One of the funniest things that I have found about the modern unbelieving movement is 1) their constant claim that we should have evidence before we believe anything, or 2) their often-heard pronouncement that sound arguments are needed to warrant holding a particular belief, or 3) their repeated sermons about following reason wherever it leads, or 4) their endless refrains about the fact that we have a duty to seek the truth no matter what the consequences of the truth may be, and so on and so forth, and yet the reason that I find all these claims and assertions humorous is not because I deny their value and worth as ideas–in fact, I wholeheartedly endorse them–but I find them humorous when coming from unbelievers and atheists precisely because they are coming from unbelievers and atheists themselves, and the reason that this fact is humorous is because in an ultimately purposeless and meaningless universe, as it would be on atheism, and at least when speaking objectively and in absolute terms, we have no “duty” or requirement to believe things on evidence, or on arguments, nor must we or “should” we, in some objective sense, endorse reason or seek the truth, for, on atheism, there is no purpose in this universe that makes us do so, and note that even if a consequentialist-type argument is made to try to convince us to endorse these things in a purposeless atheistic universe, that argument will only work if we care about the consequences in question, which is not always the case, and so, when the atheist and unbeliever is telling us that we should do all these things, he is, in essence, doing no more than subjectively emoting, and in a purposeless universe, his claim that we should believe true things rather than false things, or that we should follow the evidence rather than not, is about as convincing, and about as valuable, as him telling us that he likes chocolate ice cream over vanilla, and that we should like chocolate over vanilla too (and this, needless to say, is not a convincing argument); and perhaps the greatest irony of this whole issue is that it is only on something like the Christian worldview that believing truth, and following evidence, and using reason, ultimately and truly and objectively matters, for if God, who is Truth itself, exists and wants / requires all people to come to know of His existence and nature through the things that have been made, and also forbids us to lie–all of which is the case on Christian theism– then all these things mean that on something like Christian theism, we should follow the evidence of our senses, and we should believe true things over false things, and we should use our reason to discover God’s nature through the natural order, and so on, and thus it is the Christian who can objectively claim that we indeed have a duty and should follow the evidence where it leads, and seek and believe the truth, and have reasons for our beliefs, whereas all the atheist can do is advise us of his subjective preferences about these matters, and yet these subjective preferences can be as easily ignored as the atheist’s subjective preferences about ice cream, cars, and Barbie dolls.
In this day and age, when we in the West entertain ourselves and our minds with the dreams and visions of children through plays and books about so-called “superheros” such as Superman and others (and superheros are, in point of fact, also a reminder to modern secular man of mankind’s need and desire for transcendent and almost spiritual heros) and also in this time when we men have dreams, in our games and our novels, of aliens who might span the width of a galaxy and control billions upon billions of planets, it is actually interesting to reflect upon the fact (for such reflection is appropriately humbling) of how pathetic our imagination is in this respect, and how awesome the true God is, for while we men think that certain of the superheros we imagine might be worthy of the label ‘god’ and while we contend that a potentially space-faring species of galactic proportions could be considered ‘god-like’ in power, these thoughts are, quite simply, small, for to think that some ‘superman’ or some aliens of great power deserve to be thought of as god-like simply shows the smallness of man’s reasoning, and it does, simultaneously, serve as a lesson and reminder of the sheer incomprehensible awesomeness of the true Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, to whom a superman or galaxy-wide alien race are powers of utter insignificance, and who, in fact, would only have the power that they would have because the God who is who He is would sustain and give them that power; and so, the point here is to simply note, with sadness, how small and unworthy modern man’s idea of god-hood is, and how it shows his sheer theological ignorance (a sad state of affairs indeed), while also helping to remind ourselves that even our imagination falls utterly short of the awesomeness of the true God, and this, in turn, gives us the confidence to know, that when the Lord God wills to do that which He wills to do–such as save us from damnation if we freely accept that salvation–there is not a sheer thing that any superman, or any man, or any created power in this universe, or even any other created power from outside this universe, could do to prevent that desire from coming about…and it is in this fact that we are rational to place our trust in the Lord.
