Monday, January 18, 2010

Common Ground. . . Or Not

The last several weeks I have surfed YouTube videos interacting with some of the guys on skeptic and atheist sites. It has been a learning experience in how strongly worldview affects our ability to connect with others.

I come from a biblical worldview, or try to, though it is probably not possible to divest myself fully of the worldview that dominates the culture of America. Most of those with whom I've interacted have held worldviews that are philosophically materialistic.

In one instance, with the creator of a video claiming to disprove the existence of God in three minutes or less (I am not making this up), I found a young man who believed that there was not nor could there be anything beyond the present universe. He found it impossible to entertain any idea other idea. In order to prove the non-existence of God he created a deductive argument that went somewhat like this:

Premise. There is nothing beyond or before the universe.

Premise. God must exist before and outside the universe.

Conclusion. Therefore, God can not exist.

I think he actually was convinced of the validity of his argument. And, of course, it was perfect deduction though irrational at the same time. A deductive argument rests on the truth of the premise. The first premise is obviously unprovable and seriously debated even among those who do not believe in God, and that made the conclusion inconclusive at best. It cannot follow from the flawed premise.

But try to explain that to this young man. His worldview did not allow the possibility of anything beyond the universe. Finding common ground to be able to talk intelligibly was impossible. It was like what the early navigators of the seas must have experienced talking with an entrenched flat worlder. No amount of reason, personal experience or observation could change their worldview. It is easy to understand their terror of sailing out "to the edge of the world." Would they not fall off into nothingness?

This worldview was, of course, extreme. But it illustrates the difficulties of engaging in reasonable conversation with those of different worldviews. Reason fails at this point. We must depend on the Holy Spirit to bridge the gap and bring understanding to the heart - this man's and everyone's with whom we engage in apologetics.

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