Archive for ‘Atheism’

April 3, 2012

VT Debate–Response to the Atheist Objection that God is a Moral Monster

by Max Andrews

There were two main objections, which my atheist opponents defended during the VT debate on the existence of God.  One of the objections was from the problem of gratuitous evil, particularly natural evil, which I have already responded to here. The other objection raised during the debate was presented first after my opening statements. The argument was that because me and my debate partner were Christian theists the Christian God cannot exist because of the supposed atrocities in the Bible and other doctrines such as hell.

The argument began with the problem of predisposition. In other words, why you must approach your faith of choice with objectivity and skepticism and not confirmation bias.  However, in response, in order to identify and affirm the discovery of a truth one must not exhaust all possibilities.  Additionally, it works both ways.  If the criterion is applied fairly how can one deny the proposition, in this case, God exists, without examining all possibilities?  This criterion is untenable.  Also, to suggest that one is a Christian because of environment or spatiotemporal location is to commit the genetic fallacy.

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April 2, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: James

by Max Andrews

I have written elsewhere of my long, difficult spiritual journey. I was a disobedient, rebellious person even after I started becoming convinced of the Truth. I have wandered down many dark paths, seeking for answers but often refusing them when they were right before my eyes. But now I thank my Lord and Savior that he is long-suffering and merciful and kept goading me until I admitted defeat and surrendered to Him.

During this long journey, I looked for wisdom in many places. I have read the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, Buddhist sutras and the Book of Mormon, the teachings of the Baha’i and pagan/occult works. It wasn’t until after my mother died in 1976 that someone led me to the Bible- and I could tell immediately that this book was different. I had found the explanation for why I- and the whole world- was such a mess. More importantly, I had discovered the One who had the solution. It would be many years before I would really have the desire to live by the precepts taught in the Bible, but thereafter that Book and its Author would never let go of me.

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April 2, 2012

Tell Us Why You’re a Christian

by Max Andrews

The popular atheist PZ Myers has had a running series on his acclaimed blog, Pharyngula, titled “Why I’m an Atheist.” I see this shared on Twitter all the time and it’s very sad to read these atheist testimonies. All too many of these posts are stories of people who claim to have been Christian and have left the faith. I wanted to start a counter-series here on your story. The series will be, “Why I’m a Christian.” All you would need to do is send me an email at maxeoa[at]gmail[dot]com and tell me why you became a Christian and why you continue being a Christian. Your story can be however long you want it to be. Unless you note otherwise (if you want last name, last initial, anonymity, etc.), I’ll only use your first name. I hope to spread your stories to demonstrate the glory and work of God in your lives. Another benefit in doing this is so we can encourage other Christians to persevere in the faith and hopefully some of your stories will resonate with the hearts others–Christian and non-Christian. Please share this with anyone you think may be interested. I’ll post them as they come in.

March 26, 2012

VT Debate–The Problem of Gratuitous Evil

by Max Andrews

One of the objections made by one of the atheists in the VT debate on the existence of God was William Rowe’s form of the problem of gratuitous evil:[1]

  1. There exist instances of intense suffering that an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. (Factual premise)
  2. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering that being could, unless that being could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. (Theological premise).
  3. Therefore, There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being.

Or, simply put:

  1. There are unnecessary evils.
  2. God would prevent evils without losing some greater good.
  3. Therefore, God does not exist.
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March 25, 2012

What if God Commanded You to do Something Wrong?

by Max Andrews

While at the VT Debate on the existence of God one of the atheists’, in passing, briefly mentioned the Euthyphro dilemma. Does God command something because it’s good or is it good because God commands it?  The first horn makes goodness apart from God and the second makes goodness arbitrary. This came up in the Q&A as well.  What if God commanded you to strap a bomb to your chest and blow other people up or rape others?  As an advocate of divine command theory the response to this question is a bit more nuanced then any prima facie answer. (Also, see my moral argument I presented at this debate).

The proponent of divine command theory (DCT) claims that whatever God commands to any moral agent becomes a moral obligation.  Formulations of the commands are given symbolic form by David Efird as:[1]

(RIGHT)                      ∀ϕ☐(Rϕ ≣ Cgϕ)

(WRONG)                   ∀ϕ☐(Wϕ ≣ Cg~ϕ)

(PERMITTED 1)            ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ)[2]

(PERMITTED 2)            [(∃ϕ☐Cgϕ ∙ ∃ϕ☐Cg~ϕ)] ∙ [(∃ϕ☐~Cgϕ ∙ ∃ϕ☐~Cg~ϕ)]

*∀= for all…, ☐=necessarily, ◊=possibly.  For instance, RIGHT is read as for all actions, ϕ, ϕ is right if and only if God commands ϕ.

