Continued from part 4 «
This is my final statement in the debate, Does God exist? between myself and Angels Depart. Since my previous statements have been lengthy and comprehensive, and the conclusion of a debate should raise no new arguments or items of consideration, I’ll endeavor to keep this brief, taking the time merely to summarize the main points I’ve now made, and wrap up my presentation. Click here for Angels Depart’s conclusion.
At the beginning of this debate, I agreed with you that the burden of proof in an argument lies with the person making a fantastical claim. I asserted that it is the atheist, or the agnostic, and not the Christian, whose claim is fantastic. I described the Christian’s job as one in which he need simply destroy the atheistic worldview, and leave the biblical one standing in its place.
As the debate has proceeded, I have undertaken this job as best I can. I have placed the secular worldview under scrutiny, examined some of its most basic assumptions, and proved that they are rationally unjustified. Starting with science, I demonstrated that though its presuppositions may seem reasonable, the fact that they are unjustified by any actual reasoning merely condemns it further; showing that, despite itself, it is completely dislocated from reality. It therefore should by no means be considered a reliable framework for interpreting the world. I also commented on the principles of reasoning of the scientific method; on the fact that its models of reality are philosophical and not empirical; and on the fact that, although you seem to look to it as a standard of truth, it is actually always wrong.
I have further shown that it is by no means just secular scientists whose worldviews fail to justify their knowledge-claims: by definition, any secular worldview is incapable of this—be that worldview atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, spiritualism, or whatever other ism strikes your fancy. No system of interpreting reality which is based on subjective, personal experience can ever justify itself (regardless of how objective it pretends to be); nor, therefore, can it justify any of its claims. Thus, no such worldview can make any claim to knowledge whatsoever. And, of course, a worldview which cannot claim any kind of knowledge constitutes no more than speculation, and is useless for its intended purpose.
In this way, I have demonstrated that the only possible way to actually know anything—that is, to have justified beliefs—is to ground our view and interpretation of reality upon already-existent knowledge. Since no such knowledge is possible without it being revealed by an objective knowledge-giver, we are left in the situation of being forced to admit that we are impotent, in ourselves, to reliably interpret reality. We must instead rely upon objective revelation.
This, briefly, was my proof that God is not merely likely to exist, but must exist if any kind of debate is to be possible at all. The assertion that there is no proof for the existence of God must, itself, implicitly presuppose the existence of God! And, this being the case, it is a false statement by definition, being self-refuting. So I have shown that there is indeed proof for the existence of God, by merit of the impossibility of the contrary. God is the necessary precondition for knowledge.
Then, in order to briefly prove that the God in question is the Christian God, and not any other, I concluded my argument by showing that, in addition to being the necessary precondition for knowledge, YHVH is also the necessary precondition for reality itself. This is because no other alleged god, as revealed in alleged revelations, has a nature which solves the basic metaphysical question of unity and plurality. Only the equal ultimacy of unity and plurality found in the Trinity makes reality itself intelligible. Of course, this is not the only question the Bible answers—it also justifies our belief in all the other things we have discussed, like uniformity, externality, the accuracy of our senses, and the existence of other people. All these assumptions which other worldviews must make are genuinely justified only by the Bible.
In addition to showing this, and so proving the positive position of the moot, I also fielded your various objections against the authenticity and self-consistency of Scripture. This was certainly worthwhile in order to properly defend the Christian position and prove its veracity, while again illustrating the insoluble problems which come from assuming that man is the ultimate arbiter of truth. I briefly discussed the canon of Scripture and showed that, although the authority of the Bible does not rest on historical arguments (and indeed that, being empirically-based, these are impossible without the authority of Scripture), historical analysis does support its unparalleled accuracy. Those who call this accuracy into question are not taken seriously even by secular scholars, and their work constitutes merely anti-religious propaganda and conspiracy theories.
I also examined a number of contradictions which you alleged within the Bible, showing how these only seem apparent when the text is read in a cursory, ignorant, or plainly prejudiced fashion. I discussed the critical principle of giving the author the benefit of the doubt, and showed how you failed to adhere to this; instead, actively working against it in order to see the incongruities you claimed were there. I clearly showed in each case precisely what knowledge you lacked, and how it altered your interpretation of the text. And, in each case, this knowledge was clearly vital, clearly evident, and clearly did not constitute the sort of “mental gymnastics” which some skeptics allege Christians must perform in order to reconcile “contradictions” within Scripture. On the contrary—my explication of the passages showed that the mental gymnastics were entirely your own, being possible only by ignoring their larger context, or by reading them as saying more than they genuinely do, or by interpreting them against a false understanding of other biblical teachings. In other words, in order to find “contradictions” in Scripture, it is necessary to first assume that they exist, and then to “divide and conquer” by isolating passages, ignoring what comes immediately before and after, and being ignorant of simple facts which greatly influence their interpretation. By simply explaining everything Scripture says in regards to those passages, and nothing more, I demonstrated almost incidentally that it is indeed internally harmonious; and that the passages which you previously assumed were problematic have a far less forced, far more natural meaning.
We briefly discussed atrocities as well. I showed, during this discussion, that Scripture certainly commands atrocities according to a certain definition of that term—but that, contrary to your objection, these commands are specific and historical, and cannot be generalized. Neither are they at all incongruent with other scriptural principles—but indeed prefigure, in an historical manner, its eschatological teachings. As for the general commands which it gives regarding our enemies, it instructs us to love them. Nonetheless, even if it did not, you are incapable of bringing any argument to bear which would show anything more than that you disagree with the ethical standards of God. Although you might fancy yourself as the arbiter of moral truth, and Scripture’s teachings might be abhorrent to you, this by no means removes from you the burden of objective justification for your ethical opinions. Lacking this, as you do, your arguments constitute merely a demonstration that your worldview and the biblical one are at odds—which we certainly already know.
In every matter, I easily and perspicuously destroyed those arguments and objections of yours which you did not voluntarily concede; while at the same time presenting arguments and objections of my own which you could not refute—because, quite simply, they are true. Many of my responses, such as those which I made to the alleged contradictions between God’s sovereignty and Judges and Hebrews, you did not engage with at all; though you brought in ancillary objections which constituted only your opinion, and not genuine arguments at all. In every way, I have defended and proved the truth of the Bible as God’s word, and its necessity to all knowledge and understanding; and have shown that God himself is a necessary precondition for reality. At the same time, I have destroyed all the arguments and lofty opinions you have raised against the knowledge of God.
All that remains for me now is to remind you of the consequences of this: that, having been clearly shown the truth of the Bible, you are left without excuse if you ignore its command to repent, and to believe in the salvation offered through Christ Jesus. Since the Bible is necessarily true, it follows that you are indeed a sinner who is justly condemned to an eternal hell if you refuse the forgiveness available through faith. I therefore urge you, exhort you, and implore you, to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. For the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31).