Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Problem With Knowing There Is No God

Steve Hays posted a link on Triablogue to a book reviewon the Denver Seminary site for James Spiegel’s The Making of an Atheist.

After reading the review, I had an observation and realized that there was an epistemological problem with atheistic naturalism:

I've always said that I don't believe in atheists. I don't think they exist, despite anyone's profession to be one.
In a world where too many Christians are too afraid to point out what the Bible clearly says about disbelief, I appreciate Spiegel's Biblical observation that unbelief is rooted in a desire to self-justify personal sin.

Aside from this, I've just checked around because I've never thought of this before, but it occurred to me that atheism has no positive arguments. A quick web search of "positive arguments for atheism" led to some sites that claim to have positive arguments, but they were anything but positive. All the arguments I see have to with disproving God. That would seem obvious given the label "a-theist" except that if it were possible for this universe to exist without God, there must be an epistemology that someone could verbalize for it that doesn't include a reference to something that doesn't exist.

The best argument I found so far is that naturalism predicts the universe... except that it doesn't. The argument doesn't prove a lack of God. It merely assumes that the universe functions in a predictable way and further assumes that it follows that if the universe is predictable that God could not exist (which is also begging the question of a negative argument and therefore employs two healthy fallacies).

But this only demonstrates that if there is no God we wouldn't be able to know it since our ability to know anything is bound up in what is naturally predictable. If there is a God, then the only way we could know it is if he reveals himself to us in a way that is naturally unpredictable (miraculous) - which he has.

No Reason to Fear What’s Truly Important

Doug Hibbard, a regular contributor on SBC Voices, discusses the possibility that the government could remove the tax-exempt status for churches in his article, A Post of Personal Paranoia. For churches who struggle to pay the bills, such a proposition is a source of fear for them. Given that many church members don’t tithe and that many contributions are in part motivated by tax deduction for donating to charitable organizations. So not only would churches have to pay taxes, but it’s reasonable to expect donations to decline. That’s the fear.

Commenter Christiane wrote this:

Our Lord left us with His Peace.
Why do we worry ?

I responded:

I think what you say here is at the heart of the matter, not just for our churchly organizations, but for how we feel about the things we’ve been given to steward in other areas of our lives. Part of the problem is that we shouldn’t even draw such sharp distinctions between family and church, family budget and tithe, etc. But when we center our focus on the Church, we stop being the Church. We can only be the Church when we center our focus on Christ. I think God gives us the gift of hard times so that we can remember that buildings and budgets come and go, but Jesus is ours forever.

Commenter cb scott further added:

“Buildings and budgets” and a lot of other things, I reckon.

I think you are right, Jim Pemberton. The realization that you are right about the “gifts of hard times” does not always bring me immediate comfort. However, looking back, it has been during the hardest of times that God has directed my journey in the straightest path.