Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mr. Clinton's Opening Remarks

Why do I believe in God?

Two reasons. The first is faith. The second is reason.

At the root of all knowledge is faith. Here is an experiment you can try on your friends to test my claim. Ask them, what did you have for breakfast? When they answer, ask them, how do you know? When they answer again, ask them, well how to do you know that? Eventually, you will get to the point where the person responds with a shoulder shrug and an answer something like "I don't know how I know, I just do." This is true whether you are asking a scientist about the properties of hydrocarbons, or your little brother about the properties of ice cream.

At the base of all knowledge are assumptions. Unprovable assumptions. In other words, faith. A leap.

No worldview is immune from this. Atheism stands or falls on faith every bit as much as Christianity.

So, the first reason I believe in God is because I have faith that He does in fact exist. I believe it. My starting point, to borrow from Francis Schaeffer, is that God is there. The atheist, whether he admits it or not, has a starting point that God is not there. Both are assumptions.

Now is my faith in God blind? Is it wishful thinking? I obviously don't think so.

This is where I answer with my second reason for believing in God: reason. I claim that it is more reasonable to believe in the God who is there than to not believe it.

There are many faith options available to all of us: from atheism to pantheism to an entire panoply of theisms.

As one applies philosophical tests of truth from A to Z, the revealed truth in the Bible (not just generic theism) corresponds to the reality of the human experience. The truth claims of a Biblical worldview cohere and correspond to reality in a way that no other worldview can. It is not without mystery, of course. Mr. Girsch raises some strong challenges in his post. Every time we begin to delve deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God, we usually end up in the same place. The historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If God really did raise Christ from the dead, then Christ's claims to be the Son of the one true God are authenticated and scripture must be taken seriously at the actual divine revelation of God. Everything in Christianity literally rises and falls on the historical truth of the resurrection, and the apostle Paul says as much in 1 Corinthians. Needless to say, I find the evidence for the death and resurrection of Christ extremely convincing.

Before you get the wrong idea, let me be clear that I am not a rationalist. I am not claiming that reason is the standard by which we prove or disprove God. Nor am I claiming that humans are capable of rationally answering every question under the sun. What I am claiming is that God exists is a starting point, and at the end of the day, it proves to be a rational starting point indeed.

I hope that gives you some food for thought. I look forward to tough but fair minded questions. Please, no sand throwing ;-)

Last year's class was anxious to question Mr. Girsch. I can't blame them. He is friendly, funny, likable, well read and he really believes in atheism -- he is the real thing. However, I encourage you to challenge me as well. I realize you and I most likely share the same world view, but don't let that deter you from asking tough questions or taking a devil's advocate role.


At 12:57 PM, Blogger Doctor Biobrain said...

Just wanted to mention that I've written a rebuttal to the first part of this post.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger tink677 said...

"At the base of all knowledge are assumptions. Unprovable assumptions. In other words, faith. A leap."

just to clarify, mr. clinton, are you saying that basically all of life is one big "assumption?"

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Great question!

Knowledge has to start somewhere.

That starting point cannot be proven deductively. In other words, you cannot put that starting point into a syllogism and prove it deductively

Atheists have starting points for knowledge and so do Christians. Everyone does.

The debate, I suppose, is over whose starting point is best grounded in reality.

Apologists like Van Til argued that the the materialist's claim to start out knowledge with a committment to reason were wrong to do so because they were unable to offer a rational foundation for man's ability to reason. Therefore, reason cannot be a valid starting point. For man's use of reason to be valid, God must be presupposed first.

Materialists argue that Van Til is cheating by presupposing God instead of proving God's existence using man's reasoning abilities. They recognize that many things in life cannot be proven using syllogisms. However, they argue that no one is seriously disputing the existence of other things which can't be proven (like the laws of logic, for instance). When it comes to God, however, they argue that his existence is in doubt and therefore presupposing him amounts to cheating.

It comes down to which court of appeals has the highest authority? Reason? or Revelation?

Anyhoo ... my claim is that atheists have assumptions as starting points for knowledge and so do Christians. Everyone does. Saying life is "one big assumption" has an existential ring to it and does not capture the essence of my claim.

If my answer is too weasly, then point out the weakness and I'll try to do a better job of answering it.


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