Answers in Genesis — Proving God’s Existence

There’s a thought-provoking article posted by the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis, the on-line ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. It’s titled Proving God’s Existence — Would You Believe If He Showed Up at Your Door? The article is written by Nathan Ham, whom we believe to be the oldest son of ol’ Hambo.

This is a bit off-topic for us, as your Curmudgeon isn’t concerned with such theological questions, but it’s nevertheless interesting as an indication of how creationists regard the nature of proof itself. That is, to a creationist — who routinely denies well-established scientific facts — what would constitute proof of anything?

With that in mind, let’s see what Nathan has to say. We’ll add some bold font for emphasis, and delete the scripture references:

In 1985 a popular debate on this subject was held between Reformed theologian Greg Bahnsen and atheist Gordon Stein. Stein was asked what would “constitute adequate evidence for God’s existence?” He answered, “If that podium suddenly rose into the air five feet, stayed there for a minute and then dropped right down again, I would say that is evidence of a supernatural because it would violate everything we knew about the laws of physics and chemistry.”

That’s not a bad miracle. We’ve previously discussed the subject — see The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Miracles. Our own favorite example, which we’ve never discussed here (well, once in a comment), would be if all the stars, regardless of their distance, were rearranged one night into a checkerboard pattern, which would be apparent only from our location, and they should remain that way for 24 hours so everyone on Earth could see it, and astronomers could confirm it. And then, without any fuss, the stars should resume their usual pattern. That would convince almost everyone that a miracle had occurred. But things like that never happen. Okay, let’s get back to AIG:

Would you believe in God if He showed up at your door?

Huh? Anyone could show up at our door and introduce himself that way. It would require a wee bit more to verify his identity. Let’s read on:

Some people, especially atheists, tend to think that supernatural phenomenon [sic] like miracles are absolutely necessary for proving the existence of God. But some people will never be convinced, in spite of seeing miracles, as many incidents in biblical history show:

We’re then given a long list of miracles in the bible, which no living witness has ever seen. For example:

God commanded Moses in Exodus 4:4–9 to show miraculous signs to Israel so that they might believe God sent him, and eventually they did. However, Pharaoh with his hardened heart, despite seeing all those wonders, still chased after them through the Red Sea to his own destruction.

That Pharaoh was a hard-hearted guy. AIG continues:

Even the famous British atheist evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, admitted in his 2012 debate against the Australian Catholic Cardinal, George Pell, that he (Dawkins) “used to think that if somehow, you know, great big giant 900-foot high Jesus with a voice like Paul Robeson suddenly strode in and said ‘I exist. Here I am,’ but even that I actually sometimes wonder whether that would.”

Dawkins is a hard-hearted guy too. Even a 900-foot high Jesus wouldn’t convince him. Here’s more:

The point is that no matter how many miracles are done, some with a hardened unbelief will always find a way to explain God away … rather than believing his miracles were a demonstration of the power of God.

Your Curmudgeon isn’t that much of a skeptic. Bible stories aren’t verifiable, but we’d accept the checkerboard arrangement of stars. Dawkins probably would too. Moving along:

You see, it is not enough to prove God exists.

Maybe not, but it would be a good start. Another excerpt:

Christians should continue using the best biblical apologetics arguments for the existence of God. But if our apologetic method does not point people to Christ when arguing for the existence of God, we are no different from the Intelligent Design movement.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! They’re not that different at all. Like AIG, the Discoveroids are creationists, and we know who their designer is, but they can’t prove his existence either. On with the article:

There is plenty of evidence for God’s existence in the creation and every person already knows that God exists. Skeptics suppress that knowledge, their understanding of the evidence, and their own consciences in unrighteousness.

Young Hambo won’t convince anyone with that kind of sermonizing. He continues:

But God (Jesus Christ) has already knocked on the world’s door, and many did not listen. They have explained Him away as a good teacher, a crazy man, or a deceiver. Approximately 2,000 years later, times have not changed very much and neither has the heart of man.

