Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, September 28, 2004






I.          Can We Rationally Establish the Existence of God?


A.        Objections to natural theology (arguing for God from nature).  See Douglas Groothuis, On Pascal, chapter 6.


1.         The Bible gives no such argument; therefore, we should not.  See D. Groothuis, “The Biblical Omission Argument,” Asbury Theological Journal (Fall 1997).  The Bible’s authority does not rule out these kinds of arguments under some conditions.


2.         Finite beings cannot prove an infinite God.  Confuses metaphysics and epistemology.


3.         Theistic arguments cannot compel belief in God, so they are pointless


a.         What is an argument and what is “proof”?


b.         Rationality (Moreland, 13)


1.         Rationally permissible (within epistemic rights):  weak rationality


2.         Rationally compelling (believe or be irrational):  strong rationality


c.         Deductive and cumulative case arguments for God


d.         Good arguments—logically and existentially.  Person-relativity of arguments.


e.         Why natural theology may not compel belief


1.         May be a bad argument in itself (or a bad version of a good argument)


2.         Truth of premises is not understood by S


3.         Force of the reasoning is not understood by S


4.         Argument may be understood but rejected for moral reasons.  “I don’t want to believe it.”


f.          The problem of skepticism (Pascal).  Skepticism indicates the noetic effects of sin; it does not undermine natural theology, but gives impetus to it and to the search for God.  See D. Groothuis, On Pascal, chapter seven.


4.         No need for natural theology because we can believe in God as “properly basic” (Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief).  Still may be needed for doubters or unbelievers who do not believe in this way.


5.         It is not the God of the Bible, but an abstract, philosophical deity.  The argument would establish several necessary attributes of the biblical deity.


6.         Because God is, by definition, invisible; there is no good reason to believe in God (Moreland, Scaling, 226 – 228)


a.         The claim is self-refuting:  You cannot see propositions


b.         Counterexamples of things that exist but cannot be seen:  values, subatomic particles, propositions, minds, numbers, etc.


c.         Category mistake:  God is not knowable in this sense


d.         There are other ways to perceive realities than by the senses:  intuition, inference, etc.


7.         God is a protection of the religious imagination (Feuerbach, Marx, Freud, Russell)


a.         Turning the tables (1):  Atheists deny God because they hate their fathers; they have a cosmic authority problems; need therapy, etc.  See Paul Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless


b.         Distinguish (1) psychology of discovery from (2) epistemology of justification


c.         We would not project the biblical God because he is terrifying in many ways:  final judgment, hell, stringent moral standards (Sermon on the Mount)


d.         Turning the tables (2):  Our need for God may be evidence that God exists.  The argument from desire.  See C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Essays.  More later.


B.         What successful theistic arguments can do


1.         Find strong clues in creation leading to the Creator


2.         Verify a worldview hypothesis in various ways (cumulative case argument)


3.         Give a better explanation for the nature and meaning of the universe than rival views


4.         Provide incentive for the seeker to look further into Christianity.  Is it the true theism?



II.        Problems with Atheism and Agnosticism (Corduan, 80 – 89)


A.        Definition of theism (82)


B.         Atheism is unproveable:  unicorn example.  This is a bad argument


C.        Is idea of God logically impossible? K. Nielsen:  begging the question fallacy (84).  See his debate with J.P. Moreland, Does God Exist?


D.        Atheism is contrary to human nature:  most people naturally believe in God (see Romans 1 – 2)


E.         Atheism lives on borrowed capital:  the problem of morality and meaning.  More later in Moreland, chapter 4.