How to Know Immaterial Things Exist
by Greg Koukl
Can you prove religious, ethical, or moral kinds of things? Learn how to avoid a materialistic view of the universe.
If you’re Christian and you say, Yes, I believe there’s a Heaven and God, and there are souls and spirits, and right and wrong, but I don’t know it. I just have faith and hope that I’m right. Or if you hear others say something like, You can’t prove religious, ethical, moral kinds of things, these statements buy into a materialist view of the universe.
I had a conversation with a Christian couple who were getting challenges of these kinds from their non-Christian relatives who were saying, “We know things in science, but when it comes to everything else, it’s all fantasy.”
To help answer such objections, I walked them through a reflective exercise that I gleaned from the influence of J.P. Moreland. I had a pen, I placed it on the table, and asked them, “Is there a pen on this table?”
And they said, “Yes, there is.”
I said, “Are you reasonably confident that statement is true?”
“How do you know that?”
“I know it because I can see it there.”
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In other words, you are trusting in the deliverances of your senses. You have no good reason to believe that your senses are misleading you, and so you are concluding that there is this object that we’re referring to that is sitting on this other object that we’re referring to–a pen on the table
There’s nothing mysterious about that, and I’m not skeptical about it. “I accept it,” is what I told them. I said, “Now I have another question. Do you know what you’re thinking about now?”
They said, “Yes.”
I said, “How do you know what it is you’re thinking?
We were role-playing a little bit and he took the side of his brother-in-law, the secularist who had given him this challenge. He started describing brain chemistry as an explanation for how he knew his own thoughts…
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