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December 5, 2020 1:00 am
Can God's existence really be proved or disproved? This week on Let My People Think, RZIM's Founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, discusses the existence of God.
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This is goodbye Joey with Ravi Zacharias International ministries and as this year draws to a close, I wanted to share with you about just one of countless ministry opportunities from this past year. This was a speaking trip that a colleague. I took to share the gospel at Harvard University and MIT before we ever even got there a guy on an airport bus came up to us to say that RZ.
I am's podcasts had been a lifeline for his 14-year-old daughter. Then when we arrived at Harvard. We were greeted by a student who told us he had come back to Christ by watching RZ. I am's YouTube videos.
Next, we met a student leader of the largest Christian group on campus. She was introduced to us as the boldest student evangelist at Harvard and then she told us the story of how she had hid her face at an elite Manhattan high school, but RZ I am resources had given her the confidence to share Christ at Harvard and actually she had invited one of her professors to come here or speak that night. Then after the event we met with a professor at Harvard Medical School. He told us that the training he had received from RZ I am change the entire trajectory of how he approaches his profession and engages at the University that is a glimpse of just one trip and God was working powerfully in all of these varied ways we could not do this work without you.
You make it possible for students to hear the hope of the gospel on university campuses all around the world likes the big questions of meaning and purpose are uniquely answered in the person of Jesus Christ and we simply cannot allow another generation to be lost. I want you to know that your support first of the local church and then if so, blessed of RZ. I am helps change the lives of countless students. Thank you in advance for your generosity and may God bless you and keep you as we place our trust in him. Atheism as a system is self-defeating, but also recognize that so he did a quick step on it. Like Gnosticism, and agnosticism is very easy to defend. All you gotta prove is that you don't know is no God claim has become increasingly prevalent among philosophers and scientists that the last hundred and 50 God's existence really depraved. I am welcome to let my people think God seems to be, and often fill in all cults at my wouldn't he be the DAs schools of toilet that man is a product to taunt manipulate and embrace finance fee if that meant that Levi can we defend our faith and belief in God against the onslaught of secular philosophy, science and culture that's going on. Dams found that late Ravi Zacharias. The part one of this important series why I am not an atheist as he licked the dangers of modern philosophies provides fluorescent understanding of the tree.
There are many many arenas in which theism and atheism can be addressed, it can be addressed in rigorous optical terms, and I can do that. I have done it. I have written on the subject, but I'll tell you what the problem with that is it ends up pitting one person's philosophical mind against another person's philosophical mind, and it could end up making absolutely no difference in your life at the end of it. In fact, I have read through some of the most poignant philosophical debates and seen both scholars do extremely well and at the end of it.
It just changed nobodies mind Dr. John poking on one of the greatest quantum physicists of our time and Stephen Hawking who holds the location, chair of mathematics at Cambridge University. The famed chair once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Both of these men are well recognized in their fields at Cambridge universities. Even Hawking is an agnostic John poking on a very avowed and a devoted theist.
What is that an approving it basically ends up proving that there is intellectual material available for both sides on the issue. My right.
There is intellectual material available for both sides on the issue and anyone who thinks that he is either abounded or disavowed it purely for intellectual reasons betrays a prejudice on the lack of understanding of the subject that have been Giants in their thinking capacities will have been skeptics that have been Giants who have been believers and those who are committed to the Christian perspective, which is what I want to ultimately address before the series is over. So how, then, am I going to come to you to make it relevant and meaningful so that we can interact on it. Let me give you my understanding of philosophy at clear levels and tell you what level we will touch level number one in philosophy. I consider theoretical levels of philosophical thinking that categories of logical thought to deal with formal fallacies. Informal fallacies they deal with the classical proofs of the existence of God in the classical arguments against the proofs of the existence of God and so on. So if you take Thomas Aquinas you will look at the cosmological argument being defended. If you look at David Hume. You will see him attacking the cosmological argument, so you've got here. The theoretical level of philosophy, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle dealt at that level of thinking and somebody has said all of Western philosophy is basically footnotes to Plato so we deal with that we can deal with it on a theoretical level.
