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College Apologetics

from Chapter 2
The Existence of God

Atheism

It is proper that we conclude this chapter with a few remarks about the fallacies which either deny the existence of God or propound confused notions about His nature. These errors are atheism, agnosticism, and pantheism. Agnosticism and pantheism are but refinements of atheism because they attack the same principles that atheism attacks.

Atheism is the error which holds that no personal God exists. A person is a being with an intellect and will. In place of a being with power and knowledge, this fallacy substitutes a blind cosmic force or its equivalent.

Agnosticism does not unconditionally deny the existence of God. But it does deny that man can prove His existence. It protests that since man's capacity for learning is limited, he can never grasp the existence of a being whose perfection is unlimited. It fails to see that one can know the existence of a thing without knowing it exhaustively. Man can know the existence of God because the object of his intellect is not merely finite being but being in general.

Pantheism denies the existence of a supreme being who is distinct from the material universe. As the name implies, this error holds that the conglomerate of all existing things is God regardless of their mode of existence.

Those who deny the existence of God as we have proved, admit that if the principles on which the five proofs are based are allowed to stand, then the conclusions drawn from them will be valid. They, therefore, attack the validity of these principles. Thes are the fundamental principles used to prove God's existence. 1. The principle of identity is that a thing must be itself. 2. The principle of contradiction says that a thing cannot be and not be at the same time. 3. The principle of causality is that every effect must have a cause. These principles do not apply only to material things but to all being whether it be material or non-material.

The principles of identity and contradiction are self-evident and cannot be denied without denying the existence of all being...a conclusion to which athiests by their activity show that they do not subscribe. When athiests attack the principle of causality they equivalently attack the principle of contradiction for they are forced to hold that a thing can at once be moved and non-moved, caused and non-caused, contingent and non-contingent. It is easy to see that a denial of the validity of the principles of identity, contradiction, and causality leads to absurdity. Since these principles are valid, so are the proofs for the existence of God and the systems of atheism, agnosticism and pantheism must be labeled fallacious.

The greatest number of atheists are not theoretical atheists but rather practical atheists. We have seen that it is impossible to have a valid chain of arguments disproving the existence of God. But even though they cannot disprove the existence of God, there is nothing to prevent some people from living as though there is no God. And those who live as though there is no God are called practical atheists.

The most fruitful source of practical atheism is immorality. All men seek happiness and peace of mind. They know that to have a lively consciousness of the existence and sanction of God and at the same time to continue to live immorally is disquieting and frustrating. They must make a choice. They choose the immorality and proceed to attempt to crush out of their lives a disturbing consciousness of God until they, in practice, live as though He did not exist. They have then become practical atheists.

Chapter 3
The Existence of the Soul

An important link in the chain of inquiries which make up the science of apologetics is the existence in man of a spiritual soul. The errors which apologetics must refute are not merely errors from history. They are also errors from philosophy. In fact the impact of the emphasis on material science has given rise to an increasing number of philosophical errors in recent decades. One such popular error has been that known as positivism or materialism, which holds that nothing exists but matter or that which is perceptible to the senses. If a person could be persuaded to accept this falsehood he would implicitly be forced to deny the freedom of the will and existence of a life hereafter. Concomitantly, the obligation to practice religion would be stripped of its cogency. It would be an empty shell. Materialists are entirely conscious of this. We must show that to deny the existence of the soul is to run counter to reason and common sense.

Men in general believe that each human person has an immortal soul. But there are many, holding to a materialistic view of things, who flatly deny the soul's existence. They cannot see the soul; therefore, they argue, it does not exist. These materialists do not admit the possibility of revelation for the soul's existence. They must be met, then, on rational grounds; we must establish from reason alone that man does have a soul.

Man has often been compared with animals. Certain species of animals have a bodily structure so similar to man's that some have denied that there is any real difference between the two. They say that man is but a high-type animal. But in making a comparison, one should note the points not only of similarity, but also of dissimilarity. The key to any correct comparison lies in showing how two things are not the same. The difference between man and animals is that, although they are very similar in bodily structure, man has a spiritual soul, whereas animals have not.

In listing the difference between two things, writers have often called attention to the fact that one could do something which the other could not do. What was possible for one was impossible for the other. This is a clear-cut way of pointing out differences, for it indicates the presence of a power or perfection in one, and its absence in the other, thereby showing that they are not identically the same.

Taken from College Apologetics by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.

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