Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What About Other Gods? (By Sye Ten Bruggencate - Copyright - Used by Permission)

Unbeliever: Why can't some other "god" be the necessary starting point?
Christian: Because there are no other gods.

U: How do you know that?
C: Because God tells us: "For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the Heavens" Psalm 96:5

U: What about the gods of the other religions?
C: They don't exist.

U: But other people believe that other gods exist.
C: I would argue that they don't, as Scripture teaches us that they are "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness."

U: Could you demonstrate why Allah or Vishnu couldn't be the necessary starting point?
C: Sure, because God tells us they don't exist.

U: But their "holy" books would argue that your God doesn't exist, how would you deal with them?
Christian: Which one do you believe?

U: None of them.
C: Then there is no sense arguing about them. We could also sit here and argue whether or not the moon is made of green cheese, but since neither of us believe that it would be a waste of time.

U: Surely you have heard of positing hypotheticals to disprove a claim?
C: Yes, that would make sense in other instances but we are talking about the necessary starting point to make sense of argumentation, so it would not make sense to argue from a position that you don't believe.

U: Ah, you are just saying that because you can't refute my hypothetical that Allah is the necessary starting point.
C: Not at all. Just for kicks, I will refute your hypothetical
Premise 1: If atheism is true, no gods exist
Premise 2: Atheism is true.
Conclusion: Therefore no gods exist and you have been refuted.

U: Um, but you are not an atheist!
C: Um, but you are not a Muslim! Do you see why refuting hypotheticals when it comes to the justification for knowledge is pointless?

U: Okay fine, I have just become a Muslim, now refute my god.
C: Do you see what you must do to even begin arguing against my position, you must abandon your position.

U: What do you mean?
C: Are you saying that Atheism cannot provide the necessary foundation for knowledge?

U: Um, atheism can't provide a foundation for anything as it makes no claims it is just a lack of belief.
C: Well in atheism there is the implied claim that knowledge can be justified without God, and you have demonstrated that by abandoning atheism to make your argument.

U: Okay fine, but you will discard my deity as quickly as I discard yours.
C: Not at all. I know that you are not a Muslim, but I will demonstrate how I refute their claim as a sign of good faith. (There are only 2 worldviews, God and "notGod." I treat all the "notGod" worldviews the same way, I ask them how they know what they know). How do you know what you know?

U: Revelation from Allah in the Holy Qur'an.
C: What does the Qur'an say about the Bible?

U: It denies the Bible.
C: Then you need to read your Qur'an. The Qur'an actually says that the Bible is a previous revelation of Allah, and that it is true (Surah 6:114*) so why don't you believe what it says?

U: The Bible has been corrupted over the years.
C: Well actually we have complete copies of the Bible which predate the Qur'an (i.e. Codex Vaticanus - 4th century AD), but what does your Qur'an say about whether or not the words of Allah can be changed?

U: Um, you got me again.
C: Well the Qur'an actually says that the words of Allah cannot be changed (Surah 6:34, 6:115**), so how do you reconcile the fact that the Qur'an teaches that the Bible is the words of Allah, and that the words of Allah cannot be changed with your claim that the Bible has been changed? (The point is that if the Qur'an is true, the Bible is true, and BECAUSE the Bible is true, the Qur'an is false).

U: Okay, good point, you have deconverted me from Islam, I have just become a Pastafarian and now believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is my god.
C: Just to be clear, are you telling me that atheism cannot justify knowledge and that is why you are jumping from alleged deity to alleged deity.

U: Yup, I'm a Pastafarian, refute my god.
C: What do you know about this god of yours and how do you know it?

U: He revealed it to me while I was standing in my closet by reaching down with his noodly appendage and implanting this knowledge into my head.
C: Well if I wanted to debate personal arbitrary revelations, I would go to the local asylum, as that is not at all like my claim. I offer an objective revelation for anyone to examine, but if you wish to claim that as your justification for knowledge, I would ask you to please speak into the microphone and tell the world what it takes to deny the God of Scripture.