It is at times contended by certain unbelievers that skepticism is the antithesis of “faith”–where faith is, presumably, meant to denote something like faith in God and/or faith in some religious doctrine–thus meaning that these unbelievers are essentially implying that the faithful, by virtue of their faith, cannot have skepticism, for skepticism would push them away from the type of faith articulated above, but the question thus becomes whether this is or is not the case, and the fact is that it is not the case, for not only can a theist and/or religious believer have skepticism, but skepticism can actually and easily lead a person to faith, such as faith in a divine being, for consider, for example, that a person might be entirely rational to think that either something like theism or atheistic-naturalism is true, but since the same person, via skepticism, could come to utterly doubt the causal power and explanatory viability of atheistic-naturalism to account for such undeniable things as life from non-life, the emergence of different life forms, the emergence of language, the coming about of sexual reproduction, the fine-tuning of the universe, consciousness, rationality, and so on and so forth, then, quite clearly, skepticism about the ability of the atheistic-naturalistic worldview to bring these things about might push one into the arms of theism; now, I am not, of course, saying that this will necessarily or absolutely be the case, but I am noting that it is entirely reasonable and legitimate not to see skepticism as the enemy of faith, but rather as a tool and way of thinking that could, quite rationally, push one to faith, and so those who claim that skepticism and faith are utterly opposed to each other are not only quite mistaken, but, apparently, they themselves were not skeptical enough of their own claim that skepticism and faith are polar opposites.
The issue of free-will–and here I mean free-will in the broadly libertarian sense–is fascinating, but as interesting as that issue, in and of itself, is, free-will is also interesting in that it is an issue which can give us a very simple and intuitive argument for the existence of god, for consider the following layman’s chain of reasoning:
1. All my experience tells me that I have free-will and all of society is build on that belief, and so I am rational to believe that I do have free-will until and unless given good reason to believe otherwise;
2. Something like free-will can only come from something that has and/or can create free-will;
3. The only thing that I know of that has free-will are persons (minds), and so the best explanation is that my free-will comes from a person (a mind), but the chain of persons cannot go on infinitely, and therefore there must be an uncaused and first free-willed person who is the cause of all the other free-will in other persons, and such a person deserves the label of a god…
…and when put into more philosophically rigorous terms, the argument might go like this:
a. I have a properly basic belief that I have libertarian free-will, and therefore, not only am I rational to believe that I have it, but, because it is a properly basic belief, the burden of proof is actually on the person denying this belief to demonstrate his case, not on me to prove it, and so I am rational to hold to my belief that I have free-will until and unless a sufficiently warranted defeater is brought against this belief;
b. There are no sufficient defeaters to my belief that I have libertarian free-will;
c. Given the Principle of Proportionate Causality (which states that an effect must, in some way, be entirely contained in its cause), I thus note that whatever caused me to have free-will must somehow have the causal resources / ability to create free-will to exist in something else.
d. Not only are there no known impersonal forces / mechanisms which could cause free-will to exist in something else, but the only things that I know that have free-will are personal (rational) entities like me (essentially, minds).
e. In light of the above, the only presently known causal explanation for my having free-will is that it was caused in me by some other personal (rational) entity which can create free-will, but such a chain of causality cannot go on to infinity, and thus, there must be a first and uncaused personal (rational) entity which exists (or existed) which has the ability to cause free-will and which gave free-will to all other personal (rational) entities that exist and have free-will, and any such uncaused personal and rational entity with free-will that exists (or existed) deserves the label ‘god’, and so, given all this, I am rational to be a theist, not an atheist;
f. Or, alternatively, for a “Inference to the Best Explanation” type approach to this issue, one might, after point (d), simply point out that between atheism (atheistic-naturalism) and theism, atheism simply does not have the ‘explanatory power’ to account for the existence of free-will in persons like theism has (an omni-God could give free-will to others by definition), nor is atheism ‘congruent with the background knowledge’ that only persons have free-will, nor is atheism simple given that it postulates an impersonal “thing or force” which is somehow (miraculously?) able to confer free-will to persons through some unknown mechanism, and so theism is therefore the better explanation of free-will, and thus theism is rational to believe in on the basis of free-will, at least provisionally.
