The Debate Avengers Squad: Sye Ten Bruggencate and Jeff Durbin

Like the sounding of a trumpet, sweet news has swept across social media. Two of the nations mot publicly faithful Christians are teaming up. Sye Ten Bruggencate

of Proof that God Exists and Jeff Durbin, Pastor of Apologia Church in Tempe, Arizona, and radio host of Apologia Radio will join another Christian pastor to debate the truth of the Christian worldview against professed Atheism. The details of the debate can be read here. 

Sye and Jeff are two of the nations best apologists (according to the humble opinion of yours truly), especially against professing 
Atheism, Skepticism, Naturalism, Materialism, Secular Humanism and Agnosticism. 
Is it safe to consider those denominations? 

In the link to the debate info, the two of opponents to the Christian faith were introduced, and one, Mr. Bruce Gleason, was quoted as well. The purpose being to give the reader a small taste of who exactly is coming, and that taste may have been small, but it sure was bitter.

Although Jeff and Sye will do a much more sophisticated and thorough presentation of the faith as well as give a better, more triumphant rebuttal to the opposition, it still stands valuable to briefly address the small snippets of Gleason’s comments. 

The following is a point by point refutation to the article’s quotations of Mr. Gleason. 

“If God created reason, let’s see where that comes from.”

It’s always a comforting feeling to find out that one must reject someone else’s belief to reject your own. This is not the Christian claim. Unless this is intentional misrepresentation, Mr. Gleason simply doesn’t understand what the claim is.  God did not “create” reason any more than God created Himself. God created the universe, and that universe reflects who He is. The universe is orderly and reasonable because the God who created it is. God is logical, thus He is the standard of logic and reason, and all His good creation follows suit. God created our reasoning faculties yes, but reason itself is a reflection of God’s own mind. If God were different, the universe would be too. God didn’t create reason; the reasonable God of the universe stands as the only justification and foundationfor absolute, immaterial, logical laws that govern reasoning faculties.

“I believe in scientific consensus, if I ask evolutionary psychologists where reason comes from, they will say our frontal lobes grew through a long evolution and we started using reason at an elementary level.”

There are two issues here: logical fallacies and an untruth.
1)The untruth is that reasoning “comes from…our frontal lobes”. This is a biological claim that ignores the presuppositonalist’s actual point: the laws of reasoning. If reasoning was simply and only a function of frontal lobes, and not being governed by laws of reasoning, than this would require the possibility that the universe could exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way before a human brain evolved to bring about reasoning. 

It’s illogical, and therefore unreasonable, to believe in contradictions. It goes against reason to believe that the Sun is both a star of fire and a planet of ice at the same time and in the same way. According to Gleason, this was altogether reasonable for billions of years because there were no frontal lobes, and therefore no reason.
The second issue against this over-simplistic biological claim requires further explanation but I have already dealt with it sufficiently here.
Before moving on to the logical fallacy, let’s be clear: God uses physical and human means together with His immaterial and spiritual realities. The immaterial and material are, for His glory, interwoven and linked directly. Christians do not deny the incredible and sophisticated (and clearly designed) human brain and its vital role in reason and thought. Our thoughts do come from our brains. But, what happens in our brains must reflect an objective reality outside of those brains, and that is something the naturalistic worldview cannot account for. Especially if the Atheist wants to live life holding people accountable for behavior and thought. If all we are is a brain, then what controls the brain? Who controls the brain? In that worldview, the brain controls the brain. Thus we have no control over what we do or say. We are meat robots, subjected to the random chemical firings in our frontal lobes. Why debate me as if I can control the thoughts in my brain or something? Why throw me in jail for a crime my brain forced my hand to perform? The brain is vital for thought; but it is not alone in thought.
2) The fallacy at hand is the fallacy of argumentum ad populum, or, appealing to majority. Scientific consensus has a role, but cannot be a standard of truth. Scientific consensus has been wrong on far too many occasions to serve as a standard, yet, Gleason has placed it as a standard. He appeals to a majority of scientists for the truth about reasoning, which is interesting because there have been many times in human history when a majority of scientists believed in the God of the Bible. In fact, almost everything scientists believe today at one point is contrary to prior scientific majority. The fact that textbooks change, and change so often is a clear refutation to this idea. In Douglas Wilson’s short but satisfying book, Why Christian Kids Need a Christian Education, he puts it this way:

“The incident with Galileo is indeed salutary and provides an outstanding example for us today when considering the claims of things like Darwinism. But in order for us to take that lesson, it is necessary for us to know something about history and not just theology and science. The Church of that day was geocentric, not because of a close study of Scripture demanded it, but rather the best science of the day demanded it. The Church was not caught in a bind between Bible and Science, but was rather caught in a bind between Old Science and New Science. As someone has wisely said, one who marries the science of the day today should be prepared to be a widow tomorrow. More than one reader of this small book has been called an idiot for not accepting something taught in the current textbooks, and now, twenty years later, those textbooks have all been discarded and replaced— but somehow we who remain dubious remain idiots. The textbooks may come and go, but while they are here we must apparently believe in them with all our hearts.”

