Updated: May 4
This article is a followup to the original, responding to further issues and misunderstandings raised by atheists who were kind enough to send us their thoughts! The original article can be read here, and must preferably be read before this one for context. This article will also be a bit more littered with jargon when compared to the original, but I'll try to explain the terms as best I can! I would like to reiterate what I said on the original: For the atheist reading this article, I want you to know a few things. I'm not going to be able to convince you. There is no argument I can give you that can cause you to place your faith in God. The reason for this is because according to the Bible we are all enslaved to sin and hate God by nature. It is also for this reason that we who do profess faith in God are not better or smarter than you, the only difference between us is the grace of God. Therefore, all I can do in this article is attempt to plant a seed that the Holy Spirit can cause to grow and bring you to faith.
Not reading it when the author starts off by quoting their holy book. Who cares? Every other religion has their holy books too. We’re asking for actual evidence to support your claim that a deity exists. That’s step one. You don’t get to skip step one and go straight into your sales pitch from your holy book.
This question was answered in our article on the transcendental argument. However, for the sake of the article the question is irrelevant. The article is aimed at atheists, so the atheist would need to justify his arguments and the preconditions of intelligibility using his own atheistic worldview (or worldview which doesn't have revelation from God at its foundation). Appealing to a different worldview than their own to save their atheism is absurd, as this is the same as admitting defeating.
The questioner is again asking for evidence. Evidence doesn't make sense if you don't have an existing framework that can justify the preconditions for evidence to actually be meaningful. Like the article points out your worldview (atheism) cannot supply you with the foundation for facts, valid reasoning, laws of logic etc. So your demand for evidence is meaningless on the grounds of your worldview.
As the article also says it's not implying that atheists can't know truth, reason, or use evidence, it's just that the ground they're standing on cannot supply them with sufficient justification for the demand for evidence. The fact that they can reason, make use of the laws of logic, use evidence, do science etc. is despite their atheism, not because of it. It is because the Christian worldview is actually true that these things are possible, and they are living in God's created world, created in His Image with immense value, obligate to reflect Him by being rational, logical etc.
That's the main point. The Christian worldview can provide a solid foundation for all the things mentioned in the article, things we all KNOW to be true and experience, but consistent atheists have to deny to be consistent, thereby refuting themselves, as the article also explains.
It may also be beneficial to again point out that the Christian God is not someone we argue to, it is Someone without whom we cannot argue at all. That's the main point of the transcendental argument. Unless you start with God, you cannot know anything at all.
The irony of using logic to argue against atheistic use of logic (while making a theistic logical argument) is hopefully not lost. Either logic is valid and thus the argument is invalid, or logic is invalid and thus the argument is invalid. Or perhaps that is too logical.
No one is arguing against any use of the laws of logic. It is a well-known and accepted fact that the laws of logic exist and they cannot be denied, as any argument that attempts to deny the laws of logic, must use them and thereby ends up refuting itself.
So we are not using logic to argue against logic, as that is indeed self-refuting. Now the questioner brings in an interesting distinction when he mentions the "atheistic" use of logic. This presumably means "atheists using logic". Like made clear in the article, we are not arguing that atheists cannot be rational, logical etc.
What needs to be in place and valid in order for us to be able to use the scientific method, and objectively evaluate the evidence? This is an important point to stress. We are not saying the scientific method is invalid, or that atheists cannot evaluate evidence, we are asking what must be the case for this to actually be possible. This is what is called a transcendental argument.
Logic is valid. No doubt about that. We are asking, what needs to be in place and valid for this to be the case? Which worldview can make sense of universal, abstract, unchanging, immaterial laws of logic?
Is it atheism that cannot make sense of universally applicable, unchanging and immaterial laws? Or is it the Christian worldview that has revelation from God whom is unchanging, immaterial, omnipresent and omniscient? That's what the main article explores.
Summary of the article: Atheists demanding evidence is wrong, science couldn't show this god anyway so just trust this book, the books say you should believe in this god.(all wrapped up in generic apologist dishonesty and obfuscation)
Like stated in the previous question, we aren't arguing the use of evidence, laws of logic, reasoning. The article simply asks what must be the case for any evidential enquiry to make sense and be worthwhile? Let me try to state it a bit differently:
Given that we can reason, use the laws of logic and make use of evidence, what worldview can make sense of these undeniable experiences? Atheism, or Christianity?
Nowhere in the article did we state that science cannot evidence God. The main point of the article is that ALL SCIENCE evidence God. There is nowhere we can look where we can hide from God in whom we move and have our being.
All epistemologies are circular to some extent. If you don't subscribe to materialism, that's fine, go stand in front of a train and see what happens. Or don't, because I'd prefer not to have your death on my conscience, but the gist is that while we cannot prove the material, most theists are sure enough of it that they won't willingly go stand in front of a train, and for good reason. So pointing out the circular nature of this epistemology is at best hypocritical, if not outright deceitful. Theists believe in materialism too, just not when it's inconvenient to their belief in magic sky wizards.
