Philosophy

4 Apologetic Methods for God’s Existence

The word apologetic doesn’t mean what it sounds like. It comes from the Greek word ἀπολογία–to speak in defense of one’s worldview. In our case, Christianity. Therefore, when discussing the 4 different types of apologetic systems, I am referring to the various methodologies Christians use to defend their faith. Are you ready to learn? Let’s begin.

The first methodology is entitled Classical Apologetics. It focuses the use of logical criteria such as the law of noncontradiction, self-consistency, comprehensiveness, and coherence. A famous apologist, William Lane Craig, often uses the classical approach when debating the Christian worldview.

For example, he may argue for the teleological argument, which states the intricate design in nature points to an intelligent Creator. Other common classical apologetic positions include the moral, ontological, and cosmological arguments.

Christian philosopher Norman Geisler summarizes this position well: “The basic argument of the classical apologist is that it makes no sense to speak about the resurrection as an act of God unless, as a logical prerequisite, it is first established that there is a God who can act” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics).

The second approach to apologetics is known as Evidentialism. It’s primary focus is to ground the Christian faith on historically verifiable facts. Instead of arguing for unequivocal proof of God through logical necessity like Classical apologists do, Evidentialists argue that a high degree of probability can be articulated in favor of Christianity. The evidence for creation, prophecy, deity of Christ, and especially the historical significance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead are the main subjects in this apologetic approach.

The apologist who pioneered the evidentialist approach was Joseph Butler (1692-1752). In 1736 Butler published The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature. Butler wrote this work to transform the old metaphysical and rationalistic argumentation in Britain to a more scientific and empirical form of reasoning.

He admitted that revealed religion like Christianity was gripped with intellectual problems, but could still be found probabilistically reasonable and justifiable. But not objectively definitive like the Classical approach.

The third apologetic position is Reformed apologetics. It attempts to argue for the Christian faith on the authoritative word of God through revelation rather than empirical or scientific knowledge.

This position would encourage the believer to base their truth in God, not through scientific inquiry, but with the presupposition or fundamental assumption that the Christian faith is already true. There is no need to ground reasoning in God by the physical sciences alone since it’s already intuitively understood by all human beings. Thus, all are without excuse (Rom. 1:20) when they deny the existence of God.

This approach was inspired by John Calvin from the 1500s and has become popularized in recent times by Cornelius Van Til. This is what Dr. Van Til said that summarizes his perspective:

“I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other beliefs, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else.” -Van Til

The main criticism of this view is that it uses circular reasoning to argue it’s case. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy that occurs when the conclusion of an argument is used as a premise of that same argument. In other words, the premise would not work if the conclusion wasn’t already assumed to be true.

Proponents of this view have offered a rebuttal to this claim.

“We agree that presuppositional apologetics is the ultimate biblical approach to apologetics. The common accusation that the presuppositionalist uses circular reasoning is actually true. In fact, everyone uses some degree of circular reasoning when defending his ultimate standard (though not everyone realizes this fact). Yet if used properly, this use of circular reasoning is not arbitrary and, therefore, not fallacious.” – Answers in Genesis Darius and Karin Viet

The final apologetic system is called fideism. The term comes from the latin word fide, meaning “faith.” Instead of being rational (Classical), empirical (Evidentialist), authoritarian (Reformed), it is intuitive (Fideist). Furthermore, fideism maintains that human knowledge of truth is most especially found in the heart or will rather than in the intellect. For example, Fideists would contend that no matter how intellectually sophisticated an argument becomes for the existence of God, those who are living a rebellious sinful life will reject it.

People reject Christianity because Christianity is found in a person, not a religious system or intellectual program. A person requires a relationship. So then, you may know about someone, but until you meet them, intellectual knowledge makes no difference. Fideists would argue the same is true in Christianity.

