Reasons for Joy; In Gentleness, and Respect.

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As all the other posts have mentioned, this sounds like a tough situation where someone's hiding behind the "reality might not be real" routine in order to avoid facing the facts. I really like all the advice given above.

As others have noted, her stance is circular and self-defeating. By even responding to your arguments, your friend has affirmed that (a) what you are saying to her in your debate is real, (b) that she knows for a fact you are really communicating with her [otherwise she wouldn't bother responding to you and claiming "everything might be a hallucination"], and (c) that it's therefore possible to know the truth, which refutes her entire "it's impossible to know anything for sure" premise.

If you want to take a satirical approach, you could tell her that you have no idea whether her arguments are real, since you might be nothing more than a brain in a jar with mad scientists around you inserting delusions of philosophical debates into your synapses—as such, you cannot possibly be bothered to respond to anything she says, since it might be a hallucination resulting from a crazy science experiment.

Further, by maintaining her "reality isn't real" and "truth is impossible to know" stance, she's unwittingly claimed she personally cannot have anything verifiably valid, truthful or otherwise relevant to say—in which case there's no point even listening to her. Granted that might be a pretty blunt approach—not sure if she would respond to that direct of a reality check, or if a softer approach should be taken. I'd depend on her personality. Best wishes with connecting with her!

Community Debates Forum / Re: Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« on: May 12, 2019, 01:40:43 pm »
Hello Bruce  - thanks for weighing in with your thoughts.

The basic premise of my post is that atheism has now retreated to the point where it needs the Infinite Multiverse in order to justify all the statistically improbable events of atheism. (This was on full display in Dr. Craig's recent debate with Dr. Hester, where Dr. Hester repeatedly mentioned his faith in the Multiverse as a scientific reality.) Given infinite time, space, matter and energy, even the most statistically unlikely events will eventually occur, which you acknowledged in your response to my post. Your alleged demonstration of my "fallacious" reasoning merely points out that humans wouldn't necessarily be there to observe events like the Parting of the Red Sea (or any other Biblical miracle) in every single case and that such miracles aren't necessary for general biological life to exist. But that is completely irrelevant.

Per the opening line of the paragraph where you critiqued my reasoning, you said: "Yes, an infinite multiverse would make it so that even exceedingly unlikely, though still possible events would all happen somewhere at some time." Translation: Any and all physically possible events where the P>0, even just barely and microscopically above 0, will eventually occur. Within the Infinite Multiverse framework, that fact is inescapable. The existence of humans as observers to events like talking donkeys is completely immaterial. Per the opening line of your own paragraph, the probability of absolutely everything that is physically possible in the Infinite Multiverse automatically becomes 1 (100% probable). This is one of the unintentional side effects of the Infinite Multiverse - everything that is physically possible has a probability of 1, and everything that is physically impossible has a probability of 0. There effectively becomes no in-between probabilities, regardless of whether or not some outside observers happen to witness a particular statistically unlikely event or not (though they eventually will observe it at some point in time and space). As such, your critique actually confirmed my entire core premise.

The only way for atheism to attempt to debunk Biblical miracles (or humanoid varmints like trolls) is to demonstrate why particular events (such as Jesus's resurrection) are still 100% physically impossible within the Infinite Multiverse, since they might violate the laws of physics. Although I admittedly pointed things out in a tongue-in-cheek way, we could easily concoct atheistic explanations for most if not all of the Biblical miracles (i.e. a virgin with a hermaphroditic or asexual adaptation to impregnate herself, etc.). Additionally, fairies, unicorns, the Smurfs, Tolkien's orcs and all other physically possible species must exist in the Infinite Multiverse (there's no reason why orcs and goblins are somehow statistically less probable than humans - after all, they're just carnivorous primates).

Based upon the above, I merely (and correctly) pointed out the Infinite Multiverse completely undermines any potential atheistic mockery of religious "fairy tales".

You mentioned you found other potential fallacies in my reasoning, and I really appreciate your time. I look forward to your further critique!

Community Debates Forum / Re: Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« on: April 01, 2017, 08:14:20 am »
To Be Strictly Technical
Mind you, even within the framework of eternal matter and energy, perhaps an atheist could try to eliminate certain religious miracles as defying the laws of physics and therefore impossible. Point taken, but then again the latest versions of the Infinite Multiverse Theory often allow for varied laws of physics among the nearly innumerable universes, which throws open the doors for everything from Star Wars light sabers to Star Trek subspace anomalies. The parting of the Red Sea could be caused by worm holes allowing gravitational fields from alternate universes to separate ocean waters just in time for the Hebrews to pass through on dry land, only for the worm holes to accidentally close just as the Egyptian army tries to follow.

Assorted Primates
And even if the laws of physics in the current observable universe are absolute throughout eternal time and space, Atheism still has to face the reality that everything from gremlins to gargoyles will accidentally evolve. Smurfs are merely small primates with blue pigmentation in their skin (nothing physically impossible there!). Fairies are small primates with latent bird or pterodactyl DNA that bestows them with wings. Orcs are simply carnivorous primates that tend to be more aggressive than earth's homo sapiens.

Talking Animals
One atheist I know likes to mock the Bible as "The Talking Donkey Book", due to the account of the donkey correcting Balaam (Numbers 22:30). And at first glance, he seems to have a humorous point. However, talking four-legged animals are really no more incredible than talking two-legged animals (a.k.a. humans). Given eternally interacting matter and energy, there will eventually be talking animals just like those described in CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

In Summary...
Although we can split hairs over what is or isn't physically possible via infinite Evolution within the framework of an eternal atheistic cosmos, the fundamental point is that Atheism has no valid standpoint to mock religion as a "fairy tale"—and the Bible cannot be dismissed as historically unreliable solely because it describes some events that are statistically unlikely.

Community Debates Forum / Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« on: March 18, 2017, 07:51:29 am »
One common shoot-from-the-hip atheistic contention is that religion is a myth and “just a fairy tale”. It is not necessarily intended as a powerfully rational argument, but as a shake-them-up-to-wake-them-up jolt to help move religious people away from their “superstitious delusions”. After all, we are not deluded enough to believe in fairies, so why believe in an invisible God … in an imaginary divine friend?

And the “religion = fairy tale” argument carries significant force in Western society. For example, while many Americans still at least give a tacit nod to general cultural Theism and to Christian moral influence, they roll their eyes at Biblical claims like the virgin birth and the parting of the Red Sea. “Oh … well … I believe in God (sort of) and in being a good person, but not in all those supposed miracles. Bible stories are just fables that are meant to communicate good morals, but not to be taken literally.”

