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They Must Affirm God Before They Deny Him

cornelius-van-til-01Reformed Protestants contend that there must be a specifically Protestant defense of all Christian doctrines. In Reformed theology the argument is that all our doctrines are interdependent. The major doctrines imply other doctrines. For example our doctrine of the atonement, will to some extent, influence our doctrine of God. Cornelius Van Til, describing the difference between a Protestant and Romanist doctrine of God, rightly says in his book A Christian Theory of Knowledge,

”The answer given is that the Protestant doctrine of God stresses his self-sufficiency and therefore his ultimate control over all that comes to pass in the course of the history of the world. The Romanist doctrine of God, while also speaking of God’s self-sufficiency, none-the-less compromises it to some extent. It does this by virtually ascribing to man a measure of self-sufficiency. And by ascribing a measure of self-sufficiency or ultimacy to man, God is in a measure made dependent upon man.”


Analysis of Premise 1 of the Natural Argument of the Existence of God

Are premises 1 & 2 plausibly more true than false. First looking at premise 1 we may see and obvious objection. It may look in a form similar to this, “If everything that exists has an explanation for its existence, then what about God?” Obviously if this argument is for the existence of God then Christians believe that God is real and does exists. If the Christian response is that God exists with no explanation, then the obvious rebuttal to this would be that they would stop with the existence of the universe. So what’s a good response to this very valid question?
The objection however, is based on a misunderstanding. Remember this is based on Leibniz and his views and according to Leibniz there were things that must exist necessarily and those that are produced by an external cause. 
Things that exists necessarily simply exists by a necessity of their own nature. It’s impossible for them not to exists. What’s an example? Many mathematicians believe numbers must exist. They can’t cease in their existence. Something that has causes of their existence would something like a radio, planets, or galaxies. These all have causes of their existence that explain why they existence.
When Leibniz says everything that exists has an explanation of its existence. The explanation may be found in the necessity of its own nature or in the an external cause. So premise 1 could be expanded as such:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. 
Once we understand the premise better in its fulness the objection we’re considering here falls immediately. Because God here does have an explanation of his existence. That is that God exists namely by the necessity of his own nature. God exists necessarily, it’s impossible for him to fail to exists. Even Atheist must at least recognize this. It is simply impossible for God to have an external cause. It’s impossible for God to be caused by something outside of him. The explanation of God’s existence must therefore be that he exists by the necessity of his own nature. 
Leibniz’s argument is really an argument for the existence of God as a necessary uncaused being. The Atheist objection clarifies who God is in this instance. Therefore if God exists he is a necessarily existing uncaused being. 
So why think that Premise 1 is true? This is the second part of making sure the premise is a good part of a good argument. Here’s an illustration from philosopher Richard Taylor. 
Imagine you’re walking through the woods on a hike and you come across a translucent ball, lying on the forest floor. You would naturally wonder where the ball came from. If your hiking buddy said to you “Don’t worry about it, it just exist inexplicably” you would think he was either crazy or that he wanted you to just keep on moving. You wouldn’t take seriously that this ball just existed without any explanation of its existence. Suppose the ball was the size of an automobile instead. Increasing the size of the ball wouldn’t do anything to remove or satisfy a demand for an explanation for its existence. Suppose it were the size of a house, you would still have the same problem. If it were bigger than a planet or a galaxy you would still have the same problem. Suppose it were the size of a universe…same problem. Merely increasing the size of the object doesn’t do anything to remove or satisfy the need for an explanation of its existence.”
Thus I think it’s very plausible to think that everything that exists has an explanation of why it exists. 
Some atheist will say “This is true of everything ‘in’ the universe but not ‘of’ the universe.” This response is fallacious as philosopher atheist Arthur Schopenhauer remarks. “You cannot dismiss this principle enunciated in premise 1 like a hack when you’ve arrived at your desired destination. That would be arbitrary. You can’t just say that everything has an explanation of its existence then suddenly exempt the universe from this.”
Recall Leibniz does not make God an exception to Premise 1. This isn’t special pleading for God. The premise of Leibniz has universal applicability. It even applies to God. It is arbitrary for the Atheist to say the principle is true only then to dismiss it because they’ve arrived at the universe. 
The illustration of the ball is helpful because basically they have said “when the object gets very big it no longer needs an explanation.” Also notice how unscientific this response is to the argument. Modern Cosmology is devoted to an explanation of the universe. For them to respond that this wouldn’t apply to the universe is not only arbitrary but anyone thinking along these lines could never do science. They need some sort of justification to exempt the universe. 
This premise 1 is not like a law such as “gravity, thermodynamics, etc.” It’s not a physical principle operating within the universe. This is a metaphysical principle that applies to everything that exists. To being as being. Therefore it transcends or supersedes anything “of the universe” or “in the universe” as a whole. 

