Hop Off the Fence, Agnostics!

I have a wonderful friend who is an agnostic Unitarian Universalist.  My friend is willing to debate me one-on-one as well as on social media about all kinds of topics and I find her thoughts extremely helpful and even inspiring.  She brings up points I’ve not considered and appeals to a basic ethic of common decency that humans should follow.  Her beliefs (as I understand them, of course!) are similar to the beliefs of Dr. Michael Shermer, as expressed in this debate with Dr. Frank Turek.  I have many concerns about the philosophy of the Unitarian Universalists which I’ll look at in another post, but I am more interested in her agnosticism.

An Agnostic Argument

The word “agnostic” is made up of two parts: a- (meaning no, or not) and the Greek gnotos, or “known”.  Most agnostics would assert that we as humans cannot know whether there is a god/God or not since we don’t have access to knowledge outside of our materialistic framework.  While the Christian worldview offers a moral argument against this in Romans 2:12-16 (in a nutshell, God has given every person a sense of right and wrong and that they will be held accountable based on what their conscience says at the final Judgement), that argument assumes that the Bible is authoritative; this would not be apparent to an agnostic.  I contend, instead, that a person can know truth concerning an entity one might call God while avoiding any mention of ‘religion’!

First, you certainly can know truth outside the material world.  (And before you say, “there is no truth,” I would ask you “Is that true?”  Regardless of your answer, you’ve made a truth claim!) For instance, abstractions like mathematical concepts, the laws of nature and logic, and even “love” and “justice” are all independent of our physical world.  Their existence is discovered and verified through philosophy, science and human interaction.  This counters the first premise of the agnostic argument.

This brings us to the second premise of the agnostic argument.  An agnostic might then say you could know about things that are independent of the universe, but the existence of God is certainly not discoverable like numbers or logic are.  On the contrary, again without resorting to religion, you could argue the existence of God from various angles.  

For instance, Aristotle, in part 7 of Book 12 of his Metaphysics, claims that an Unmoved Mover, or Prime Mover, must exist to set in motion everything else as a logical and philosophical necessity.  Moreover, the Kalam Cosmological Argument states that:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This simple philosophical argument has been fleshed out both in the sciences of cosmology and physics.  Aristotle’s work and the various cosmological arguments for God’s existence converge to give us a Necessary First Cause to our universe that is not a part of the material world.  (And before you say “What if the universe has always existed?”, I’d invite you consider the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the consequences of an eternity of rising entropy… if the universe has existed eternally in the past, then our universe would be a very cold, dead place; it is, however, not.)

So what?

While all of this certainly does not prove a Judeo-Christian God, it ought to give pause to an atheist when they emphatically state that “there is no god.”  You will find that famous atheists, when drilled down to defend their atheism, make honest yet logically fallacious statements like “nothing created something” (Richard Dawkins in the Q and A session of his debate with Cardinal George Pell in 2012) or resort to distraction or disruption to stymie honest dialogue (see debates featuring Christopher Hitchens and Lawrence Krauss as examples).  Even atheist physicists will make ridiculous statements like “philosophy is dead”, which is itself a philosophical statement, to avoid the issue altogether like Stephen Hawking does at the 2011 Google Zeitgeist Conference.

One final point for the agnostic to consider.  Even if you acknowledge that there is a “God” out there, many would argue that “All religions lead to God!” so it doesn’t matter if you pick one or not.  If that’s the case, I’d invite you to watch this video by Ravi Zacharias which explores the fallacies of the Baha’i faith and the Law of Non-Contradiction or this video where he addresses the question directly.  Basically, if at least one religion is wrong, then it is impossible that all religions can be right.  And even if you claim that all religions are correct, that inclusiveness automatically excludes the exclusive religions, thereby nullifying your own statement!