Some Sort of Eternity, No Matter What
Before we evaluate the veracity of the “religion is a fairy tale” argument, we must first note that, no matter which fundamental worldview is true—Atheism or Pantheism or Theism—something absolutely has to be eternal, which I touched on in my post Objective Morality—Atheism vs. Pantheism vs. Theism.
•   If Atheism is true, the impersonal physical cosmos is eternal, ultimate and self-existent.
•   If Pantheism is true, the impersonal spiritual cosmos is eternal, ultimate and self-existent.
•   If Theism is true, then God alone is eternal, ultimate and self-existent—everything else is contingent.
To argue that the physical cosmos or the spiritual cosmos or God sprang into existence from absolute nothingness is beneath ridiculous—it is metaphysically impossible and, as a friend of mine put it, “Worse than resorting to magic.” So once again, eternity rears its head no matter which cosmology is correct.

Eternal Physical Matter and Energy, Cosmology and Evolution
So—in the case of Atheism—whether our current universe is eternal, or it is part of an infinite string of universes that continually explode into existence and then collapse upon themselves, or it is part of an ensemble of virtually innumerable alternate universes (per Stephen Hawking), Atheism fundamentally teaches the existence of eternal, infinitely interacting impersonal matter and energy. There is no way around it. And at an initial glance, this appears to be very good news for Atheism …

Firstly, the existence of eternal matter and energy would allow Atheism to escape the jaws of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, of which WLC is a leading proponent. Because the current scientific evidence seems to strongly indicate the visible universe has not been here forever, the Kalam Cosmological Argument would indicate there must therefore be a Creator to explain the universe—God. But if our current universe is part of some sort of eternal chain or ensemble of self-existent matter and energy, then God is unnecessary, and we need not concoct any “divine fairy tale” to explain our existence.

Secondly, Theists have often attacked the Theory of Evolution based upon the extreme statistical improbability of the complex biological life forms found on planet earth coming into existence apart from the help of an Intelligent Designer (a.k.a. God). The amount of seemingly intelligent engineering required to generate even a single cell is staggering, much less a chimpanzee or a whale. Even a 20-billion-year-old universe is not enough to overcome the odds against Evolution … but eternal matter and energy easily solves the problem! After all, given infinite interactions within endless time, space and material, even the most statistically improbable events will eventually occur. Voila! Any statistical problems with Evolution have been eliminated, and there is no reason the atheistic cosmos could not generate human beings. So now the need for fairy tales has been entirely eliminated … or has it?

The Unanticipated Problem with Eternal Matter and Energy
Although infinite time/material solves all statistical problems with Evolution, therein lies the rub, since it also solves all statistical problems with everything else—including fairies, unicorns, goblins, dragons and gnomes. Although God could choose to create krakens, chimeras and griffons, the Almighty is not obligated to do so. In contrast, the eternal atheistic cosmos is statistically obligated to create all possible forms of matter and energy, including Poseidon, the World Serpent, Darth Vader and Papa Smurph.

Under Atheism, the Lord of the Rings epic will play itself out an infinite number of times, with infinitely varied results. Sometimes it plays out exactly as JRR Tolkien wrote the original stories. Sometimes Sauron and the bad guys win. And sometimes Gandalf and Sauron reconcile and drink kombucha together on Mount Doom. In other words, if Atheism is true, fairy tales must also be true! So the “religion is a silly fairy tale” argument actually implodes on itself.

And What about Religious Miracles?
The historicity of the Bible is frequently dismissed by atheists because it contains miracles. And yet, given eternal matter and energy, there is absolutely no reason to doubt the veracity of any of the Biblical miracles, or those of any other religion for that matter (including Wiccan superstitions, etc.). If those miracles did not happen in our universe, they must have happened in another one.

Sooner or later a young virgin named Mary will develop a hermaphroditic or asexual mutation, plus a random Y chromosome in her ovaries, so she can impregnate herself with a male child named Jesus. In our universe, Moses led the Hebrews through the Red Sea. In another universe, Jabba the Hutt led the Chinese through the Pacific. Given eternal matter and energy, it will eventually happen!

Too Old for Fairy Tales
In December of 2014 in America, some atheist organizations purchased billboards in multiple heavily religious states, in order to run an anti-religious campaign during the holiday season. The billboards depicted a nice young lady looking rather incredulous. The headliner said something to the tune of: “Dear Santa—All I want for Christmas is to not have to go to church. I’m too old for fairy tales.” But the irony of this self-defeating billboard campaign is that if Atheism is true, fairy tales are true. So apparently that young lady is too old for Atheism!

And Don’t Forget Easter, a.k.a. Resurrection Sunday!
Given infinite time and material, there will even be accidental resurrections from the dead, when the universe reconstitutes bodies that had previously been destroyed or expired on their own. If Jesus did not rise from the dead in our world, He must have risen from the dead in another world. So if Atheism is true, even the Resurrection itself cannot be ruled out. Apparently, everyone can celebrate the Resurrection each year, though of course, Biblical Christianity alone proclaims its true meaning!

The Key Issue
Really appreciate you continuing on this thread, Aleph Naught, as this is the critical issue for the debate. Can rational thought and objective morality be extracted/separated from personhood? You claim "yes". I claim "no".

Note that the rationality and morality of your own arguments cannot be extracted from your own personhood. If a computer were to accidentally spew out the same output, it would only appear to be rational/moral argumentation. And it would only have that appearance in the perception of a rational and moral being who was observing the output. (An asteroid "observing" the output would not even cognizant of the alleged rationality or morality.)

So I firmly contend that both rationality and objective morality cannot be extracted from personhood. In a cosmos devoid of persons, there would be no rationality or objective morality at all, or love for that matter (or hate, etc.). But I understand that you have to continue making that claim, or atheism instantaneously collapses under the weight of the Moral Argument.

Good vs. Evil
In principle, I don't mind you analyzing my example of life vs. murder, as that'll help sharpen me. But I really think you're nitpicking here. It's true that murder is not a perversion of life, but rather an attack on it. Great point! But my underlying contention still stands firm—good can get along just fine without evil, but evil cannot survive without perverting or attacking goodness. I'm sure if we nitpick this to death we can insert some more examples in there that may be different than "perversions" or "attacks" (perhaps betrayal is more of a "subversion" of trust), but the point remains the same. The good-versus-evil dichotomy is the same as the truth-versus-falsehood dichotomy. Good and truth stand on their own apart from evil and falsehood, whereas the latter two only gain their definition by standing in contrast to the former two. For the theist, this is a critical point, as it means that God can validly be the ultimate paradigm of goodness and truth, without some yin-yang "necessary opposites" or some sort of New Age "dark side". Things like evil and falsehood would only come into being (or be hypothetical possibilities) in contrast to God.

