Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why I'm Not an Evidentialist: A Response to J Warner Wallace

Recently I came across a podcast by J. Warner Wallace titled Why I'm an Evidentialist (Podcast).

The podcast is a response to this blog post.

For those who don't know, J. Warner Wallace is the author of Cold-Case Christianity, and he is a former cold-case detective. So I can understand why for him evidence is so important.

However, as someone who used to carry a badge of authority Wallace should also understand the importance of authority and that people are convicted not merely because of the evidence but by the weight of evidence being backed up by the authority of the person presenting it.

As Christians we need to stand on the authority of God's word and not get diverted into arguing the finer points of the evidence independently of the framework of the foundations of God's word. The unbeliever can deny the evidence all they want, but their argument is not with us, but their argument is ultimately with the one that we are representing - God. And according to passages such as Romans chapter 1 everyone knows that God exists but professed unbelievers are "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness" due to being in sinful rebellion against God.
In the video 'How to Answer the Fool' Sye Ten Bruggencate tells a story that he calls "one cop town". The story is also here in 'Apologetics is easy - Believe your Bible' from 27:30 - 32:00 minutes. Please take the time to watch it because this story will help you to better see the difference between an evidentialist and a presuppositionalist. The story clearly shows the difference between an argument that is standing on the authority of evidence, and an argument that is standing on the authority of God's word.

Then from the 32 - 35 minute mark of the above video Sye discusses another analogy that a detective will be familiar with - a courtroom trial. God is not to be put on trial, but that is exactly what we are doing when presenting evidence to the unbeliever as if evidence alone was the real issue. It truly is "neglect of duty" to not stand on biblical authority as the foundation for your argument.

The Bible is to be our ultimate authority. If you have to appeal to something other than the Bible as the crux of your argument for the Bible - then that other thing is your ultimate authority. Evidence is not to be our ultimate authority as Christians - the Bible is. You can't prove biblical authority by abandoning it. If you do that you've lost before you've even begun.

I believe that there is a place for evidence, but that it needs to be used carefully and within a presuppositional framework that understands that it's not just enough to throw evidence at an unbeliever without taking their presuppositions and worldview seriously.

I wonder if Wallace has done any study of presuppositional apologetics, and if so what videos he has seen and what books he has read. I wonder too if he believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, a literal Genesis, and 'Young Earth Creation' (YEC). My observation is that evidential apologists often do not believe in YEC and then things go wrong from there on. Also I've noticed that evidential apologists seem to misunderstand and misrepresent presuppositional apologetics - which is a shame.

Around the 31-32 minute mark of the podcast Wallace said:
Again, they [Mormons] would say if you had the original text of the New Testament before it was corrupted you’d believe in the exact same kind of Jesus that we do – we’re  not creating a new form of Jesus,  we’re simply restoring what was lost.

So we have to, at some point at least, evaluate do we trust the person who is allegedly doing the restoration? That’s why for me it all comes down to the evidential case against Joseph [Smith].
(Emphasis added by me)

This shows a fundamentally different approach and foundation to faith than presuppositional apologetics. The evidential case against Joseph Smith would play a part in a presuppositional critique of Mormonism, but it is not what it "all comes down to". What it all comes down to is the authority of the Bible and the fact that Mormonism contradicts it - both the Old and New Testament - and leaves the Mormon in the position of believing internally contradictory things. They say that they believe the Bible and the book of Mormon, but in reality they don't believe the Bible - what Mormons believe is opposed to and contradictory to what the Bible teaches, and we need to show them that this is the case. I also found it telling that in the podcast Wallace did not even mention one Bible verse in his case against Mormonism.
The 20 minute YouTube video 'Mormon Teens Surround Jeff Durbin at Mormon Temple' is an example of a good presuppositional apologist that is an expert at using a presuppositional approach with Mormons. When it comes to reaching Mormons or those from other religions presuppositionalists don't just say "we presuppose the Bible is true" and leave it at that as J. Warner Wallace seems to imply in his podcast. We do an internal critique and show them the inconsistencies within their worldview - whether it be Mormonism or any other cult or false religion.

Notice how in the above video Jeff Durbin stands on God's word and uses the Bible to show them where their beliefs deviate from the Bible that they claim to believe in. A key verse he uses is Isaiah 43:10:
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

And notice the reaction - one of the teens in particular is really excited and blown away - no doubt because he's never heard this Bible verse before - a verse that totally destroys a foundational doctrine of Mormonism - that we can become gods. So no wonder he reacts!

It's interesting too that J.Warner Wallace mentions Hugh Ross as an example of a well-known apologist. I wonder if this means that he agrees with Hugh in terms of 'Old Earth Creation' (OEC) - I suspect that he does. OEC is an unbiblical compromise position that abandons biblical authority. It accepts secular scientific theories about supposed 'billions of years' and attempts to somehow fit that into the Bible.

After doing a quick Google search I found this blog post by Ken Ham that shows that Wallace seems to believe that God used the Big Bang. Ken Ham's blog post says:

"In a recent Christian Post article (Big Bang Cosmology is Consistent with Scripture?), Wallace explains his position on the big bang:
"It turns out that the primary proposal is absolutely consistent with what we see in Scripture—that God has created everything from nothing and that moment of Creation is something that I see as having good evidence to support such a thing from Big Bang Cosmology."
The problem with Wallace’s position is that the big bang view requires billions of years, which contradicts Scripture! Of course, Wallace claims that the issue of millions of years “is a separate argument.”"

The issue of millions of years is not a "separate argument", and the issue of a literal 6 day creation is not a side issue. It gets to the very heart of the issue at hand - will we believe God's infallible word, or will we doubt God's word and accept the fallible word of man? Furthermore, the issue of 'millions of years' and evolution is one of the big reasons why western nations around the world are becoming more and more secular. And sadly many Christians and churches have also become much more secularized than they realize (See 'Ken Ham's Foundations: Relevance of Genesis' - it's a must-see video).

With that all said, why am I not an evidentialist? I'm not an evidentialist because it's not the biblical approach. It abandons biblical authority and puts evidence and human reasoning above the Bible.

More reasons that are part of my case against evidential apologetics:
Video (9 min): On the Box - Presuppositional Apologetics.
Video: 6 Days of Creation and the Eisegesis Problem.
Blog post / Video: The Ultimate Proof of Creation.

For more on Mormonism from a Presuppositional approach:
www.godorabsurdity.com/mormonism.html.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hinduism and Rape

Recently I made a meme that quotes a passage from Hindu scriptures:



I'd like to discuss some objections to this passage and look some more at the issues involved.

1. There is no 6th chapter in the Brhadrankaya Upanishad

It would appear that some versions do not have the 6th chapter, and others do. For example this version is lacking the 6th chapter: http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/brhad_00.html.