Level II is what I call drama, music novel and the existential struggle in your imagination that is level II. It is most intriguing to me that the moral philosophers of the latest 18th century were really the romantic poets in the writers if you want to read the romantic poets in the late 18 century men like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and so on. It was Coleridge who resisted the liberal theologians coming in from the German vantage point of that point at that that time in history and call Ridge was a poet Andrew Fletcher once said, let me write the songs of a nation. I don't care who writes its laws.
Let me write the songs of a nation.
I don't care who writes its laws and so when Woody Allen, in a sense pontificates as a self-styled philosopher Woody Allen this coming from a kind of a level II philosophy struggling with the arts and the imagination and the existential on deniability's of life. That's level II and let is a gentleman. I want you to be sure in your thinking that when a teenager be it, 13, 14, 15, or for that matter even when an 11 or 12-year-old turns on a television set or listened and listens to a country music song or a rock music, song, or whatever you can be sure in your mind. There is a philosophy being carried in the process and the view of life being espoused by the listener.
There is philosophy at level II.
Let's not run from it. Level III is when your son or your daughter or a teenager sits across the kitchen table one night and says you know dad today when we were in school we were discussing a moral issue relating to such and such a lifestyle.
What do you think about it, and of the father says, you know, son.
The Bible says from the apostle Paul's writings in the book of Romans chapter 1 that such and such a lifestyle is wrong son is listening to his father and wanting to say you know dad when you quote the Bible around the stable. It's very effective. But when I courted of the school is completely unaffected. You see what's happening. The father is prescribing a lifestyle at the prescriptive level of level III when what the sun is really saying is I'm not asking you dad what Romans one says I'm asking you why you believe. Romans chapter 1 because, while Romans chapter 1 is plausible in our kitchen table. It is not plausible in the high school and university setting the plausibility structure changes if you really want to listen to level III conversation tone on any secular talkshow host. Whether discussing ice cream parlors in human sexuality five minutes apart, with equal distancing our passion the same moment, she will have prescriptivism pure prescriptivism when I used to teach courses on philosophy and so on.
I said this. Always remember to argue at level I theory illustrated level II and apply it at level III. If you don't brew going that sequence you end up would share prescriptivism you prefer and I may prefer be, and we end up sort of locking ideas on those differences. Not knowing how to arbitrate on what is good and what is bad. Now, obviously, intellect is weak on dual three. So what I'm going to do as was introduced.
The social and personal implications. I'm going to come at it from level II. With that in mind and pattern with which we will be following.
Let me give to you a fundamental response that I have entitled why I am not an atheist, and it is basically a point form. Response to Bertrand Russell's book. Why I am not a Christian. Bertrand Russell wrote that many, many of those in his debate with a Jesuit priest father cobblestone. I'm not going to deal with the debate I'm going to just give to you. My response on the flare existential struggles of life which Russell has no answer, and he in so much admitted it in some of his other essays.
Is the question then arises, may we define our terms atheism comes from literally the Greek Alpha the negative and theism. The word fat loss for God negative God. There is no God. That's what the word atheism really means it is not saying I do not think there is a God. It is not even saying I do not believe there is a God.
It is affirming the nonexistence of God.
It affirms a negative. It affirms the nonexistence of God and now you know we don't need to take too long into that because anyone with an introductory course in philosophy recognizes that it is a logical contradiction. How can you affirm a negative in the absolute. It would be like me saying to you. There is no such thing as a white stone with black dots anywhere in all of the galaxies of this universe.
The only way I can affirm that is if I have unlimited knowledge of this universe. So to affirm an absolute negative is self-defeating because what you are saying is I have infinite knowledge in order to say to you, there is nobody with infinite knowledge atheism as a system is self-defeating. Bertrand Russell recognize that so he did a quick two step on it. He moved to agnosticism and agnosticism is very easy to defend.
All you gotta prove is that you don't know now you see agnosticism actually sounds sophisticated when it comes from the Greek because the alpha is the negative diagnosed go to know of one who doesn't know from the Latin, it sounds much more uncomplimentary because it literally is a one-on-one equation with being an ignoramus. One who doesn't know agnosticism ignoramus same idea. Now let me clarify the point it is foolish to say I know that you can't know that is also self-defeating, but there are many honest agnostics who will say look, I have honestly studied the subject on hand, and I am convinced with the evidences that I have studied, and the philosophical issues that I have wrestled with. I don't believe it is really possible to know with certainty.
If there is a God.
