Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Knowledge - What counts?

A common argument that often surfaces against Theism is, "You wouldn't believe in little green men or Santa Clause, so why believe in God?"  What the skeptic is really saying is that belief in God is simple-minded or anti-intellectual, but is it? 

The skeptic when arguing in this direction is placing himself as a purveyor of higher knowledge than the Theist.  He is saying that belief in God can not be true and must therefore be a contrived fairy-tale.  In essence, the skeptic is arguing that he has greater knowledge in the non-existence of God than the Theist has in the existence of God.  But, what exactly is the knowledge the skeptic is putting forth?  What does knowledge entail?

Knowledge, according to one definition is, "acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition."  Given this definition, there must be facts and truths present for anything to count as knowledge.  When the skeptic compares the Theist position to contrived stories, he is simply arguing from a position of arrogance and ignorance.  For when the skeptic claims that Theism is man-made, he is making absolutely no argument from the standpoint of knowledge.

Christian apologetics presents a conglomerate of arguments that culminate together in showing that the Christian God accounts for greater knowledge than the non-existence of the Christian God.  Some of the arguments that support the existence of the Christian God include:  The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Fine-Tuning of the Universe,  Specified Complexity,  the information message in DNA, human consciousness, the resurrection of Jesus, and many others.  The point is,  the Christian position is honest in assuming responsibility when it comes to arguing for its position, whereas, skepticism often makes statements with no intellectual support.  If the skeptic wants to bring down the Christian God, it must put forth knowledge-based arguments to show Christianity as a failed worldview. 

What counts as knowledge?  As the definition clearly states, knowledge involves facts (evidence) and truths.  Maybe the skeptic should assume more responsibility in the knowledge realm before making statements not based in knowledge!


Vinny said...

Some of the arguments that support the existence of the Christian God include: The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Fine-Tuning of the Universe, Specified Complexity, the information message in DNA, human consciousness, the resurrection of Jesus, and many others.

Only one of those arguments support the existence of the Christian God. The rest are arguments for the existence of some God.

Shelby Cade said...

But, if the Christian God exists Vinny, then all of them would count.

Vinny said...

I can concede the Kalaam Cosmological Argument or the Fine-Tuning of the Universe or Specified Complexity or the information message in DNA or human consciousness, and still logically reject the existence of the Christian God. I could also concede all five of them and still logically reject the existence of the Christian God. So while there may be some sense in which they all count individually, I don’t see how they form a conglomerate since establishing all five of them together doesn’t get you any closer to the Christian God than establishing just one of them. Moreover, if you could establish the resurrection alone, it might not be necessary to establish any of the others, which also suggests that they do not form a conglomerate.

MaryLou said...

You're right, Vinny. Some of the arguments provide evidence for the existence of a God, but not necessarily the Christian God. However, we have to start somewhere. Once we figure out that it's logical to accept the existence of God, then we move on to a comparison of the God of the Bible with the gods of other religions.

Non-Christian religions are all about trying to earn our way into a far-off, unknowable God's favour by obeying rules and practising rites. Christianity is all about God coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We're all sinners, but God can't have sin in his presence. We can't make ourselves sin-free no matter how faithfully we follow the rules or how often we attend services. So Christ came to offer us his righteousness (as both God AND man he was sin-free) in exchange for our sins. That's why only Christ saves.

When we compare worldviews, it's easy to see that the Christian one is the strongest. I recommend J. P. Moreland's Kingdom Triangle for further reading.

K. Turner said...

Wouldn’t it be easy to stoop to the skeptic’s approach of negation? If the Christian God is fictitious, prove it! Unfortunately that would prove the atheistic view presented in this blog. This overall and well stated point in this article is far too often swept aside.
Repeatedly atheists (and like) suggest that religious views are below theirs because it differs. Obviously that is not a reasonable foundation to discuss a secular agenda. Facts are necessary to establish a world view, not just ridicule. In this blog the points referring to an attestable God, or more specifically the Christian God, root from intellectual foundations: scientific knowledge, historical documentation, sound philosophical theories, etc... Not some convenient fairytale. To say that an idea must be imaginary, as it doesn’t seem to fit your view, is not a defense at all. Just because someone doesn’t believe in something, it doesn’t make it any less factual. This ploy, in my opinion, is only a means of maintaining momentum in an argument; it does not suggest any evidence to the contrary. If a skeptic really wants to influence my beliefs, give me a more probable explanation of everything. Show me a more accurate Darwinian model for creation, or a reasonable alternative to the resurrection, or a reasonable explanation of consciousness. The list goes on and on. If the preponderance of evidence is in favor of a creator, then it is more likely true that there is one. Weigh the truths, come to conclusions, and decide on your beliefs based on personal research and understanding, not on the assumption that the unknown must be a fairytale. Atoms are everywhere; haven’t seen one, but I believe the provided evidence suggesting they are. If we all would truly follow the facts with an open mind, the abundance of evidence will reveal the truth… Jesus. And what a great truth He is.