—based on Leibniz and Dr Craig lectures

A Natural Argument for the Existence of God

Natural Arguments for the Existence of God
First the question is “what makes for a good argument”? What philosophers generally mean when they use the word “argument” is “a series of statements or premises leading to a conclusion”. The arguments I want to use are deductive. First however, I would like to start with a brief over view of what are the rules that make up a good deductive argument?
1. A good argument must obey the rules of logic. That is to say that the conclusion must follow the premises by the rules of logic.
2. The premises need to be true.
Those are the 2 conditions to make a sound argument. If these two rules are maintained it will more than likely be a sound argument. But what else. We must also be able to have a good reason to think the premises. So to put this in a statement:
3. The premise is more plausibly true than false.
This means in a good argument you don’t need to have 100% true. The premise just needs to be more plausible than its negation. This would then be a good argument.
The good argument must be logically valid, have true premises and be logically plausible.
Some of my friends or others may not feel these are good arguments. If that’s the case then they are always more than welcome to state that these are not good arguments in comments below. 
The first one I think is important to discuss is a version of the Cosmological Argument. 
When we look at the mid-night sky I think we’re all overwhelmed at times. The sheer massiveness of it all. Leibniz once said “the first question which should rightly be asked is ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’” This is actually a good question that seems basic but from this we can make a simple but good argument.
1 Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence.
2 If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God
3 The universe exists
(The order of these is actually irrelevant. The rules of logic will show that these premises can lead to the conclusion.)
Premise 1 states and the universe exists as premise 3 states then it follows that the universe has an explanation of its existence. From here the explanation of the universe we can derive the existence of God from the existence of the universe. 
This is actually an air tight argument. That is to say it obeys the rules of logic. If you don’t like the conclusion that’s simply irrelevant. If you think the conclusion is false that is also irrelevant. As long as the premises are true it follows logically and necessarily that God is the explanation of the existence of the universe. Thus the whole debate is not in the conclusion but in the premises. Are they true? Is it more plausible that they are false than that they are true?
Premise 3 (The universe exists) is obviously true. Thus it comes to premises 1 & 2. Are they are plausibly more true than false? If you think they are plausibly more true than false then this would be a good argument for God’s existence. By “plausible” I mean “do we have a good reason to think it is true.”

Lava, Not Water, Made Mars Riverbed

A channel in an ancient Martian “riverbed” wasn’t carved by liquid water but was built by molten lava, according to a new study of surface features on Mars.
Pictures of the red planet have long revealed features such as valleys and alluvial fans reminiscent of those seen around water bodies on Earth. (Related:“Huge Mars Region Shaped by Water, Rover Mission Finds.”)
Water is a prerequisite for life as we know it, so these formerly wet landscapes have been touted as some of the best places on Mars to look for traces of past life.
But new high-resolution images of a peculiar 168-mile-long (270-kilometer-long) channel near the Ascraeus Mons volcano aren’t likely to have been made by water after all.

What Do You Mean By That?

A friend gave a scenario.  