What Is a Good Person?
I'm not straw-manning your argument at all! You're again attempting to avoid my fundamental point here. For there to be some sort of objectively good person, there must be some sort of objective dividing line between a "good" person and a "not good" person. Otherwise "good" and "bad" people are one and the same, with no delineation between them. Your claims about "habitual goodness" are extremely vague and evasive. Asserting atheistic objective morality is not enough, even if a "good" person's habitual good deeds are objectively good in the impersonal "judgment" of the incognizant, uncaring, matter-and-energy cosmos (or line up with an impersonal axiomatic objective moral value that's intrinsic to the cosmos).

You stated: "If someone does no good deeds, then they do not habitually do good deeds and thus they are not a good person." Well, if "habitual" = doing one good deed out of habit (instead of zero good deeds), you've effectively just attempted to provide a magic number (1 versus 0)! So ... if Joseph Stalin habitually does one good deed, he's a good person? I'm betting you think it takes more than one good deed to be habitually good, but again, you're attempting to avoid providing a number. Also, is there a metric system to weigh good deeds against bad deeds? Is murder a –100, whereas walking a little old lady across the street is a +1? So if a murderer walks 101 little old ladies across the street, he's now a good person? Or is doing one good deed enough of a "habit" to outweigh all bad deeds, regardless of how heinous?

You also stated: "And since the goodness of a person comes in degrees, there is no such problem. There is no magic number, just like there is no magic number to being a good person." Now you've inserted degrees, which are based upon some form of numbers or percentages—or some form of metric (otherwise the variation among the degrees cannot be observed or understood). But (again), you are trying to evade the fundamental point, which is: what separates a "good" person from a "not good" person?

As I've said all along, you're obviously an outstanding thinker! At the bottom line, I think you realize your argument is invalid—you know that if you're forced to assign some sort of precise dividing line or percentage to defining a "good" person, you'll only be able to come up with something that is totally arbitrary and indefensible (i.e. 1.2% versus 98.6% versus 41.9%). So this is why you are continuing to make obtuse assertions about what exactly defines "habitual goodness", while denying that you need to provide an exact number. But the question won't go away—within your proposed framework: how habitually good is habitually good enough?!

The Question of Self-Righteousness
And the deeper problem for humanity remains: How do we become good? Evil and human self-righteousness are one and the same (remember that even the most evil people think they are justified). And if you're about to point the finger back at me and point out that I want to be correct in this debate, the answer is: you're absolutely right! We are all afflicted with this self-righteous ailment. And I am guilty as charged.

The appeal of atheism is that if atheism is true, the material cosmos is legitimately self-justified. And since I am part of that material cosmos, I am also legitimately self-justified. The same is true for pantheism. If pantheism is correct, I am part of the self-justified spiritual cosmos. As such, there are strong psychological motivations to want to adhere to atheism or pantheism.

But if theism is correct, then God alone is legitimately self-justified, and I (as a creation who has a beginning) am not. And whereas non-Christian theism still appeals to human self-righteousness (i.e. if you do enough good religious things, you can become good enough to please God), Christian theism uniquely asserts that humanity cannot become legitimately self-justified apart from or in rivalry to God, no matter how many good works we do. Instead, we must quit fighting against God's true goodness and morally surrender to the Deity.

When I say that morality must have a personal (self-conscious) stopping point, I'm submitting that objective morality's ultimate definition is rooted in personhood. I would argue that both morality and rationality are inextricably linked to personhood. While your example of the dodo bird is well taken, the fact is that the dodo still existed at one time, even if all the specimens are extinct, so the concept of the dodo bird is inextricably linked to the prior existence of the dodo bird.

In the case of objective morality, it must be tied to the ultimate nature of existence (again, atheism, pantheism or theism). There must be some sort of ultimate paradigm of goodness that distinguishes it from evil, and an impersonal explanation simply doesn't cut it. Concepts like goodness, love and rationality are not merely related to personhood—they are inseparable from personhood, so I would argue that none of them could exist apart from personhood. In a cosmos devoid of personhood, there would be no rationality, love or goodness, as there would be no self-conscious (personal) mind of any kind capable of having such traits. There would only be mindless machinations (as many atheists have ironically admitted). However, I understand you disagree with me on that point.

Regarding why I said evil is parasitic upon goodness, I went into great deal about this in my post If God Is Good, What Is Evil? The short version is that, like falsehood, evil only gains its definition by warping or attacking goodness. For example, rape (evil) is just a perversion of sex (good). Murder (evil) is merely an attack on life (good). It's similar to how facts (truth) stand true on their own, while lies (falsehood) are only distortions of or contradictions to truth. The existence of truth opens up the possibility of falsehood, but only if something contradicts truth. Truth does not need falsehood, but falsehood does need truth. Goodness does not need evil, but evil does need goodness. The important point is that good and evil must be separate, and goodness must be entirely superior (necessary) to evil—yet only theism provides a valid basis for this. Under atheism or pantheism, everything is either part of the self-existent material cosmos or the self-existent spiritual cosmos, including good and evil—in which case good and evil are equally valid and necessary parts of a greater whole. But I firmly contend that the classic New Age assertion of "there is no good without evil" is 100% false. Again, I went into this issue more deeply in the other post, though I kept it separate from this thread, in order to attempt to keep things shorter.

In terms of what makes a good person, I delved more deeply into the question in my post The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone. Again, it may be best to discuss the issue under that post. Or you could peruse my other two posts and raise objections in this thread (whatever works best for you). I find your definition of a "good person" to be insufficient, as there would most certainly be an amount of goodness needed! If no amount is needed, then the argument about a "habitually good person" disintegrates, since a person who habitually does 0% good deeds would still qualify as "good", and no habits are needed in the first place. "Habitually" must be quantified or defined somehow, and that inevitably leads to an amount—some sort of dividing line between a "good" and a "bad" person, possibly with "mediocre" people in between. On the other hand, if there is a percentage requirement, the question immediately arises: is it 21.2%, 98.9%, or 52.645902%? What exactly is the magic number? How good is good enough? Were Stalin and Zedong "good" people? If not ... how did they fail to objectively qualify as "good"? Also, since the method of justification, namely qualifying as a "good person", stems from the self (i.e. the level of habitual goodness or the number of good deeds or the percentage of righteousness or however it's captured), the logic is still firmly rooted in human self-righteousness. And as I explained in my post, even evil people actually think they are good. This is the joke evil plays on itself. Falsehood is really just bogus truth, and evil is really just bogus goodness. And out of all the religious and irreligious teachers in human history, Jesus alone challenges human self-righteousness (a.k.a. evil), which is why we all attempt to avoid Him and conjure our own raised-in-rivalry-to-God goodness (per the narrative in Genesis 3).

