Now and Forever

You hear these words throughout the Bible. And all this time I thought it was just a catchy salutation. But it’s much deeper than that. 

Since we know that the present moment is all that there is. That the past is history and the future is unknown. God is with us in the present. Here and now.

In this world, you can only be absolutely certain of the present moment. Perhaps you have a bad memory, or no memory. And you could die before the sun rises tomorrow. But right now just is. There is no escaping it.

But the promise of the Gospel is eternal life. That after our life on earth, we will continue to live with God for all eternity. So that, in Christianity,  what we know for sure is the present moment and forever.

Now and forever.

Flipping Hitchen’s Razor

Hitchens’s razor is an epistemological razor expressed by writer Christopher Hitchens. It says that the burden of proof regarding the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the claim; if this burden is not met, then the claim is unfounded, and its opponents need not argue further in order to dismiss it.

Hitchens has phrased the razor in writing as “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” But atheism is presented without evidence. Thus, using Hitchen’s own protocol we can dismiss atheism.

The main rejection to this will likely be that atheism is not making a claim, so there is no burden of proof. Which is the only way that the atheist can accept atheism without any evidence and be epistemologically consistent.

The phrase “God exists” is either true or false, and atheistic worldviews do not include a God. So I think we can reasonably conclude that atheists believe that God doesn’t exist, whether or not they care to defend that position with evidence.

Experience is Evidence

And evidence is justification. And justification is what makes belief knowledge. 

We’ve already discussed how knowledge is justified true belief. But most of our human experience is justified only by our senses. This is knowledge. It’s true belief justified by our senses or personal experience.

For example, your hunger or feelings of hunger are true. You can know that you are hungry without any outside test. No more evidence is required to call yourself hungry, and be right. The interesting part is the only way to know if someone is hungry is to ask them. Perhaps hunger is a bad example. Let’s say that you like the taste of meal. You are the lone arbiter of that truth. Without your feedback, no one will know what you thought of the meal.

In this same way, we know Jesus. The evidence of the Holy Spirit is internal, experiential, so that the testimony of the spirit is some of the best evidence we can give of a risen Lord. Therefore, the closest a non-believer can get to Jesus is through you.

Why is God good?

If you accept the Bible as true, this is a natural conclusion. But do we need the Bible deduce this? I don’t think so.

In theism, we accept that God is the first, uncaused cause. God is an independent thing. God is the source of all contingent or dependent things.

Evil is a dependent thing. Evil requires good. Without good, we would know no evil. It is simply a privation of good. An absence.

Therefore, if God is independent and evil is dependent, God is good.

Sin means Free

Sin is proof we have free will. If we didn’t have free will there would be no fall in Eden, no rebellion in heaven,  no need for Jesus.

If there was no free will, there would be no sin. But there is sin, therefore there is free will. 

There is only God’s will in heaven, and therefore is no sin. If a perfect God made perfect creatures, they would be perfect, but not free.

As in Eden , there is God’s will, and our will. And because there was a choice then and is now, the will is free. Not because God doesn’t know the outcome of the decision, but because he allows us to make the decision.

God knows what is going to happen, but still prefers that we choose his will. We have the ability to make a choice outside of his preference. To sin. That is why we’re free.

To matt

So one of the most popular atheists on the planet responded to my email. Maybe you’ve heard of Matt Dillahunty. Regardless, I pitched my We Are The Evidence argument for Christianity. Here’s his response: 

Your argument is flawed at every point,
1. If the Holy Spirit exists, Christianity is true.  
   – You haven’t defined your terms and, when you do, you’ll see that this all leads to a circular argument. You’ll ultimately be saying “IF this particular thing within Christianity is true then Christianity is true…”
2. The Holy Spirit exists
   – There’s no good reason to believe this is true.

You then go on to an ‘argumentum ad populum’ fallacy.
2.5 billion claims does not mean the claim is true. The plural of anecdote isn’t ‘data’. The truth isn’t impacted by the number of people who believe something or the strength of their conviction.

You’ve literally done NOTHING here, but fail to define terms, create an ultimately circular argument based on those incomplete definitions and then add a fallacious appeal to popularity.

This was a monumental waste of my time. Hopefully, you’ll learn something and it won’t be a waste of yours.

Go. Google. Learn fallacies. Learn why appealing to popularity is a fallacy and why fallacies matter.

Meanwhile, you’ll need to make 2.5 billion the magic number or you’ll have to also agree with the 2 billion Muslims out there. Does the extra 500m make Christianity true…and if the demographic ever flips so that there are more Mulsims…are you going to believe that religion?

Seriously. The ONLY way this is worth my time is if you actually learn something and then share it.

– Matt Dillahunty

His first criticism calls my argument circular. That I’m arguing in a circle. If you are alive, you have a mother. Is that valid? If we can prove that the Holy Spirit exists, I think we can conclude that Christianity is true. 

