As we proceed with our discussion, I want to point out that a lot of what I will tend to present will have to do with epistemology, that is, how we know what we know, and what are the limits of human knowledge. The epistemological consideration arises in many ‘ultimate questions’ and, as I want to admit at the end of this comment, is not without its moral aspect.
Let me add that I will argue that part of a sound world view is to 1)not only to recognise the presuppositions one utilises but to 2) to see to it that the view of the world to which one holds is consistent with those presuppositions.
Therefore, yes, I do not argue that the world does not demonstrate order. I would say the world demonstrates order. However, that argument, that recognises order and expects its continuation, is consistent with my presupposition that there is a God behind it (namely the triune God of the Scriptures) who reveals himself to be a God of order and in relation to whom there is nothing or no one more ultimate. I say that from the standpoint of limited, or dependent, human knowledge.
I argue additionally that if the basic presupposition is one of human autonomy and a chance universe, that whatever is simply is, and that things occur by random variation, there is no reason to expect the continuation of order much less to have a category for it in a world where anything can happen. The problem about order only arises if in a chance universe order is claimed and its continuation anticipated. That is not consistent with the presupposition of a random universe. This is an absolutely crucial point, and I hope I have been able to show just how basic the discussion has to get. It has to go to the core of world views.
Another example would be to take immaterial laws of logic that apply in our world. The focus is on ‘immaterial.’ Do immaterial laws of logic really exist? It makes sense that they do if there is a God, who is personality and spirit, but not if there is simply randomness, materialism, impersonality. That is why a Christian theist argues that God is the Grund aller Erkenntnis, to throw in some German. He is the basis of all rationality, because we have to use immaterial laws of logic and our rationality that do not fit with a non-believing world view to even try and (logically) deny He exists.
If someone responds that the ‘law’ of natural selection imposes order on the randomness, anyone concerned with the justification of that statement will want to see if the ‘law’ of natural selection is consistent with whatever else is assumed or presupposed. I have to take a short detour and say that ‘assumed’ or presupposed, at the most basic level means axiomatically taken, or not provable…Everyone has axiomatic components to a world view. Aristotle said an indication of an educated person was to know what to take as axiomatic and what one should try to prove. We all have to start somewhere or we end up with an infinite regress, and we do not live that way.
So, to return to the point, is a ‘law’ of natural selection sensible to consider in a godless universe? Is it consistent with randomness? If the response is that the law of natural selection is more basic than randomness, then what basis do we have trust in its continuing to be law when we think we see things happening randomly. When will randomness perhaps take over? You see, I am at the point where I would have to say we will believe anything in order to not have to admit that God is behind the universe.
To your point about chaos, I would not expect God to create a chaotic universe, because he has revealed himself to be otherwise. Additionally, I see that revelation from the Scriptures confirmed in the external world. Again, there is consistency between my presupposition about God’s existence and the reality as I encounter it and rationally process it.
When you write that we have to have order or “Evolution itself wouldn’t have gone anywhere!”, you are making my point. Your expectation of evolution (that it depends on order) is not consistent with your belief in evolution, which depends on chance.
I would predict that if the penny can drop, and this point is understood, we will have a paradigm shift, a Copernican Revolution in academia and thinking in general. And you read it (perhaps) first on CFI. We will not have a paradigm shift because the facts change; rather, a paradigm shift will be the result of a different world view approach to the facts.
Our original topic was “Can we be good without God?” Imagine the attempts that have been made. We thought we could explain being good without God by looking at nature, but nature shows us something else. We thought democracy might get us there, but with majority rule what if 51% want to destroy 49% of the population of a country? We might fall back to saying “just because we know that certain things are right,” but what sort of reasoning is that?
You wrote the following,
“I would rephrase this differently:
If it rains, the sidewalk is wet.
The sidewalk is wet.
Therefore, it has rained.”
That is not sound reasoning. The fallacy is called asserting the consequent, as I best recall. If the sidewalk is wet (consequent), it is not necessarily the case that it rained (antecedent). Yes, it may have rained, but it does not have to rain in order for the sidewalk to be wet. On the other hand, if it rains (antecedently), it follows that the sidewalk will have to be wet. In both cases I exclude extraneous facts, such as a covered sidewalk.
Lastly, you end the comment with the following:
“Once again, from my point of view, you start with the assumption that order cannot arise from a universe which has no God, and use that to prove the assertion that there is a God.”
This is the reason why I began with the comment on epistemology. I maintain that my thinking is consistent with my presuppositions. I take issue with your, and every non-believer’s, position, that there is consistency between thinking there is order when there is chance at the core of reality.
Cornelius van Til, a theologian, once said that humanity reminds him of a girl he once saw on her father’s lap on a train to Philadelphia. Only because she was on his lap was she able to slap her father in the face. That, he said, is a picture of how we behave towards God.
Maybe in more acceptable terms, because it was written by a non-believer, is the following quote from Aldous Huxley. He confessed that his reasons for arguing against the message of the Bible were not unbiased and objective philosophical reasons. He ‘had an agenda’ (how postmodern):
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do.
For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain
political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of
morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our
sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was an admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever… (Aldous Huxley. 1937. Ends and means. Chatto & Windus, London, pp. 272, 273).
I look forward to your thoughts.