Theism – Perfectly Rational

William Lane Craig vs. Klems Kappel - Debate: Does God Exist?
In the debate between Craig vs. Kappel on the topic “Does God Exist” the question  “Why should we believe atheism is true?” comes up.
Kappel is unable to explain why anyone should believe in atheism while Craig provides 6 reasons right off the bat while theism is true.

In a debate held April 18, 2012 in Copenhagen, Christian apologist and philosopher William Lane Craig debated atheist philosopher Klemens Kappel on the topic: “Does God Exist?” I couldn’t resist posting this clip  – for a number of reasons, namely:


A. Dr. Craig concludes Theism or “the God hypothesis” as he put it earlier – is “perfectly rational to hold to” – which is of course the theme of this site.

B. Dr. Craig Lists the explanatory power of Theism over atheism, Theism can explain things such as:

1. The existence of Moral Value
2. The existence of Consciousness
3 The Origin of the Universe
4 Why something exists rather than nothing
5 The Fine Tuning of the Universe
6 The historical facts about Jesus

(All good topics I should discuss one day.)

C. In challenging Dr. Kappel to prove atheism is true, Dr. Craig points out a number of ways one can logically or rationally establish an argument, namely by:

1. Philosophical Argument
2. Inference to the best explanation
3. Testimonial Evidence

When you watch, notice two things:

1) Kappel is unable to use any of these methods to prove the hypothesis atheism is true (indeed he claims both theism and atheism are un-provable – which Gives Dr. Craig an opportunity to show the explanatory power of Christianity as listed above.)

2) You’ll note I’ve had occasion to discuss item number 2 in a couple of posts1 since a number of those who claim Christians argue “illogically” seem to be unaware of this concept. Here is yet another confirmation that this is a standard logical concept accepted by atheists and theists alike.

 

Now without further ado, the video:

 

Duane Caldwell | posted 4-30-2014 | print format


1 The posts mentioning an inference to the best explanation are:The Poor Marksmenship of Evolutionists andReclaiming the Intellectual and Moral High Ground

Atheists – too afraid to answer

 Fear, afraid
Some Atheists are too afraid to answer the difficult questions.

 There’s a very good article by Peter Saunders titled Twenty questions Atheists struggle to Answer: How Theism does better on the first six.  Before  presenting the first six issues which atheists struggle to answer (actually he’s being kind – he uses “struggle” as if they have an  answer when actually atheism has no reasonable answer to the first 6.),  he makes some preliminary comments.  The third comment  he makes  – actually a challenge –  is particularly apropos to a recent discussion I had.  Speaking to Atheists and agnostics,  Saunders says:

Third, I challenge atheists (and agnostics) reading this blog not to adopt the view, as a matter of faith, that the atheistic world view is some sort of neutral default position and that the burden of proof
lies solely with theists to prove their case. Let’s not have any of the usual allegations of ‘meaningless questions’, ‘God of
the gaps’, ‘appeals to authority’ or the mockery, ridicule and ‘face-palming’ that often accompanies any attempt by theists to
advance their case.

Of particular interest is the second sentence, a description of the toxic environment  often created by atheists in their so called “discussions” with Christians or theists – discussions which are for the atheist often  little more than opportunities to mock. To the list of the usual allegations I would add the allegation of “fallacious argument” a  claim atheists wield as a shield against anyone who doesn’t agree with them – apparently before even reading the argument because they use it even when it doesn’t apply.

Case in point, my last article – an article which ended with a hypothetical question along the lines of  Pascal’s wager: Continue Reading

Science by Fiat & failed Judo throws – Cosmos’ failed attempts to defend evolution

"...is there question anywhere in our future?" - A few Good Men
In a failed attempted to defend evolutionary theory, Cosmos Episode 2 resorts to science without evidence, and evidently expects to be  believed “because I said so
.”

 

 

 

…is there a question evidence anywhere in our future?

In the classic 1980’s Wendy’s ad, Clara Peller, after looking at a hamburger that’s mostly bun and almost no meat famously asks, “Where’s the beef?” After watching the second episode of the reboot of Cosmos – titled Cosmos A Space Time Odyssey episode 2 – Some Of The Things Molecules Do I was reminded of that ad as I wondered “Where’s the science?”