Hey, Aleph Naught - thanks very much for jumping in on this. My goal with my original post was to avoid all the philosophical tap dancing. And per both of our most recent posts, we have now boiled things down to the fundamental issue. Although debates about objective morality can quickly get bogged down in endless philosophical wrangling about various principles and trains of logic (etc., etc., etc.), objective morality must have some sort of stopping point, which is what I submitted in my original post. The endless back-and-forth of the Euthypro Dilemma leads us to that stopping point, until all three fundamental worldviews are under scrutiny at the most basic level possible (pertaining to objective morality):
-Atheism: Objective morality is a fundamental property of the eternal impersonal physical cosmos, similar to a law of physics. Therefore objective morality's basis is impersonal in nature.
-Pantheism: Objective morality is a fundamental property of the eternal impersonal spiritual cosmos, possibly a law of karma. Therefore objective morality's basis is impersonal in nature.
-Theism: Objective morality is a fundamental property of the eternal personal Deity. Therefore objective morality's basis is personal in nature.

Once we are taking a stark look at all three fundamental worldviews, we must move beyond the Euthypro Dilemma and turn to other logical tools. You are an excellent thinker, and I completely respect that you find the atheistic explanation tenable, though clearly I do not. As I have stated multiple times previously in this thread, morality is, in its very essence, personal in nature. To argue that morality is impersonal is logically equivalent to arguing that "asteroid = love" and "septic tank = goodness". I firmly contend that something ultimately personal in nature must therefore have an ultimate personal stopping point. And that immediately eliminates atheism and pantheism, taking us straight to classical theism.

I doubt I have convinced you of this yet, but I certainly hope to sway you. The Moral Argument is near and dear to my heart, since it played a powerful role in my own journey from devout atheism to Christian theism. During my atheistic days, I had a very strong conscience and sense that objective morality existed, despite all my attempts to deny it and get away from it. And though I listened to many atheistic attempts to construct a viable foundation for objective morality based upon an impersonal ultimate (which would allow me to hopefully escape from God), I could not help but reject them once things were boiled down to the fundamental impersonal-versus-personal question.

In addition to the foundational questions in this debate, I believe the moral problem for atheists, pantheists and non-Christian theists is further compounded by two of my other original posts:
(a) Dividing Good from Evil: Not only must there be some sort of objective dividing line between good and evil, note that evil is subordinate to and parasitic upon goodness. It is not merely objective morality that must have an ultimate definition, but it is objective goodness that must have an ultimate definition. If atheism and pantheism are true, both good and evil are inherent parts of the eternal physical or spiritual cosmos and are equally valid. But if theism is true, then God alone is ultimate goodness, whereas evil only gains its existence by warping/attacking goodness. At most, evil only exists as a subordinate concept generated by goodness's necessary existence, just as falsehood only gains its definition as a contrast to truth. I elaborated on this more in If Good Is Good, What Is Evil?
(b) The Problem of Justification: Outside of Christianity, all religions (including atheism and non-Christian theism) boil down to human self-justification. But how can humans become justified/good? Even if we assume that atheism or pantheism could viably generate some sort of objective moral law, this leads to other impossible-to-answer questions. For example, exactly what percentage of personal righteousness must I achieve in order to be a "good person" (whatever the heck that is)? Further, isn't self-righteousness downright morally nauseating? "I am such good person because I have done so many good things. Now let me list them for you so you can see how amazing I am..." I would argue that human self-righteousness and evil are one and the same, and Jesus alone provides a solution to this problem. I elaborated on this more in The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone.

Also, I believe that my framing of the debate as atheism vs. pantheism vs. theism is foundationally correct. If objective morality exists, there must be some sort of ultimate explanation. I believe that theism, when properly stated and defended, does necessarily tie objective goodness straight to God's nature. It all goes back to the Euthypro Dilemma and Socrates's famous question: "What is holiness/piety?" Or, "What is goodness?" Natural Moral Law theorists (theistic, pantheistic or atheistic) are welcome to espouse their theories, but when push comes to shove, everyone has to retreat to an explanatory ultimate (per the endless back and forth of the Euthypro Dilemma). Hence, it is entirely appropriate to immediately analyze the question of objective morality in light of the three possible explanatory ultimates: atheism, pantheism and theism. Although the atheistic community would vehemently disagree with me, including many of the extremely talented atheists on this forum (such as Aleph Naught), I believe the only reason atheists are able to remain in the moral discussion for longer than a minute is because they distract the debate from the explanatory ultimates - then the philosophical tap-dancing and convolution begins. But when you drive the debate straight to the heart of the matter, neither the atheist nor the pantheist can possibly provide a tenable, compelling answer to Socrates's fundamental question. In stark contrast, the theist can answer the question.

Hey, Jeffery - good to hear from you. In your original response to my post, you questioned whether the denial of objective morality ironically equates to an attempt at creating objective morality. I still assert that it does. From a straight logical perspective, denying the existence of objective morality seems plausible. However, even the denial of objective morality effectively has profound moral implications - ones that purport themselves to be true, regardless of anyone's opinion. It's kind of like saying "there are no absolute truths", which is an absolute statement that claims to be absolutely true. As I mentioned, we could probably split hairs here, but in the end, even those attempt to deny the existence of objective morality end up espousing it. It's inevitable.

Also, I was clarifying my assertion that "there is good without evil, but there is no evil without good". My reason for stating this is because we are talking about the very nature of God and the viability of God as the ultimate definition of/foundation of/stopping point for objective morality. God is good, and has no "dark side" (1 John 1:5). I drew the analogy of comparing truth and falsehood to make this point. Truth stands true on its own, but falsehood only gains its definition by contradicting truth. A similar duality holds for good and evil. However, I completely agree that - in terms of humans with moral free will - there is the choice between goodness (submitting to God's true goodness) and evil (choosing to become independently self-righteous, as our ancestors did in the Garden of Eden).

So in sum, I don't think we're necessarily contradicting each other. I wanted to clarify some points because they lead into my later posts, ending with the assertion that the Moral Argument not only establishes God's existence, but leads us specifically to the Christian God alone.

Community Debates Forum / Re: The Bible
« on: January 22, 2017, 05:46:30 pm »
Hello, rap2017 - thanks for starting this discussion. You're clearly passionate about your anti-theistic beliefs, which I respect. As you know, I completely disagree with your opening statement.

For one thing, we could all arbitrarily dismiss your post as a "political document" that was "constructed and formulated" by someone with a "particular agenda" in his or her "time and place".