Okay, that’s enough. So what did we learn? Not too much. Well, we’ve learned that AIG has no idea what it means to actually prove something. All they’ve said is: “Hey, it’s in the bible. What else do you need?” Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for that shining checkerboard in the sky.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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29 responses to “Answers in Genesis — Proving God’s Existence

  1. docbill1351

    And the punchline is:

    “Whaddya mean? I sent you three boats!”

    Ba-dump-ching!

  2. waldteufel

    Nathan drools: “However, Pharaoh with his hardened heart, despite seeing all those wonders, still chased after them through the Red Sea to his own destruction.” Uh, Nathan . . . Pharaoh wanted to let the Israelites go, but it was God himself who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, thereby thwarting his free will. The story is pure fantasy, of course, but this little illustration shows how creationists can’t even get their own story right.

  3. I wouldn’t have to believe. I would have evidence to support the claim that a god exists (if he came knocking on the door and it was verifiable somehow).

    If it’s the god of the Bible, still wouldn’t worship him, but I’d be willing to admit that he does exist.

  4. docbill1351

    Could it be that God is Annette Handshaw?

  5. Any good conjurer could pull off the podium trick.

    Evidence that would convince me:

    After the (say) 500,000th decimal place of pi, a series of 0s and 1s appears which spells out, “Congratulations, you found me!” Note that a god would anticipate English and ASCII at the time of creation. Or the same thing for e or for the speed of light.

    A Catholic vomiting after taking communion, and human DNA found in the vomit that indicated parthenogenesis or some other impossible genetic combination.

    Stars suddenly blue shifting in a pattern that cannot be “natural.”

    With a few drinks, I could come up with more.

  6. AiG lives in an alternate totally unscientific Universe when it comes to what constitutes proof and evidence of something and what does not. No matter how absurd something may be, like a talking snake, if it is in the bible that constitutes irrefutable proof of its existence. The intellectually curious Romans were thorough record keepers, kept a careful eye on what was going on in the various parts of their empire and were especially vigilant about unusual events in the troublesome region of Palestine but make no mention in any of their records of what would have been truly amazing events. This is strong evidence that the whole Jesus story probably never took place. However, even though no other historical records mention Jesus because it is in the bible AIG considers that unquestionable proof that everything mentioned in the new testament must be true.

    On the other hand, AIG has determined that radiometric dating is flawed and gives spurious ages every single time it finds that something is older than 6,000 years and no amount of known facts from Nuclear Physics can ever be evidence to them that it is a reliable technology.

  7. Mel Famie wrote: “After the (say) 500,000th decimal place of pi, a series of 0s and 1s appears which spells out, ‘Congratulations, you found me!'”

    Carl Sagan, of all people, used a variant of that one in his novel _Contact_ (not carried over in the movie version starring Jodie Foster).

    It would be pretty hard for any being to prove that he/she/it is, indeed, the one-and-only Creator Deity, Even if all the Biblical miracles were repeated before our eyes, they would really only prove that we were in contact with some rather skilled and powerful cosmic being (in control of either magic/miraculous power OR super-advanced technology; Arthur C. Clarke has pointed out that to us, the two would be indistinguishable anyway). How could we know that this claimant was the actual, eternal CREATOR, and not “just” some superhumanly powerful entity?

    The only solution I can think of is that a truly omnipotent being would be able to hook our brains up to its own omniscient mind for a moment, so that we could know through its own knowledge that it was, indeed, the Supreme Deity.

  8. For the Ol’ and Yun’ Hambo’s of the world proof and evidence is what confirms their pre-determined conclusion. This applies to a lot of non-creationist apologists as well (WLC!)

    I wouldn’t set the bar as high as some others here. I have two:

    1. Potential victims of a natural disaster warned a week before by means of a collective nightmare and this happening on a statistical significant base;
    2. Finding a tribe deep in the interior of Amazonia or Papua Guinea that demonstrably never had any contact with christian civilization before and still knows the essentials of the story (the preaching, the son of god claim, the painful dead and the Resurrection; mutatis mutandis for every other known religion).

