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Four Possibilities

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 21, 2022 12:01 am

Four Possibilities

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 21, 2022 12:01 am

Ultimately, there are four possible reasons to account for the world's existence, and only one of them is logically compelling. Today, R.C. Sproul sets forth classical arguments for the existence of God.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. There is an enormous amount at stake here because if we can prove that God exists. The eternal God of the universe without a doubt exists that means. And as everybody understands I'm going to be held accountable for how I behave and how I live for it is people who are living apart from God don't want them to exist and we hear from all sides.

What we think about religion they say is a personal opinion, nothing more.

The culture ideas about God are based on feelings and intuition experience. But today on Renewing Your Mind. Dr. RC school points out that there are compelling logical reasons to believe in God's existence, and they have enormous consequences.

Looking at various ways in which Christian theologians and apologist have sought to defend the truth claims of Christianity.

When we look at the crisis that ensued from the critique of Immanuel Kant, and how some have gone to a historical evidential means of trying to prove the existence of God. Others have tried to establish belief in the existence of God on the basis of a leap of faith. We've seen a brief introduction to the presupposition was school of apologetics and what I promise the last time was that I would begin to give you a presentation on how the classical method would proceed to try to establish proof for the existence of God.

And so that's what were going to begin with this section. Now the way I like to proceed in arguing for the existence of God is by following the method that in its rudimentary form was first established by St. Augustine many many centuries ago, and I've tweaked a little bit using various insights from philosophers and apologist throughout history, but the basic approach that Augustine used was to try to establish a sufficient reason to explain reality as we encounter and what we mean by a sufficient reason is a reason that is capable of meeting the task of giving a rational explanation for the world as we encounter and also Augustine approached this question by looking at it via a process of elimination looking at possible theoretical options and then testing them to see if they met the test of rationality or failed the test of rationality and so what this means is that we start with four basic possibilities to explain reality as we encounter and the first is this that our experience of reality is itself an illusion.

That's one possibility. The second is that reality as we encounter it is self created. The third possibility is that the reality that we encounter is self existent, and the fourth possibility is that it is created ultimately by something that is self existent. Now I am aware that in the history of philosophy and apologetics. There have been nuanced approaches to the question of proving the existence of God that do not fall immediately and exactly into these terms or categories, but I'm using these four categories as the generic categories under which I believe we can subsume all other forms of argument, that is, all other forms of argument for or against the existence of God or for accounting for the universe as we know it can be subsumed under one or more of these categories not done this many times with many different audiences with professors with scientists with philosophers and so far I've never met anybody who wouldn't agree that there assumed alternative to the one of these four categories under further reflection could in fact legitimately be subsumed under one of these for so to cut the Gordian knot here. I'm going to proceed saying that basically my judgment. These four categories give us an exhaustive list generically of all the possible explanations for experience or for reality as we encounter it now if I can step back for just a moment and say this that I have always said that the simplest argument for the existence of God is this, that if anything exists, God exists. Now that's a victory abbreviated form of an argument and there's all kinds of steps that I have left over in the process without stating, but what I'm going to try to show you is that if something exists then something must exist, necessarily, that is, must have the power of being within itself or to look at these four categories were I'm going to try to show is that if something existent, anything exists then reason demands in the final analysis that something must be self existent element just mentioned about these four options that of the four options that we have on the board to them. Include the idea of self existence we have number three that says that which is his self existent, for example, I have a piece of chocolate. I'm holding up in front of me and let's suppose just for the sake of argument that this piece of chalk is not a fig Newton of my imagination that it actually exists that it's real and I'm going to have to demonstrate that in a little bit but for now just a skip over that. Pardons let's agree that there is a piece of chalk year I'm saying at this piece of chalk is either an illusion is not really there or this piece of chalk has ultimately created itself or it is self existent, or ultimately has come into being as a result of the work of something that is self existent.

So I'm saying to give a sufficient reason for the piece of chalk on holding up to you one of these four principles must be true, two of which establish the necessity of something that is self existent and if self existent. It would therefore be eternal. As I hope also to show you so that means that really the burden that we face most heavily here is with options one and two, namely that reality is an illusion or the world as we know it is in some sense, self created now before I proceed any further, let me say this, there have been some who've argued that all experience of reality is illusory, that it's all an illusion and I'm going to talk about that and give a whole lecture to it. I hope that the second principle that the idea that the universe is self-created is far and away the most popular and widely held alternative to divine creation. If you remember at the beginning of this course. I said that I spent time teaching a course in atheism where I insisted that my students read the primary sources of the most profound minds in Western theoretical thought who attacked the idea of God, and we analyzed the arguments that they brought forth against the existence of God and the arguments they substituted to account for the universe as we know it and I'm trying to show you that virtually all of those came to the conclusion that instead of there being a God who accounts for things as a sufficient reason for any things existing that the universe in some sense is self-created. Again, I will explore that in much greater detail.