Secondly, there is a subtle assumption of human innocence in your post. You're effectively contending that God should just leap out of Heaven and scream, "Here I am, everyone." It's true this would leave no doubt as to who God is. However, if God did so, that does not mean people would love and respect God! On the contrary, the Biblical contention is precisely that humanity knows darn well God exists, but we hate God and seek to challenge the Almighty on a moral level (see Genesis 3). God is Truth and Goodness, and we want to be Truth and Goodness in God's place. I expounded on this more in my post "The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone". In our desire to be self-justified apart from God, we have muddied the waters and sunken into the shadows of ignorance; hence the existence of atheism and myriad religions. God's goal is not merely to get everyone to intellectually acknowledge the Deity's existence. Note that Satan (if he does exist) firmly believes in God ... and absolutely hates God.

Thirdly, your accusation against the Bible is unjust. Many people have claimed that the Bible (especially the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament portion) is nothing but a political document concocted by the Hebrews to justify themselves and their rule over Palestine. And I have to question how carefully they are reading the Bible. From front to back, the Old Testament records the Israelite nation's foibles and shortcomings in graphic detail. You could easily argue that it's one long harsh criticism of ancient Israel!

But doesn't the Bible say that the Jews are God's "chosen people"? Yes! But chosen to do what?! Chosen to be what?! The irony is that there's absolutely nothing racist at all about the concept of the Jews being the chosen people. Critics of the Bible assume a racist connotation. Yet even the Old Testament repeatedly affirms that God is also the God of the Gentiles (all other ethnic groups). When God renamed Abram as Abraham (Genesis 17), part of the promise was that the whole world (all nations) would be blessed in him. So God chose the Hebrews precisely because the Almighty cares about all ethnic groups equally. God simply chose to work through the descendants of Abram/Abraham to reintroduce Himself to a planet full of rather unruly humans - and ultimately, Jesus came through the Jewish nation. From the Biblical standpoint, the Jews were given great privileges, but were never declared ethnically superior. So I would firmly contend that the Bible cannot be dismissed as some political document written by a people group attempting to establish itself as politically or ethnically superior.

Wow! I'm glad to see my post finally generated some interest. Thanks so much, Jeffery Jay Lowder, for getting the ball rolling and for making me think through this.

Regarding some of the criticisms of my initial post, I'd like to clarify what I mean by stating "there is good without evil, but there is no evil without good". The point here is that God does not need to have a "dark side", contrary to the argumentation of many New Age pantheists. God, being the greatest conceivable maximal Being, is Truth, Goodness and Light (no falsehood, evil or darkness needed within God's eternal nature).

However, it is indeed true that human moral free will (since we are contingent beings) does necessitate the choice between good (God's ultimate goodness) and evil (self-righteousness that seeks to challenge God). I expounded on this more in my posts "If God Is Good, What Is Evil?" and "The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone".

Aleph Naught, you are clearly an excellent philosopher and logician, and I'm glad you weighed in on this. While I'm not sure it would be beneficial to attempt to go through every last nuance of all the previous posts at this point, I would say that your theory of atheistic objective morality fails to get down to an ultimate moral basis. Objective morals are personal in nature. The atheistic equation of "impersonal axiomatic self-existent moral law = goodness" is simply not tenable. It's logically equivalent to saying that "impersonal septic tank = goodness" or "impersonal asteroid = love". Impersonal things cannot be moral, period. As such, when analyzing the three possible cosmological ultimates (since objective morality must have some sort of ultimate stopping point/foundation) - atheism, pantheism and theism - the existence of objective morality inescapably leads us to an ultimate personal explanation ... which instantly narrows it down to theism.

Also, I was critiqued for equating the "objective morality does not exist" viewpoint with an attempt at creating objective morality, effectively saying "everything is good". Yes, we can split hairs there, but if objective morality does not exist, then everything is, in essence, justified (in the absence of objective morality, there is no possible "thou shouldn't do X"). The point is that even those who attempt to deny objective morality end up espousing it - I've never met a denier who has not attempted to smuggle it into the discussion somehow (it's inevitable). So I firmly stand by the gist of my original statement.

Some Christian friends of mine have warned me not to admit that atheism would lead us to conclude that everything is objectively justified, since that's exactly what many atheists want (a moral free-for-all). And that's a concern, but if everything is justified, then SO IS RELIGION! If atheism is true, there is absolutely no reason for me not to be religious. It certainly won't hurt the Blind Watchmaker's feelings.

All of Richard Dawkins's rants against Christianity and religion in general effectively attempt to be objectively moral: THOU SHALT NOT BE RELIGIOUS and RELIGION IS EVIL. But atheism cannot possibly support such a commandment. The irony is that if atheism is true, truth (or at least human perception of it) does not matter. Some over-evolved primates on Earth are welcome to have all the religious delusions they want. And as Richard Dawkins has admitted, we all dance to our DNA ... which I means I can't help but be religious - my DNA made me do it.

Of course, I firmly do believe in objective morality, human moral free will and that certain things are objectively right and other things are objectively wrong - and again, that leads us straight to theism. In fact, as I submitted in "The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone", it leads us straight to Christian theism.

Community Debates Forum / Re: If God Is Good, What Is Evil?
« on: January 22, 2017, 04:55:35 pm »
Hello, rap2017 - thanks very much for challenging me on this! I've been waiting for months for some thoughtful criticism. Although you did accuse me of making assumptions about God, you've made quite a few assumptions as well.

First of all, you assume God is a male Deity. That's false, at least from a Biblical standpoint. Yes, the Bible uses masculine pronouns to refer to God, but Genesis 1:27 makes it crystal clear that both the male and female are made in the image of God. God is Spirit (John 4:24), which is genderless. The masculine and the feminine (in their ideal forms) were made to reflect certain complementary aspects of God's personality. But God (as eternal Spirit) predates our created spiritual, emotional and physical masculinity and femininity. Wicca makes the mistake of projecting the human experience (i.e. femininity) back on the divine; hence, the Wiccan belief in a Goddess that is indeed female. The Bible does not make that error, though (again) I can understand the accusation, since masculine articles are used in the Scriptures.

You asked me to think about what it really means to have a relationship with God. Great question! Yes, humans communicate with each other through physical senses, but if atheism is true, we really have no reason to conclude that our physical senses are revealing accurate information. We certainly cannot prove it - you might only be imagining you're reading my response to your post. In fact, we can't even prove we're having this debate.

Blind people still have relationships with other humans, despite the lack of eye contact. You basically assume that physical senses are the only possible means of communication. But if God exists, God is spiritual (predating the contingent physical universe) and can obviously communicate by other means. And you're welcome to call me delusional, but I am happy to report that I have a personal, interactive relationship with God, similar to any other personal relationship. And if atheism is true, I cannot help but maintain this delusion - I have no free will and I cannot help it - my DNA made me do it. (It's the Blind Watchmaker's fault that I believe in God.)

