Blake's Notes

Month: February, 2014

8. The Historical Argument

Whether you believe in Jesus or not, you cannot deny the fact that something happened 2,000 years ago that radically changed the world.  The religion of the Jews which had remained unchanged for thousands of years (as ancient to them as Jesus is to us) was augmented with an additional member of the trinity, sparking the world’s largest religion.  Today, fully one third of our planet’s inhabitants subscribe to the religion ignited by this man, Jesus. Were those events the greatest hoax of all time?  Imagine if David Koresh were still worshiped as God in the year 4000 A.D.  Is a person capable of pulling off such a hoax?  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that since these people lived long ago, they were ignorant.  If a small group of people began worshipping a man as resurrected right after his crucifixion, their society would ordinarily scoff and this religion would not get off the ground.  But somehow it became the most transformative event in the history of humankind.   Read the rest of this entry »

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7. The Experiential Argument

The Experiential Argument is an argument of confirmation – it argues that a Theist is right in believing in God based only upon their experience of him.  There is a theory called Foundationalism which says that beliefs are justified using other beliefs and those beliefs are justified with still other beliefs and so on.  But at some point, in the process of justifying ever more basic beliefs, you must eventually arrive at certain beliefs that are intuitively known, and cannot be further justified.  These are called properly basic beliefs.  We believe them because although we can’t justify them with evidence, we form them in the context of the experience of everyday life.  An example of a properly basic belief is the belief that the physical world around us is real and it is not just our brains being manipulated to think the world exists.  We can’t prove this but given our ongoing experience of the world, we believe it.

The philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, claims that a belief in God should be considered a properly basic belief like this.  Plantinga believes that humans have an innate, natural capacity to apprehend God’s existence just like we have a natural capacity to see.  When you see a tree, he says, you do not infer it from your experience of seeing it.  You just see it.  Similarly, when we experience God, we do not infer His existence, we experience his existence such as when we feel compelled morally, or experience guilt, or gratitude, or when we recognize God’s handiwork in nature.  It is during these times that we naturally apprehend God’s existence and this is a legitimate belief. Read the rest of this entry »

6. Argument from Reason

The Argument from Reason shows that the Naturalist worldview is false because it is self-refuting.  The argument was first popularized by C.S. Lewis in the third chapter of his book, Miracles.  Naturalism, according to Lewis is the belief “that the ultimate Fact, the thing you can’t go behind, is a vast process in space and time which is going on of its own accord.”  To the Naturalist, this world is nothing but it’s physical components and everything that happens is a necessary effect of a series of causes.  Everything that happens, therefore, is part of a long cause-and-effect chain and nothing (like a decision or a belief) can be newly introduced into this chain.  Every action is just the inevitable next step of previous causes – even our own actions; even our own beliefs. Read the rest of this entry »

5. Argument from Consciousness

There are some things in this world that are such an integral part of our daily existence that we don’t notice what mysterious anomalies they are.  One such anomaly is our consciousness.  Think for a moment about your mind (as opposed to your brain).  The mind is really a singular thing in this world in that it contains consciousness.  Consciousness consists of sensations, thoughts, beliefs, desires and volitions and we experience nothing else remotely like it in this world.  While everything we experience in this world is physical, this is a distinctly nonphysical (and yet very real) thing.  But there are other curious properties that also make it unique, such as the subjective feelings associated with it – when you look at the color red, you get a real sense of the redness of red, rather than just detecting a particular wavelength of light.  Or consider the ability of consciousness to have thoughts about another thing.  Nothing else we know of has this property of aboutness.  To the Naturalist, who believes the world is nothing but what we experience in the natural world, consciousness fits awkwardly among everything else.  What is the origin of consciousness?  Why isn’t it like everything else?  There is a vast array of mental phenomena planted right here in the middle of this natural world and the atheist worldview cannot reasonably account for it. Read the rest of this entry »