However another version includes the 6th chapter and notes that it is an appendage (a later addition to the original text?)
http://www.upanishads.kenjaques.org.uk/Brihadaranyaka_Upanishad_Chapter_Six.html

2. The translation is incorrect

It's difficult for me to know which is the correct translation.

Here is the translation from the above UK webpage (The verse numbers are slightly different but it seems to be the same verse)

6.4.6
 

If man sees his reflection in water, he should recite the following Mantra: '(May the gods grant) me lustre, manhood, reputation, wealth and merits.' She (his wife) is indeed the goddess of beauty among women. Therefore he should approach this handsome woman and speak to her.

6.4.7

If she is not willing, he should buy her over; and if she is still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or with the hand and proceed, uttering the following Mantra, 'I take away your reputation,' etc. She is then actually discredited.


Beneath verse 7 there is a footnote and link to another discussion:
Edit. There is a question in the Q&A section regarding this verse. After reading it I still wonder how he knows that his interpretation of the verse is correct. It seems to me just to be a desperate attempt to explain away what it really means.

I'm still left wondering whether this translation (which does not mention sex) is correct, or whether the translation I've used for the meme is correct.

I'm also left wondering what happened to verses 9, 10, and 11 of Chapter 6.4 in the above translation with commentary. It's all a bit suspicious to me.

I got the translation for the meme from this apologetics article - An Investigation of Hindu Scripture  - and the quote is also repeated a number of times on the internet by others, including some people who seem to be Hindus.

Here's the quote again I used for my meme:

Surely, a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore, one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her. If she still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying: “I take away the splendor from you with my virility and splendor” (6.4.9,21).

Even if this translation is not correct and the other above translation is correct, the other one is still advocating beating a woman.

The other thing is that this is not the only strange verse in the Hindu Scriptures - as is indicated in the apologetics investigation of hindu scripture article above - there is some really bizarre stuff in Hindu scriptures that include gods raping a woman, bestiality, pornography, human sacrifice, racism, sexism etc.

For example:

"Formerly the gods lusted for Gautama's wife and raped her, for their wits were destroyed by lust. Then they were terrified and went to the sage Durvasas [an incarnation of Siva], who said, 'I will remove all your defilements with the Satarudriya Mantra [an ancient Saiva prayer].' Then he gave them ashes which they smeared upon their bodies, and their sins were shaken off."  (Padma Purana 4:101:174-9)

Here is an online forum where people have been discussing these troubling verses from the Hindu scriptures. http://www.hindunet.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/52908/site_id/1.

Some other questions I still have that are unanswered:

- Why is it so difficult to find information on the Hindu scriptures in English?
- How do I know which translation is the most accurate?
- Why are there no databases where I can do word and verse searches of Hindu scriptures?
- Why would it even matter whether a chapter had been added later in a religion that teaches that all is one and there are no distinctions?
- Is there anywhere in the Hindu scriptures that condemn evil acts such as rape (or calls anything evil or morally wrong given that there are no distinctions in Hinduism and the gods are rapists too)?

For more on Hinduism see my website page here: www.godorabsurdity.com/hinduism.html.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Response to Alex Botten on Rape in Deuteronomy 22

This is a discussion on the topic of rape and morality in the Bible in response to Alex Botten's attempt to malign the Bible and make it out to be an immoral book. Jason Peterson from 'Answers for Hope', Dustin Segers and I discuss the context of Deuteronomy 22 and critique Alex's flawed attempt at explaining morality without God. (For the context of this video and my full blog post response from the other day see Alex Botten vs Surfer Brendan.)


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Alex Botten vs Surfer Brendan (Me) - Morality and Rape

A few days ago I made the following meme:


Alex Botten responded to this meme after I posted it on Google+, and after avoiding my questions about how he accounts for objective morality (by which he is attacking the Bible), eventually he made this YouTube video:

"Surfer Brendan, Please Explain your Position" (2 min 32 sec - Update: The video seems to have been taken down.)

(For more on Hinduism, and another similar verse to the one above where Hindu gods are said to have raped someone, see my website page on Hinduism here:
http://www.godorabsurdity.com/hinduism.html)

The discussion between Alex and I has already gone back and forth on Google+, and it took a long time for Alex to admit that he doesn't believe in objective morality. I can understand him being reluctant to admit that because it undermines his whole argument against the Bible's morality. (For more on morality see my blog post "Proof God Exists From Morality". The video on that blog post shows the massive problems with abandoning objective morality.)

As for Alex's explanation of morality being whatever causes the most good and least harm for people - it is totally begging the question - who decides what is causing the most good? A rapist could argue that the most good is being caused when he rapes women because he's spreading his superior genes, and Alex would have no real grounds for any rational objection to that because he doesn't believe in objective morality. I'm sure that he'd say that nearly everyone agrees that rape is wrong - but so what? This is the fallacy of appeal to the majority. Majority opinion does not determine right or wrong. If the majority of Germans supported Hitler's regime would that make it right? If the majority of people professed to believe that God exists, would that then prove that God exists? Alex says he would have fought against the Germans in WWII - but upon what basis does he know that Hitler was wrong in what he was doing? Hitler would argue that in the long term his regime would bring about the least suffering for people by wiping out the weak - isn't that what evolution teaches is the way to advance evolution?

I usually don't take the time to go into these kinds of issues with professed atheists, because everyone interprets things based on their presuppositions. So no matter what I say, Alex will almost certainly not accept it, but will interpret the Bible how he wants to - which usually is to try to take verses out of context and make them look as bad as he can possibly make them. But to show Alex, and other professed atheists that I do actually know the Bible and do actually have good reasons for what I believe, I've written a response to Alex's objections. I also hope that it will be helpful for other Christians who get the same kinds of objections and wonder how to respond.


2 Problems With Rape (According to Alex):

1. Rape victim being forced to marry her rapist

2.
Rape victim stoned to death if she doesn’t cry out while being raped in the city

Examination of the Alleged Problems

1. Rape victim being forced to marry her rapist

Deuteronomy 22:28–29 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found,   then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.”

From creation.com article "Evil Bible Fallacies":

To understand the reason behind this law, it is necessary to point out a few details. First, the Hebrew word here is simply the word “to have sexual relations with”; some English translations simply interpret this as “rape.” In the ancient world, women were so closely guarded by their families that it is possible that in this instance, it is not rape at all, and that the woman was willing. Furthermore, even in the case of rape, the woman might well demand that the man marry her because she would be unmarriageable. See 2 Samuel 13:1–22 for an instance where a rape victim demanded marriage. [Amnon raped Tamar, and Tamar demanded that he marry her, but Amnon refused. This event was not condoned by God, and the Bible sometimes records events that God did not condone but expressly condemned either in the passage or elsewhere in the Bible.]

Additional thoughts from me:

- The text does not say rape.

