Ravi on How do you know there is a God?

Ravi Zacharias, respected theologian, begins to answer this tough question. He’s written a book called Can Man Live Without God.

Some folks call Ravi a “modern day CS Lewis.”

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2 Responses to Ravi on How do you know there is a God?

  1. tildeb says:

    If you ask a peanut why it exists, you’ll get no answer. It is the wrong question. When we strip any material down to its most fundamental particles, the particles themselves will not answer this question. To suggest that the answer exists outside of that particle is merely an assertion that the answer – if there is one – does lie beyond the particle. The answer we are told must be non-physical. ‘Must’ is not the right word to describe where this assumed answer lies. ‘Perhaps’ is a much better and more accurate word and its veracity depends entirely on evidence to justify the assertion. No such offering is made but, instead, we move on to ‘evidence’ for god.

    He mentions the haunted universe to discover the First Cause. This introduces us to infinite regression, for if we assume that there must be an agency that caused the universe to come into being, then we have to assign agency to whatever force brought that founding agency into being, and so. The argument that the universe simply IS carries no weight with those who assume that there must be a first cause. The problem here is with the starting assumption and it is a thinking error.

    Given the starting assumption that there must be a first cause and that it just so happens to be a Christian god, ignoring the problem of infinite regress, we are then introduced to design. Again this idea of assigning a designer to something that appears to be designed is a thinking error. It is not one’s mind that lays out the design of, say, one’s limbic system; it is the expression of the genetic code. That genetic code came from the shuffling of genes from one’s parents. Their code came from theirs, and so. And so on, and so on. Why then this insistence that there must be a mind behind the design? Because in some cases there is a human mind behind a specific design but, and it’s a huge but, we have evidence for that, so it sounds very reasonable to extend the argument to the human enzyme. But, like one’s limbic system, the enzyme too came from prior life. So it is not rational at the point of the enzyme to attribute its design to god any more than it’s rational to assign the creation of one’s limbic system to someone’s mind. And there is no profit in the reasoning to jump beyond the human mind for design and attribute what looks to be designed from a supernatural origin. Yet we hear it over and over again. When in doubt, where there’s a lack of knowledge, quick, let’s assign it to god. That’s not an answer; it’s a cop-out.

    Next we shift into a gross misrepresentation of probabilities, ‘random’ chance that the enzyme came into being only by randomized chance. What a big number! What a tiny probability. A number smaller than all the matter in the universe! (And we know that how?) Impossible! Couldn’t happen, and math tells us as much, so there must be a mind that designed it, right? (Does this mean that god created enzymes and then left the whole mess for several billion years to evolve into humans? Hardly the point I think our good Mr Zacharias wants to suggest.) What we’re really addressing here isn’t evolution at all but abiogenesis, a process by which those reproducing entities first come into existence. When one actually looks at the probability and accepts that amino acids have to form more like a train rather than a group of people shaking everybody’s hand, which reduces the probabilities given to a factor of 60, and then compares the results with something people can understand, it changes it from an ‘impossibility’ to a “Yeah, so…?” The similar example is shuffling a deck of 52 cards and dealing out four hands of thirteen cards each. According to Zacharias, the hand you pick up has the probability of zero! Yet you hold it! To explain that impossibility of the probability of holding exactly those 13 cards, we are assured that it can only have happened, indeed, it ‘must’ have happened, only through the design of a god! Anyone else see a problem with the thinking here?

    It’s a very poor argument and has been thoroughly discredited.

    His third argument is right out of Plato and the assumed existence of essential stuff necessary for a materialistic construct. For example, because there are so many different kinds of chairs we still call chairs, there must exist a proto-chair not in a materialistic sense but in dimension just beyond the physical… what we call a metaphysical realm. This proto-chair is the only real chair and all the ones in our world merely facsimiles of it, shadows cast on the cave wall. Essentialism, as this is notion is called, was a founding principle of Aristotelian physics that informed the science and cosmology of the early Church, namely that the essence of this proto-material had to be present in the material world for material to exist in the form we recognize. In order for a rock to be a rock, it had to possess the properties of heaviness and hardness. These properties were the worldly expression, the essence of the protorock, which is what made them into rocks we could see and touch. But don’t forget, the theology also wanted to reassure us that this world was but a shadow of the glory of the next, the real, the everlasting world beyond the pale. You can see today why this definition of essence as a defining characteristic to explain the physics of the material world is pretty poor, but it doesn’t stop our Mr. Zacharias from using the same tired and worn out idea for morality, as if by exhibiting moral behaviour, humanity could only have the capability if we borrowed its essemce from this metaphysical realm, by which Ravi immediately means the realm of – who else – god. There is really good evidence that humanity, like other mammals, constructs morality, as do animals. Assertions that morality comes from god is just an assertion that also removes any need to even inquire about how we actually formulate its expression in our world.

    He is still able to conclude with great confidence that only god is big enough to explain our universe, but of course, such a statement is really no explanation at all. It avoids a meaningful explanation. For that, we need science.

