Authentic Christian apologetics is not about defending a generic theism but instead defending Christian theism which is solely grounded in Scripture. It is not interested in debating about god's we don't believe in. We don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. We don't believe in the invisible pink unicorn and we'll stand right beside those that hold a naturalistic worldview and live, laugh and critique them as well.
Christian apologetics uses a Christ-centered method that defends the view that God is the ultimate authority over all aspects of life. This is what is known as a worldview apologetic.
Here are some definitions. Since the opponents of this worldview are naturalists, it will be important to define what is naturalism?
- It denies that there are any spiritual or supernatural realities.
- It says there are no purely mental substances.
- It claims there are no supernatural realities transcendent to the world.
- It claims the Christian worldview has no sound grounds for believing that there are such realities or perhaps even for believing that there could be such realities.
- The naturalist worldview claims that anything that exists is ultimately made up of physical components.
What does that mean? Nature is all there is. There are no spiritual realms. There is no immaterial entities or realities.
Carl Sagan probably summed it up best when he said, “The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was and all there ever will be.”
It is important to note the argument is not about facts but instead about one's interpretation of the facts. Any interpretation of any facts or experience is informed by one's assumptions. What we call presuppositions.
These are those rock-bottom foundational beliefs that all people have that are not testable in a science lab and are not observed in nature. These presuppositions form the foundation of a person's worldview.
Our worldview is defined as a network of presuppositions through which every aspect of a persons knowledge and experience is interpreted and interrelated. People's presuppositions determine how they interpret and evaluate every experience and which ideas they will and will not accept as part of their overall view of reality.
The following quote from atheist Richard Lewontin demonstrates the power of presuppositions. “Materialism is an absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”
Now why would an atheist say that? Here is the rest of the quote to get some more context. “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…moreover, that materialism is an absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”
Here's a summary of what that guy said, “Even if God's the answer we're not going to allow it.”
As Christians we demonstrate things like knowledge and proof makes sense in the Christian worldview given our presuppositions. They do not make sense in the naturalist worldview.
Regarding faith. We take the view that biblical faith is not a blind leap into an irrational void nor is it opposed to reason. It doesn't take over where reason leaves off but instead faith in God is the foundation of all reasoning.
Hebrews 11:1 defines Christian faith, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
This doesn't apply to just Christian reasoning but atheistic reasoning has its own kind of faith also. Since everyone begins with presuppositions that are not testable through the procedures of natural science. Since God is ultimately the foundation of all knowledge and unbelievers actually do know things it follows that they actually do know God in some sense but are suppressing the truth about Him.
Romans 1:18-21 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Therefore, the problem according to Romans 1 is not that mankind doesn't have enough evidence for the existence of God. The problem is because of sin. People that cling to a naturalistic worldview, they suppresses the knowledge of God that they already have hardwired within them, because God created us in His image therefore God left an imprint of Himself in every human, and they go after idols based upon their own ultimate authority which is themselves.
GK Chesterton said it well, “When man ceases to worship God he doesn't worship nothing. He worships anything.” The Christians ultimate Authority however is the Word of God. It teaches that all knowledge is ultimately grounded in God.
Colossians 2:3 “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
However, the Atheist says that all knowledge is gained through reason and sense perception which supposedly is not dependent on God and renders the idea of God unnecessary by law of parsimony (a principle according to which an explanation of a thing or event is made with the fewest possible assumptions). They believe they are their own ultimate authority. They are autonomous. A law unto themselves.
This has been clearly stated on the UNCG Atheists Agnostics and Skeptics website. They state man has a right to live by his own law. Now given that statement, we must wonder what rational objection a naturalistic worldview could produce. What if we chose to win this argument by shooting them. After all if people have the right to live by their own law there worldview is relativistic in nature and they really don’t have a valid objective to say my law is less than their law.
However, of course the Atheist does not agree that all knowledge comes from God and will create persuasive arguments to justify their ability to know things apart from God. This is why the bible speaks to the futile of their speculations in Romans 1.
That's why after Paul says “that all knowledge is hidden in Christ” He's goes on to say in Colossians 2:4 “I say this so that no one will delude you through persuasive argument” Then in verse 8 of the same chapter he says “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty decision of men according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ.”
When the Atheist naturalistic worldview demands the Christian to take a neutral position when looking at evidence and arguments, they will want us in principle to give up Christian theism to defend Christian theism. The problem is no one is neutral when it comes to dealing with issues of ultimate.
Seen as the quote I read earlier Illustrated the Atheist is not neutral at all and neither is the Christian, therefore, the Christian should not give up their position that God's the authority because if you assume the unbeliever’s standard of authority rather than the authority of Scripture you lose before you start. It's like getting on the unbelievers airplane. It doesn't matter what you talk about you're going to the unbelievers destination.
Let look at an example. Let's say you appeal to the ultimate authority of the atheist, their senses and reasoning. You then use historical evidence to demonstrate with a high degree of probability that Jesus rose from the dead. The Atheist could easily say, “Wow strange things happen in the world and someday we'll have a naturalistic explanation as to why dead body came back to life.” Meanwhile they turn it into the National Enquirer magazine.
Even though you showed that Jesus rose from the dead, there was no reason for the atheist to give up his ultimate authority which are his senses and reasoning ability. It's worse than that. Though let's say the person says, “Okay, you've met my standard of proof and I want to become a Christian.” However, here is the problem. Their ultimate authority did not change. They are still the judge over whether or not God exists. Therefore, it is based on their standard of reasoning rather than submitting their reasoning to Jesus Christ as the Lord of his reasoning.
Because say next week they read a book by Richard Dawkins and now the balance of evidence seems to sway the other way. Do they then cease becoming a Christian?
