August 20, 2012
While listening to the August 12, 2012 podcast of "Stand to Reason" with Greg Koukl, I heard something that I could not only use, but fit in quite will with my intellectual and spiritual development. I was pounding the desk and shouting out, "Yeah!". Then I realized that all my co-workers were staring at me. Then I further realized that my outburst only happened in my mind, so everything was fine.
Greg was going on about the withered old canard, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (popularized by Carl Sagan, a variation on a quote from Laplace, also a variation on a similar quote from Hume). There was something about that saying that struck me about its wrongness, but I did not know why. All I knew was that it was rubbish. Then Greg pointed out that there is substantial arbitrariness to that remark. The speaker demands that you please him or her with the evidence. You can listen to the part of the show that got me all agitated (in a good way) here:
But for me, this goes deeper. Koukl gave me a football and I started running with it.
I have said that many atheists are control freaks. They want to tell you how to run your own site or ministry (ask Matt Slick of CARM about that sometime), control the conversations and so on. They are constantly looking to "one up" and get the upper hand over you. Since they can seldom win with reason, they resort to manipulation, personal attacks, outright lies, intimidation and especially ridicule. (You know, if you can't destroy the message, destroy the messenger). I wonder if even they know what they hope to accomplish with that petty nonsense?
They have their presuppositions that there is no God, no supernatural entities, no miracles (and yet they believe in evolution despite the complete absence of evidence). Their worldview is based on naturalism (materialism).
The Christian is supposed to base his or her thinking on the Word of God (2 Cor. 10.5). We have presuppositions that God exists, miracles happen, that Bible is not only true, but our ultimate standard, foundational to knowledge, and other presuppositions.
Whenever atheists want to debate science or philosophy (or a mix) on "neutral ground", it's not happening, Hattie. They want the Christian to abandon God's Word, but they still keep to their naturalistic presuppositions. In essence, they want proof of God's existence (Romans 1.19-22), the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, evidence against evolution, the reliability of the Bible and all sorts of other things. They make themselves the ultimate standard, while God is in the dock, waiting for their decision about him! But don't be fooled, you can give evidence after evidence, and they have rescuing device after rescuing device (that is, excuses).
Dr. Jason Lisle pointed out something that really struck me. The disciples were with the risen Lord, but some still doubted. How much more evidence can someone need? Belief is not so much a matter of evidence, but a matter of the will. People disbelieve because they want to.
Now, back to the original contention: "extraordinary evidence". First, who made that "rule" in the first place? Second (as was previously mentioned), it is arbitrary. Third, not only is the unbeliever arrogantly judging God, but has upped the ante; is it difficult enough to play his game and have him reject evidence. The unwitting Christian has just accepted the fact that the unbeliever is going to make it even more difficult to convince him. Oh, they pretend to be reasonable, and that is one reason the Christian will fall into the evidence argument trap in the first place.
Christian apologists forget the first part of one of their favorite verses (1 Peter 3.15 NIV). We're ready to give a defense, and apologetic, for the faith, but we forget that Jesus is Lord. I am all in favor of giving evidence, but it must be in a framework that God's Word is true, and in obedience to it. There is no "neutral ground".