Image by The Doctr via Flickr
Are you ready? This is Science speaking:
1. To prove that Neptune exists, it must be observed through a telescope.
2. I do not have access to a telescope.
3. Neptune, therefore, does not exist.
Of course, this is ridiculous, but it’s a style of arguing used by many (all?) Dawkins-following New Atheists.
Here’s an example:
1. If Jesus of Nazareth was raised from death, people would have seen him.
2. I have never seen him.
3. Jesus of Nazareth, therefore, didn’t rise again.
I’m sure many of us are aware of Tim Keller’s book The Reason For God. It’s an excellent book – not perfect, but excellent nonetheless. In it, Keller does two things: (1) shows that arguments against God hold no weight, and (2) shows that evidence does exist for God.
Some guy has posted his detailed review of this book online, and entitled it The Reason Against God.
The Newfrontiers Theology Forum blog has gone through his response, and have basically concluded that his arguments are formed in the same way as those above.
In essence, here are this guy’s conclusions:
1. Keller is pretty much correct when it comes to showing that the arguments against God are rubbish.
2. The evidence for God isn’t strong enough to prove beyond any doubt that He actually exists.
The first statement is a good one, and I want to congratulate that guy on having the guts as an atheist to admit what everyone thinks deep down: the existence of suffering (for example) doesn’t disprove God, it’s circular logic.
I’d want to say fair enough to the second statement, but unfortunately this is where his response falls a bit flat. Here’s a quote from the review, in which he says why he can’t become a Christian:
Keller goes on to talk about the “final clue”, namely, that believing in God explains all of the previous clues. Perhaps, but only if you’re prepared to regard God as basic enough to be the place where the buck stops in these explanations, without requiring an explanation for God. There are people who find that sort of explanation satisfying, but there are others, like me, who regard it as giving up.
Doesn’t it sound clever and scientific? Here’s the rebuttal:
Translation: theism does explain all the clues, but there is still a problem, in that if the origin of God cannot be explained, then theism is ‘giving up’. Or more bluntly: a necessary, eternal being is philosophically incoherent, and should be rejected no matter what the evidence. Which will be a great surprise to philosophers from Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas right through to Antony Flew and Keith Ward. With respect all round, I think a proposal like that requires more than three sentences to substantiate.
So anyway, here’s the conclusion: The Reason For God is a great book; read it. Don’t dismiss Christianity just because you don’t understand it, or because you think it’s an easy way out.
Oh yes, and check out the response to the response (part one, part two).