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March 23, 2012

Reflections on My Virginia Tech Debate on the Existence of God

by Max Andrews

This past Wednesday (March 21, 2012) I participated in a debate titled “Does God Probably Exist, or Not?” at Virginia Tech.  My debate partner was a very loving fellow who was an undergraduate in International Relations.  My two atheist opponents were a PhD student in Physics and the other was an undergraduate in biology.  I was thoroughly pleased and impressed with the university and the love and kindness that the organizers and participants extended to me.  I certainly felt like I was in a friendly atmosphere and sensed no hint of hostility.

I thought the debate went very well.  My only criticism was that I was under the impression that there was going to be a twenty or twenty-five minute cross-examination period but that never came to fruition.  I present three arguments for the existence of God: the argument from contingency, the fine-tuning argument, and the moral argument.  For the contingency argument I used Thomas Aquinas’ argument.  The fine-tuning argument was an abductive form and a slightly modified version of Robin Collins argument.  The moral argument was an abductive argument modeled after David Baggett’s version.  In a few following posts I’ll share my arguments and methodology in more detail but here are the forms of my arguments I used:

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March 5, 2012

How Does God Provide Meaning and Purpose?

by Max Andrews

Midnight Dreary by Carla CarsonMan is alienated from himself, from other persons, and from God, and as a result man has been burdened with absurdity.  Absurdity ought to be understood in a dichotomous manner.  Absurdity is experienced subjectively, such that the individual experiences it in an autonomous manner.  The objective absurdity is the metanarratives of life.  This would include a lack of ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.

Overcoming this alienation and the notion of absurdity, primarily objective absurdity, can only be done so by a divine telos.[1]  It does seem that man lives his life as if he does have an ultimate meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  However, if God does not exist, then the absurdity is not only subjective but it really is objectively absurd.  The existence of a divine telos enables man to live a consistent life of meaning, incentive, value, and purpose.  There is a reconciliation of man to himself, others, and God by overcoming this absurdity.

Man exists in a state of alienation.  He is alienated from himself, from others, and from God.  Alienation from the self creates a subjective absurdity (this will be explicated later).  Because of his own nature man cannot stand in agreeable terms with himself.  His epistemic warrant is not always at ease.  He doubts.  He questions and is lacks sufficiency in his capacity to function in an ideal manner.

His alienation from others is subjective and experienced by the individual as well.  It too is a result of man’s nature and state of being.  It is at this level of alienation where man often attempts to create his own teleology.  He will construct an artificial and arbitrary teleology based on other alienated persons.  Man’s alienation from God is irreconcilable by man’s initiative.  Man cannot act outside of his closed system; thus, he requires an outside agency to overcome this alienation.

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February 21, 2012

If I Were an Atheist…

by Max Andrews

When it comes to philosophy there are three things I ponder deeply about every day.  I’m not exaggerating when I say these things.  I think about God every hour I’m awake.  He plagues my thought and attention.  I often think about my relation to him, how he is who he is, his providence, his action in the world, etc.  It is so foreign to me when Christians say that they don’t think about God from day-to-day.  The second idea that occupies my thought is death.  I don’t think I’m morbid about this; I think I’m just being honest with myself.  I wonder what it’s like to die, that moment in between life and death. Is it painful? Is it joyful and painless?  What is it like to see the Lord for the first time?  The third thought I think about isn’t as often as the formers but is nonetheless occurent.  It’s the question: “What would it take for me to be an atheist?”

I certainly believe Christianity is falsifiable, that is, to be proven false.  I think there is biblical warrant for this.  Consider 1 Corinthians 15.17 when Paul says that if Christ had not risen from the dead then our faith is in vain.  To show Christianity is false one must demonstrate that the resurrection of Jesus did not happen.  I was speaking with my professor over lunch a month or so back and we struck up a conversation on what it would take for us to be atheists.  Proving the resurrection false doesn’t disprove God, it just disproves Christianity.

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February 21, 2012

Existentialism and the Absurdity of Life (Audio)

by Max Andrews

Lecture Audio

Brief Abstract

The two divisions of absurdity, subjective and objective, by all evidence, binding.  If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If guilt, and angst are not subjectively preferred then the only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts.  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdity is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

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January 20, 2012

A Response to the Problem of an ‘Evil God’ as Raised by Stephen Law

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest blog post by Michael Rundle. Michael has a BA in Theology with Honors (PGCE).  His area of research is in the philosophy of René Descartes and twentieth century theology.

__________

Stephen Law has suggested that arguments such as the cosmological and teleological arguments could serve equally well to support an evil god hypothesis.

He says:

The challenge is to explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good god should be considered significantly more reasonable than the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-evil god.”1

This reminds me of the evil demon in Descartes’ Meditations. However, whereas Descartes was introducing the evil demon hypothesis for epistemological reasons Law is raising the evil god hypothesis as a challenge to theism. His challenge is for theological reasons.

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