Saturday, February 9, 2019
Christianity vs Other Religions
QUESTION: How do you know that Christianity is true versus other religions?
This has to be answered using logic and philosophy to first show that other types of religions have problems with being true, and that, to start with, only a theistic religion can be true — a religion that has a God beyond and within the world, a God that is both creator and sustainer. This argument can get quite involved and will be left to you to study while we will assume here that everyone believes in a God. Theistic religions can be classified as Deism, pantheism, panentheism, and theism. I will only highlight some of the problems that disprove these first three viewpoints. A study of the individual worldview is very interesting and quite enlightening as to why none but theism really work. (This article was developed from the book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist, by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.)
A. Deism says that there is a God who alone is eternal, and who created the world and then walked away from it so that the world operates by natural and self-sustaining laws that He put into existence. A deist says that the supernatural does not exist, that miracles do not occur. This position is inadequate and illogical. If they admit to the miracle of creation, then they have to accept the possibility of other miracles. And if God was concerned enough to create man, it would follow that He would be concerned enough about man as to intervene personally.
B. Pantheism says that all is God and God is all; that God is the world, is us, etc. Hinduism and other Eastern and so-called New Age religions profess this, and this idea is promoted as the “Force” in Star Wars. There are actually several types of pantheism, some of which devolve into polytheism. Their god is not a personal god and is more “it” than “him.”
The very quick way to demonstrate the self-defeating aspect of this system is that if God is unknowable and inexpressible by language or thought, then how do they know and express this about God?
Another way to demonstrate that it it self-defeating is to point out that, in this view, “God is and I am not,” that is, God is all that is. But one must exist in order to claim they don’t exist! And if all there is, is God, then there is no I-thou relationship because there is only one entity. Religious experience then becomes impossible.
This view also claims evil is only an illusion, but if that is the case, what is the source of the illusion? This makes God the source of evil.
Pantheism’s god is dependent on creation; without creation the god doesn’t exist. But then they have to explain where the creation came from.
Another problem is, by saying God is all, he must include opposites. This then says nothing meaningful about him because he is and he isn’t.
Finally, there is a contradiction of God’s nature. If he is infinite yet shares his being with creation then part of him is finite, which now makes him infinite and finite which is a logical impossibility. This gets involved in philosophical arguments about contingent and necessary beings, which pantheism tries to make both at the same time.
C. Panentheism. This is similar to pantheism. God is in the world the way a soul or mind is in a body. A lot of New Age teachers promote this. God is finite and limited. There are two poles of God: an actual temporal pole and a potential eternal pole. A form of this is also known as process theology because God is in a continual process of change.
A primary proof of falsehood is that the concept of God as an eternal potential seeking temporal actualization is self-defeating. No potential can actualize itself. And then there is the problem of evil: a finite god cannot guarantee the defeat of evil.
D. Theism. Proving the other theistic belief systems false leaves us with theism. It becomes the only adequate worldview. So once we determine theism is true, how do we prove that Christianity is true instead of Judaism or Islam? The need would be to prove that Christianity is true, which by extension falsifies the other belief systems. This proof is for another time.