Personal post, reading I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Norman Geisler, Frank Turek, and David Limbaugh

Monday, May 01, 2006
Currently Reading
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
By Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek, David Limbaugh
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Heather is chuckling very much after reading what I am going to share with you. (Remember the Seinfeld episode when Jimmy spoke of himself in third person, Jimmy feels this, Jimmy feels that, etc.). Well Heather is chuckling. I remember the struggles I had with philosophy classes. My father-in-law a rather curmudgeon of a man once surprised me when I commented that I had to carry around a dictionary to read Descartes. He asked me what word I wanted to know, I told him and he gave me definition. Go figure.

Anyway in this class we had to study all the well known ones including Spinoza and Hume and many many others. I struggled with that kind of logical thinking. Who would have thunk that this book shown above would have been prime digging for a term paper in those days. Almost makes me want to go back and take a Philosophy course to ask some of the questions this book poses.

I am going to quote from page 205 to 208, enjoy she says smiling. Trust me, it is EASY to understand. The authors are so clear in their description.

“…In fact, Hume’s argument against miracles is one of the pillars of the so-called Enlightenment (that’s where we supposedly become enlightened enough to abandon our superstitious belief in miracles and put our faith in reason and empirical truths found by the scientific method). Hume’s argument helped advance the naturalistic worldview, which later metastasized with Darwin’s theory of evolution.
What follows is basically the material I presented to the audience at Harvard that day. I began by spelling out Hume’s anti-miracle argument and then moved on to critiquing it. Here is Hume’s argument is syllogistic form:

1. Natural law is by definition description of a regular occurrence.
2. A miracle is by definition a rare occurrence.
3. The evidence for the regular is always greater than for the rare.
4. A wise man always bases his belief on the greater evidence.
5. Therefore, a wise man should never believe in miracles.

If these four premises are true, then the conclusion necessarily follows –the wise man should never believe in miracles. Unfortunately for Hume and for those over the years who have believed him, the argument has a false premise –premise 3 is not necessarily true. The evidence for the regular is not always greater than that for the rare.
At first glance this might not seem to be the case. In the age of instant replay, premise 3 seems to make sense. For example, a football referee sees a play from one angle at full speed, while we get to see it from several angles in slow motion. We have greater evidence seeing a play over and over again (the regular) than does the ref who only sees it once (the rare).
But what may be true for a videotaped football game is not necessarily true for every event in life. To disprove premise 3 we only need to come up with one counterexample. We actually have several and they are from Hume’s own naturalistic worldview:

1. The origin of the universe happened only once. It was a rare, unrepeatable event, yet virtually every naturalist believes that the Big Bang evidence proves that the universe exploded into being.
2.  The origin of life happened only once. It too was a rare, unrepeatable event, yet every naturalist believes that life arose spontaneously from non-life somewhere on the earth or elsewhere in the universe.
3. The origin of new life forms also happened only once. Those rare, unrepeatable events are nevertheless dogmatically believed by most naturalists, who say it all happened by unobserved (i.e.rare) macroevolutionary processes.
4. In fact, the entire history of the world is comprised of rare, unrepeatable events. For Example David Hume’s own birth happened only once, but he had no trouble believing it occurred!

In every one of these counterexamples from Hume’s own naturalistic worldview, his third premise must be disregarded or considered false. If Hume really believed in that premise, he would not have believed in his own birth or his own naturalistic worldview!
So we know by some of these counterexamples that Hume’s third premise, and his entire argument, cannot be true. But what are the specific problems with this naturalistic kind of thinking?
First, it confuses believability with possibility. Even if premise 3 were true, the argument would not disprove the possibility of miracles; it would only question their believability. So even if you personally witnessed, say, Jesus Christ rising from dead as he predicted–if you were in the tomb, verified the body was dead, and then saw him get up and walk out of the tomb—Hume’s argument says that you (a “wise” person) shouldn’t believe it. There’s something wrong with an argument that tells you to disbelieve what you have verified to be true.
Second, Hume confuses probability with evidence. He doesn’t weigh the evidence for each rare event; rather he adds the evidence for all regular events and suggests that this somehow makes all rare events unworthy of belief. But this is flawed reasoning as well. There are many improbable (rare) events in life that we believe when we have good evidence for them…. “(Geisler gives an example of a hole in one)”…So the issue is not whether an event is regular or rare–the issue is whether we have good evidence for the event. We must weigh evidence for the event in question, not add evidence for all previous events.
Third, Hume is actually arguing in a circle. Instead of evaluating the veracity of the evidence for each miracle claim, Hume rules out belief in miracles in advance because he believes there is uniform evidence against them….”(a CS Lewis quote shows how this is circular reasoning)”….So Hume commits the same error as the Darwinists—he hides his conclusion in the premise of the argument by way of a false philosophical presupposition….Therefore, human beings may have experienced true miracles. The only way to know for sure is to investigate the evidence for each miracle claim. Assuming that each and every miracle claim is false, as Hume does, is clearly illegitimate.”

It goes on for some more about Hume, but I think this gives the gist of the argument. Then Geisler and Turek talk about how the stunned Harvard class had no questions, and how in the 1980’s he challenged a Princeton University professor to debate this. The professor asked for a copy of his presentation before the debate which was given to the professor. The professor did not show up for the debate claiming an emergency, and the meeting was canceled. I love it!!!

On Page 209 he concludes, “The reluctance to deal directly with the flaws in Hume’s argument tells us that disbelief in miracles is probably more a matter of the will than of the mind. It seems as though some people uncritically cling to David Hume’s argument because they simply don’t want to admit that God exists. But since we know that God exists, miracles are possible. Any argument against miracles that can be concocted, including that of David Hume, is destroyed by that one fact. For if there is a God who can act, there can be acts of God (miracles).”

AMEN AND AMEN to that!!!

Then he makes the perfect ending to the section on page 210, “Hume’s argument is hard to believe! We might say it’s a “miracle” so many people still believe it.”

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. What is good about this book is that the authors do not begin by using the Bible to prove points (although later on they will show that the Bible is real) but they lay out arguments that use science and logic to prove truth, absolute values, God, creation, how Darwin is false, etc. in a highly readable and understandable manner – it would be a good book to challenge an atheistic or agnostic friend to read.

Heather

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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