Note that atheism hinges upon an eternal cosmos (one or more universes) of eternally interacting matter and energy. (To argue that something accidentally came from absolute nothingness, without either preexistent material or divine creation, is beneath absurd.) As many atheists have pointed out, eternal matter and energy solves all statistical problems with evolution. All too true! Given infinite time and material, even the most statistically unlikely events will eventually occur, so the complex biological life on earth could have come about sans intelligent design (no God needed). But therein lies the humorous rub! Infinite time and material solves all statistical problems with everything else, including the Smurfs, unicorns, dragons, Darth Vader, fairies, Zeus, Odin, Athena, Baal, Molech, etc. So if atheism is true, we cannot dismiss all those ancient "deities" - they have to exist somewhere in the eternal cosmos!

You stated there is no evidence that God exists and yet you did nothing to back up your statement, whereas I have already made an extremely strong case for God's existence based upon objective morality. WLC's website is chalk full of other strong lines of argumentation (ontology, etc.). I would challenge you to back up your claim. So far, it's just a baseless statement.

Regarding your last paragraph, you've again just assumed that humans have created gods in their minds and you therefore dismiss all of them. This is very fallacious reasoning, lumping all religions into the same boat. Just because most people no longer believe in Zeus and Thor and Hera and Thunderbird and Baal does not mean all religions have been proved false.

Although it's certainly true that people like Moses and the Apostle Paul had differing scientific viewpoints from WLC (based upon the science of their far earlier generations), this does not mean they're talking about different Deities. On the contrary, WLC is using both ancient philosophical techniques and modern scientific knowledge to defend precisely the same truths in which Moses and the Apostle Paul believed.

Lastly, I would challenge you to engage my running moral argument for the existence of God.

Hey, Shadowlink—thanks very much for posting your essay. You clearly put a lot of analysis into it! Since you’ve challenged theism and specifically Christianity, I figured I’d offer some thoughts …

Freethinking Intelligence
Your essay assumes the existence of freethinking, rational, sentient beings on planet earth, and I make exactly the same assumption. In fact, it’s a necessary assumption, because apart from the existence of freethinking, rational intelligence, there can be no intelligent, rational debate. If we humans are not truly rational, it is impossible for us to either use solid logic or to commit logical fallacies, such as begging the question or making ad hominem attacks. However, the assumption of freethinking intelligence poses the first insurmountable problem for Atheism. There are only three ultimate cosmological possibilities to explain reality: Atheism, Pantheism and Theism. Each of them must somehow explain the existence of humanity’s freethinking, rational intelligence. Note that freethinking intelligence is, by definition, personal in nature. Yet both Atheism and Pantheism are impersonal ultimates, whereas Theism is the only possible personal ultimate. It’s easy for Theism to explain how humans obtained rational intelligence—an omnipotent personal Being bestowed it upon us. However, even with infinite physical or spiritual evolution, neither Atheism nor Pantheism can possibly explain how an impersonal ultimate accidentally or mystically bestowed freethinking intelligence upon humanity, since such intelligence is completely contrary to the foundational nature of Atheism and Pantheism. The truth is that by even having this freethinking, rational debate, we’ve already assumed Atheism and Pantheism are both false and that Theism is true. So let’s move on to your other points …

You presented a thorough case as to why Atheism is intrinsically more probable than Theism, and specifically Christian Theism. However, your assertion is based on multiple false assumptions.
-Specificity vs. Improbability: Your argument effectively assumes that specifics make worldviews less probable. But that simply isn’t true. How in the world could God do non-specific things? Would it somehow make the Deity more probable if God did nothing? The same applies to Atheism! If Atheism is true, then everything the material cosmos does is also specific. If your logic is correct, then the most probable worldview is a God or spiritual cosmos or material cosmos that does absolutely nothing. And that contention confuses specificity with improbability.
-Atheism vs. Theism: Atheism has just as many specific conclusions as Theism—whether Christianity or otherwise. If Atheism is true, the Blind Watchmaker indifferently and accidentally caused the United States to develop nuclear weapons and use them to bring about Japan’s surrender at the end of WWII. That is just one of an infinite number of examples that are every bit as specific as those found in various religions. Your argument that Atheism is somehow more probable than Theism is false.
-Eternity: Atheism hinges upon an eternal cosmos of matter and energy. As many atheists have pointed out, the existence of eternal time, space, matter and energy would solve all statistical problems with evolution, since even the most statistically improbable events will eventually occur. All too true! But therein lies the rub. Given infinite evolution, the cosmos will accidentally make fairies, goblins, unicorns, dragons, the Smurfs, Darth Vader and chimeras. Given infinite time and material, I see no reason to doubt any of the Biblical miracles—they have to happen somewhere in the eternal cosmos! And when you invoke Stephen Hawking’s Infinite Multiverse (with varied laws of physics in countless universes), the possibilities become even more boundless. The common atheistic mockery of religion as a “fairy tale” backfires on itself, because if Atheism is true, fairies must exist somewhere in time and space.
CONCLUSION: Since your contention that Atheism is intrinsically more probable than Theism is untrue, this undermines the fundamental basis for your essay.

1. Science
Science is, by definition, the process by which freethinking, rational, sentient beings study and attempt to understand the environment around them. But if Atheism is true, no such freethinking rational beings exist (rather we humans all have randomly programmed delusions of consciousness). Ergo, if Atheism is true, there is no such thing as scientists or science. The common atheistic claim of being “scientific freethinkers who have seen through the foolishness of religion” completely contradicts and defeats itself, since if Atheism is true, it is impossible for atheists (or anyone else) to be freethinkers.

Additionally, your proof that God does not intervene in the cosmos is your assumption that God does not intervene in the cosmos. And that is a very faulty assumption, which begs the question. The reason the Bible labels things like the Resurrection as “miracles” is because they are out of the ordinary. There is nothing incongruent about God’s existence and a cosmos that continually functions based upon the laws of physics. And of course (again), Atheism hinges upon infinite time and material, which will statistically cause all forms of matter and energy to eventually occur, including an accidental asexual or hermaphroditic virgin birth, not to mention all the epic battles described in The Lord of the Rings.

So your first line of evidence actually supports Theism, not Atheism.

2. Biological Life
Again, in order to overcome the statistical improbability of indifferent atheistic mechanisms producing the ridiculously complex biological life on earth, you will have to turn to infinite time, space, matter and energy. In which case you will have no reason to deny the existence of fairies, unicorns, orcs, kobolds, etc. Although God could create the Smurfs, the Almighty is not obligated to do so. In contrast, the atheistic cosmos is statistically obligated to accidentally create all possible forms of matter and energy, including Jabba the Hutt and the Tooth Fairy. Further, there’s no reason God could not choose to use biological processes—which rely on well-engineered mechanisms to generate and deliver intelligent information and instructions—to produce and alter biological life.

At minimum, your second line of evidence does nothing to tip the scales in favor of Atheism.