1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. “
In other words if they left the faith they were never really in it to begin thus proving that Christ was never really the Lord of your reasoning. They were still lord of their reasoning. That's why the true believers reasoning is founded on the Word of God.
We even believe things that we can never personally experience and that have never personally experienced, namely that a man rose from the dead. But when there are things that we don't understand we're to trust God and submit our reasoning to Him. Because He's the foundation of our reasoning.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The role of Christian apologetics is to be able to press the antithesis between the two respective worldviews.
Even the objections of a naturalistic worldview make to Christianity these objections are going to be proving that God exists. The objective of the Christian worldview is not to give evidence to those who want to put God on trial but to expose the fact that everyone already knows that God exists.
The Christian worldviews position is you can't make sense of knowledge, truth, logic, science and morality apart from the God of Christianity. Everyone makes assumptions in those areas but none of them can be justified apart from God.
Let’s start with knowledge. If someone opposes the Christian worldview, they have to be intellectually honest. They will be forced to admit that an all-knowing all-powerful God could reveal things to us such that we can know them for certain. Knowledge makes sense in the Christian worldview but it does not make sense in any naturalistic worldview. Since the naturalist does not appeal to revelation from God for knowledge, what do they appeal to? They appeal to their senses and reasoning but what's the problem? If they appeal to their senses, how do they know that their senses are valid?
If they appeal to their reasoning, how do they know that their reasoning is valid?
Do you see the vicious circularity of stating “I sense and reason that my senses and reasoning are valid” This is precisely the place those who hold to a naturalistic world view are reduced. Let’s say they see the circularity of their position and end up saying okay if I can't know anything but either can you.
Then the question is asked, “If you can't know anything how you can know what I can know?”
Those who hold to a naturalistic worldview will make knowledge claims. When they do so, they borrow the concept of knowledge from Christianity and actually prove that God exists.
What about truth? What is truth? For an evolutionist the best that they can hope for is believing all we are is evolved pond scum, or chemical reactions? How do you get to this as TRUTH?
Doug Wilson argued if we're just advanced chemical reactions and your brain is chemical “fizz” then debating over which brain is speaking the TRUTH would be just like with shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper on a table. Then opening them up and deciding which chemical reaction is producing TRUTH. Which chemical reaction is producing false myths? Which chemical reactions do not produce TRUTH?
You cannot find TRUTH in chemical reaction. If that is all human beings are, which is what the naturalistic worldview reduces us all down to, you can’t find TRUTH. Because one person can be “fizzing” God exists and another person can be “fizzing” God doesn’t exist. Since we’re just brain “fizzing” meat machines there is no TRUE or FALSE in “fizz”. If you want TRUTH you need God.
Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
When people that hold to a naturistic worldview and make TRUTH claims they are borrowing the concept of TRUTH from Christ Jesus and actually proving that God exists.
What about logic? People with a naturistic worldview will make logical objection to the truth of Christianity. They might say look at all the logical contradiction in the Bible. However, what are they assuming when they make that objection? They're assuming that there are universal immaterial unchanging laws of logic that forbid contradictions. However, there aren't any contradiction the Bible and the Christian I'll seek to resolve anything that looks contradictory but that’s not the question. How does the person that hold to a naturistic worldview account for the universal immaterial unchanging law of non-contradiction in a random chance world made only of matter?
Christians believe in the God who is universal. Who is not made of matter. Who does not change logical laws. These make sense in the Christian worldview. When opponent of this worldview make logical objects to Christianity, they're boring the foundation of logic from Christianity and are actually proving that God exists.
What about science? All of science is based on the assumption that nature is uniform. That the future will be like the past. When anyone get into a rocket ship, if the scientists who built it didn't have a reasonable expectation of what would happen when they push the launch button but on what basis do they expect the future to be like the past? Now the Christian believes in a sovereign God who created nature to operate uniformly and keeps nature uniform such that we can do science.
The thing is in order to even speak one must trust that the words we are about to speak mean the same things they did five seconds ago. If a person with a naturalistic worldview opens their mouths to speak they are assuming that the future is like the past. Then the question can be asked on what basis do they assume that the future we like the past? How does this worldview know anything about the future? When this worldview make scientific objections or when they even speak, they're borrowing the foundation of the uniformity of nature from the Christian worldview and again are actually proving that God exists.
What about morality? The naturalistic worldview says there's too much evil in this world for an all good God to exist. However, the question is this if there is no God by what absolute standard can you call anything evil? You see the evil in this world is not a logical objection to Christianity. Christianity has an absolute standard of morality but there is no logical objection for the naturalistic worldview who does not.
The Christian says that morality is derived from the nature of God. The someone with a naturistic worldview raise moral objection to Christianity, they're borrowing the absolute standard morality from our worldview and actually proving that God exists.
Someone with a naturalistic worldview might say that they don't need God for their moral standard. But here’s the problem if “man has the right to live by his own law” but then how can they say you must live by our standard. Do people who hold to a naturalistic worldview even live by their own standard?
Well let's see if man has a right to live by his own law. Here’s an example of how they don’t.
This happen in a town in the US. Here’s a question. Does a democratically elected mayor of this city have the right to live by his own law (remember this was the principle a the naturalistic world view) and Institute prayer at council meetings? Well apparently not. A couple of people that hold to a naturalistic worldview regularly protest the mayor's right to live by his own law. They violate their own standard. The question becomes, what obligates advanced bags of primordial slime to tell anyone to live by any law? The fact is there could be no moral obligations of any kind without God. When they argue that there are, they're proving that God exists.
That is what we need to process. It's listen carefully to the opponents of Christianity and how they consistently borrow from the Christian worldview. When they make their objections, look at what they're standing on. They will make knowledge claims, truth claims, logical and scientific claims, and moral claims. In doing so they will be proving that God exists.