Friday, November 5, 2010

Thinking About Theology

For today's article we will cover a series of questions usually posed by skeptics. I (Livingstone) will be L and my guest speaker Christopher will be C.

L: Tell me how do we know, as believers, that Christianity is true?

C: A number of philosophers have struggled with this question, such as Thomas Aquinas and John Locke to name a few. They asked "do we know Christianity is true by the arguments or by experience." Well Alvin Plantinga gave a good answer which I think is sound. He argues that belief in God is a properly basic belief. If one experiences God and his cognitive faculties are in their appropriate circumstances then one can know God exists. Plantinga extends that argument to Christianity, saying that the Holy Spirit is a cognitive faculty: when the unbeliever as well as the believer is experiencing the Holy Spirit and his cognitive faculties are in the appropriate circumstances one can know Christianity is true.

L: I hear you a mentioning cognitive faculties. What are they exactly?

C: Sorry for not making my terms clear. In a nutshell they are belief forming mechanisms.

L: So explain the argument in simpler terms in case our reader didn't understand it.

C: I would love to. When one's cognitive faculties (belief forming mechanisms) are in their appropriate circumstances one can know God exists. To give an analogy suppose I see a tree and now I believe the tree exists. I know the tree exists because my cognitive faculties were in the appropriate circumstances: namely being in front of the tree and experiencing it. Since I was in the appropriate circumstances I can know the tree exists. Now if I experience God and I am in the appropriate circumstances I can know God exists.

L: Ah I think I see now what your saying. Basically if we are in the right place in the right time and our cognitive faculties are functioning correctly we can know God exists?

C: Something like that.

L: So Chris how are we warranted in our belief?

C: Good question! Now let's go back to our analogy of the tree. Say that we go to our friend and try to convince him of the tree's existence. He then gives you very powerful arguments to convince you that the tree does not exist. Does that mean you will say well I guess I was wrong the tree doesn't exist! No! There is almost a defeater in you that no matter what you know you're right! Like a thief who says he isn't given in court powerful evidence that he is guilty does that mean he should say I am guilty?! No! So same thing with God: when we are given a argument we need not be troubled because our experience is so powerful that we know we are right.

L: So it seems to me that believers rely on experience to know God exists? But how then do we convince the unbeliever God exists?

C; Excellent question! To us believers experience is the way we know God exist namely through the inner witness of the Holy spirit. But to unbelievers arguments and evidence can show Christianity is true. So to believers we know God exists through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit but we can show Christianity is true by the arguments and evidences. And the arguments and evidences to believers strengthen our faith.

L: Okay next major question. How does God and evil exist?

C:Well there are many arguments to answer this. To name a few the free will defense, and the middle knowledge defense. But note here when the unbeliever presents this argument he is presupposing that objective evil exists. So he is affirming that there is such a thing as good and evil and right and wrong. But in order for those things to exist God must exist. We can lay this counter argument in the following way.

1. If God does not exist then objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore God exists.

L: So basically even though the problem of evil seems to disprove God existence, it actually reinforces it?

C: Ironically, yes!

L: Okay move on to our next question. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions of God's nature. Would you mind clearing some up? Namely, omnipotence.

C: I would be glad to. First off, many people think that God can do anything. Well that is false there are two things God cannot do: 1. The logically impossible 2: Sin. God cannot do the logically impossible. Such as a round square or a married bachelor. So when atheist reply -- "Can God make a stone so heavy he can lift?"-- that is a meaningless question because that state of affairs is logically impossible. And the Bible teaches that God cannot lie or sin, since it is against his nature.

L: So can you give us a definition of omnipotence?

C: I would be happy too. Omnipotence is God being able to do anything that is logically possible and doesn't contradict his nature.

L: Thank you Chris for being on my blog  today and if you want to check out Chris's blog you can go to here or you can visit his Youtube page.


  1. I love the bit where you proved God exists with evil. But that question, "How can God and evil exist at the same time?" can be worded differently. "How can God and suffering exist at the same time?" is actually used more often, I think. Suffering doesn't prove God, does it?

  2. Well suffering is the result from breaking of the moral code. If I kill somebody the family of that person will suffer. Why because I did something that was wrong. I broke the moral code. But to morals to exist God must exist. Because in the absence of God there are no morals they become relative. So when someone does something wrong he is just acting out of fashion. So evil is the result of the breaking of the moral code. The moral code need God to exist. Therefore God must exist to have a moral code to be broken to have evil exist.

  3. So if I went for a walk in the jungle one day, and a tiger mauled me, who broke the moral code? Are you saying that everything and anything that causes suffering can be traced back to a particular transgression of the moral code?

  4. No I was not saying that because animals are not moral agents. When I meant by suffering is what most people means affliction by another person. Like I rob you and smack you in the face. Your suffering right?

  5. Suffering from evil actions of others. Is what I meant. Hope that clears it up.

  6. I know that's what you were talking about. I was saying that suffering does not necessarily stem from transgressions of moral law. Therefore, suffering does not prove God in a logical sense. I would love if you refuted me, by the way.

  7. I think what Chris is saying is that suffering that results from transgression of the moral law is evidence for God's existence.

  8. Alright. Thanks for clearing that up.

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  10. I just noticed only half of my comment was posted.
    I'm learning about Thomas Aquinas and John Locke in history right now. :)
    And this really helps me with my God=Wind analogy. Thanks! I'm gonna go make a blog about it. :p And this one wont be desultory! lol