Last week we began to consider some of the theisticassumptions that atheists make, using a particular article as a platform. In the article, the author poses a series of questions that he considers unanswerable from a Christian worldview. While the questions are indeed answerable, we are taking some time to consider the theistic assumptions behind the questions posed.
The first thing we considered was that the author assumes an objective standard of morality, which cannot be sustained by an atheistic worldview. Today we’re going to drill even a bit deeper and look at the twin assumptions of scientific truth and logic. Atheists tend to argue against theism by challenging theists to provide scientific evidence for God. They also frequently appeal to laws of logic. We should contend that the atheist has no right to appeal to science or logic because his worldview cannot account for them.
At the heart of this issue is a field of philosophy called epistemology. Epistemology essentially deals with the question of how humans gain knowledge. How do we know the things we know? The Bible teaches that the Triune God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3; Rom 11:33-36; Prov 2:1-6). He is the objective source of knowledge. Further, the Bible teaches that the unregenerate man knows that God exists, yet he seeks to suppress that truth (Rom 1:18-23). When he denies God, he denies the only objective source of knowledge. Therefore, when he uses knowledge about the world around him he cannot account for that knowledge.
Anytime we attempt to verify knowledge we must appeal to something else. I know A because of B. How do I know B? I know B because of C. This line of questioning can go on and on until we reach an objective Knower who knows all things. The only way to know anything is to know everything OR to know the One who knows everything. The Bible presents God as this ultimate Knower, the source of all knowledge.
Atheists have no true ultimate Knower. They are forced to justify knowledge without an objective standard. “How do you know that your desk is real?” “Because I can see it and feel it.” “But how do you know that your eyes and hands are giving you reliable information?” “Because my brain tells me so.” “But how do you know that your brain is giving your reliable information?” “Uh, because my brain tells me so.” They have no ultimate Knower to ground their knowledge so they can only appeal to the knowledge itself.
This is why it makes no sense for an atheist to use science and logic. An appeal to science is an appeal to the senses. I know the law of gravity because I can see it at work. I observe it. Logic is an appeal to reason. I know the law of non-contradiction because I reason that something cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time and in the same sense. The atheist assumes the validity of science and logic without justification. If you ask the atheist, “how do you know that your senses are valid?,” the only thing he can do is respond with some form of “it’s obvious” or ‘it’s self-evident,” which is just another way of saying, “I sense that my senses are valid.” He is in the same position when it comes to logic: “I reason that my reason is valid.” They appeal to science to validate science and to reason to validate reason. This is called a circular argument, and ironically, they are very sensitive to perceived circular argumentation when Christians use it. They are typically blind to their own use of it.
Just as an atheist cannot account for objective morality, neither can he account for science and logic. Yet, because he lives in a theistic world, he cannot live without using his senses and reason. In other words, he lives as if God, the ultimate Knower, exists while claiming that He doesn’t.
So when the author of the above-mentioned article asks Christians to think logically about a number of questions or to consider how “unscientific” the Bible is, he assumes the validity of science and logic, which can only exist in a theistic world. And we might wonder, why would he appeal to science and logic if he believes God doesn’t exist? He can’t help it. He lives in the real world, the world where God does exist, and according to the Bible, deep down inside he knows that God exists, and he cannot live otherwise.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools…” (Rom 1:22)