For more info see www.proofthatgodexists.org.

For more about self-refuting worldviews (which includes some information on Islam) see the article I wrote here http://www.101arguments.com/2013/01/the-argument-from-self-refuting.html.

*Surah 6:114 "...Those unto whom We gave the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] know that it is revealed from your Lord in truth..."
**Surah 6:34 "And none can alter the words of Allah"
Surah 6:115 "And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower."

See also Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18.20 which basically make it clear that if someone comes saying they have a revelation from God that the way to test the truth of this is whether or not it agrees with what has already been revealed - if it contradicts the revealed Word of God in the Bible then that revelation is not from God.

See also my other blog post on Islam here http://brendantruthseeker.blogspot.co.nz/2014/02/more-than-dreams-islam.html.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Supposed Judas Contradiction – “Hanging” vs “Fell headlong”

According to the Gospel of Matthew after Judas had betrayed Jesus he hanged himself.

Matthew 27:5 “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”

However according to the book of Acts Judas demise came from falling headlong and his intestines spilling out.

Acts 1: 18 "(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.”

This apparent contradiction is one that skeptics have brought up a number of times. After searching online I found some articles written on this such as http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2009/05/25/contradictions-how-did-judas-die  and http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/matthew-mark/how-did-judas-die-hanging-or-falling-down that reconciled the verses but still left me wondering exactly what happened.

It’s important to realise that these verses are not mutually contradictory. The obvious answer is that both of these happened to him. 
But another answer I suspected could be the case is that the meaning of the word “hanged” back then also had a second meaning that is different from the hanging we think of today. After a bit of a hunt I found that that is exactly the case – as is explained below in the NIV Study Bible.
NIV Study Bible Notes for Matthew 27:5

Mt 27:5 reports that Judas hanged himself. It appears that when the body finally fell, either because of decay or because someone cut it down, it was in a decomposed condition and so broke open in the middle. Another possibility is that “hanged” in Mt 27:5 means “impaled” (See NIV text note on Est 2:23) and that the gruesome results of Judas’s suicide are described here.

Esther 2:23 “And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows…” (NIV Footnote - Or were hung (or impaled) on poles; similarly elsewhere in Esther)
NIV Study Bible Notes for Esther 2:23

Among the Persians this form of execution was impalement, as is confirmed in pictures and statues from the ancient Near East and in the comments of the Greek historian Herodotus (3.125, 129; 4.43). According to Herodotus (3.159) Darius I impaled 3,000 Babylonians when he took Babylon, an act that Darius himself recorded in his Behistun (Bisitun) inscription. In Israelite and Canaanite practice, hanging was an exhibition of the corpse and not the means of execution itself (Dt 21:22-23; Jos 8:29; 10:26; 1 Sa 31:8-10; 2 Sa 4:12; 21:9-10). The execution of a chamberlain in the Joseph narrative also appears to have been by impalement (Ge 40:19).
Another possibility not yet mentioned is that Judas fell with a noose around his neck but the rope was long enough for him to fall headlong, and then at a later time his body rotted and fell to the ground splitting his stomach open.

Or perhaps in attempting to hang himself the branch or rope broke and he subsequently fell and impaled himself.

So there are many possibilities that easily reconcile this supposed contradiction.

For those who don’t believe in the Bible, here’s a challenging question – what is your basis for appealing to the absolute law of non-contradiction from within your own worldview? In the biblical worldview laws of logic make sense. But they make no sense without God.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Circular Reasoning?

One of the common accusations professed atheists throw at Christians is that we are using circular reasoning in arguing that the Bible is true. If we were merely saying that the Bible is true because the Bible says so, then that would be an invalid circular argument. However this is not what we are saying. 

Firstly, as I mentioned in a previous post (Sye's Analogies), without God you don't get truth -  you just get brain fizz. So it's illogical to say that the Bible is not true, because you can't get truth without God.

