I’d originally planned on doing the second part to yesterday’s post, but it’s already a lot longer than I’d hoped (it’ll probably become two posts or else get edited down quite a bit), and I thought that this comment from DJAMDG. He’s in red, and my thoughts are in blue.
Two things: 1) You (a created being) said that God must know everything. “Such a being would HAVE to HAVE…” However, my question here would be why? Why must He? Because your logic demands it?
Yeah, sort of. God is beyond human logic, certainly, but He’s not beneath it. He’s the author of it, so valid uses of logic point back to Him. When we mess up, with our minds darkened by sin, it’s not because logic is bad or wrong, just that it’s not being applied right or in the right context.
In Romans 1:20, we hear, “Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made.” So even by the lights of the natural law, certain elements of the person of God must be true. Paul uses this argument against idolatry: in Romans 1:25 he criticizes the pagans for worshipping a creature rather than the Creator. And it’s a solid argument: a created being cannot be the Creator of the Universe. Just as we can (and, sayeth Paul, ought) discern God’s divinity and omnipotence from creation, we can also discern other characteristics, such as His omniscience.
This doesn’t eliminate the need for revelation: rather, it shows the need for it. Natural law creates questions which admit no easy answers: who are we? where did we come from? why were we made? why is there evil in the world? why is there good in the world? And so forth.
If we say, “let’s not use logic, we’ll rely on revelation alone,” we’ve given up the fight entirely. How do we determine which revelations are valid, and which are invalid? Even saying, “this revelation feels valid to me internally” is a usage of reasoning of some sort (“feeling right” as an effect which indicates a cause of “being correct”). Anyone who is religious must, by definition, use reason. While it can’t grasp the fullness of God, it’s required to grasp any part of God. It’s also, incidentally, why animals, who are exposed to the same Creation which indicates God, never even concoct paganism: they don’t have the reason to even ask the questions which lead one to paganism or Christianity.
Having an ability is not the same as using it. So, what if God chooses not to use it? I don’t think this is the same as asking can God make a boulder too heavy for even him to move.
Even if God doesn’t use it, He has at the least the inherent capacity for omniscience. My point was that omniscience is inherently connected with an existence outside of time. What that existence looks like my be a bit unclear for us, but we know that (definitionally), it would consist of being able to see past, present, and future. It quite possibly consists of an inescapable ability to see past, present, and future in the eternal state. In the Incarnation, Jesus takes on the form of a slave, and is unable to see the future except in as far as God the Father permits it: cf. Phillipians 2:5-6; Mark 5:30. So it’s a characteristic specific to existing outside of time, not specific to God: when God is existing within time via the Incarnation, He doesn’t have it; my argument is that a non-deity existing outside of time would (or perhaps, could). So while it appears to be an attack on God, it’s only that in a round-about way (in that He’s the only eternal being), and the attack doesn’t really disprove God or Free Will. In an atheistic worldview, the fact that time is a property of the universe still means that outside the universe, the chain of cause and effect have always been layed out.
Anti-theists like to use the seeming tension between predestination and free will as a hammer to hit Christians over the head. But eliminating God from the picture doesn’t fix the seeming tension between predestination and free will, because it’s an innate property of the universe. In a way, I’m not really describing how God must be, but rather, how the universe must be, given its properties.
2) Atheist scientists have already begun to respond to this line of thinking by going back precisely to the (weak) arguement of “infinite series of causes and effects.” This universe is a) not the only universe, b) not the first – it was birthed in the death on another, c) not the last – it will birth another upon it’s death. I agree, the arguement is still untenable, but increasing the scope using functional variables can make the arguement acceptable.
It’s a silly and strange argument, and what’s worse, it’s not science. It’s based on an assumption that matter is all that exists, an assumption which is self-refuting (Truth exists, even if it’s only scientific and mathematical truth, and it is not material: we can observe its effects, but cannot see it itself). So these scientists are forced to concoct these multiverse or infinite universe series which really cannot be tested scientifically (they’re non-testable hypotheses, the pariah of the scientific world). These theories exist seemingly just to find a way around acknowledging the obvious causal link to God.
The problems with the infinite chain of universes are almost too many to count. First, it’s a chain with no beginning: a universe in perpetual motion with only a finite source of energy. Second, it violates all the known properties of physics (it actually relies on the assumption that general relativity isn’t in play). Third, these sort of “Big Bounce” theories would require an infinite series of successful Big Bangs, which is statistically impossible. By that, I mean, that the Big Bang didn’t end in “heat death” (from expanding too rapidly) or a Big Crunch (from not expanding rapidly enough) was an insanely improbably event. But that the universe before it would have been similarly “lucky,” and instead of ending in a Big Crunch ending in another Big Bang is so statistically unlikely as to be absurd. Fourth, because of the interplay between time and matter, it’s unlikely that this could occur. The Big Bang theory says that there was no 13.8 billion years ago. Time is intimately and inseparably connected with matter, and all the matter in the universe was compacted into a microscopic speck 13.7 billion years ago — a prior universe would seemingly violate this core proposition. Fifth, the rate of entropy would only increase in each cycle (so small “bounces” would lead to successively larger ones). If this were true, then there would still be a singularity, some sort of Meta-Bang to start the cycle, and you’re back to the beginning which requires a Creator / First Mover. There are many more problems with this, but I’m no physicist — for that same reason, it’s very possible that my scientific understanding above is very much off. I’m forwarding this paragraph to a physicist friend of mine to look over, since he’s pretty into string theory and such.
Honestly, the only people who can believably argue there is no God are those who do not believe there is a God, and the only people who can believe such arguements are those who already don’t believe in God.
I don’t think so, and I worry that these sorts of arguments will lead us to just give up on people who are savable, and to give up on people who are losing the Faith (oh, if they’re losing it, they never had it).
I think agnostics and others can believably argue that there is no God: they can be confused by the mass of evidence (the presence of evil in the world, the diversity of religious systems, the refusal of God to unambiguously present Himself), and at least feel a tug towards the wrong direction. I mean, there are atheists today who weren’t atheists growing up, so I find it hard to believe that the only atheists are those who were always atheists: if that were true, their numbers wouldn’t (couldn’t) be growing. This seems like an extension of “once saved, always saved” to now include even non-Christian religions: a sort of “once Theist, always Theist.” But just as people can genuinely convert from atheism to Theism, they can genuinely revert back to atheism, or Pantheism, or any other form. Matthew 13:20-21 describes just such a group of individuals, who give up the Faith when hard times come.