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SO, YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD, HUH? Part (II)

I often receive complaints from atheists about the  HYPERLINK "https://carm.org/dictionary-god" God of Christianity. They accuse Him of being a monster and a moral tyrant.

They just don't like Him. Apparently there isn't enough room in the world for two moral judges: God and themselves. So, they want to dismiss God and judge Him. Okay, so what gives them to right to judge God? Where is their standard from which they base their moral assertions about what is right and wrong? The problem is that they can't produce any objective standard. They only have their subjective opinions and that is a problem–a big problem.

Let's just take a look at their dilemma. You see, if an atheist wants to complain about the God of the Bible, that is his privilege. I will defend his right to have an opinion – even such a stupendously wrong one. But what logical argument can an atheist provide that would justify his saying that anything God does really is wrong? Think about it. The atheist could only have three possible options for the source of a moral standard:

He can develop a moral standard out of his own opinions.

He can adopt the moral standards of society.

He can use a combination of his own opinions and the morals of society.

Other than those three, I don't see any other options. So, let's take a look at them.

Atheism lacks the ability to account for our existence.

Atheism lacks the ability to account for our existence. Where did the universe – and we – come from? Atheism can only offer an impersonal cause. But an impersonal cause that precedes the universe must have always possessed the necessary and sufficient conditions to bring the universe into existence. If this pre-existing cause always existed, then it always possessed these conditions. But this necessitates an automatic generation of the universe because when the necessary sufficient conditions are there, the result is automatic. But this means the universe would have been created an infinitely long time ago. But the universe is not infinitely old, therefore, the impersonal cause of the universe cannot be supported from the atheist perspective.

Atheism lacks the ability to account for moral absolutes.

Without moral absolutes, all morality is subjective. Subjective morality cannot be defended as "the right" moral system. Therefore, when atheists object to something on a moral basis, they must either offer their own personal opinions (why should their opinions be the right one?) or they must borrow from the Christian worldview's position on absolute right and wrong.

But, if they offer their moral opinion, why is it valid? Is this a society that says something is right, then what happens when a society's opinions changes? Do truth values and morals change? If they appeal to any absolute right or wrong at all, they're going against their own worldview and assuming the validity of the Christian one. Either way, atheism lacks the ability to account for moral absolutes. It can only offer moral subjectivity which is ultimately anarchy.

Demanding Evidence.

When atheists ask for material evidence for a nonmaterial God, they are committing a logic error called a Category Mistake since immateriality (God) and materiality are different categories. The Christian God by definition is immaterial and transcends the universe and is not dependent upon it nor subject to its properties. Therefore, if atheists really want evidence for God (puerile mocking aside), then the atheists should look for evidence that has transcendental, immaterial properties. Transcendental evidence would be phenomena that are not dependent upon the physical realm, or in other words, they would not be repeatable and or discoverable through examining the material world.

Transcendental evidences are those things not dependent on the physical realm, i.e., the Laws of Logic, absolute morality, super complex information structures.
First, the Christian God by definition exists outside of our space and time. He transcends them. When atheists require physical/repeatable evidence for God based on material phenomena, that is a category mistake.

We don't find God under a rock or discover Him in a chemistry lab. Second, properties are attributes of things. If a property exists, it must be the property of something else. So, if we can find transcendent properties in the universe, then it would make sense to say that we have found evidence of transcendent things. If we find transcendent abstractions, it implies a transcendent mind since abstractions require minds. Third, some transcendent abstractions are such things as the Laws of Logic.

They are not based on human thought (lest they be conventions), nor are they properties of the physical realm (physical properties are measurable and the Laws of Logic are not). These Laws are statements, abstractions. Fourth, when atheists accuse the God of Scripture of being a moral monster, they are appealing to moral absolutes that transcend our realm and apply universally, otherwise, atheists have no right to assert that God is wrong without appealing to their personal subjectivity which is meaningless.

But such an absolute moral appeal is an appeal to transcendent morals which are abstractions because they are statements of how things "ought" to be. Fifth, when atheists appeal to such universal, transcendent abstractions whether in Logic or Morals, they are working from the Christian perspective while arguing against the Christian perspective. But this is self-refuting. That which is self-refuting, cannot be true. Therefore, the atheist ought to abandon his atheism.
Deaths Under the Atheist's watch

Deaths of people under the Atheists' watch: Joseph Stalin – 42,672,000, Mao Zedong – 37,828,000, Chiang Kai-shek – 10,214,000, Vladimir Lenin – 4,017,000, Hideki Tojo – 3,990,000, Pol Pot – 2,397,000.

