The following is part of a response (edited and corrected, mostly to eliminate grammar blunders) to real objections raised by an atheist I know. The debate began informally with him respectfully disagreeing with something I had posted on Facebook. His points are quoted, then answered.
As per your request, I will add more details about my position of defence in my point-by-point responses, to expound on the necessity of Yahweh1 for all absolutes and on why your (or any other unbiblical) worldview is incapable to account for the preconditions of knowledge and intelligibility, thus rendering this exchange impossible outside of my worldview.
As I answer, I may touch on some concepts, but not fully expound on them until some answers further down. So best to read the whole thing. Also, I’ll be linking to biblical references, and I advise you follow the links in order to understand the full breadth of my arguments.
Let’s get started.
I can see that you’re quite well-versed in the modern apologetics. I see a lot of similar reasoning that I see when watching for example William Lane Craig.
I know Dr Craig to be one of the sharpest philosophical minds of our century, if not the sharpest. That doesn’t mean I agree with him 100%; indeed I don’t personally use the exact same apologetics approach that he does. In fact, you can find Craig often defending positions like “general theism”. I don’t like to do that, because a “general god” doesn’t really exist; by virtue of this generalisation, such a “god” has a set of attributes that are made up by man. Moreover, if the attributes of this “god” were not all and only the attributes of Yahweh, then such a god could not be the necessary foundation of truth, because Yahweh’s attributes are both necessary and sufficient.
Generally speaking, Dr Craig’s line of apologetics tries to show that God exists from the evidence. Craig is a brilliant man, and I don’t despise the use of evidence; in fact I am convinced that all evidence in the created order points to Yahweh and to Jesus Christ being who He claimed to be. Nonetheless, I am conscious of a few things:
- Evidence is defined as the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. This presupposes the existence of absolute truth, otherwise anyone would be holding to a subjective truth that is meaningless outside of their personal perception, thus making the very concept of evidence senseless.
- Due to the nature of absolute truth, I must start with Yahweh in order to account for the concept of evidence (see further down). His existence is, then, not a matter of discussion; it’s necessary and certain, so that only a fool would deny it (Psalms 14:1), despite God’s existence being plain (Romans 1:19–20). It has to be said that when the Bible calls people fools is not engaging in name-calling, it rather is exposing the folly of who, despite their God-given intellect and the wealth of evidence, still denies the obvious, for the simple reason that they love their wrongdoing (John 3:19) and they are essentially idolaters of self.
- No one comes to the evidence unbiased because neutrality is impossible (Matthew 12:30), as it’s also reflected in the law of tertium non datur (excluded middle). People come to the evidence with presuppositions. And it’s ultimately our presuppositional difference that creates the clash of worldviews, because we both have the same evidence available, yet we draw different conclusions.
So, the point really is: whose presuppositions shape the worldview that doesn’t lead to absurdity? By definition, only the true worldview would have such presuppositions, and only within the boundaries of the true worldview could anyone truly make sense of the evidence.
There are further problems with a purely evidential approach, to be found in the very nature of the evidence: evidence exists in this reality yet Yahweh transcends this reality (please refer to His attributes further down in this text). Sceptics don’t realise that the only logical way that the knowledge of Yahweh may be acquired is if He reveals Himself to us. We can’t start from allegedly neutral ground and walk our way up to God. Without revelation, we would know nothing about God and would have no foundation for knowledge itself. This is the reason why the only valid epistemology is a Christian revelational epistemology. God is the foundation of knowledge, and His revelation is necessary. That’s why the New Testament (NT) more than once stresses the point that if you don’t start with accepting God’s Word, you won’t believe even if you witness the mightiest of the miracles, i.e. the resurrection (Luke 16:31; 24:25–27; John 5:46–47).
Another problem for the pure evidentialist is that they can at best build a case for God, a very strong one, too, but if they are to be consistent with their position, they’ll end up denying the certainty of God’s existence as well as the certainty of any other true proposition; and this did, in fact, happen. Even though this is a position held by people I love dearly and that I consider great apologists, I am convinced it’s a position that contradicts the faith they profess, since Yahweh revealed Himself as the self-existent one who is the necessary foundation for truth and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7; John 14:6; Colossians 2:2–3). His existence as well as his willingness and ability to reveal Himself are necessary for mankind to truly know anything. The Christian faith itself is defined as assurance of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). And the Greek word used in the NT for faith properly means trust (that one must put in Jesus’ redemptive work). You can’t trust with your life something that you don’t know for sure to be true. And you can’t credibly defend your faith either, if you profess not to be sure of the God you believe in. It’d be like saying: “I love my wife, but I am not sure she exists”.
