Friday, January 12, 2007

Atheistic Contradiction

I recently finished writing a new article for the website on the Kalam Cosmological argument (it is under the "Philosophy and Misc. section"). As I was writing it, I came across another example of how a thorough, complete and coherent atheistic position cannot be advanced. I mentioned it toward the end of the article, but I wanted to mention it briefly here for those of you who may not be interested in the whole detailed article.

Here's the basic problem. The Kalam Cosmological argument says that (1) everything that comes into existence requires a cause, (2) the universe came into existence (at the Big Bang), therefore (3) the universe requires a cause. As we explore this further, we see that the cause is God (see the articles under the "Argument for Christianity" for details). One approach some atheists have taken to try to avoid the theological implications of the Big Bang is to say that just because everything in our universe requires a cause does not mean that the universe itself requires a cause. In other words, the universe could have simply popped into existence out of nowhere. Imagine if you were walking down the street and an apple suddenly appeared in the air in front of you out of nowhere. That's basically what they are claiming could have happened with the universe. Seems pretty miraculous, doesn't it? So in order to to deny God's hand in the creation of the universe, miracles must be possible.

Anthony Flew, probably the leading atheistic philosopher of the late 20th century, used to concede that the "facts" surrounding Jesus' resurrection were undeniable (i.e., the empty tomb, Paul's sudden conversion, etc.). However, it was the interpretation of those facts that was in dispute. He said that in his worldview, miracles are not possible. So when he looks at the evidence for the resurrection, he believes there must be some other explanation for it, even if he could not see it. Whereas in a Christian worldview, miracles are possible, so they will be more likely to believe that the evidence points to a miracle.

And here's the contradiction. In order to deny Jesus' resurrection, miracles are not possible (because Flew conceded that if you believed miracles were possible, the evidence would point to a miracle). So to refute one part of the Christian argument, miracles are possible, but to refute another part miracles are not possible.

I've debated a lot of atheists, and this is a recurring theme. You see, many of them are very well read in one particular discipline, but they may not know much about others. I was once debating John Loftus on his blog (Loftus is a former pastor in the Church of Christ turned atheist, and even though we obviously disagree, I do respect him for his intelligence and courtesy, even though I think he arrives at the wrong conclusions). He and I were discussing some philosophical issues when I began to argue how some of the cosmological and astronomical evidence refuted the philosophical point he was trying to make. He responded to me that he really wasn't an expert in those areas, and tended to focus on philosophy.

I respect John, but this dialogue illustrated a recurring problem with atheism. The arguments in one arena may often be refuted by the evidence in another, or sometimes (as I discussed above) the atheistic argument in one arena may actually be contradicted by the atheistic argument in another. The result is that, in my opinion, it is not possible to advance a thorough, coherent, non-contradictory atheistic position that adequately responds to the evidence for Christianity. I encourage anyone reading this to take a multi-disciplinary approach when evaluating this issue, so you will see the "big picture". That is what the articles on the Ten Minas website seek to do. God bless.

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