On this episode
Much like football, life is built on mastering fundamentals. When it comes to faith, it’s much the same. In this Fundamentals series, Jeff and DW will help you unpack the Christian faith. In this week’s episode, we’ll start – literally – at the beginning with the question, “Who is responsible for this?”
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Who is responsible for this?
JEFF: One of my rules or “things you should know” as a parent is that when my 2 boys are quiet, it probably doesn’t mean they’re sitting on the couch reading a book or drawing neatly in their composition notebook. No, it generally is a sign that they’re up to no good.
There have been plenty of messes in my home that have resulted from this “false peace” with my boys and one of the first questions that will inevitably come out of my or my wife’s mouth is, “OK. Which one of you did this?”
And of course, the older one has begun to put the blame on his almost-2-year-old brother like it was all him. The truth is that much of the time, when it is his younger brother, he has encouraged this behavior or specifically told his brother to “do this…”
The fundamental question asked in that moment is telling because it’s one we ask in every area of life… “OK, who did this? Who is responsible for this?” It can be negative or positive. Like, “who just gave me $5 or paid for my drink in the drive-thru?”
And when we look at the universe and everything in it, is it not human for us to each ask ourselves, “Who or what is responsible for this?”
We’re living in a time in America where skepticism, confusion and willful ignorance is embraced over logic, reason and truth. In many ways, this generation would rather embrace a pluralistic mindset irregardless of the contradictions that it would require embracing. Want an example?
“All religions are equal.”
Or what about…
“What’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me.”
“All life is sacred, but abortion/assisted suicide/death penalty should still be legal.”
Or the fact that many would look down on unmarried couples who get pregnant, but look the other way when the same are just sexually active. How do we sort this out? Who is right? Because someone has to be right – right?
In order to even begin to answer any of these questions or statements, we have to go back to the original metaphysics question, “Why do we have something instead of nothing?”
1. Reality is an illusion.
This option was ruled out centuries ago by the philosopher Rene Descartes who is famous for the statement, “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes, a mathematician, argued that if he is thinking, then he must “be.” In other words, “I think, therefore I am not an illusion.” Illusions require something experiencing the illusion, and moreover, you cannot doubt the existence of yourself without proving your existence; it is a self-defeating argument. So the possibility of reality being an illusion is eliminated.
2. Reality is/was self-created.
If you created yourself, then you must have existed prior to you creating yourself, but that simply cannot be. In evolution this is sometimes referred to as “spontaneous generation” —something coming from nothing—a position that few, if any, reasonable people hold to anymore simply because you cannot get something from nothing. Even the atheist David Hume said, “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.” Since something cannot come from nothing, the alternative of reality being self-created is ruled out.
3. Reality is self-existent (eternal).
The 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards summed up this crossroads:
- Something exists.
- Nothing cannot create something.
- Therefore, a necessary and eternal “something” exists.
OR… Reality was created by something that is self-existent. Namely, God.
Traditional Arguments for God’s existence
Cosmological Argument (from GotQuestions.org)
– All things that exist had a beginning point. There is a singular cause for existence, which is God, since nothing cannot create something.
– Does any of it exist on its own? No. So, not only did the universe have to have a first cause to get started; it needs something to give it existence right now. The only thing that would not have to be given existence is a thing that exists as its very nature. It is existence. This something would always exist, have no cause, have no beginning, have no limit, be outside of time, and be infinite. That something is God!
Teleological Argument (from GotQuestions.org)
– “telos” means “goal” or “purpose”. Design needs a designer.
– Watch on beach in Gulfport, MS (Hurricane Katrina)
– Nobody sees a watch and assumes random time and spontaneous mutations caused that watch to piece together and function appropriately. There is always a designer. There must be an original Designer.
Transcendental Argument (from GotQuestions.org)
– Logic, morals, and science ultimately presuppose the Christian worldview and that God’s transcendent character is the source of logic and morals.
– Atheists have access to the laws of logic, but they have no foundation upon which to base their deductive reason within their own paradigm.
– Need a final authority that transcends time and space that can uphold these universal laws of logic. Points to a nature that is unchanging, eternal God.
– Best argument according to Answers In Genesis
As originally proposed by Pascal, the Wager assumes that logical reasoning by itself cannot decide for or against the existence of God; there seem to be good reasons on both sides. Now since reason cannot decide for sure, and since the question is of such importance that we must decide somehow, then we must “wager” if we cannot prove. And so we are asked: Where are you going to place your bet?
If you place it with God, you lose nothing, even if it turns out that God does not exist. But if you place it against God, and you are wrong and God does exist, you lose everything: God, eternity, heaven, infinite gain. “Let us assess the two cases: if you win, you win everything, if you lose, you lose nothing.”
It could at lease motivate “The Prayer of the Skeptic”: “God, I don’t know whether you exist or not, but if you do, please show me who you are.”
Pascal says that there are three kinds of people: those who have sought God and found him, those who are seeking and have not yet found, and those who neither seek nor find. The first are reasonable and happy, the second are reasonable and unhappy, the third are both unreasonable and unhappy. If the Wager stimulates us at least to seek, then it will at least stimulate us to be reasonable. And if the promise Jesus makes is true, all who seek will find (Mt 7:7-8), and thus will be happy.