The Logic of Miracles – Part 5: Two Objections

The Logic of Miracles – Part 5: Two Objections December 30, 2018

WHY CLASSICAL APOLOGETICS IS DOOMED TO FAILURE

I have previously argued in Part 2 that Richard Swinburne’s case for the existence of God depends on some assumptions about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God.  I have also argued in Part 3 and in Part 4 that Peter Kreeft’s case for the existence of God depends on some assumptions about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God.  More specifically, each one of Swinburne’s arguments for God depends on such assumptions, and each one of Kreeft’s arguments for God depends on such assumptions.

Therefore, if we human beings are ignorant about the PLANS and PURPOSES of God, then Phase 1 of classical Christian apologetics appears doomed to FAIL.  In classical Christian apologetics, the first order of business is to SHOW that God exists, but this cannot be done apart from knowledge about the PLANS and PURPOSES of God.  That is to say, one must know what God’s PLANS or PURPOSES would be if God were to exist in order to SHOW that God exists.  Because we lack such knowledge, Phase 1 of classical Christian apologetics must FAIL.

In the case of ordinary people, people have physical bodies, and because of this we can observe their actions and behavior.  From such observations we can INFER the plans and purposes of ordinary people.  But God does not have a physical body (if God exists), so we cannot observe God’s actions or behavior in order to INFER his PLANS or PURPOSES.  If God exists, then he could, if he wanted to do so, communicate to human beings by means of prophets and sacred writings (like the Bible), so one might be tempted to determine God’s PLANS or PURPOSES by seeking the teachings of a prophet or of a sacred book.  God might communicate about his PLANS or PURPOSES through a prophet or a sacred book.

But many people have claimed to be prophets, and many writings have been put forward as divinely inspired writings, yet the various alleged prophets and sacred writings disagree with each other about almost every religious or theological question.  Clearly, many prophets (if not all) are false prophets, and many sacred books (if not all) were NOT inspired by God.  So, we need a way to identify which prophets are true prophets and which books are truly from God.

According to classical Christian apologetics, it is MIRACLES the point us to true prophets and to writings that were truly inspired by God.  I have, however, previously argued that we cannot identify an event as a MIRACLE unless we know about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God.  So, if the only way to obtain knowledge about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God is by determining that an event is a MIRACLE, then it is NOT possible for human beings to identify an event as a MIRACLE, nor to learn about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God.  Without knowledge of God’s PLANS or PURPOSES we cannot identify any MIRACLES, and without identifying some MIRACLES, we cannot arrive at knowledge of God’s PLANS or PURPOSES, assuming the point of view of classical Christian apologetics.

In Phase 2 of classical Christian apologetics, the apologist attempts to SHOW that a MIRACLE has occurred, but Phase 2 is doomed to FAILURE, because we are ignorant about the PLANS and PURPOSES of God.  Knowledge about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God is required in order to determine that a particular event is a MIRACLE, an event that was intentionally caused by God.

Therefore, our ignorance of the PLANS and PURPOSES of God dooms the project of classical Christian apologetics to FAILURE, because this ignorance prevents classical apologists from SHOWING that a MIRACLE has occurred (Phase 2), and it also prevents apologists from SHOWING that God exists (Phase 1). So, it is doubly impossible for a classical Christian apologist to SHOW that a MIRACLE has occurred, because (a) they cannot SHOW that God exists, and (b) they cannot show that a particular event was intentionally CAUSED by God.

OBJECTIONS TO MY ARGUMENT AGAINST CLASSICAL APOLOGETICS

There are at least two weaknesses in my previous argument against classical Christian apologetics, so before I claim victory, I need to respond to the following two objections:

OBJECTION 1:

Although you have shown that each of Kreeft’s arguments for God must be supplemented by a plausible THEODICY, you have not shown that every plausible THEODICY must make some assumptions about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God.

If there is a plausible THEODICY which does not make assumptions about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God, then Kreeft’s arguments for God could be successful apart from making any such assumptions.

OBJECTION 2:

Although you have shown that Swinbrune’s arguments for God all involve some assumptions about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God, you have not shown that Swinburne’s justifications of those assumptions are dubious or illogical. 

If Swinburne’s justifications of those assumptions are strong and logical, then we are not entirely ignorant about the PLANS and PURPOSES of God.  Such knowledge about the PLANS or PURPOSES of God could be used not only in support of Swinburne’s arguments for God, but also in support of other arguments for God, perhaps to support some of Kreeft’s arguments for God.

In future posts I will consider and attempt to reply to these two objections, in order to further develop my critique of classical Christian apologetics.  I will begin by considering various THEODICIES to see if any of them can provide a plausible justification of the perfect goodness of the CREATOR of the universe in view of the suffering, pain, injury, disease, violence and death that the universe contains, apart from making some assumptions about the PLANS or PURPOSES of the creator of the universe.

 

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