My usual approach to apologetics2 starts with Yahweh, and argues that any attempt at denying Him (whether it’s atheism or any other false religion or philosophy) will result in people’s worldviews being reduced to absurdity. As it is written:Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?(1 Corinthians 1:20).
This is first internally consistent, i.e. I remain faithful to my worldview in order to defend it, else I’d be forsaking it right at the start. Secondly, it is consistent with what the Bible teaches, i.e. that God is the beginning of knowledge, wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10), that all knowledge is hidden in Him (Colossians 2:2–3), that rejecting God equates to rejecting wisdom (Proverbs 8:12–36; John 3:18), that the unbeliever is a fool (Psalms 14:1; Matthew 7:26), is blind (Revelation 3:17), their understanding is darkened (Ephesians 4:18), and they can’t come to the truth by their own effort, but truth must be accepted as God reveals it (1 Corinthians 1:18–25). Despite all this, they are inexcusable because the true God has indeed made Himself plain and they know their accountability to Him, but they suppress this truth in unrighteousness because they hate God and love themselves and their sin (Romans 1:18–25). When the Bible says «suppress the truth», it uses a Greek verb that means «to actively and continually hold down». Thus, every human does this continually to reject the truth they don’t like. This is not done necessarily consciously, but subconsciously too. And people come up with very elaborate self-deceiving worldviews and reinterpret contrary evidence (cognitive dissonance) based on their faulty presuppositions, to keep the sense of peace they so strived for. This can be compared to a man who starts noticing the symptoms of a deadly disease or starts discovering evidence of his wife cheating on him, but then he goes on to find all sorts of alternative yet very implausible explanations to avoid accepting the truth. This is irrational. And so is the one who rejects Yahweh’s existence.
Truth is, everyone knows they earned death, yet God in His mercy and grace offers eternal life freely instead (Romans 6:23).
Hence the logic we are able to perceive and understand is limited by our knowledge.
I am afraid that the very ability to acquire knowledge rests on the absoluteness of the laws of logic. Further down I discuss the laws of logic as being universal, immaterial, invariant, transcendent, absolute and why I can account for that. For now, it suffices to say that were it not so, then knowledge would become impossible. For example, in order to claim that I know I exist, I am forced to rest on the sure assumptions that I cannot both exist and don’t exist at the same time. That assurance is given to me by the law of non contradiction and its absoluteness. However, these characteristics of the laws of logic and their existence both demand a warrant because of their very nature.
Furthermore, if your claim were true, then the science you so love would be impossible. Science requires a number of philosophical pre-commitments, of which assuming logic to be absolute, universal, and invariant is paramount. After all, science literally means knowledge.
Since I touched on science, let me move away from logic for a moment, and highlight other philosophical presuppositions you necessitate for doing science; presuppositions that are unjustifiable outside of the Christian worldview: you must assume uniformity of nature, i.e. that the future will be like the past, and so you must find a solution to the problem of induction. You must assume truth exists in an absolute sense to account for the objectivity of proofs and evidence. You must assume that the created order is certainly intelligible, i.e. you must assume we are sure our minds can comprehend the universe and that the universe is orderly and not the result of randomness. You must assume your brain can acquire knowledge and truth. You must assume your senses are reliable. You must even assume that the reality as you perceive it actually exists; and that such a reality is fully distinguishable from yourself (problem of solipsism). Whilst all these assumptions are justifiable in my worldview, because of God’s character, attributes and revelation, they are not in yours. Hence, you have no justification to believe you can do science. Your undisputed trust in the possibility of science only proves that you know God (Romans 1:18–25) and are made in His image (Genesis 1:26–27).
It’s then not a surprise that the modern scientific method was born out of the Christian worldview. To use the words of evolutionary anthropologist and science writer Loren Eiseley:3
‘The philosophy of experimental science… began its discoveries and made use of its methods in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a creator who did not act upon whim nor interfere with the forces He had set in operation… science… owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.’
For the sake of conversation let’s evaluate the statement that has to be absolute truth for the whole paradigm to make sense: “True is true”.
That’s a tautology. Of course, tautologies only exist if you can account for absolute truth and absolute universal invariant laws of logic, which must be both presupposed to evaluate that statement.
