Agnostic asks whether biblical Christians commit circular reasoning

29 01 2009

The following is a letter that an Agnostic had sent to Answers in Genesis. I was thinking about it while surfing a Christian blog and noticing that many of the arguments thrown up by those opposed to the God of scripture were fallacious arguments. They also accused the Christian of “Circular reasoning” as described here.

I think it’s very interesting and pretty representative of some conversations that I’ve had myself and I thought that it might be helpful for you; as a Christian as well.

Agnostic asks whether biblical Christians commit circular reasoning: role of axioms, internal consistency and real world application

Hi,
I’d like to state first of all that I mean no offence, and ask this purely in the spirit of enquiry, as an agnostic and a philosopher.
I respect your views as far as you hold them, and that despite evidence to the contrary you have held firm to your beliefs-that is commendable, and respectable.
However, I have long been taught throughout my school-life the virtue of science, and the ‘big-bang theory’, evolution and so on.
Having read through your website, I can see that you have well thought-out arguments, backed up with evidence and study, which could easily hold up for some
time against long-held theories. On the other hand, I notice that many of your theories are backed up by nothing more than the word of the bible.
I’m not denying that the bible is an excellent book, nor that it MAY BE the word of God, but I will question one tenet: That the Bible MUST BE the word of God, BECAUSE IT SAYS SO. Now, consider me heretic, but it strikes me that this is a ridiculous line of thought to take? If I were to say that my face was made of cucumber, and I’m four hundred years old, would that make it so simply because I said so?
I’m not entirely convinced that it would.
All in all though, fair play to you, you’re doing some good work there

I always have to favour the underdog in any debate!
Be happy, and God’s love on you,
Joe Payne
UK

Answer:

Hi,
I’d like to state first of all that I mean no offence, and ask this purely in the spirit of enquiry, as an agnostic and a philosopher.

Thanks. I will try to answer in the same spirit. I will say though that many of the answers you seek are already on our website, as will be shown below.


I respect your views as far as you hold them, and that despite evidence to the contrary you have held firm to your beliefs-that is commendable, and respectable.

However, there is a worldview in what you say whether you are conscious of it or not. That is: you have accepted what is known as the fact-value distinction, although many philosophers reject it on for the cogent reason that no good demarcation criterion has been proposed.
Proponents of this distinction place Christian beliefs in the realm of ‘values’, i.e. mere personal beliefs that have no connection with reality. There are less scrupulous people than you who will say the same sort of things, that they ‘respect’ Christianity, but at a frightful cost of dismissing Christian ideas from any rational discussion.
However, Christianity is a system of Total Truth (the title of a new book on these issues by Nancy Pearcey). It makes objective claims about the world, including its history and about absolute right and wrong. See this refutation of Stephen Jay Gould and NOMA (nonoverlapping magisteria) for some examples.

Actually, many Christians have likewise accepted the fact-value distinction, including Dr Batten in his younger days as he confesses (note the diagram) which he wants people to avoid.

However, I have long been taught throughout my school-life the virtue of science, and the ‘big-bang theory’, evolution and so on.

Did they also teach you about the many cosmogonists skeptical of the big bang because of the ad hoc unobservable entities required to prop up the theory, e.g.
hypothetical inflation field, dark matter and energy, as well as adjustable parameters to bring the theory into line? See Secular scientists blast the big bang.
Or did they teach you the many chemical hurdles of chemical evolution required before nonliving chemicals can form even a simple living cell? See Q&A: Origin of Life. I also have to wonder whether their ‘evidence’ for evolution was mere change, as atheistic New Zealand journalist Bob Brockie did (see refutation).

Having read through your website, I can see that you have well thought-out arguments, backed up with evidence and study, which could easily hold up for some time against long-held theories. On the other hand, I notice that many of your theories are backed up by nothing more than the word of the bible.

Since the creation/evolution issue is about history, we do what the best historians do-go to eyewitness accounts. That is what the Bible is.
I’m not denying that the bible is an excellent book, nor that it MAY BE the word of God, but I will question one tenet: That the Bible MUST BE the word of God, BECAUSE IT SAYS SO.