This episode of Cosmos wants to convince you that evolution is true, and it’s
pulling out all the stops to do so – winsomely asking legitimate questions (Where do all the species come from?), their answer being evolutionary theory,  and that answer is  aided by great animations. And they include what was no doubt intended to be the coup de grace to end questions from Intelligent Design theorists: an attempted  judo throw of Intelligent Design arguments – by redirecting Intelligent Design arguments originally directed against evolution against Intelligent design theory.

Yes, Cosmos took a page straight out of a judo manual: Continue Reading

Reclaiming the Intellectual and Moral high ground

Don’t fall prey to logical traps, old arguments, or the emotional baiting of evolutionists.

Obi-wan to Anakin:

“It’s over Anakin, I have the high ground.”

 In my previous post I referenced an article titled “The Top 10 Signs that You Don’t Understand Evolution at All” which is really a  restatement of objections that evolutionists believe they have adequately answered, while at the same time lightly(?) mocking creationists – as evolutionists are wont to do. (Whether lightly or not I’ll leave to you.) As is typical in a list like this, the more important questions (for which they have no answer) are  not even mentioned much less given adequate answers to.  But since I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving you hanging without the answers having myself referenced the article, here are responses to show none of these issues are problems for rational thinking Christians. A word of warning before we begin: Since he couches many of these statements in broad universals (“never,” “always,”  etc. –  which is a dead give away that the statement is almost certainly untrue and a good candidate for the  “all or nothing” logical fallacy);  it follows that the position he’s trying to ridicule may be technically untrue, but the point beneath the ridicule that he’s trying to make  has been thoroughly refuted as I note below. Below in bold is Tyler Francke’s  list of “The top 10 signs that you don’t understand evolution at all”  with my explanations following immediately;  and so there is no mistake on who’s saying what, my comments are indicated by my initials.

 


1. You Think “it hasn’t been observed” is a good argument against it.”

DC>He makes a number of questionable statements here, I’ll just point out a couple. First he notes:

“Interestingly, evolution is observable “

DC>Evolution of the type we’re talking about – molecules to man is not observable. Like many evolutionists he is committing the logical error of equivocation – using the term evolution in more than one sense (which is commonly done to win arguments, though it’s logically fallacious). Natural selection (which is not evolution) is observable; molecules to man evolution is not. 

Second, he goes on to talk about an inference to the best explanation (which I drew upon in my last article) but intelligent design theorists and creationists alike, (not to mention scientists who dissent from evolutionary theory) would say given the evidence, such as the fossil evidence below, he has not drawn an inference to the best explanation by believing it points to evolution. He states:

Making viable conclusions based on inferences from the available evidence is not at all unscientific, and it is this reasoning that has compelled us toward the theory of evolution.

DC>I would challenge him that it is not the evidence that points him to evolution, it’s his a priori beliefs (science is authoritative over scripture) that lead him to the conclusion that evolution is true because judging by evidence alone, (such as the evidence from DNA, the young solar system, etc.)  the correct conclusion is that there was an intelligent designer.

2. You think we’ve never found a transitional fossil.

DC>This is frankly very misleading. A more precise statement would be Continue Reading

The Poor Marksmanship of Evolutionists

Evolutionists claim to be answering a problem posed to them, but they often avoid the problem or miss the mark.

Captain Kirk to Kahn - "Like a poor marksman you keep missing the target!"Kahn: Kirk  – You’re still alive old friend.

Kirk: Still, – “old friend”. You’ve managed to kill everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!

And so admiral1 Kirk taunts Kahn, a genetically engineered “super” human who is supposed to be superior to us mere humans in every way – physically, mentally etc. In another classic line, when Kirk is trying to get Kahn to follow the Enterprise into a nebulae where both ships would lose the benefits of key systems such as shields, Kirk taunts Kahn again, saying “I’m laughing at the superior intellect,” a taunt sufficient enough to get Kahn to follow them in.

I don’t mean to taunt the poor misguided evolutionists, but I do hope the air of superiority they tend to express motivates them to try to provide an answer to the questions posed in the post “Windtalkers and DNA” because the responses I’ve had so far don’t address the issues. So like Kirk I say, like poor marksmen, they keep missing the target of the difficulties that DNA poses. So let me spell it out the difficulties for them, – and give them a clear target to hit. But first here is a sample of the poor marksmanship: Continue Reading

What is Rational Faith? Part 2

Rational Faith does not involve a leap of faithThe 19th  century classic “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbott is an allegory of  the resulting social problems and intellectual impasse that results when a person  who has been enlightened (and sees a truth beyond what’s normally possible in the physical realm) tries to present that truth to the unenlightened.  Flatland is so named because it, and all its inhabitants live in a two dimensional world.  When a 3 dimensional object – a being in the shape of a sphere – is introduced  to a 2 dimensional Flatlander – a mathematician – the response of humans  to revelations (by way of analogy) is on display.

