In a previous blog I engaged in dialogue with a friend who had a view in opposition to the posted subject. The subject dealt with the point that atheism/naturalism has no cumulative case argument for its worldview. I also was trying to make the point that in atheism you find no analytic argument that flows putting the pieces of what we can know to form a comprehensive case for the worldview of atheism or naturalism.
One of the problems as expressed by my friend dealt with what a worldview is. My friend adamantly disagreed with atheism being a worldview by saying, “calling atheism a worldview is what is compounding the problem.” I would like to make two points here, first, if atheism is not a worldview, then why was my friend trying to defend atheism? Secondly, my friend seems to contradict himself, while agreeing with the definition given concerning a worldview (Worldview is defined as, an intellectual perspective on the world or universe) and denying that atheism is an intellectual perspective. I, for one, would hate to take the position that my view of the world is not an intellectual position! Clearly my friend sees his view of atheism/naturalism as being a worldview or else he would have no way to defend his belief in them.
Another point of contention revolved around my friend’s belief that naturalism is vastly different from atheism. When pressed he said, “Atheism is not a worldview. Naturalism is a worldview. Atheism is but one part of a worldview. For example, an atheist could be a Buddhist or he could be a naturalist. Atheism is but one feature of several worldviews. Thus, it is not a worldview in itself.” Let me define both atheism and naturalism. Atheism is defined as, “the doctrine or belief that there is no god.” Naturalism is, “ Everything is a collection of entities of the sort the sciences are about, and all truth is determined ultimately by the truths about these basic scientific entities.”  The definition given of naturalism by atheist Philosopher John Post, stresses the point of the universe by way of a physicalist view. In other words, there simply is no such thing as the supernatural. If supernaturalism cannot exist, then the view of naturalism falls right in the clutches of atheism. My friend did make a good point that not all atheists are naturalist (i.e. Buddhism), but both atheism and naturalism are playing on the same team. If one is a naturalist, he is by definition an atheist.
Another major problem dealt with my friend’s unwillingness to address the topic at hand. The topic dealt with the nature of naturalistic/atheistic argumentation. There is no collective way to argue for the atheistic worldview, because you are arguing for meaninglessness. In a way, atheism and naturalism is contradictory, because there is meaning in the universe (see the moral argument below). The only way that the atheist has to argue is to try and take the negative view.
In the original post, my friend suggests a mired of negative viewpoints and puts forth no concise argument for his view until the last post. When dealing with the cumulative case for God, one is not necessarily arguing for the Christian God (though that is the view I take). The cumulative argument is put forth to show that it is more likely to believe in God as opposed to atheism. Once it can be established that it is more likely to believe in God, one proceeds to the next question, “Which God?” My friend, however, in trying to argue against the cumulative case constantly brought up topics unrelated to the topic at hand (i.e. Trinitarian doctrine, council of Nicaea, aliens raising Jesus). Credit should be given for his willingness to offer counter explanations, but the point of my post was proven in that he offered no positive case either for the non-existence of God or contra the resurrection of Jesus.
The Arguments Against God’s Existence
My friend finally made four arguments against the existence of God in the form of syllogisms. A syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning where one uses logic to try and argue a point. I have no formal training in syllogism, but know that the conclusion needs to be supported by the premises. If one of the premises fails, the whole argument fails.
Before dissecting my friend’s four syllogisms, I would like to point something out. If my friend is making a philosophical argument from a naturalistic viewpoint, he is clearly betraying his worldview. One of the tenants of naturalism revolves around testing. If everything contained, is within the physical world, and all truth is garnered by way of science, as atheistic naturalist John Post stated earlier, then why would my friend put forth arguments that can in no way be tested? I believe it is disingenuous to claim naturalism and at the same time make a philosophical non-naturalistic form of argumentation.
How about the first argument,
“1.There is a natural world. (various evidence could be shown)
2. This is agreed upon by Christians and atheists alike. (sort of a lowest common denominator)
3. To show there is anything beyond the natural world (the supernatural) it is incumbent on the person making the claim to provide reasons or evidence for that claim.