Secondly, it seems arbitrary for an unbeliever to accuse us of doing circular reasoning while overlooking their own circular reasoning that devastates their own worldview - that of using their mind and reasoning to check that their reasoning is valid. How do you know that your reasoning is valid? is thus a very valid question.

Thirdly, some circles are unavoidable when you get down to core assumptions. In the Bible God swore by himself because their was no one greater to swear by. To illustrate this try proving that logic exists without using logic! For example, take the Law of Non-Contradiction (LNC) - you can't prove that this exists without assuming that it exists and using logic to prove logic - which is circular. But we can prove that the LNC exists by the impossibility of the contrary - if you look at what happens if you try and reason without it you end up in absurdity. If the LNC were not true we could also say that it is true and there would be no basis for objecting to that contradiction.

Fourthly, not all circles are created equal. Only the biblical circle can account for knowledge. Without the biblical circle there would be no circles at all! All non biblical worldviews have vicious circular reasoning at their core and cannot overcome the problem of using their reasoning to validate that their reasoning is valid. For this reason they refute themselves and blow themselves up. (See picture below)

"Non-Christian circles of reasoning are ultimately self-defeating. They do not pass their own test."
Jason Lisle article - http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab3/christian-worldview-logical

Here Jason Lisle has used an illustration of a man with a barrel of gunpowder going round in a circle. When he lights the fuse it will circle around him and blow himself up. The biblical circle is not a vicious circle but a virtuous circle because it is not a simple circle. The circle transcends a mere vicious circular argument by acknowledging revelation from God. It transcends this earthly plane and thus breaks free from the circle. God has revealed certain things to us so that we can know them for certain (such as that He exists).

God is true because the Bible says so AND because of the impossibility of the contrary. Without God truth doesn't make any sense and those who deny God's existence have their worldview reduced to absurdity.

Is circular reasoning always fallacious? The criticism that we have made a logical fallacy is borrowing from the Christian worldview where logic makes sense. In all non-biblical worldviews logic cannot be accounted for. The fact that the unbeliever expects us to play by 'the rules of logic' exposes the fact that in their heart of hearts they do know God because without God logical rules make no sense at all. Evolution doesn't give us logic - just brain fizz.

Another analogy similar to the unbelievers circle blowing itself up is that by arguing against God they are cutting off the branch they are sitting on. Check out the following humorous video to see someone doing exactly that! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RQfgbbPrxU.

The bottom line is that arbitrary circles are fallacious but the Christian position is a non-arbitrary circle that provides the only foundation for logic and knowledge is therefore not fallacious.

Sye's Analogies

I'd like to share a few of Sye Ten Bruggencate's analogies.

The first one is one he uses a lot that he credits to Doug Wilson. Imagine you have a bottle of Dr Pepper and a bottle of Sprite and you shake them both up. The result is a chemical reaction that causes both of them to fizz and overflow. Which chemical reaction is true? Of course the question doesn't make sense because you don't get truth from chemical reactions. In this case you just get fizz. Likewise with evolution - it doesn't give us truth - it just gives us brain fizz. How do you get truth without God? The answer is you don't - you just get brain fizz from the chemical reactions in ones mind.

Another analogy I liked explains why unbelievers don't like the presuppositional approach Sye uses.

Imagine a person is building a brick wall and they have just finished laying the final brick. It's a large wall and you look up at them and point out to them that the final brick is slightly crooked. The guy isn't too upset because it's just one brick and it's easy to fix. They thank you for your help.
Imagine though if the person building the wall is laying the final brick and you point out to them that the bottom layer of bricks are all crooked and seriously out of place. The person will likely get angry with you and deny that there is a problem because if he admits there is a problem with the foundation it means that the whole wall is no good and to fix the problem he'll have to tear the whole wall down and start again from scratch.

In the presuppostional approach we aren't just pointing out to them that there is a God shaped hole in their heart that can be fixed by tacking Jesus onto their life with a very minor adjustment. We are pointing out that their whole worldview is wrong from the foundation up and they need to repent and change their whole thinking from them being the Lord of their own reasoning to making Jesus the Lord of their reasoning.