Then I have to ask you, why do you think it is an excellent book? If it claims to be written by God (and it does many times), then if this claim is false, the Bible would be a fraudulent or delusional book. This is parallel to C.S. Lewis’s famous Trilemma argument: Jesus claimed to be God, so either this is true or false; if true, then worship Him! But if false, then he is either deliberately lying, or is hopelessly deluded, worse than the man who thinks that he is a baked potato. One option He just does not logically allow is ‘he was just a very great teacher’. The same is true of the Bible.
Now, consider me heretic, but it strikes me that this is a ridiculous line of thought to take? If I were to say that my face was made of cucumber, and I’m four hundred years old, would that make it so simply because I said so?
I’m not entirely convinced that it would.

No, but this is not our argument. Rather, it would be worth seeing this answer to the charge of circular reasoning. For one thing, the circle is easily broken; for another, the alleged circular reasoning is to show the self-consistency of our chosen axioms-the propositions of Scripture. All philosophical systems start with axioms (presuppositions), or unprovable propositions accepted as true, and deduce theorems from them. Therefore Christians should not be faulted for having axioms, as explained in Creation: ‘where’s the proof?’
So the question for any axiomatic system is whether it is self-consistent and is consistent with the real world. The self-consistency is explained above, and as will be seen, Christian axioms provide the basis for a coherent worldview, i.e. a thought map that can guide us throughout all aspects of life.
Non-Christian axioms fail these tests. E.g. science requires certain premises to work, and they are deductions from biblical axioms, as shown in this response, while atheism does not provide this justification from within its own framework. Also, atheism must postulate certain unprovable beliefs that go against observable science, as shown in this reply to an atheist.
Also, the Christian axioms provide a basis for objective morality. Please understand what I am saying here-not that atheists can’t be moral but that they have no objective basis for this morality from within their own system, as explained in this response. The fanatical atheistic evolutionist Dawkins admits that our ‘best impulses have no basis in nature.’ So Dawkins makes a leap of faith to say that we should be ‘anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality’, that we should ‘rebel’ against our selfish genes, etc. But his own philosophy can’t justify the ‘shoulds’.

Christian axioms also provide a basis for voluntary choice, since we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). But evolutionists believe that we are just machines and that our thoughts are really motions of atoms in our brains, which are just ‘computers made of meat’. But then they realize that we can’t function in the everyday world like this. Science is supposed to be about predictability, yet an evolutionist can far more easily predict behavior if he treats his wife as a free agent with desires and dislikes. For example, if he brings her flowers, then he will make her happy, i.e. for all practical purposes, his wife is a free agent who likes flowers.
Nothing is gained in the practical world by treating her as an automaton with certain olfactory responses programmed by genes that in turn produce certain brain chemistry. So they claim that free will is a ‘useful illusion’.
We must also wonder why atheists call themselves ‘free-thinkers’ if they believe thoughts are the results of atomic motion in the brain obeying the fixed laws of
chemistry. By their own philosophy, they can’t help what they believe!
Also, it is amusing that evolutionists believe that other people’s ideas (e.g. religion and morality) are explained by evolution, and thus can be dismissed as not based in reality. Right, so what evolutionary process explained their evolutionary ideas, and can we similarly dismiss them as explained away? Perhaps there is a gene that evolved to makes them believe that behaviors are controlled by evolved genes? See also this response to an evolutionist who was hoist by his own petard.

All in all though, fair play to you, you’re doing some good work there
I always have to favour the underdog in any debate!

Thanks. But even better to favour the truth, though. Underdogs aren’t always right, e.g. Holocaust deniers, but thank you for the kind thoughts.

Be happy, and God’s love on you.
Joe Payne
UK
You too, and I hope that you will one day ‘love God with all your mind.’
Dr. Jonathan Sarfati

Education

  • B.Sc. (Hons.) in Chemistry (with condensed matter and nuclear physics papers substituted)
  • Ph.D. in Spectroscopy (Physical Chemistry)

Honors/Awards/Associations
• 1988, F.I.D.E. Master title, The International Chess Federation





Seen at Slice: Huckster Rick Warren Sells his false teaching while the economy crashes…

28 01 2009

Man,

rick2It seems just when you think that Rick Warren could not get any more sleazy and opportunistic, he tops himself. I guess just being one of the top False Teachers in America today isn’t enough for him…now he’s got to sell his garbage at the worst possible time; a time when most Americans can ill-afford to waste their money.

