Friday, October 19, 2007

The Frustration and Irrationality of Unbelief

In the closing moments of Hitchens' debate with McGrath, Hitchens makes a statement he's made often before (as have other unbelievers) in which he ascribes arrogance to believers who claim to know the thoughts and will of God. What strikes me most is how not only with Hitchens but with other atheist apologists, this one issue frustrates them if not just as much as all others, perhaps above all others. With all the intelligence unbelievers possess, this they not only cannot attain but cannot stand it when others, even those in cases perhaps less intelligent and unassuming, both make claim to and diplay evidence of through the peace and purity they proclaim, possess and uphold in their lives. As it is written "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." (1 Cor 1:19)

But let's examine the claim Hitchens makes and see whether or not it's rational for believers to claim what they know...

Hitchens' argument is that it's arrogance and impossible for believers to claim they know the thoughts, mind and will of God. Is this arrogance and irrational; or is it the truth? Could it be that the answer and truth is so simple, straightforward, and before us all...that even Hitchens' own statement is the ultimate in arrogance and irrationality?

A Simple Illustration. Let's suppose that when a naval aviator is overseas, he sends a letter home for his wife and children (ages 3, 6, 10 and 12) to read. Now, is it impossible for his wife and children (though they do not see him) to know his thoughts, mind and will? The answer is no, absolutely not. It's perfectly rational! In fact, though the three year old may even have to have the letter read to him, and though he may not understand it all or even get it all right when telling others, the truth is... this child can know (though to some extent, but in reality) the mind and will of his Father. How much moreso, the more mature children and the man's own bride!

Now, the question must be asked: Yes, we know that, and we're all familiar with humans, and letter writing and mail, etc., BUT how about from a God who is invisible, of spirit form, etc.? Is it rational to believe in this? ... or Is it pure arrogance?

The answer lies in the nature and attributes of the God under question. If this God is one whose communication, powers, governance, etc., extend ABOVE that of man and human experience, then it's NOT IRRATIONAL at all, NOR would it be ARROGANCE. Does not the Christian faith proclaim a God who is capable of organic inspiration, such that having not only created man but now continues to providentially superintend and makes use of man (along with the rest of all creation) for manifesting and revealing his glory. This is NOT IRRATIONAL, NOR IS IT ARROGANCE. Surely such a God along with his thoughts, mind and will can be known, even with great measure of confidence. And this, along with the fact that God regenerates, and gives life, and eyes with which to see, a letter or word (which in his providence happens to be the most popular and read book in the world) along with his own Holy Spirit as a seal, makes it so simple and plain that "even a child" could see it and know these things without possessing an ounce of arrogance or pride. Isn't it interesting, that the letter and the Spirit that gives life through the knowledge of God and his ways is daily before us all, and even the crux of the matter at hand, and yet it's claimed arrogance to know these very things. It surprises me that Hitchens claim has gone unchallenged for so long, except that by the time he brings it up, he's usually in a monologue mode and proclaiming disdain rather than participating in further debate.

Have readers, though most have not seen me, not come to know my thoughts and mind on this matter now (... and I have only used a keyboard and the net)? How much more then can we know the mind of GOD, to whose mind, intellect, communication, and means, mine do not even begin to compare!

1 comment:

  1. Good post sword.

    As always in this type of discussion, I would ask Hitchens to explain his epistemology. What is knowledge, and how do you gain it?

    The best an atheist can do is to ultimately appeal to the reliability of his own senses and cognitive abilities. In the process he becomes viciously circular, since he is appealing to his senses to justify his senses, and therefore cannot justify his knowledge of his senses without accepting them as a-priori reliable and sufficient to gain knowledge.

    In addition, how does he then know that he knows something? If his epistemology is dependent on his senses, does he have a sensation when he knows something? But what justifies that sensation as true? Since his epistemology depends on senses, he has to sense that he is sensing that he knows something. And so it continues, ad infinitum, never reaching a solid basis for epistemology.

    As Christians, we believe that we are born with a certain amount of knowledge of God, having been created in his image. Furthermore, as we are regenerate and blessed with the Holy Spirit, we think God's thoughts after Him, through spiritual unity. That testimony allows us to believe that our senses are reliable, our thoughts are coherent and logical, and allows us to distinguish truth from non-truth.

    God bless.