Can reason prove Christianity is true?


#1

I got into a pretty heated debate with this older guy who was wearing a tee shirt that said, “Reason is the only virtue, and it proves God doesn’t exist!”

I was pretty much taken aback by his shirt but approached him non-the-less. I planted a seed to say the least but, i feel that i didn’t do that great of a job explaining how reason proves that God does exist.

He kept saying, “reason tells me that i see a tree, and the tree exists. I don’t see, hear, smell, or talk to God, therefore he doesn’t exist.”

Can some of you help me to prove reason and the existence of God, we have set up another meeting in the future to discuss this issue further.

God love you and thank you.


#2

Go to peterkreeft.com and check out his featured writings, which has articles on how reason proves God exist!

God bless you,
FJ


#3

Is this man being rational? No. He is just puffed up with his own brand of “rationality,” which he uses to try to decieve others into believing that reason doesnt support God. His opposition to Christianity is probably much more grounded off of anti-christian prejudices and stereotypes rather than sound logic.

Is it rational to believe that only the things that we see exist? Of course not. Is it rational to say that matter is the only thing which exists? No. If the universe was all that exsted, and no one created it, then everything would have happened already. Scientists are just now coming to where theologians have been for centuries. The Big Bang theory proves that time had a beginning. Who created the universe? God did. Matter is decaying. If it had existed forever, we wouldnt exist.

“A little science leads one away from God, while more science leads one back again”-Francis Bacon.

“Unless you believe you will not understand”- St Augustine


#4

Did he ever read or read about St. Thomas Aquinas?


#5

[quote=SMateja]He kept saying, “reason tells me that i see a tree, and the tree exists. I don’t see, hear, smell, or talk to God, therefore he doesn’t exist.”
[/quote]

Reason tells me that I see a tree, and the tree exists. If the tree exists, it must have come from somewhere. Since nothing can come from nothing, the tree must have come from something. Thus it required a Creator, or God.


#6

Try also CS Lewis. Especially “Miracles”.


#7

That’s not so good “reason” if he doesn’t believe in something because he can’t see it. We can’t really see air, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Before we had microscopes to see germs, does that mean they didn’t exist?

Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean something doesn’t exist. There are some things we can’t see, because of the limitations of our eyes.


#8

[quote=Maranatha]Did he ever read or read about St. Thomas Aquinas?
[/quote]

I agree. If you want the use of reason to prove Christianity, and more (Catholicism), St Thomas’ Summa Theologica is definitely the way to go! :thumbsup: His theology is as brilliant as Einstein’s physics! :thumbsup:


#9

This is a classic case. Sounds like he’s not that very bright sayin’

“reason tells me that i see a tree, and the tree exists. I don’t see, hear, smell, or talk to God, therefore he doesn’t exist.”

Tell him to stand by his tree during a storm, if lighting doesn’t hit him, then God doesn’t exist!

Other than that, go buy him the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Let him read it, see if his reasons are still intact.


#10

The first thing I’d do in a situation like that if try to find out if he’s assuming that you must be able to prove something before you can know it. If so, then I’d point out that while he may perceive a tree through his senses, there really no way to prove that his senses correspond to an external world. And yet reason seems to dictate that we believe in an external world. It follows that reason dictates we believe things we can’t prove. At this very least, this ought to make him a little more open to hearing arguments for the existence of God.

The two arguments that are most pursuasive to me is the moral argument and the cosmological argument. You might want to familiarize yourself with those and any other arguments before talking to him again.

Sam


#11

Rather than assuming you have to prove something before you can know it, it could be that he’s assuming our senses are the only way we can come to know things. If so, then you can still use the same tactic. Obviously, our senses can’t be what tells us that our senses correspond to an external world, and it is only by assuming our senses correspond to an external world that our senses can tell us anything at all about the external world.

And there are many other things we know that our senses can’t tell us. We know we’re thinking, we know what we’re thinking, we know about our feelings, perceptions, memories, etc. We know the laws of logic, the axioms of geometry, that 2 + 2 = 4, that the future will resemble the past (i.e. the uniformity of nature–the basic assumption of all probability and inductive reasoning, including the scientific method), etc. None of these things are known by the senses, but without them, would couldn’t know anything at all.

What’s keeping him from believing in God is his epistimological method–knowing things only by his senses. Attack that epistimology, and that will open him up to other ways of knowing that God exists besides seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching him.