Now that is a different and a respected type of position. I meet many honest agnostics in my travels who will say to me on the basis of my studies on honest evaluation of the data. Dad on hand. I don't believe it is possible to really affirm the existence of God and I move along with that type of soft agnosticism, professors of philosophy used to tell this classic story about a fellow who woke up one morning and said to his wife.
I believe I am dead and his wife said, you know that's a strange sense of humor at Sarai just gone to work in bring the paycheck home type of thing and sent him on his merry way. But this impression in his mind lingered far too many hours every evening you come back and munching on his goodies on is a lazy boy there would say you know I really think I'm dead.
Finally, his wife and his children decided he needed help.
If he didn't get help, they would need some help so they sent him along to a team of doctors and psychiatrists, all of whom were trying to help them without success to one doctor latched onto this idea to try to establish for him empirically that only living people lead only living people bleed and he was trying to deny that they brought all kinds of evidence overhead projectors charts on all the data on hand only living people bleed only living people bleed. Finally this man, after all of the evidence is weighed and said all right I guess I'm going to have to admit to you that only living people bleed as soon as he said that one of them a team of doctors that took a pin and plunged it into this man's veins and the blood came spurting out and he looked at it and said great Scott. I guess dead people bleed to do you realize that in many ways. That man was really dead because from moral vantage points of evidence there was nothing you could bring to get him to change his mind. I think it was Richard Weaver who taught English literature at the University of Chicago for years and I encourage you to read this book because 40 years ago. He wrote a book entitled ideas have consequences, and Alan Blumer now teaches philosophy. There are two years later, has written that the closing of the American mind and I and frankly, it is almost based on the text and context of Richard Weaver and Richard Weaver said this many many years ago.
Nothing good can come if the will is wrong. Nothing good can come if the will is wrong, and to give evidence to him who loves not the truth is only to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation to give evidence to him who loves not the truth is only to give them more plentiful material for misinterpretation.
What about the existential evidence in life.
Let me look at for out workings that atheism has to live with.
I cannot live with those out workings there existentially unlivable. You see, if atheism is true. Ultimately, there is no moral law in this universe.
If atheism is true. Ultimately, there is no moral law in this universe and any moral pronouncement is either utilitarian, pragmatic, subjective or emotive. It is either utilitarian, pragmatic, subjective or emotive. There is no moral law reflective in this universe, and anything that deals with good and bad is purely the product of your environment and your culture and let me unfold this argument and tell you how it works. Listen to the words of Nietzsche, the German philosopher who I think was one of the most honest thinkers of the of the past century. Listen to what he says in his madmen, have you not heard of that madmen who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours ran to the marketplace and cried incessantly I'm looking for God, I'm looking for God, as many of those who did not believe in God was standing together. There he excited considerable laughter. Have you lost him then said 1 Did He Lose His Way like a child set another or is he hiding is he afraid of us has he gone on a Voyager emigrated. Thus, they shouted and shouted and laughed him to scorn the madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances.
Where is God.
He cried out tell you we have killed him. You and I we are all his murderers but have we done this. How were we able to drink up to see who gave us a sponge to wipe away the entire horizon. What did we do when we unchain the scouts from its son.
Whether is it moving now with her.
Are we moving now away from all sons. Maybe I we not perpetually falling backwards and forwards side were sent in all directions.
Is there any up or down left, are we not straying through an infinite nothing we not feel the breath of empty space has not become colder is not more and more night coming on us all the time.
Must not the lanterns be lit in the morning we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers (God do we not smell anything yet of God's decomposition guards decompose.
Do you know and God is dead, he remains dead. And we have killed him. Now, how shall be the mother. Although murderers compose ourselves which was holiest and mightiest of all, that the world has ever possessed has bled to death under our knives who will bite this blood from us with what were taken.
We purify ourselves, what festivals of atonement, what sacred games will be needed to invent is not this the greatest of deeds too great for us to handle must not we ourselves become God simply to seem worthy of it that has never been a greater deed. You know, and whoever shall be borne off trust for the sake of this deed shall be part of a higher history than all history either to hear the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners. They too were silent and they stared at him in astonishment at last see through his lantern to the ground and it broke and went out. I come too early, my time has not yet come. This tremendous event is still on its way.
Still traveling and it is not yet reached the ears of men lightning and thunder required time the light of the stars requires time deeds required time, even after they have done before they can be seen and heard.
