Proving God 7: We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident

One of the classes you slept through in High School was the one where you should have learned the Declaration of Independence. It’s a long document which explains why we should have burned Washington DC to the ground long before Trump even announced his campaign to for the presidency. But I digress. It begins thusly:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I’m sure you’ve heard this part several times, just before your eye lids got heavy and the room went dark. But have you ever wondered what the phrase “Self-evident” means?

Just like it sounds, self-evident means it is SO OBVIOUS that merely hearing it is proof enough. The evidence for the truth is the truth itself.

One great example of self-evident is the law of non-contradiction. All it says is that anything is itself, and nothing is something other than itself. Or, as Dr Seuss once said, “You are YOU!”

And just to be preemptive- if you plan to send me an email which says, “Oh yeah? PROVE IT!” Don’t bother. If you need someone to prove to you that you are you, you are too stupid to talk to. Just make yourself a sock puppet and spend time yelling at it for a while.

That’s the point of the concept of “Self-evident.” Even if you CAN find evidence to prove it, you don’t NEED to because the alternatives are SO RIDICULOUS that they may as well be impossible merely by definition. Some things which most people would accept as self-evident are thing like:

The existence of the physical world.
The existence of people/minds other than ourselves.
The existence of ourselves.
The fact that we think when we think we are thinking.
The fact that bacon is delicious.
The cuteness of bunnies.

Alvin Plantinga has argued, and many have said very well, that belief in God is what he calls properly basic- meaning it is a self evident belief that we are born with, just as belief in the external world is properly basic. Apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate argues from the Bible that all people KNOW God exists, and they know the God of the Bible exists. Sye just goes to Romans chapter 1 and reads,

“…men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Which, when you look at it, does sound like Paul is trying to say what can be known about God is plain to them, and that they are without excuse. But that’s just my interpretation. However, former atheists who have become Christians always tell the same story- they find that coming to Christ is a seeing what was always there, and accepting what they really always knew. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a former atheist say, “I had NO IDEA God was there! I really thought atheism was true!” Maybe those people are out there, but I’ve not yet met one. They tend to be like people who are looking for their glasses, and come to discover they’ve been wearing them the whole time.

Don’t hate. We’ve all been there.

The rarity of Atheism is further proof of this concept. ALL Cultures have been theists. The whole human race for our entire history have been born knowing there was a “Higher power” or “Great Spirit” or “Jesus of Nazareth.” Some descriptions have been better than others, but they’ve all agreed that we are not merely matter, alone in the universe.

So I encourage you to ask questions, find answers, and examine the evidence, because I know you will eventually come to see what you already know and have suspected all along- God is there. That’s the truth- but even better than the truth is the good news that comes with it:

 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3

Faith in God is reasonable. Science does show his fingerprints all over the universe. Seek, and you will find. And as always, remember that #JesusLovesYou

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Dinner with Hitler and Other Moral Issues

Welcome back to The Moral Argument. We’ve reached the lighting round, where in you, the atheist, post modernist, relativist contestants get to answer some easy questions for fabulous prizes! In round one we’ve determined that everyone knows that some things are truly right and good, while others are really evil and should NOT be done. Now, we’re going to ask, “How come?”

Ready? OK, here we go: It’s 1929 and you’re having Schnitzel with an up and coming German leader. Let’s just call him “Adolph.” Over the appetizer you find out that he is planning to take over the world and kill almost the entire human race in his effort to form a global dictatorship which he feels will last for a thousand years. You suggest that there is some moral ambiguity in his plans, to which he responds, “Do you think so? Golly, if I felt it was really wrong, then I certainly wouldn’t do it.”

How do you convince him that his plan is really wrong?

Remember, contestants, you and “Adolph” are both atheists, so you can’t and won’t appeal to God as a transcendent law giver.

Contestant number One: “I would say that the other nations would band together in an allied force to stop him, and he would probably wind up dying in some underground bunker.”

Nice try contestant one, but you’ve only succeeded at deepening his resolve. “Adolph” will just see that his many enemies will force him to act faster and more viciously than he had planned. The threat of losing doesn’t make him feel his actions are wrong- only that he is right and that he needs to work harder. After all, every good and right hero has faced opposition, haven’t they?

Contestant Two: “I would tell him that his plan is bad because it will hurt a lot of people, and make a lot of people unhappy, and that it would not make the world a better place.”