An analogy that Sye uses to illustrate that knowledge is justified true belief is the speed limit analogy. Imagine if I said that the speed limit here is 50km/h but I'm not sure. Do I know this? Clearly I don't know it. I may even be correct in my assumption, but my belief is not justified as it may not be true. Anyway in order to know things for sure we'd have to know everything (be omniscient) otherwise something we think we know could be contradicted by something we don't yet know which would expose our false beliefs. So in order to know things for sure we either need to be God or have revelation from God. Otherwise how would we know that everything isn't just an illusion or some kind of Matrix world or computer SIM game world?

Another analogy Sye used is in relation to the idea that truth is whatever works pragmatically. Just because something works doesn't make it true or right. Imagine a father who is getting absolutely fed up with his daughter making too much noise. The father could kill his daughter, and this would work in terms of stopping the noise, but clearly it would not be right.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Proof that God Exists tract

The proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn't know anything. Why is that?
Premise 1: Revelation from God is necessary for knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) (without all knowledge something you don't know could contradict what you think you know).
Premise 2: We do know some things.
Therefore God exists. No one needs this proof. The Bible teaches that everyone already knows that God exists (Romans 1:18-21). God does not send people to Hell for denying what they don't know, but for sin against the God they do know. If you are denying God, I urge you to repent (turn from) your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone who paid the price for sinners with His death on the cross. Read your Bible, obey what it says, go to a good Church. 
From www.proofthatgodexists.org.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dr Greg Bahnsen (Christian PhD Philosopher)

In the last few weeks I've read quite a bit of Dr Bahnsen's writings and also I watched his video series on apologetics, as well as his famous debate with the atheist Dr Gorden Stein. If you haven't watched any of these videos I encourage you to watch them.

Some of the stories that Dr Bahnsen tells have been very helpful for me and I wanted to share some of them here.

Dr Bahnsen has a PhD in philosophy and he did his doctorate on self-deception. He says that this is a very real phenomenon. See Romans chapter 1 which talks about how all people, including unbelievers, actually know God. The difference between believers and unbelievers is that believers profess God and unbelievers suppress God.

One of the stories Dr Bahnsen tells is of a woman (lets call her Ms Deceived or Ms D for short) who believes that her son is a little angel. (Let's call the boy Bart which is an anagram for Brat). However, everyone else knows that this isn't true - and that Bart is a little brat. He continually starts fights at school and is always causing trouble. Bart's teacher repeatedly tries to talk to Ms D about Barts delinquency but Ms D won't believe it. 'It's a conspiracy against my little angel' she protests. Everyone is lying and making it all up according to Ms D. Eventually things get so bad that Bart gets expelled when he starts yet another fight and seriously injures another student. Ms D is furious and believes that the injuries were the result of self defense or never actually happened and that Bart is totally innocent. She moves to another town and takes Bart to a new school. A month or so down the track and the same things happen at the new school. She is convinced that the old school must have contacted the new school and spread malicious lies about Bart. In her heart of hearts she knows that Bart is a brat but she convinces herself that Bart is a little angel and that the evidence for his brattiness is lacking. She is sure that the best line of action is to do everything she can to protect her 'little darling' and argue forcefully against anyone who would dare to suggest that she could possibly be wrong in her assessment of the real situation.

I think that the above story speaks for itself about what Romans 1 is telling us.

Another story Dr Bahnsen tells is of a man who wants to start a business but doesn't have enough money to do so. So he talks to a friend of his who is generous enough to provide him with the capital he needs to get the business up and running. A year later and the business is booming. The man says to his friend - look at my business - the business that I started all by myself. I'm a self made man. I'm almost a millionaire thanks to the business I started and that I alone financed. His friend is shocked and tries to point out that the business wouldn't have gotten off the ground to begin with if it hadn't been for his capital injection of finances. The businessman denies all knowledge of his friends help and argues that the friend is just trying to get money out of him now that he's almost a self-made millionaire.

