Thursday, July 17, 2008

William Lane Craig's Five Evidences for the Existence of God

Ever wonder how a Christian apologist might argue for the existence of God?

I've watched and listened now to two presentations of Christian Apologist William Lane Craig's arguments for the existence of God, both found at his website www.reasonablefaith.org. He used the same five foundational arguments in both debates.

Here, in sketch form, they are:

1. The argument from existence. The universe is here. The universe's existence is finite (due to inherent problems with infinity). This purely philosophical argument is supported by current science. The Big Bang hypothesis postulates a universe that (exploded into being from nothing. The best answer for the sufficient cause of the universe is a creative being. This creative being is God. Effects require sufficient causes. The sufficient cause is not "nothing"; it is God.

One atheist did not address this argument; the other argued "well, it just is" and also suggested multiverses as a possible alternative.

2. The argument from fine-tuning. Not only does a stable universe exist, life also exists, including us. The conditions required to support life are improbable beyond our comprehension. God is a much easier and more probable response than "chance" -- especially when built upon argument one.

One atheist did not address this argument; the other argued "well, we're just here"; "it's a brute fact, and there is no need for further explanation". O-K.

3. Objective morality. Man has a seemingly built-in moral sense; atheists acknowledge this, and many of them also agree that there is, objective right-and-wrong, good-and-evil (although some, with logical consistency, deny this). But objective morality can only exist if there is a source for moral authority outside of man.

Both atheists asserted that morality can exist without God, but did not offer foundational reasons why morality as it exists would have objective validity. One suggested that morality might simply be a product of darwinian evolution or perhaps socialization of young children.

4. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Secular historians and NT scholars acknowledge that Jesus existed and died a death of crucifixion. They also agree about three facts concerning what occurred after his death: a) the tomb was empty, b) the disciples experienced post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, and c) the disciples came to believe in Jesus' resurrection despite no predisposition to do so, and continued to believe and proclaim Jesus' resurrection at the cost of their lives. The miracle of the resurrection points to the existence of God.

Both atheists simply discount the witness of the New Testament writers. One in particular put his own spin on the origin of the New Testament, stating authoritatively that Jesus had no messianic self-identity and the apostle Paul invented Christianity. He did this without providing any kind of "proof" or even evidence that this was the case even though he stands 2,000 years away from the events reported by men who were willing to lay down their lives for the gospel's truth.

(On a personal note, I would add that it was specifically the compelling, eternal character of the words of Jesus that convinced me that he was alive and accessible today. I did not become a Christian because of the apostle Paul; I became a Christian because of the record of the life and words of the man Jesus Christ! Nothing that I have experienced since I made my faith commitment has caused even a ripple of doubt about this; the Holy Spirit the living Lord promised, I have received; I have a rock-hard conviction that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, is Lord, and saves everyone who calls on his name. I am more certain of Jesus Christ's existence than I am of my own; I am negotiable; He is not.)

5. Personal Testimony. The statement (not formal argument) that God is personally accessible and personally knowable today.

Both atheists simply dismissed this statement out of hand.

13 comments:

pettitji said...

Most amazing. Not a shred of evidence, just unfounded assertions. Saying something is so does not make it so.

More to the point, the arguments apply equally well to other religions so prove the existence of Jesus and the non-existence of Jesus at the same time.

David said...

I suggest that you do a little more research into the science before you restate tired arguments, particularly when you clearly don't understand them yourself. Or, believe what you wish, but don't pretend there is a scientific basis for it. For example: the fine-tuning argument is not nearly as rock-solid as you seem to think. For instance, life is based on chemistry for which you don't even need gravity...and there are many, many other additional issues with this argument alone.

I only hope that your readers have the sense to look a little bit deeper. You're really not being fair to them by treating the matter in the way that you do.

I guarantee that were we to sit a dozen of the top secular biologists, physicists and chemists down in the same room with a dozen of the top theologists, these pseudoscientific appeals would quickly become less fashionable.