- In this case it would be an act of mercy for the man to be forced to marry her. So the man is being forced to marry the woman – not the other way around. It is quite possible (probable?) that if the woman did not want to be married in this situation then she did not have to agree to the marriage.

- Back then there was no social welfare system like we have today – although the tithing system did also provide for the poor. So to be unable to marry, for a woman was a harsh punishment in a time when men were the main bread-winners.

2. Rape victim stoned to death if she doesn’t cry out while being raped in the city

Deuteronomy 22:23–24 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her,   then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”


From creation.com Evil Bible article:

Like the above, this law uses the word for “to have sexual relations with”; some modern translations assume the meaning “rape” but this is not in the original. This refers specifically to engaged women (in the ancient world engagement was as legally binding as marriage and required a divorce to cancel) who are inside a town. As closely-packed as ancient towns were, she would be helped if she screamed; since she did not scream, there is an assumption that it was not rape, but adultery.

Furthermore, why is the atheist concerned? Two atheistic evolutionists wrote a book with the horrifying claim that men rape for evolutionary reasons [1]—one of them squirmed in an interview to justify why rape should be considered wrong under his worldview. [2]

Further thoughts from me:

- So again, this is not clearly even talking about rape, and these are the two most problematic “rape” texts that Alex has been able to find. Neither of them are clearly even about rape when we look at the context!

- Above I’ve used the ESV, but the NIV brings out the more happenstance nature of what seems to be inferred, rather than it being actual rape. It says:
“If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her,” (Emphasis mine).

- In the OT the death penalty was prescribed for adultery – although there is not even one case in the Bible where this was actually carried out. This was the maximum possible penalty, but the OT laws allowed for contextual considerations to be taken into account. For example there needed to be at least 2 witnesses.

According to Wikipedia's Crime and Punishment in the Bible article:

There is some question as to whether the death penalty was invariably or even usually implemented in ancient Israel, or whether this was even the intention of the Tanakh (c.f. Numbers 35:31). "It must be noted that the death penalty might also indicate the seriousness of the crime without calling for the actual implementation of it in every case. In fact, there is little evidence that many of these sanctions were ever actually carried out in ancient Israel. Only in the case of premeditated murder was there the added stricture of 'Do not accept a ransom for the life of the murderer who deserves to die' (Num 35:31). . . . Traditional wisdom, both in the Jewish and Christian communities, interpreted this verse in Numbers 35:31 to mean that out of the almost twenty cases calling for capital punishment in the Old Testament, every one of them could have the sanction commuted by an appropriate substitute of money or anything that showed the seriousness of the crime, but in the case of what we today call first-degree murder, there was never to be offered or accepted any substitute or bargaining of any kind: the offender had to pay with his or her life".[26] It is also of note that the Bible required at least two or three witnesses to convict someone of a crime, so executions would be rare under such a strict requirement. [27]

- To those who have a problem with the death penalty being too harsh – the question isn’t whether or not you “like” something or “dislike” it but whether it is right or wrong. And you can’t get objective morality without God, so Alex has no objective basis to criticize the Bible’s morality other than his own opinion which carries no more weight than the opposite opinion. In an evolutionary worldview rape could actually be right, because it could help ensure the survival of the strongest and fittest.

- For more on a biblical view of the death penalty see this article here: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=683.

-This is a good general article discussing rules and laws in the Bible: http://creation.com/bible-awful-rules (This article also mentions about how the OT laws stated the maximum possible penalty, and how it was not always rigidly applied).

- David committed adultery (with Bathsheba) but God was merciful and David was not put to death. http://www.gotquestions.org/death-penalty.html.

Further accusation from Alex – God is subjective in his moral decrees

This is just ridiculous. God is not merely arbitrary or merely having his own opinion as if God were a human being who is no better than us. God’s thinking is perfect – he is God! Morality within a biblical worldview is a reflection of the moral character of God – the one true God who is by definition perfect.

Full Response Video Discussion

See my blog post A Response to Alex Botten on Rape.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Top Ten Lies of Christianity - Refuted

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIbSRmgXtW8
The YouTube video "The Top Ten Lies of Christianity" was brought to my attention today by a skeptic, and I felt it was worth taking the time to refute the false claims. It's by a professed atheist satanist, Styxhexenhammer666 (I'll call him Styx from here on), about whom I've already written a blog post - Why I Left Christianity and Became a Satanist.

Before discussing specifically what Styx says, I'd like to point out that all evidence is evaluated based on our presuppositions. I don't accept that there are any lies in the Bible, but lies presuppose truth, and you can't get truth without God. So even criticizing Christianity presupposes it is true.

I also want to point out that God is the Judge, not us. Anyone who sits in judgment over God's word and deliberately twists Bible verses or deliberately spreads lies about Christianity to promote their own anti-God agenda will give an account of their lives on the Day of Judgment, and the Bible warns that, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31). God will judge all who love lies rather than love God and love truth. (Or put another way, those who love lies create their own anti-reality and judge themselves.)

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)

But to show the critics that there is evidence to refute all of Styx's accusations here we go...

Here are what Styx says are the top 10 lies of Christianity:


10. Evolution lacks evidence

- That's not a lie. It's true. It does lack evidence.

As evidence for evolution he mentions the following things:

(i) The Fossil record

- "While Darwin predicted that the fossil record would show numerous transitional fossils, even a century and a half later, all we have are a handful of disputable examples." (Dr Jonathan Sarfati)

The fact is that the missing links are still missing. All the fossils for ape to man evolution are either fully ape, or fully human.

Also, the fossil record is great evidence for the global flood as it contains exactly what we'd expect to find if there really was a worldwide flood - billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth. For more information see here.


(ii) - Genetics 

- "Goo-to-you evolution requires millions of information-adding mutations to generate the encyclopaedic information in the genome, but it’s doubtful that we have observed even one."
(Dr Jonathan Sarfati).

For more on the impossibility of evolution from what we know about genetics see the following article - http://creation.com/the-evolution-trains-a-comin.

(iii) Archeology - the human race has been shown to have changed in the archeological record

- No it hasn't - it's only changed in the imagination of people who make secular museum exhibits. So called cave men, were just people who lived in caves, and were no less human or less intelligent than we are. (In fact they were probably more intelligent than we are.)

From https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/ancient-technology/geniuses-not-brutes/

Archeology again and again has confirmed the truth of the Bible. (See Q & A on Archeology at Creation.com here.)

(iv) Common sense - microevolution therefore macroevolution given enough time.

- His logic is sound on this one, and is the reason why Christians should not use the term "microevolution". There is no evidence for microevolution in terms of an increase in genetic information. A better term to use rather than microevolution is 'speciation', or 'variation within kinds'.

