to know about the problem of evil. My answer to the problem of evil is this: there is no problem of evil in an atheist’s universe because there is no evil in an atheist’s universe. Since there is no God, there is no absolute moral standard, and nothing is wrong. The torture of little children is not wrong in an atheist’s universe. It may be painful, but it is not wrong. …
(from page 36 of the transcript)
… Thirdly, we talked about laws of morality. He said they had morality, the utilitarian standard of what brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. Well that doesn’t justify utilitarianism [simply] to announce it. He’s announced that it’s a standard. But why, in an atheistic universe, should we live by that standard. Marquis de Sade enjoyed torturing women. Now why should he give up torturing women, so that he may bring greater happiness to those women that he is torturing. …
(from page 42 of the transcript)
Moderator: Dr. Stein, the final question is directed to you. It reads:
You have said that there has been no adequate evidence put forth for God’s existence. What for you personally would constitute adequate evidence for God’s existence?
Stein: … We could call it a miracle right before your eyes. That would be evidence I would accept. … Any kind of a supernatural being putting it into appearance and doing miracles that could not be stage magic would also be evidence that I would accept. …
Bahnsen: Dr. Stein, I think, is really not reflecting on the true nature of atheism and human nature when he says, “All it would take is a miracle in my very presence to believe in God.” History is replete with first of all things which would be apparently miracles to people.
Now, from an atheistic or naturalistic standpoint, I will grant, in terms of the hypothesis, that that’s because they were ignorant of all the calls of factors and so it appeared to be miracles. But you see that didn’t make everybody into a theist. In fact, the Scriptures tells us that there were instances of people who witnessed miracles, who all the more hardened their heart, and eventually crucified the Lord of glory. They saw his miracles, that didn’t change their mind.
People are not made theists by miracles. People must change their world views; their hearts must be changed. They need to be converted. That what it takes, and that’s what it would take for Dr. Stein to finally believe it. If this podium rose up five feet off the ground and stayed there, Dr. Stein would eventually have in the future some naturalistic explanation because they believe things on faith, by which I mean that they believe things as which they have not proven by their senses.
Maybe agnosticism makes much more sense??
Maybe not… The things we observe and experience in reality makes sense in the Christian worldview. So there is no need to find another one.
Another important point from that debate is Dr. Bahnsen’s standard on what constitute an explanation:
[Update (July 20, 2017): I have decided to make a separate post for this “What is an explanation?” part. Please go here to read it.]