Handing Out my Game Plan

thIn arguing against the assumptions of modern materialism, I tend to get a lot of people wondering why my statements don’t directly, simply, and unambiguously show that God exists. It often feels as if such people want a one or two sentence argument that encompasses the entire chain of reasoning.

It tends to be hard to explain that some of the background discussions that frustrate many readers (such as the issue of the Verification Principle) are the key points of difference between the theist and the non-theist.

So, all things considered, I thought it would help to put up an outline of the general chain of reasoning from a very common atheist stance to Christianity:

1. The idea that the physical is all that exists is completely unsupported.

2. There are, in fact, good reasons to think that there is more to reality than the physical.

3. The explanation for the entirety of physical reality (i.e. the universe/multiverse) would itself have to be a non-physical entity.

4. Minds cannot be fully reduced to the physical.

5. It is most plausible, given the existence and nature of the universe, that the explanation for physical reality has or is something like a mind.

6. There is no more reason to reject moral truth than physical or mental truth.

7. It is most plausible to think that the explanation for physical reality also explains moral truth.

8. The historical validity of early Christian writings is much better than its opponents tend to claim.

9. The best explanation of certain historical facts is the resurrection, as early Christians claimed.

10. It is most plausible that the explanation for physical reality and moral truth also explains the resurrection.

These are simply statements, of course, not arguments. For those who are interested, I’ll get to all of them (not necessarily in order). But the point for now is that it isn’t really possible to argue clearly for, say, point nine and ten until point one and two has been addressed.

Almost all of the objections to Christianity I’ve heard rest on the idea that points one and two are false. So long as one feels it is an established fact that all reality is physical, there is no point in moving on to the question of what sort of non-physical realities exist.


6 responses to “Handing Out my Game Plan

  • Mark Hamilton

    I know that it’s quite likely that some site regulars are going to show up and start picking apart your list before you have the chance to explain why you believe each of those statements to be true, so I thought I’d pop in ahead of the crowd and let you know that I really appreciate these posts, and I especially appreciate how you’re trying to create an enviroment of honest, open, and civil discussion. Thanks a lot for all your hard work.

  • c emerson

    > 1. The idea that the physical is all that exists is completely unsupported.

    Yo, I am trying to get to the status of a site-regular (even if I don’t always have time to post). Second, I just cited your 2011 Euthyphro post over on Feser’s current Craig Theist Personalism post at:


    Third, what shall I attack before you have time to explicate? … Just kidding, sorta … I confess I don’t like the wording of your 1st point (the rest make better debatable assertions). The first does not add anything that I can see to the 2nd point. The first is IMO unwin-able unless you really want to argue, as George R was willing to do on Feser that materialism / atheism is simply irrational. He did answer my question there and gave a thorough ComBox overview for his position. Nonetheless, IMO there is nothing actually irrational about a physics-and-energy-only universe. The very lack of positive empirical, testable evidence “for” the supernatural IS support “for” the materialist’s position. Yes, there ALSO are some good (but not conclusive IMO) reasons which support “more” than mere materialism, which is exactly your 2nd point.

    Why argue in endless circles for the first? At least amend the 1st to assert that the “self-sufficiency argument for ‘nature-only’ (which I think is the real argument for both materialism and naturalism) is “insufficient” to overcome the various arguments for supernaturalism. Peace .

    • Debilis

      I just read Feser’s post this morning. I’m trying to decide where I fall on that issue. I really should set aside some time for it.

      I mostly agree with you regarding the issue of point 1. Given that materialism is such a common view, I thought I’d break it up into two points.

      I wouldn’t say a purely material universe is inherently irrational myself. I would merely add two (big) stipulations:

      1. That universe could not be all that exists (a la cosmological arguments), and

      2. That universe would not contain conscious beings (a la arguments from mind).

      You do make a good point. However, I personally feel that the self-sufficiency argument is less than insufficient. I believe that it fails entirely to provide evidence. That is, I don’t see that any lack of empirical evidence for the non-empircal is evidence at all for materialism.

      But, I agree that the second point is the more persuasive. So, perhaps I need to rethink that.

      Either way, best to you, and thank you for the thoughts. As usual, they are interesting.

  • Alexander

    “The idea that the physical is all that exists is completely unsupported”

    So, instead of arguing here, I should waiting until you tackle each of these, one by one? (Because there’s tons and tons to talk about just on the first one alone)

    • Debilis

      Yes, it is a ton.

      I don’t object, in principle, to raising issues here–so long as we can figure out how to keep the conversation from getting too unwieldy.

      I’ll try to make a place for each of them in coming blogs.

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