3. Minds
Your argument (again) assumes the existence of freethinking intelligence … and your proof that minds are purely made of matter and energy is the assumption made by atheistic scientists that minds are made of matter and energy. But unless you can demonstrate how an impersonal ultimate (Atheism) indifferently created freethinking, rational, sentient intelligence, then your argument contradicts and defeats itself. Also, one of your underlying fallacious contentions is that it should be possible to physically test for the existence of spirit/soul—in which case spirit/soul would be physical in the first place. The reality is that neuroscientists’ ability to study the human brain fundamentally implies the existence of “the ghost in the machine”—otherwise they would have no freethinking ability to study the mind. Interestingly, while there is strong evidence that electrical signals (etc.) can be used to mess with mental perception, there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that you can force someone to choose.

So your third line of evidence does not support Atheism—if anything, it strongly supports Theism.

4. Moral Indifference and 5. Lives of Sentient Beings and 6. Triumph and Tragedy
Your points 4–6 are all assorted versions of the famous Problem of Evil, which theists have been successfully countering for quite some time. The existence of human free will means we have the ability to reject God and suffer the ensuing consequences, namely frustration, disappointment, sorrow, destruction and death. The world around us is not morally indifferent—it is corrupted by evil. And as I demonstrated in my post Objective Morality—Atheism vs. Pantheism vs. Theism, saying that the universe is “morally indifferent” (a.k.a. relative morality) is 100% equivalent to saying everything is justified, which is a form of objective morality. But Theism is the only possible valid basis for any form of objective morality, whereas Atheism and Pantheism fall apart under scrutiny.

So your fourth, fifth and sixth lines of evidence actually support Theism—and per my post The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone, I would argue that objective morality leads us straight to Jesus.

7. Nonresistant Nonbelievers
This line of evidence is once again based upon false assumptions. Per my post If God Is Good, What Is Evil?, all humans have challenged God (and each other) for moral supremacy in the cosmos. There is absolutely no such thing as a nonresistant nonbeliever. Granted that some people are more hard-nosed than others, but the truth is we all want to be right all of the time. In fact, you and I are both doing our best to be right in this debate … there is nothing that feels quite as good as being right.

And the reality is that a loving relationship with God is open to all humans, but we must respect God for who He is—the paradigm, definition and embodiment of truth, goodness, love and life. Yet the unfortunate fact is that we humans do not respect God for who He is. At minimum, we all want to be the embodiment of moral truth, which is (of course) the appeal of Atheism and Pantheism. If Atheism or Pantheism is true, then the physical or spiritual cosmos is legitimately self-justified, and since you and I are parts of the physical or spiritual cosmos, we are both legitimately self-justified.

Your seventh line of reasoning fails to support Atheism, as there is absolutely nothing incongruent about the world we see and the Christian description of reality, which brings us to your last point …

8. Religious Confusion
Your entire line of argumentation is based on a subtle assumption of human moral innocence. But the truth is that all humans (myself included) have challenged God, attempting to become the paradigm of goodness in place of the Deity (per Genesis 3:5). And because of that, we are all seeking various ways to justify ourselves—as well as to find meaning in life, in the absence of a fulfilling relationship with our Creator. And we’re all failing, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. This is thoroughly and accurately described from Genesis to Revelation in the Bible, and as such, the Christian explanation of religious confusion is far more compelling than that of Atheism!

If Atheism is true, the cosmos accidentally programmed a bunch of blobs of over-evolved stuff on planet earth to sit around concocting myriad religions to try to explain their own existence. Unless I’m mistaken, asteroids don’t sit around trying to think up explanations for why they exist. But if Atheism is true, the only difference between you, me and an asteroid is molecular structure—end of story.

On the topic of religious confusion, per my post The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone, there are really only two gospels in the world. There is (a) the gospel of divine righteousness—that’s called “Biblical Christianity”. And then there is (b) the gospel of human self-righteousness—that’s called “everything else”. Truth is remarkably well lit! The problem is that truth exposes human self-righteous corruption for what it is, which is why we humans do everything possible to avoid the light. And please understand I am not merely criticizing you and other atheists on this point—this problem pervades our entire species, and like all humans, I wrestle with my own self-righteousness every day.

Shadowlink, you are obviously very thoughtful and care deeply about truth, so I wish you all the best as you sort through these challenging questions.

Hello, Gordon—thank you very much for reading and responding to my post! I really appreciate your insight and will certainly do more research about Moral Realism. Your expansion on the classic Moral Argument was very thorough and intriguing. On my end, the reason I did not expound more in defense of Premises 1–3 is because I have already done so in the separate posts I mentioned towards the beginning. The Objective Morality—Atheism vs. Pantheism vs. Theism post focuses on Premises 1 and 2, whereas the If God Is Good, What Is Evil? post focuses on Premises 2 and 3. You are absolutely right that establishing assertions like “objective morality exists” requires in-depth analyses. However, for the sake of brevity, I decided to allude to my prior two posts and focus on Premises 4 and 5 instead.

The Bottom Line
As I demonstrated in the Objective Morality post, even the attempted denial of objective moral truth ends up asserting objective morality, thus backfiring. This is unavoidable! Consider the final paragraph in the link you sent on Moral Realism: “By all accounts, moral realism can fairly claim to have common sense and initial appearances on its side. That advantage, however, might be easily outweighed, however; there are a number of powerful arguments for holding that it is a mistake to think of moral claims as true.” Yet to claim “it is a mistake to think of [objective] moral claims as true” is, in itself, an objective moral claim—one that purports itself to be real and true! So if objective moral claims are untrue, then the final statement in that paragraph is untrue. So it contradicts and defeats itself!

You mentioned analyzing morality based upon evolution, as well as the necessity of divine revelation, and such discussions have tremendous merit. (Note that the atheist also unwittingly believes in a form of revealed moral truth—only it is the non-sentient matter-and-energy cosmos accidentally revealing moral truth to highly evolved biological life forms, rather than a sentient Deity revealing moral truth to sentient creations.) You can find many examples of this in other discussion threads, since there are brilliant atheists reading these posts, who clearly have a very advanced understanding of logic and philosophy. However, what is noticeably absent in the atheistic rationales is anything that solidly answers the foundational question: Who or what defines objective moral truth?

Because objective morality undeniably exists, it requires an ultimate explanation. And that inevitably leads to the endless back-and-forth of the Euthypro Dilemma. And once the Dilemma has run its course, we end up facing the three cosmological explanatory ultimates: Atheism, Pantheism and Theism. My goal in the initial post was to demonstrate that only God’s nature (personal ultimate) provides a sufficient explanation for objective moral values, whereas Atheism and Pantheism (both impersonal ultimates) inevitably fall short. As such, both premises of the classic Moral Argument are affirmed.