Naturally there are other absolutes as well, like for example defined concepts (such as mathematics and spelling). None of this presupposes gods or any other deities.
That’s an arbitrary (unwarranted) statement. However, the examples of spelling and mathematics don’t both belong to the same category. For starters, spelling is a convention, so it follows it’s not an absolute.
Regarding mathematics, if you are referring to mathematical symbolism, then it’s again a convention. On the other hand, mathematics itself does need a transcendental warrant for its existence. One must be able to account for immutable, universal, abstract concepts such as the ones we use in mathematics. For example, the number one exists regardless of the way we have chosen to represent its concept or an instance of it. The same goes for, let’s say, the Mandelbrot set, or the concept of infinity, or the infinite number of real numbers we have in between two integers. These are not and cannot be contingent upon human existence. They’re also not dependent on the existence of the universe, since this is a material and mutable entity, whereas such concepts are immaterial and invariant. In fact, the average atheistic worldview is a naturalistic, materialistic one, thus governed by uncertainty and mutability, therefore it is fundamentally unable to account for any kind of absolute or order.
The nature of numbers (immutable, universal, abstract concepts) is such that can only be accounted for as stemming out of the mind of Yahweh (below you’ll find a list of His attributes as revealed to mankind, which should make plain why by starting with Yahweh we can then account for such concepts), and not any other deity, which: a) doesn’t exist (Psalms 96:5); b) their supposedly revealed attributes are insufficient, therefore worldviews based on them will reduce to absurdity. A brief summary of major groups of other so called theistic views should clarify why:
- Polytheism: we have multiple non-transcendent deities, with conflicting and variable wills: impossible to account for absolute truth, thus knowledge. Leads to absurdity.
- Pantheism: all is one and one is in all. The “god” is allegedly one with its creation. There are no distinctions, which are fundamental to experience and thinking. Religions and philosophies that fall in this category undermine reason, the intelligibility of reality, and human experience. Again, they lead to absurdity.
- Panentheism: unlike pantheism, the deity doesn’t coincide 100% with the created order, but he still contains all of it, so the created and the creator are still indistinguishable, and you have the same issues as with pantheism. Evil and falsehood in these views would be integral part of god, making then impossible to have a standard of truth and goodness, and thus rendering unable the definition of falsehood and evil. Again, absurdity.
- Other popular monotheistic views:Modern Judaism: the source of their doctrine is from both the Oral tradition (now written down) and the Bible (Old Testament alone). The two sources are contradictory, therefore reducing to absurdity. Islam: it has the same issue, in that it both endorses the Bible as the incorruptible word of God, then it contradicts it. Once again, it reduces to absurdity. Also, the islamic Allah acts on whim and changes his mind, rendering him unable to be the foundation of absolutes and uniformity.
To me there are really no absolute truths outside logical games as any wider statement is subject to context and perspective.
I would normally end my objection here by asking: «Is that absolutely true?»
But let me explain: if there is no absolute truth, then you can’t know anything to be true for certain, which means you really don’t know anything (because if you are not certain, you could be wrong about it, thus you don’t really know it). With that statement alone you gave up knowledge (and it’s not the first time you’ve done so) and reduced to absurdity; if you can’t account for the ability to have knowledge, then you can’t account for this exchange we’re having.
One might say that hundreds and hundreds of different Christian denominations are a testament that even within the faith the truth is different to different people.
You have several issues here. First, you are attacking a straw man (logical fallacy). Second, truth is not subject to opinion, but it stands on its own, and not contingently upon our ability to understand it clearly. Third, what makes Yahweh the necessary precondition to truth, knowledge, intelligibility, etc., is His nature and attributes. On these, no Christian denomination differs; and those who call themselves Christians and depart from the nature and the attributes of God as clearly revealed in the Bible are rightfully deemed as heretics (e.g. JWs, Mormons, etc.). That is, they are really not Christians, as they have changed Yahweh into something else (Romans 1:25). That’s what is referred to as ‘idolatry’ in the Bible (Exodus 20:2–3).
So your point is, essentially, irrelevant.
This seems like a good moment to make yourself more familiar with some of the main attributes of Yahweh.
