A Case Study In Christian Logic

Just what are the arguments that christians are currently employing to demonstrate the god of the bible actually exists? Here is a collection taken from one christian who imagines himself to be a pretty good apologist, and I must admit, this is about as good as they come. I’ll respond after his arguments in the blockquotes.

WHAT KIND OF GOD EXISTS?
If we want to show that God exists and that He is the God of the Bible, then we need to show that all of the things in the arguments mentioned are true. Each one contributes something to our knowledge of God and, taken together, they form a picture that can only fit the one true God.

I believe he means to say that the arguments below are all valid and sound, and that if the universe was created, these arguments show that it necessarily follows that the creator had to be the god of the bible. To guard ourselves from any sly interjection of unwarranted nuances and connotations based on equivocation, and conclusions that do not follow from the premises, we are going to rewrite the arguments to reflect only what has been logically demonstrated.

GOD IS POWERFUL
The argument from Creation proves not only that God exists, but that He has power. Only a God with incredible power could create and sustain the whole universe. His energy would have to be greater than all the energy that was ever available in the whole Creation, for He not only caused all things, He holds them together and keeps them in existence and still sustains His own existence. That is more power than we can imagine.

1. The universe had a beginning.
2. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.
3. Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, and this cause was God.

When rigorously rewritten within the constrains of logic, this becomes…

THE CREATIVE FORCE IS POWERFUL
The argument from creation proves not only that a creative force exists, but that the creative force has power. Only a creative force with incredible power could create and sustain the whole universe (Does not follow). The creative forces’ energy would have to be greater than all the energy that was ever available in the whole creation, for the creative force not only caused all things, The creative force holds them together and keeps them in existence and still sustains the creative force’ own existence (Does not follow). That is more power than we can imagine (In no way contributes to the argument).

1. The universe had a beginning.
2. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.
3. Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, and this cause was God (Does not follow).

From this we can conclude that the creator that created things had the power to create the things he created. This tautological conclusion takes us nowhere near the god of the bible.

So we’ve already gotten a taste of the way logic is abused by this particular christian. Let’s see if this trend continues.

GOD IS INTELLIGENT
Even Carl Sagan admits that the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise. The argument from design shows us that whatever caused the universe not only had great power, but also great intelligence. God knows things—things that we cannot understand. This opens the possibility for God to know all sorts of other things, but more on that later. For now it is enough to say that God at least knows everything there is to know about the way we think, because He designed our brains.

1. All designs imply a designer.
2. There is great design in the universe.
3. Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe.

When rigorously rewritten within the constrains of logic, this becomes…

THE CREATIVE FORCE IS INTELLIGENT
Even Carl Sagan admits that the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise. The argument from design shows us that whatever caused the universe not only had great power, but also great intelligence (Does not follow. The complexity of a snowflake does not require a human-like intelligence, but only simple laws operating over time.). The creative force knows things—things that we cannot understand. (Arguing from a creative force to a mind that “knows” is an egregious abuse of logic. Does a moving billiard ball “know” the 2nd ball it sets into motion will move or is moving? No. The creative force behind the universe does not need to “know” what it effects.) This opens the possibility for The creative force to know all sorts of other things, but more on that later. (The argument that a creative force necessarily “knows” its effects has not even come close to being made.) For now it is enough to say that The creative force at least knows everything there is to know about the way we think, because The creative force designed our brains. (Note the attempt to get traction out of a non sequitur through excessive verbiage.)

1. All designs imply a designer. (You can’t go from a creator to a designer without argument. The wind, while “creating” a tornado, does not design it.)
2. There is great design in the universe. (“Design” implies there was a “designer”. The laws of nature that created the intricacies of a snowflake did not design that snowflake.)
3. Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe (Non sequitur).

Well, we can at least say we are starting to see some consistency in the level of illogic in the arguments. Note also that we are forced to keep removing the equivocation between the creative force and an illegally introduced God that contains circular connotations. Let’s continue.

GOD IS MORAL
The existence of a moral law in the mind of a moral Lawgiver shows us that God is a moral Being. He is neither beyond morality like some kings think they are nor beneath morality like a rock. He is by nature moral. This means that part of what He knows is the difference between right and wrong. But we can take this one step further: He is not only moral; He is good. We know that part of what He created was people, and persons are good, in and of themselves. The fact that persons always expect to be treated better than things shows that. Even someone denying that people have value at least expects you to value his opinion as a person. But whatever creates good things must be good itself since a cause can’t give what it hasn’t got. So God is not only moral, He is good.

1. All men are conscious of an objective moral law.
2. Moral laws imply a moral Lawgiver.
3. Therefore, there must be a supreme moral Lawgiver.

