So, I thought it would be a good idea to write a short follow-up post after a couple of very good questions from some very good people about my last entry, which did leave a few things open for enquiry.
First, I was asked about the point that many unbelievers tend to make after listening to the ‘moral argument’ (even though I don’t like this term, I’ll use it in this instance so that we know we’re on the same page); the refutation that we have a ‘pack instinct’, one that compels us to look after our own species, and this, rather than any sense of righteousness, is why we do good things like help a man in need.
Now, if you think about this first point a little bit, you will see that it is not a refutation at all. It merely pretends to be one, and the person who makes it is trying to dodge the real issue. Here is the real issue: my ‘moral argument’ did not at any point say that we didn’t also have this so-called pack instinct. The two are not incompatible. What my argument was saying is that we have a scale on which we judge whether or not to act on this instinct, and there is a force (that we can easily choose not to follow) helping us make that decision. In other words, while I have no doubt that we do have a pack instinct (or however else you may choose to refer to it), that instinct alone doesn’t make our decisions for us, any more than sexual instinct forces us to commit adultery. There is something deeper that discerns whether or not following the instinct would be the right thing to do.
Secondly, I was presented with a couple of great Bible verses (Romans 1: 20, 2: 15) that may very well contradict my claim in the last entry that the Bible never tries to prove God’s existence.
The Bible may present reasons why God’s existence is obvious (and to those living in biblical times – not that the time in which we’re currently living is not a ‘biblical’ time, or that any one time is more biblical than another, but we’ll deal with that gripe later – it was admittedly rather obvious… Yet even then, sin was rife. What does that tell us?). It may state God’s existence simply to glorify Him in acknowledgement of this. However, the fact remains that this is not the case in the world today. God’s existence is no longer obvious to the everyday educated individual. Or rather; it is, but said educated individual now also has to deal with so many other possible explanations, many other accusations of contradiction presented by science, by evolution, even by other religions that borrow (some subtly, some blatantly) from Christianity, that it’s hard for the average person to come to believe not only in God, but in our God. The loving and perfect and one true God. It is hard even for the average Christian. It is why we must remind ourselves of it every day, giving glory to God as we rise in the mornings and rest in the evenings, because otherwise it’s likely to slip our minds and we’ll be met by claims of a certain other ‘truth’ backed up by ‘irrefutable evidence’ that could shake our faith.
Knowing this about the modern world, it is difficult for me to use such verses as Romans 1: 20 when conversing with an unbeliever, not only for the reason that they would find it calling them fools when they read on a couple of verses further (they’ll gradually come to this realisation, but it’s for repentence, not now. In other words; for our benefit, not theirs), but because it talks of God’s existence as fact, something that is simply not the case for them. The proof I try to present can be explained away and ‘disproved’ by other methods; the very ease with which this can be done means therefore that, in their context (which could change at some point), there is no need for God to be there, and no need for them to either read His word or take our word for it being true.
The answer to that second point, then, is that while the Bible doesn’t ever try to explain God’s existence, it does, of course, state it as fact. It does this simply by saying ‘God’. I, for one, am not going to say it has any reason to defend the claim; it would be like saying I have no reason to believe in God unless He impresses me first, in a way that I understand, and unfortunately my understanding of impressive is limited to money, fame, power, and a particularly lethal brand of Christian apologetics.