The Christian Poses Tough Questions to the Atheist

The Christian Poses Tough Questions to the Atheist November 18, 2013

No one can demand a proof that God does (or doesn’t) exist, but where does the evidence point?

A number of apologists defend Christianity with the thinking of a courtroom lawyer or detective. One of these is J. Warner Wallace. In his essay “The Christian Worldview is the Best Explanation,” he gives ten tough questions to which he says Christianity has the better answer. Let’s take a look.

1. How Did the Universe Come Into Being?

Our universe had a beginning, but what caused it? Why is there something instead of nothing?

I don’t know what caused the universe. I don’t even know if asking about a cause (which implies an action through time) even makes sense before time. (And I say “I don’t know” simply because I’m parroting the consensus view of physics. If that changes, so will my opinion.)

But there’s nothing embarrassing about pointing out where we don’t know things. Science has plenty of unanswered questions, and highlighting them shows where work needs to be done. It’s not like we’ve ever learned anything new about nature through holy books or divine revelation.

That science doesn’t know something doesn’t mean that Christians do. They still must do the hard work of coming up with evidence for the claim “God did it.” Believing by faith won’t do.

Note also that quantum events may not have causes, and the Big Bang was a quantum event. There’s no reason to demand a Big Banger, some supernatural First Cause.

As for “Why is there something instead of nothing?” show us why nothing is the default—that nothing is what a godless universe would contain. In fact, physicist Lawrence Krauss argues the opposite: that nothing is unstable and would spontaneously produce something.

More could be said on this and the other questions here, but I’m keeping it short for space reasons. Apologies in advance when I shortchange one or both sides of the argument.

2. Why Does There Appear to Be Design (Fine Tuning) in the Universe?

The constants that govern our universe appear to be remarkably fine-tuned to allow life. What explains that if not a supernatural intelligence?

I’ve touched on the fine-tuning argument before. The quick answer to this question is the multiverse—an almost infinite number of other universes defined by different constants. Most of them might be sterile, but there are enough to make one or more life giving.

The Christian might imagine atheists lamenting how the appearance of deliberate fine tuning makes a deity unavoidable and then hitting on the crazy idea of bazillions of universes so that by sheer luck at least one of them will allow life. But that’s not how it happened. A multiverse is predicted by well-established physics—both string theory and inflation.

Note also that events aren’t unique in physics. There’s more than one photon, more than one electron, more than one star, more than one object influenced by gravity, and so on. Why imagine only one Big Bang?

Wallace says that explaining the appearance of design “is a problem for philosophical naturalists only because they are precluded from considering the possibility of a designer.” If someone is closed minded to the evidence, I agree that that’s a problem. However, I’m happy to follow the evidence where it leads. Science has explored supernatural claims and found many natural causes.

Wallace says, “The Christian worldview is founded on the existence and creative activity of a Master Designer, and for this reason, it does not have to struggle with the appearance of design.” Show us that this is grounded with evidence and it’ll be more than just an ancient myth. Until then, not so much.

3. How Did Life Originate?

“Philosophical naturalists are still unable to explain how life began, and more importantly, their work in this area simply reveals how difficult the problem is to explain. … This scientifically inexplicable event can be described as nothing short of miraculous; the Christian worldview explains how the long odds against the emergence of life were overcome.”

The Christian worldview explains nothing. Christians can show how their theology addresses the question, but this isn’t evidence.

The origin of life is called abiogenesis. Though science has lots of ideas, it doesn’t have a good theory. Nevertheless, science not having an answer gives nothing to the Christian side of the question.

Do Christians think that this or any of the scientific questions are fundamental parts of their argument? I doubt it. When science reaches a consensus on any puzzle—and science’s track record for finding answers to nature’s questions is remarkable—they’ll just drop that question and pick up something new and hope that no one notices the switch. Their argument then becomes “Science has unanswered questions; therefore God.”

Continue with part 2.

The universe is simply one of those things
that happens from time to time.
— physicist Edward P. Tryon

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!