Yes I agree that all epistemologies are circular. Materialism, however, is not an epistemology. Materialism is a view on ontology, and if this is indeed your view, the laws of logic which are immaterial, does not comport with your ontology so you can't use them in your epistemology. For your epistemology, you're referring to either rationalism or empiricism. The Christian on the other hand has what is called a revelational epistemology. In essence there are only two manners in which we come to know things. One starts with the revelation of God, the other starts with man. So why is it so that unless God has revealed Himself, we cannot know anything at all? Firstly, because God has revealed that He is in fact the Precondition for intelligibility.
In short, rationalism holds that human knowledge comes through the mind, or human reason. This contradicts what the Bible says: that in God is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Note that rationalism is opposed to rationality which simply means "based on or in accordance with reason or logic." - no Christian denies rationality, only that rationality is justified in the God of Scripture.
Rationalism can be easily be refuted. How does the rationalist know whether his reasoning is valid, without appealing to his reasoning? He cannot, therefore the rationalist cannot know whether he is rational, meaning rationalism is no way to gain knowledge. Empiricism holds that human knowledge is experiential in nature. All knowledge is the product of sensory data.
This again is different from using sensory data to gain knowledge. No Christian denies gaining experimental knowledge, only that the preconditions for doing experiments and our senses are found in the God of Scripture, and is hence justified through revelation. Empiricism can, therefore, easily be refuted. On what basis does the empiricist assume the uniformity of nature which is crucial for his knowledge to be true knowledge? How does the empiricist know that his memory is generally reliable without appealing to his memory? How does the empiricist know that he can trust his senses, without using his senses? He can’t, therefore empiricism is no way to gain knowledge.
So you are also correct in that the Christian epistemology is also circular, however, it is not viciously circular. So we have two circles. Now we can't talk to each other? Of course we can. Let's assume that reason is the final authority, and you assume that God's Word is the final authority. Now if God's Word is the final authority all our problems can be resolved.
There are moral absolutes
There is a basis for logic
There is a basis for scientific induction
But if human reasoning is the final authority, then we must conclude that:
Logic is impossible
Science is impossible
Ethics is impossible
So yes we have our circles, but the unbeliever's circle, that is to say their worldview, destroys the possibility of knowing anything! And we can't claim that we don't know anything, as that itself is a knowledge claim, and hence the position of the unbeliever is absurd.
And so how do we know that the Christian circle (worldview) is true? What is the absolutely certain proof of God's existence according to Van Til? That without God you can't prove anything.
We cannot know the truth. All could be illusion, or solipsistic, or software constructs. That still doesn't justify belief in god. If sensory evidence is false, then you still have no means to justify belief in a god.
Is that true?
This is just another presuppositional argument. To quote Matt Dillahunty in answer to the article, we use science because it "continues to produce effective results". While this is true we are justified in this.
No one disagree that it produces effective results. The question is why? Given what atheism professes about the world, you aren't supposed to to have senses that produce effective results.
This may come as a shock to you, but a hungry lion will eat you whether you understand its motivations or not. Nature is uniform. We are able to observe this. Because nature consistently proves to be uniform, we are able to do science. If nature were not uniform, it would be impossible to understand anything about it, because experimental results would be essentially random. This does not happen.
We all make the assumption that nature is uniform. Without it we cannot function. But that doesn't answer the question the main article posed. How do you justify that assumption? How do you know that next time you meet a hungry lion it will eat you and not hug you? It sounds stupid I know, but it's a legitimate question. Any answer to the question will be based on past experience, but according to what standard do we assume that the future will resemble the past? The Christian worldview provides a sufficient justification for this problem that has plagued philosophers for well over 150 years.
Interestingly the objector sees the problem with having no justification for uniformity, he makes one critical mistake:
If nature were not uniform, it would be impossible to understand anything about it, because experimental results would be essentially random. This does not happen.
This *DID not happen. How does he know it WILL not happen in the future? That's the problem of the uniformity of nature. This atheist explains it well:
Before you prove God, you can't claim that God is responsible for things. Just like before you prove unicorns, you can't claim that a pile of horse sh*t with glitter came from a unicorn.
This objector is appealing to some form of reasoning standards. This can easily be answered by asking "according to what standard?"
By reading the main article the reader will see that the objector did not in fact read it himself. Read the main article, and for a more in-depth discussion check out the article on the transcendental argument.
Nobody is denying the laws of logic. We are denying that those laws require God, because the God part is what we're still waiting on you to support.
Exactly. Of course you deny the laws require God because you're an atheist. This objection makes not attempt to engage with what was said in the main article. You can claim they are not contingent on God, it doesn't make it so. We explained why the atheist worldview cannot justify the laws of logic, and why the Christian worldview can.