What kind of evidence should we expect from a transcendent God?
by Matt Slick
If we were to theorize about the manifestation of the Christian Immaterial, Transcendent God in a material world, we would expect such evidences to display characteristics of transcendence and personhood. After all, Christianity asserts that God exists outside the material world, and he is a living being. The evidences would not be restricted to a materialistic, non-transcendent framework; otherwise, such evidence would not be distinguishable from the material realm.
If such "transcendent evidence" were presented, the materialist atheist would have three options: 1) accept it and affirm that God exists, 2) dismiss it based on his materialistic worldview, 3) or examine it and decide later. If he accepts the evidence as supporting God's existence, his worldview is refuted. If he rejects it, then he is at risk of continuing in the error of the category mistake (judging the immaterial and transcendent category by the material and non-transcendent category. See Atheists err when asking for material evidence to prove God). If he wants to examine the "transcendent evidence," he would need a standard that is not restricted to a materialist worldview. But this would be problematic for him to begin with since it would mean working against his own position.
Furthermore, since a Transcendent God who created the universe would not be limited to it, but would transcend it, then we can expect that evidence for God's existence would share transcendent characteristics. In other words, such evidence would exhibit qualities of a Personal Being who is independent from and not dependent on the physical universe.”
I propose that if the Transcendent Christian God exists and if he were to enter into our material world, then any manifestation of him would have to be within the following criteria.
- Self-revelation--The Christian, Transcendent God could only be known through a decision on his part to reveal himself to us since he exists outside of our material world. Also, his self-revelation would not be subject to the demands of his creation to "show himself" since it would be self-revelation--not external coercion.
- Authoritative--Such self-revelation would necessarily be authoritative in that what the Transcendent God would reveal about himself would be true, right, good, absolute, etc., and would be based on his transcendent nature. Furthermore, his self-revelation would not be self-contradictory, nor would it be the subject of human approval for its validity since this would be subjecting the transcendent to the non-transcendent which is a category mistake.
- Miraculous--Any self-revelation of the Christian Theistic, Transcendent God would be miraculous by definition and could not be explained by merely materialistic-based hypothesis.
However, the atheist has problems. How would he test a Transcendent God's self-revelation? How would he test God's authority in a laboratory? Both of these lie outside the realm of the scientific method of observation, testing, and theory. Miracles, on the other hand, would be a bit different and might be subject to verification. However, they could not be repeated because such repetition would not suggest a Transcendent Personal God who acts out of his sovereign will. Instead, they would suggest phenomena based on the material realm and its properties since it would be repeatable and therefore predictable. So, the materialist atheist who wants scientific proof for God's existence is simply making the wrong request and hasn't thought the issue through.
If he truly wants to find out if God exists, he must change his worldview to include at least the possibility of God's self-revelation, authority, and miracles. Otherwise, it will be impossible to find out if God exists, and he would be left judging reality from within his myopic worldview that necessarily excludes God.
Where is the transcendent Evidence for God?
Is there any such Transcendent Evidence in existence? The Christian worldview claims there is via a God who is self-revelatory, authoritative, and miraculous.
In the Bible we find the self-revelation of God, who also claims to be authoritative. Furthermore, the Bible assumes the authority of God, and nowhere in Scripture does God defend his authority. The Bible also contains the records of the miraculous--whether it be the parting of the Red Sea or the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection of Jesus.
Therefore, the exact evidence we need in support of the transcendental God is found in the holy Scriptures.
So some may ask about other religions that claim the same thing? Well, we'd have to look at their truth claims and apply the same tests to them as we would to Christianity, namely, internal consistency, the miraculous, etc. Since the scope of this article is not to examine every other similar claim, we would have to examine each one on its own merit.
The atheist cannot accept this evidence for God
The atheist must discount the Bible, along with its evidence, because it does not fit within his presupposed materialistic worldview. The Bible's claims of being authored from a Transcendent God cannot be permitted any form of acceptance. As is so often the case, the atheist will claim that "the Bible says God exists therefore God exists" is faulty logic. It is circular reasoning.
But this is not what I am saying. It is not circular reasoning when we first examine what transcendental evidence might be (self-revelatory, authoritative, and miraculous) and then propose something that meets the criteria.
If the atheist were to . . .
If the atheist were to reject the Bible and its claim of authorship from a Transcendent Source based on his non-transcendent materialistic worldview, then he would be committing a category mistake (judging the immaterial and transcendent category by the material and non-transcendent category).
If the atheist were to reject the Bible based on his materialism, his problem is that he cannot validated his materialism as being true without begging the question. Materialistic verifications are based on materialistic assumptions.
If the atheist were to attack the Bible based on alleged moral absurdities contained within it, then by what objective, non-subjective moral standard does he possess with which to judge the Bible? If he appeals to common sense, he is appealing to subjectivity. If he appeals to societal norms, then he is appealing to "truth by majority." In short, he has no objective moral standard by which he can rationally assert that the morals in the Bible are wrong. He has only his subjective opinion.
If the atheist were to say the Bible is illogical and has contradictions, then he would have to prove it is illogical using the transcendental laws of logic--the very laws that don't fit in his materialistic worldview. Additionally, we'd have to examine any proposed logical contradictions as they would be proposed.
If the atheist were to attack the Bible based on logic, then he'd be slitting his own philosophical throat because materialistic atheism commits the logical fallacy of begging the question. Materialism, as well as atheism, cannot be proven to be true. Each is assumed. How is an atheist to prove there is no God? How does he prove that materialism is the right philosophical position with which to examine the world without assuming its own validity?
So, whether or not the atheist accepts it or not, the Bible meets the evidence of a transcendental God in that it is self-revelatory, authoritative, and miraculous. And, if he retains his unverifiable, materialistic worldview he will never be able to discover whether or not God actually exists . . . and, well, that is important.
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