  2. [“If you ask a peanut why it exists, you’ll get no answer. It is the wrong question. When we strip any material down to its most fundamental particles, the particles themselves will not answer this question. To suggest that the answer exists outside of that particle is merely an assertion that the answer – if there is one – does lie beyond the particle. The answer we are told must be non-physical. ‘Must’ is not the right word to describe where this assumed answer lies. ‘Perhaps’ is a much better and more accurate word and its veracity depends entirely on evidence to justify the assertion. No such offering is made but, instead, we move on to ‘evidence’ for god.”]

    Let me ask you few questions here:

    Are you a peanut? I hope the answer is no.

    If you accept the Big Bang then there has to be something outside of this material world would you not agree? To give away such massive energy out of so little is either a miracle or impossibility according to atheists who only want testable data.

    On the supposition that God has created the world, would that not put him outside the world as Christian faith is not Pantheistic or Panenteisitic in nature? Even if you don’t believe in God you must allow however remote this possibility that what Christians teach to be possible.

    Even if this is very remote possibility fore you, philosophically speaking then you must accept that this is correct. Note I don’t say that God exists merely that if he does then this option could be correct. If you can’t disprove him, and there is possibility of him being there then logically this leads to the possibility of God being the original cause of everything we know and see.

    If you are going to use invocation of evidence and experimental measurable data, then this is not strictly scientific as science does not argue that only what we could measure we know for sure that things are there. Fact that many atheist use multi universe theory which we can’t attest to in order to avoid existence of God is just as religious and appeals to “Must” sentiment, so we have to be careful what we attack. Or do you disagree with me and therefore if there are no bases for string theory do we go back to God the creator of the universe?

    [“He mentions the haunted universe to discover the First Cause. This introduces us to infinite regression, for if we assume that there must be an agency that caused the universe to come into being, then we have to assign agency to whatever force brought that founding agency into being, and so. The argument that the universe simply IS carries no weight with those who assume that there must be a first cause. The problem here is with the starting assumption and it is a thinking error.”]

    I can see why you think that, but can I suggest this is because you have only considered this option. The regression concept is actually first introduced to us as a Christian concept and many have postulated that this is because eventually this has to end with the being that is not created.

    Again even this regression argument is borrowed from Christians. But let’s look at the implications here, if you have infinite being that has no Beginning and End and I know that this involves some brain use as all we know is that we get born and we die. But we should not only rely on our own experience as if you believe in science then you will know that we often go against our counterintuitive claims. Study of atoms and subatomic particles is very good example you should consider. You can’t see them but we know they are there. I will go back to that fact that with the Big bang we have nothing or virtually nothing we are talking condensed atoms and then we have all this matter, antimatter, dark energy and everything you and I see. And the fact that according to Physics you need energy to create anything then use of God to explain this is not stupid anymore.

    Scientifically when you have explanation something you do not require explanation of the explanation otherwise there would be no science and this appeal to the regression by people like Dr Dawkins is therefore very insincere. Otherwise on every explanation you give me I can ask you to give me explanation of that explanation infinitely.

    [“Given the starting assumption that there must be a first cause and that it just so happens to be a Christian god, ignoring the problem of infinite regress, we are then introduced to design. Again this idea of assigning a designer to something that appears to be designed is a thinking error. It is not one’s mind that lays out the design of, say, one’s limbic system; it is the expression of the genetic code. That genetic code came from the shuffling of genes from one’s parents. Their code came from theirs, and so. And so on, and so on. Why then this insistence that there must be a mind behind the design? Because in some cases there is a human mind behind a specific design but, and it’s a huge but, we have evidence for that, so it sounds very reasonable to extend the argument to the human enzyme. But, like one’s limbic system, the enzyme too came from prior life. So it is not rational at the point of the enzyme to attribute its design to god any more than it’s rational to assign the creation of one’s limbic system to someone’s mind. And there is no profit in the reasoning to jump beyond the human mind for design and attribute what looks to be designed from a supernatural origin. Yet we hear it over and over again. When in doubt, where there’s a lack of knowledge, quick, let’s assign it to god. That’s not an answer; it’s a cop-out.”]

    If you are introduced to design trough the evidence should you reject that evidence simply because you don’t like it?
    We appeal to designer because of such things like the mechanisms in DNA and RNA that have programs that correct errors in our genetic codes.

    Have you considered the fact that some atheists scientist have converted to Christianity singularly on the bases of their scientific research? If their testimony is correct should we make claims like when in doubt and lack of knowledge let assign it to God? It is very interesting to me to find how often atheists have their ammunition at ready and use same arguments but they have obviously not considered what people that differ form them had to say. Can I suggest you check http://www.darwinspredictions.com/
    And you will see why so many people with PhD’s doubt materialistic world view.

