Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Atheist Objections Part VI

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

#6 (Occam’s Razor) Sam Harris says, "Any intellectually honest person will admit that he does not know why the universe exists. Scientists, of course, readily admit their ignorance on this point. There is, in fact, no worldview more reprehensible in its arrogance than that of a religious believer."

While I think this can be turned on the atheist it certainly cannot be turned on the agnostic. Being a Christian means one has to pretend to know things that he/she does not know. Shouldn't one accept the least amount of beliefs that cannot be provided with sufficient evidence? Holding to unneeded presuppositions leads to bad conclusions to the things we do know or should know.

The first paragraph engages in question - begging; Harris assumes that the Holy Bible is not God's Word; a logical extension of this supposition is that no one knows why the universe exists. So Harris' view requires the presumption that his worldview is correct, which remains undemonstrated.

As to why humanity exists, God created us for His pleasure. Colossians 1:16: "All things were created by him and for him." His creative act brings Him pleasure and satisfaction, just as our own creative outlets bring us satisfaction, albeit on a lesser, sin - obscured level.

The universe exists for His pleasure, as well -- and for ours. Psalm 19:1: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." The universe is a constant, viewable evidence of His presence and glory.

I'm not sure why humans and animals, stars and planets bring Him pleasure, but they do; this was especially true before the Fall of Man. God has not explained Himself in full, but He also informed us that we should not find this surprising. Isaiah 55: 8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." 1 Corinthians 13:12: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." Acceptance of scripture means having faith that God has answers for us in the next life, even if we retain a degree of ignorance in this one.

The Christian does know why the universe exists. He does know why humanity exists. Some -- including Christians -- find the answers incomplete or unsatisfactory, and I sympathize with that. But agnosticism offers indecision and confusion, and atheism offers nothing. To sum up:

Christianity = a real but inexhaustive explanation.

Agnosticism = a refusal to offer an explanation.

Atheism = an inability to offer an explanation.

I know that the atheist or agnostic might observe that Christians also question - beg, in that they assume the truth of scripture in reaching certain conclusions. True, but the difference is that Christians admit the need for faith in their beliefs; atheists typically don't; and agnostics remain indecisive on the issue.

The position that we don't know why the universe exists is no less taking a stand on the issue than the notion that we do know.

I'd like to see Harris or his acolytes elaborate on how atheism better adheres to Ockham's Razor than Christianity. William of Ockham was a Franciscan friar and theologian. He saw no contradiction of his maxim in Christianity. His rule of thumb, stated simply, suggests that when two or more theories fit the facts, we should embrace the one requiring fewer assumptions. So atheists must explain how a belief that something originated from nothing stands superior to the belief that something came from something greater. Agnostics posit that God's existence is unknowable, but is this true? I can't prove beyond doubt that God exists, but the alternative is belief in materialistic spontaneous generation, or the assumption that life arose from inanimate matter, which was disproven by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century. And before anyone mentions abiogenesis, understand that it's just an updating and expansion of the same tired theory, dressed in modernized garb. So whereas I can't demonstrate God's indisputable existence, I can offer the same options from above: something from nothing, or something from something greater. You can't outrun the question by remaining an agnostic.

Regarding the idea that Christians profess knowledge they don't possess: We've already covered the faith aspect, earlier. That aside, we have the assumption, yet again, that scripture isn't God's Word to Man. So accusing Christians of "pretending" doesn't hold much water, since this remains unproven. The question of whether or not scripture is a fanciful compendium of fairy tales, or the Word of God, needs addressing before one can assert with integrity that Christians indulge in "make - believe." History, prophetic fulfillment, and ethical considerations indicate that the Holy Bible is far more than a book of fiction.

And I reiterate: the Christian worldview is more coherent and logical than one steeped in atheism or agnosticism.

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