I tend to follow Atheist bloggers because I believe it is important to familiarize yourself with multiple points of view which are contrary to your own. Anyway, I read the following post, a challenge to Christians in an Atheist’s blog I happened upon via Twitter a few months back. In it, the author issues a challenge for Christians to scientifically prove that only the God of Christianity exists. It should have been clear to anyone who has done some thinking that this challenge is not offered in good faith.
The (non-negotiable) proposition is:
There is verifiable, scientific evidence for only the Christian God for which no possible natural explanation can exist.
This is non-negotiable because anything less would not validate the belief.
The proposer (that is the person accepting this challenge) will supply an agreed scientific definition of the Christian God against which the proposition can be tested, precise details of the evidence and how it can be verified, how the hypothesis that it proves only the Christian god is real it could be falsified, and how it establishes the truth of the proposition beyond reasonable doubt. Failure to do so will be regarded as conceding the debate.
Quotes from a book, appeals to authority, statements of ‘faith’, personal opinion and sincerely held beliefs will not be accepted as evidence unless accompanied by scientifically verifiable evidence.
The forum is to be mutually agreed. All contribution will be echoed to this blog and either party may publish the entire debate in any medium. The forum will not be a blog over which either participant has full control.The negotiable terms and conditions are:
A neutral referee will be agreed. The rulings of this referee will be final and binding on both parties to the debate. The referee will rule on:
- Whether an assertion of fact has been validated with verified evidence.
- Whether questions have been answered fully, honestly and without prevarication.
- The meaning of words, when these are in dispute.
- Whether an argument was ad hominem or not.
- Any other disputes when requested by either of the parties to the debate.
- Whether a referral to the referee was mendacious or an attempt to prevaricate, divert or otherwise obstruct the normal flow of debate.
- The referee may intervene at any time to declare the debate won, lost or drawn.
Should either party fail to provide evidence for which a claim of its existence has been made, the debate will be considered lost.
Making any claim which is shown to be untrue or unsupported by evidence will result in forfeiture of the debate.
Ad hominem arguments will result in forfeiture.
Failure to respond to a reasonable point, answer a reasonable question or to supply the evidence requested within three days (subject to notified periods of absence) will result in forfeiture.
What stood out immediately to me was the parameters set up in such a way as to ensure failure on the Christian’s part. Not because it cannot be argued that the God of Christianity exists, but the “non-negotiable” guidelines prohibit legitimate lines of argumentation.
Science deals with the physical world. It measures, it examines (through the five senses), it tests, then predicts. God is an immaterial being. He is non-corporeal. Science is useless as a medium to examine whether God exists or doesn’t. To attempt to use a scientific procedure is to make a category error. In other words, the first non-negotiable requirement is that we use tools which can only deal with the physical world to try to examine the non-physical.
I also find problematic that the rules: Quotes from a book, appeals to authority, statements of ‘faith’, personal opinion and sincerely held beliefs will not be accepted as evidence… are quite strange. As an aside, unless one has individually performed the experiments in question, they must rely on quotes from books and appeals to authority.
This particular blog author is a believer in the Darwinian explanation of the diversity of life. I’m not positive, but this blogger is not an evolutionary biologist. He must therefore rely on books and authorities in the subjects about which he believes. There is no doubt in my mind that if asked to defend the evolutionary theory of the complexity and diversity of life he could not do so without quoting from books, appealing to authority, or expressing that he trusts (has faith) that all of the above are accurate! Talk about special pleading.
The biblical records are legitimate documents because the evidence for Christianity, specifically, is historical in nature. We cannot a priori impeach the biblical record simply because it is an ancient record written by those who were convinced of its message. This is how we know any fact of history: ancient written testimonial records. (See: THIS series on why it is not reasonable to reject the Gospels as eyewitnesses)
The non-negotiable requirements are dishonest because he is knowingly requiring the impossible, as shown by the screen captures of his comment section. The challenge is designed to conclude failure. The unreasonable limitations as to from where evidence can be culled only serves to ensure nothing can be offered to make the case for Christianity.