The Logical Fallacy of Requiring Material Evidence to Prove God’s Existence

The following graphic, which I saw on Facebook, sums up the argument I consistently hear from materialistic atheists in their arguments against God.

For many, this seems like a rational requirement. If something is true, there should be scientific evidence to prove it.

However, such a “rule” is actually nonsense. There are logical fallacies involved in requiring the use of the scientific method to prove the existence of God.

Fallacy #1 – It’s totally arbitrary

The first fallacy of requiring empirical scientific evidence to prove God’s existence is that such a requirement is total arbitrary.

When an atheist demands physical evidence for the existence of God, my first response is, “Why? Why is scientific evidence the only acceptable evidence?”

The usual response is, “Because the only way we can know anything is through physical evidence.”

And again, my response is, “Why?” And I usually get a confused stare, like I’m crazy for even asking such a question.

The point is, there is absolutely no logical reason why such a rule should exist – except for the worldview of the materialistic atheist. The materialistic atheist believes that the material world of matter and energy is all that exists. The thought that anything else could exist is absurd to them. However, material atheism is itself completely arbitrary.

Fallacy #2 – Category Error

A category error is “a type of informal fallacy where things that belong to one grouping are mistakenly placed in another,” or where “a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property.” If someone says, “My coffee is a Republican,” they are committing a category error – coffee cannot be a Republican. Only people can be Republicans. Coffee does not belong to the category of things capable of being a Republican.

The Biblical God is not a material Being. He is not part of the natural universe. By definition, God is supernatural (super- “Above; over;” natural “Present in or produced by nature”). God is in an entirely different category than the natural universe. When one demands physical evidence for the existence of a non-physical Being, they are committing a category error fallacy. It would be like demanding DNA evidence for the existence of black holes, or asking for a test tube full of consciousness, or trying to put time in a bottle.

Fallacy #3 – It’s self-refuting

What do I mean by saying this rule is self-refuting? Basically, this rule, when applied to itself, contradicts itself.

First, the rule requires “empirical results of repeatable experimentation.” There is no way to conduct a repeatable experiment to empirically test whether “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” are required to argue for the supernatural. One cannot use the rule to test the validity of the rule.

Second, the rule requires “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation.” Yet, as I’ve already demonstrated, the rule itself is fallacious.

Fallacy #4 – Even when the rule is met, material atheists ignore the evidence

This fallacy isn’t with the rule itself, per se, but with the way atheists handle the scientific evidence that does support God’s existence.

There is a tremendous amount of “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” and much “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation” that supports the existence of God. The sheer volume of such evidence makes it impossible to present these evidences in this brief blog. A simple Google search will bring up tens of thousands of articles, peer-reviewed papers, and Websites that present the scientific arguments for God. My point is, when confronted with these evidences, the materialistic atheist will reject it anyway. Why? Because to acknowledge the validity of scientific evidence for the existence of God would completely shatter the material atheist’s entire worldview. They would be forced to face the fact that they are wrong. In other words, the material atheist cannot objectively examine scientific evidence that is presented; they must deny it, not because it isn’t scientific, but because it leads to conclusions they don’t want to acknowledge. Romans 1:18 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Those that reject God must suppress, or hide, the truth. Romans 1 continues:

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Those who reject God ultimately do so, not because of a lack of evidence, but because they foolishly refuse to submit to His authority over their lives. The issue is not evidence; the issue is rebellion.

Christians need to continue to present the Gospel to non-Christians, including materialistic atheists. We must continually pray for the lost, be prepared to present cogent arguments when needed, and rely on the Holy Spirit to us to reach the lost. We must not be swayed by the fallacious arguments used to deny God, but must stand on the truth of God’s Word as the foundation of our beliefs.

Grabbed this off Facebook a couple of minutes after I posted this blog. It seemed to fit.

Pushing People Out of the Church – Part 6

Valerie Tarico

A while back, I read an article on the left-wing, anti-religion, news-and-commentary website entitled, “8 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Make People Convert — to Agnosticism or Atheism,” by skeptic Valerie Tarico.

While I personally find most of the articles on this site either tasteless or just plain nonsense, this article caught my interest, because it contains some truths that Christians need to understand.

It’s important to recognize that people who reject Jesus Christ ultimately do so because they choose to suppress the truth (Romans 1:18-19). Unfortunately, there are also many things that those in the church do to push people away. As Tarico states, “if you read ExChristian testimonials you will notice that quite often church leaders or members do things that either trigger the deconversion process or help it along.”

I’ve found that I can learn a lot by listening to what skeptics say about their perceptions of Christianity. This series looks at the eight reasons Tarico highlights.