 If you are still agnostic, I urge you to make a decision.  Jesus warns in Matthew 12:30 that “Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.”  Contrary to cultural norms, there actually is a lively debate with many convincing arguments for God’s existence, and startlingly few against (the most popular and potent of which is the Problem of Evil.  Check out this fantastic debate between Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Bart Ehrman on the subject)!  Finally, if you choose not to engage in that debate, consider Pascal’s wager: If there is no God, you have nothing to worry about.  But, if there is a God, you just might have to answer to Him for your life with eternal consequences.  Eternity is a long time…  Are you willing to take that wager?

Nikolas Cruz Claimed Demons. Do you believe him?

After the school shooting in Florida, Nikolas Cruz admitted guilt for what he did and that demons had told him what to do.  The raging gun control debate is dominating press coverage and social media.  While I believe this minimizes the real issues of personal responsibility and the decline of moral authority in our culture, there is something else more pressing.  There is a spiritual dimension to all of this that our society doesn’t discuss or even acknowledge.  Especially after Joy Behar said Mike Pence has a mental illness because he converses with Christ, Christians need to be prepared to defend their worldview which includes a spiritual realm that intervenes in the daily lives of the human race.  If you’re not convinced, here are some Biblical reasons why Christians should embrace the possibility that Cruz was telling the truth and that spiritual warfare is real.

 

Starting with the obvious examples of the reality of demons, consider Jesus’ interactions with them in the Gospels (check out this article by Don Stewart).  Jesus publically commands an unclean spirit to come out of a man in a synagogue (Mark 1:26).  In Gadera, at the appeal for mercy from the demons in the two men, Jesus allows them to possess a herd of pigs, killing the pigs in short order (Matthew 8:28).  In Luke 9:37-42, we see Jesus rebuking the demon that had possessed a boy after some of His disciples failed to do so.  Some may say that demon possession no longer occurs since Jesus ascended.  To counter this, consider Acts chapter 16.  A demon-possessed girl who had soothsaying abilities because of the demon was healed by Paul ordering the demon out in Jesus’ name.  I’d also encourage you to consider the testimonies of missionaries that your church supports; demonic activity is Biblical, and it still exists today.

 

But there is more to the spiritual realm than run-of-the-mill demons.  If the Bible is to be taken seriously, we must consider passages like Genesis 6:1-8 and Psalm 82 if we are to have a mature Christian worldview.  The former discusses “sons of God” coming down to Earth and having relations with human women and that they had offspring.  This act was so heinous that God shackled them in chains until the Day of Judgment (Jude 6).  This act of God was a deterrent to future angels acting in a similar way, but we see how startlingly real these spiritual beings are.

 

The latter (Psalm 82) depicts YHWH presiding over a council of elohim, or gods, and rebuking them for not doing their jobs concerning their human charges.  If YHWH calls these beings “gods”, and Jesus quotes the passage in John 10:34 to claim authority over the leaders of the heavenly host, I think we would be wise to consider the possibility that powerful entities are in positions of power over our nations and may not have our best interests at heart.  While this was written by King David thousands of years ago, The Apostle Paul makes clear in Ephesians 6:12 that we contend against these spiritual rulers even today.  (As a side note, Jesus used this quotation of Psalm 82 to assert authority over all elohim since He earlier claimed in John 10 that He and the Father are one.  Many commentators claim Jesus was using this passage as an earthly claim of authority over men, but they are not being true to the Hebrew or historical context.  For further study, I suggest this critique by Dr. Michael Heiser, biblical scholar and speaker (video and pdf).)

 

My point here is that our world is awash in spiritual influence and that if a mass shooter claims that demons or angels were speaking to them, we mustn’t hastily dismiss the possibility.   Besides, when the world so vehemently dismisses honest discussion on a topic, I believe we have discovered something worth further investigation.  After all, Revelation 12:9 says that Satan deceives the whole world.  1 John 5 says we can overcome the evil of this world, but before you can win a battle, you must first acknowledge that you are in the middle of a war.