Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Friday, July 21, 2006

Refuting God's Nature

Materialist apologetics is perhaps the most powerful tool in the atheist philosopher's arsenal. There are two main ways of arguing it : the one that I present, which is to argue that everything is contingent to God's act of creation and therefore cannot be necessary, and another, to argue that God's creation is necessarily subjective and that therefore nothing can be objective in the Christian worldview.

This makes short work of any knowledge claim that any Christian may make in the course of a discussion or debate, although not always equally simply.

It is even more useful in that Christians have only one answer to it - which I call the Inherent-Property Objection. Here is a typical expression of this objection, by theologian John Frame :

Logic is neither above God nor arbitrarily decreed by God. Its ultimate basis is in God’s eternal nature. God is a rational God and necessarily so. Therefore logic is necessary.
"A Brief Response to Michael Martin's Transcendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God", John Frame

Basically, the arguer tries to escape the inherent subjectivity of God's creation by grounding God's desires in some kind of objective nature. This objection, while confounding to the uninitiated, is almost trivially easy to refute. I will now go through the main ways to do so.

1. The objection is completely irrelevant. Suppose that God is necessarily logical. Even if that's true, the existence of logic is still subjective on God's will, and is still contingent. All that the objection does is confirm how this subjectivity and contingency arises. By trying to create solid ground below his feet, the theologian is in fact only proving how brittle it is.

2. The objection is an ad hoc rationalization. Nothing about the idea of God indicates that it must be necessarily logical. Indeed, God is supposed to be omnipotent, and it would hardly be so if it couldn't do what humans can do. And yet humans can be illogical. This indicates that the objection is in fact false, if we follow the definition of God.

3. Whatever God's nature is, it is not obvious that there is any relation between that nature and its creations. Suppose that God's nature is, by some magical process, made logical. This in no way indicates that its creation will reflect logic. Once again, if human beings can be logical and yet create illogical things, then there is no reason why God couldn't.

4. All the previous replies have assumed that it makes sense at all to speak of logic as being part of God's nature. To be consistent at all, one must believe that logic is either a creation of God, or can exist without being created. If logic is a creation of God, then logic cannot be a part of God's nature before creation, thus defeating the objection. If logic exists without creation, then creation is not needed for its existence, and we don't need God at all to explain it.

5. The objection presumes that it makes sense to speak of logic as a non-material entity (so that it can be part of a being that is not material). From the materialist perspective, logic is an axiomatic fact of reality, and arises because of the fundamental nature of the material world. It makes no sense to speak of logic dissociated from matter.

But the most profound problem with the objection is the complete lack of justification for its central assertion - that anything can be declared as part of God's nature. If God is posited, first, as being infinitely powerful, then on what grounds can we declare anything at all ? It is entirely possible that God is deluding the believer into saying that logic is part of God's nature, when in fact it is a clever lie. It is also possible that God wants the believer to believe that logic is necessary, when in fact it is not. And it is also possible that God is deluding the believer into thinking every single thing he thinks ! How is the believer to argue against these possibilities ? Surely he cannot.

I discuss this and other methods of "sanding down" Christian confidence in my article "Refuting Theistic Epistemic Standards". With them, nothing based on faith can stand. Enjoy !

Post a Comment


At 7/21/2006 9:03 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Great! I'm looking forward to more dissection of Christian epistemology.

I recall that Michael Martin responded to Frame's objection using the "many worlds" objection. That is, we can conceive of a Universe where God is illogical, and therefore a logical God is not necessary. This would be similar to your refutation #2, correct?

At 7/21/2006 9:48 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Although I completely disapprove of such arguments, yes.

At 7/21/2006 12:10 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

Hey Franc, Raving Atheist posted some POSITIVE things about you (in accordance with his new blog policy):

At 7/21/2006 12:10 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

The link didnt work last time. Here it is now:

Raving Atheist

At 7/21/2006 1:49 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Yea, I saw that. Has he converted yet?

At 7/21/2006 3:55 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"Great! I'm looking forward to more dissection of Christian epistemology."

You will, for a couple months. Then I will mostly drop Goosing for my own blog. I know this because I write entries months in advance.

At 7/21/2006 4:58 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

Youre gonna drop Goosing, Franc? Why? Say it aint so! You are the backbone of Goosing!

Regarding RA, I think he already converted, but just hasnt admitted to his readers yet. Its so sad. I used to admire him and love his blog. Now hes becoming some kind of generic Abrahamic theist.

At 7/21/2006 5:56 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Yea well... you gotta do what you gotta do.

If you want to check out my new blog, it's Check Your Premises, on the sidebar.

At 7/21/2006 7:03 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

Aww dammit your new blog is at wordpress. Now I gotta make a wordpress account to comment there :P

At 11/16/2006 8:17 AM, Blogger JesusMarine declaimed...

Humans can't be illogical. They are born with innate logic. The positions that they hold can be illogical however. And to state that God is omniscient and omnipotent in no way invalidates the fact that the laws of logic are still objective standards. In fact, we can actually further this argument by simply noting that from the Christian perspective, the Bible consists of a bunch of objective standards, and since the laws of logic are contained within the Bible in part, we can state that the laws of logic are in fact a part of the nature of God. I can easily demonstrate this as well.

The supreme example in the Bible of what to do or not to do (of course, other than things like claiming to be God) is Christ. Thus, (in the context of our discussion) if Jesus, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, used logical argumentation to validate His claims or points, a fortiori, how much more so for us! Indeed, this is exactly what we see Jesus doing. For example, consider Matthew 12:24-30:

Argument from analogy (vv. 25-26)
The law of logical or rational inference (v. 26)
Reductio ad absurdum (vv. 25-26)
Argument from analogy (v. 27)
The law of logical or rational inference (vv. 28, 29)
Argument from analogy (v. 29)
The law of contradiction (v. 30)
The law of excluded middle (v. 30)

So your objection here is completely moot. Logic is implied within the Bible, and as well, since we have the law of rational inference, we can infer that these standards are necessary to be objectively followed by God's creation. God created the laws of logic. This infuses the principle of cause and effect, and when utilizing Ockham's Razor, it makes more sense than any other consideration, erego, making God the simplest explanation for the cause of these laws, since everything needs a creator. In other words, the principles within our nature are all fulfilled and followed through by the Christian position. How, may I ask, can Atheism account for these principles that are necessary to human nature?

At 11/16/2006 8:18 AM, Blogger JesusMarine declaimed...

I argue that the Atheistic position is ad hoc.

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At 11/27/2010 1:14 PM, Blogger Michael declaimed...





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