When rigorously rewritten within the constrains of logic, this becomes…

THE CREATIVE FORCE IS MORAL
The existence of a moral law in the mind of a moral Lawgiver (Is this actually being inserted without argumentation as if we won’t notice?) shows us that the creative force is a moral Being. (Illegitimate assertion.) The creative force is neither beyond morality like some kings think they are nor beneath morality like a rock. He is by nature moral. (Illegitimate assertion.) This means that part of what the creative force knows (Attempt at sneaking in the assertion that the creative force must “know” something.) is the difference between right and wrong (Illegitimate assertion). But we can take this one step further: He is not only moral; He is good. (Another fine example of christian logic. Just assert what you want to be true with out an argument.) We know that part of what the creative force created was people, and persons are good, in and of themselves (Wrong by biblical standards, and a vague and unsupported normative statement by secular standards). The fact that persons always expect to be treated better than things shows that. Even someone denying that people have value at least expects you to value his opinion as a person. (Here we even have a fallacy within a fallacy. It does not follow that expectations inform nature.) But whatever creates good things must be good itself since a cause can’t give what it hasn’t got (The creative force also made bad things, therefore, consistent with this argument, the creative force is bad.). So the creative force is not only moral, the creative force is good. (Non sequitur.)

1. All men are conscious of an objective moral law. (Clearly untrue as demonstrated by societies with divergent moral opinions on infanticide, homosexuality, uncovered female calves, and polygamy as just a few examples.)
2. Moral laws imply a moral Lawgiver.
3. Therefore, there must be a supreme moral Lawgiver. (The first premise miserably fails.)

Sorry, but I had not realized the extent of the illogic in this christian’s argument.. I’m honestly trying to give this christian the benefit of a doubt on his intentions, but I find it hard to believe that someone could argue in such a way without recognizing the way they are employing arguments they would surely recognize as faulty should a theist of a different god utter them. But let’s see what else he has to say.

GOD IS NECESSARY
The argument from the idea of a necessary being may not prove that God exists, but it sure does tell us a lot about God once we know that He does exist (by the argument from Creation). We said already that necessary existence means that He cannot not exist—so He had no beginning and no end. But it also means that He cannot “come to be” in any other way. He must be as He is necessarily. He can’t become something new. That removes all change from His being—He is unchanging. And without change, time is not possible, because time is just a way to measure change—so He is eternal (e = no, tern = time; no-time). In fact, since a necessary being cannot not be, He can have no limits. A limitation means “to not be” in some sense, and that is impossible—so He is infinite. Also, He can’t be limited to categories like “here and there,” because unlimited being must be in all places at all times—therefore, He is omnipresent. All of these are attributes that follow just from knowing that He is necessary.
God Cannot Change

Change can only be essential, like changing from a dog to a horse, or accidental, like changing from a brunette to a blond. Essential changes change what a thing is; accidental ones only change little details. God can’t change His essence because that would mean not existing (remember: His essence is to exist). He can’t change any details because everything He’s got is wrapped up in His existence. Therefore, God is changeless.

But His necessity also tells us something about His other attributes. Because of His necessity, He can only have whatever He has in a necessary way. That means, as we have seen, without beginning, without change, and without limitation. So while the argument from Creation tells us that He has power, the argument from the idea of a perfect being shows that it is perfect, unlimited power. The argument from design tells us that He is intelligent, but His necessity informs us that His knowledge is uncreated, unchanging, and infinite. The moral order suggests that He is good, but the perfection of His being means that He must be all good in a perfect and unlimited way. Anything that God is He must be in accordance with His nature; so His power, knowledge, and goodness are as perfect as His being.

1. If God exists, we conceive of Him as a necessary Being.
2. By definition, a necessary Being must exist and cannot not exist.
3. Therefore, if God exists, then He must exist and cannot not exist.

