Quite a while ago I contributed a post titled “Coherent, Consistent, and Livable” to a series titled “Is Christianity is True” organized by Brian Auten. Shortly after the compiled book was published, Luke Muehlhauser announced his intentions to publish a rebuttal to each essay in the “Is Christianity is True?” series in a “Why Christianity is False” series of his own.
My hope is that through this series others will be encouraged to examine their own worldviews. Christian and non-Christian alike.
As Aristotle famously said,
The unexamined life is not worth living.
Luke mentions that my use of the word coherent appears to be limited to explanatory merit. While its true that a measure of any worldview is how far it sees, its also true that a worldview cannot see very far if it contains obstructions. I must apologize if my original post appears to lightly assume that the individual components of Christian belief do not operate in harmony with one another in order to provide us with a wider view of the world than what is provided by any other system of belief.
Luke seems to think that Christanity’s long vision is due to what many like to call a “god of the gaps” hypothesis wherein we suppose God wherever we have an unknown. The problem with that claim is that it is based on a kind of ignorance. Specifically an apparent ignorance with regards to the specific truth claims of Christianity. Luke also seems to confuse miracles1 with magic2 and then proceeds to whale on a straw man. The truth is that Christianity contains specific, testable, truth claims. Claims we can and do use to validate other claims that are not empirically verifiable.
It is funny that Luke brings up the ancient Greeks since their view of creation is not far removed from Luke and many of his fellow atheists. According to the Greek view there was a primordial force or essence that always existed and from which we derive our being. Many other ancient cultures either held a similar view that the universe was eternal or else they never addressed the problem of an infinite regress in their philosophical endeavors.
In contrast to this, the Judaeo/Christian view that the world we see has not always existed, but rather was created as a definite point in time, was radical. In fact, it was not until recently that such a steady state theory of the universe’s existence was once and for all disproved with the discovery of the Hubble Redshift and Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.
I know Luke has an affinity for the B theory of time which is the view that past, present, and future are merely illusions, but it seems to me that condemning a worldview for being incoherent based on premises that it does not ascribe to is intellectually dishonest.
Moving on; It was also the uniquely Christian belief in a logical and consistent creator which gave the founders of the modern science, like Newton and Bacon the idea that they could observe natural phenomenon and discover how the world works. If they had held to a view of magic, that contingent entities could spontaneously pop into existence uncaused out of nothing, then it is doubtful they, or anyone with a similar view, would have ever thought it wise to examine the world around them for regular and repeatable patterns.
What is interesting is that Luke appears to hold just such a view, however, with regards to the universe’s existence. And this demonstrates another way in which naturalism tends to be incoherent. Per naturalism, the universe, which we know is contingent and therefore had a cause, came into existence without any cause and from nothing3. If that position is true, then there is no real reason we shouldn’t expect other spontaneous events to occur. Such a view, in my estimation, provides more of a place for magic to exist (and thus render the universe incoherent) than the view wherein the universe was designed by a being wishing it to be known who also designed us with the resources with which to know it.
So its not the lack of information with regards to the origin of the universe that cause us to think that an intelligent responsible for causing everything that presently exists to begin existing. We base this claim on the data provided in Scripture, validated by scientific findings, and further extended by logic and reason.
For example, since we know the universe began to exist, we can infer several things about the cause of that existence. Whatever created the universe must be space-less, timeless, and non-physical. Further, whatever created the universe must be immensely powerful in order to have created all the matter and energy in the universe. Moreover we have good reason to think it was intelligent since our universe contains many finely tuned parameters with respect to life on our planet. We also have reason to suspect intelligence because whatever caused the universe must, itself, be uncaused. That means natural forces and systems are not good candidates since they would be subject to what philosophers call the “problem of an infinite regress”.
Luke tries to dismiss all of this scientific evidence by invoking Occam’s Razor of simplistic answers. However since the universe apparently had a definite beginning, and since we find other intelligent agents in our universe, and since we know of nothing else that demonstrates creative agency, it is hardly a stretch to think that the cause of our universe is an intelligent causal agent.
- Biblically miracles are performed by God for the specific purpose of making Him known. [↩]
- Magic is mysterious, meaning the observer is not privy as to the origin or purpose, if any, of the event in question. [↩]
- If Luke wants a challenge, I invite him to come over to Quora and help his fellow atheists answer the question “What reasons do we have for thinking that God is not the cause of the big bang?” [↩]