As you might expect, the mathematician has the  all the concepts and mathematical knowledge to understand the description of a sphere, but while he understands technically what the sphere is  saying, since a 3 dimensional object is outside of the realm of the possible within a 2 dimension world, he has a hard time believing what the  sphere is saying is true – until the sphere performs miracles – that is to say feats that are miraculous to the two dimensional characters of the story,  yet totally understandable to a 3 dimensional person (such as the reader). The main conflict of story centers around the beliefs of most flatlanders:  since – as far as they are concerned – 3 dimensional objects are impossible and don’t exist, anyone who claims they are possible (or has seen one)  is  either insane or dangerous or both, and thus must be placed permanently in a mental institution or must be put to death. Without delving any further into the story, let me point out what Abbott so masterfully illustrates using concepts that we, as 3 dimensional beings,  readily understand by his analogy: Continue Reading

What is Rational Faith? Part 1

The Scopes monkey trial, popularized by the decidedly pro-evolution 1960 movie “Inherit the Wind” has been described  by one historian as:

“Lasting just 11 days, the trial became a showdown between faith and reason…”1

The charge to be adjudicated: that a teacher by the name of John Scopes had taught Darwin’s theory of Evolution in the classroom, an act  which, at the time, was illegal. (My how things have changed.) The goal here is not rehash the trial, or discuss perceived winners and  losers. The reason for bringing it up is to point out how it is commonly described: “a showdown between faith and reason.”  This “showdown” has been raging at least since that trial, which began July 21, 1925. Some would locate the origin with Galileo’s 17th century dispute with the church over whether the earth went around the sun; or the sun went around the earth.

Plato

Some would take it all the way back to  the early Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle who lived a few hundred years before Christ. The point in bringing up the “showdown”: there is a strong, vocal faction aptly represented by the likes of atheist cheerleader Richard Dawkins, who believes that faith and reason are at odds and are irreconcilable.

In a documentary  called “Enemies of Reason”, Dawkins states: “There are two ways of looking at the world through faith and superstition, or through the rigors of logic, observation and evidence;  through reason. Yet today, reason has a battle on its hands. I want to confront the epidemic of irrational superstitious thinking.”2

Dawkins wants to confront “the epidemic of irrational superstitious thinking.” A noble goal insofar  as he correctly identifies that which is superstitious. Problem is he doesn’t. He has a tendency to group that which is true with that which  is myth. And so one of my goals is to confront the epidemic of irrational atheistic thinking that winds up getting labeled as “scientific”.

Richard Dawkins

If you think such atheists (and scientists for that matter) are always the objective, logical,  followers-of-the-evidence-wherever-it-leads type of people that they like to portray themselves as, you’re in for a rude awaking – as will  be evident in posts to come. Some of the other reasons for this site:

  • To show that the Christian Faith is rational – using the tools  Dawkins specified – logic, observation and evidence.
  • And to point out that those claiming that the Christian faith is not rational –  are often themselves basing it on incorrect a priori assumptions from their own faith – typically atheism – and not what they claim – logic,  observation and evidence.

For those atheists and others who don’t realize that they too are following a faith (that’s a whole other discussion), “rational faith” is a  contradiction in terms. As you would expect from someone who is the author of a site titled  “Rational Faith” I obviously disagree. But in order to demonstrate that the Christian faith is rational, I’ll need to define exactly what is meant by rational faith.   Which I will do, but with this first3 post let me start by defining what rational faith is not. As a point of reference, consider the following definition of  “Faith and Rationality”  as it appears in Wikipedia as of this writing:

“Faith and rationality are two ideologies that exist in varying degrees of conflict or compatibility.

Rationality is based on reason or evidence.
Faith is belief in inspiration, revelation, or authority. The word faith generally refers to a belief that is held with lack of, in spite of or against reason or evidence. Although the words faith and belief are sometimes erroneously conflated and used as synonyms, faith properly refers to a particular type (or subset) of belief, as defined above.

