I received question from someone who proposed an argument against God’s existence. He asked me to evaluate his argument and provide feedback on any rebuttals.
My response is below:
Your case is one in which I think you would greatly benefit from the study of propositional logic. I would recommend to you Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig. There is an incredibly helpful chapter in that book on propositional logic that I think will be greatly helpful to you.
Let’s work out your argument using propositional logic. I will first list your argument as you presented it, and then give its symbolic form next to the premise in propositional language:
- God sometimes works in the lives of the unsaved to draw them to Him.
- God is omniscient.
- God is omnipotent.
- Therefore, God ultimately determines who is saved.
- (ⱻx)(Sx & Gx) – There is some X such that X is a saved person and in whose life God has worked to draw them to himself.
- K – God is omniscient
- P – God is omnipotent
- (x)(Sx → Dx) – Therefore, for every X, if X is a saved person then their salvation is determined by God.
What stands out immediately is that your conclusion does not follow from your premises under any rule of inference. This tells us that either there are hidden premises or that the line of reasoning is not logical. You hint at one hidden premise in your explanation of premise 3, “God is able to bring about any set of events that are not logically impossible.”
Your hidden premise 3′ is something like, “If God is omnipotent, then he is able to bring about any set of events that are not logically possible.”
This premise seems to be false. There is no strict logical contradiction in the sentence, “God can bring everyone freely to salvation,” but nonetheless it may be infeasible for God to do so. It may be the case that not everyone will cooperate, and thus not everyone will “freely come to salvation.”
Another challenge that your argument faces is that people’s circumstances are not isolated, but are interconnected. Your circumstances involve your neighbor and vice versa. This, therefore, brings up the challenge that there may be two people for whom the circumstances in which they would freely choose salvation are mutually exclusive. If it is even possibly true that there is some person A who would be saved in circumstances A’ and simultaneously there is some person B who would not be saved in A’ then your argument does not go through. In that case we would not expect that God should bring about some circumstance in which everyone is saved but just that God should bring about some circumstance in which an ideal ratio of people are saved to those lost. But how can we know that God hasn’t done just that?
Now perhaps you mean to say in premise 1, “(x)(Gx → Sx) – For every X, if God works in their lives to draw them to himself then X will be a saved person.” This is what is entailed in the doctrine of “Irresistible Grace” (one of the tenets of Calvinism), and I agree that it is unclear how irresistible grace can be true and universalism false. I am not someone who would defend irresistible grace, however, and so I would not try to harmonize these doctrines. I would rather say that people do resist God’s grace and are ultimately lost as a result. In order for your argument to go through in this case you would need to show that it is not possible that irresistible grace is false and Christianity true.
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