The points on this page may shake the faith of the Atheist in the precepts of Atheism, but the most important thing is that you share the Good News (Gospel). This is simple. All these other things may help, but it is the proclamation of the Gospel that transforms minds. See Give Them the Gospel.
God is logical, and part of righteousness is logic. Atheism is illogical: a universal negative and an argument from ignorance. Naturalism and materialism include the belief that there is no God and they are both as illogical as Atheism. Evolution is a fabricated story that goes against the evidence and is based on arbitrary assumptions and rationalizations--this is illogical. Old Earthism is also a fabricated story that goes against the evidence and is based on arbitrary assumptions and rationalizations--this is illogical.
You've basically spelled out what you see to be the dividing line between our separate approaches. And while I could possibly show you that our approaches don't differ as much as you think, since you use reason in your daily life just like I do, and thus there is a common denominator between us that could provide a field for common discourse. And, given how long I've been doing what I do, nothing that you've said below is new to me or has gone unconsidered or untried. But I would leave you with this thought. If I set aside your poetic metaphors of rocks and sand and get to the crux of the matter, you are advocating revelation as a way of knowing. Revelation comes in two forms: direct and indirect. A direct revelation is where one personally experiences the message. An indirect revelation is where one, perhaps, reads the message in a book in which the message is claimed to have been the revelation of somebody else, maybe somebody long dead. Either way, the message source is unreliable. If you've had a direct revelation, merely feeling it to be convincing doesn't make it true. We've all had our minds play tricks on us. And many others have had hallucinations and other persuasive experiences that we would both regard as false. If you read the revelations of others in a book, you know that throughout history various people have claimed various contradictory revelations. They can't all be true. And maybe none of them are. In both of the above cases, we have to use our reason at some point to sort the revelations out. We have to choose which revelations to believe. No getting around that.
These types of comments are good because they force the follower of Christ to know why he or she believes what he or she believes. They also show how deceitful the human mind is, and how easily the human mind can be deceived.
If we cut to the point of all this, the Atheist is declaring that the Bible, even if it is a revelation from God, cannot be trusted, but logic can discern which parts of the Bible can be trusted. So, consider Moses at the Red Sea and God tells him to raise his staff and the Sea will part. Logic or observation have no mechanism by which to test this sort of thing. Sometimes, though, we can wait and see what happens because our vision in the spiritual realm is not yet all that clear. Often, we second-guess the revelation and suffer the consequences, especially when the revelation comes in the form a warning. We find that we could have avoided a bad experience had we only listened to God. Also see: Seek to Know God.
The Atheist is also claiming that any leading that anyone has from God in regard to any thing must be tested with logic, and he is further claiming that logic has the ability to clear up the issue. That is just not true. Logic is very limited. It is useful, but it is limited. Atheists (and Naturalistic Christians) tend to go to the embarrassing argument of claiming, without evidence, that followers of Christ are not experiencing what followers of Christ say they are experiencing.
For an Atheist to claim to not know would be logical, but then they would not be an Atheist, and their claim would not be true because they really do know. True Agnosticism actually goes beyond not knowing to claim that no one else knows either. That is both dishonest and irrational (insane). The claim of the Agnostic is actually the claim that the Agnostic does not know anything about God but does know everything about the personal spiritual experience of every person who has ever lived. Such a claim is insane.
Here is a statement from wikipedia: "Argument from ignorance may be used as a rationalization by a person who realizes that he has no reason for holding the belief that he does. The fallaciousness of arguments from ignorance does not mean that one can never possess good reasons for thinking that something does not exist, an idea captured by philosopher Bertrand Russell's teapot, a hypothetical china teapot revolving about the sun between Earth and Mars; however this would fall more duly under the arena of pragmatism, wherein a position must be demonstrated or proven in order to be upheld, and therefore the burden of proof is on the argument's proponent." Now, why do you suppose that someone would have written something that implies that the argument from ignorance by the Atheist Bertrand Russell is OK? Because it is an argument against God--so it's OK? No. It's not OK. It is still insane, and defending it after it has been pointed out is even more insane.
An argument from ignorance is different from an "evidence of absence" when methods exist to test the proposition and no evidence has ever been found despite extensive testing. Such is the case for many of the explanations of Atheists and confused followers of Christ who believe that God didn't create the universe. For instance, spontaneous life has never been created despite much research--but the zealots claim that they will eventually find such evidence and foolish politicians keep giving them money to try. Another example is the lack of evidence that information can ever be added to anything by random chance despite much research from motivated researchers hoping to save their molecules-to-man evolution conjecture / fabrication. Another example is the failure to find anything that could go against the loss of potential energy, loss of complexity, and loss of organization known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Evolution would require a natural mechanism like this, but none has been found despite so much research money that goes to this cause. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is also the reason that energy and matter could not be eternal. Then there is the lack of evidence, after much research, for any exception to The First Law of Thermodynamics which says that energy and matter cannot be created. The First Law of Thermodynamics is the reason that energy and matter could not have come into existence spontaneously without a creator.