RkBall said...

pettitji,

After reading your post, I would certainly agree with your statement, "Saying something is so does not make it so".

RkBall said...

David,

There's nothing pseudo-scientific about the fine-tuning of the universe. It's based on the observations of secular scientists.

The only question is whether this fine-tuning is by chance or design.

The fact that life is based on chemistry for which you don't need gravity simply shows that these factors are not of necessity related to each other; there is no intrinsic "must" to them -- making the improbability of them all fitting together to support life even more improbable.

To defend an atheistic position, you need to step back and ask yourself why there should be such things as chemistry or gravity, or laws of physics, or anything at all, in the first place.

Finally I think when you argue for science you are perhaps confusing science with materialism. This equation is false and, frankly, pernicious.

Red Tory said...

"false and, frankly, pernicious"...

A quite perfect description for your website imho.

JacksParasites said...

"I am more certain of Jesus Christ's existence than I am of my own; I am negotiable; He is not."

Wow! You've really, really chugged that Kool-Aid. I mean, just think about how bat nuts that statement really is for, like, two seconds. You're more certain that a magical being that you had to be convinced through argument to believe than you are that YOU, the person doing the believing and who's reading this comment now, is real. It doesn't bother you at all that had you grown up in Afghanistan, you'd likely be just as convinced that Allah was the one true god, that had you grown up in Ancient Egypt you'd be worshiping Amon Ra? Just wow! Good luck with that.

Jared said...

Amazing, just amazing, so with this he proves ignoring evidence or use of invalid arguments?

RkBall said...

"It doesn't bother you at all that had you grown up in Afghanistan, you'd likely be just as convinced that Allah was the one true god, that had you grown up in Ancient Egypt you'd be worshiping Amon Ra? Just wow! Good luck with that."

I went from atheist to theist to Christian, having studied 20th cc. philosophies and world religions, including those you mentioned, which I rejected.

The A-Team said...

So you're saying there was a time when you didn't believe in the same god that you now are more certain exists than your own existence? Was there any time when you seriously doubted that you existed?

David said...

rkball:

While I appreciate your science lesson, I believe I shall pass. It's nothing personal. I just feel that the physics department at Waterloo just MAY have provided me a better understanding than you. I also feel that my 4 years of doctorate study into complex evolutionary systems may provide me with a slightly deeper understanding than I might find here.

As I said before, I suggest you do some research into these topics from a scientific perspective. You will find that many distinguished scientific minds have commented with great insight on these issues already. Of course the matters are not settled, but there are far simpler possibilities than the One you clearly prefer. It really is just a matter of intellectual honesty.

RkBall said...

"Was there any time when you seriously doubted that you existed?"

Never.

What I said was a rhetorical device to demonstrate the depth of my conviction.

Just as a person has a deep conviction that they exist, a person can have as deep a conviction that Christ exists.

RkBall said...

David,

I appreciate someone of your calibre taking the time to comment at this site -- your comments rise above many which amount to nothing more than drive-by ad hominems.

I love and respect good science, and fear nothing it may demonstrate.

My issue with science is when ideology gets in the way of objective search for truth (the same concern that secular scientists have with ID proponents).

Only my concern is those who would push materialism as objective reality and wed science to materialism, which is a philosophical position, not science.

A good, human scientist should be as open to the idea of an intelligent Creator behind the universe, as he is open to the idea that nothing created us and we are the products of a mindless cosmos.

You must know that there are many, many good scientists who are theists and Christians, and that at least some former atheists are crossing over to the theist position when faced with the objective evidence that cutting-edge science is offering.

The A-Team said...

So just to be clear now, you're retracting your statement that, "I am more certain of Jesus Christ's existence than I am of my own; I am negotiable; He is not." You're saying that what you really meant is that you're AS certain of the existence of a god that at one time you didn't believe in at all as you are your own existence, which you never seriously doubted at any point in your life. Do I have it straight now?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"