Materialistic Atheism is self-refuting

The perspective of materialistic atheism is self-refuting. Here's why. The human brain is restricted to physical laws. Therefore, it will automatically respond in a predictable way based upon brain wiring and stimulus. This would mean that given the exact same circumstances, the exact same responses would always occur. This negates free will since every time the exact same circumstance arise, the exact same response must occur.

The person is not free to choose differently. Furthermore, he has no reason to trust his thoughts about reality, God, himself, others, or experiences since he cannot justify his own free will or that his conclusions are correct. Therefore, materialistic atheism is self-refuting. Materialistic atheism could never be known to be the right position to hold if the brain is merely reacting according to the physical requirements that govern it.

Responding to Atheist Statements about God.

"I lack belief in a God."

If you say that atheism is simply lack of belief in a god, then my cat is an atheist the same as the tree outside and the sidewalk out front since they also lack faith.  Therefore, your definition is insufficient.

Lacking belief is a non-statement because you have been exposed to the concept of God and have made a decision to accept or reject. Therefore, you either believe there is a God, or you do not, or you are agnostic. You cannot remain in a state of "lack of belief."

If you lack belief in God, then why do you go around attacking the idea of God? If you also lack belief in invisible pink unicorns, why don't you go around attacking that idea?

"I believe there is no God."

On what basis do you believe there is no God?

"I don't believe there is a God."

Why don't you believe there is no God?

"There is no God."

You cannot logically state that there is no God because you cannot know all things so as to determine that there is no God.

"There is no proof that God exists."

To say that "there is no proof for God's existence" is illogical because an atheist cannot know all things by which he could state that there is no proof. He can only say that he has not yet seen a convincing proof, after all, there may be one he hasn't yet seen.

"All of Science has never found any evidence for God."

That is a subjective statement. There are many scientists who affirm evidence for God's existence through science.

Your presupposition is that science has no evidence for God but that is only an opinion.

Science looks at natural phenomena through measuring, weighing, seeing, etc. God by definition is not limited to the universe. Therefore, it would not be expected that physical detection of God would be found.

"What is God?" or "Define God."

God is the only Supreme Being who is unchanging, eternal, holy, and Trinitarian in nature. He alone possesses the attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.

He alone brought the universe into existence by the exertion of His will.

"Prove your God is real."

I can no more prove to you that God is real than I can prove to you that I love my family. If you are convinced I don't love my family, no matter what I say or do will be dismissed by you as invalid. It is your presuppositions that are the problem, not whether or not God exists.

I can no more prove to you that God is real than you can prove that the universe is all that exists. Your demand of proof precludes acknowledgement of many types of evidence because your presuppositions don't allow it.

The universe exists. It is not infinitely old. If it were, it would have run out of energy long ago. Therefore, it had a beginning. The universe did not bring itself into existence. 

Since it was brought into existence by something else, I assert that God is the one who created the universe.

When the atheist complains, ask him to logically explain the existence of the universe. Point out that opinions and guesses don't count.

Responding to Atheist Statements about the Bible.

"The Bible is full of contradictions."

Saying the Bible is full of contradictions does not mean it is so. Can you provide a contradiction that we can examine in context?

Responding to Atheist Statements about Evolution and Naturalism.

"Evolution is a fact."

That depends on if it is micro or macro. Micro variations occur, but macro variations (speciation) have not been observed. The best we have are fossils, and they have to be interpreted. Besides, there are plenty of gaps in the fossil record.

Have you read any books that discuss the contrary evidence to evolution? If not, then how can you say that you are educated enough to say it is a fact?

"Naturalism is true, therefore, there is no need for God."

Naturalism is the belief that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. If all things were explainable through natural laws, it does not mean God does not exist since God is by definition outside of natural laws since He is the creator of them.

Responding to Atheist Statements about Truth.

"There are no absolute truths."

To say there are no absolute truths is an attempt to state an absolute truth. If your statement is true, then it is self-contradictory and not true, and you are wrong.

Most atheists just hate God and the idea of there possibly being a God. So, their atheism is more of a reactionary response betraying stubborn denial rather than an independent psychological of spiritual conviction. So, you see, it's not that you don't believe in God; it's just that He bothers you. You can't stomach having to account to Him.

You think you know better. You have taken it upon yourself to accuse, try, and sentence Him. It's not that you don't believe in God. You hate God.

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Opinions

Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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Opinions

The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022
piracy

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Opinions

Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022
Craig-Cloud

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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