I am a minister and college student who has found himself on the defensive a lot lately about the topic, "Does God exist?" When searching for references about this topic for a research paper I came across the Butt-Barker Debate of 2009 published by Apologetics Press on YouTube and on DVD. After reading information from your website, including parts of your book, I have decided that your input would be of great value to me. I realize that your schedule is very busy but if you could find time to answer the arguments that Mr. Barker raised in the aforementioned debate (see attached survey) I would very grateful.
My responses are interspersed within the questions in the survey. My general response is that these arguments against the existence of God are EXTREMELY shallow. They are all classical logical fallacies. If this is the best anti-God argument to be offered, then the believers should rejoice rather than be intimidated by these arguments!!!
Survey on the Existence of the God of the Bible Statements/Questions Taken from Dan Barker’s Atheist Position in the Butt-Barker debate of 2009 Please respond as if each question or comment were made to you, attach additional pages if needed.
1. There is no need for a belief in God. [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
Whether or not there is a need for God is absolutely irrelevant to the question of his existence. Therefore this question is not a helpful one in answering the question of his existence. Water exists independent of my feeling of a need for water.
2. There is no evidence for any god. [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
The arguments that God exists are vastly stronger than the argument that he does not exist. This statement is simply false. For example, the “fined tuned” universe is a fantastically strong argument for design and therefore a designer. Also, the existence of moral absolutes is further evidence for a source of that moral absolute. The cosmological argument is a strong one; especially the Kalaam cosmological argument. Premise: Everything which begins to exist has a cause. Premise: The universe began to exist. Conclusion: The universe was caused by something. This supernatural cause is God.
3. There is no coherent definition of God. [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
This is a false statement. God, by definition, is the creator and designer of the universe in which we live. He is the source of truth and, most especially, of moral truth and value.
4. What is a spirit? [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
Is this an argument against the existence of God? I see no argument here.
5. “You theist only argue for a ‘God of the Gap’. You find something we don’t understand yet and go ah ha, it must be God!” [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
The fact that certain people use “God of the gap” arguments does not invalidate the good arguments of those who do NOT use God-of-the-gap arguments, such as myself. This is a clear straw-man argument.
6. “To know there is no God just walk into a Children’s hospital. Every now and then, the lucky ones, say ‘our child is healed, praise God!’… He must’ve hated those other kids.” [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
The statements of any one single person have absolutely no effect on the validity of the argument from design or the moral argument or the cosmological argument. This is just an attempt to change the subject. This is like saying that some people who believe in gravity are fools, therefore gravity is not real.
7. “There is no agreement among believers as to the nature or the moral principles of this god.” [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
a. This is simply not the case. There is much agreement on the moral principles.
b. Even if it were true, this does absolutely nothing to invalidate the arguments for the existence of God. The opinions of people have no effect on the truth of a proposition. The argument is on whether God exists, not on his attributes (except for the attribute of existence, of course).
8. “God is disproved by the ‘married-bachelor’ argument.” (See below) [ ] Agree [ ] Disagree Why?
This, too, is a logical fallacy, as are all these anti-God arguments. This is the logical fallacy of the false dilemma. God does not change, but one of his unchanging attributes is that he loves us, listens to us, and bases his path on our response to his love. This false dilemma makes the false assumption that God cannot have a relationship with his creatures. The argument is this: Either God does not exist, or he cannot have a relationship with his creations. Choose one or the other. Sorry, but I believe there is another choice. If there is a relationship, then there is a two-way interaction, and thus, this is a false dilemma. By the way, I believe that although this is a false dilemma, it is the strongest argument against God in this entire outline. This is an argument, not against the existence of God, but against the existence of the God of the Bible, and therefore is really irrelevant to the question, but it brings up a difficult question about the God of the Bible. The question is why would the creator of the entire universe stoop down to have a relationship with individual creations? The answer is that it is because he loves us and wants us to love him. This fact is not a completely logical one. God’s love is not fully logical, but then again who ever said love was logical?
Mutual incompatibility proves that God does not exist. Just as a married-bachelor cannot exist God cannot exist because: 1. GOD DOES NOT CHANGE For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6) GOD DOES CHANGE And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. (Exodus 32:14) And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel. (1 Samuel 15:35) In the story of Jonah God said that He would destroy Nineveh, he gave no options for repentance, but He did not destroy Nineveh.
I already answered this one above.
2. SINS OF THE FATHER ARE PLACED UPON THE CHILDREN. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Exodus 20:5) SINS OF THE FATHER ARE NOT PLACED UPON THE CHILDREN. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.(Deuteronomy 24:16)
This is another false dilemma, based on a misunderstanding of scripture. Exodus 20:5 is talking about the result IN THIS LIFE for sinful behavior, which is to bring suffering on others. We do not really even need Exodus 20:5 to tell us that if we sin, we bring suffering on those around us. Deuteronomy 24:16 (and Ezekiel 18:19-20 make it clear that, when it comes to eternal consequences, God only holds us responsibility for our own sins. This is justice. Exodus 20:5 is not talking about justice. It is discussing the moral law that sin creates suffering. Each of the arguments below are based on a rather shallow misunderstanding of the relevant scriptures. Those who read the Bible in order to find apparent contradictions are being disingenuous. They are not trying to find the balance of biblical truth, but are simply looking for reasons to not listen to the biblical message. The example above is illustrative of this. God is good, but, in his love for us, he gives us a choice. When we choose to rebel against God’s good will, we bring suffering and evil into the world. God does not tempt anyone. Yet, in his love for us, he gives us free will, which includes a choice. He allows us to be tempted because he loves us. The dilemmas below all represent a basic misunderstanding of this principle. In any case, what are these doing in an argument on whether or not God exists? This is a smoke screen. Are they arguing against the existence of God or against one particular group’s understanding of that God. It is probably good to discuss one major question at a time and to not become confused on the issues.
3. GOD IS GOOD. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. (Mark 10:18) The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. (Psalms 145:9) GOD IS NOT GOOD. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7) Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?(Lamentations 3:38) Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live; (Ezekiel 20:25) Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. (Jeremiah 18:11) 4. DOES GOD TEMPT PEOPLE? James 1:13 “NO” Genesis 22:1 “YES” 5. TO KILL OR NOT TO KILL? Exodus 20:13 “NO” Exodus 32:27 “YES” 6. SLAVERY OR NO SLAVERY? Ephesians 6:5 “YES” Matthew 23:10 “NO” 7. GOD OF PEACE? Exodus 15:3 “NO” 1 Corinthians 14:33 “YES” The God of the Old Testament is a wrathful vengeful hate filled God while in the New Testament He is presented as a loving peaceful God. God is a married-bachelor and therefore does not exist. Survey on the Existence of the God of the Bible Statements/Questions
I hope this helps. By the way, in the EFC store (see the front page of the web site) there is an audio of a class I did on the existence of God at the University of Stockholm last year. You might want to purchase a copy of that lecture.