Ooh, a nice traditional reply from contestant two, but I think you’ll notice the mistakes you made. First of all, you’re done nothing to prove that hurting people is wrong. You’ve only moved the need for an objective moral standard over one place. Secondly, the aim of his plan is a world free of racism, classism, political struggles, religious fights, poverty, border disputes, and disease. In his mind it makes the world a MUCH better place. Besides, dead people don’t complain, so killing a lot of people only makes them unhappy while they’re still alive. The faster you kill, the faster you rid the world of unhappiness.

Contestant Three: “I think if “Adolph” looked at the cultures of the world, he would see that he is going against the normative implied social agreement of behavior for mutual benefit and survival. Laws and social norms of most people would go against these actions, and thus they are wrong.”

A noble sociological attempt from contestant three. However, “Adolph” knows as well as you do that social norms are no more binding to societies that agree to them than fashion or the rules of a game. If he is the dictator, he’ll make the laws and won’t have to worry about prior laws. Furthermore, if he kills everyone who disagrees with him, there will be no social norms which would condemn his actions. His plan includes altering such social norms so that the only surviving societies would celebrate him as a hero. Thanks for playing, but “Adolph” will still go on to kill all of you.

Contestant Two: “Hang on a minute! It’s wrong to hurt people! It’s wrong to kill lots of innocent people!”

Why?

Contestant Two: “Well… It just is, that’s all!”

How do you know?

Contestant Two: “I know it because I FEEL it, just as I know an apple is red because I see it.”

But as Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias points out, “There are some cultures who believe it is right to love their neighbors, and others who believe it is right to eat them, both based on feelings. Do you have a preference?”

Contestant Three: “It is true that some cultural norms presuppose an acceptance of killing and eating members of neighboring societies. But of course these are savage tribes, and many evolve out of this stage.”

And by evolving out of it, have they made moral progress?

Contestant Three: “Of course.”

But if you say they have progressed, do you not assume a better and a worse? But how can you do that without a transcendent standard to measure both sets of social norms against? How can you say they have gotten better if you cannot say there is a real good to which they are now closer?

Contestant Three: “Well, obviously there must be a higher good. It is better to love one’s enemies than to kill and eat them.”

Contestant One: “Yes! Justice is better than injustice, but not because there is some moral lawgiver telling us so. We can figure these things out for ourselves.”

But even if it could exist without a lawgiver, how would you figure out such a thing?

Contestant One: “For justice, you can see how it creates a better society than injustice. It makes for fair play, equality, and happy citizens.”

But then, what makes you decide that fair play, equality, and happy citizens are better than the alternative? What transcendent standard do you use to judge THOSE things as good?

Contestant Two: “Isn’t it good to make people happy?”

I would say so, but it is because God taught me to consider others as more important than myself. What makes YOU think so?

Contestant Two: “Because killing FEELS wrong. Justice FEELS right!”

I share your feelings because I believe God gave us conscience- an innate understanding of right and wrong. But others have vastly different feelings. Some people’s feelings lead them to murder anyone of a differing race, some to eat neighboring tribes, some to rape and pillage, and some to board a school bus covered in explosives to kill themselves and every passenger on the bus. These things happen all the time because some people feel they are right. Mind you, not just morally neutral and somehow justifiable, but they feel to rape, pillage, and murder is truly RIGHT and GOOD. Are they correct?

Contestant Three: “Of course not. But why must there be a law giver? Why cannot conscience simply evolve? Or morals be discovered as mathematics are discovered?”

The answer is something we all know instinctively as children. When one kid says to another kid, “You can’t do that!”or, “We’re not allowed to go in there!” the child who WANTS to do that or go there will inevitably reply, “Says who?” Our innate response is to seek out an appropriate authority that has the right to dictate right and wrong to us. We know that our boundaries are set for us by someone in authority over us. We know that mom and dad have the right to tell us what we can do, where we can go, what we should say, and what we’re allowed to eat. Otherwise, we’d go where we want, eat what we want, do what we please, and probably never survive long enough to reach the first grade. The Bible teaches us that God is the ultimate authority, and that he has given us a conscience so that we all instinctively know that it’s wrong to steal or lie or hurt other people.

Furthermore, if these morals are God’s revelation of right and wrong, then we CAN discover them as we discover mathematics. Otherwise we could only invent them as we invent the rules of a game. If I said I play four strike baseball, you would not find me morally evil. If I said I kill and eat my neighbors, you would know I was evil and would want the police to do something about it. To discover something it must exist. If we discover right and wrong, it is only because they are real and can be discovered. Evolution would only give us instincts for survival and passing on our genes.

If all we are is the product of evolution, then there is an evolutionary cause for racism, rape, murder, theft, and betrayal.