  9. >Dawkins is a hard-hearted guy too. Even a 900-foot high Jesus wouldn’t convince him.
    >

    For me, the bigger question is how people would react to a 900 ft. Richard Dawkins.

    Hey, if I were to see a 900 ft. Richard Dawkins, I’d clean up my act REALLY fast!

  10. hnohf has it right, imho. There would be no way for us to distinguish between phenomena presented by God the Creator and a super-advanced, super-powerful alien entity. Even the brain hook-up wouldn’t be proof (see Matrix the movie).

    Granted, the checkerboard star pattern would be very impressive, but would it be proof?

  11. retiredsciguy asks a hard-hearted question: “Granted, the checkerboard star pattern would be very impressive, but would it be proof?”

    Proof, no. But I wouldn’t want to annoy anyone who could accomplish such a stunt.

  12. On the other hand, AIG has determined that radiometric dating is flawed and gives spurious ages every single time it finds that something is older than 6,000 years and no amount of known facts from Nuclear Physics can ever be evidence to them that it is a reliable technology.

    And AiG provides no scientific explanation as to why that should be so, and why the same sort of orders-of-magnitude error occur in measurements of the age of the earth based on geological strata and in the age of the universe based on astronomical measurements.

    Satan is supposed to be the Father of Lies, but God would have to be the biggest liar of all to have chosen to rig the universe with so much false evidence that His Word was not true.

  13. Stated ‘Would you believe in God if He showed up at your door?’
    Well would you? if the god was named Vishnu?
    Ken Ham says NOTHING would change his mind, so would this be a pot-Kettle thing?

  14. SC: “But I wouldn’t want to annoy anyone who could accomplish such a stunt.”

    Yeah, I’m with you there. But something makes me think there’s nothing we could do that could possibly annoy such a power.

  15. @L.Long: “Stated ‘Would you believe in God if He showed up at your door?’
    Well would you? if the god was named Vishnu?”

    Good point. Since we are supposedly “in the image” of the Hebrew God, we’d have a hard time distinguishing whether the dude at the door was Jehovah or just one of His Witnesses.

    On the other hands, if the guy has four arms, well…

  16. Aarrgh! I appeal to the Voice From Above to close the italics (in His divine way).

    [*Voice from above*] No problem. Nor is that checkerboard thing, but I’ve got other projects at the moment.

  17. He could start with telling us what god is, maybe we would even know if it is. Ham has a long way to go to give any proofs

  18. I don’t think that there’s any one single miracle persuasive enough to establish as true an entity’s claim to being (the, a) god. As with scientific theories, it would have to be cumulative evidence that sways us in the form of a variety of demonstrations, and even then a residue of doubt would remain, however small.

    There are in any case hard foundational difficulties when we start talking about things like omnipotence and omniscience. The bottom line is that these concepts are intrinsically logically incoherent, unless they are circumscribed in some way, which then detaches their “omniness”. To illustrate: Does omnipotence include the ability to do the infeasible? Does omniscience include knowledge of the unknowable?

    These considerations suggest that we can contemplate two broad classes of miracles, namely physical miracles (violating the laws of physics or nature) and logical miracles (violating the laws of logic). I think it would be more convincing to witness a miracle of the latter class because it would be incomprehensible to us in principle. Just think of being faced with a married bachelor or a square circle. Such things are well within the capabilities of a truly omnipotent entity, as Descartes observed all those years ago.

    We can either assert true “omni” properties and then remain silent for fear of self-contradiction and drowning in absurdity, or we can work with sham versions of such concepts and put on a good-but-ineffectual show.

  19. It would, of course, be pretty impressive if the God candidate for a moment changed the laws of mathematics so that 2 + 2 = 5, or something to the same effect.

