May 2007

Jesus once said "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) Jesus does not give us peace "as the world gives" because he asks us not to trust in our worldly possessions or accomplishments, but instead to put the trust in the one who is ultimately trustworthy and true.

I was 22 years old before I thought about God seriously. I had what most people would consider a "good life", but never knew real peace until I started a relationship with God. That's something important that I value about God: Even though God is all-powerful, he still "made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Philippians 2:7) in order to take our punishment for sin on our behalf. He had no obligation to do so, but did it out of his love for us.

Not only that, but he yearns to establish the kind of personal relationship that gives us peace. Jesus said "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) This doesn't mean we won't experience hardship, but we can have faith based on his promise of ultimate peace. His promise has proven true in my life, and his promise extends to, and will prove true to you as well.

Related reading:

The SecretI said I would post about "The Secret", Rhonda Byrne's ridiculous new-agey DVD/book that proposes the not so novel theory that "OUR THOUGHTS … CREATE … THINGS!" … however I've decided against wasting my time doing a meticulous refutation, in the hopes that the fad will die off soon. However, I did write an article for The Life recently about The Secret, titled What is "The Secret"?. I invite you to read it as a summary of my views on this subject.

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. In the last two months, I've finished my last full semester for my masters at Tyndale and just got back from some tiring ministry training in British Columbia. Fun times, but very busy. The final course I'll be taking this summer (the last elective to complete my degree) will be Defending the Faith: Resurrection, taught by a leading scholar on the resurrection, Dr. Gary Habermas. Needless to say, I'm quite excited about taking the course!

Enough about me.

God?I was reading a magazine today where a man was asked "Is your religion truer than another?" Unsurprisingly, he replied "We'll never know that." Is this a reasonable statement? What does this really mean?

I'd like to first preface my comments by pointing out that if God exists, and religions have opposite views about God's nature, then necessarily one is "truer" than the others. If God exists He really possesses certain attributes, and therefore one of the descriptions given by one of those religions would match most closely to those attributes.

However, the real question lurking here is whether or not we can really know anything about God. "We'll never know that," the man says, indicating that he agrees God exists and possesses attributes, but doubts we can know those attributes, let alone know God personally. I've found that the majority of people I speak to about spiritual issues believe God exists. However, many of those same people claim we can't really know anything about God. Now, part of the source of this opinion is due to tolerance overindulgence, and people are just afraid of being branded "intolerant" for voicing their convictions regarding spiritual issues. That doesn't prove that the belief is wrong (genetic fallacy) but does suggest that people may not have considered the philosophical reasons for their claim.

The claim:

We can't know anything about God.

I've posted before about why it is deficient to apply the same methodology we use to study mundane things to studying God. That, I think, is an important and valid argument against the idea that we cannot "know" God, because most people making that claim are assuming (knowingly or not) entirely natural methodology.

But here's another thing to think about. If someone says we cannot know anything about God, ask why. As soon as a person tries to provide reasons by saying "Because God is …" their argument falls apart; it is self-refuting. Greg Koukl would say the argument "commits suicide". In order to defend the conclusion (that we can't know anything about God) the proponent must base their conclusion on what they claim to know about God!

Consider this analogy:

Fred: We can't know anything about Bob.
Jill: Why?
Fred: Because Bob lives alone in a house in the mountains with the windows painted black and never comes outside.

The problem with the argument should be obvious: Fred provides several facts he claims to know about Bob in order to try to prove we can't know anything about him!

Moreover, even the claim on its own without appeal to other information is self-refuting! The claim we can't know anything about God is itself making a claim to know something about God: That God is unknowable! It commits a fallacy similar to the liar paradox. So even if no further premises are expounded to support this conclusion (such as that God is infinite and therefore incomprehensible by our finite minds, a poor argument IMHO) the conclusion still fails because it self-destructs.

A much more reasonable position would be we can't know very much about God, but I think that even without appeal to special revelation (like a holy book for example), we can still know much about God via observation and reflection alone. (See "What about natural theology?") These are not ends unto themselves, but steps along the way. Faith is (at least in part) a journey and not just a destination; however, people who are searching should not be so intent upon gazing at the sky while they walk that they fail to see the yawning chasm lying just ahead.