The following is from CMI's list of Arguments we think creationists should NOT use:

“Creationists believe in microevolution but not macroevolution.” These terms, which focus on ‘small’ v. ‘large’ changes, distract from the key issue of information. That is, particles-to-people evolution requires changes that increase genetic information (e.g., specifications for manufacturing nerves, muscle, bone, etc.), but all we observe is sorting and, overwhelmingly, loss of information. We are hardpressed to find examples of even ‘micro’ increases in information, although such changes should be frequent if evolution were true. Conversely, we do observe quite ‘macro’ changes that involve no new information, e.g. when a control gene is switched on or off. Importantly, the term microevolution will be seen by many as just a ‘little bit’ of the process that they think turned bacteria to people. In other words, it implies that simply given enough time (millions of years), such ‘micro’ changes will accumulate to amount to ‘macro’ changes. But this is not so; see The evolution train’s a-comin’: (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction).
Interestingly, even high profile evolutionists (e.g. Mayr, Ayala) disagree with the idea that the observed small changes in living things are sufficient to account for the grand scheme of microbes-to-mankind evolution.

9. The Bible is a reliable historical guide 

This is true. The Bible has never been proven false in any matter of history, despite having been heavily criticised. Again and again the Bible has been confirmed true by archeological findings. The following 5 minute video is a great overview of some of the evidence we have supporting the historical accuracy of the Bible.


Styx says there is dispute as to things that happened
- So what? Some people dispute that 9/11 happened. Of course people who reject God's word are going to dispute things that are in the Bible.

Certainly the NT was not written at the date it occurred.


- Again - so what? Just because something is written later doesn't make it false, especially in this case where it was written by God through men.

OT Exodus - no archeological evidence for crossing of the Red Sea.

- An argument from silence is a very weak argument if not a fallacy.

Note - Christians should be very skeptical of any claims by Ron Wyatt. From Arguments creationists should NOT use:

  Ron Wyatt has found much archaeological proof of the Bible There is not the slightest substantiation for Wyatt’s claims, just excuses to explain away why the evidence is missing.

No evidence that slaves built the pyramids.

- This is false. There is evidence to support the Bible here. http://creation.com/the-pyramids-of-ancient-egypt.

8. Charles Darwin converted to Christianity before his death 

I agree - this is not true. Again from Arguments we think creationists should NOT use:

Darwin recanted on his deathbed”. Many people use this story, originally from a Lady Hope. However, it is almost certainly not true, and there is no corroboration from those who were closest to him, even from Darwin’s wife Emma, who never liked evolutionary ideas. Also, even if true, so what? If a prominent creationist recanted Creation, would that disprove it? There is no value to this argument whatever.

7. Noah's Ark has been found

I agree. Noah's Ark has not been found despite a number of false alerts and hoaxes. However this doesn't mean the Flood never happened. He's implying that because the Ark hasn't been found that it never existed, but this is using the fallacy of argument from silence again.

No reliable evidence for flood ever happening in geological record.

- What would he accept as valid geological evidence if he won't accept the billions of fossils that point towards a global catastrophe? There are none so blind as those who will not see...

Mentions local area flood

- This is a straw man argument that assumes the flood was local, but the Bible is clear that it was a global Flood.

6. The Ica Stones prove humans and dinosaurs coexisted

I agree that the Ica stones don't prove anything, but these stones, and a lot of other evidence all point towards the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs. Ultimately though the proof that humans and dinosaurs coexisted is that the Bible is true and the Bible has all creatures including animals and humans being created in the space of a few days during the creation week. http://www.icr.org/men-dinosaurs/.

5. The sounds of hell prove Hell exists

I had never heard this one before. I didn't need to check to know it's not true, but I found this article about it that discusses this clearly ridiculous story. http://creation.com/screams-from-the-earth.

4. Many scientists convert to Christianity, feeling their work leads them to believe in Jesus

I agree with Styx that this does happen sometimes, but that the majority of scientists are not Christians. Either way it's irrelevant, as to argue that Christianity is true because of this kind of thing is a bad argument - it's the bandwagon fallacy. Christianity is true because the Bible is true, not because of who believes or doesn't believe it is true.

Those with higher education tend to be more likely to be agnostic and atheist.


- Yes, this does tend to be the case although not exclusively. The most likely reason for this is the unbiblical nature of secular education, and the peer pressure that exists in academia to not be Christian. www.religionnews.com/2013/08/16/are-atheists-smarter-than-believers-not-exactly/.

The more intelligent people are the more unlikely they are to be involved in religion.- Some studies seem to have shown this correlation. A big reason for this could be related to that which I've just mentioned - the hostility against Christianity that exists in higher academia. Another issue could be related to pride. I'd also like to point out that there are many very highly educated and intelligent Christians such as Jonathan Sarfati who have extremely high IQs and are PhD scientists as well as being creationists. (Sarfati is a former New Zealand chess master, and once drew against the world chess grand master.)

3. The existence of Jesus is indisputable.

This isn't a lie - it is indisputable - to any sane person at least who objectively looks at the evidence.

"The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence." (Paul L. Maier) (https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/incarnation/jesus-did-not-exist/)

There is no other figure in antiquity who is better attested to than Jesus, so to deny his existence, while not questioning the existence of people like Julius Caesar is to have a double standard. It is also a massive philosophical bias - why is the Bible automatically excluded as valid evidence? http://carm.org/jesus-exist.

The earliest books mentioning Jesus are up to 50 or 60 years from the date Jesus died. Someone as interesting as Jesus wouldn't have taken decades for him to be written about.


- What does the date something is written have to do with its truth? Most people those days were uneducated anyway.

Why is it that contemporary historians didn't write about him?

- Luke was a Doctor and contemporary of Jesus, and his approach bares the hallmarks of a careful historian. http://creation.com/quirinius-census-luke.

What Styx is really asking is why is it that contemporary non-biblical historians didn't write about him? Perhaps they did, and we just haven't found what they wrote yet. Most probably they knew about him, but like Styx they were desperately trying to suppress the truth about Him. Did any non-biblical historians deny Jesus of Nazareth existed? Crickets chirping on that one.

And we do have Josephus - a first century historian who lived not long after the time of Jesus who wrote about Jesus:

Josephus (AD 37–c.100, Jewish military leader and historian): Wrote about Jesus on two occasions. The authenticity of one occurrence, known as the Testimonium Flavianum, is hotly disputed, but his account of the execution of James is generally accepted, and he mentioned James, “the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.” (https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/incarnation/jesus-did-not-exist/)

It's a possibility that Jesus was just a fable.

- No, it's not. The Bible is true and you can't get truth without God.

2. The King James version of the Bible of the bible is an accurate, unchanged, 

Well I'm not a KJV-only person, and I'd agree that the KJV is not the most accurate Bible version available today, but the things that are different are very minor issues.