The Reason for My Latest Post
My prior two posts were meant to drive the discussion to the nature of objective good versus evil—true divine righteousness versus invalid self-righteousness. The applicability is that no matter what type of non-believer the Christian debates, the non-believer’s moral theory is rooted in self-righteousness and therefore corrupt. Even devoted moral atheists (who espouse adhering to objective morals based on impersonal axiomatic values) actually have a lot in common with non-Christian theists (who advocate adhering to divine mandates). One has an irreligious explanation for objective morality, and the other a religious explanation—but both are seeking to establish their own righteousness. While God alone is true righteousness, both moral Atheism and non-Christian Theism echo of the Serpent’s words in the Garden of Eden: “If you [do this], you can be like God, knowing good and evil.” In other words, the essence of evil is the desire to be legitimately self-justified, independent of God—even if that means using divine law to justify oneself. From amoral Atheism to strictly moral Theism, all such philosophies are based on exactly the same flaw. In contrast, Jesus alone offers the cure for humanity’s self-destructive ills through our surrender to His divine righteousness.

In my posts Objective Morality—Atheism vs. Pantheism vs. Theism and If God Is Good, What Is Evil?, I attempted to demonstrate that (1) God’s nature is the essence of objective goodness and (2) evil is nothing more than corrupt self-righteousness—false goodness that seeks to challenge God’s true righteousness. If these two premises are correct, then the classic Moral Argument for God can be expanded into the Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone. But before presenting the formal fancy-pants philosophical argument, there are a few issues to further explore …

If Humans Are Corrupted by Evil Self-Righteousness, How Can They Become Good/Justified?
This is a crucial question for humanity. How do we become good? Can we be justified by doing lots of good works, such as giving to charity? Can we become enlightened by meditating for hours on end? Is it possible we are already 100% justified, and just do not realize it? If we are supposed to become good or enlightened through our own power and efforts, where and what is the correct formula?!

In Andy Stanley’s book How Good Is Good Enough?, he brilliantly exposes the myriad flaws with the “good people go to Heaven” theory—the idea that we must achieve a certain level of personal goodness in order to please God. Obviously, atheists do not believe in God or Heaven, but the question still remains for the atheist: how does one become justified? One of the troubling questions Stanley raises for the “good people are justified” hypothesis is that we would need some sort of objective standard to determine if humans are good enough. Even if we established what all the correct moral guidelines are (a huge debate in itself), is a “good” person someone who is 85% good, or 21% good, or 53% good … or exactly 41.29847% good (but if you’re only 41.29846% good, you’re only a “mediocre” or “bad” person)? For that matter, if we are supposed to become holy or enlightened based upon our own good works or meditations or religious devotion, why doesn’t God or the universe give us progress reports throughout our lives—so we know where we stand and, if necessary, can adopt a performance-improvement plan?

Such questions do not merely lead to nagging doubts about the popular “good people are justified” theory—they completely undermine it! Any percentage formula for righteousness we could concoct (whether it is religious or irreligious) would inevitably be arbitrary. Various religions offer different self-help formulas on how to become justified and reach Heaven or Nirvana, but how can we possibly know which method is correct? Are we supposed to keep track of our good deeds and misdeeds throughout our lives and then plug them into a formula? And does that sort of formulaic personal holiness really make logical sense? Under that scenario, we would have to imagine God or the universe potentially informing us: “I’m sorry—you’re exactly 0.00352% short of the necessary holiness to reach Heaven …”

But besides impossible-to-answer questions about percentages and formulas, there is a far deeper problem with the “good people are justified” theory. And that is that the theory teaches us to become “good people” (whatever the heck that means) through the power of our own self-holiness. In one form or another, the vast majority of humanity is counting on being justified because “I’ve done enough good things” or “I’m not as bad as my abusive neighbor”—and that entire mindset is firmly rooted in human self-justification … but human self-righteousness (evil) is the whole problem in the first place!

Does Analyzing This Problem Shed Light on Anything?
Now take another look at every faith outside of Christianity. While there are enormous differences among them, they all boil down to establishing human justification through personal goodness:
•   Satanism, Amoral Atheism and Moral Relativism: You are already 100% justified and you can do whatever you want. You are effectively omnibenevolent … your own self-contained moral Yahweh.
•   Amoral Pantheism: The world is an illusion, including your supposed “evil”. You need to become enlightened and realize the entire world is non-real, and then you will ascend beyond it.
•   Moral Atheism, Moral Pantheism and Non-Christian Theism: In order to become justified in the sight of the universe or God, you must do enough good things and avoid doing too many bad things.
Though many adherents to the above faiths are kind and well-meaning, they have staked their ultimate justification on their own ability to become good in and of themselves—and that is a grave mistake.

But Is There an Alternative to Human Self-Justification?
Yes, there is! There is only one historical religious figure who rejected the “good people are justified” theory—Jesus. Instead of offering humanity a self-help program based upon a regimen of good works or percentage of enlightenment, Jesus teaches us to totally surrender to Him through faith (John 3:15–16) and to be transformed from the inside out, not through our own frail efforts, but through His divine power (2 Corinthians 5:17). And that message is radically different from any other faith in the cosmos.

This was poignantly illustrated in the life of Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as the Apostle Paul. Prior to an overwhelming encounter with Jesus, Saul was a devoted, violent religious zealot (Acts 26:5)—a Pharisee of the strictest sect of Judaism—and he was trying to please God by rigidly adhering to the Law of Moses. But after his life was transformed by Christ, he realized that, as a Pharisee, he had only been using divine law to attempt to make himself righteous. And as a Christian, he gave up his own holiness so that he might be redeemed by Jesus’s true goodness (Philippians 3:8–9).

As Ravi Zacharias once described it: “Our [humanity’s] problem is not one of degree. It is one of kind.” Zacharias’s point was that humanity is self-righteously corrupt by nature, and there is no to-do list that will cure our root problem. We need a complete change of nature, and Jesus alone offers this to us. As theologian John MacArthur once put it: “There are many different religions in this world, but there are only two gospels. First, there is the gospel of divine righteousness—that is called ‘Biblical Christianity’. And then there is the gospel of human self-righteousness—and that is called ‘everything else’.”

The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone
Premise 1: Objective morality exists.
Premise 2: God is the true paradigm of objective goodness.
Premise 3: Evil is false righteousness that attempts to challenge God as the paradigm of true goodness.
Premise 4: All other faiths outside of Christianity are inextricably rooted in self-justification.
Premise 5: The Christian Deity alone challenges humans to surrender their self-righteousness to God.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God alone exists as the true paradigm of objective goodness.

If the above logical argument is sound (and I expect to be vigorously challenged on this), then the Moral Argument is not just checkmate for theism—it is checkmate for Christian theism!

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