Before his death, Hitchens said, "I do it [dedicates himself to preaching anti-God messages] because I think the essential argument that underlies all other arguments is the one between belief in the supernatural and repudiation of that," he said. "It cuts across all the left-right, libertarian-statist arguments." Hitchens admitted that no amount of evidence would ever turn him to God because he would not be told what to do by God. That is consistent with what the Bible says about those who refuse to acknowledge God. At least Hitchens was aware of his motivations. It seems that most ungodly people are either not aware or not honest about their motivations.
Interestingly, there are Christians who are Naturalists. They don't believe that God does miracles or that God reveals. Recently, a famous radio preacher who has his own study Bible and claims to believe the Bible said that God doesn't show us anything. According to him, God doesn't reveal anything. He stated that he knew this to be true because God has never spoken to him. This is an example of the argument from self-knowing (auto-epistemic) This is about as valid as a man who says, I can't do plumbing, therefore, no one can do plumbing.
Breaking down the Atheist's Comment
[Atheist] "And while I could possibly show you that our approaches don't differ as much as you think, since you use reason in your daily life just like I do, and thus there is a common denominator between us that could provide a field for common discourse."
The overall purpose of the Atheist is to attempt to show that revelation from God is unreliable. What is, in fact, unrealiable is historical science which depends on speculation. The human mind is unreliable, and that has been shown by science.
In this part of the message, the Atheist re-frames the question. He cleverly creates a false choice between revelation and logic. Have you ever considered that God reveals in many ways? Have you ever considered that, since God made everything, God made logic? Just supposing, for a moment, that logic is one of the ways by which God reveals. The Bible certainly indicates that God uses logic to reveal, since you see one logical argument after another in the Bible. It is not, however, logic without God or God's revelation. It is logic from God as the means by which God is revealing. God is not bound to using just logic. God also reveals by simply declaring something to be true. God has many ways of revealing truth, and logic is just one of them. God does not conform to our requests to have His revelation served up at our command according to our specifications.
The reality about logic is that it always must have a foundation. Logic puts forth propositions. If the propositions are true and the logic is correct, then it shows something to be either true or false. For each proposition, there is some sort of logical statement having propositions of its own to support that proposition.
Note the words: "And,""while," and "since" above. These are interesting words used in neurolinguistic programming. They are persuasive in that they tend to make the reader accept what is being said without questioning too deeply. The words, "while" and "since" set up presuppositions. Once something is already presupposed, the mind does not tend to examine what has been said but rather accepts without questioning.
In that light, let's examine what has been said: The key to all of this is, "there is a common denominator between us that could provide a field for common discourse." That sounds really nice, but here is what is actually being said: "Accept my presupposition of self-refuting scientism and we can talk. That means that the Bible or any other of your communion with God is not permissible."This is an arbitrary rule, and it would make sense to reverse it. We could tell the Atheist that we could have a common dialog based on the Bible if he would just be reasonable and accept the Bible as God's infallible Word. Martin Luther refused to discuss with anyone who would not accept that starting point.The Atheist is playing a tune and asking the follower of Christ to dance to that tune. It is silly for a follower of Christ to dance to the Atheist's tune. Jesus wouldn't dance to the tune played by the Sadducees and Pharisees. Neither should the follower of Christ.
The reality is that the Atheist does not use logic to make decisions. Sometimes, we all use logic. Most decisions, though, are made on the basis of emotions and the decision is rationalized to justify the decision, to make it seem as if it makes sense. Atheists have switched away from using logical arguments to using emotional arguments with the rationalizations built into the arguments. They, in fact, break most of the rules of logic in making their case. Read any of the recent popular books by Atheists with a skeptical eye and you will find this to be the case. Anyone with any background in marketing knows this simple concept of using emotion and then rationalizing a change in behavior or thought. People want to feel as if they were rational, but they don't really want to be rational. They want to do what they want to do.
[Atheist] "Nothing that you've said is new to me or has gone unconsidered or untried."
The Atheist's mind is closed. That is usually a given with Atheists over a certain tender age, usually grade school age. However, it is not true that this person has continually been seeking after God, because everyone who seeks God does find Him.