If evolution has given us the instinct to kill and the instinct to feel murder is wrong, why should we choose one over the other? Can we even choose, or is that, too, a product of evolution? Do we imprison murderers for behaving as they are programmed by their DNA? Would this not be like punishing a blender for making a fruit smoothie or  a magnet for hanging onto the fridge? And even if we CAN choose, why should we choose feeling murder is wrong over using murder to survive and pass on our genes (Or to get rich, or get a better parking spot, etc)?

In conclusion, if there is no God, there is no one with the authority to be a moral law giver. If there is no moral law giver, there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, there is no objective right and wrong. If there is no objective right and wrong- then I’m going to have to flip a coin to decide if I want to love my neighbor or eat him with a side of potato salad.

If my neighbor is white and I serve him with a white wine, would that be wrong?

Please, love your neighbor, and remember

#JesusLovesYou

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My Boy Brady and The Big Bang | Feedback Friday!

Welcome once again to Feedback Friday! This comment is from our friend Brady and is in reply to this post about the Big BANG. He writes:

There are several problems with this post.

The first one being is that the Big Bang is actually not an explosion. It is widely affirmed that the term “Big Bang” is a misnomer. The Big Bang Theory states that the universe started out hot and dense and has expanded and cooled since then.

The second problem is that you claim that the Big Bang Theory is an atheistic theory. This could not be further from the truth. Before the BBT came, most atheists thought that the universe was static and eternal. The BBT actually threatened their atheism, because it implies that the universe had a beginning. So you actually have it backwards: atheists first rejected the BBT and Christians were the first ones to affirm the BBT. In fact, it was a Christians who came up with the BBT.

The third problem is that you say that Edwin Hubble was an atheist. This is blatantly wrong, as he was a Christian.

The fourth problem is that you say that the earth being in the center of the universe is evidence for God, but you never explain why that is the case. How is the earth being in the middle of the universe evidence for God?

Greetings again, Brady, and thank you for your questions.
1. This is semantic nit picking. If something starts out so small that it is considered of no size and it quickly enlarges until it is very VERY large, then perhaps you can explain to me why it is not an explosion. Especially since the model has it being an enormous release of heat and light. How is that NOT an explosion? Riddle me THIS Batman. Until then, I shall maintain that when something suddenly gets much much larger, this can be called an explosion.

IF the words “Expansion” or “Inflation” can really be said to be importantly different, feel free to make the case. Even if you do, I also fail to see how this pettifoggery is of any import. Nothing I say or defend really hinges on this choice of words, and thus this critique is not really necessary.

2. I understand that The Big Bang model proves atheism false and as such was rejected on philosophical grounds by atheists in its infancy, just as it is embraced for philosophical reasons by atheists now merely because it provides an alternative (or they falsely believe it does) to creation by God. I defend my assertion because Big Bang is not based on the observational data, it is not supported by scripture (and in fact contradicts in various ways) and it is now, out of desperation I suppose, the religious creation story of atheism. If one does not start with atheistic assumptions, I do not see any reason why they would embrace it. Christians may have embraced it- I do not know if that is true- but far too many churches erred in accepting evolution as well, and as I have shown several times over, Evolution is as wrong as wrong can be (provided you define it to mean what Darwin meant).

3. From his own words I would not believe Hubble was a Christian, and I have found no evidence to support your claim. Also, he is listed on the internet as a celebrity Atheist/Agnostic, so if you are correct the error is not mine alone. If you have a source to confirm this, please share it. Once again, the point I make is not made on his being an atheist, nor is it broken by his not being one.

4. Forgive me for failing to make the case. I figured this one was obvious. Even Stephen Hawking addresses it in his work- if we are at the center of the universe, the odds are so far against it that it becomes much more likely that we were placed here by an act of will as opposed to random chance dumb luck. This is why Hawking asserts the absurd and (even he admits) unprovable proposition that the universe looks, to any observer in it, anywhere in the universe, as though they are at the center.

See, the large scale map of the universe shows us as the center of a series of concentric bubbles- like being at the middle of a bull’s eye. This certainly would be unlikley. Hawking and others like him admit that this would make our place in the universe far more aligned with the special creation by God than by dumb luck, and that’s why he asserts the absurd and unprovable. In the quote I provide in the context of this article, he says “We believe it only on grounds of modesty…”

Actually, re-reading what I wrote, I do address most of your questions in the original article. Perhaps you ought to just give it a second, and more careful reading. Good advice for most situations I suspect.
Thanks again.