This is the situation of the unbeliever. Without God the unbeliever would not be able to reason in the first place, but has to continually borrow (unwittingly stealing) from the biblical worldview in order to do any reasoning at all. Without God things like reasoning, knowledge, truth, logic, morality would not exist, and it is only due to God's kindness that people have free will to suppress the knowledge of God and continue to live on 'borrowed capital'.

Another useful bit of information I learned from Dr Bahnsen is in relation to the well known atheist Bertrand Russell. According to Dr Bahnsen, Russell was continually flip flopping on his beliefs because he didn't have a solid epistemological method (way of knowing things). It was if he was saying we don't know anything for sure, but we do know that Christianity isn't true! This is the case with atheists and unbelievers in general. They have no way of knowing anything for sure, but yet they seem sure that God doesn't exist or that the Bible is not true.

I encourage you to listen to one of the greatest debates ever -
Does God exist? Dr Greg Bahnsen vs Dr Gorden Stein.

I also highly recommend Dr Bahnsen's lecture series on Apologetics Arbitrary Arguments - YouTube. Towards the beginning of this lecture he uses the analogy of learning to dodge bullets vs learning to disarm your opponent - and the latter is what presuppositional apologetics is about.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Argument from Self Refuting Worldviews

While snowboarding in Japan I wore orange tinted goggles which coloured everything orange. But after a while I’d adjust to them and totally forget that I was wearing them.  Worldviews are just like this. Everyone has a worldview, but most of us are unaware of it and how this set of beliefs colours how we see the world. Even if you think you don’t have these beliefs, isn’t that a belief in itself?

The question is not whether or not you have a worldview but whether or not your worldview is the right one.  However, all non-biblical worldviews are self-refuting. They break laws of logic such as the law of non-contradiction – something can’t be right while simultaneously being wrong.
The biblical worldview is internally consistent and accounts for universal laws, such as the laws of logic, laws of nature, and laws of morality.  These laws exist because they are a reflection of the character and mind of God.  In contrast, other worldviews cannot account for these laws adequately. For example, if the evolutionary worldview is true and we just evolved by chance random processes, there would be no basis for any universal laws to exist. How would you even know that your brain had evolved the correct thinking processes in order to actually know anything?

See the full article here:

For Further Reading / Research:

The Argument from Transcendence

"You want evidence that there is a God? The very concept of evidence is evidence that there’s a God. Do you know why? What does evidence require? Evidence requires truth. Evidence requires knowledge. And I’m saying you cannot have truth or knowledge without God.” (Sye Ten Bruggencate)

What would you think of someone arguing that words did not exist? You’d think that they were a fool right? In order for them to argue against the existence of words they’d have to use words!

Likewise, the Bible says that “the fool has said in his heart there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1) Romans chapter 1 makes it clear that everyone knows that God exists but that unbelievers suppress the truth because they prefer their sin. According to the Bible unbelievers are fools – not because of a lack of intelligence, but because of a stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge God.

In order for someone to argue that God does not exist they have to use their minds and use logic - both of which presuppose the existence of God - as I will explain in this article.

The Argument from Transcendence, formally known as the ‘Transcendental Argument for God’ / TAG (not to be confused with the false religious practice of transcendental meditation), argues that we all know in our heart of hearts that God exists. The TAG proof is that this is true because if it were not true we could not prove anything.

The TAG says that the existence of a transcendent God – who is above and beyond the physical universe – is known to everyone by things like the basic reliability of our minds, the laws of logic, absolute morality, and uniformity in nature. These things transcend the physical world and could not exist without God.

This argument for God is called the ‘Ultimate Proof’ by Dr Jason Lisle because there is no way to rationally refute this argument. It is rock solid because it is the argument that the Bible uses – presupposing the existence of God and showing that all other alternatives lead to absurdity. In recent times Sye Ten Bruggencate has mastered this argument and his opponents end up refuting themselves as the irrationality of their worldview is exposed. (See the trailer for ‘How to Answer the Fool.’)

