July 10, 1994
I mentioned at the top of the show that I had a conversation with a
gentleman the other night that had to do with morality, and how I felt
that his conclusion as a result of some of our thinking together that
moral absolutes must exist -- at least some moral absolutes must exist --
actually does a lot of work for us philosophically. It allows us to reason
towards the existence of God, and it helps to falsify some world views
like Hinduism or atheism or agnosticism or materialism and empiricism and
things like that. It does a lot of work for us.
But there is another point that I made with him that I want to take
some time here to stress, and this has to do with epistemology, which
means how we know what we know. But it has to do with knowledge and trying
to make decisions about spiritual truth or about any truth, frankly. The
point that I want to make is that people have to believe something.
Everybody believes something, and even what appears to be a rejection of
all beliefs is a kind of belief. One holds something to be true. Maybe
what you hold to be true is that nothing else is true, but that is
something that you believe is true in itself. This is not double talk.
Even agnostics have a type of belief. They believe that it is not possible
to know things about ultimate issues like the existence of God.
Now, people often reject Christianity because of certain problems. My
point is that there is no neutral place to position yourself in
philosophic space. There is no place where you can place yourself in which
you believe nothing and therefore don't take on some burden of proof about
what it is that you hold. You can't fairly say, "Well, Christian, you
believe this and you must prove this, but I have no burden of proof
regarding what I believe because I believe nothing." There is no
person who believes nothing about ultimate things, and even if you are
agnostic you believe in the justifiability of your agnosticism -- your
uncertainty -- and you really have a burden of proof to justify your
uncertainty -- your unwillingness to decide -- to justify your
agnosticism. So there is nowhere someone can stand where he has no
If you reject Christianity there is something else that you end up
asserting by default in its place. If you reject Christianity for certain
problems that it has -- and I admit to you that it does have problems --
it seems to me that one would do so because believing something else or
believing nothing at all doesn't face the same kinds of problems or has
fewer problems than believing in Christianity. That's why you reject
Christianity. But my point is, in rejecting Christianity one often times
creates more problems than he solves by rejecting the Christian viewpoint.
This is something a lot of people are not forced to face but they ought to
be. They ought to be challenged on this. Christians are often pushed into
the corner, shouldering the burden of proof ourselves, instead of asking
the other person to prove what they believe as well.
Even if the person says, "Well, I disregard Christianity. I don't
believe it because I don't think it's possible to know anything true about
God," we should ask, "Why would you ever believe that?" You
see, the other person has a belief yet we feel that we're the only one
that has to do the defending.
It is entirely legitimate to point out that a person can't stand in a
philosophically neutral position as if they believe nothing. In fact, they
believe something and if they are going to reject Christianity, for
example, it seems only rational for them to reject it if the reasons for
believing what they opt for are better than the reasons for believing in
Christianity. This is why it is said that if a person rejects God, for
example, because of the problem of evil then I have to ask that person a
question: How do you solve the problem of evil by rejecting God? If you
reject God, then you've got to reject the idea that there's anything
called evil in the world because God is the standard for good which
defines what evil is. You have to not only reject the idea of evil, you
have to reject the idea that there is anything like good because no
absolute standard for good or evil remains to give those words any
meaning. So you haven't solved the problem of evil by getting rid of God.
You have actually exacerbated the problem of evil by adding another
problem -- the problem of good, an additional problem the Christian
doesn't have to face, by the way.
In rejecting God, the atheist still has to face evil in the world and
explain where it came from. Can he? I doubt it. But he's got another
problem. He's got to explain where good comes from, too, because if there
is no God, it's hard to make any sense out of either of those concepts. If
there is no God, then there is nothing that is evil, it seems. You have to
have a standard of good and evil that stands outside of us to define what
evil and good actually are.
So it's not a liability of a particular belief system to have
unanswered questions. That's not a reflection on the problem of
Christianity -- if Christianity has unanswered questions, and I think it
does. It doesn't have as many as many people think, but there are some
things that I struggle with and I've talked about that here on the air.
But you know that doesn't sink my faith. The fact that I struggle with
problems in Christianity is not necessarily a reflection on Christianity,
it's a reflection on knowledge in general. Every world view has its
problems. Every belief system has its unanswered questions. So when you
reject Christianity because of certain problems you then necessarily opt
for a whole new set of problems, and in many cases those new set of
problems with the point of view you now adopt are much more damaging than
the problems you faced in Christianity.
If a person gets God out of the equation, then he has got to say, for
example, that everything comes from nothing. He's got to say that life
comes from non-life. That order comes from chaos. He's got to say that
natural law comes from randomness. He's got to say essentially that the
effect is greater than the cause. Now all of these things are patently
absurd. These are problems that a person rejecting a form of theism must
engage. It's a whole set of things that they don't have to face if they
believe in theism.
Do you see the tremendous problems created when one rejects the
existence of God? Do you see the problems that are added? It may be that
these things are true, frankly. I'm not offering this as an argument for
God's existence. I'm trying to put things in perspective. If you reject
one point of view you end up landing on another square, another world view
with all of its own same problems. And some of the problems in the new
world view that you adopt are more extreme that the problems you thought
you were getting away from by rejecting the Christian world view.
It may be that everything came from nothing. It may be that life came
from non-life, and order came from chaos, and natural law comes from
randomness, and the effect is greater than the cause. But boy, you have to
have a heck of a lot of faith to believe that kind of thing. It seems to
be much more reasonable, given the evidence, that God is the one
responsible for these things. As we observe the world it seems that the
effect is never greater than the cause.
The atheist doesn't solve problems by rejecting God. He creates a whole
new set of problems, and most of them are much more pressing than the
problems he thinks he's escaping.