There is a certain irony about the fact that it is so often claimed that Christianity is, at bottom, a worldview based on “faith”, when, in fact, Christianity (or something very much like Christianity) is actually the only worldview which does not leave man resting on faith, for whereas secular attempts to justify our knowledge and our beliefs ultimately fall directly in the fatal maw of Agrippa’s Trilemma, which makes any secular attempt to justify our beliefs ultimately end in either an 1) infinite and never-ultimately-justifying chain of justification, or 2) a fallacious circular justification, or 3) an ad hoc and faith-filled adoption of some “foundational” belief, it is only Christianity, with its view of “illuminationism”–the view that God, who is knowledge itself, pro-actively and positively illuminates that human mind with knowledge–which can overcome Agrippa’s Trilemma and thus provide a secure foundation for knowledge; indeed, whenever man himself reaches out to try to justify his beliefs on his own, he falls foul of Agrippa’s Trilemma, and thus can never justify his beliefs on a firm rock of knowledge but must ultimately rest those beliefs, in the end, on blind faith (some essentially arbitrary foundation), and thus it is only a worldview where a good omni-God who is knowledge itself reaches down to provide knowledge to man that can have the resources to overcome Agrippa’s Trilemma, and this is why I say that only a worldview like Christianity allows man to rest his beliefs on knowledge (essentially, God), not faith (his own efforts, which lead only to an infinite regress of justification, false circular justification, or arbitrary foundational justification)…and yet since we do believe that our beliefs rest on knowledge and not faith, then this fact, in light of the above, is thus a fact that points us to the existence of a knowledge-giving God, and so not only is this point a point which argues in favor of the existence of God, it is also a point which reverses the idea that Christianity is based on faith but other views are based on reason.
I have a confession to make: I am convinced that very strong arguments–arguments which are essentially beyond a reasonable doubt–exist which support the claim that God exists and that Christianity is true (or rational to believe), and while the rational side of me knows this, and while the rational side of me also knows that the problem of evil is a pseudo-problem that can be easily answered from a purely rational and emotionless perspective, I must admit that when I see a child suffering or hear of a child or woman who suffered some horrendous abuse, I do not, at a rational level, doubt the existence of God nor even His goodness, but I do tremble with rage at the idea that that omnipresent and omnipotent and omniscient son-of-a-bitch (God forgive me) would allow such evil to occur to a little one without vanquishing that evil and suffering in the very instance that it happens (although, once the rational side of me kicks back in, I do then fall on my knees and say “Thy will be done”, for I know that not only does God have good reasons for this evil, but He is the only one who can rectify it in the end, and so my protestations against Him, though emotionally satisfying, are folly from a rational perspective…not to mention that I also thank God that He is not emotion-filled like me concerning evil, for if He was, He would have wiped out humanity a hundred times over given the pain and evil each of us cause on a daily basis (and I myself, by my own standard, should have been destroyed a thousand times over, for my rage against evil and injustice is only matched by the evil and injustice which I myself commit on a daily basis but which God so mercifully overlooks rather than striking me dead on the spot, as He should, by all rights, do)); and yet, in admitting all this, my point is that to me the atheistic point of view is, in a way, cowardly, for I, if I was ever to fall into apostasy, I would do not see atheism as a sound point-of-view to the evidence, but rather, my response would be sheer anti-theism where I would not deny God’s existence but I would fight against Him tooth-and-bloody-nail even undo death…and so this is why, in many ways, I often see atheism as a type of psychological cop-out–a avoidance of the fight, if you will–although I obviously understand that my view is not necessarily the view of anyone else.
Once again, if we are to speak intelligently about the Suppression Thesis, then one of the things that we need to be clear about is what it means to say that God’s existence is “plain” (Romans 1) and thus, in a way, obvious, for this is what the Suppression Thesis contends when it argues that God’s existence is apparent to mankind and yet suppressed by many men, and so, in my view, the best way to understand this idea is in legal terms, which means that we should understand that God’s existence is, essentially, beyond a reasonable doubt, which does not, of course, mean that it is beyond any doubt, or that skepticism cannot be applied to the issue of God’s existence, but rather that none of this skepticism would be reasonable to a reasonable person (and ‘reasonable person’ is also meant in the legal sense) or that the people who apply this skepticism to the question of God’s existence would apply it consistently to any other question in daily and common-sense life, and so the Suppression Thesis would contend that the only way that God’s existence can be denied is through the use of inconsistent and unreasonable tactics; and lest anyone think that such an idea is out-of-sorts or unsound, I note that I have personal experience with the suppression of beliefs which are beyond a reasonable doubt, and indeed, I can think of one specific incident in which a mother simply refused to believe that her adult son was guilty of a specific crime even though there were multiple independent witnesses to the event, the time-frame and circumstances matched, and the adult son himself admitted to the crime, and yet even with all this, the mother would not believe it even though any reasonable person would see that her son was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and yet she simply suppressed that truth because she did not wish to believe it, just as the Suppression Thesis contends is the case with the truth of God’s existence…and note that such examples as the one I provided have been repeated by countless people, so it is not as if versions of the Suppression Thesis, in other areas of daily life, are not played out every single day, thereby giving some credence to the claim that just such a thesis is at work concerning the God question as well.