    But as for the “God turning up at one’s door” thing, it would indeed be nice to see Ham’s reaction is a radiant figure presenting himself as VISHNU turned up at Ham’s door (as suggested by L. Long).

    “Sorry, Ham, but the True Religion is Hinduism, not Christianity. And the problem with mainstream science isn’t that the estimate of the age of the universe is too high, but that it is too LOW. As you can learn from Hindu scripture, the universe isn’t a mere 13.8 billion years old. No, it manifested out of Pure Consciousness several TRILLION years ago.”

    That would make any YEC feel pretty stupid, hm?

  20. JC has never come to my door, but we did ride the same bus last week. None of the other passengers were convinced, either.

    @docbill, you are showing your age. God is Jack White.

  21. @RSC: “There would be no way for us to distinguish between phenomena presented by God the Creator and a super-advanced, super-powerful alien entity.”
    That’s correct, but I wouldn’t have many problems worshipping a super-advanced, super-powerful alien entity that manages to warn people for upcoming disasters by means of collective nightmares.

  22. As L Long & hnohf point out, what if it was Vishnu. I’d add that if He turned up and was not a 6 foot tall, blond, blue eyed white guy, they would be even more shocked.

  23. jimroberts

    Finding a sequence of 0s and 1s which spells out, “Congratulations, you found me!” in the decimal expansion of pi wouldn’t convince me. It would be amazing if that sequence weren’t in there somewhere, even infinitely often.

  24. Accepting a miracle as proof of god is essentially making a “god of the gaps” argument. An amazing thing happens, no one knows how it could happen, therefore god. Seeing such an event, I would assume that someday someone will figure out the science behind it, or the trick, whichever might be the case.

    With respect to God knocking on the door – well, he would no longer be in the supernatural realm, would he? He would be physical, therefore natural, and could be studied. If he worked miracles to prove his Godness, then see above.

    One of the main issues I have with the idea of a God who created the universe is the question of why such a powerful supernatural entity would have any need whatsoever to be worshiped. We would be less than ants to such a being. We might not even rise to the level of bacteria. The whole concept makes no sense. Add to that the idea that such a god not only needs worship by completely invisible (on God’s scale) humans, but is somehow directly involved in each individual human’s life, and most especially their sex life. It’s just ridiculous.

  25. jimroberts says:

    Finding a sequence of 0s and 1s which spells out, “Congratulations, you found me!” in the decimal expansion of pi wouldn’t convince me.

    What if it also said: “Want more proof? Then skip ahead exactly one million digits for another message, which will then send you to another, etc.”

  26. I don’t think a one time “I’m here!” would work for me. Other things in the environment that I accept as real and reality are not one time events. They are persistent and subject to investigation.
    One problem with an alleged deity showing off his super powers is that much of our modern technology would be perceived as miraculous even 200 years ago. So is it a god, alien, or something else would be a difficult thing to demonstrate conclusively.
    Thanks Hambo Jr…very thought provoking!

  27. SC: essentially you’re just asking for longer messages. The first one is a sequence of about 248 digits (I may have miscounted), so one of those should start about every 10^248 digits apart on average. Two messages separated by a million digits are a lot rarer, but no worse than 10^(rather more than a million).
    Maybe by carefully constructing a rule for longer and longer separation ad infinitum you could get something that couldn’t occur in pi, but these messages occur in lots of other, otherwise uninteresting, numbers. Still no help for the supernatural.

  28. As jimroberts has hinted at, any desired sub-sequence of finite length (or any finite concatenation of finite sub-sequences) must occur in an infinite parent sequence (and infinitely often), unless there is some rule to the parent sequence that expressly forbids it. In the binary expansion of π (or any other transcendental number of your choice), there is no known rule of this kind at work.

  29. I would be more interested to hear from an evangelical Christian what would constitute a sufficient level of proof to convince them to discard the notion that there is a god. My guess is there is nothing that would reach that level of proof ever…