- He’s immaterial (John 4:24);
- He’s eternal (Psalms 90:2; Exodus 3:14), i.e. without beginning or end; i.e. He’s uncaused;
- He’s unchanging (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8);
- He’s transcendent (Genesis 1:1), i.e. He’s not part of, and is completely distinguishable from, His creation;
- He’s omniscient (1 John 3:20)
- He’s an intelligent agent (1 Corinthians 2:16)
- He’s omnipresent (Psalm 139:7–10; Jeremiah 23:24)
- He’s unique (Isaiah 43:10; 45:5)
- He’s unable to change his mind (Numbers 23:19)
- He’s unable to lie (Numbers 23:19)
- He’s self-sufficient (Acts 17:25; Hebrews 6:13).
It’s now easy to understand why I can account for mathematics. Let’s take again the example of a universal, abstract, immutable concept, e.g. numbers. A concept requires a mind that conceives it. A mathematical concept is transcendent (not being contingent upon mankind or the universe). Its immutability requires that such a mind is guaranteed not to change. Its universality is justified by both transcendence and omnipresence. These are all inherent attributes Yahweh.
And by extension I would like to say that I did not claim that logic is subjective, rather logic is a subset of our knowledge.
Let me quote you:
I believe that knowledge is subjective and hence logic lives somewhere in the subset of knowledge.
- You claimed knowledge to be subjective.
- You claimed logic to be (in) a subset of knowledge.
A subset inherits the properties of the set. Therefore, it follows that you claimed logic to be subjective.
Laws of logic are universal, immaterial, invariant, transcendent, absolute. They are conceptual in nature. They are not contingent upon mankind or the universe, yet they must be conceived in a mind. A mind that shares the same attributes. Like the mind of Yahweh. The three basic laws of thought are grounded in Yahweh’s nature: identity (Isaiah 45:5 ; Exodus 3:14), noncontradiction (2 Timothy 2:13; Numbers 23:19), excluded middle (Matthew 12:30).
Consider the example of how nascent quantum logic seemed initially irrational but as our knowledge grows our understanding of quantum logic grows.
This is a common misconception that people should be more careful to throw around with such superficiality. If you are referring to the claim that quantum mechanics allegedly invalidates the law of non-contradiction, then I’d suggest you investigate the matter further. I was gobsmacked at how even a professional debater used this argument in a debate I recently watched. The absurd claim comes from a misrepresentation (or misunderstanding) of the “two slit” experiment, often echoed by New-Agers to back their absurd belief in subjective reality. The truth of the matter is, when the quantum system is observed, it is observed in the context of a particle with specific location and it can only be X or not-X, it can’t be both. So the law of noncontradiction is never violated.
What’s even more absurd is that one must presuppose the absolute validity of the law of non-contradiction in order to a) even attempt to deny it in a meaningful way; b) be able to examine the results of the aforementioned experiment.
And on the last point: I agree that morality is a social construct and ethics are situational and dependent on the context. You can see this in action within our society: as a society we are against killing but we seem to believe that killing in war is acceptable. We also believe that killing in self defence is acceptable.
This is a very good example of how the role of presuppositions is preeminent in a worldview discussion. The reason you see that in society is because you presuppose no moral absolutes (and in so doing, the absence of morality altogether, even if you refuse to admit that). However, I know that’s not the case. The variance in people’s moral opinions is directly correlated to mankind’s rebellion against God; since man has elevated himself above Him, he tries and decides what’s good and what’s evil arbitrarily by himself. The fall of man explains this (Genesis 3). Of course, given: a) the evil nature acquired with the fall, b) the absolute standard of God I acknowledge, and c) the record of history, I can easily say that: if we look at Europe as an example, societies are not improving their morality, rather, they are going back to the morality they used to have in pagan Europe, and therefore they are considerably worse now than when Europe was mostly Christian.4
However, when you remove God and His revelation, you are only left with history and based on that, you can only say «we used to think this thing was right, then we thought for a while that the very same thing was wrong, and we have now gone back to what we originally thought». That’s a sequence of changes of mind, but none of these changes can either be deemed as an improvement or a decline in morality in your worldview, simply because you have no timeless and fixed standard for measuring these alleged increments or decrements.
Morals also change as we get more mature as species.
That’s just an arbitrary statement, which also happens to lead to various degrees of absurdity.
First, if morals change (“get better” is what is really implied by the “maturing of the species” stated after it), then at any point in time there’s a given definition of “right and wrong”. What happens later is that you just changed your mind, but you can’t really condemn the people who came before you for considering right what you now consider wrong. The reason you can’t is because your morality is not timeless (absolute). So, you can’t use you current definition of morality to judge wrong what was right before (anachronistic morality) or to oppose anyone that will think differently than you at any point in time in the future. So, you can’t really say morality has “matured” (got better) with time.
