It has been said that, if one does not know the facts, argument is to no avail, and if one does know the facts, argument is unnecessary.
The greatest question of our time is not communism versus individualism; not Europe versus America; not even the East versus West. It is whether men can live without God. Will Durant
Nothing, absolutely nothing, has a more direct bearing on the moral choices made by individuals or the purposes pursued by society than belief or disbelief in God.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Stephen Hawking concluded his book A Brief History of Time asserting this question to be the most significant factor in the human equation. Hawking, who holds Newton’s chair as Lucasian professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, brilliantly laid out his view of the universe and ended with a humble assertion: the one question in need of an answer is the question of God. Science, with all of its strident gains, must still remain contented to describe the “what” of human observations. Only God can answer the “why.
Postulating the nonexistence of God, atheism immediately commits the blunder of an absolute negation, which is self-contradictory. For, to sustain the belief that there is no God, it has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge.”
In a naturalistic world, there exists neither a sense of obligation in the universe, nor a demand from it.
Boston college professor Peter Kreeft, in his Three Philosophies of Life , stated it very succinctly: Ancient ethics always dealt with three questions. Modern ethics deals with only one, or at the most, two. The three questions are like the three things a fleet of ships is told by its sailing orders. [The metaphor is from C. S. Lewis.] First, the ships must know how to avoid bumping into each other. This is social ethics, and modern as well as ancient ethicists deal with it. Second, they must know how to stay shipshape and avoid sinking. This is individual ethics, virtues and vices, character-building, and we hear very little about this from our modern ethical philosophies. Third, and most important of all, they must know why the fleet is at sea in the first place . . . I think I know why modern philosophers dare not raise this greatest of questions: because they have no answer to it.
If atheism gains its life-sustaining support from atheistic evolution, then it cannot shut the floodgates to the tidal waves of its philosophical implications.
Not all atheists are immoral, but morality as goodness cannot be justified with atheistic presuppositions. An atheist may be morally minded, but he just happens to be living better than his belief about what the nature of man warrants. He may have personal moral values, but he cannot have any sense of compelling and universal moral obligation. Moral duty cannot logically operate without a moral law; and there is no moral law in an amoral world.
At one of my lectures on “Man’s Search for Meaning,” a student rose to his feet and shouted, “Ah, everything in life is meaningless.” I insisted that he could not possibly believe that. With an equally intense retort he countered that he did. This repetitive exchange went back and forth a few times. Then, not wanting to exacerbate the young man’s frustration and having planned for a safe departure from the campus, I decided to bring the discussion to an end. I asked him if he thought his statement was a meaningful one. There was an acute silence, and then he hesitantly answered, “Yes.” I only had to add that if his assertion was meaningful, then everything in life was not meaningless. If, on the other hand, everything was indeed meaningless, his assertion was meaningless too, and, therefore, in effect, he had said nothing.
The words of Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) are most appropriate: “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Or, as French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal was known to have put it, “There is a god-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, and only God can fill it.”
[Death] It is the one experience when we leave behind everything we have and take with us everything we are. It is the moment of truth, where there is no more showmanship. It is the individual alone against destiny.
The human heart yearns for a meeting again, someday. And death just cannot destroy that longing.
I have often said the challenge of the truth speaker today is this: How do you reach a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings?
If the telescope proved anything, it warned us of the erroneous perceptual assumptions that we can make if perception reigns supreme, for it does not always reveal things as they are.
Let me borrow an illustration from Francis Schaeffer to demonstrate the need for this approach. Suppose you were to leave a room with two glasses on the table, Glass A and Glass B. Glass A has two ounces of water in it, and Glass B is empty. When you return at the end of the day, Glass B now has water in it and Glass A is empty. You could assume that someone took the water from Glass A and put it into Glass B. That, however, does not fully explain the situation, because you notice that Glass B has four ounces of water in it, whereas Glass A had only two ounces in it when you left in the morning. You are confronted with a problem that at best has only a partial explanation. Whether the water from Glass A was poured into Glass B is debatable. But what is beyond debate is that all of the water in Glass B could not have come from Glass A. The additional two ounces had to have come from elsewhere. God has put enough into the world to make faith in him a most reasonable thing, and he has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason or observation alone. Science may be able to explain the two ounces in Glass B. It cannot explain the four ounces in it.
For the Christian, the acknowledgment of God as the Creator of life brings to bear one very significant life-transforming truth. The Bible makes it specific that God, in his love, created us. Thus, it is not life that precedes love, but love that precedes life. It is the love of God that gave us life in creation, just as it is the love of a mother that enables a child to live in procreation. Any attempt to thwart the love of God thwarts his design and brings discord in life because it rejects the very motivation in the creation of life.
The absolute freedom of the individual cannot be guarded in the maze of society’s collective interests. There is clearly liberty with distinction, and liberty ends up being redefined, depending upon the court in session.
Knowing who we are and what we need is the starting point of what we will become.
Those who recognize the nature of sin understand that what renders someone a sinner is not the scale of human wickedness but the very nature and character of God. It is God’s purity that we stand before, not a fluctuating moral code that varies from one society to another.
Leo Tolstoy revealed in My Confession that the blatant blunder of his own life was the love of writing and of human acclaim, which robbed him of the treasured relationships that bring meaning. If relationships bring meaning to life, then the ultimate mockery of life is the reality that all relationships are either ruptured by sin or severed by death. Each of us longs for a relationship that cannot be victimized by sin or destroyed by death. That relationship can only be found with God. Once that relationship is established, it serves as a blueprint for all other relationships, bringing the strength of genuine love and shunning the cancer of selfishness.
If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you: but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you. –Don Marquis
Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, has briefly addressed the importance of correct argumentation in his book Three Philosophies of Life . In a subsection “Rules for Talking Back,” he writes the following: Three things must go right with any argument: (1) The terms must be unambiguous (2) The premises must be true (3) The argument must be logical.
Approach 2 There is evil in the world. There is nothing inconsistent about evil and the freedom of the will within the framework of a loving Creator. In fact, concepts of love and goodness are unexplainable unless there is a God. Since human beings do experience love and goodness, it argues for the reality of God. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to believe that God exists.
The books The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis and Philosophy of Religion by Norman Geisler both contain representative discussions of the problem of evil. Lewis deals with the problem existentially, and Geisler, philosophically.
It was a pointed reminder to me that everything that I believe about life is sooner or later tested at the kitchen table, or in the family room, where young people are very quick to make applications on the basis of their parents’ philosophy.
Few people have anything approaching an articulate philosophy—at least as epitomized by the great philosophers. Even fewer, I suspect, have a carefully constructed theology. But everyone has a worldview. . . . In fact, it is only the assumption of a worldview—however basic or simple—that allows us to think at all. -James Sire