Category Archives: God’s Existence

Atheists Borrow from Theism

I loved this video, well done and funny, and ironically makes the point that is the title of the song.  I know they mean it to be tongue in cheek, but it ends up being a substantive criticism of a non-Theist position about reality, specifically how we explain the idea of beauty.

One of the strong arguments for the existence of God is the moral argument; morality is impossible in a naturalistic, materialistic universe.  There is no foundation for a normative morality without the existence of a rational and moral God.  Atheists usually counter the argument by saying:  “not true, I am an atheist and I have morals.”  Missing the point of the argument (or maybe in some way also affirming its truth) they appeal to their ability to understand and comprehend good and evil as an “atheist” as a defeater of the argument. The obvious counter to this “defeater” is that an atheists ability to comprehend good and evil does not disprove the existence of God but is actually dependent upon His existence – they borrow from theism here to establish the foundation for moral claims.  It is like saying that we can have oranges without orange trees because I bought this orange at the grocery store and there was no orange tree in sight.

The same is true for the “aesthetic” argument made here unwittingly by the song.  The arts have the same sort of quality as morality for the sake of an argument for the existence of God.  Music and art have a transcendent quality to them that is impossible to explain really without the existence of a God who is both ordered and a creator.  Aesthetics and beauty are rooted in  these same ideas of creation, transcendence and the idea of an objective sense of beauty or what is universally pleasing as opposed to dissonant.

In this regard Atheists really have no good songs, and even the good songs that they sing are based on the borrowed principles of Theism.

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TED | Talks | Dan Dennett: A secular, scientific rebuttal to Rick Warren (video)

Daniel Dennett is the author of “Breaking the Spell,” a book about religion being the result of natural phenomenon. As a result of this premise he desires the “facts” of all religious belief to be a mandatory part of education in America. It is a fascinating video as he critiques Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”. His final plea is for people to discard the notion that morality is dependent upon the existence of God.

I find some of his observations to be fascinating, especially his observation that humanity is driven by culture which is driven by religion and the connection he makes to the idea of domination. It is important to listen to people like Dennett, they challenge us to examine our “interpretation” of facts. The interpretation of the facts he presents are driven by an anthropocentric world view, and he embraces human “design” in reverse engineering. All the things that theologians want to say about God, atheists want to say about humanity.

More to come later, I have a lot to say, but I am being distracted from sermon preparation…

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.494434&w=425&h=350&fv=bgColor%3DFFFFFF%26file%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fstatic.videoegg.com%2Fted%2Fmovies%2FDANDENNETT_high.flv%26autoPlay%3Dfalse%26fullscreenURL%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fstatic.videoegg.com%2Fted%2Fflash%2Ffullscreen.html%26forcePlay%3Dfalse%26logo%3D%26allowFullscreen%3Dtrue] from www.ted.com posted with vodpod

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Leon Botstein on Stephen Colbert

Click on the link for an interview with Leon Botstein by Stephen Colbert (check out the VodPod in my sidebar).

Colbert makes me laugh, and the discussion has an interesting God element to it. Botstein gives a common tolerant humanist view about the existence and nature of God (God is human capacity), and it is OK with him if you still choose to believe in an archaic version of God. A little different than the strident atheists of the Dawkins – -Harris – Dennett variety.

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Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort on Nightline

Last night on Nightline Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort “debated” two atheists from (Brian Sapient and Kelly) from Rational Response. You can watch the videos here.

If you are like me you will be embarrassed by their effort. Many are giving them credit for trying. I don’t. People should know and recognize their limits. Kirk Cameron should not be arguing science and philosophy as a representative of Christianity. You wouldn’t. You would decline because you recognize your limits. That is what these two should have done and declined the appearance on Nightline. Not all television appearance opportunities are good opportunities. Any “educated” Pastor could have done better. There are thousands of Seminary professors and college professors who are more than qualified to come on a national TV show and represent our position for all of us. Kirk Cameron is a good guy and apparently a fairly competent Christian lay-person. Ray Comfort also seems like a great guy and a good communicator at a particular level, he is a popular preacher, but not an academic or intellectual. This discussion required an academic, a scholar who could speak at these issues appropriately. What we got instead was a personal appeal to personal faith, not a presentation of theism and foundational belief in God. They should have made an effort to use their media contacts to place a more appropriate representative on that stage.

Evolution vs. Creationism has nothing to do with the argument for the existence of God. Evolution does not preclude belief in God. Disproving Evolution does not prove the existence of God. All the discussion with regards to evolution moved the discussion away from the discussion about God’s existence. This is a common mistake made in debates about God’s existence. The fallacious assumption is that if I prove Evolution I have disproved God, or vice versa. Many theists hold to evolutionary theory. They are not mutually exclusive positions.

The end result of this program was the sharing of a lot of emotion (could Kelly have been any angrier?) and attempted sound bites.

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Is Christianity Good for the World

Christianity Today is hosting an online (written) debate/dialog between atheist Christopher Hitchens and theologian Douglas Wilson. This is interesting in light of the goings on the last few months here at the Temple. Also, tomorrow night on ABC there will be a televised debate between Ray Comfort and a leading Atheist. The debate will be broadcast in part on Nightline Wednesday night, or the full broadcast can be seen on their website, abc.com starting at 1pm ET.

I hope he doesn’t pull out a banana…

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Plantinga's Version of the Ontological Argument

The Ontological Argument for the existence of God was developed by Anselm in the 12th Century. Since then it has been a topic of conversation and criticism with regard to the argument of God’s existence. Alvin Plantinga is a Christian philosopher teaching at Notre Dame and considered the premier Christian thinker of our time. His Ontological Argument for God uses the logical notion of possible worlds. This notion of possible worlds is used to help distinguish between necessary truths and contingent truths.

Necessary truths are truths that must be true and cannot be false.

Contingent truths happen to be true if all the circumstances line up; contingent truths are not of necessity true. An example of a contingent truth would be: John Smith owns a red Ferrari. It could be true or it could be false.

A necessary truth is: 2 + 2 = 4. A necessary truth must be true, it cannot be false.

2 + 2 = 5 is necessarily false, it cannot ever be true.

We use the notion of possible worlds to help distinguish between these two things. It is possible somewhere that John Smith owns a red Ferrari. It is necessary in every possible world that 2 + 2 = 4. It is not possible in any world that 2 + 2 = 5. This argument attempts to conclude that the existence of God is a necessary truth and is true in all possible worlds. If you have read this far and are not confused, brace yourself:

  1. There is a possible world in which maximal greatness is instantiated.
  2. Necessarily, a being is maximally great only if it has maximal excellence in every world.
  3. Necessarily, a being has maximal excellence in every world if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in every world.
  4. In the possible world mentioned in (1) above the following proposition is necessarily false: “There is no omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being.”
  5. A proposition necessarily false in one possible world is necessarily false in all possible worlds, i.e., what is impossible does not change from one world to another.
  6. Since the actual world is a possible world, the proposition referred to in (4) above is necessarily false there as well.
  7. Hence, there exists in the actual world, as well as in every possible world, a being who essentially has the qualities of omnipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection.

The bottom line in this argument is the attempt to categorize the existence of this maximal being as a necessary truth.

The form of this argument taken from Class Notes, Christian Apologetics, Dr. Stanley Obitts, Westmont College, April 9, 1981.

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