Second, you have a problem with allowing in your worldview for the semantic of words like “mature”. In order for this verb to make sense, an objective standard must exist so that you can be seen moving towards that standard as you mature. Similarly, the atheistic worldview can’t account for the usage of words like “better”, “improved”, “worse”, and any comparative term or verb in relation to morality (but not just that). This is because all of these necessitate an absolute standard. If you don’t have an absolute standard of goodness, then you have no way to say A is better (or worse) than B, etc. As an illustration, let’s assume that you completely ignore where the city of Rome is. Would you be able to tell which one of us is closer (comparison) to it? No. Likewise, you can’t say your are morally better (or worse) now than people were 10 years ago, because you have no “moral Rome” to be closer to (or farther away from).
We used to keep other people as slaves and we stoned children to death for speaking back to their parents.
And given what said so far, that’s all it is in your worldview: something we used to do. Just a difference in custom. You can deem it neither right nor wrong, because a judgment is objective by nature and thus requires an absolute criterion to be based upon.
We used to believe that black people are inferior to white because of the shape of their skull.
Yes. Many started to think that way and upheld chattel slavery when they bought into Darwinian evolution, which fuelled racism.5
At the opposite end of the spectrum, a pure Christian worldview (that is, solely based on God’s revelation), leaves no room for racism, or thinking that a human being is inferior to another (Acts 17:26; Genesis 2:22; 3:20).
So, while those who reject God’s revelation have taken a good century (since the boom of Darwinian ideas) to reach the conclusion that all mankind is related and thus equal,6 those who did trust God’s Word had known it forever. Not a surprise, then, that the abolitionist movement was a Christian movement.
Had there been professed Christians upholding chattel slavery before? Even twisting the Bible to justify it? Yes, sure. And they were living inconsistently with their professed worldview, just like you do when engaging in debates yet you can’t account for the preconditions of intelligibility and for the uniformity of nature.
These are all reprehensible things that we believed were moral because of our ignorance.
Reprehensible? Says who? You? This is the typical example of how the atheist lives inconsistently w.r.t. their worldview. You have gone to great lengths to argue that morality is evolving and is a social construct (the two views contradict each other, btw), then here you are making an objective moral claim that you can’t account for. It tells a lot as to where your morality really comes from (Romans 2:14–15), when you don’t suppress it.
Furthermore, ignorance of what? If morality doesn’t exist in an absolute sense, then you can’t be ignorant of it. You just make it up as you go based on non-moral parameters.
The truth of the matter is, you are borrowing my worldview to make that statement (which is an objective truth claim, I should remind you). According to your worldview, those things were morally right when people thought they were so. And they are now wrong if you think they are. But without a timeless standard of morality you can’t use what you now believe to deem those things in the past as «reprehensible». That would be anachronistic. You just have a different preference compared to some before you. In fact, you have a different preference even to some that are contemporary to you. After all, if morals change, who are you to say my morals haven’t changed whilst yours are still stuck? And if they “evolve” as you’ve implied later, then you can’t appeal to a social contract, because you would be abusing the more evolved people and preventing them from exhibiting the allegedly higher standard of morality.
Whichever of those roads you go down to, you are left with no ground for any moral judgement. Your presentation of morality has reduced it to a mere preference comparable to what colour you prefer for t-shirts. And just as you can’t tell to anyone who doesn’t like red t-shirts like you do that they are wrong, you also can’t tell anybody who thinks slavery is right that they are wrong. They just have a different taste; a different preference; a different opinion. Opinions, after all, is all you get if your view doesn’t allow for absolute truth.
I can only judge bible based on my ethics and morals
No, you can’t. You can dislike it, but, for what I’ve just said above, you can’t judge it.
I always find bitterly amusing how people who rejects absolute morality still want to make judgements. It’s an interesting way of saying «I want to do what I wish and not be judged, yet I still want to judge others». I am afraid there is only one being in existence that can afford to judge without being judged: Yahweh. Thus, the attitude of the moral relativist only reveals the god-like delusion that affects mankind.
and what we majority of us consider civil in modern society.
Fallacy: argumentum ad populum.
This moral is derived from what we have accumulated as human beings and still far from perfect.
You don’t have standard of absolute morality, so you can’t possibly know what perfection is. That’s the bottom line of why moral relativism is absurd. If you don’t know what perfection is, then you can’t be more and less close to this perfection, so you have no idea whether you are good or bad. Your morality simply doesn’t exist.