This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further than on the same day. This madman enter diverse churches and then assign the Requiem.
It turned him Dale led out and quieted. He said to have retorted each time.
What are these churches now if they're not the tombs and sepulchers of a dead God we have killed him anytime I hear a man lambasting or criticizing religion have been caused bloodshed. It is a legitimate criticism because it is unfortunate but there is an answer to that. I won't go into the onset of that. But let me just say this. The same people often forget of the bloodshed that has been shed in the name of atheism. Stalin was an avowed atheist, used to be a seminary student preparing for the ministry. When he lost his belief in God and Lenin singularly selected Stalin because of his hatred of things religious.
He read Nietzsche adult Hitler personally presented a copy of Nietzsche's writings to Benito miscellany.
Hitler took Nietzsche's thinking and gave it a kind of a military interpretation and we tend to forget that the most intelligent nation on the world at that time were the ones who designed the concentration camps also set controlled before the music of Wagner for their entertainment button. Hitler took Nietzsche and translated it into his political theory.
The Superman getting it right out of Nietzsche's writings. But what Nietzsche is pointing out here is which way are we going to turn. We have wiped away the horizon. Is there any up or down. How are we going to recognize what is right and what is wrong, you must understand when Aldous Huxley was writing his book ends and means a book that is really worth reading.
Aldous Huxley said this, I wanted to believe that Darwinian idea. I chose to believe it. Not because I think there was an enormous evidence for it, nor because I believed it had the full authority to give interpretation to my origins. But he says in his book ends and means.
I chose to believe it because it delivered me from trying to find meaning and freed me to my own erotic passion. You may also know that Carl Marx and Engels had read the high Darwinian hypothesis. They wanted to dedicate one of the translations of it to Darvin and Darwin declined the offer because atheistic economic theory saw some of its underpinnings in the essential definition of man in trying to break us away from any divine origins.
There is a connection and ideas do have consequences. There is no moral law to which we can reflect. Let me illustrate this in the classic illustration of the Holocaust at the Nuremberg trials.
There was a fascinating dialogue going on all the time on how these judges were going to defend themselves and basically the man defending them was in the sum and substance trying to argue for their protection by saying they were operating according to the law of their own land were operating according to the law of their own land. Finally, in frustration, somebody said, but gentlemen, is there not a law above our laws. Is there not a law above our laws and the answer of Nietzsche would be no there is no law above envelopes and if you examine the ramifications of this you begin to see it in some enormous manifestations, particularly in the Western world today. One philosopher of ethics is put it this way. Ours is an age where ethics has become obsolete.
It is superseded by science, it is deleted by psychology dismissed as a motive by philosophy.
It is drowned in compassion and retreats before relativism the usual moral distinctions between good and bad are simply drowned in a maudlin emotion in which we feel more sympathy for the murderer and for the murdered for the adulterer, then for the betrayed and in which we have actually begun to believe that the real guilty party, the one who somehow caused it all is the victim and not the perpetrator of the crime. Tell me, is there some confusion going on here. How do you explain that to our teenagers. How do we give them a moral basis for decision-making and those who study these subjects deal with it and and that there is a constant contradiction in the value systems and said this as kindly as I can. The last 2222 years of my life have been spent in the West.
The equal amount in the beginning was spent in the East and Western civilization is being rocked at its foundations because Western man does not know the point of reference for the value system that he wants to espouse right now see the Middle East still espouses Islam the sum transcendent leverage to the culture.
The Far East are in India. If they're still got some transcendent leverage to the culture we in modern times bearing the lines in the west, and we actually think we can survive without the espousing of the moral law. History cries out against the experiment. I wonder how many are aware of the tree tainted that atheism praises to occult even a thing to part one of the methods from Ozzie. I am sounding late Ravi Zacharias titled why I am nothing HPA and he referenced the fact that they began by visiting our firstname.lastname@example.org and clicking on the listen tab for listing in Canada that web address is all is that I am.ca you can was a patch assistant highest theories by calling us at one 800-4486 76 thanks Ozzie I am in this radio program possible because if you generally supports. If you have questions. Prior request you'd like to chat when you want to donate to a ministry you can cooler write to us at ancien PO Box 1 ATC Ray Rose bound to a chat 308-0877