The walk is harder for one who follows Christ because of the way that things work in the spiritual realm. Christians who lose connection with Christ are easily brought into some form of false religion, whether Atheism, New Age, Muslim, or something else. When a follower of Christ has walked a long time with Jesus, that follower of Christ has seen too many miracles to be easily convinced of lies. However, most followers of Christ do not walk that closely with Christ, so these words might sound empty to a lot of followers of Christ. They may wonder what this even means.
[Atheist] "But I would leave you with this thought. If I set aside your poetic metaphors of rocks and sand and get to the crux of the matter, you are advocating revelation as a way of knowing."
This is a reference to a previous email exchange.
If the Atheist will challenge any one of his own statements, he would come to an answer to his challenge. Imagine that he asks a question structured like this: "What convinces me of X?" Then, his answer is structured something like this: "Y convinces be of X!" Well then what convinces him of Y? Z convinces him of Y! And so it goes until one of two things happens. The Atheist may finally conclude that Y is proved by X, which is proved by Z,...,which is proved by Y. In other words, through a set of steps, a chain of circular logic is created. The Atheist may, on the other hand finally conclude that all of this is supported by a final axiom which must just be believed because it is self-evident. Why is it self-evident? To believe in an axiom does not follow the rules of logic--it is outside of the realm of logical thought but rather simply accepted without proof.
The follower of Christ, on the other hand, may discover that his or her challenge questions lead to one of four different outcomes:
The follower of Christ may finally conclude that Y is proved by X, which is proved by Z,...,which is proved by Y. (Circular Reasoning)
The follower of Christ may finally conclude that all of this is supported by a final axiom which must just be believed because it is self-evident. (Illogical because the so-called self-evident "fact" is simply an arbitrary claim that happens to fit what the person wants to believe)
The follower of Christ may finally conclude that all of this is supported by revelation:
The revelation may be a true revelation from God (Rock)
The supposed revelation may be an undetected logical error or a dream or vision out of the person's own heart. (sand)
It is fortunate that God placed, in the Church, those ministries and orders that minimize false revelations and that correct false revelations. The Bible is full of examples of false prophets, apostles, teachers, and counselors. It is unfortunate the most of the Church has rejected the Biblical order for the Church.
Everything that human beings believe either goes back to the Rock, Jesus, or else it goes to the sand, axioms/bad logic/false revelation. Axioms are just assumptions. They are deeply rooted assumptions. Axioms are made up and they are believed because they are believed. Even for those who are most dedicated to logic as the only way to truth, there are axioms, however deeply buried, at the basis of all of their firmly held beliefs.
Those who follow Christ have the Rock, Jesus, at the basis. For followers of Christ, the mind (soul) is filled with a mixture of Axioms and Jesus. These two competing Gods are in the heart of every follower of Christ. We could call the axioms, self. They certainly are part of the self that Jesus said that we must all die to. As we die to self, we live to Christ. As we live to Christ, our spiritual senses and discernment improves. Jesus is Christ in us the hope of glory. (Read More)
"Revelation comes in two forms: direct and indirect. A direct revelation is where one personally experiences the message. An indirect revelation is where one, perhaps, reads the message in a book in which the message is claimed to have been the revelation of somebody else, maybe somebody long dead. Either way, the message source is unreliable." If you've had a direct revelation, merely feeling it to be convincing doesn't make it true. We've all had our minds play tricks on us. And many others have had hallucinations and other persuasive experiences that we would both regard as false.
The Atheist is stating his conclusion, which is the contention that revelation is always unreliable. Regarding this claim, the unasked/answered question is: "Are all claims to revelation unreliable?"
Just because there is a false, that does not make the true less true--it ought to make us careful, though. Jesus certainly taught us how to discern, and it was not by logic; it is by the Holy Spirit, Who might point out some bad logic or some lie. The Bible certainly lays out the pattern for receiving revelation. For one thing, God set an order in the Church for receiving revelation. When followers of Christ go out where God did not send them and speak a vision out of their own hearts, those visions are not from God. There are plenty of references to this on SeekFind.net. Again, the unasked/answered question is: "Are all claims to revelation unreliable?" To claim that no one anywhere, at any time, has had a revelation from God would be a violation of the rules of logic. The Atheist does not go so far as to say that all revelation is unreliable, however, he does say that logic is the key to testing revelation.
Logic does not have the capacity to test revelation unless the revelation violates the rules of logic. Most people who set out to test revelation using logic are actually testing whether the revelation is in concert with their own presuppositions. Since their presuppositions are hidden in layers of nested logic statements, it would be rare if anyone knew what their presuppositions were.
Either way, the message source is unreliable.