Especially when it comes to the concept of absolute truth. As you brought up relativism, especially when it comes to ethics. As an avid amateur scientist as I find the concept of “truth” to be something that keeps changing and is a lot more nuanced than you find in your worldview.
Straw man fallacy, I would think. What you mean, it’s that your personal knowledge of a particular topic will (or at least should) increase with time, so it might be that you may find that you were previously in error.
However, truth in absolute sense must exist in order to deem any statement, preposition or proof to be true for certain.
Truth is the sum of all things true. For anything to be true, it must belong to this set. It’s clear that the set is infinite and hence from this alone it’s clear that one fundamental problem of any non biblical worldview is how to solve the problem of infinite regress. In fact, for you to know only one thing for certain you should have infinite knowledge, otherwise something could exist outside your knowledge that contradicts your partial knowledge, making then impossible your knowledge to be certain. The alternative remains to know someone who has infinite knowledge and can reliably reveal it to you and be trusted upon: Yahweh.
I believe that ethics and moral is a evolutionary thing and keeps changing as we mature as species.
For once, you used the right verb. You believe. Yours is a philosophical precomittment. A faith position. A presuppositional belief. What’s worse, it’s a blind faith position. Which is not the definition of the Christian faith, I’d like to stress again.
For example in the bible contains fair amount of misogyny and condones slavery to a point but we don’t practice these anymore.
Both stale arguments have been easily proven unfounded, so that any intellectually honest person would only need a few minutes of research to learn that they hold onto myths. Take pre-Christian Europe: women were either prostitutes or child factories. A man in pagan Greece would be considered such only if he laid with other men. His wife would merely be a reproductive machine. Women had no rights, not even to be heirs. Christianity turned that around and gave back to the woman the dignity of the being made in God’s image that they are, equal to man, with both serving in complementary roles.
_I contend that women are used and abused more today than at any time in history. Pornography turns women into objects and victims of dirty, cowardly Peeping Toms who leer at them with greedy eyes. Throughout the world, women are traded like animals for sexual slavery. In more “civilized” places, men routinely use women for no-consequence, no-commitment sex only to leave them pregnant, without care and support._7
But hey, even if the Bible did endorse slavery and misogyny, in your worldview that’s not wrong. It’s just a different opinion.
Is slavery absolutely wrong?
Yes, since it’s clear you are talking about chattel slavery.8
If yes, why doesn’t bible forbid it?
The Bible is not a book written to make an exhaustive list of things that are wrong. That would be silly. The Bible lays down a worldview that stems from the character of God, on the basis of which you can know what’s right and wrong. It is obvious from what God says and does in the Bible, that chattel slavery is wrong. Yet, the Bible even condemns it explicitly (Exodus 21:16; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37–40; Luke 10:29–37). After all, the entire Bible revolves around one thing: the Divine Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who, from before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20), was to come and set man free from the ultimate slavery (John 8:34–36).
In the Bible we find non-chattel slavery regulated (that’s civil regulation, not moral endorsement) under the civil laws of Israel or spoken of in the NT as the condition of some Gentiles (non-Jews). In fact, in Israel indentured servitude was part of God’s welfare system: people that ended up in grave debt could essentially repay that debt by going to work (they and their family) for creditor for a number of years. This would guarantee that the debtor and their family would not end up on the street in dire conditions: their children would have a home, food, dignity etc. for as long as they worked there. After 7 years (jubilee) the creditor would have to let the debtor go. This, however, could choose to stay forever.
When you think about it, in our modern society debtors have no safety net like that. That’s why people in great debt either end up in prison or in suicide.
Slavery as a form of imprisonment is found in the Bible, too. And imprisonment and penal labour are indeed forms of slavery, yet it’s absolutely moral to imprison criminals.9
I can’t write an essay on this, but like I said there’s plenty out there.10
Why is working on the sabbath absolutely wrong?
The real question is: why is anything wrong at all? You ask these questions as if there could be an answer other than “it’s contrary to the character and the will of the living God”.
Since you ask, however, breaking the sabbath, in a literal sense, either meant you disobeyed God the rest of the week (else, you wouldn’t need to break the sabbath) or meant you were breaking the first and foremost command (Deuteronomy 6:5). Not working on the sabbath, however, never meant what both second temple Judaism and the modern Orthodox Judaism make it out to mean (Matthew 12:1–14).
