Ever wondered what God is like? A theistic God is an eternal spirit who is infinite in all of his attributes. Meaning he is:
- Everywhere present at once
- In complete control
But there are three different theistic religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. How do we decide which of these three has the correct understanding of God?
3 Step Method
We can use a three-step method of different “truth tests” called “systematic consistency” to find out which theistic view is correct:
- Logical Consistency (Contradictions)
- Empirical Adequacy (Science & History)
- Experiential Relevance (Living It)
1. Logical Consistency (Contradictions)
Logical consistency asks the question, “Does this worldview have contradictions in its core beliefs?”
How to Spot Contradictions
So what is a contradiction? A contradiction is when you say the opposite of true is true, not false. Or if you say that two things are true that can’t possibly be true at the same time.
For example, it is contradictory for me to say that my wife is 5’2” on today’s date and that she is also 8’10” on today’s date! Either one of those is false, or both are false. But they cannot both be true!
We can pinpoint contradictions by using the Law of Noncontradiction:
- It merely states: “The opposite of true is false.”
- Or: “Opposites cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense.”
- Or more formally: “Something cannot be both ‘A’ and ‘non-A’ at the same time and in the same sense.”
Like the example of my wife: it can’t both be true that she is 5’2” today and that she is 8’10” today. That’s a contradiction!
Getting Negative (In a Good Way)
Anytime you hold to a belief or make a statement that contains a contradiction, it is false. The Law of Noncontradiction can only tell you if something is false and not true, so it is considered a “negative test” for truth. It can tell you what isn’t true (negative) but by itself it cannot promise you what is real (positive).
Comparing Islam & Judaism
- Islam and Judaism deny that Jesus is God. Christianity affirms that Jesus is God.
- The Law of Noncontradiction demands that Jesus cannot be both God and not God.
- The next step of empirical verifiability proves historically and scientifically that Jesus is God
- Therefore, logical consistency points us to the fact that Christianity alone is correct, and the other two are not.
2. Empirical Adequacy (Science & History)
The second test is called empirical adequacy. This test looks at scientific and historical evidence to see if the religion accurately describes reality.
Example: Is the New Testament for Real?
For example, does Christianity’s New Testament accurately describe what really happened? Can we trust it?
Both Judaism and Islam deny the trustworthiness of the New Testament.
But Christianity is based on the historically reliable records of the New Testament about Jesus’ sinless life, miracles, and resurrection that are based on:
- Over 5,000 early copies of the New Testament’s documents: more than any other ancient text. And these copies are closer to the time of the original manuscripts than for any other ancient text.
- The disciples were willing to die for what they saw.
- The New Testament books were both accurately copied and faithfully transmitted.
- There are archeological and other extra-biblical evidence confirms the New Testament historical, geographic
- Scholars have refuted any alleged contradictions or scientific errors within the Bible.
- In addition to these, there are hundreds of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus proving he is the Messiah, the God-man.
- The Bible has withstood more than two thousand years of intense scrutiny without being proven wrong.
Judaism and Islam cannot adequately account for the overwhelming evidence that Christ died on the cross and resurrected from the dead three days later, while Christianity does.
Therefore, empirical adequacy (science and history) displays that Christianity is true and Islam and Judaism are not.
3. Experiential Relevance (Living It)
The test of experiential relevance simply asks: “Can you actually live this worldview?” Does it address and answer the questions regarding our experiences involving every area of our lives? The correct worldview will:
- Be relevant and accurately reflect our world
- Provide truthful answers on how to live life
- Meets life’s basic needs
- Contain teachings that work in the real world
Example: The Problem of Evil
Consider Christianity’s response to the enduring question of an all-good and all-powerful God existing alongside a world filled with authentic evil.
- No other religion gives a better answer than Christianity to the issues of sin and suffering when it comes to our existence and experience.
- Only Christianity provides the hope and cure to the reality of evil and suffering in our world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- Christianity provides the best answers to existential relevance than any other worldview.
What Now? Certainty vs. Probability
In concluding this discussion, there should be one final note. These three “truth tests” cannot provide absolute certainty like a mathematical equation. They can only offer a degree of probability. Why is that?
- Historical facts are the basis of every worldview. And no one can prove history with geometric certainty.
- Scientific data is not neutral. The scientist’s worldview often influences their interpretation. That is why some people can look at the same data and come to different conclusions.
- There is the problem of comprehensiveness. No finite mind can possess all of the facts.
But even in light of these three caveats, even if we can’t confirm it with mathematical certainty, we can still confirm Christianity as the singularly true religion with a far greater probability than any other religion or worldview.
In the end, basing your decision on probability should not worry you because probability determines nearly every area of our lives anyway (like whether it will be safe enough to drive to work today). It is a faithful guide for accepting our worldview: especially when it overturns other worldviews that we can now say don’t pass the tests.
Geisler, Norman L. Christian Apologetics 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Books (2013).
Geisler, Norman L. The Big Book of Christian Apologetics: An A to Z Guide. Grand Rapids: Baker Books (2013).