How do we prove theism is true? Can this be done? Or is a belief in God just based on our feelings or how we grew up? In a previous article, we discussed one way to prove God's existence (called "undeniability"), and in this article, we look at another way: "unaffirmability."
First Step to Prove Theism is True: Prove Non-Theistic Worldviews are False
You see, it is one thing to prove theism is true. In other words, that a theistic God MUST exist. And exist undeniably, but we also need to answer our critics from the other six worldviews.
And proving other worldviews are wrong is done by showing they all hold to false or "unaffirmable" beliefs.
Don't let the word "unaffirmability" intimidate you. It is a fancy way of saying that the statement or belief contradicts itself. Or the more cliched phrase, "it shoots itself in the foot."
A few examples will show you how easy the concept of unaffirmability is to understand:
Some statements are "directly unaffirmable."
- The contradiction is apparent in the statement itself.
- Consider, "I cannot express myself in words."
- That is a contradiction because the person had to express herself in words to say she couldn't express herself in words!
But some claims are "indirectly unaffirmable" and are a little harder to spot.
To discover these logical mistakes, we have to work harder. We may need to rephrase the statement or dig deeper into the meaning to find the contradiction.
- For example, a pantheist may say, "I know that no one can know anything about reality."
- The contradiction is not readily apparent in the statement.
- So we need to dig deeper and rephrase what they are saying to bring the contradiction to light.
- The critic claims to "know enough about reality" to say, "no one can know anything about reality!"
- But that is contradictory!
- How can he claim he does know something about reality when at the same time he is claiming, "Reality "cannot be known!"
Now let's discover some of the contradictions in the other six worldviews
What's a Contradiction?
To prove theism is true, we must become familiar with some logic, specifically contradictions. Contradictions are things that break the Law of Noncontradiction.
The Law of Noncontradiction (LON) is a philosophical principle we use every day. It merely states, "the opposite of true is false." Every time you say, "That is true," you mean its opposite is false and vice versa.
- For example, if I claim that it is true that it is "sunny and 85 degrees outside my house today." Then it would be false to claim that it is "cloudy and -35 degrees outside my house today."
If you say the opposite of true is true, you are violating the LON.
- In our example: You're contradicting yourself if you say, "It is sunny and 85 degrees outside my house today AND it is also cloudy and -35 degrees outside my house today!"
Those are contradictory statements. Why? Because two opposite propositions cannot both be true, at the same time, and in the same sense.
So the LON helps us discover contradiction. And when we find contradictions, we know the statement is false.
All 6 Other Worldviews Don't Work
Now let's apply these things: a worldview would be unaffirmable if:
- It contradicts theism: If we could show that theism is true (like in our previous article), then the LON would point out that anything that contradicts theism must be false. Since all of the other six worldviews hold contradictory views to theism, they must be wrong.
- It contradicts itself: The LON is also useful for showing contradictions within a worldview. A worldview is false if it contradicts itself.
Here's how all six of the other worldviews are "unaffirmable."
Atheism is Unaffirmable
Atheism fails because it claims there is no God. But we have shown that a theistic God undeniably exists.
Many atheists believe that our finite universe has existed for an infinite number of moments in time. Others claim a series of infinite multiverses. In either case, they are wrong!
An infinite series (a series without beginning or end) or moment or preceding "multiverses" cannot exist in reality.
Similarly, an infinite number of causes for our universe or multiverses are impossible because they result in an "infinite regress."
Polytheism, Finite Godism, and Pan-en-theism are Unaffirmable
Polytheism, Finite Godism, and Pan-en-theism believe in a finite (or limited) god or gods. All finite beings, including finite gods, are limited. And the "Principle of Causality" demands that every finite being (effect) has to be brought into existence by a preceding cause.
Therefore whoever created these contingent and finite god(s) would be greater than them and qualify as the real God. Further, "finite gods" contradict the previous undeniable argument for an infinite and eternal God.
Pantheism is Unaffirmable
Dr. Norman Geisler, in his Christian Apologetics (pp. 187-190), summarizes three contradictions in pantheism:
- A strictly pantheistic view's most fundamental mistake is saying that only God exists and "I" do not exist. But this is self-defeating (since you have to exist to affirm that you do not exist).
- Additionally, it is contradictory for a finite human being to be an infinite god. Finite cannot also be infinite.
- Lastly, it is contradictory to state, "God is unknowable in an intellectual way." Why? Because the pantheist believes she knows something intellectually about her god!
Deism is Unaffirmable
Deism's belief in God is contradictory. How could a God who created the universe out of nothing be kept from doing more minor miracles like creating humans if he chose? That is not consistent.
Theism Is for Real
The only remaining worldview--theism--is the only "affirmable" and correct worldview! The other six worldviews are false because they contain contradictions in their fundamental beliefs.
What's Your Next Step?
Did I prove theism is true for you? Recognizing the reality of a theistic God is far more critical in our lives than disproving other views. And if a theistic God exists, what should I do? When we discover the terrible news of how we can never know or please this God on our own and the good news of how he's willing to love us and change our lives through his Son Jesus, that changes everything.
- Geisler, N. L. (2013). Christian Apologetics 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
- _________ (2012) The Big Book of Christian Apologetics: An A to Z Guide. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
- _________ , & Watkins, W. D. (1989). Worlds Apart: A Handbook on World Views (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.