The “If…then…” problem

In most arguments, but especially those of the apologetics persuasion, we run into what I call the “If…then…” problem. From both believers and unbelievers we hear that if a certain piece of evidence is considered to be true, then God exists/does not exist. The postmodern kindergarten atheist authors are especially fond of using that technique, because it basically cannot be refuted by refuting the premise, the “if” part.

I have also just finished reading the Hugh Ross book, “Creation as Science”, and it is, like other books in that genre, a long “If..then…” argument. Most classical apologetics take that form. And it suffers from the same ailment that the arguments from the other side of the aisle suffers, if the premise is considered true then the conclusion follows neatly.

But it is a neverending argument. Because as soon as one of these rather specific premises are questioned or even refuted, then it is followed by another, ad infinitum. And both sides continue to do this, unabated and proud of the “progress” they are making, or the points they are scoring. It is a neverending circle of assumptions, premises and conclusions, kinda like a soap opera that never gets to the point, just drags the audience and actors along for years with mini-plots, drama and contrived intrigue.

As you may have deduced, I severely dislike the “If…then…:” method of discussion. I even see this in modern gospel presentations: “If God exists, then He wants you to be happy and prosperous”. “If God exists, you wil spend eternity with Him.” and so on. Atheists turn it around, and argue: “If evil exists, then God doesn’t.”

But the big festering moosehead on the table that no-one wants to mention is the conditional “If”. How can any person minimize this argument to an “If….” proposition without entering the soap opera circle? By it’s very nature that proposition contains uncertainty, and so does any conclusion that follows it. Some may argue that we can confirm the validity of the premise, but even the affirmation suffers from the same illness…it assumes the conclusion to be provisionally true or false, and therefore does not lead to the conclusion, but assumes it a priori.

I, for one, am not willing to stake my spiritual life and wellbeing on a hopeful “if” argument. What then, is the correct way? Well, God exists or He doesn’t. No if’s or but’s. Because once you start playing the “If…then…” game, then that leads to a perpetual sine wave of belief and doubt, depending on which argument you find most convincing at the time. But that has absolutely no bearing on whether God exists or not. His existence has nothing to do with your, mine or anyone’s beliefs.

Well then, Mr. Genius, you ask, how can we then ever know whether God exists or not? The answer, quite simply, is that everyone already knows. It is part of one’s personhood. It si the way that we have been made. And one only has to witness the plethora of “If..then…arguments” to see that. It is a symptom of people trying to convince or unconvince themselves. But if the “If..then..” arguments were valid and convincing in all cases, then everyone would be believers or unbelievers. The fact that they are not proves that the knowledge of the existence of God is innate, not some weak human faith or belief issue. It is as much part of the fabric of the universe as the basic elements, the laws of nature and the transcendant laws.

You already know whether God exists or not. The question is what you are going to do about it.


2 responses to “The “If…then…” problem

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