Fideism was popularized by Martin Luther and was further stressed by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. He once said, “It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.” This statement expresses the idea that belief and obedience are interconnected. Therefore, if one doesn’t love God or obey Him, it’s almost impossible to convince him or her to intellectually commit to God.

What are your thoughts? Which apologetic approach do you find most beneficial? Do you think all of these approaches are valid? Why or Why not? Please comment below. Have a good day!

Nietzsche’s Philosophy is Self-Defeating and He Admits It

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Nietzsche’s work at first glance seems scholarly and erudite, but after careful analysis, its filled with enigmatic aphorisms that are oftentimes contradictory and incoherent. Of course, Nietzsche embraced contradictions because he presupposed humans were irrational creatures trying to find universal truth through “pounding uncertainty into straight arrows.” He wrote about this in his book Human, All Too Human.

For Nietzsche, what these philosophers were doing was running from their own humanity by attempting to make objective claims in a relativistic world where there is no absolute truth. He thought these objective claims were not justifiable, even criticizing scientists for definitively asserting the law of gravity or the Earth revolving around the Sun.

This type of extreme skepticism, in my opinion, does not correspond to the nature of reality. For instance, we can determine that we are thinking beings. “I think, therefore I am.” We have the ability to know the speed of light travels at 186,000 miles per second. There is an intuitive understanding that a square circle is inconceivable or a person can not be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same place; the law of non-contradiction.

Ironically, Nietzsche commits the same mistake he blames his predecessors for doing. While he affirms the multiplicity of perspectives, such as the slave morality from Christianity and the master morality from the Greco-Romans, he imposes his “Will to Power” philosophy as the highest ideal, the better way to overcome these inferior perspectives. He asserts, absolutely: “We must move beyond good and evil.” Thus, while affirming his objective stance on his will to power and simultaneously arguing no such truth exists, he contradicts himself.

As you are aware, his philosophy has been known as Nihilism because it believes in the rejection of all religious and moral principles; that nothing in the world has a real existence. The question I have for Nietzsche would be: “How do you know this for certainty?” How do you know there is no such thing as good or evil, but just a will to power?

It would seem to me, on the basis of extreme skepticism, you could never formulate any epistemological framework. Without knowledge, even asking these questions are itself meaningless. Thus, you would never derive at any sort of self-actualization of the will, which was Nietzsche’s hope in his eternal recurrence of events for the powerful overman: To see the entirety of what is as necessary for his own existence.

If you want to know my opinion, I think truth can be found in the God-Man Jesus Christ, who clearly revealed his plan for all of us. Truth is not found solely in an ideology, logic, or science, but also in a personal relationship with a Creator. Thanks again for your article. Have a good day.

Is God the Basis for Morality? Part 1

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Before I argue that God is the best explanation for moral values, I want to first clear up four misconceptions that people have regarding morality.

  1. You do not have to believe in God to perform moral actions. An Atheist can give his wife flowers on Valentine’s Day, be a crying shoulder for a friend, or give charitable donations to those in need.
  2. You do not have to believe in God to know morality. Everyone is capable of recognizing moral values because they are embedded in our consciences by God. Romans 2:15 says that the laws of God are written on the hearts of mankind.
  3. You can believe in God and do bad things, and even do them in the name of religion. The Medieval Inquisition in 1252 led by Pope Innocent IV, who was not so innocent, tortured apostates by roping their hands behind their back and painfully dislocating their joints. These actions were morally reprehensible because of our understanding of human dignity. People can do bad things by distorting religious creeds just as easily as people can do bad things by distorting the methodology of science. For example, Nazi doctors infecting innocent humans with gangrene to experiment for future biological warfare. The argument goes both ways.
  4. The definition of morality – Most people would approve that morality deals with the intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good or right and those that are bad and wrong.

Now that common ground has been established, here is my main argument for why God is the best explanation for the origin of moral values: It is more rational to believe that morals originated from an intrinsically valuable, intelligent Creator (commonly known as God) than for morals to have emerged evolutionarily through a valueless, non-intelligent, cause-effect physical process.