When rigorously rewritten within the constrains of logic, this becomes…

THE CREATIVE FORCE IS NECESSARY
The argument from the idea of a necessary being may not prove that God exists, but it sure does tell us a lot about the creative force once we know that the creative force does exist (by the argument from Creation). (No it doesn’t. The best you can come up with is a tautology that says “whatever is necessary is necessary”.) We said already that necessary existence means that the creative force cannot not exist—so the creative force had no beginning and no end. (Non sequitur. Absent is any argument showing why what is necessary can have no beginning or end.) But it also means that the creative force cannot “come to be” in any other way. The creative force must be as the creative force is necessarily. The creative force can’t become something new. That removes all change from the creative force’s essensethe creative force is unchanging. (Non sequitur. There is no reason given why the creative force cannot change in essence.) And without change, time is not possible, because time is just a way to measure change (consider this when attempting explaining how a god could ever make a decision to create) —so the creative force is eternal (e = no, tern = time; no-time). (Moot, due to the previous non sequitur.) In fact, since a necessary being (No argument presented so far has reached the point of justifying the use of the term “being”) cannot not be, The creative force can have no limits. (There was no argument made for this conclusion.) A limitation means “to not be” in some sense, (Wrong. No human limitation means a human does not exist in some sense.) and that is impossible (No argument given)—so the creative force is infinite. (Incoherent. You cannot use the word infinite without applying it to a quality. Infinitely fast? Infinitely powerful?) Also, the creative force can’t be limited to categories like “here and there,” because unlimited being must be in all places at all times (A bald affirmation of omnipresence is unacceptable. Why must a creative force be everywhere at the same time?)therefore, He is omnipresent. (Not demonstrated, only affirmed.) All of these are attributes that follow just from knowing that the creative force is necessary. (No argument. Only affirmations.)
The creative force cannot change. (And yet another affirmation.)

Change can only be essential, like changing from a dog to a horse, or accidental, like changing from a brunette to a blond. Essential changes change what a thing is; accidental ones only change little details. The creative force can’t change its essence because that would mean not existing (The creative force behind an infinite number of things changes.) Remember: the creative forceessence is to exist. (Another affirmation pulled out of thin air without argument or evidence.) The creative force can’t change any details because everything the creative force has got is wrapped up in the creative force’s existence. Therefore, the creative force is changeless. (Note the verbiage necessary to embellish bald affirmations and to distract from the fact that there was no argument made.)

But the creative force’s necessity also tells us something about the creative force other attributes. Because of the creative force’s necessity, the creative force can only have whatever the creative force has in a necessary way. (This is getting tiresome. No argument made.) That means, as we have seen, without beginning, without change, and without limitation. (All non sequiturs. Verbiage does not substitute for argument.) So while the argument from creation tells us that the creative force has power, the argument from the idea of a perfect being shows that it is perfect, unlimited power. (No argument was made for a being, and were the creative force indeed a being, the term “perfect”, just as the word “infinite”, is illegitimate without a quality as a referent. Perfect in what? By what standard? What is the source of the standard?) The argument from design tells us that the creative force is intelligent, (That argument was no made.) but the creative force’s necessity informs us that the creative force’s knowledge is uncreated, unchanging, and infinite. (Note how the author is hoping you’ve forgotten he made no argument that reaches this conclusion.) The moral order suggests that the creative force is good, but the perfection of the creative force being means that the creative force must be all good in a perfect and unlimited way. (Unsubstantiated affirmations.) Anything that the creative force is it must be in accordance with its nature; (A tautology) so the creative force’s power, knowledge, and goodness are as perfect as the creative force’s essence. (Mere affirmations without argument…again.)

1. If the creative force exists, we conceive of it as a necessary entity. (No. No necessary reason to.)
2. By definition, a necessary entity must exist and cannot not exist. (A tautology.)
3. Therefore, if the creative force exists, then it must exist and cannot not exist. (A tautology.)

So the only legitimate conclusion we’ve extracted from this string of affirmations is the deterministic tautology that that which exists must exist and cannot not exist. That was a bit depressing. But let’s give the next argument a look.

GOD IS UNIQUE
We have said that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, infinite, uncreated, unchanging, eternal, and omnipresent. But how many beings like that can there be? He is a class of one by definition. If there were two unlimited beings, how could you tell them apart? They have no limits to define where one stops and the other begins—but neither one can “stop” or “begin” anyway. There can only be one infinite Being and no other.

When rigorously rewritten within the constrains of logic, this becomes…

THE CREATIVE FORCE IS UNIQUE
We have said that the creative force is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, infinite, uncreated, unchanging, eternal, and omnipresent. (Correct! It was said! Just not demonstrated.) But how many entities like that can there be? The creative force is a class of one by definition. If there were two unlimited entities, how could you tell them apart? They have no limits to define where one stops and the other begins—but neither one can “stop” or “begin” anyway. There can only be one infinite entity and no other. (And I was so hoping to have one category without a blunder! No. You cannot use the term “infinite” without a quality for a referent. And there is no reason argued why there cannot be 2+ entities that are infinite in time.)

So what can we extract from this argument? The creative force is unique. I agree! But then again, I can’t think of any other entity in the universe that is not also unique. The value of this argument is a mystery.