Now I would say today, roughly 95% of atheists who want to account for the world as we know it fall back on some concept of self creation while others will argue that the universe for this piece of chalk that I've held up is itself self existent and eternal that there was no beginning to the universe here usually hear the idea of the Big Bang or other kinds of cosmology and cosmogony that will say that 12 to 15, or 17 billion years ago the Big Bang occurred beginning the universe that we encounter some small percentage still argue, however, for the E terminology of matter and will have to look at that when we come to it in our examination, but for the most part, even those who argue for self existent universe at least agree that there's a self existence something and then we have to determine whether that self existent eternal something is a spiritual, transcendent, immaterial being called God, or if it is matter itself, but again I remind you that all of these four categories, two of them are already committed to the principle of self existence. Now some might say women thought of you said you were in approve. The existence of God, and now we all you're doing is talking about a self existent, something while that is true, what I am trying to prove is that reason demands the assertion of a self existent eternal being in order to account for the existence of anything in this world and that you cannot be consistently rational. By denying the necessity of a self existent eternal being that is what I'm trying to show you that both reason and science demand. The existence of a self existent eternal being, to account for the existence of anything else. Now the character of that self existent eternal being.

Whether it's personal or impersonal, wise or foolish good or evil remains for further discussion. But right now the central point that were going to be concerned with is the actual existence or absence of a self existent eternal being. Now again I have said that the difference between the classical approach to apologetics and what's called evidential apologetics is that the evidential is tries to give you a probability argument based upon physical evidence world. What we would call empirical evidence.

Evidence that is available to the five senses. We know that there is a built-in limitation to the proof value of empirical evidence, it never delivers what we call in philosophy, formal proof or absolute rational proof such as can be found in the area of mathematics. For example, which is purely formal two and two equals four. That's a logical equation and carries the force of logical compulsion.

Now I have said that what the classical approach tries to do is to give compelling proof of the existence of this self existent eternal being and going beyond the level of mere probability and therefore differs from what we call the evidential approach them and there's a difference between giving evidence and good evidence of great evidence and absolute proof.

And so we are is arguing here that what were trying to show you is not just evidence but proof now in order for that to be the case, then that means that I can't start with the piece of chalk because if I assume the existence of the piece of chalk.

I'm assuming sense perception and I'm assuming the physical reality of this piece of chalk which immediately throws me into the arena of the empirical of the sensational that is of what I perceive with the senses, and that can never get me to absolute philosophical proof only evidence that's why we have to find a starting point. That is of purely a rational nature and that starting point, that I will seek to find it in time is the starting point of my own consciousness and we will explore that again in a separate approach to the matter.

But before we do, what I again let me clarify what I'm trying to offer here is not evidence but proof there is a difference a rational proof that compels a rational person to acquiesce to the proof. He said again a rational proof that compels a rational person to acquiesce or to surrender to that rational proof before we do that, I again I have to make a very important distinction that has been made in theology for centuries was certainly popularized by John Calvin and that is to distinguish between proof and persuasion proof and persuasion.

I don't remember what I gone over this with any detail. I don't believe I did a five minute mention in passing, I want to take some time with it now. The difference between proof and persuasion proof is something objective persuasion is something subject and somebody could give a proof theoretically that was logically conclusive and compelling, rationally certain that a person could refuse to accept.

I could prove that if all men are mortal and Socrates is a man than beyond a shadow of a doubt the conclusion of the syllogism is that Socrates is mortal. That is a logically compelling conclusion given the premises. That is, if all men are mortal and if Socrates is a man then there is no deafness about the conclusion that Socrates would of logical necessity by what Luther would've called a resistance logic be mortal right, but I could show that in the diagram in logic and syllogism and somebody can say I'm from Missouri. I don't care how rational it is unclear how logical it is. I don't believe it. I'm not persuaded because for me reason is no proof of anything John Montgomery tells the story I think is an illustrative anecdote about this distinction were tells of Charlie who one morning when his wife called him to get up. He said I can't get up and go to work today because I can get out of bed and she says why not.