4. The Christian claims there is the supernatural.
5. Therefore it is incumbent on the Christian to provide reasons or evidence for the supernatural (from 3)
6. If the Christian does not provide sufficient reason for belief in the supernatural (where sufficient is defined as more likely than its negative) he is unjustified in believing in the supernatural. (from 3, 4, 5)
You have not provided sufficient reason to believe in the supernatural. Therefore, as it stands, naturalism is the more rational worldview to hold.”
Concerning my friend’s first argument, I fail to see any argument here that addresses the non-existence of God. This cannot even be labeled as an argument, because nothing is being proved in the above statement. Premise 3 has nothing to do with an argument against the existence of God; it is a mere statement of belief. I fail to see how this in anyway could count as an argument against God. Point 5 lays the burden on the Christian to show evidence for the supernatural, but my friend takes a naturalist position, so it is irrelevant what kind of evidence a Christian could give. He will deny a priori any evidence that points to supernaturalism, because of the naturalistic worldview that he holds. In fact, he shows his cards in his response to my blog by saying, “Extraordinary events usually require extraordinary explanations and thus while the God hypothesis is reasonable as an extraordinary explanation so are many others (note I’m not using the canard that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, that I think is clearly false as it is incredibly improbable and miraculous that I would exist and yet there is a very simple non-extraordinary reason for my being here.)” This seems to me to be a very Humeian type of logic. When we are talking of supernatural explanations, we are describing supernatural events. My friend changed one word to try and wiggle out of a Humeinan based argumentation that he chooses to hold on to. Concerning his last statement, I would only ask, “What is this very simple non-extraordinary reason for my being here?”
If he is offering an argument against the non-existence of God, he fails because he is not offering an argument at all and he fails to even consider the possibility of supernaturalism. If I have failed to show sufficient reason for the supernatural as my friend concluded, it is only because on a naturalist worldview NO reasons exist for supernaturalism. If he wanted to make a positive case for the non-existence of God, which was the original challenge, then it is incumbent upon my friend to show an argument to that mean.
The second argument given is as follows,
1.If the God exists, then the attributes of God are consistent with one another.
2.Some attributes of God are not consistent with one another.
3.Therefore, God does not and cannot exist.
This second argument is vague in that he fails to show what attributes are inconsistent with one another. Until he can form a logical argument to show inconsistencies in God’s attributes, the argument fails. Again, we have a negative argument. My friend shows no evidence or argumentation for the non-existence of God.
The third argument given is,
1.If God exists, then he is perfect.
2.If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
3.A perfect being can have no needs or wants.
4.If any being created the universe, then he must have had some need or want.
5.Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 & 4)
6.Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).
My friend’s third argument fails because it makes assumptions. Looking at premise 4, my friend assumes that the creator of the universe has needs and wants based upon premise 2 and 3. However, my friend fails to realize that God could be a personal being who desires to share his love with others, while wanting and needing nothing. I agree with my friend that God is in need of nothing (Acts 17:25), but he desires a relationship with his creation because of his love nature (1 John 4:8). So, God does not want or need anything, and therefore, created the universe desiring to have a relationship with those created in his image because of who he is (2 Peter 3:9). The third argument fails to account for all possibilities.
My friend’s fourth argument is given as follows,
1.If God exists he is omniscient.
2.To be omniscient one must know all facts.
3.But there are an infinite amount of facts.
4.An actual infinite is impossible.
5.Therefore, God cannot be omniscient. (from 2, 4, and 4)
6.If God is not omniscient he cannot exist. (from 1 and 5)
The last argument also fails because it is incoherent and contradictory. Right off the bat my friend contradicts himself with premise 3 and 4. He argues in circles by saying “there are an infinite number of facts” and then turning around by saying, “an actual infinite is impossible.” Which way is it my friend; you can’t have it both ways? The argument also fails in that it is vague. What exactly does he mean by omniscient? Does God having all knowledge entail that an infinity of facts exists? Couldn’t omniscience simply mean that God has all knowledge? The fourth argument fails to show that God does not exist. It fails in its vagueness and can be shown to be contradictory.
