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Lesson Seven: Apologetics as Proof – Theistic Arguments B

August 23, 2015



Lesson Seven: Apologetics As Proof (Part 3B) (1)


  • Traditional Metaphysical Arguments: Most of the arguments traditionally used in apologetics begin with some fundamental reality in the universe and try to show that that reality presupposes, implies, or somehow requires God.
    • Despite the general revelation of nature (Romans 1:20-21), regeneration does not occur without the intervention of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:4-5; Titus 3:3-5).
    • Naturalism_Super-Naturalism
  • The Argument from Purpose: The Teleological Argument
    • When considered informally (i.e., intuitively): strongest argument.
      • Immanuel Kant: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within.”
        • Kant’s philosophy rejected natural theology and traditional “proofs” for the existence of God because Kant’s epistemology did not allow for apprehension of viable knowledge in the realm of metaphysics.
      • Compare: Psalm 8:3-4.
      • Also consider:
        • Microcreation: The amazing programming of the DNA code, the intricacy and precise balance of the many tiny parts needed to produce sight through the eye.
        • The wisdom and precision spread through all the molecules and atoms in the billions of stars throughout this immense universe.
          • Handout: “Evidence for the Fine Tuning of the Universe”
      • As Thomas Aquinas put it, when we see unintelligent things (atoms, matter, energy) working together for a purpose, we generally attribute that to an intelligent designer. Teleological means “pertaining to purpose or goal.”
    • When considered formally, the argument is weaker.
      • Dysteleology: Arguments from “poor design,” existence of evil, and other possible explanations (e.g., polytheism, multiverse, etc.).
      • Compare:
        • Analogy and disanalogy: A lack of complete human understanding can/should be expected if the world was planned and made by a transcendent God.
      • Our ability to distinguish between apparent teleology and apparent dysteleology, and our ability to speak intelligibly about the limits of our knowledge and about alternative explanations for data, implies that we have (or think we have) access to criteria by which to resolve questions of this sort. Ultimately, then, we have access to the values of rationality and truth. And if these are indeed moral values, where does their authority come from?
    • Which is (more) plausible: absolute personality versus ultimate impersonality?
  • The Argument from Causation: The Cosmological Argument
    • Thomas Aquinas: Initial motion requires an unmoved Mover; Initial effect requires an uncaused Cause; initial contingency requires a necessary Being.
      • Similar to Aquinas’ causation argument, the Kalam argument of Al-Ghazali (promoted in formal debates by William Lane Craig), all effects require a cause, so there must have been an uncaused Cause.
    • Reason and science rely on the expectation that there is a discoverable cause for every effect.
      • This is intuitive, and also practical: without the ability to arrive at probabilities and conclusions about what was, is, or will be the case, there can be no explanation for anything.
        • To claim that “This even has no cause at all” would require omniscience or irrationalism.
      • Further, the nature of reason is to inquire after causes. And if reason does not find a cause, it does not conclude that there is no cause; rather, it looks further-or else it sets the problem aside for future investigation…
        • …until it finds the final and ultimate explanation for the phenomenon under consideration (i.e., a first Cause).
    • So in the end we are forced to choose between belief in a first cause and irrationalism.
      • Irrationalism, however, is self-contradictory (“It is objectively true that there are no objective truths”).
      • To be at least rational, the non-Christian must assume that the world is not a chaos, but that it is orderly and relatively predictable, even though this assumption in turn presupposes God.
  • Next: Proving the Gospel

1.Drawn from Frame & Torres, Apologetics (P&R Publishing, 2015), Chapter 5, “Apologetics as Proof: Theistic Arguments”


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