The Gospel of Thomas, Mary, Judas, and the book of Enoch were left out of the Canon at the Council of Nicea, because Jesus was depicted in them as just a teacher and not a god. Females were empowered. Too confrontational towards authority figures.- This is just nonsense. The Scriptures weren't decided on at the council of Nicea (325AD). Christians already knew what the true gospels were, and the council of Nicea just formally recognised what was already known. https://answersingenesis.org/the-word-of-god/why-66/.

For more on why the Gospel of Thomas and other non-biblical books are not part of the Bible see this article: https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/is-the-bible-enough/.


1. The book of Revelation refers to the Apocalypse at a future date

Again, this isn't a lie. This is correct.

Styx says this is probably the biggest lie in Christianity, and that it was written symbolically to represent ancient Rome and Nero Caesar's name adds to 666. If you read the book in the context of addressing the tyrannical rulers of Rome, you see dozens and dozens of parallels between what was happening then and what is written. - While it is true that the book of Revelation was written to encourage Christians who were experiencing persecution at the hands of the Romans and Nero, it was also written with the future apocalypse in mind. So it's not one or the other - it's both. It deals with contemporary events of the time and future events and uses symbolism that made sense to the early Christians who received the letter.

Why didn't the end of the world come during the time of Jesus?

- Jesus never said the end of the world would come during his lifetime or the lifetime of the first Christians. The Bible specifically says that in the end times scoffers / mockers would come mocking God.



For more on this topic see the following article - http://www.gotquestions.org/this-generation-not-pass.html.

Doesn't make any logical sense.- Logic and sense both presuppose God, but Styx is suppressing the truth.

Know the truth.

-
Truth presupposes God. How do you get truth without God? How do you determine truth? It's not just a case of using Wikipedia or Google because anything that you find online (apart from the Bible) is a mixture of truth and error. And without God you've got no way of knowing which is which.

No pyramids built during the Exodus period.
- This is false as you will see from the Egypt article above.

99% of theologians agree revelation was written about Rome and not written about the future at all.


- This is just nonsense. It was written about Rome AND the future return of Jesus. Nearly all Bible scholars agree on that. In fact you'd have a hard time finding even 1% of theologians who would argue that the book of Revelation was only written about Rome and not also about future events.

This would have to be the biggest lie that Styx has told in this whole video, which is ironic as he calls it Christianity's greatest lie. Anyone who reads Revelation will see that it has many verses talking about the future return of Jesus and the future Apocalypse.

When Jesus returns the second time he will come as Judge, so if you haven't yet done so I urge you to repent and to put your faith in Jesus.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Discussion with a PhD Philosopher (An Informal Debate)




This is the latter stages of a discussion I've been having with Kris Rhodes, who has a PhD in Philosophy and teaches Philosophy at Martin University. Our discussion has been going back and forth over the last few days on my 'God or Absurdity' Facebook page, but it got too long to post it all on Facebook, and I felt that the discussion would be helpful for others, so I've decided to post it here. His responses are bracketed by //  // and in bold and my responses follow. Bold italics within quotation marks is where Kris has re-posted something I've said previously in our discussion.

Hi Kris,

Thanks for discussing these things with me. You've been respectful, civil, and patient throughout, and I greatly appreciate that. I've posted the above meme, because I think it's relevant. I hope you don't misunderstand it or take offense from it. I can see that you are a very intelligent person, however from a biblical perspective you've chosen a foolish worldview by denying God. Because of that you're left without any real foundation for knowledge or truth, and have no way of really knowing anything, despite your many years of study in order to acquire your PhD. You may feel that you're not deny God. When I say that I mean that you are trying to build your worldview without acknowledging God as the necessary presupposition for knowledge. And from a biblical perspective there is no neutral ground - you are either for God or against him, gathering or scattering, God's friend or God's enemy.

//You’ve been very generous with your replies and I appreciate that. I’ll answer each of your questions. Here at the top, I want to make sure certain points don’t get lost. You’ve gotten caught up in two crucial problems here and it will help you out enormously to think them through. I’m here to help you with that. (And BTW if there are any readers following this conversation, I’m here to help _you_ with that as well. I am up for any number of conversations about these and any other philosophical matters any time. I want to help you think things through. All friend invites will be accepted.)//

Thanks. Helping people is a biblical concept, so you’re once again showing that in your heart of hearts you do know God. Your actions and desires in many areas do not line up with what you profess to believe. Why help anyone if we are ultimately just evolved pond scum and it’s all going to end in heat death anyway? I’m assuming you believe those things right? Or at the very least, based on what you've said so far you're skeptical that the biblical God is true.

// So, first the problems, then me answering each of your questions. First problem concerns axioms. In fact, I did not think that God’s existence is axiomatic for you when I first asked if you’d deny there are axioms in your own thinking. Exactly as you say, you have a proof for that claim. What I thought (and still do) is axiomatic for you is one of the premises in that proof: the claim “Without God it’s impossible to prove anything.”//


I think you’ve misunderstood the full argument. God is not merely the conclusion of the presuppositional argument. He’s the necessary starting point to even BEGIN arguing about anything. So by arguing against my position you’re proving it to be true by assuming knowledge logic and truth which you can’t account for in your worldview (despite trying). I’ve also realised that you’ve got a double standard by retreating to ‘it’s axiomatic’ in your previous answer relating to objective morality and human dignity. I’m pretty sure you’d be calling me out if I just said ‘it’s axiomatic’ with any claims relating to God.

// As far as I can tell, this claim functions axiomatically for you. It is something you currently have no proof for, but assert confidently nevertheless.//

I’ve given proof previously but you don’t accept it. Proof does not equal persuasion. As I said before, the proof that God exists is that without him you can’t prove anything. And you’re answers have confirmed this to be the case. Even the concept of proof presupposes God because proof presupposes logic, knowledge, truth, and the reliability of our minds – and you can’t account for any of those without God.

// Again, there’s nothing wrong with this—everyone has to start somewhere. The question is how you will respond when you are pushed on this axiom.//

As I said, God isn’t an axiom. But yes, everyone has to start somewhere. I start with God. You start with your own independent reasoning, which you’ve yet to show is in any way reliable or valid to any degree. What is more, my worldview is internally consistent, whereas yours is not, and falls apart on closer inspection, as you can't account for anything you claim to know. It turns out that the very things that unbelievers take for granted (the reliability of their senses, morality, human dignity etc) are the very things they can't account for without God.

// I may be wrong and you may have a proof for that claim. But of course, that proof will rest on premises.//

As above. Proof presupposes truth and truth presupposes God.

// And if none of those are axioms, there will be proofs for them. And so on. Because you cannot have thought about this for an infinite amount of time, it follows that somewhere down the chain is a claim which you have asserted but which you have not proved for yourself. That’s an axiom.//

You’re arguing against a straw man. God isn’t the mere conclusion to the argument but then necessary starting point and foundation for all knowledge. God is the only solution to the problem of the infinite regression related to how we know things.