This is from a recent marketing release:

“With the collapse of our economy, the tools, resources and experiences we’ve bundled into the Purpose Driven Connection are arriving at the exact moment when Americans need them most,” Warren said.

Arggg! I’m about to puke! Someone get me a barf-bag stat!

Do yourself a favor, save your money and tell ol’ Ricky-boy to take a hike.

Here’s the link:

http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/purpose-driven-madness/rick-warren-the-economys-crashing-buy-my-stuff/





Dr. Death…repent!

26 01 2009

No commentary…just a prayer that Dr. Death would repent of his heinous crime of supporting the murder of human beings.

dr-death





Does God love EVERYBODY?

24 01 2009

I’m not going to do a lot of “set up” on this one…I’d prefer that the video do the talking.

If you’ve ever said “God loves everybody!” or “God hates the sin but loves the sinner!” or the dreaded “John 3:16! God loves the whole world!”

Then this is for YOU.

This is Dr. Robert Morey from over at Biblical Thought

When you pick up yourself off of the floor….I’m interested; do you agree or disagree with anything specific to this video? And if you do…are they opinion or are they grounded in scripture?





Help for a Christian brother?

20 01 2009

If you’ve spent any time at all checking out apologetics videos on Youtube, you’ve no doubt come across Lane Chaplin. He is a young man who is currently going to law school and spends a huge amount of time editing and posting some very useful videos on youtube HERE.

He is using a very old laptop for all of his school work, video editing and everything else…and now it’s time to be replaced.

He’s asking for help. He needs a desktop PC and doesn’t have the money for it due to the financial demands of his education.

Here is the link, If you can help him out….please do!

http://www.lanechaplin.com/2009/01/your-chance-to-help-youtube-ministry.html





A Really bad bible study…don’t let this happen to you…

19 01 2009

Been there done that.





Uh…Being Gay is NOT a gift; it’s a sin…period.

18 01 2009

Yes, you read that right. Being Gay Homosexual is an abomination…not a “Gift from God.”

I’m not sure which bible this “Pastor” is reading but he evidently doesn’t read very closely. How does one discount, or totally miss the following scriptures?

Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

Romans 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Timothy 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Now, lest you think that I’m picking unfairly on you…Mr. Homosexual, notice that others are condemned by God also; murderers, sexually immoral, liars, perjurers, etc.

None of these actions are acceptable to God.

So what to do?

Repent of your wicked ways.

Believe the Gospel you currently mock.

 

 

UPDATE: One commenter suggested that the “to lie with” is a mistranslation of the word shakar. He suggested that all that’s being spoken of here is either “to go to sleep” or “lay next to” or that only “forced rape” is meant by this word.

Well, Ian McKellan knows what it means.  Here are his words in response to the question on Leviticus 18:22:

Q to Ian McKellen:
I recently read in Citizen magazine (published by Focus on the Family) that you tear out pages of Bibles because of verses you find offensive to your homosexual lifestyle. . . . 

His Answer:
I’ll let slide the slur that my God-given sexuality is a mere lifestyle, and say yes, I do remove the page containing Leviticus 18:22 where it is asserted that “To lie with a man as with a woman is an abomination.” I know there is some confusion amongst you Christians as to what an abomination is, but it sounds abominable to me and I resent it. I don’t want those words near me at bedtime – they don’t relax me. It seems that Gideons provide their Bibles as a gift. Not looking them in the mouth, I always leave the rest of the Bible for the next occupant of the hotel room. Sometimes strongly-held beliefs disconnect. Much as I abhor censorship, the Leviticus verse on which you presumably base your own disaffection for people like me makes, you will appreciate, a poor bed-fellow in a lonely hotel room. . .