I came across “The Teaching Ministry of Mark Ballenger” recently. Specifically the article entitled Apologetics Arguments: 4 Arguments Anyone Can Use for the Existence of God. I wanted to go through each of them and see if they hold up to scrutiny. The four arguments are: Causation, Creation, Conscience, and Christ.
Before we go into each argument and point out any logical fallacies or problems with epistemology, it’s important to acknowledge that a logical fallacy in an argument doesn’t automatically make it false (the fallacy fallacy). However, an argument that contains fallacies is not reasonable to accept so it shouldn’t be convincing to anyone who is looking for evidence. If you want to persuade someone who does not currently accept a claim, the argument should be as free from fallacies as possible to ensure that your conclusion necessarily follows from your premises.
Argument 1: Causation
Those who deny the existence of God have a big logical problem. How did everything come into existence? Even if you accept the Big Bang, how did the elements come to exist that exploded into life? What was the cause of this cosmic explosion that accidentally created the ingredients for living organisms?
This argument starts with a series of questions. The lack of an answer to any of these questions has no bearing on whether the God proposition is correct. Before we understood how lightning happens, humans suspected Zeus or Thor was the cause. Of course we now know that was never correct and a lack of understanding is not proof of anything. There are also some simple assumptions here that are unwarranted. Right now we have no evidence that “everything [came] into existence” at all. The universe may very well be eternal (though not unchanging, obviously). This is a loaded question that assumes a first cause is needed that is somehow outside of the universe, even though we have no evidence that anything outside of the universe–or multiverse–does or could possibly exist.
How was something created out of nothing? That’s the question Christians can easily answer and atheist will never be able to answer. Because of the need for a first cause that did not need a first cause, the existence of God is logical and necessary.
Again, Christians can assert an answer easily and the author even goes further to assert that atheists will never be able to answer these questions but that would require the author to have perfect knowledge of the future. These are merely assertions made without any evidence. Again, needing a first cause that itself did not need a first cause is a logical paradox and an example of the special pleading–why is God the exception to the only observations we’ve ever made that all effects need a cause?
Argument 2: Creation
Not only does our world demand a first cause, our world also demands a designer. Our universe not only has the ingredients for life, those ingredients have clearly been used in a finely tuned way. The complexity of creation is a huge problem for those who deny the existence of God.
This argument starts with the ambiguity fallacy. Nothing in our world “demands a designer” any more than an “earthquake demands an earthquaker.” It’s just a bit of wordplay that is not a logical argument in anyway. First the author would have to demonstrate design and not simply assert it. It also includes the fallacy of personal incredulity. The fine tuning argument is just “I don’t know how it could be this way, therefore God.” The truth is we don’t have any other sample universes to see how unlikely ours is and the attempts to put statistical probabilities behind it ignore the fact that the same methodology would rule out any decision we make. Think of all of the specific things that had to happen from the big bang to the present to lead you to reading this blog post right now. It is so improbable as to be statistically impossible, yet here you are.
Argument 3: Conscience
Without the existence of God, good and evil is just your opinion. If there is no God there is no logical reason for an absolute moral standard. Those who deny the existence of God only have two choices when it comes to morality. They can agree there is truly right and wrong but they don’t know why. Or they can claim that right and wrong are subjective opinions. It is illogical to claim there is an absolute right and wrong when you simultaneously deny the existence of an unchanging God.
This argument is begging the question. It asks for a reason for an absolute moral standard when one has not been demonstrated to exist. Just because we have strongly held beliefs about certain things being right or wrong does not mean that they actually are. Take killing as an example. If killing is “always evil” then how do Christians justify war or even self defense? If it is not, then there is not an absolute moral standard in regards to killing. I wrote a whole blog post examining absolute versus objective morality and I won’t repeat that all here. This is also an example of shifting the burden of proof. No one needs to prove an absolute moral standard to not be convinced that God exists.
Argument 4: Christ
Finally, the person of Jesus Christ demands for the existence of God. When you look at the substantial historical evidence for the existence of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus, and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus, the existence of God is the only plausible explanation.
There is no historical evidence for the miracles of Jesus or his resurrection. There are historical claims (such as the anonymous authors of the gospel claiming that others have claimed Jesus performed miracles) but what actual evidence could there possibly be for such a thing? Would any written account be sufficient to reasonably conclude that something supernatural occurred? This is really just an anecdotal fallacy taken to extremes. Christians start with the assumption that the bible is true and use that to build their case; however, that would need to be demonstrated first.
In summary, none of these arguments hold up to even modest scrutiny or basic skepticism. They instead demonstrate that the author started with his conclusion and worked backwards to try to prove it–in some cases, not even that, rather just asking “well, how do you explain it then?” instead of providing any argument whatsoever. Start with the facts and follow them to the conclusions rather than the other way around and you will be much less likely to succumb to these fallacies in the first place.