The Truth About Truth

Recently I viewed a debate between Dr. Sam Harris and Dr. William Lane Craig at Notre Dame on the matter of ‘Does Good Come From God?’ Harris is an atheist, author, and eloquent speaker. Craig is a theist, an author, and also eloquent. The two men went back and forth debating this issue for several hours. Harris provides the following equation in order to illustrate what “Good” is: imagine the worst case scenario of suffering for human beings, and then acquiesce to the fact that anything which is not as bad as the worst case scenario, must intrinsically be better, or more good. He maintains that you do not need God as a governor behind the scenes, instituting what is good or bad.

By contrast Dr. Craig says that in order for something to be good, there must be something or someone providing that intrinsic “goodness” behind the scenes. Otherwise we are all left up to our own opinions, or even worse – cultural majority vote, telling us what is good and bad. This was all very interesting of course, but I found one of the peripheral issues MUCH more interesting than the primary subject of the debate. Dr. Craig often posed the following argument: we need to have a grasp on the truth (generically speaking) in order to be able to make right comparisons as to what is or is not GOOD. And if we hold to the world view that human beings are nothing more than highly evolved mammals that came from a happy accident of matter mixed with life, then our reliance on truth is also a happy accident. In other words, we can never have any confidence in our own logical processes (how can you trust an accident?), because this intrinsic understanding of logic that we are “born with” was never the result of a divine mandate. Only unintelligent matter coming together to form a highly complex brain.

Or look at the problem this way. If Dr. Harris maintains that his worldview is correct, logical, and truthful… but then denies any type of God who could govern the intrinsic nature of that truth, then it follows that Harris’ take on truth and logic is simply the result of a happy accident of evolution - and as such cannot possibly have any logical grounding. For example, how can I trust that A+B=C, if my understanding of A, B, and C came from green slime which eventually evolved into small creatures, and eventually became a human being? You cannot use science to prove that science is accurate. There must be a higher standard which governs whether or not something is logical or true. From this higher standard, you may then make right comparisons as to whether or not worst case scenario suffering is good or not. Skipping the higher standard step is cheating.

I suspect that many people who hold to the closed system of naturalism act like there is no God, but all the while make use of God’s gift of reason and logic.

Why does inserting God solve this problem? Because then we would know that there is a force which gives truth its impetus and power. Evolution is supposedly a blind master, impartial to good or bad, true or untrue. Things just are the way they are. God takes away this impartiality, by providing the First Cause by which we can even understand logic and reason in the first place. If God is the originator of reason, then we can have confidence in our use of that reason. We need no longer attempt to argue that a person’s worldview is the Truth on one hand, but in the same breath deny there being any ultimate Truth on the other hand. Yet that is what people often do. This is what Sam Harris attempted to do, but Craig caught him. We do not have to take the rather silly stance of “whew, thank goodness the cosmos and evolution just happened to form the human brain in such a way as to be reliable in its use of logic and reason.” But rather we can say, “there is a God which allows me to think, reason, and engage in truth in a way that is different from the animals.” There is a greater Truth behind the way we use truth.

The lesson to be learned here is a big one. God gives us the ability to use His power to reason and identify truth. It is a gift, we don’t own it. He allows us to go through life judging concepts, making comparisons, and yes… He even allows us to deny His existence. And then when we do put forth a worldview without God, we ignore the gift of reason which allowed us to suggest the worldview in the first place.

I have 3 children. My wife and I are responsible for their well being; dressing them, feeding them, etc. At various times – while relaxing after a full meal – one of them will utter a harsh remark or take us for granted. We feed them, we love them, we make sacrifices for them - but all on human terms. Imagine what a personal God might feel like when His children treat him similarly.



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