    [“Next we shift into a gross misrepresentation of probabilities, ‘random’ chance that the enzyme came into being only by randomized chance. What a big number! What a tiny probability. A number smaller than all the matter in the universe! (And we know that how?) Impossible! Couldn’t happen, and math tells us as much, so there must be a mind that designed it, right? (Does this mean that god created enzymes and then left the whole mess for several billion years to evolve into humans? Hardly the point I think our good Mr Zacharias wants to suggest.) What we’re really addressing here isn’t evolution at all but abiogenesis, a process by which those reproducing entities first come into existence. When one actually looks at the probability and accepts that amino acids have to form more like a train rather than a group of people shaking everybody’s hand, which reduces the probabilities given to a factor of 60, and then compares the results with something people can understand, it changes it from an ‘impossibility’ to a “Yeah, so…?” The similar example is shuffling a deck of 52 cards and dealing out four hands of thirteen cards each. According to Zacharias, the hand you pick up has the probability of zero! Yet you hold it! To explain that impossibility of the probability of holding exactly those 13 cards, we are assured that it can only have happened, indeed, it ‘must’ have happened, only through the design of a god! Anyone else see a problem with the thinking here?”]

    Much had been talked about this, in the last 15 years and I appreciate that you have checked Dr Dawkins blog and I don’t object to that. However when people say things like that they forget that evolution is the theory that advocates this not Christians.

    You need time, plus matter, plus chance alignment of all necessary parties before you can start life. Even with this we know that things always go against life forms rather than for them. All is degreasing and falling to bits energy is wasted and so on. Is it any wonder when faced with such problems we need to work our statistical probability of this?
    Can I suggest brilliant book by an agnostic “The Devil’s Delusion Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions” (Paperback) by David Berlinski (Author) you will find this on Amazon here:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0465019374/ref=sr_1_olp_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1255997623&sr=8-1

    Or if you are in USA then look it up here

    http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Delusion-Atheism-Scientific-Pretensions/dp/product-description/0307396266

    [“It’s a very poor argument and has been thoroughly discredited.”]

    This can only be true if you read one sided material that you will find on many atheistic database web pages that deal with indoctrination of young people in the same way they accuse religious people indoctrinating young people. You should consider broadening your horizons.

    [“His third argument is right out of Plato and the assumed existence of essential stuff necessary for a materialistic construct. For example, because there are so many different kinds of chairs we still call chairs, there must exist a proto-chair not in a materialistic sense but in dimension just beyond the physical… what we call a metaphysical realm. This proto-chair is the only real chair and all the ones in our world merely facsimiles of it, shadows cast on the cave wall. Essentialism, as this is notion is called, was a founding principle of Aristotelian physics that informed the science and cosmology of the early Church, namely that the essence of this proto-material had to be present in the material world for material to exist in the form we recognize. In order for a rock to be a rock, it had to possess the properties of heaviness and hardness. These properties were the worldly expression, the essence of the protorock, which is what made them into rocks we could see and touch. But don’t forget, the theology also wanted to reassure us that this world was but a shadow of the glory of the next, the real, the everlasting world beyond the pale. You can see today why this definition of essence as a defining characteristic to explain the physics of the material world is pretty poor, but it doesn’t stop our Mr. Zacharias from using the same tired and worn out idea for morality, as if by exhibiting moral behaviour, humanity could only have the capability if we borrowed its essemce from this metaphysical realm, by which Ravi immediately means the realm of – who else – god. There is really good evidence that humanity, like other mammals, constructs morality, as do animals. Assertions that morality comes from god is just an assertion that also removes any need to even inquire about how we actually formulate its expression in our world.”]

    I don’t know where you get your information but you are confusing old arguments with the one given with Dr Zacharias. He believes in Big bang in the same way you and I do and that demands non existent material to creating existing stuff we see today.

    There is nothing and I repeat nothing Platonic in what he is saying that is you putting words in his mouth, I’m sorry to spoil your fun. This may be interesting and shows that you know your platonic philosophy but it also shows that you made mix-up with your interpretation.

    May I say you confuse Catholic apologetics with Protestant apologetics, and you should know different. I’m not going to challenge you on religious extremism and neither should you challenge Dr Zacharias with the attack on Old Catholic Apologetics which he does not invoke here.

    [“He is still able to conclude with great confidence that only god is big enough to explain our universe, but of course, such a statement is really no explanation at all. It avoids a meaningful explanation. For that, we need science.”]

    I am confused, I have heard this so many times, when I explain that science does not make such bold claims as atheist would like us believe (This is called scientism) as I said previously they still Continue with the same fallacy.

    Science speculates, evaluates and attempts to understand, I think even Einstein once said we barely know 1% percent of what is to be known yet there are people who boldly claim we can only accept what science is telling us.

    This kind of view you sugest is unnecessarily too sceptical beyond the call of science, beyond the call of reason and logic as based on the limited knowledge we have today.

    Sience refers to such things as string theory and subatomic studies, of which we understand little but believe them possible.

    Please don’t shut yourself in the foot as we say it here. Consider full implications of what you are saying before attacking one premise of Christian faith but also destroying your own premise of science at the same time. You just can’t have it both ways; this kind of information and their implications are unfortunately what Dr Dawkins would not like you to know, and will never mention it in his writings.

    Regards

    Defend the word

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