Member Rara Avis
Stephen asked Then are you saying that Christians should stick to traditional preaching, and not try to show that Christianity actually presents a cogent worldview epistemically?
Either or both would be fine with me, Stephen. It's doing the former and calling it the latter that I think creates a problem. I know you think some of your statements are self-evident, but many are deeply mired in your own perspective. Here are just a few of the things you've said in this thread:
"Without an absolute governor of humanity and nature, we cannot truly account for a belief in uniformity of nature."
"The problems one runs into when placing the ultimate authority on us, autonomously, is that we lose any real basis upon which to have any valid complaints against someone who 'breaks the rules'."
"One thing I do see clearly is that a naturalistic concept of the universe fails to provide us with any preconditions for abstract uniform concepts, such as logic, at all. The existence of God is the only foundation for knowledge of anything, really for intelligible life."
"I have attempted to show that skepticism, subjectivism, pessimism, nihilism, and a general hopelessness are the necessary fruits of atheism."
I think each one of these statements, though presented as logic and fact, represent a worldview colored by your own belief system. These statements are the RESULTS of being a Christian rather than convincing reasons to become a Christian. More, and I think much worse, they unnecessarily denigrate the belief of others with, not truth, but what I see as unreasoned fervor. I believe I can unequivocally say that each of these conclusions is wrong.
A few years ago, I was teaching a computer class and showing the students how to mix colors using the three primary colors of red, green, and blue (RGB). Wait a minute, someone said, didn't we learn way back in kindergarten that the primary colors were red, blue, and yellow? To be honest, I didn't have an answer for them at the time, nor was it easy to track one down. Turns out what we learned in grade school is called the Additive Color Theory and is based on reflected light. When you see a pure blue paint, what you are really seeing is a substance that absorbs light in the red and yellow spectrum and reflects only blue. Computer screens and photography, however, rely on the Subtractive Color Theory because we deal with emitted light rather than reflected light. Though similar, there are real differences, too. Add equal amounts of red, blue, and yellow paint and you end up with muddy black. Add red, green, and blue pixels on a computer screen and you end up with white.
Faced with two very different worldviews on mixing colors, it's easy to say that one is right and one is wrong - even when both seem to work. Only with an understanding of the difference between reflected and emitted light does it become apparent that both worldviews can be true. I think it is equally easy to look at a worldview that excludes God and call it wrong - even when it otherwise seems to work. I submit that when something works without presupposing God, there's probably an issue of reflected or emitted light that we aren't seeing. For Christianity to be right doesn't require that everything else be wholly wrong if you but accept that our understanding is less than perfect. Worse, when you call something else wholly wrong, something that seems to work, you perpetuate the myth of an either/or proposition and force people to choose, making what may be the wrong choice. For example, that line in the sand separating Evolutionists from Creationists probably exists only because we put it there. There is actually remarkable agreement between Genesis and science, and I suspect the differences arise only because we don't fully understand either.
The naturalists asks, "Why do I exist as I do?" And the question becomes its own answer. "If I didn't exist as I do, I wouldn't be here to ask the question." To return to an earlier analogy, "Why is my temperature 98.6 degrees?" Because if it was 97.6 degrees, I would be extinct. Things are the way they are because if they were even marginally different, WE wouldn't be here to question it. Did you know that water is the only substance known to science that has a lower density in its frozen state than in its liquid state? Ice floats. If it didn't, bodies of water would freeze from the bottom up, instead of being covered by insulating ice, and life could not exist. A miracle? Sure. But if it wasn't the way it is, we wouldn't be here to recognize it as one. Naturalism essentially side-steps the issue of why with a very simple, "Just because."
And it works. Naturalism is completely self-consistent. It doesn't necessarily lead to nihilism, any more than any other philosophy and much less than so than many. Why do we have an inherent reason to exist? Because if we didn't, we wouldn't exist.
How can I so unequivocally say all the statements that I cited above are wrong? I know they're wrong because they MUST be wrong. If even one of your statements could be demonstrably proven, it would provide the basis for a chain inevitably leading to a proof that God exists. If even one of your statements is right, there is no longer a need for faith.
Logic is a double-edged sword, I think. Yes, it can be used to persuade and, as I said earlier to Jim, I think there are countless ways that logic and history and science can be used to support the Bible. But when the logic is flawed and based on hidden beliefs, it cuts both ways. It dissuades. Far better, I think, to call them opinions founded on faith than to cite them as inescapable truths.
Stephen, I don't think we need to minimize naturalism or evolutionism or even atheism in order to maximize Christianity. Trivializing the beliefs of others isn't productive. You cannot logically prove that Christianity is the only answer because all the others don't work, because very obviously, for many people they do work. Instead, we should try to show Christianity as a better answer. Jesus, after all, didn't come to destroy Jewish law. He just showed us that the difference between reflective and emitting light can change our perspective of truth. He gave us a deeper understanding.