No, I do not “borrow” from the Christian worldview
I’ve often heard presuppositionists and creationist apologists throw this argument around when discussing about logic, science and morality: “Your just borrowing from my worldview.”
Every time I hear this kindergarten type of thinking, I almost fall into a stupid-induced stroke.
There are a lot of different ways to dissect this feeble and shallow argument, picking which one to start with is frankly difficult. I am a history buff more than a philosophical buff, and even history can show how idiotic the apologists are. Apologists think that all concepts of logic and morals originated with Christianity. They say only with God/Jesus can you explain and account for logic, the uniformity of nature, and morality.
This is like saying you can only explain how the tides go in and tides go out only with Poseidon. Christianity has given itself it’s own privileged and has claimed a monopoly on things like logic, uniformity and everything else. It’s simply ridiculous. Christianity and theism only adopted moral codes, it did not invent them.
Creationist Ken Ham, CEO of the Creationist Museum, in a debate with Bill Nye “The Science Guy” even asked Bill on how he, as a naturalist scientist, could account for the laws of logic and uniformity of nature without God? First of all, the debate was not about god. Bill Nye was there to simply debate whether creationism was a viable model or not — and to Bill’s credit, he did an excellent job. Even Christians agree.
But basically what creationists like Ken Ham and Eric Hovind do is ask “how do you account for X without God?” and when they don’t get an answer, they assume God wins by default. They do this all the while not having to bother proving their God exists to begin with, they just assert that without their untestable invisible god then things like logic cannot be accounted for. It’s like saying without English language, grammar itself has no leg to stand on.
So I am just going to address three of the key words apologists say atheists “borrow” from their worldview: Truth, Logic, and Morality.
Often times, Christians refuse to differentiate “God” and “truth.” I often ask them, what is more important to them: God or truth. Almost every single one of them say “God” (those who say truth always start a great conversation). Apparently, truth is not important to the rest of the theists I ask, because they think that God IS truth. Now I can poke more holes into that than Sponge-Bob, like pointing out the internal contradictions showing that their God cannot possibly exist, so therefore their God cannot possibly be “truth” — though, as usual, faith demands that they believe anyway, even though they have just been made aware that what they believe is as internally contradictory as a married bachelor.
For example, how can a omniscient being have free will? How can a omnipotent god be omnibenevolent (perfect goodness)? If God is incapable of doing evil, then he is not omnipotent.
When I hear a Christian claim “you borrow from my worldview” when discovering truth, I am talking to person whose worldview rests on believing things anyway even when you they are not true — that is the essence of faith, and the very reason why I reject faith as a failed epistemology. This is one of the many reasons why I laugh at apologists who say I borrow from their worldview, because they utilize a failed epistemology and have faults that I simply will not and do not share.
Logic is a method by which valid conclusions are drawn from given premises. Granted there are different forms of logic (Formal and Informal), the kinds of reasoning described by logic can be roughly classified as deductive or inductive.
Do I need to borrow from the worldview that there is a God to account for the experiences that I go through? No, that would be backwards. First, I know that I have experiences and I generate my own thoughts, so it begins with me, not a god. Just as the laws of physics are derived from empirical observation, the laws of logic are derived from mental experiences. They are descriptions of what we see as making sense and what we see as not making sense.
Do I need to borrow from the worldview that there is a God to account for things like the laws of identity? (X = X, and X =/= Y) No, I don’t deduce the truth of the laws of logic. I believe them because I don’t understand what it would mean for them to be false. I don’t understand what it would mean for 2+2=26 or for a married-bachelor to be a real thing. I believe the laws of logic because I don’t know how to not believe it. I try to believe as many true things as possible and reject the most false things possible, so my “worldview” rests on where the valid evidence lies. If I woke up tomorrow and realized that the law of non-contradiction can be violated, I would cease believing it, at least until I could be shown how I am mistaken.
Apologists may still object and demand for me to account for logic without a god. They ask things like can logic exist outside the brain? Logic may simply be a useful fiction. Within the framework of that fiction, things can be right or wrong without necessitating that the framework has any basis outside the brain. The rules of hockey are entirely a human invention. The rules of hockey do not exist outside of human brains. Does that mean there’s no basis by which we can say someone is playing hockey wrong? Of course not.
Apologists may claim that the laws of logic are transcendental, and we as limited humans cannot account for them because we would have to be independent of our brains. How could human brains possibly discern what is or is not independent of the human brain? In order to do that, we would have to do the discerning without our brains, and I have no idea how that makes any sense. Apologists may be right that we cannot account for the transcendentals, but that’s because we can’t establish that transcendentals exist in the first place.
When all else fails, the last argument a apologist can make is claim that I use “faith” when I use the laws of logic, and in the sense that I use faith proves the claim that I borrow form their worldview because their worldview centers around faith. This is simply not true. I do not have “faith” that the laws of logic are true. I believe the laws of logic because I do not understand what it would even mean for them to not work. Just as I don’t have faith that 2+2 would equal 4, I accept that because I do not understand what it would mean for 2+2 to mean anything else accept 4. The laws of logic describe what assertions we can understand and what assertions we can’t. We cannot understand contradictory statements. We cannot understand how a thing can be not identical to itself. The reason why I reject the assertion that the laws of logic may stop working one day is not because I have faith that they will always work, I reject this assertion because I don’t understand what it would even mean for the laws of logic to stop working.