“…their response is (this is usually what i get) “ok, well how do you prove the Bible isn’t full of errors? it was put together by a bunch of guys, etc.” and then i don’t usually know where to go from there because we have different beliefs on the Bible. “
What to do?  Haven’t we all at least dialoged with someone about the bible and something along these lines comes up?  Are we suppose to be walking PhDs in all the respective areas to be able to “be ready”?  I think this is a great discussion to get into. As Christians we simply don’t have the liberty to deny the authority of the bible in our lives and therefore at first glance it may appear to put us at the disadvantage. However, I think Pastor Matt once told me something of great encouragement and that is to let the bible do the work. Then they don’t disagree with us but with the bible.

This shouldn’t be confused with the accusation that we don’t want to be bold in our faith but it ought to be seen as our confidence in Scripture. That it is able to defend itself and doesn’t need us but we need it.

Moving on to the other question of some skeptics or non-believers who would try to invalidate the bible by trying to have the Christian validate it first. Perhaps a tactic can be shown that I have found quite helpful.

Keep in mind: whoever is asking the questions is in control. When we are in a dialog with (JWs, mormons, atheist, or uncle Jim the skeptic) and the questions begin to come at us we freak out. Our initial response is to bring out proofs, (i.e. science, archeology, prophecies, etc) However, the control of the conversation can be brought back to the believer with a simple question. Thus forcing the skeptic to establish and validate their own ground or premise. Remember this phrase


I have found this phrase quite handy particularly in a situation such as the one described previously. The person says the bible has errors. Fine, question their question. “What do you mean by that?”. Now they have to demonstrate a place the bible has err’d and how they know it is an error and not simply a misunderstanding on their part. Generally you will find they have severely failed to do any research and are simply spouting out unintelligible regurgitation.  Plus the Christian is in the “driver’s seat” and they have control of the conversation again.

Instead of rattling off tons of responses and being on the defensive end, we reply with “What do you mean by that?” It gives you control of the conversation and even better it allows the Christian to really aim their response at the concern of the unconverted.

Still we ought to study the Scripture but at least now our response can be more focussed instead of irrelevant to the issue. 

This is a tactic taught by Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason.  I would encourage any believer (or even skeptic) to browse through his website for well thought out discussion in the areas of Ethics, Values and Religion.

Problem of a Global Flood – Where do all the animals today come from?

Global Flood of course has to mean that all animals have been wiped off the earth.  Sea animals for the most part would be eradicated as well, fresh water creatures, plants, cold weather animals, and even animals found only in isolated areas.  Thus we would have to say that from a global Flood account all the animals we see today, would have descended from the pairs of animals brought aboard Noah’s ark.  I want to point out in this blog that it is unlikely that God wiped out all of creation on the globe and secondly that all the animals we see today have arrived from the pairs of animals from Noah’s ark.

Size of the Ark
In the account itself we get a very good idea of the dimensions of the ark.  Additionally, if you’ve ever visited the young earth creationist websites (A.I.G. or I.R.C) you can see how they have attempted to reconstruct actual models of what the ark must have looked like.  I think this is fine and good but it ends up leading the observer to some obvious problems.  The first of which is space.

1.  If every animal we have today (including the ones that have gone extinct) came from the pairs on the ark that would put too many animals on the ark.  Even using generous measurements for the word “cubit”.
2.  Eight people could never had been able to care and tend for this many animals, even if they were hibernating (as is proposed). (more…)

“All the high mountains were covered by water” How this text takes away from a global Flood event and points towards a regional Flood

There is a reference in Genesis 7 that can be a hurdle when looking into the extent of the Flood. Those who would hold to a global Flood look to this passage and have concluded the Flood was global in scale. Yet with a clear look at the account allowing the account to speak for itself, one can see in the end a global Flood perspective has to be forced into the account/text rather than pulled from it. With a close look at the text we can arrive at 4 objective facts:

1- the word for “covered” has four different literal definitions

2- the word for “high mountains” has three different literal definitions.

3- the dove returns to Noah with an olive branch, olive trees don’t grow at elevations of 16,000 feet.

4- how the waters receded points to a regional flood that was universal in scope rather than a flood that was global in its extent which wouldn’t allow waters to go anywhere.