Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Quote: Douglas Groothuis on the Christian Worldview

“The Christian worldview is not proven in proven in one or two strokes but is rather verified by appealing to a wide and compelling variety of converging arguments. Christianity is shown to be the best explanation for the origin and nature of the universe as well as the human condition and the facts of history.”

– Douglas Groothuis (The Denver Journal, vol. 2, 1999)

What was last year’s post? See here.


7 Comments

  1. Lee February 28, 2010

    Christianity is shown to be the best explanation for the origin and nature of the universe as well as the human condition and the facts of history

    So he asserts… plenty of other religious people disagree.

    Not that this matters – all the Christian has done here is gone from a "I don't know how such and such" to a "therefore I know"

    Anyone for spot the logical fallacy?

    Still, whatever makes you happy

    Lee

  2. Brian February 28, 2010

    Lee,
    Take the quote in its entirety and I think you will understand its purpose better.
    He is saying that Christianity is not something you prove in one or two strokes, then he goes on to suggest that in order to support it, you will need to bring in strands of arguments from a number of different areas, listing some.

    This is a methodological consideration, not a case for the existence of God in one or two strokes, as Groothuis himself would not advocate.

    Now, if you would disagree with the line there about the best explanation — then are you yourself saying that you believe atheism to be the best explanation for all those things? If so, then you would need to take the time to make that case as welll.

  3. Havok March 2, 2010

    Groothuis: Christianity is shown to be the best explanation for the origin…
    We really don't seem to have adequate information to make any sort of informed guess as to an explanation for the origin of the universe, given our best theories break down when the universe is very tiny, dense and hot.
    The Hawking-Hartle no boundary model demonstrates that perhaps there was no origin ๐Ÿ™‚
    For Groothuis and others to claim that it was the Christian deity, there seems to be a whole lot of work to be done ๐Ÿ™‚
    In the absence of additional work surely "I don't know" is the appropriate response, as opposed to doing what Lee points out and jumping from "We don't know" to "But I do know" ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Brian March 2, 2010

    Hey there Havok. How are you?

    The Hawking-Hartle no boundary model demonstrates that perhaps there was no origin
    This works well when you introduce imaginary numbers to avoid a singularity. : )

    We really don't seem to have adequate information to make any sort of informed guess as to an explanation for the origin of the universe
    On atheism, that is. But even if you knew "how it worked," would that answer the question of why anything at all exists rather than nothing?

    surely "I don't know" is the appropriate response
    The question is, given what we do know, what is the best explanation? And not just for the origin of the universe, but all the other things that Groothuis listed.

  5. Havok March 3, 2010

    Brian: This works well when you introduce imaginary numbers to avoid a singularity. : )
    If you know understand to meld QM & GR, forming a quantum theory of gravity, so we can gain some understand what occurred before "Planck time", then perhaps you have a point.

    Brian: On atheism, that is.
    On observation. Theism/atheism doesn't seem to come into it – pre Planck time we seem to currently be fairly ignorant of details.

    Brian: But even if you knew "how it worked," would that answer the question of why anything at all exists rather than nothing?
    Perhaps it "just has to"? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Brian: The question is, given what we do know, what is the best explanation?
    Given quantum and gravitational effects pre Planck time, some sort of "smearing" as suggested by the HH no boundary model doesn't seem unreasonable ๐Ÿ™‚
    If you don't accept that, then I would think "I don't know" would be the rational response.

    Brian: And not just for the origin of the universe, but all the other things that Groothuis listed.

    "nature of the universe"
    – if he's referring to various "fine tuning" arguments, these seem to fail in a similar fashion to the origin arguments.
    "human condition"
    – unsure of quite what he means here, but evolutionary theory would seem to be able to account for this pretty well.
    "and the facts of history"
    – I guess he/you would need to elaborate these points for which Christianity is the claimed best explanation before I'm able to comment on them.

  6. Brian March 3, 2010

    Havoc,

    On this issue with imaginary numbers in the HH equations… what happens when you put in finite values? Singularity returns. Hawking just doesn't translate his equations into reality. It works on "paper" – but such a useful mathematical tool doesn't flesh out in reality. So the only way to avoid a cosmic singularity is to make sure you keep those imaginary numbers in there.

    I would refer you here for more info on the various models and their failure to avoid a singularity.

    Theism/atheism doesn't seem to come into it – pre Planck time we seem to currently be fairly ignorant of details.
    If we are talking about the cause of the universe and what we currently know, then it seems reasonable to me to assess which worldview best explains the data.

    Perhaps it "just has to"? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Honestly, this is not the sort of question that I think is worth treating with a "just has to" hand-wave. Although I know you gave a smiley and all, but maybe it should be given more consideration.

    As for the rest of the stuff (universe, human condition, facts of history), I don't have time to get into those right now – but the point is that all the data should be taken into account.

  7. Havok March 5, 2010

    Brian: I would refer you here for more info on the various models and their failure to avoid a singularity.
    It's not "avoiding a singlurity", it's having a boundary on past time, which is what the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem implies for cosmological hypothesis with certain attributes, which as Craig points out seems to includes many of the current crop of hypothesis.
    It does not, however, mean that the "big bang singularity" was this time boundary, and I don't think many cosmologists/physicists would say that that is the case. Craig, however, seems to strongly imply that this is the case, which I don't think is supported by the evidence. He (and you perhaps) would likely disagree.
    Also, while Craig and Sinclair may be beging objective in their assesment of the current state of hypothesis, I'd rather get that info from cosmologists ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Brian: If we are talking about the cause of the universe and what we currently know, then it seems reasonable to me to assess which worldview best explains the data.
    And still, I don't see how worldview comes into it. Either we've got a well supported explanation which seems independant of worldview (such as QM, GR, ToE etc), or we've not got enough evidence/data to construct a thorough explanation (pre-big bang, biogenesis), though in such cases there are likely to be hints and attempts which point in the direction the explanation is likely to be found (RNA world seems one pointer for abiogenesis, for example).
    To claim that Christianity is the best explanation for the origin of the visible universe seems to me to be the equivalent of claiming, a couple of thousand years ago, that worship of Zues was right and proper because, well, how else can you account for lightning? ie. premature and lacking in positive supporting argument and evidence.

    Brian: Honestly, this is not the sort of question that I think is worth treating with a "just has to" hand-wave. Although I know you gave a smiley and all, but maybe it should be given more consideration.
    And, in all honestly, this is a blog comment. Should I have gone into an indepth philosophical justification for there being something rather than nothing? It's been done before, by people much smarter and more knowledgeable than I, both for the "necessity" of the god of theism, as well as for the necessity of just "something".

    Brian: As for the rest of the stuff (universe, human condition, facts of history), I don't have time to get into those right now – but the point is that all the data should be taken into account.
    Time was exactly why I ignored them to begin with.
    you'll have to take my word for it, but I think I've done a reasonable amount of investigation into these things, and I don't see theism, let alone Christianity to be the best explanation (obviously)