Which one he said because undead. She should Charlie not be silly here talking with me right here.

I can see your eyes are open, your breathing, you look fine to me.

Now click sandbagging get out of the bed, get your clothes on and go to work. He says I can't undead and dead men can't work. Don't you understand, and so Charlie kept insisting that he was dead.

So, his wife did the rational thing she called the doctor.

The doctor came in the house, took out a stethoscope to listen to Charlie's heart is Charlie. Her vital signs are fine. Your heart is beating you have a good pulse rate, blood pressures find you just haven't been a bad hair day you need to get up and go to work pieces.

I don't believe that stethoscope believe the testimony of this Dr. I can't go to work. I'm dead and his heart is the doctor trying to prove to Charlie that he was not dead and he was alive.

Charlie refused to believe it and finally gave up and he said to Charlie's wife.

He said ma'am I can get anywhere with Charlie. This requires a different kind of doctor from the kind I am you have to call in the psychiatrist so they brought the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist tried to work with Charlie and convince Charlie that he was being delusional and irrational, and that in fact he was really alive. Charlie would have none of it. So the psychiatrist came up with a plan.

He says Charlie someone to come with me were going downtown. These were workforces I'm taking to the more we give you lesson on dead people to take Charlie to the more recent Charlie want to understand something he said you know when people die, their heart stops beating, so they don't bleed anymore so I got one of these cadavers out of the locker and he took a pin in the stock this corpse in the towing. No blood came forth in said cc Charlie the dead men don't bleed truths. It's amazing. So never realized is a war you sure you understand what I've just done and external suggests I see that it says I'm an intelligent man. I can understand what you and the psychosis.

That's criticism of Charlie give me your thumb for seconds. Charlie stuck out Islam and the psychiatrist took his pen and he poked Charlie in the thumb and immediately Charlie's thumb began to bleed Dr. Sissy Charlie what you think of choice as well. How he said dead men bleed after all.

And I love that story because we've all met people who despite all reason and all evidence refuse to acquiesce because of emotional reasons or bias or what ever matter may be, and so this is what John Calvin gets said in the beginning of the ancestors.

When he talks about the Scriptures.

He believes the Scripture gives objective evidence to stop the miles of even the most obstreperous that it is in fact the word of God that the indications or the evidences for its supernatural origin are playing and clearly there, but he said because man is so ill disposed towards the things of God has such a profound bias against the truth of God that he will never be sufficiently persuaded until or unless God the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of his heart because were common sense when it comes to Scripture. The problem is not an intellectual one, so much as it is a moral one.

And I submit to you that that's exactly what we encountered when were dealing with the question of the existence of God. The questions of the existence of God is not an issue that is played out on a neutral playing field as we saw earlier on in this court. There is an enormous amount at stake here because if we can prove that God exists.

The eternal God of the universe without a doubt exists that means. And as everybody understands I'm going to be held accountable for how I behave and how I live in one of the reasons why people want to get rid of the idea of the God hypothesis is to be free from guilt and free from accountability. So the unbeliever has a huge reservoir of wishes and desire for the argument not to be compelling. So even if the argument is as compelling as God's argument is that we saw in Romans one were God himself makes his existence, playing to every man that doesn't mean that everybody is willing to admit to it, but it is not my task to persuade anybody that God exists. We are not called to persuade people that we are called to give a reason for the hope that is within us and we are called to be faithful to that responsibility. And that's what were going to try to do as we continue with this in our next session constructors a scroll showing us that there are logical reasons for God's existence, but he just made a critical point. Everyone is born in rebellion to God's rule.

Mankind doesn't want to be accountable to God. In other words, people have a deep-seated reason to resist the existence of God or she is helping us think more clearly about these things in his series defending your faith in 32 messages he looks at the history of apologetics and helps us defend the historical truth claims of Jesus.

We like to send you the 11 DVD set when you contact us with a financial gift of any amount today. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 40 combined is when you receive the series in the mail, you'll discover a bonus disc that contains audio files for the series, and a digital copy of the study guide again.

Will send you all 12 disc when you call us with a gift of any amount or number is 800-435-4343 or online address is Renewing Your leader ministries has produced thousands of resources to help you study the Bible when you download our free app to your phone or tablet will have access to a huge virtual library of helpful study tools you can find it by searching for linear in your app store like Saturday. We will continue Dr. scroll series defending your faith and he'll take a look at the ideas of a French thinker who wanted to re-create the philosophical world. I hope you'll join us for the Saturday edition of Renewing Your Mind

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