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About the debate

About your editorial in the "Metaphysics" section.

I. Just a small point about being a "textbook agnostic." The next clause after that says, "I don't know and you don't know either." But then in the next several paragraphs, you make a wide range of claims that sound like you are claiming to know a great deal. For example: "Jesus is no more divine than you or me," or that the Koran was not inspired. Those are large claims to make from an agnostic viewpoint, which by definition means that no one can know; therefore, judgment should be withheld.

do agree with you that both Christianity and Islam can't be objectively true. Many people today probably think they can, but that would be irrational.

III. I agree, too, that you can't believe in Christianity or Islam without also believing in the supernatural or miracles. If the resurrection of Jesus never happened, then Christianity would be a false belief.

ow, how about the whole issue of evidence? Well, my good friend and the author of this editorial speaks about evidence in the sense of scientific experiments. He mentioned "reliable, reproducible" experiments and then went on to say that there is no sound evidence for "the fundamental claims of either Christianity or Islam," -- meaning, apparently, no sound scientific evidence.

The problem here is that when we are dealing with the question, "Is Christianity true?," we have immediately stepped outside of the realm of scientific experiments and entered the realm of historical evidence. The question of Christianity's truthfulness is a historical question: if Jesus did what the New Testament claims and then rose from the dead, Christianity is confirmed. The question, "Is Christianity true" is like the question, "Was Washington the first President" or "Did Napolean win at Waterloo?".

Similarly, even if we are merely discussing the question of God's existence, we are still outside of scientific experimentation. God is not a testable substance that can be manipulated under controlled conditions. Without a doubt, the matter of God's existence will have to be decided in the realm of philosophical thought. Science does play a role in the debate, but it is only one factor to consider. Other factors, for example, will be the logical validity of arguments provided, our existential experiences, historical evidence, and philosophical reasoning.

V. In order to conserve space, I will conclude with one more observation. The scientific materialist rests his entire structure of rationality upon empirical observation and the scientific method. This is also known as "Logical Positivism": the theory that unless a proposition can be verified empirically or scientifically, it shouldn't be believed. Prima facie, that sounds very plausible. But then upon further reflection, it becomes clear that the proposition of logical positivism itself fails to meet its own standard -- it is a self-refuting statement. The proposition that "nothing is true unless it can be empirically verified" cannot itself be scientifically verified. That proposition, in fact, is not a scientific proposition at all, but a statement of philosophy about the scientific enterprise. For this reason there are very few philosophers anymore who hold to Logical Positivism. It has been exposed as a self-contradictory statement.

Therefore, I argue that philosophy, not science, is the very paradigm of rationality. Science can't even get off the runway without some set of philosophical presuppositions. Science is never conducted in a vacuum, but is greatly influenced by philosophical, social, political, and even moral ideas.

As a result, we can't rest our case for or against God or Christianity solely on the basis of science, which is the popular misconception today.

Thank you, good night,

-- The author.