The Bible says that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7) It also says that in Christ are “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3). We can know that this is true because the Bible says it is true, AND because if it were not true we could not know anything. This might sound absurd – but actually if you think about it you will see it’s true.

We can’t know that something is false without knowing what is true, just as we can’t know something is crooked if we don’t have something we know is straight to compare it with. If I were to say, “I know that this website has had thousands of visitors, but I’m not sure,” do I actually know that? No, I don’t.

So what is truth? And how do you know that your reasoning is valid? Do you know anything for sure? How do you know that the Matrix isn’t real and that everything isn’t just an illusion? And how do you avoid the vicious circular reasoning of using your mind to verify that your mind is reliable? You could say that you know your mind is reliable because you took a test. But how do you know that you remember correctly that you did actually take the test?! (You’re using your mind again to check your mind!)

In the biblical worldview we can know that our minds are basically reliable and that everything isn’t just an illusion because we were created in the image of a transcendent God who is totally reliable and has revealed himself.

In the case of laws of logic, in the biblical worldview we can use and rely on laws of logic because they are a reflection of the logical God who made us. For example the law of non-contradiction says that things cannot be A and not A at the same time and in the same way. But if there were no God then why should there be absolute laws like this? We all know and use these laws – but in non-biblical worldviews their existence does not make sense.

As for laws of morality, we all know that absolute morality exists because we all have a God-given conscience and we were created in the image of a moral God. We know that it is always wrong to do bad things like murdering (not to be confused with extreme exceptions like killing in self-defence). But if you think there is no God then what basis do you have to say that anything is wrong? It just becomes the personal preference of the individual or what the majority of people think. On that basis there would be no way to argue that Hitler was wrong, because the majority of Germans went along with him.

Finally let’s think about laws of nature and how they are always uniform. Why is it that we can do science? Real science is based on repeatable experiments. (Induction). Why is it that we know that the laws of physics and chemistry today will be the same tomorrow? We assume that they will be the same based on the fact that they have always been the same. But this is another vicious circle. Just because something has happened a certain way in the past doesn’t mean that it will always be that way – and in a random atheistic universe why should it?

In contrast, in the Christian worldview we know that the laws of physics and uniformity of nature will remain the same because God is a consistent God who has promised to maintain the universe in an orderly way. (Genesis 8:22)

Even if you profess to be an atheist, you know in your heart that God is real because you have to use your mind, laws of logic, absolute morality, and laws of nature, in order to live and function in this world. However within all non-biblical worldviews you can’t account for these things. (See ‘Self-refutingWorldviews.’)

One of the main reasons I wrote this article is because I care enough enough to challenge and warn people to get right with God. If you haven’t yet done so then I urge you to repent and trust in Jesus.

* Many of the above ideas come from Sye Ten Bruggencate (www.proofthatgodexists.org), Dr Jason Lisle, Dr Greg Bahnsen, and Cornelius Van Til.

For Further Reading / Research:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Presuppositional Apologetics

The above YouTube video is by Sye Ten Bruggencate and is called "Apologetics is easy - Believe your Bible. Sye hammers the evidentialist approach big time and shows why it is unbiblical to focus on giving evidence to unbelievers who foolishly deny God's existence. He shows how we can effectively share our faith in a biblical way by exposing the foolishness of the professed unbelievers worldview.

Over the last few months I've been having my eyes opened to the importance of Presuppositional Apologetics and how to use it in evangelism. It brings together things I've learned about the Law and about the role of evidence. Presuppositional is relating to the beliefs that people presuppose, and apologetics is giving a clear and reasoned explanation for why Christianity is true.

Here's a summary of Sye Ten Bruggencate's approach. http://trueforms.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/summary-of-sye-ten-bruggencates-apologetic/.

Another really great video that is on the same kind of topic is Ultimate Proof by Jason Lisle.