Thursday, May 21, 2009

Proving Christianity: Is there a silver bullet?

"You seem to want one argument that will prove Christianity, when in reality there are several lines of reasoning making the case for Christian truth." -Fictional C.S. Lewis, Conversations with C.S. Lewis, chapter 7

I've been wondering lately about whether or not there is a silver bullet argument to "prove" Christianity. That is, a single meta-argument that would make the case for Christianity. There may be a few candidates as far as arguments for God's existence are concerned, depending on whether or not one finds certain expressions of the ontological argument, or other arguments, as viable or not.

But what about Christianity? There are some evidentialists who would, I think, argue that the resurrection of Christ could very well be a silver bullet "proof" for Christianity.

Overall, however, I tend to agree with my fictional representation of C.S. Lewis, as quoted above. Rather than looking for a silver bullet proof - pun intended - perhaps the issue is best approached by a cumulative case cluster of arguments.

At any rate, I find the cumulative case approach to be a stronger line of reasoning for Christianity as being the best explanation of reality. It avoids the pitfall of placing all of one's apologetic eggs in one basket, while also requiring multiple defeaters/refutations on the part of critics.

Too often skeptics believe that if one apparent victory over an argument is accomplished, Christianity falls down in its entirety. But in reality there are multiple fronts and issues that require attention.

I'm not suggesting a haphazard shotgun approach, but a cumulative case line of reasoning that has internal coherence and purposeful goals.


Luke said...

I'd say that we need multiple approaches because people come from so many different places. There is not one complaint against Christianity that everyone needs cleared up. People have a wide range of issues, and we need to address those when they are looking for "proof."


Robert Velarde said...

Thanks, Luke. Yes, as 1 Peter 3:15 informs us, we need to be ready to give answers and the questions are indeed varied, so it follows that apologetics that is answer-driven will, too, be varied.

In relation to a "silver bullet proof," I was thinking more along the lines of a single meta-argument that would make the case for Christianity positively. I think some of this very much depends on the apologetic methodology that one adopts.

cl said...

I'm not an atheist or anything but I honestly don't believe a successful ontological argument exists. I don't really think anyone can prove God. The best anyone can do seems to present their beliefs rationally, and I think both atheists and believers can do that.

I'm curious to hear the best example of a "silver bullet" anybody's found to date..

Robert Velarde said...

Thanks for the comments, cl. I don't think there is a "silver bullet" argument either. Instead, I view the arguments for Christ and God as cumulative in power. There are a variety of approaches one can take in this process.

I have seen some evidentialists, however, sometimes use the resurrection of Christ almost as a silver bullet argument. They view the case for the resurrection as not only establishing Christ and his claims, but by extension, the existence of God.

Pascal's anthropological argument is interesting, too, in that if it succeeds it effectively makes the case for the Fall (and human depravity) and also the greatness of human nature (rooted in being made in God's image). See my article, "Greatness and Wretchedness: The Usefulness of Pascal's Anthropological Argument in Apologetics." It's online somewhere - was published in Christian Research Journal awhile back.

I do believe the evidence for theism and Christianity is greater than the evidence for atheism, otherwise I would not be a Christian.

atimetorend said...

As a budding skeptic I spent a lot of time and angst looking for a silver bullet to refute Christianity. Couldn't find one. Then I started looking for a silver bullet to prove Christianity, trying to re-find faith and make it work again. Couldn't find one of those either! Over time I have increasingly found apologetics to sound farcical, Christian or skeptical. And I think I have read some pretty good ones from both sides.

I much agree with the above comments, that Christianity succeeds or fails to convince based on cumulative evidence. I think recognizing that best allows one to experience life and search for truth in an honest way.

Interesting post and comments. I found it post because the title is very similar to a post I wrote.