The sabbath commandment, as clearly expounded on in the New Testament, has however a deeper spiritual meaning and it represents the eternal sabbath rest that a born-again (saved, regenerated) believer enters after having been saved (Hebrews 4:1–16). If a professed believer insists in earning his salvation trusting his own imperfect righteousness, he’s breaking the sabbath and it means he was never really saved to begin with, having not trusted Jesus’ complete work of salvation. This will result in eternal death.
This is as far as I’d go doing a Bible exposition with an unbeliever.
The bottom line is, you have no basis in your worldview to ask why anything is absolutely wrong.
Why is wearing mixed fibre clothing absolutely wrong?
Category error fallacy. That commandment is not a moral command. It is part of laws intended for the nation of Israel for a specific purpose and for a limited time. Further details are irrelevant to this discussion.
I would imagine you don’t subscribe blindly to all teachings of the bible either.
Loaded question fallacy. You imply that one can only subscribe to teachings of the Bible blindly. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
I do hold the entire Bible correct, complete, and true, by the way.
This is completely non-sensical statement.
nonsensical: adjective; having no meaning; making no sense
That’s perfectly compatible with your worldview, where meaning and sense cannot exist. To raise such an objective accusation against my statement, that is, its alleged absurdity, you’d need an absolute standard of reason to deviate from. That you don’t have. In your worldview, you’re the product of an accident. And so is everyone else.
In my worldview I can define what is harmful. Whether that very same thing is harmful in someone else’s worldview is another question.
You’ve just self-defeated yourself. If you can define harmful (which you implied in a moral way in your original statement that I’ll quote in a moment) for yourself, then others can have a different definition. So you are basically saying that I am right: you don’t have a standard of “moral harmfulness”, thus you can’t make the original statement:I happen to believe that in many ways teaching religion is actively harmful. The only thing this can really mean in the framework of your worldview is that you don’t like “religion”. But the statement had an objective form and intent, which can only be supported in my worldview.
I should also add that it’s very convenient yet irrational to talk about “religion” as if they were all teaching the same things. The western civilisation flourished on Christian roots. I’ve already explained how Christianity gave birth to the modern scientific method. But we should not forget principles like the golden rule and caring for the needy despite the costs of doing so, that are at the core of being Christ-like. And last but not the least, the preaching of the Gospel as the Good News of God coming down to man to purchase the eternal life man had forfeited with their rebellion against Him. A message that has changed millions of lives throughout the ages, oftentimes turning monsters in dedicated servants of God with the deepest love for the world.11 I’ve digressed here and these are not apologetics arguments per se, but they are meant to show how irrational is for you to put both Christianity and deadly cults like, say, Islam under the same banner.12 After all, the reason why atheism in the West is so different from atheism in the East and far East is the deep Christian roots of the West.
As I mentioned earlier I do not assert that there are no gods I just find the probability of their existence so small that I count myself as an atheist.
You should stop calling yourself an atheist, then. The ‘a’ is a Greek alpha privative that is used to deny what comes after it. A-theism is an explicit denial (assertion of the contrary) of theism.
Again, the last statement is just an assertion so I’ll skip it.
The statement you decided to skip is this: probability presupposes certainty, which presupposes God. Probability only makes sense if defined in relation to certainty. A probability is a portion of certainty. If this doesn’t exist, then any portion of it doesn’t exist. Certainty requires absolute truth to exist, that is, the ability to know something is absolutely true (I’ve touched on this earlier). And that requires the problem of infinite regress to be solved. Which can only be solved within the Christian framework, where the regression is resolved in Yahweh’s infinite knowledge.
I’m gonna need a bit more than an assertion here. To me I am missing the point “the Quran is false”
I touched on this earlier in this text. Anyway, I am fairly sure not to have made any mistakes in presenting the logical chain in the previous response, but to avoid any complications, the argument is thus summarised: the Quran both endorses the Bible as the incorruptible word of God and contradicts it. This is what reduces the islamic worldview to absurdity, proving the falsity of the Quran. If you’d like some more details, you may watch this video which builds on the same argument.
“Unicorns need to exist for the bible to be true. Unicorns don’t exist so bible is false.”
Your example is not at all like the argument I presented for the Quran’s falsity. However, had the Bible really mentioned unicorns (that is, the being you are referring to, the fairy-tale animal), since it claims to be the infallible Word of God, then yes, we should have had evidence of either past or present existence of such beings.
