Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Confidence in the Gospel MP3 Audio by Michael Green

Dr. Michael Green at the recent European Leadership Forum presented a talk entitled: Confidence in the Gospel, which hits a great variety of apologetics topics. Ap315 just featured some ELF content recently, but this is just too good of an apologetics talk to pass up. Highly recommended. Also, subscribe to the ELF podcast here.

Full MP3 Audio here.



Leslie said...

Yes, this is one of the best apologetics talks I've heard in a long time. It's not that it goes particularly in depth with some special idea, but the way he presents and how he ties in the gospel message with it all is brilliant.

Matthew said...

I was disappointed about some things. For example his "You can't prove God exists"-attitude. You can give deductive arguments that go from an observed fact F and then argue that F entails theism, that is, it's necessary that F is true only if theism is true.

Also, I don't think that the assumptions that are made by modern ontological arguments appeal to things "higher than God". Consider what Robert Maydole calls "the modal perfection argument for the existence of a supreme being". I talked about this before and I don't want to go into much detail here, but those are his premises:

(1) If a property P is a perfection, then the negation of P is not a perfection.
(2) If a property P is a perfection and it's necessary that everything that has P has Q, then Q is a perfection.
(3) "Supremity" is a perfection.

While "Supremity" is defined as "being so that no being could possibly great and no other being could possibly be equally great".

He then takes the strongest system of modal logic and shows how 1-3 implies that exactly one supreme being exists (too complicated to explain here).

His assumptions certainly don't depend on something "higher than God". So this point is incorrect.

Brian said...

Good points, Matthew.
Do you suppose his point is coming from a preference for a more probabilistic approach?

I would like to check out more of what you are referring to. Any particular books you would advise? Would that be his contribution to the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology?

Thanks for taking the time.

Matthew said...

Hi Brian,
it might very well be the case that he's trying to employ a strategy like Swinburne's in "The Existence of God", trying to give inductive argument over deductive ones. Read the book if you haven't yet, he explains this approach very well.

As for Maydole, you are right. He discusses it in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, but gives it very little room. He only discusses it on page 580-581. If you can find the 2003 issue from Philo where it got first published then you will strongly benefit from it, since he refutes a number of possible parodies in this paper.

The only real challenge to the argument is coming from Graham Oppy, but there are problems with his objections and I don't think Oppy can solve them.

Brian said...

Thanks, Matthew.

Kris said...


What you're saying is plain wrong.

"You can give deductive arguments that go from an observed fact F" - you are confusing deduction with induction.

1) From an observed fact to a theory - induction.

I.e. if you saw only black crows in your life (your F), you can deduct that all crows are black.
Besides, if you argue that something entails theism, you just push the problem away to the relationship implicite assumed in the word "entail".

Secondly, deductive arguments that prove God exists (including the one that you mentioned) have one major fault in common - they first include thesis that God exists in the assumption, to prove it later.

I.e. If you assume that a perfect, supreme being exists (and, by the way, you assume that's God), than you have no problem in proving this in logic.

Properties of God - and perfection is one - are always only assumed.
If You assume that perfect, supreme being is a green apple in a hand of a giant, than you have just proven that.

Last but not least, logic doesn't care about the content you put into it.
If it the circle is round, it rains in Poland.
Circle is round.
It rains in Poland.
Logically, the sentence is true (P->Q, P, Q)

And it's a really sunny day here.. ;)

I don't want to get into the more complicated examples, nor do I want to fight the battles already fought. I definitely recommend reading Thomas S. Kuhn's "The structure of scientific revolutions" (informative and great to read), Carl G. Hempel, Karl Popper, and if you get soaked into the subject, Wittgensteind, Feyerabend and Lakatos.



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