// You said axioms can’t be proven, but that is false. Axioms can be proven, it is just that they typically aren’t. They are statements one is licensed to make without having offered a proof, but this does not mean they can’t be proven.//

My understanding is that by definition axioms can’t be proven – they are ultimate standards that are assumed to be true. If you have to go outside of an ultimate standard to prove it then it's not an ultimate standard - that other outside thing would be. Axioms are assumed to be true as they are self-evident. The problem is self-evident to whom? The existence of logic is a good example. Try proving that logic exists without using logic – it can’t be done.

// A final confusion regarding axioms—from what you’ve said it appears you think what a person treats as axiomatic is permanent. But this also isn’t so. As I’ve tried to intimate in my own posts, there are claims that people treat as axiomatic, but those claims can be questioned, and when they are questioned, a person has the ability to go beyond the axiomaticity of the statement and evaluate it according to some standard or other. This is part of what it means to revise beliefs based on evidence.//

You’ve gone from axioms, to beliefs. There is a big difference. But I don't want to get bogged down on this. The issue is - is God necessary for knowledge? I say yes. You say no. But by abandoning God and arguing God isn't necessary for knowledge you're abandoning the necessary starting point in order to know anything. Saying that God isn't necessary for knowledge is akin to saying that words don't exist and aren't necessary for communication.

// That’s the axiom problem. Next the knowledge problem. You’ve defined knowledge previously as justified true belief. I have made remarks about whether this is or is not the “standard definition” but that’s presently beside the point—you’ve offered the definition, and by offering it, endorsed it. It’s what you think knowledge is. Yet in this last post you said “If you say you’re not certain of something, then you don’t really know it.” That claim is incompatible with your definition.//

If you’d like to bring a different definition of knowledge to the table that you ACTUALLY believe, then we can examine that. I’m not interested though in discussing things that neither of us believe. It'd be like discussing whether the moon is made of green cheese. Neither of us believe it so there isn't any point in discussing it. Justified true belief seems to be the most commonly accepted theory of knowledge, and it’s the one that makes the most sense from a biblical perspective.

// It seems, instead, to rely on a definition of knowledge as certainty.//

If you aren’t certain of something then it’s probably because you can’t justify it. But I still want to know how you know anything at all to any degree.

// It would appear, then, that you’re not sure what knowledge is.

//
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." 
(Proverbs 1:7).

//You sometimes think it is justified true belief (a definition which implies that you can know things without being certain of them, since you can believe a truth justifiedly without being certain of it), and you sometimes think that knowledge requires certainty. It will be very helpful to you to think through this and decide which (if either!) understanding of knowledge really is your understanding of knowledge. As I said above, I’m here to help with this in any way you’re willing to let me help you.//


Forget certainty – I want to know how you know anything to ANY degree? You’ve yet to justify how you know even ONE thing to even ONE degree. And we’ve yet to determine how you know you aren’t insane.

// Finally, a problem concerning certainty. It is clear you believe you have certainty about some things. I think (though here I could easily be wrong in which case you’ll want to ignore this paragraph) what you think is that you have what I call “absolute certainty.” This means you don’t just feel like you can’t be wrong, but rather, you feel like you can’t be wrong _because_ you actually can’t be wrong, about certain things.//

Yes, it’s impossible for me to be wrong about some things such as the existence of God, because if you abandon it you can’t make sense of ANYTHING, as your answers have made clear. I know that God exists by revelation from God, AND by the impossibility of the contrary - you can't get knowledge and truth without God.

// But the problem is, this kind of certainty is impossible,//

Are you absolutely certain of that? You’ve made a knowledge claim that is an absolute statement – ‘this kind of certainty is impossible’ – that’s an absolute knowledge statement and by saying it’s impossible you’re saying you’re certain of it – so it’s self-refuting – are you certain that we can’t have certain knowledge?

// because you can be wrong about everything (with the possible exception I alluded to earlier along the lines of ‘this experience has a subject’). //

That’s absurd. If you could be wrong about everything then you could be wrong about being wrong, and it follows that you don't know anything. You’ve also not yet shown how you know even that one thing you claim to know.

//Here is why that kind of certainty is impossible. Not God, but a very powerful evil scientist, could bring it about that you have all and exactly the very same impressions you currently have, and yet be wrong about all those impressions. God would never lie to you, but your belief in God is unfortunately compatible with the possibility that it wasn’t God who put the belief in you but a very powerful evil scientist.//

That's a variation on the evil demon argument, or the brain in a vat argument, but neither are possible. How do I know? By revelation from God such that I’m certain. To deny that you’d have to argue that God is not all powerful, which would not be God. It would be intellectually dishonest to argue that an all powerful God could not reveal some things to me such that I can know them for certain, and God has revealed to me for certain that I'm not a brain in a vat and that I'm not being deceived about the existence of the biblical God.

The other thing is that my argument is not based on my own subjective revelation - it's objective and available to everyone in the Bible. So even if you could somehow prove that I'm insane or a brain in a vat (which you can't) it would not disprove the existence of God. The lying God argument is another variation on this, but that's self-refuting because of God could lie you couldn't make sense of anything. (See my other blog post - The Deceptive God Argument Refuted).

// No one thinks this is true, but that your experience is _compatible_ with it means that, however certain you are that it’s not true, you are not _absolutely_ certain of it. To be absolutely certain (in the sense I just defined) it would have to be the case that the scenario is impossible. And it’s not.//

I know the scenario is false by revelation from God.

// Those are the problems. Now to answer your questions. “You’re satisfied with truth being a characteristic that we use. Where did you get that idea from?” When doing logic, truth is a characteristic we assign to elements. I’m satisfied with that.//
It doesn’t make any sense. What does that actually mean? Is truth that which corresponds to reality – yes or no? Why or why not?


// I got the idea from the study of logic in pursuit of my MA several years ago.//


Is it your own idea or do other philosophers believe such vague and absurd definitions of truth?

// “Is logic man-made?”  Yes. //

If logic is just man-made then would it be possible for the earth to exist and not exist at the same time before people existed? By denying the transcendent God, and the laws of logic which are absolute because they are a reflection of the thinking and unchanging character of God, you've put yourself into an absurd position where illogical things could happen if minds didn't exist.

//You said I denied that there are absolute laws of logic, but I actually affirmed that any statement that is necessarily true in a logical system is necessarily true in that logical system.// "Why is it necessarily true that logic always applies?” I don’t think I said that, but I’d affirm it in a sense, which I’d explicate as follows. A logic is a method of evaluating reasoning.//

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be used or need to apply at all times because you’ve said logic is man-made. More and more you’re showing your worldview is built on sand. You’re stealing from my worldview to even have this discussion in a logical fashion. Why MUST I be logical in my answers if logic is just man-made? Why do logical laws always apply? Because everyone agrees on them? (The bandwagon fallacy).