However, you clearly committed a logical fallacy known as “appeal to ridicule” in your example, which you could’ve chosen to phrase without the unicorn. If you happen to have a genuine interest in the matter of the unicorn, go here.
Looking at your argument here it presupposes there is such a thing as absolute truth.
Any argument presupposes that. That’s why any atheist showing up for a debate automatically admits their worldview is false, since it cannot account for the possibility of debating, which presupposes absolute truth.
To simplified answer to your logical chain (“If what’s true for me it’s true for me, and what’s true for you is true for you, what if my truth says yours is a lie? Is yours still true?”) is appealing to absolute truth. When I look at this conversation I see relativism in action. You have a truth (God) and I have another truth, which you believe is a lie. My argument of “your truth might not be everyones truth” is only self-refuting if you believe in God (which we would get to with following the logic of your worldview).
Your argument is always self refuting, in that the statement itself is an objective truth claim (like all statements), which requires absolute truth in order to be meaningful. So your argument to deny absolute truth presupposes absolute truth. Yes, that is absurd.
I am also fairly sure that, being an amateur scientist, you hardly approach science thinking “well this theory is true for me, it really doesn’t matter it someone else doesn’t think it’s true”. If you did, I am sure you would understand if I chose not to use any technology that may rely on “your” science.
So, yes, I did appeal to absolute truth, because I know for a fact it exists (John 14:6); and because without it, this debate would be impossible.
«Not to mention, of course, that “proof” presupposes absolute truth, which can’t be accounted for apart from the Triune God.» Why are we making this conclusion here? «So the concept of proof itself is proof of God.» Why are we making this conclusion here?
Well, first, it has to be noticed that conclusions (that is, logical conclusions) are impossible in a world where logic is not absolute and uniformity of nature is not true (induction problem). Both things can’t be accounted for, as stated already, in an atheistic worldview. So, again, here you’re requiring the truthfulness of my worldview to even pose the question.
I believe that the information I mentioned thus far explains why evidence requires absolute truth to exist. The same argument can be applied to proof. What’s a proof? The dictionary says:evidence or argument establishing or helping to establish a fact or the truth of a statement. For this to be at all meaningful, truth must be taken in an absolute sense, else we do away with the objectivity of the proof as well as any motive to prove anything to anybody, since anyone would have their own truth. However absolute truth is necessarily transcendent and requires a transcendent omniscient mind that conceives it. Omniscient because otherwise something outside its knowledge could exist that contradicts what the mind knows, rendering it not the absolute standard of truth we need. So, again, without Yahweh it’s impossible to justify the concept of proof, hence my conclusions.
When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary. The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist world view is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist world view cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist world view cannot account for our debate tonight.
- I’ll use this name to refer to the triune God, to avoid misunderstanding and to make clear that I don’t defend fantasies like “general theism”. ↩
- Which is really not mine, but it’s purely based on biblical principles and finds its roots in the oldest books of the Bible, like Proverbs; however it has also developed as a modern formal discipline starting with Cornelius Van Til and it’s today known aspresuppositional apologetics, but also asreformed apologetics. ↩
- Eiseley, L., Darwin’s Century:Evolution and the Men who Discovered It, Doubleday, Anchor, New York, 1961 ↩
- In pagan Europe, infanticide was normal; women were exploited for prostitution (disguised as a ritual of worship for pagan gods); pederasty was legal and practiced by many. Today’s Europe have moved infanticide into the womb (with far too many cases of babies being born alive after attempted abortions, and then killed by the doctors after that); prostitution is normal; and there’s lots of discussion (both from within LGBT circles and from elsewhere) to do away with any age limit for sexual consent (pedophilia, anybody?). ↩
- “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory”(Stephen J. Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Belknap-Harvard Press, p. 127, 1977) ↩
- We need to wait for the 1990s to see affirmation that are no different biological races of humans, e.g. Scientists Say Race Has No Biological Basis by R. L. Hotz. ↩
- The Biblical Portrait of Women: Setting the Record Straight ↩
- Chattel slaveryis what the average contemporary western citizen, including all Bible-sceptics, means by slavery. ↩
- That is, if you accept an absolute moral standard, else the criminal could just say he has his own morality; that he was born that way. ↩
- I’ll trust my brothers here and point you to some literature I never fully read: the first three links from a Google search. And a lecture . ↩
- There are many famous examples in history, first of which that comes to mind is John Newton. However, I would like to leave you with a much more recent testimony . ↩
- I would contrast that with “The Honest Atheist”. ↩