Challenging Unbelief and Exposing Self-Refuting Contradictions
Positions claiming absolute certainty:
Consider the assertion: “there is no God.”
First, the Christian must point out that the unbeliever has not looked and cannot look everywhere Charlotte Botox for God. The unbeliever would have to possess the divine attributes of omniscience and omnipresence in order to make an assertion of this nature with any credibility. Moreover, since the unbeliever is finite, he cannot be certain of his assertion because proof for God’s existence may be in a place where he has not looked. Therefore, the unbeliever has no ground to claim his assertion is correct because he in reality cannot be absolutely sure about his assertion. The unbeliever is basically saying; “You can’t know anything for sure.” The unbeliever cannot be sure of his own assertion without contradicting himself. Said another way the unbeliever is saying; “You can’t know anything for certain.” You reply by asking, are you certain of that? As you have just seen, the unbeliever has refuted himself.
The following comments by Cornelius Van Til on atheism are most instructive:
Even making the statement “God does not exist” would be impossible if God did not exist. No statement can be made about chaos, abstract plurality. Without any order to the world, words would never have a consistent meaning. “This is x” would be equivalent to “This is not x.” “God does not exist” would be equivalent to “God does exist.” The words “God,” “does,” “not,” and “exist” would suffer the same possibility of becoming their opposites, or anything else; nor would there be any relationship between any of the words. To say that God does not exist is to make a universal negative claim, yet on the basis of a plurality that excludes all unity, universal claims are not possible. On the other hand, on the basis of an abstract unity as ultimate, no words would have any content. Once again, “is” would be equivalent to “is not.” All would be a blank. God, as a concrete universal, must exist in order for the statement “God does not exist” to be intelligible. Antitheism presupposes theism. One must stand upon the solid ground of theism to be an effective antitheist. Finally, agnosticism is morally self-contradictory since it pretends to be very humble in its insistence that it makes no sweeping conclusions, while as a matter of fact it has mad a universal negative conclusion in total reliance upon itself. The “natural man” is at enmity against God.1
Positions claiming absolute uncertainty:
“We cannot know whether God exists or not.”
The Christian must show the unbeliever that though his position may seem safe and neutral on the surface, it is actually a bold statement about God and His world. The assertion is claiming that God has not made himself known in a way that should be accepted by everyone. The Christian must respond by explaining to the unbeliever that he has not searched everywhere to see if there is any clear evidence for God’s existence. Moreover, the unbeliever is in reality unable to look everywhere without possessing divine attributes. The unbeliever is basically saying; “There is no certainty.” He cannot be certain of that without contradicting himself? Therefore, the unbeliever cannot be sure about his agnosticism and therefore, his position and objection is not valid. Again, as you have just seen, the unbeliever has refuted himself.
Cornelius Van Til speaking of Agnosticism says:
[Agnosticism] is, in the first place, psychologically self-contradictory upon its own assumptions. Agnosticism wants to hold that it is reasonable to refrain from thorough epistemological speculations because they cannot lead to anything. But in order to assume this attitude, agnosticism has itself made the most tremendous intellectual assertion that could be made about ultimate things. In the second place, agnosticism is epistemologically self-contradictory on its own assumptions because its claim to make no assertion about ultimate reality rests upon a most comprehensive assertion about ultimate reality… the alternative is not between saying something about ultimate reality or not saying anything about it, but that the alternative is rather between saying one thing about it or another. Every human being, as a matter of fact, says something about ultimate reality.