We’re using the “Handbook of Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli to go over the arguments for the existence of God. Today, we will be covering the above referenced subject in relation to the existence of God. Dr. Kreeft teaches logic in two major universities, so his arguments tend to be clear, concise and very helpful.
Everyone who reads the Gospels agrees that Jesus was a good and wise man, a great and profound teacher. Most nonreligious people, and even many people of other religions, like Gandhi, see him as history’s greatest moral teacher. He is, in short, eminently trustworthy.
But what a trustworthy teacher teaches can be trusted. If he is trustworthy, then we should trust him, especially about his own identity. If we do not trust him about that, then we cannot say he is trustworthy, that is, wise and good.
In fact, if we do not trust him even to know who he is, then he certainly is not trustworthy, wise and good. If there is any one thing that disqualifies a person from being trustworthy, it is not knowing himself. A man who thinks he is God when he is not God clearly does not know himself!
The size of the gap between what you are and what you think you are is a pretty good index of your insanity. If I believe I am the best writer in America, I am an egotistical fool, but I am not insane. If I believe I am Napoleon, I am probably near the edge. If I believe I am the archangel Gabriel, I am probably well over it. And if I believe I am God? … Would you send your children to Sunday school to be taught by a man who thought he was God?
Why then did anyone believe Jesus’ claim to be God?
The psychological, personal, motivational reason—as distinct from the objective, logical, theological reason—is because he was so good and wise and trustworthy. This is the same reason so many believed Buddha’s almost equally incredible claim: that we are all living in perpetual illusion; that all our thoughts are false; that you and I and space and time and past and future and matter and soul are all illusions; and that the only thing that is real is totally nameless and indescribable, except to say sunyata (“emptiness”) and neti, neti (“not this, not that”). They believed this doctrine not because it seemed true but because Buddha seemed true. How could he deceive or be deceived? He was “holy to his fingertips.” The same psychological principle explains how Christians, from twelve apostles 2000 years ago to a billion believers today, believe this even more astonishing claim: they believe it because they believe him. To deny it, you would have to deny him. And that is unthinkable.
There is an instructive parallel in Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lucy has entered another world, Narnia, through a wardrobe, and told her siblings about it. They disbelieve her, of course. A wise old professor adjudicates the argument by asking Peter, Lucy’s older brother, whether Lucy is a liar. Peter is confident she is not; he knows her too well. Well, then, is she insane? It is obvious from her behavior that she is not. Then there is only one possibility left, concludes the professor: Lucy must be telling the truth.
If Peter knows Lucy better than he knows the universe, it is more reasonable for him to believe Lucy and change his beliefs about the universe than vice versa. If we know the humanity and trustworthiness of Jesus better than we know what is possible for God to do, it is reasonable for us to believe Jesus and change our theological expectations, rather than vice versa.