with Bob Condly

When Arguments Fail


If someone asked you to prove the existence of God, could you? If you had to refute an atheistic argument, how would you do it?

It seems like only trained experts can engage in apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith).

For example, Regis Nicoll is a retired nuclear scientist who now serves as an Anglican minister. With his education in physics and theology, he’s the kind of person Christians rely on when seeking to provide reasons for their faith.

He wrote a book on the subject of God’s existence. In Why There Is a God and Why It Matters (11), Nicoll states,

In chapter 4 of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins admits, ever so modestly, that he can’t disprove the existence of God. He then proceeds to explain why God almost certainly does not exist. His argument, intended to expose the fallacy of intelligent design, goes something like this:

The more complex a thing is, the more improbable it is (absent a Designer). God must be more complex than anything he created. Therefore, God is more improbable than anything in the universe.

Nicoll calls Dawkins’ argument a “category mistake.” That’s a philosophical phrase which refers to “the error of assigning to something a quality or action that can properly be assigned to things only of another category, for example, treating abstract concepts as though they had a physical location.”

God is not contingent; He is a necessary Cause. This means that God doesn’t depend on anything for His existence; everything that exists depends on Him.

I appreciate Nicoll’s point but to deal with Dawkins’ argument, you don’t have to introduce philosophical notions. Accept Dawkins’ statements at face value and see if they can support their own weight. I discovered that they suffer from two defects.

First, just because something is improbable doesn’t mean it’s impossible. After all, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016 after a 108 year drought!

In major league baseball, the Cubs had the longest streak of failing to win a championship. Were you to rank the chances each baseball franchise had of winning the World Series, you would put at the top of the list recent champions and perennial contenders. Until November 2 of last year, the Cubs occupied the bottom of the tally. Now some other club does.

It’s not impossible that the Cubs had the worst streak; out of 30 teams, one of them had to have that dismal distinction. Actually, it’s impossible that at least one doesn’t have the least favorable chance of becoming champion.

Let’s concede Dawkins’ conclusion that God is the most improbable thing in the universe (disregarding for the moment the confusion of necessary and contingent being). Like the list of baseball teams, some franchise has to fill the lowest position. If God happens to enjoy the dubious honor of being the least probable entity in the universe, then so be it. Something has to. All Dawkins has shown is that God is improbable, not impossible.

But second, Dawkins’ argument leads to a dead end. He asserts that the more complex a thing is, the less likely it is to exist. He then implies that the most improbable being in the world most likely doesn’t exist. The odds are too remote.

But isn’t the universe as a whole more complex than anything within it? If so, then based on Dawkins’ own reasoning, the universe probably doesn’t exist!

Does he believe that? If he does, why does he waste his time (which doesn’t exist anyway!) working as a scientist? What’s he studying?

You needn’t fear arguments against the existence of God. The Bible claims that the world He made demonstrates His reality.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20

How can you lead someone to faith in God? Pointing out logical flaws and faulty thinking helps, but nothing takes the place of the gospel. Jesus brings people to His God and Father.

“Through Him [that is, Christ,] you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” – 1 Peter 1:21

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” – John 14:6

Through Jesus, you can know that God exists. What’s more, through Christ, you can know God and make Him known.

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By Bob Condly
with Bob Condly

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