// Any time we reason about something, we are using a method. Hence any time we reason about something, we’re using a logic. So then—whatever the situation we’re reasoning about, by virtue of our reasoning about it, a logic applies.//

Not according to your worldview. There is no reason why logic should always apply if it’s just man-made.

I think you’ve missed one of my questions. I asked you previously how you know your reasoning is valid, and you gave me a non-answer that said something along the lines of you believe it’s valid because it works most of the time for you.

But that answer presupposes and assumes a priori that your reasoning is valid. Did you use your reasoning when you checked to see if your reasoning is valid? That’s the folly of denying God – you have no way out of using your reasoning to validate your reasoning. You reason that your reasoning is valid, sense that your senses are valid, and remember that your memory is reliable.

Also to say that you assume your reasoning is reliable because it works is fallacious too. Just because something works doesn’t make it right or true. If I had noisy neighbors I could shoot them dead – that would “work” to get silence – but clearly it wouldn’t be right and clearly it wouldn’t mean that my reasoning was valid – in that case my insanity would actually be working at achieving the desired outcomes so I could conclude that my reasoning was valid, when actually I’d just killed people!

Part 2  

“Can a system of beliefs that has contradictions be true?”



“I feel like you're back peddling and avoiding my questions. Is the law of non-contradiction a universal law that always applies? You've called it a principle. Is it a principle that usually applies, or is it a law that always applies? I'm not sure exactly what you mean here. If any two beliefs are contradictory then they can't both be true.”

//Good questions. If we model the way humans actually think, knowing that humans often contradict themselves, we’re going to have to have an element in our model that reflects affirmation, an element that reflects implication, and either an element or a function on the affirmation element that reflects denial. The affirmation element is what it would be most natural to call the “truth predicate” in this system. But you’re hitting on a good point—what’s being modeled there isn’t “truth” in the sense in which we use the term in natural language. It’s more like (as I said) “affirmation.”//

Sorry but it sounds like philosophical mumbo jumbo to me. Things are either true or false. None of this affirmation nonsense. If you believe something that is false then you don’t actually know it. For example “I know that Elvis Presley is the current president of the USA”. Clearly I couldn’t know that because it’s false. Do you agree with that? 
//The logic of how human beings affirm and deny things doesn’t follow a law of non-contradiction. //

Again I'm sorry but that sounds like more nonsense to me.

//But it would be misleading to imply that there’s a sense in which contradictory statements can be true based on this fact about how human beings think. If I implied that, I should take it back.//

I agree but it’s got nothing to do with feelings as you seem to be suggesting.

// But here’s the important meat of what I’ve been saying. In the logic of how humans actually think, statements of the form “P & not-P” can appear in proofs without causing a problem, so long as you build the logic right.//

I’m not sure what you’re saying here. The law of non-contradiction is an absolute law that can’t be violated.

// And this logic will be useful for modeling how humans think, while standard predicate logic (in which contradictions can’t be true) will _not_ be useful for modeling how humans think.//


So some “logic” can be non-standard and allow for contradictions? That’s what you seem to be implying but that’s nonsense.

// So to reiterate what I’ve been saying—in standard predicate logic (and several other logics) you will never see a true contradiction.//


In NO kind of logic can you see true contradictions.

// And these logics are useful for modeling all sorts of things. (Practically everything you’d need to reason about in an everyday context.) But they’re not useful for modeling everything. That I will never affirm a contradiction is just a result of the fact that the tool I use for thinking things through and affirming and denying things has non-contradiction built in.//

Built in? By whom? It’s amazing to see the mental gymnastics you’re doing to avoid the obvious conclusion that God exists and is necessary to account for things like laws of logic. Yes, we’re all hardwired by God to know that the law of non-contradiction can’t be violated. We all use it every day without thinking about it.


//You asked whether I know things. The answer is yes, I know things. As I've said before, my current working theory of knowledge is that to know something is to believe something that is true, for good reasons, using faculties which can be used systematically to track truths.//
“How do you know that?”
//How do I know that’s what knowledge is? Well, as I said, it’s a working theory of mine. What makes me think it’s true is the fact that it seems to track how we use the word “knowledge.” When we say people know things, we seem to be saying they believe something that is true, for good reasons, using faculties which can be used systematically to track truths.//

The problem you’ve got and the reason you’re sounding so tentative is because without God you’ve got no way of knowing that (or anything). You’ve yet to show how you know that you aren’t insane or a brain in a vat.

//Or did you mean how do I know I know things? More specifically, how do I know I’m talking to a person right now for example? Because the responses I’m getting back are the kinds of responses that people give.//

I meant both things. And your answers are still begging the question. An insane person could say the same things, and you could in fact be saying all of these things to your psychiatrist right now, and you’d have no way of knowing it.

“Does this truth you talk about have any grounding in objective reality? Why don't you use the more common theory that truth is what conforms to reality? Is this because you don't believe external reality exists? Are you a solipsist?”

//Not a solipsist, do think external reality exists.//

You think reality exists, but you don’t know it and have yet to justify how you could know it or anything.

// I think truth as conformation to reality is a subset of the things we call true.//

Just a subset? You’re putting the cart before the horse. The logic that we use is a subset of ultimate reality.

// Truth in general is simply a characteristic assigned to elements in a logic. But if we’re trying to model reality (there are other things we might try to model than reality!) the most typical way to go is to intend the truth-characteristic in our logic to map to facts in the part of reality we’re modeling.//

Can you see that this just sounds like mumbo jumbo? Truth is truth. If it doesn’t conform to reality then it’s not really true.

//Which leads (as you ask next) to the question of what facts are.//

“Do those "facts" correspond to objective reality?”



//Facts don’t correspond to reality,//

Woah. Then they’re not really facts, and are merely false opinions that people are calling facts.

// facts are what is out there in reality.//

What does that even mean? You seem to be contradicting yourself. I think it's because you're using two different meanings for facts - one being things that people call facts but may or may not be true, and the other being facts that corresponds to objective reality. Either way, you've got no way of knowing for sure how any facts correspond to objective reality.

// I think I’m making a technical distinction here which isn’t always reflected in natural language,//

Agreed. You’re speaking philosophese, and to anyone else reading it I think they'll see it as nonsense.

// so let me be clear: Facts aren’t true statements, rather, facts are what true statements are true statements _of_. A statement isn’t (in this technical sense) a fact, rather, a true statement is a statement “of fact.”//

My head is starting to spin from the spin doctoring you’re doing as you desperately try to explain things that you've got no real way of knowing. 