Circular reasoning is often of the form: “A is true because B is true; B is true because A is true.” Circularity can be difficult to detect if it involves a longer chain of propositions.

Does this apply to my argument? If the Holy spirit exists, Christianity is true. The Holy spirit exists, therefore Christianity is true. I don’t think it does. I think the first premise is undeniable. And the conclusion logically follows the premises. 

The Holy spirit exists. A
Christianity is true. B

B is true because A is true. But A is true because of the witnesses. We are not saying that the Holy Spirit exists because Christianity is true. We are saying that the Holy Spirit exists because we have 2.5 billion witnesses of it. Each witness is a claim that the Holy Spirit exists. And claims are evidence. And consistent claims are good evidence. 

His second criticism is that I commit the appeal to the people fallacy.

According to Wikipedia, this fallacy is In argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition must be true because many or most people believe it, often concisely encapsulated as: “If many believe so, it is so”.

On the surface, he’s right. Essentially I say that 2.5 billion people believe in something, it may be true. But it’s not that simple. We’re not saying that this group of people believe that God exists, or even that Christianity is true. We’re saying that each person is a witness to the Holy Spirit. Each claim is a witness to the same supernatural entity. 

What about Islam? There are 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. Would this not apply in the same way as Matt suggested in his email? First off, the Quran affirms the Gospel of Jesus. Secondly, the God of Islam is not a personal God. The Holy Spirit mentioned in the Quran is not something poured out to all believers. So 1.8 billion Muslims are simply 1.8 billion people who believe Islam is true. They are not all claiming to have experiences with the supernatural. But let’s say they were, that would be 1.8 billion more reasons to believe that naturalism fails, and atheism is false. 

C-theory of Time

If time exists inside our universe, and passes as it appears to pass, A-theory of time is true.  If a reality exists outside of spacetime, time is only an illusion. From this perspective, our past, present, and future happen at the same time.

So if we call the extraverse, our universe plus any reality removed from spacetime, we have two different theories of time alive in the same system. Inside the universe we have A-theory of time, and outside the universe we have (looking at the universe) B-theory of time.

C theory of time

So this is what I call C-theory of Time: A-theory in our universe, and B-theory of time observing our universe from the exterior perspective. Time is real inside spacetime but illusory outside of it.



Exploring Beliefs

Beliefs are accepted propositions.

I believe you means that I accept what you’re saying is true.  All knowledge is belief, but all beliefs are not knowledge. Beliefs do not require justification, but knowledge does.

For example, I accept that the proposition ‘God exists,’ is true. I believe that God exists. I also feel justified in my beliefs, for reasons I’ve discussed earlier.

Atheism, to be a belief, must have a true or false value to the proposition ‘God exists.’ While atheism now simply claims to be a ‘lack of belief,’ if a belief is accepting a proposition as true, a lack of belief is not accepting that proposition as true. By not accepting the proposition as true, they do not believe that God exists.

Knowledge, Belief, and Fantasy

What is knowledge? It’s an awareness that something your head corresponds to reality. Of course, there may be justification needed to verify that what’s in your head does actually correspond with reality. Otherwise there is no way of verifying that the thing corresponds with reality. And if you don’t know that it corresponds with reality, it’s not knowledge.

But if your thought corresponds with reality, justified or not, it is true. Wait. If you believe that bigfoot exists [assuming he does] without reason to believe so, is it knowledge? It can’t be. There is no reason to think that the proposition, “Bigfoot exists” is true. You just believe that bigfoot exists.

The question becomes How do you know it’s true? Because it can only be knowledge if it’s true. The only way to know it’s true is justification. So the only way to verify that your belief that bigfoot exists is true is to have reason to believe that bigfoot exists in reality. Otherwise, it is not knowledge. It’s fantasy.

Justifying the Justification

In our exploration of counterfactuals, we explored regrets and the principle of explosion, and how I think they could effect human behavior. In this post, we’re going to explore knowledge, and how its requirement for justification may alter human psyche.

Overlooking for a moment the complications posed by Gettier problems, philosophy has essentially continued to operate on the principle that knowledge is justified true belief. The obvious question that this definition entails is how one can know whether one’s justification is sound. One must therefore provide a justification for the justification. That justification itself requires justification, and the questioning continues interminably.

The conclusion is that no one can truly have knowledge of anything, since it is, due to this infinite regression, impossible to satisfy the justification element. In practice, this has caused little concern to philosophers, since the demarcation between a reasonably exhaustive investigation and superfluous investigation is usually clear.

How does this effect human behavior? In what areas do we seek justification? Performance, looks, or any number of other things.

If you were obsessed with looking good, you may seek the opinion of others. You may stare in the mirror. Even if you think you look good and others say you look good, they could be wrong. You could be wrong. So if you seek knowledge of your good looks, you may never be satisfied with your justification. And if you’re never satisfied with the justification, you may never be satisfied with your looks.

There is undoubtedly always room for skepticism. If there is an infinite regress in the justification, where do you draw the line? When do you accept the justification?