Which majority do we appeal to? If the majority has been wrong about things in the past (earth’s shape) how do we know they are correct now? Something is not true because most people believe it.

“Humans are very uncomfortable when we cannot explain the world around us, so (historically) God and the supernatural were used to explain the natural world around us because we didn’t have any way to explain it and it makes us feel comfortable. We don’t pray for rain anymore, we look at the weather. We don’t pray when we get an infection, we go get a shot.”

Well, many do pray for rain and healing still .As a matter of fact, the vast majority of mankind do so where is that appeal to majority thing again? And the fact that God has provided human means for healing is not an any way an indication of His non-existence. And the fact that, like a good father, He sometimes tells His children “no”, is also not an indication He isn’t there, just as my earthly father still exists even when He doesn’t give me what I ask for. It’s interesting that He compared scientific development on how to prevent and cure diseases, to the weather, where science has contributed neither of those two things to that subject. He is already mixing categories. 

Humans are uncomfortable when we can’t explain the world around us, and that’s due to the fact that the world around us is explainable. And that fact cannot be accounted for in Mr. Gleason’s worldview. A video series on that can be viewed here.

“Like Carl Sagan said: ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,’ not just piddly-poo evidence of prayer working.”

When the word “pidlly-poo” is used to describe Christian apologetics, one suddenly knows very much about the person who said it. And it seems that said person is in for a rude awakening, because he will not be dealing with Facebook avatars who are (unfortunately) often appealing to personal experience to ground the truth of the Christian worldview. He will be dealing with Presuppositional Apologists who will demonstrate that evidence itself cannot be accounted for without the Christian worldview. Extraordinary evidence cannot exist without God, so the very claim presupposes the Christian faith. 

Let’s also not forget the begging of the question. Who gets to determine what an “extraordinary claim” is? That is a worldview dependent statement. It presupposes the truth of one’s own worldview without first proving it to make the claim, while simultaneously needing the truth of another’s worldview to make the claim in the first place. 

“Show me one supernatural event in the past 12 billion years to the beginning of our galaxy development. We don’t see anything supernatural happening. We see majestic things, but we can explain them naturally.”

Apparently, along with scientific consensus, personal and subjective experience serves as another standard of authority for Mr. Gleason, and that foundation has just as much sand as the last one. He needs to see something first. How frustrating, huh Jesus?

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”

God withholding miracles is not evidence against His existence. He is free not to perform them. 

Secondly, the fact that natural things can be explained presupposes that nature is consistent, observable, and patterned. It also assumes that man’s reasoning about nature is reliable and validated objectively. None of those things can be accounted for outside of the Christian faith. The Christian faith is needed to even demand natural evidence.

The third and final problem with this is his unwillingness to define what it would look like to “show” him something that happened in the past. Without assuming Gleason believes all Christians own time machines, what would it mean to “show” him a miracle “12 billion years ago” or somewhere in between? It would require evidence outside of his ability to see it with his own eyes. And the Scriptures attest to those past miracles (which happened much sooner than 12 billion years ago), but He rejects the Scripture’s testimony. Since no other work from antiquity is as reliable as the Scriptures, that means his presuppositions simply require absolute skepticism about every single historical event that happened prior to the invention of the photo copy. How could we possibly demonstrate something from history when the person who requires it has shut himself off to being able to believe anything that happened in history without seeing it?

This is why Dr. Jason Lislehas been placing such an important emphasis on the difference between empirical science and historical science. Observational science is not the same thing as history. Thus, how could we even prove that Washington crossed the Delaware to someone who demands “empirical” evidence for the claim? We couldn’t. To a consistent worldview, historical proofs would be sufficient. However, unless Gleason finds Ol’ George’s DNA in the Delaware waters, he apparently can’t believe it (although he probably does).

The Scriptures are our evidence of past miracles. Yet, he doesn’t accept those as evidence. In other words, what could possibly convince Mr. Gleason of the resurrection of Jesus (a supernatural event that occurred 2,000 years ago)? His worldview’s presuppositions completely shut off even good evidence from being offered: and that’s the point. That’s why presuppositonal apologetics is so powerful against evidentialists. It can point that out and dig up the roots instead of picking off the fruit and hoping it never grows back.

Gleason said nothing short of seeing “two moons in the sky” would convince him of God’s existence.

One thing we know about Gleason: like all people before repentance and faith, he’s a liar. He already believes in God’s existence. 

Romans 1: 18-25

For <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27949A" data-link="(A)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27949B" data-link="(B)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>suppress the truth in unrighteousness because <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27950C" data-link="(C)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27951D" data-link="(D)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27951E" data-link="(E)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27952F" data-link="(F)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27954H" data-link="(H)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.Therefore <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27955I" data-link="(I)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27955J" data-link="(J)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27956K" data-link="(K)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NASB-27956L" data-link="(L)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>who is blessed forever. Amen. 

Author: Resisting the Winds

I am a sinner redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God. I am a local church expositor, living in the small but beautiful town of Alamosa, Colorado.

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