//So when we’re using a logic to model some aspect of the world, the usual way of doing things is to intend the logic’s truth-characteristic to map to facts. In other words, each time an element in the logic has “true” assigned to it, there should be a part of the world that element maps to and that part of the world should be a fact. This is where the idea comes from that truth is correspondence to reality.//

I really am not sure exactly what you’re talking about and I get the feeling that you don’t really know if what you’re saying is true or not but you’re just taking stabs in the dark based on the majority opinion of others in the dark with you. This is because you’ve got no ultimate “map” to actually guide you as to what truth and reality really look like. As Christians we’ve got a map to refer to that helps guide our thinking – the Bible which is God’s true revelation. 

“How do you know that your thoughts aren't just floating through the ether?”



//Because nothing in my experience has ever suggested it to be so.//

Question begging fallacy yet again.

Part 3

//Something should be said here about contextualism concerning knowledge. Think for a moment about round things. I draw you a circle, ask you “is it round?” and you reply in the affirmative. Then I look at you significantly, and ask you with raised eyebrows, “is it _really_ round?” Now you start looking for imperfections and realize that there’s a standard for roundness which the figure doesn’t meet, and you say “no.”//

That would be fine if you had a worldview that could account for the concept of roundness and the concept of perfection. Perfection presupposes truth, and truth presupposes God.

//By asking you the question “is it really round?” I changed the standard by which we, together, were judging roundness.

Now back to knowledge. I would generally say I know that today is Tuesday. But if someone asks me “are you sure it’s Tuesday?” it will be easy to get me to doubt it. I’ll go check my calendar. Someone who I trust very much to be reliable about dates could even then say with a certain tone, even after I checked my own calendar, “Really? Are you absolutely sure it’s Tuesday?” and I may go double check!//

Your worldview can’t account for knowing anything, let alone knowing what day it is.

//None of this means I was wrong to say I knew it was Tuesday the first time. It’s just that as the conversation progressed, the standard for knowledge got tighter and tighter.



When getting into philosophical questions about knowledge, that standard can go nuts.//

Being "Nuts" presupposes a standard of truth to deviate from, and you can’t get truth without God. So of the two of us I'm the only one who can know I'm not nuts.

//I would generally say I know I’m not a brain in a vat. And I’m right to do so.//

Without revelation from God that’s the kind of absurd thing that you can’t know.

// But this doesn’t mean it’s not possible to make the conversation such that my state of certainty no longer meets the knowledge standard of that conversation. We may move the standard to something so high as to equate to absolute certainty. And in that case, I’d have to go ahead and say, well, no, if that’s what you mean, then I don’t know that or anything else. (Because, as I showed above, this kind of absolute certainty is impossible with that one possible exception.)//

And as I said before – forget about certainty – how do you know anything to ANY degree?
//Long story short—any time we talk about knowledge, we’ve got some standard lower than absolute certainty in mind, and it is possible to change the standard we’re using by making certain moves in the conversation. And if we shift that standard all the way up to absolute certainty, then we’re left unable to say we know anything. This is not a problem for our previous knowledge claims—they were claims made according to a standard lower than absolute certainty.//

I understand what you mean, but you can’t know any of that without God. How do you even know that your brain has evolved properly to enable correct thinking for you or for anyone on the planet? How do you know we aren’t ALL insane? In my worldview I can know what sanity and insanity look like, because I accept revelation from God. You know this is the case too but can’t justify it because of your suppression of God’s existence.

//So for example:



“…people who are so insane they don't know they are insane. Do you accept that some people are like that? How do you know you aren't one of them?"



//If you’re shifting the standard of knowledge such that we are keeping in mind this possibility, then I have to say that on that standard, I don’t know it. But this is no problem for my previous knowledge claim, which was made according to a more useful everyday standard.//

The everyday standard presupposes God, and you can’t account for any standard without God, as your answers have made clear.

//If you want to maintain that you’re not shifting standards, and that instead this standard of certainty is required for any knowledge claim to be true at all, then as I said before: this is in tension with your definition of knowledge as justified true belief, and also, it sets an impossible standard not only for me, but for you as well, since by the standard of certainty, no one can know anything.//

No one can know anything without God.

“Have you watched any of Greg Bahnsen's videos? He passed away and went to be with the Lord Jesus a few years ago, but had a PhD in philosophy. I've learned a lot from him. Have you seen the famous debate he had? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1hSx2evTGM

//I’ll try to watch it.//
I hope you can. Anything by Bahnsen is great stuff. He’s written a number of books and there are quite a few of his videos on YouTube.

//Here’s a story:


----

A man was clinging to the mast of a sinking ship. People on a nearby rescue ship were throwing him life preservers, holding out their hands, encouraging him to come over.



But to each offer of rescue, the man exclaimed that his ship was floating, and that theirs was sinking. The man was not insane. But he believed that to say his ship was sinking would be shameful.



He took his last drowning breath declaring victory and cursing reality.//

Interesting story, but without revelation from God you’ve got no way to know who is correct in their beliefs and you are that sinking man.
----

//If you’re going to listen, listen. As I said above (to you and anyone else reading), I’m here to help.//

Then Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." (Mark 4:9)
 

"He also told them this parable: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?" (Luke 6:39)

A blind man is unable to help show the way to someone who can already see. One thing you've helped me to see even more clearly is the folly of denying God. One question I do have though is whether or not most philosophy classes are teaching the kind of things that you’ve been saying. I’m guessing that all secular universities are as lost as you are. Brilliant minds wasted in a sea of relative truth and uncertainty. Blind guides leading the blind.

// I said earlier it’s axiomatic for me that you (and other people) are worth caring for.//

And I’ve replied that you’ve got a massive double standard, and if I gave answers like that I’m pretty sure you’d be pointing out my arbitrariness.

// I see you and I care for you, not because it’s my duty or because it’s according to some principle of utility or because I know someone else values you. You’re worth caring for (everyone is) and it is strange to question this.//

Again – totally begging the question. Why according to your worldview should anyone care for anyone else if we are just animals and bunches of chemicals? In my worldview caring for people makes sense – we are valuable because we’re made in God’s image. But without God you’ve got no reason to care. And are you sure that you really care and aren’t just wanting to suppress the truth about God? To me that seems to be your real motivation – trying to justify your reasons for not believing in God and putting your trust in Jesus Christ. I pray that you’d repent and submit to the God you know exists.

//So please know that I’ll always available to you.//

Thanks. I appreciate that.

I have asked you a few times what you actually believe in terms of your faith position. I’ve assumed that you’re a professed atheist. If that's not your actual position then I apologise. I've based my answers as best I could on what I perceive to be your position based on what you've said. 

Don’t worry about answering all of the questions I’ve asked – the main one I’d like you to answer is this:

Given that you’ve said the laws of logic are man-made, would it be possible for the earth to have existed and not existed at the same time and in the same way BEFORE people existed? If no, then why not?