#12

Sorry, I keep thinking of more things to say. If he’s working with the assumption that you must be able to prove something before you can know it, then you might want to ask him if he can prove that assumption. It would be interesting to see if he arrives at that assumption through his sensory perceptions.


#13

Reason cannot prove that Christianity is “true.” It can, however, point you in the right direction!


#14

Alterum is right. We must distinguish between the truth of Christianity as a whole and the existence of God. The latter, according to the First Vatican Council, can be proved rationally (though that doesn’t mean that every individual of good will must be able to understand and accept those proofs–I for instance don’t find the proofs totally demonstrative, and have to accept God’s existence by faith as I do the other truths of Christianity). The former cannot, because it contains some truths (such as the Trinity) which go beyond reason.

Reason can show that there is a First Cause of the universe. (Again, some of us find these arguments merely probable, but others find them demonstrative.) But that isn’t all of Christianity by any means!

Edwin


#15

[quote=Alterum]Reason cannot prove that Christianity is “true.” It can, however, point you in the right direction!
[/quote]

This statement is true, and in relation to the beginning post of this thread, others have brought up the deeper assumptions like “we can only know through our senses.” This idea is really unbridled Empiricism. Peter Kreeft’s books, especially “A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist” (this book is easy to read and chocked full of Wisdom through a conversational setting.), and resources are great at addressing philosophical assumptions. Thanks and God Bles.


#16

The Problem with Reason, is that depending on your view of what is true, good and real, you can prove pretty much whatever worldview you have, so long as you remain within the circle of your own reasoning. G.K. Chesterton’s famous madman analogy comes to mind. Some of the greatest logicians are screaming in insane asylums.

The kicker is that every worldview needs an ultimate reference point, and since the omnimax God is the greatest objective idea of the human mind, He is the only objective ultimate reference point. All others are subjective, which creates the curious situation of competing reference points, which we are experiencing today with post-modern relativism. Thus, only an ultimate reference point centred on God can have the effect of allowing for absolute Truth. Since Truth must be absolute by its very definition, only the existence of God can allow for the existence of reality itself, which depends on Truth (or else nothing can be real).

Materialism is perfectly logical, but the problem is that it is very limiting. If there are other worldviews (e.g. Catholic Orthodoxy) that are just as logical, but encompass a much greater (in fact the greatest) possible explanation for reality, then it would be prudent to choose what is less restricting.


#17

At present, at least, (Catholic dogma aside), it is not possible through purely logical, scientific reasoning to prove that God either exists or does not exist. This is because the idea of God is beyond the scope of the scientific method. That’s not to say science believes the question is unimportant, only that science does not have the tools to deal with it.

Aquinas’ arguments won’t work, since they were refuted long, long ago, along with all other proofs for and against.

But my guess is you’ll probably both have at it anyway.


#18

and i don’t see, hear, smell, or talk to your friend. therefore…


#19

[quote=AdsoOfFunkstown]At present, at least, (Catholic dogma aside), it is not possible through purely logical, scientific reasoning to prove that God either exists or does not exist. This is because the idea of God is beyond the scope of the scientific method. That’s not to say science believes the question is unimportant, only that science does not have the tools to deal with it.

Aquinas’ arguments won’t work, since they were refuted long, long ago, along with all other proofs for and against.

But my guess is you’ll probably both have at it anyway.
[/quote]

I am curious about the middle statement “Aquinas’ arguments won’t work, since they were refuted long, long ago, along with all other proofs for and against.” I wouldn’t say that Aquinas’s arguments were refuted so much as the observation was pointed out that Logic and Reason point to the existence of God as possibility and maybe even a likelihood. I would be curious after reading your bio how you address the varius arguments yourself (ex. Anselm’s ontological). Thanks and God Bless.


#20

This kind of person claims to only believe that which is coercively true such as 2+2=4. The vast bulk of what we are certain of we hold on the basis of beyond reasonable doubt as in a jury verdict. The next time you meet your friend ask him to give you proof, there and then, that he is his mother’s son. Something he no doubt has always believed but can not show demonstrable coercive proof unless he has their matching DNA in his back pocket and even then that would only prove extremely high probaility.
Apologetics can only establish by reason that Jesus was an historical figure of truth and integrity who proved His claims. When on the basis of this we put our trust in Him we move to the higher plane of Faith. Faith is above reason but not against it.


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