Reason #6: Science Denial

One of my former youth group friends had his faith done in by a conversation with a Bible study leader who explained that dinosaur skeletons actually are the bones of the giants described in early books of the Bible. Uh huh. Christians have come up with dozens of squishier, less falsifiable ways to explain the geological record: The “days” in Genesis 1 were really “ages.” Or God created the world with the fossils already in place to test our faith. Or the biblical creation story is really sacred metaphor. But young-earth creationists who believe the world appeared in its present form 6,000-10,000 years ago are stuck. And since almost half of the American public believes some version of this young-earth story, there are ample opportunities for inquiring minds to trip across proto-scientific nonsense.

Like other factors I’ve mentioned, science denial doesn’t just move believers to nonbelief; it also rallies opposition ranging from cantankerous bloggers to legal advocates. It provides fodder for comedians and critics: “If the world was created 6,000 years ago, what’s fueling your car?” It may produce some of the most far-reaching opposition to religious belief, because science advocates argue that faith, even socially benign faith, is a fundamentally flawed way of knowing. The Catholic church, perhaps still licking wounds about Galileo (it apologized finally in the 20th century), has managed to avoid embarrassing and easily disproven positions on evolutionary biology. But one could argue that its atheism-fostering positions on conception and contraception similarly rely on ignorance about or denial of biological science — in this case embryology and the basic fact that most embryos never become persons.

From my experience, the creation vs. evolution debate is the topic that is most likely to get a skeptic’s dander up. This is because atheism is utterly impossible unless evolution is true. If God or gods don’t exist, there must be a non-supernatural mechanism to explain how life came to be. The only remotely plausible explanation is evolution.

I’ve always found it ironic that when most creationists discuss evolution and creation, they tend to focus on the observable scientific inconsistencies of evolutionary theory and the observable science supporting the Biblical creation model, while most evolutionists simply state evolution as dogma and ridicule the Biblical model – without bringing up actual scientific evidence. Tarico is no different. Granted, two paragraphs isn’t enough space to lay out any real scientific evidence one way or the other. Yet, she does manage to state her dogmatic faith in evolution, and throw out a few question-begging epithets against Biblical creation (“proto-scientific nonsense,” “science denial,” “denial of biological science”). She also throws out a huge straw-man argument: “… young-earth creationists … believe the world appeared in its present form 6,000-10,000 years ago.” Wrong. The 6,000-10,000 years ago part is correct. The “appeared in its present form” is absolutely wrong. Biblical creationists generally believe the earth was created “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but that it was radically changed because of sin (Genesis 3). It was tremendously altered by the global flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6-8). Furthermore, natural processes such as erosion, weathering, natural selection, and mutations have continued to change the earth and the organisms live here. But, then again, it’s easier to argue against a straw-man with dogma and name-calling than it is to argue logically against actual Biblical creation.

The fact that some naïve Bible study leader ignorantly thought that “dinosaur skeletons actually are the bones of the giants described in early books of the Bible” isn’t an argument against Biblical creationism. It does, however, point out the fact that too many Christians are ignorant of both science and the Bible. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Unfortunately, most Christians are not ready, and cannot give a defense of the Biblical account of Creation. The un-Biblical compromise positions Tarico mentions, such as the day-age theory, Genesis as a metaphor, or any number of other theories, cause as much confusion about the Bible as atheistic evolution. All origins theories other than the straight-forward Biblical account of six literal days a few thousand years ago take mankind’s fallible ideas and hold them in higher authority than God’s Word. All of these other theories question the authority of the straight-forward teaching of the Bible.

Christians, especially Christian leaders and teachers, need to educate themselves. We need to understand science and evolutionary theory. In fact, Christians need to understand evolution better than most evolutionists do. We need to understand what evolution teaches, as well as the scientific, logical, and theological problems with evolution. We need to understand how various dating methods arrive at ancient ages for the earth, and the arbitrary assumptions behind these methods. We also need to understand what the Bible actually says – and doesn’t say – about origins and the age of the earth. What we actually observe in the universe solidly confirms the Biblical account of creation, and show the millions-of-years-of-evolution dogma to be utterly impossible.

I would argue that it’s not the young-earth position that drives people away, as Tarico believes; rather, it’s ignorant Christians that are unprepared to explain how science confirms the Bible that cause confusion and doubt. Too many Christians appear ignorant of science, not because they embrace the Biblical creation, but because they actually are ignorant of both science and the Bible. Incidentally, most skeptics are just as ignorant – but that’s no excuse. If we want people to realize the absolute truth of the Bible, and embrace faith in Jesus Christ as the only rational reality, then we need to take 1 Peter 3:15 to heart, and stop being so ignorant and unprepared to defend the authority of Scripture.

Numerous resources are available to help the Christian understand Biblical creation. I recommend starting with the Answers Book 1, 2, and 3 available from Answers in Genesis. Ministries such as Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, Creation Ministries International, and many others have thousands of articles, books, DVDs, and other resources available – many for FREE.