Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Inference to the Best Explanation (Pt. VII)

In this series of posts we've suggested that there are at least fifteen facts about the world and human beings that are more compatible with a theistic worldview than with an atheistic view. In other words, we've been arguing that theism is a better explanation for the way the world and human beings are than is atheism.

The fifteen reasons we've based this conclusion on are these:

  1. Our conviction that the universe must have had a cause and that it didn't cause itself.
  2. The exquisite fine-tuning of the cosmic parameters, forces and constants.
  3. The existence of coded biological information.
  4. The fact of human consciousness.
  5. Our sense that reason is trustworthy.
  6. Our conviction that we are free to make genuine choices and that the future is open.
  7. Our deep sense that we are obligated to act morally.
  8. Our experience of feelings of guilt.
  9. Our yearning for answwers to life's most profound questions.
  10. Our desire for justice.
  11. Our need for a meaning to our existence.
  12. Our sense that we have a self which perdures through time.
  13. Our belief in human dignity.
  14. Our belief in human worth.
  15. Our belief in the existence of objective human rights.

In this post we add one more: Our longing for life beyond death.

16. Human beings want desperately to live and yet we know we're going to die. In a Godless universe, the fate of each of us is annihilation. There's no basis for hope that loved ones we've lost still somehow exist or that we'll ever "see" them again. There's no consolation for the bereaved, no salve for grief. Many face this bravely, of course, but, if they're reflective, their bravery must serve to mask an inner despair. If death is the end then life truly is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." If death is the end then human existence is completely absurd. But, of course, death is the end if the materialist is right. Only if God exists is there a realistic basis for hope of something beyond this life. Only if God exists can our longing for life be fulfilled.

So, we are confronted with a choice: Either we believe that there is no God and that consequently our existential yearnings are inexplicable and unfulfillable, a view which leads logically to nihilism, or we believe that there is a God and that we possess those yearnings because they lead us to the source of their satisfaction. They point us toward God. In other words, the existence of God is the best explanation for the data of human existence. Atheism has no good explanation for these data and in fact the person who denies this explanation has to take a leap of faith to avoid the nihilism and despair that her worldview pushes her toward. She has to live as if God exists while denying that He does.

We'll have some concluding thoughts in the next post in the series.


The Jena 6 and Lost Hope

Joe Carter has an excellent post on the Jena 6, the six young thugs who beat a boy senseless and whose charges were protested by thousands of demonstrators from all over the country.

More than 40 witnesses saw Mychal Bell (age 16), Robert Bailey, Jr. (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Theo Shaw (17), and Jesse Ray Beard (14) viciously attack Justin Barker (17).

According to the witness statements, several people claim to have seen Bell punch Barker from behind, instantly knocking him to the concrete walkway. Witnesses say the other students then stomped on Barker, kicking him in the face and head as he was on the ground.

(This, by the way, is the event that Colbert King, the despicable columnist for the Washington Post, referred to as a "schoolyard fight.")

So the facts of the situation are that one cowardly thug sucker-punches a kid from behind and then joins with five other cowards in stomping the unconscious body. For this crime the "Free the Jena Six" crowd believes the proper punishment is....nothing.

But wait, it gets better.

Much of the outcry has come because Mychal Bell, the main cowardly thug, was tried as an adult. But let's examine why this was considered by the prosecution.

On Christmas Day 2005 Bell punched a 17-year-old girl in the face. (Yes, this cowardly thug not only sucker-punches boys from behind, he punches girls from the front too.) For this action Bell was charged with battery and put on probation until his 18th birthday. Nine months later he was charged with criminal damage to property. Two months after that, Bell was charged again with battery and again with criminal damage to property.

He was convicted of two of these charges in early September 2006. A few days later Bell was leading the Jena Giants to a shutout victory in a football game against the Buckeye Panthers. (You see, in the South, you can punch a girl in the face, destroy property, and, as long as you're a star athlete, you'll usually get off with a slap on the wrist.)

So one of the reasons that Bell was being tried as an adult after assaulting Barker was that he was already on probation for four previous violent crimes.

This vicious assault was dismissed by columnist Leonard Pitts as merely a case of "six American children [sic] with dark skin ... charged with attempted murder after jumping a pale child whose injuries amounted to a black eye and a concussion." This is ludicrous. The boy was knocked unconscious and had medical bills, according to his lawyer, of over $14,000. I wonder what Pitts would have said about the attack if it had been his child knocked unconscious by six white thugs.

Read the rest of Carter's post and weep for the lost hope of color-blind justice in America.