The easiest way to suppress the truth of the God who transcends nature is to reject the transcendence of nature. Given his absolute commitment to naturalism, Atheist debater Dan Barker cannot permit the word “exist” to include anything outside of material nature. Now, as all naturalists, Mr. Barker is in a bit of a predicament, as the very logical laws he attempts to apply to the worldview of Rebellion contradict the most important premise of the system. Laws of logic are themselves not natural. That is, they cannot be tasted, weighed, measured, observed, etc. His worldview must now steal them from the Christian worldview, but it itself has no room in the house for them.
In Barker’s attempt to account for them, he continuously writes them off as “a function of the brain.” In at least two of his debates, Dan Barker has attempted to refute the presuppositonalist challenge to his worldview, that it cannot account for the unchanging, immaterial, universal logical laws that govern the debate itself. He makes this claim against Rev. Joe boot here. He again makes it in his debate with Dr. James White here. I think he may even make it in this debate here.
Your Gut and Your Brain
In his debate with Rev. Boot and Dr. White, he uses the example of digestion to explain this argument. Digestion is simply the title men have given to what the stomach does. Digestion doesn’t “exist” somewhere transcendentally, it is a byproduct of stomach activity. In the same way, logic doesn’t “exist,” it is a function of the mind.
The question then becomes, what is the equivalent in the stomach-digestion comparison in regards to that which is not logical? In other words, can a functioning stomach produce something “illdigestional?”
The problem with Mr. Barker’s conclusion is that if the laws of logic are simply products of the mind, how could anything be “illogical?” As long as it comes from a mind, it is by his definition, logical.
Proof: God exists because pineapple never and always belongs on pizza.
If that formulation comes from a mind (and it did), then by the naturalistic definition, it is logical, since what the mind produces is logic. The debate has been settled: God exists due to the offered, irrefutable logical proof just mentioned. If what the mind does is what we call logic, then everything it does is logical.
If Mr. Barker wants to convince the Christian that his thoughts and beliefs are “illogical,” then he has one of two jobs.
- Change his definition of logic.
- Prove that our thoughts came from something other than our brain.
It cannot be said that the equivalent process is to eat something that cannot be digested. That is not the same thing. When something cannot be digested, it is never digested; that is the point. However, when someone says or thinks something, that is a thought; that is a function.
In one, the function never happens (or fails to happen); in the other, the functioning process takes place but is rejected by another functioning process.
There must be a standard of logic (perhaps the reflection of the nature and mind of God who created His universe in that very fashion) in order to judge two differing brain functions and call only one “illogical.” If this standard does not transcend the mind, then it must, therefore, engage in egregious circularity.
Without God, how does one person determine what a “functioning and healthy” brain is? How does one know that which is an “unstable, unreliable” brain? The answer: one’s own brain. Dan Barker’s brain determined his own brain to be reliable and functioning properly… convenient huh? And then from that, his self-validated brain decided Christian brains are not logical.
Imagine the appall of the naturalist if the Christian said,
“I will determine which holy book is the Word of God, including the Bible, by using the Bible! And according to the Bible, the Bible is the Word of God, and the Quran, Book of Mormon, and all other holy books are not.”
That circularity would not last two seconds in a debate with the naturalist, yet it is the very foundation of their worldview. Their brains determine themselves to be reliable, trustworthy, and functioning properly. They then use those self-validated brains to interpret other people’s brain functions and judge them accordingly.
A Dishonest Universe
This worldview-specific definition also does not account for the ability to hold to a logical, natural universe outside the evolution of the human mind. Is it logical that the universe could have existed and not existed at the same time and in the same way before any human mind evolved and began functioning (logic)? The answer is obvious.
Grace Looks Like
As with all other things, Dan Barker has still not been able to account for the logic he brings into debates with him. Dan Barker is stealing from the Christian worldview. Remember what Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of Heaven and Earth…gives to all mankind life and breath and everything…for ‘in Him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17: 24-28).
Do you want to see what grace looks like? God opens the door of His armory to allow the naturalists to sneak in wearing masks and all black, thinking they have gone undetected, and then patiently allows them to begin firing His weapons at His Kingdom, the one from which they were taken. Then, when they walk away from the battle after doing no damage at all (while thinking they have toppled castles) they continue to live, to breathe, to move, to be.
That is grace.
It is abundant in every debate and conversation the unbeliever has with the Christian. They steal and mock; and yet, God is patient.
God eventually, as all men are appointed to die (Heb. 9:27), takes some of those lives back that He first gave the rebel soldiers, and those who join in their neglect-of-grace turn and look at their fallen ilk, shouting at the top of their lungs, “Look at death! How is God good?”
He is good in the very breath used to question His goodness. He fills rebellious lungs with the very breath used to rebel, and He remains patient in the breathy accusations.