In conclusion to my original challenge, my friend states, “Thus, contrary to your claim, an atheist could easily make a cumulative case against the Christian God. Provide a couple of arguments like the ones above, show that various Christian arguments do not work, critique the Bible, and viola, you have a concise cumulative case for atheism, at least in regards to Christianity.” I think my friend made no cumulative case, because he failed to realize what a cumulative means, and he continued to argue by taking the negative view. In actuality a cumulative case builds from one block of truth to another to form a comprehensive case for God or the person of Jesus.
A Cumulative Case
A cumulative case cannot be fully addressed here. Philosopher Doug Geivett has offered a cumulative case argument based on eight steps. The purpose of the cumulative case is to accumulate arguments that specifically answer questions such that collectively they point to one likely outcome; in this case the existence of God or the resurrection of Jesus. I will only touch on some specific arguments that collectively point toward theism or resurrection. It must be understood that a Humeian view of reality will not allow for the consideration of supernaturalism. If one is to be truly open, then consideration of the evidence cannot disallow any of the possibilities. If it can be shown that the accumulative evidence points toward the supernatural, then it is dishonest for one to deny the supernatural simply because of personal preference alone.
Cumulative Evidence For God
Due to time constraints, I will not be able to thoroughly address each of the cumulative arguments in detail, but will include more detailed explanations (click on the arguments) for each argument presented.
The first argument to be considered is called the cosmological argument. It is clear to all in science that the universe is not eternal and that it had a beginning. One of the more popular cosmological arguments is the Kalam Cosmological argument. The argument concludes that God brought the universe into existence. In other words, it was caused to exist. Since the universe cannot logically cause itself, it must therefore need a cause. This causer must be by definition, all-powerful, eternal in nature, outside of space and time (immaterial), and have the will to create. The reason for a single God is due to a principle referred to as Ockham’s razor. Ockham’s razor says, “We should not multiply causes beyond what is necessary to explain the effect.  The main thrust of the argument is to show that it is more likely to believe the universe was caused to exist by God as opposed to starting by some blind unknown process. One of the arguments contra a chance beginning is that, from nothing, nothing comes.
A second argument in the cumulative case is referred to as the design argument. There are two phases of the design argument related to the fields of biology and astronomy. On the astronomical phase the cosmos points to the fact of fine-tuning. If the universe is fine-tuned, there must exist a tuner or God. On the biological phase it appears that DNA information points to an informer, or God. One of the points of the design argument is that humans were created with purpose. In other words, there is purpose built in to the universe, and specifically for humanity upon planet earth.
A third argument deals with meaning and morals. If the universe indicates purposeful creation, then the creation must have meaning. If humans have meaning it is only because of objective moral values. Everyone recognizes the existence of moral values. If moral values do don’t exist, then it doesn’t matter what we do (rape, torture of children, killing for sport). But, all recognize there seems to be an objective moral law. If a moral law exists, that means a moral lawgiver or God exists. One could deny morals, such as Philosopher Michael Ruse, by saying, “Morality is just an aid to survival…and any deeper meaning is illusory.”  On a naturalistic/atheistic view morals are the result of blind evolutionary forces, but this seems very unrealistic. Philosopher William Lane Craig comments that, “It is fantastically improbable that…creatures would emerge from the blind evolutionary process who correspond to the abstractly existing realm of moral values. This seems to be an utterly incredible coincidence when you think about it. It is almost as though the moral realm knew that we were coming.” 
A fourth argument deals with an argument from miracles. If a miracle can be shown more fitting to a supernatural explanation, than to punting for some yet unknown naturalist explanation, then this represents another argument for God. This is even more powerful if the miracle matches a theistic explanation, or there exists purpose behind the miraculous event. If a miracle is outside the natural realm, the supernatural must exist.
A fifth evidence that makes up the cumulative case involves the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus did rise from the dead, and prophecies exist about this event (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22), then it is more probable to believe that God exists. The New Testament documents portray Jesus as predicting his death and resurrection (Mark 14:58, Matthew 12:40). If Jesus truly said this, it is more evidence to not only miracles, but also the existence of the Christian God.
