During my interview on the The Atheist Hour
, Paul Manta said the reason he believes God has always existed is because, “A being who cannot lie told me he has always existed.” Pastor Gene claimed God created the whole known universe in six literal days with the appearance of age, because of a hyper-literal view of Genesis 1-3. Everything hinges on the Bible as God’s word, which is Pastor Gene’s first and foremost Christian presupposition. What God said is final, so he believes it no matter what.
Pastor Gene: “There are two different kinds of revelation, natural revelation, which we find in the world, and special revelation, which we find in the word of God. A basic rule of Biblical interpretation is that we should always interpret natural revelation through the grid of special revelation, that is the word of God. We don’t look at the world and then say this is truth, therefore we must conform the Scriptures to what we see. This view is a deadly mistake and would lead to atheism. I interpret science through the lens of the word of God, which presupposes the truth of Genesis 1-3. There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”
This is a very good statement of presuppositional apologetics
. No wonder he could host The Atheist Hour
and never have any atheist cause any doubt within him. “There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”
Paul was getting at this, I think, when he said if we don’t presuppose something then we must rely on an infinite regress of evidences. I’m not sure how I need an infinite regress of evidences to believe I exist, or that I’m typing on my keyboard, or that I’m feeling like I need a drink right now, unless I'm looking for absolute certainty of these things, which is impossible. But I’ll let him try to show me why this is the case.
There are indeed ideas we must presuppose, and so there are also ideas we can rationally believe without any evidence. But to ask me to presuppose a whole collection of ancient writings by superstitious, pre-scientific people that were subsequently canonized by a powerful group of believers who won the arguments of their day, is simply way too much to presuppose.
But with such a presupposition as this, there doesn’t seem to be any straightforward way to show Christians they are wrong. If we point out problems in the Bible, apologists will explain them away, or claim God placed these problems in the Bible to confound people who never wanted to believe anyway.
We could point to the fact that most other people in the world grew up believing something else. According to John Hick, “it is evident that in some ninety-nine percent of the cases the religion which an individual professes and to which he or she adheres depends upon the accidents of birth. Someone born to Buddhist parents in Thailand is very likely to be a Buddhist, someone born to Muslim parents in Saudi Arabia to be a Muslim, someone born to Christian parents in Mexico to be a Christian, and so on.” [An Interpretation of Religion
The apologist will simply respond that acknowledging this fact doesn’t make their faith wrong, and that’s technically true, but shouldn’t it at least cause a Christian to question why he believes in the first place? But it doesn’t seem to do this at all. The other faiths around the world are simply wrong, they’d say. So the only problem for the apologist is to figure out what to think about the unevangelized, and he might merely claim that God knows that all unevangelized people who go to hell would not have believed had they heard anyway, even though there are more than 4 billion people on the planet right now who fit it this category.
We could point to the sheer amount evil in this world, both moral and natural, and the apologist will say it is all man’s fault stemming from the sins of an original first pair of human beings—Adam & Eve. They believe in the Garden of Eden story despite all anthropological and geological evidence to the contrary, because the Bible says so. As far as evil goes, the apologist may say that everything will be made right for the believer in heaven, while hell’s doors are locked from the inside.
We could point to the lack of a miracle working God in today’s world as evidence that miracles didn’t occur among ancient superstitious people either, but the apologist will claim God has his reasons for not doing many, if any, miracles today, because Jesus is God’s final revelation.
We could point to the findings of astronomy, modern science, archaeology, psychology, historiography, anthropology, or what any other science says, and if it discredits something in the Bible, then we would get the same response from them: “There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”
When we ask them how they know the Bible is God’s word they may say they just presuppose its truth because the Bible is its own evidence, and since there is no higher evidence than the Bible it’s right to presuppose it as the truth. This whole procedure is circular, and I would say viciously so. There is no way any evidence can count against what the apologist defends. And should the apologist be tempted to doubt, the fear of Hell kicks him in the teeth, so he will not entertain it. Say it isn’t so!
So apologists need to tell us these two things. First
, what evidence would count against your faith? Specify, specify, specify. What evidence, and what reasons would you accept as defeaters to your faith if we could produce them? Don’t demand that we produce something we cannot, because this is precisely my point, that you demand the impossible. Secondly
, and this is by far the most important question I could ask you, what reasons do you have for adopting this Christian presupposition in the first place, that the Bible is the Word of God? Spell them out for us. Since this is the crux of the issue for you, then why did you adopt that presuppositon in the first place? Since this presupposition answers every question of the skeptic, then this is the question you should have some very good reasons for prior to presupposing the Bible as the Word of God
. So why?