An assumption is a preposition that is held without actual knowledge. An axiom is a special kind of assumption that is necessary in order for one to even know. An example of an axiom is the idea that the universe is uniform in the sense that it follows rules and that what we see in the present we can expect to see in the future. However, this is only an assumption; there is no actual evidence of this claim yet without this axiom science would not even be able to function. How can one predict the happenings of the universe if whatever we see today tells us nothing about the future? It just isn’t possible. David Hume, an 18th century philosopher highlighted the problem that science has no basis for assuming the regularity of the universe. He called it, “The Problem of Induction.” Hume argued that we cannot expect the future to be like the present for the simple reason that we have never observed the future, we can only see the present. Because of this, he argued that all we could ever claim to know is that in the past the present was always a certain way. This problem has never been defeated and shows that science needs axioms to even get off the ground.
Creationist and Evolutionists, Christian Theists and Atheists, all look at the same world and have all the same facts. The main difference between these and any other religions or isms is their respective axioms. Atheists assume there is no God or gods while the Christian Theists assume that the God of the Bible exists and it is these assumptions, as well as others, that shape their perspective of the world. Our axioms shape our worldview by serving as a foundation for the accumulation of knowledge. Therefore, the intellectual battle we have with those who deny the existence of God and those who tout evolution is not one of facts but of assumptions. It is not a game of who can bring more evidence to the table but rather who has the best assumptions. Whose assumptions serve science foundationally and whose assumptions hinder its very function and existence. Some axiom make knowledge possible and others make it impossible.
Assuming that there is no God or gods or anything supernatural leaves us with nothing but matter, energy, time and space. Common sense tells us that some things are wrong but science in a cold materialistic universe tells us absolutely nothing about morality. “Science can tell you if putting cyanide in your grandmother’s tea will kill her but science cannot tell you whether it would be moral to do so.” Since there would then be no objective morality, good and bad depends on individuals or entire societies. People could then be murders if they or others say they can, as in the case of Nazi Germany and no one can really say that they can’t.
Assuming that the God of the Bible exists provides us with a high standard of an objective morality because God Himself is our moral standard. Because God never changes, good and evil never change. Moreover, this God is powerful enough to mete out inescapable punishment justly for wrongdoings. Therefore, we also have a powerful motivation for being good people (bear with me, I am aware that this does not take into account the phenomenon of saving grace).
Atheism also calls knowledge itself into question as it questions the integrity of the mind. If Atheism is true then the mind would be merely a chemical machine but if the mind is merely a mechanistic machine, why should one believe that it outputs anything true when it is just doing what it is programmed to do? It could be helplessly be spitting out untruth and we could never tell. After all, our mind would not have evolved to discover truth, but only to survive.
However, assuming that the God of the Bible exists, we are immaterial souls that freely control the machine called the brain. We can wrestle with truth because we are not mechanistic matter. We are not defined by nature or nurture as our flesh really doesn’t matter in the pursuit of truth because we are primarily spirit beings. As Ravi Zacharias says, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body.”
Assuming that Atheism is true leaves our lives purposeless and meaningless. Whether we live to 95 or if we die of cancer at 5 would make no difference in a million years. In enough time, everything is forgotten: fame, military service, entrepreneurship, generosity, love towards community… – anything. Our lives are brief and what do we even accomplish? As individuals and as a whole? In 5 billion years (supposedly) our sun will swallow what will have been our home-planet for ten billion years (supposedly). As the cosmic decades stretch on we approach the universe’s ultimate death in freeze or in fire. Nothing to live for. Nothing to hope for. We would be meaningless pondscum that got lucky on a dice roll or two, and nothing more. We would just be dirt bags and the universe couldn’t have cared less when we came to be.
On the other hand, if the God of the Bible exists then we would have been created for the most glorious purpose possible for created beings, to be loved by God and love Him. We would possess lots of meaning in our lives as it is for the glory of God. We would deserve great respect (we wouldn’t be dirt bags) because we were made in the Image of God. God delighted in our creation and even now He takes joy over us as His children. We have the best kind of hope, one of eternal life spent with a Lover (God) that we can never ever completely know.
The axioms inherent to Christian Theism provides for meaningful existence, objective morality, the possibility of knowledge, and the effectiveness of science at pursuing truth. However, the axioms inherent to Atheism undermine all four domains. This explains why we could look at the same evidence, the same universe, and yet see things so differently. It comes down to what we believe before science has anything to tell us.
More on this topic to come.
Always and in All Things, Let God Be Glorified