I have pulled this sentence out of the previous paragraph for special attention. Notice that the Atheist did not say that the message is unreliable. He said that the message source, God, is unreliable. This will tell you something about the message source from which the Atheist is pulling this argument. An Atheist is an ungodly person. That is, Atheists are simply people who don't want to hold God in their knowledge. They don't want God speaking to them and telling them what to do. For this reason, they make every effort to assume against all evidence that God exists. So, for the Atheist to say that God, as the source of all truth, is unreliable, the Atheist is simply restating his original assumption. In simple English, the Atheist says, "I am assuming as a starting point for my logic that God does not exist. Since God does not exist, He cannot speak or lead. Since God cannot speak or lead, His revelation is unreliable. Since His revealining of Himself to me is unreliable, I cannot use His revelation of Himself to me as proof of His existence. Therefore, God does not exist." How perfectly circular that reasoning is!
If you read the revelations of others in a book, you know that throughout history various people have claimed various contradictory revelations. They can't all be true. And maybe none of them are. In both of the above cases, we have to use our reason at some point to sort the revelations out. We have to choose which revelations to believe. No getting around that.
For our purpose, the Atheist is striking out at the Bible.
The Atheist's conclusion does not follow from His argument. He presents a problem, well documented in the Bible by the way, of contradictory revelations. But he concludes that "we have to use our reason at some point to sort the revelations out." By "reason," the Atheist seems to be meaning logic as if logic were the only way to reason. It is not, and there is no empirical evidence that it is superior to the other ways of reasoning.
It appears that the Atheist is saying that we have only one choice, logic, to sort out whether or not a revelation comes from God or not. It appears that the Atheist gets it that, if the revelation comes from the Biblical God, it is rock solid.
God is still presupposed out of the argument. If God did indeed reveal and if every word of Scripture is God-breathed, then what would make the message source unreliable? Nothing.
Yet, how can we know whether something is from God or from our own natural mind? That is a great question if someone is really looking for the answer.
The reality is that logic has almost no capacity at all for determining which revelations to believe? The actual process for learning to discern between deception and truth is to get close to God. If we draw near to Him, then He draws near to us. As we come into His presence, He imparts His discernment, His wisdom, His knowledge. It is a progressive process that is not available to luke-warm followers of Christ or those who will not yield themselves totally to God. On this site, there is ample information about God's process for revelation and the safeguards He has built into the Church to keep the Church from being deceived.
One thing that the Atheist didn't tell you is that scientists and intellectual elite folks have that same corrupt mind. In fact, it is so corrupt that they can get it wrong over and over and never come up with the correct answer, especially when it comes to such questions as "How old is the Universe?" or "How did everything get here?"
The Atheist has created a circular argument to prove that there is no Biblical God when they have already quietly presupposed no Biblical God--in this case, the argument is that there is no reliable revelation from God. If the unbeliever presupposes the existence of the one loving, all-present, all-caring, all powerful, all-knowing God who communicates with the people He created, then the whole landscape changes. However, the believer goes one better than that. He or she personally knows and interacts with the one loving, all-present, all-caring, all powerful, all-knowing God.
Logic and science are tools that God gives, one of the many ways in which God reveals truth. These tools should not be used without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, though, because the human mind is wicked and deceitful to the point that no person really knows his or her own mind. When ungodly people use science and logic, they are likely to come up with the wrong answers because they have the wrong foundation.
Ungodly people are forced to hold on tightly to some basic presuppositions. These presuppositions are just simple-minded assumptions. They are filters and a way to censor out any information that supports the existence of God. They set up a web of rules to filter out God. They will only accept those things that conform to Naturalism, materialism, and uniformitarianism. Naturalism claims that God does nothing. Materialism claims that there is no God or spiritual realm. Uniformitarianism claims that there was not creation and that there was no violent worldwide flood, as the Bible and numerous other historical accounts record. Whatever they observe that does not conform to this complex filter is censored. The way that it is censored can take several forms. The ungodly may boldly proclaim that, though the data appears to support God's version and refute the version of the ungodly, yet it still must be interpreted to mean just the opposite of what it does mean. A backup method that ungodly people use is to prophecy that in the future, science will be able to explain what they see as an anomaly. If that fails, they will hide the data, set it aside, or lie to keep the public from knowing the truth. The data clearly demolishes the story of the ungodly and clearly supports the reality of the Creator God, His Bible, and His abiding Presence in His people. When confronted with the obvious, a closed-minded ungodly person says, "I can't understand it." They are willingly ignorant because they refuse to hold God in their knowledge. The reality is that these people, for whatever reason, don't what to know the Creator. They don't want to truly know Jesus, their Creator.