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of views regarding the relationship between faith and rationality:

  1. Rationalism holds that truth should be determined by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma, tradition or religious teaching.
  2. Fideism holds that faith is necessary, and that beliefs may be held without evidence or reason, or even in conflict with evidence and reason”

Clearly this perceived tension between faith and reason is a common and widespread misunderstanding. Many it seems, believe that “faith” and “reasoned, rational thought” are mutually exclusive. That one must “believe”  in spite of what reason or evidence tells you. Or as some suggest, when going to church, check your brains at the door. By extension, many believe that  faith and science are also at odds – that you can not be a good scientist if you have faith in God; and that true believers in the Christian faith  are necessarily antagonistic toward properly applied science.   All of these are incorrect and to understand why, we must go back to goal, the point of faith and reason. What is goal of reason? And of Faith?  The goal of reason is to identify truth. D. Q. McInerny, author of Being Logical states:

“The whole purpose of reasoning, of logic, is to arrive at the truth of things.”4

What is the goal of faith, speaking  specifically of the Christian faith? The Christian faith is all about knowledge of the truth. Jesus says he came to testify about the truth (John  18.37), that he in fact is truth (John 14.6); that the truth will set you free (John 8.32); and that knowledge of the true God, and Jesus (who is  truth) leads to eternal life (John 17.3).  So in other words, the point of the Christian faith is to identify and know the truth – ultimate truth; and according to Jesus once you properly identify and  properly respond to that truth (by believing), God is pleased to grant you eternal life.  But don’t be distracted by the promise of eternal life. The point  I’m making is that the goal of reason and faith are the same: to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (And in passing, the goal of science is also to  arrive at truth5 – but that’s a discussion for another time.)

If the goal is the same, why is it then, that so many think that faith and reason are at odds? If  reason and faith are both striving for the  same goal – truth – those following either discipline should arrive at the same destination – at least in the areas to which both disciplines  address themselves – such as ultimate truth.  And that is precisely my point and my firm belief, and one of the motivating factors behind this blog  – to show that both faith and reason, properly understood, guide you to the same place – the true God, creator of the universe, the God of the souls of all mankind.

Thus my main problem with the statement above from Wikipedia and all others who see varying degrees of conflict or incompatibility between faith and reason is that such an  understanding mistakenly casts the two as opposites in an either / or proposition.  In that light, you either have reason OR you have faith –  not both. Atheists like Richard Dawkins try to drive that point home. This blog is to demonstrate that those who think rationally not only have good reason to trust in  rational thought, but also have good reason to trust in the Christian Faith – because it is a faith based on evidences and confirmed by reason, and so it is a wholly rational faith (no pun intended).

This leaves us with a lot of questions such as: If Science and Faith have the same goal – truth – why do many see them as being at odds? Are there different types of truth? Do science and faith lead to the same kind of “truth”? If the Christian faith is so rational, why are so many scientists atheists? If Christianity is “rational” and “reasonable”, why does so much of what Christians believe seem to be in conflict with what scientists and the world at large believes? All good questions but too much for one blog post. So we’ll have to return to these  issues in the days to come. For now, let me answer the initial question of what rational faith is not with this summary:

  1. Rational Faith (or faith properly understood) is  not in conflict with reason; faith and reason are not contradictory – they are complementary
  2. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive
  3. Faith and reason are not an either / or proposition; they are a both / and proposition; they work together; not against each other
  4. Faith is not reliant solely on “authority” or “revelation”; it is strongly based in evidences of various types

Now we’ve seen what rational faith is not. Next we’ll see what rational faith is.


Duane Caldwell posted 3-2-2014 | print format  | Part 2


Notes

1 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America Episode 7: Scopes: The Battle Over America’s Soul TV series Documentary, 2006
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2 Dawkins, Richard Enemies of Reason Documentary, 2007
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3 First written at any rate, though I wound up electing to post select pieces of evidences ahead of this post so they would be available for my atheists acquaintances on their first visit
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4 McInerny, D.Q.  Being Logical, A Guide to Good Thinking  New York: Random House 2005, p. 19
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5 That science is ultimately concerned with truth is a point rarely discussed, but is acknowledged when necessary, as in this response from a writer for Scientific America who states:

“Let’s understand one thing loud and clear; science is concerned with the truth. It really is.”

Ashutosh Jogalekar  “Creationists  are wrong. Science is actually concerned with the truth” 7/19/13 “The Curious Wavefunction” blog on Scientific American

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) takes it a step further stating the point of science is to measure theories against absolute truth; implying the goal is to discover elements of truth that are not known.ICR “The Foundation of Science Is Absolute Truth” accessed 1/28/14