GOD IS LORD OVER CREATION
The argument from Creation does more than prove that God exists; it also proves that He is the Creator. There is no way to distinguish two infinite creatures, but God is distinct from the finite world that He has made. The whole point of the argument from Creation is that the universe cannot explain its own existence—that it is not God. The same point can be made if we consider an individual. I exist; but I have no way to account for my existence in myself. It is painfully clear that my being is not necessary—I could cease to exist at any moment and the world would go right on without me. Only by recognizing an infinite Being, a necessary cause for my being—One who gives me being—can I make sense of my existence. And as the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator, He has control over the creation. Not only does God exist, but His creation also exists distinct from Him.

When rigorously rewritten within the constrains of logic, this becomes…

THE CREATIVE FORCE IS LORD OVER CREATION
The argument from creation does more than prove that the creative force exists; it also proves that the creative force is the creator. (Yet another tautology.) There is no way to distinguish two infinite entities, but the creative force is distinct from the finite world that the creative force has made. The whole point of the argument from creation is that the universe cannot explain its own existence—that it is not the creative force. The same point can be made if we consider an individual. I exist; but I have no way to account for my existence in myself. It is painfully clear that my being is not necessary—I could cease to exist at any moment and the world would go right on without me. Only by recognizing an infinite entity , a necessary cause for my being—an entity that gives me being—can I make sense of my existence. (Viciously circular. The “sense” you are looking for is the “sense of purpose” which can only exist if the very god in question exists.) And as the all-powerful, all-knowing the creative force, it has control over the creation. (The attributions have already been shown to have failed, and no argument has been given to show why a creative force need to have retained control over what it created as any child who has set themselves off on a sled on a steep slope will tell you.) Not only does the creative forceexist, but the creative force’s creation also exists distinct from the creative force. (Just as one billiard ball exist distinct from the adjacent ball it sets into motion.)

The title of this section included the phrase “lord over creation”. This term “lord” was not used in the subsequent argument. Nor should it have been. You cannot argue from “distinctness” to “lordship’. There was nothing said here. We have one more argument to go. Do you have your hopes up?

GOD IS YAHWEH
Is this the God of the Bible? At the burning bush, God told Moses His name and said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This signifies that the central characteristic of the God of the Bible is existence. His very nature is existence. Popeye can say, “I am what I am.” But only God can say, “I AM WHO I AM.” He is the “I AM.” The Bible also calls God eternal (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2), unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:18), infinite (1 Kings 8:27; Isa. 66:1), all-good (Ps. 86:5; Luke 18:19), and all-powerful (Heb. 1:3; Matt. 19:26). Since these beings are the same in all these respects, and there can’t be two infinite beings, then this God that the arguments point us to is the God of the Bible.”
Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1990), 26-29.

When rigorously rewritten within the constrains of logic, this becomes…

THE CREATIVE FORCE IS YAHWEH
Is this the God of the Bible? At the burning bush, God told Moses His name and said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This signifies that the central characteristic of the God of the Bible is existence. His very nature is existence. (No. The nature of a thing is extracted only after the existence of that thing has been established and the implications of that existence are evidenced in the world. The notion of mere existence being an entity’s nature has no content.) Popeye can say, “I am what I am.” But only God can say, “I AM WHO I AM.” He is the “I AM.” The Bible also calls God eternal (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2), unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:18), infinite (1 Kings 8:27; Isa. 66:1), all-good (Ps. 86:5; Luke 18:19), and all-powerful (Heb. 1:3; Matt. 19:26). (No. Anyone can make that claim or cite a book that makes the claim for a god which is the only source of authority for that very book. Viciously circular.) Since these entities are the same in all these respects, and there can’t be two infinite entities, then this creative force that the arguments point us to is the God of the Bible.” (The arguments did not even come close to being made.)
Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1990), 26-29.

Well, sorry to disappoint you who were hoping for at least a bit of substance to this particular theist’s arguments. Here are some general observations from my interactions with theists.

  • When arguments are expected, they shamelessly make unsubstantiated affirmations.
  • To pad their unsubstantiated affirmations, they employ repetition and equivocation.
  • They shamelessly equivocate from initial terms such as “creative force” to “God” which carry unexamined nuances not yet demonstrated.
  • They will introduce terms such as “infinite” and “perfect” without attaching a required quality as a referent.
  • They often ultimately cite books to argue for a god which have authority only if the very god they are arguing for exists.

Things are not going very well for the apologists these days, but given the degree of self-delusion they themselves cultivate and attempt to pass on to other credulous minds, I don’t have much sympathy for them.


Note that I granted for the sake of argument the premise that the universe came from nothing and was therefore created. I challenge anyone making this claim to research what actual cosmologists are actually saying. Are they saying the universe came from nothing, or that the universe emerged from everything in a different form? You may be surprised.


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s