Next the apologist will often attack that my use of science relies on faith, thus I have to “borrow” from their worldview.
Apologist Argument: science is based on faith because you have to presuppose the laws of logic.
Wrong. You do not have to “presuppose” the validity of the laws of logic, because the laws of logic are what define validity. Saying you have to presuppose the validity of the laws of logic is like saying you have to presuppose that a bachelor is an unmarried male. You don’t have to presuppose the truth of any position that is true by definition.
Apologist argument: you have to presuppose the uniformity of nature.
Wrong. You do not have to “presuppose” the uniformity of nature. The uniformity of nature is inferred from that fact that we observe it. We infer it from experience. That is post-supposing, not presupposing.
It’s true that the fact that we’ve seen some things behaving uniformly doesn’t prove that they will always behave that way, but if you infer that they will, you are drawing an inference from empirical data, not faith.
Apologist argument: you presuppose the uniformity of nature to test your scientific theories, but you cannot test the uniformity of nature.
We can’t test the idea that nature will be in uniform forever, but we do not have to predict that it will be uniform forever. For all practical purposes, we only need to predict that it will be true in all times and places that have consequences for human experiences. That prediction IS testable.
My readers are well aware that I often target shameless liar Ray Comfort, who loves to talk as much as he possibly can about God and the 10 Commandments as his go-to snake oil sales pitch to sucker people into thinking that you are bad and need a savior. Basically, like presuppositionalists, Ray Comfort uses word games to make it appear to people that without God, or specifically without Jesus and Christianity, you cannot know right from wrong. (and usually whenever you try to give an explanation, it always goes back to “well, you borrow from my worldview” crap).
One does not need God and his Ten Commandments to know right from wrong, like murder is wrong. Every time I cannot believe it when I hear this, that a person is convinced that human civilization could not have figured out that murder is wrong unless it was written on a rock in Israel thousands of years ago. But I know it is a bullshit argument/belief anyway, you don’t need a stone tablet to know that murder is wrong. I recall the story of Moses in Exodus 2:11-15, when he was a prince of Egypt. The story goes Moses was an Egyptian prince, but when he saw a Egyptian man whipping a Jewish slave, Moses killed the whip master. Moses committed murder. Moses “looked both ways” to be sure nobody was around, and killed the Egyptian. He buried the body and hid the story, but was later busted and so Moses ran away. (unlike what Christians have seen in movies like the Prince of Egypt, Moses hid the body in the sand, cover up his own crime)
But why did Moses look both ways before committing this vicious act? This was before the 10 Commandments, the law written by God, was made. The Commandment “thou shall not kill” was not declared yet. So why did Moses look both ways? Could it be that Moses already knew that murder was wrong, and he did not need a law written on stone to know that? Evidently, Moses did not need a stone tablet to tell him not to murder, he was already aware of what he was about to do was wrong.
As I mentioned earlier that I am a History buff, it is no secret to any History major student that religions evolve from older religions. They recycle from older religions. And I am not just talking about how Christmas is filled with tons of pagan symbolism, I am talking about the concept of God itself. Monotheism (the belief in one god) itself is not a Jewish or Christian idea, in fact one of the first theistic beliefs originated in Egypt, with the god Aten. The God of the Bible, Yahweh, is not an original either. There are many aspects of the Judaic god that was adopted from pagan gods and goddesses (war gods, Zoroastrianism, gods of truth, etc). This is why I laugh when Christian apologists claim that atheists like myself borrow from their worldview, when their worldview was adopted and borrowed from the pagans they distance themselves from as false religions.
So back to the “you borrow from my worldview” bunk, especially those who try to argue that any form of morality that I can develop, rationalize and argue for is somehow vandalized from Christianity. Which I sometimes find that argument very amusing, especially after I just talked about Moses — who evidently never historically existed and was a character constructed from earlier pagan legends (talk about irony when apologists argue “you borrow from my worldview” when their sea-splitting Law-giver is a fake and borrowed from earlier pagan tales).
But do I have to borrow from Christianity, or even simply theism, to develop some form of morality? Of course not. Arguing that Christianity or theism is required to develop morality is to argue that grammar could not exist without the English language. Secular morality works, it does not rest on theism nor does it draw a line back to theism. Ethics have been the topic of philosophical debate for centuries, and many secular schools of thought have popped up.
So to put the matter to rest: I do not borrow from a Christian or religious worldview to make a ethical decision or moral assessment. A more accurate claim would be that I make moral assessments and ethical decisions based on reason, the evidence available to me, accurate and relevant information. It is important to have accurate and relevant information, this is how I can come to the conclusion that witchcraft is nonsense, therefore it is wrong to accuse and condemn anyone for the false crime of witchcraft. Besides, human beings are evolved social creatures who have the natural ability to empathize, allowing them to determine ethical grounds (no gods needed to fill that equation).