Another friend named Gary wrote in and said:

I’m surprised that you missed something in your humorous story about naming the Big Bang. It was a snide remark by opponent Fred Hoyle that stuck. Also surprised that you didn’t get heat from atheists who object to the explosion reference, but that IS the way it was originally described for many years, then the so-called inflation stuff came along and the explosion thing was no longer accurate. The BB has very little in common with the early days, and even less in common with actual science.

Greetings GJM! I did actually know that the name “Big Bang” was coined as a snide remark, but I’m still disappointed that no one came up with anything better. And I did get pushback from atheists on youtube about calling the big bang an explosion.

While I am familiar with the language of “inflation” I must ask, as I did to them,

what’s the difference between an explosion and a rapid inflation?

It seems rather nit picky to say nothing suddenly became a giant and rapidly expanding ball of intense heat and light but it WASN’T an explosion. If your car suddenly becomes a rapidly expanding ball of light and heat, you will tell the insurance company that your car exploded. I don’t think they would be justified to say “We would cover an explosion, but your car simply underwent a rapid inflationary period.”

Although I have had insurance companies try similar things with me in the past, but I digress. thanks for your comment.

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Proof of God 6: Proving God with Science (AKA: Indiana CSI: Tomb Raider)

Roach Clowns all the time be saying, “I don’t understand God, Science, or the concept of proof!” but because their spelling is so bad it frequently comes across as “I demand scientific proof for the existence of God!

Now because they so often want scientific observations of God Himself, they prove only what they don’t know. They are demanding physical observations of a immaterial being.

This is like asking how much water love would displace when submerged or how tall Jazz is in centimeters. On the other hand, there is a second way to take this demand. We could alter it to demand that science be used to show the existence of God (Sometimes you need to help the Roach Clowns make sense before you can answer them. This is one of those times). It is in this second way that science is of great help to the Christian Apologist. But before I explain that, I need to tell you something truly amazing about this article.

BagawatChurch copy Continue reading

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Objective Morals and the Fish Slapping Dance

I was setting fire to old tires full of orphan kittens this morning when I realized that the only thing that has kept me from making arson (Burning down hospitals, specifically) a full time career is all the time I spend selling drugs to grade school kids as a way to fund the local chapter of the Illinois Nazis.

Racism isn’t cheep you know. Not the real, fascist, genocidal kind.

So, I thought I could start splitting my time between drugs and theft more efficiently by forcing other people to rob for me by threatening their wives and children with high explosives and anthrax. Every successful person has a team under them. Look at Jim Henson, Oprah, or Attila the Hun just to name a few examples. And I want my career as a Fascist polluting racist thieving drug czar to be more than just a hobby. I want it to be really big, because I want the world to be a better place.

It’s a lot of work, but I really feel it’s the right thing to do.


Continue reading

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In Defense of the 10 (non) Atheist Commandments

Greetings friends! Today we’re looking at a reply to my recent series on the 10 atheist (non) commandments, which shows that, no matter how simple I try to make things, people will tell me I’m wrong without actually reading what I’ve said.

Seriously, can anyone argue that I write at too high a level to be understood? Because I don’t think it takes a PhD to read my stuff. I don’t think it takes much more than a 5th grade education to understand me EVER, but still somehow I remain a mystery to some. Go fig.

For a great example of someone missing the point, read this reply by Makagutu, and then some of his readers. He fails almost immediately by claiming “atheism makes no claims.” How people can make this error over and over amazes me. This is a MAJOR concern of his. “HOW DARE you define Atheism to mean “Atheism”? It’s MEANINGLESS!”Which is almost true, but I digress. Continue reading

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Proof of God 5: Universe from the new i-God (Not coming to any store near you)

During this series I’ve been focusing on how Roach Clowns all the time be demanding evidence for the existence of God, but they are not the only people who ask for evidence for the existence of God. Lots of people do and ought to ask for evidence for every part of the Christian worldview. What makes Roach Clowns unique is that they have absolutely no desire to hear the answer, and will do anything in their power to ignore, misunderstand, or make fun of any evidence you provide.

When Roach Clowns ask you to give evidence for God, they are like Midwesterners who say, “How are you doing?” We don’t really want to know how you are doing. It’s a greeting. It simply means, “I acknowledge your presence in my vicinity.” You’re supposed to reply, “Fine,” or “Good,” and then quickly change the subject. When a Roach Clown says, “What evidence do you have for the existence of God?” what he means is “I don’t understand your position, but you’re wrong and I hate you.”

Naturally, the meaning does get lost in translation.

universe box Continue reading

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