To defend this argument, I suggest three criteria that every valid ethical system of morality should require. First, any sufficient moral system should have an objective standard of what is right and wrong. Second, any sufficient moral system should explain the connection between free will and human responsibility. Third, any sufficient moral system should present justification for human value.

Let’s now focus on the first criteria. #1. Any sufficient moral system should have an objective standard of what is right and wrong. To say that morality is objective is to argue that the idea of right and wrong are universally fixed for all times and all cultures, regardless of human opinion. Saying “murdering an innocent person is wrong” is just as objectively true as 2+2=4 or the speed of light travels at 186,000 miles per second. So, even if someone believed that 2+2=something other than 4, or said “murdering an innocent person was okay” their opinion would still be wrong.

My grandmother-in-law lived during the diabolical reign of Josef Stalin. Between the years 1937 and 1938, commonly known as the great purge, Stalin authorized the execution of over 40,000 innocent people, 90% of which were confirmed to have been systematically shot to death. The historian Dmitri Volkogonov in his book, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, said that Stalin was reported saying: “Who is going to remember all this in ten or twenty years of time? No one.”

Stalin was wrong. Today, we still remember the evil atrocities that happened during the Soviet Union. Both the skeptic and I would agree that what he did was evil. Even if Stalin thought it was morally permissible, or the Communist Party in the Union justified genocide since they were just following orders from their leader, it was still wrong. International law today, which supersedes particular cultures, would condemn this act as a human rights violation, just like suppression of women’s rights, human trafficking, and racial discrimination.

If an Atheist was asked, why was this wrong?” I think they could make a case, even without referencing God. They might say mass genocide does not lead to the survival and flourishing of human beings; it leads to starvation, pain, and psychological trauma. Also, randomly killing people will not build trust and cooperation within a species group. A Naturalist might further add that evolution favors genes that cooperate, which will aid you in survival.

I would agree with some of these statements, but then I would ask the skeptic the following question: Is genocide evil because it prevents human well-being, or is it evil regardless of what you or your DNA thinks? If you say it is evil because genocide prevents human well-being, what if we conceive of a world in which Stalin won the war, brainwashed everyone into believing what he did was okay, and it became a social norm. Even if you’re genes in DNA “used to think” genocide was evil, wouldn’t it need to adapt to this new way of thinking to survive? If you don’t adapt, you are not socially cooperating with the majority’s opinion. If you don’t cooperate with the majority’s opinion, your being a rebellious genetic mutation. And if the majority finds out, you could be exterminated. This will not maximize your human well-being. Richard Dawkins even said on p.69 of his book, the Selfish gene: “The best strategy for an individual depends upon what the majority of the population are doing.” I hope Richard Dawkins doesn’t think that premise is true in a corrupt society.

If you say that “genocide” is wrong regardless of what you or your genes think, then it must be grounded in something other than your opinion or the process of Naturalistic evolution. The example above eliminates Naturalistic evolution as a valid source for objective morals since it can be shown to change depending on the situation. So then, the best option for objective moral values is that they are found in God’s unchanging character. Contrary to what Atheists might say, God’s commands are not random like evolution and are not independent of His character. God is the greatest good, full of love, and is the standard that informs us the objective rightness of justice and the wrongness of hatred, discrimination, and “genocide.”

Please leave any comments or questions below. In my next post, I will demonstrate that any sufficient moral system should explain the connection between free will and human responsibility.

What is a Worldview and Why is it Important?

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A worldview is defined as, “a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world. It’s the way one perceives the reality they live in.” A worldview gives an individual a perspective of their reality, which leads to developing values, priorities, decisions, and how one applies it into their lives.

Here are some questions a worldview might try to answer: What is reality? What is the nature of existence? What is a human? What happens at death? What is right and wrong? What is the purpose of life? Feel free to download this powerpoint presentation concerning What is a Worldview.