Can we justify concepts like logic, moral values, and universals from a naturalistic, atheistic perspective? Or do we need a transcendent grounding like historic Christianity’s explanation for these meaningful realities?
Using a type of abductive logical reasoning (referred to as an inference to the best explanation), I’ll illustrate how five profound realities are plausibly explained by Christian theism.
Accounting for Five Meaningful Realities
1. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of abstract, nonphysical entities.
Some of the most wondrous realities of life are things that cannot be observed by the human senses. These abstract, intangible realities are conceptual in nature and include such entities as numbers, propositions, sets, properties, the laws of logic, moral values, and universals. Many people consider these conceptual realities to be objective, universal, and, of course, invisible.
On atheism, it is difficult to ground these conceptual realities. However, the Christian theistic worldview grounds them in the mind of an infinite, eternal, and personal spiritual being. God is the Creator of both the visible and the invisible, the source of both the sensible and the intelligible.
2. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of objective moral values.
Moral values are a fundamental part of human life, every bit as real as the law of gravity. And people are generally intuitively cognizant of their moral obligations. In their hearts, people experience the pull of moral duty. This sense of moral oughtness is prescriptive (how things should be) not descriptive (how things are) in nature, and it transcends mere subjective feelings.
Unlike secular attempts to account for morality, the ethics of Christian theism are grounded in the morally perfect nature of God who has revealed his will to humankind in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. God’s existence and nature provide a source and foundation for objective moral values.
3. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the purpose and significance that human beings yearn for in their lives.
If God doesn’t exist and the universe is merely the product of blind, purposeless, natural processes, then from a logical standpoint there can be no objective meaning to life. Given a nontheistic perspective, the fact that people exist becomes simply an improbable accident of evolution.
Humanity’s deep sense of, and need for, meaning comports well with the Christian truth claim that God created human beings in his image (Genesis 1:26–27) and that humanity’s greatest needs are to be reconciled to God and to enjoy fellowship with him forever. The Christian theistic worldview, with its unique gospel of gracious redemption in Christ, offers genuine meaning, purpose, and significance to sinners estranged from God and from their destiny.
4. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the enigma of human nature.
One of the chief realities a belief system must explain before gaining acceptance involves the enigmatic nature of human beings. Human nature poses a paradox. Humans are capable of greatness in mathematics, science, technology, philosophy, the arts, compassion, and generosity. Yet humans are equally capable of such shameful and evil acts as racism, robbery, rape, slavery, murder, and genocide. Explaining human nature apart from the reality of God represents an extraordinary philosophical, psychological, and spiritual feat.
The Bible seems to hold the secret to unraveling the enigma of human nature. The Christian theistic worldview asserts that humans’ greatness is a direct result of the imago Dei. As creatures made in the image and likeness of God, humans reflect the glory of their Maker. Human wretchedness, on the other hand, can be traced to the first human beings’ fall into sin. Thus humans are simultaneously great and wretched.
5. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the extraordinary life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
According to the historically reliable documents of the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth made unparalleled claims to divine authority during his public ministry. Jesus fulfilled dozens of very specific Old Testament prophecies concerning the identity, mission, and message of the coming Messiah. These prophecies, which give precise details about the birth, heritage, life, and death of the long-awaited Messiah, were amazingly fulfilled by Jesus.
Jesus was a prolific miracle worker. He healed incurable diseases, restored sight to the blind, multiplied small amounts of food to feed thousands of people, calmed a storm, walked on water, and even raised the dead.
Jesus exhibited a matchless moral character during his three-year public ministry that changed the world. Not only did his teachings contain incredible ethical insight, but he also perfectly fulfilled his lofty moral ideals.
Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is supported by at least seven lines of evidence. These include: (1) his empty tomb, (2) his many postcrucifixion appearances, (3) the transformation of the disciples from cowards to apostles and martyrs, (4) the dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus into the apostle Paul, (5) the historical emergence of the Christian church, (6) the change in the official day of worship to Sunday to commemorate the day of Jesus’s resurrection, and (7) the fact that all alternative naturalistic explanations for the resurrection fail miserably.
Historical Christianity has both profound explanatory power and a considerable depth of explanatory scope when it comes to life’s most meaningful realities. Christians can use this explanation with confidence when engaging skeptics about the realities of life.
- Kenneth Richard Samples, Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions, see chapter 1.
- Kenneth Richard Samples, 7 Truths That Changed the World: Discovering Christianity’s Most Dangerous Ideas, see chapters 7 and 8.