There are other arguments that exist for the existence of God (Argument from consciousness, argument from truth, the argument from desire). Each argument supports one aspect of reality and builds a cumulative case for God’s existence. When considering the evidence for or against the existence of God, all points must be considered without prejudice. I hold that naturalism not only handicaps the search for truth, but handcuffs the worldview in a non-comprehensive way.
Cumulative Evidence For The Resurrection
Did Jesus rise supernaturally from the grave? Almost no one would deny that Jesus existed. Almost all scholars would agree that Jesus died, was buried, and his know tomb was found empty three days later. The question that needs to be addressed is, “How is this best explained?”
There are many factors to consider that point to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. All these factors need to be explained away if they do not match with reality. Cumulatively these factors tell us that it is more likely to believe in the resurrection of Jesus as opposed to any other story (swoon, hallucination, wrong grave, myth).
One of the cumulative evidences for the resurrection includes: resurrection in Jerusalem. To start a new religion from Judaism claiming that Jesus was the Messiah and God would have invited death to anyone making that claim. We see the resurrection story as being very early. Practically all scholars recognize the fact that the 1st Corinthians 15 passage is an early creed concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The late Jack Kent, who did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus even, stated the 1st Corinthians 15 passage “could be dated very close to the resurrection.”  If the early century Christians first promoted the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem knowing full well that Jesus did not rise, they were by far the most ignorant people to have ever lived on the face of the earth.
A second evidence pointing to resurrection involves the women as discoverers of the empty tomb. First century women had no credible testimony in a court of law. If the gospel accounts took place some 30 to 60 years after the resurrection story, you would expect they would have had more than enough time to think of a better explanation for the empty tomb. Yet, all four-gospel writers say that women were not only the fist to see the empty tomb, but were in fact the first to see Jesus. Certainly this embarrassing account would have been left out if the gospel stories were nothing more than myth.
A third evidence pointing to resurrection is the empty tomb. Where did the body go? Many individuals proclaimed that the known tomb was empty and that Jesus had come back to life. Coupled together, this is just one more piece of cumulative evidence that points to the resurrection of Jesus.
A fourth and final evidence revolves around the changed lives of individuals. If the people who claimed to have encountered the resurrected Jesus were fabricating a story, then why were they willing to die in masses for a known lie? It is more reasonable to believe that the encounter was real than the opposite. For those who say otherwise, it is more likely that it is they who are more willing to believe a lie. I can’t fathom how scores of individuals would be so stupid as to forfeit their lives for a known lie. My friend responded, “Maybe Christianity spread not because it was true but rather because it had some powerful radical ideas, images, and life transforming power relative to the culture at the time.” My only complaint with this point is that wishing a death sentence upon yourself is not really life transforming.
Other evidence also points to the resurrection of Jesus, such as secular/Jewish stories, conversion of those who were not followers of Jesus, and fulfilled prophesies. If one is to counter the resurrection, a comprehensive argument must be given, but at this moment, none exists.
Taking the negative view is the easy way out; all one has to do is be skeptical. The atheist/naturalist have no comprehensive cumulative case for their view. The negative view relies on statements such as, “What about this and that or It could be that…” The negative view often offers wild arguments that have nothing to do with proving their point. For example, my friend stated this concerning the resurrection, “Maybe Jesus was brought back from death by aliens.” These arguments don’t even deal with reality and yet this seems to be one of the negative ways on which atheism argues.
Like any argument, 100 % proof is not needed. All that is needed is to tip the scales in your favor. I argue that the Christian worldview is robust and comprehensively answers the big questions of life. On the other hand atheism and naturalism fail to give any cumulative evidence either for the non-existence of God or against the resurrection of Jesus. The worldview of atheism provides no robust argument, but only offers a negative view of meaninglessness. Naturalism itself is not open to all the evidence based upon its locking the doors to supernatural explanation. I am interested in truth, and until better evidence can be provided to the contrary of Christianity, I am staying put with the comprehensive Christian worldview of reality.
 John Post as quoted in J.P. Moreland’s, Kingdom Triangle, p. 40
 J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, p. 487
 Michael Ruse as quoted in William Lane Craig’s, God Are You There?, p. 33
 Ibid, p. 35