1. God provides the best explanation of the origin of the universe.
2. God provides the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe.
3. God provides the best explanation of objective moral values and duties.
4. God provides the best explanation of the historical facts concerning Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
5. God can be personally known and experienced.
I’m not going to concern myself here with answering these questions. They have all been dealt with elsewhere, and questions 1, 2, and 4 are of no concern to me at all (question 4 is loaded, and not even a legitimate question). But I would like to take a moment to examine his apologetics.
Notice that 4 out of 5 of these “proofs” are assertions that the positing of a God “provides the best explanation” for whatever question he doesn’t know the definitive answer to. This is a common apologetic by which folks figure that if *you* don’t know the answer to some cosmic question, then my answer wins by default.
As many philosophers have pointed out, positing a God as the answer generates more questions than it answers. But more to the point, positing an an arbitrary explanation is not somehow better than accepting the absence of an immediate explanation. Sure it’s fine to hypothesize and speculate, but a hypothesis is not an explanation.
For example: No one knows for sure where Jimmy Hoffa is. If anyone on Earth can answer the question of what happened to him, no one seems to be coming forward. We can speculate all day long, but wouldn’t it just be simpler to explain his disappearance using God as an explanation? I mean, it’s simple, it has biblical precedence, and – most importantly – it is unfalsifyable.
God might have taken Jimmy Hoffa. You can’t prove God didn’t, and since you don’t have an explanation of your own, then this explanation is the best one, right?
Only if your mind operates the way WLC’s does. The lesson here is that WLC uses the phrase “provides the best explanation” without defining the criteria for an acceptable explanation. If he tried, you’d find that, for him, an arbitrary explanation is every bit as acceptable as any other, so long as it’s an explanation he likes. Moreover, he has no qualms about employing the “if you don’t know the answer then my answer wins by default” apologetic. Good thing for him that he’s not a lawyer.
His third point parrots an apologetic that has become fashionable over the last few years, the “objective morality” argument. This amusing apologetic attempts to assert that, if it weren’t for his god arbitrarily deciding what’s right and what’s wrong (which changes from time to time whenever his god decides it’s going to change), then no objective morality exists. This translates to the astonishing proposition that biblegod has done us the favor of informing us about what is right and wrong (which we would not otherwise be able to know) based on objective reality that he created, and does not depend at all on anyone’s thoughts or feelings… including his. This argument can only sound reasonable to those who do not have any clue what concepts are involved.
“Objective”, put simply, means “without reference to personal feelings”.
- free of bias: free of any bias or prejudice caused by personal feelings
- based on facts: based on facts rather than thoughts or opinions
Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether biblegod is even a legitimate example of moral behavior, if you’ve read the bible, you know that biblegod makes up rules as he goes, changes the rules arbitrarily, breaks the rules whenever he likes, suspends the laws of nature, regrets his decisions, plays mind games (and here, and here), and dispenses with them when its convenient. What’s more, if one were to accept that biblegod created everything that exists, then no objectivity would be possible to him, since he is the creator of all facts. Since he would be the author of all facts, then he could not refer to facts to derive an objective moral code. It would be the exact opposite of objectivity.
Only a being that did not create reality, that did not create facts, could possibly look outward to facts and derive truth from them. If reality was created by a god, then god could not possibly be “objective” about his moral code, since all of reality is an expression of his (personal, subjective) will. Not only would his own decisions be subject to his own feelings, but so would all of reality. If god created everything, then god would not be able, by definition, to reference anything objectively. It would be the equivalent of a painter who painted a painting, and then looked to his painting for instructions on how paintings ought to be painted.
WLC’s logic is formulated as follows:
- God created everything (all of that which exists).
- Now that facts exist (which God created), God looks to those facts to derive a moral code that is free of bias or prejudice caused by personal feelings.
- God then demands that we follow his moral code, which we could not have discovered without his help (for reasons that are not explained).
Can anyone state with a straight face that the moral code that is described in the bible is “free of any bias caused by personal feelings”?
(Hint: Commandment #1 is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”)
By the definition of “objective”, the only criteria for objectivity is that facts are identified without reference to personal bias or feelings. A moral code is objective, by definition, if it is arrived at by referencing facts, without reference to personal bias or feelings. So much for point #3.
His final point is the most amusing of all.
“God can be personally known and experienced. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Down through history Christians have found through Jesus a personal acquaintance with God that has transformed their lives.”
All members of all religions believe that they have experienced exactly what WLC believes he has experienced with his own personal god. All people of all religions have their life transformed. Guess what? Leaving religion transforms your life too.
The funny part is that, before his god can be “personally known and experienced”, one must fully accept that it is real. Can you think of any other thing that actually exists that must first be believed before it is experienced?
Do you need to “believe” a bullet exists before it will penetrate your skin? You can reject the fact that it exist all you want… you will still find yourself bleeding pretty badly when it is fired your way.
Do you need to “believe” that gravity exists before you feel its effects? You can deny it all you want… you’ll still find yourself approaching the ground really quickly when you step off the ledge.
Do you need to “believe” that poison will kill you in order for you to feel its deadly effects? You can deny it all you like… you’ll still die pretty fast after chewing that cyanide tablet.
Do you need to “accept” that medicine works better than prayer? Sadly, the graves are filled with children whose parents refused (and continue to refuse) accepting that fact.
The bottom line is that things that are real will be experienced whether or not a person believes they are real. If something is real, then it does not require anyone’s belief in order for them to experience it. Why, then, is WLC’s god only experienced by those who already believe in it?
Hmmm… could it be that what they are experiencing is a creation of their own mind? Yeah, I think that’s the best explanation.