Have you heard this argument before? I remember hearing Dan Barker ask Doug Wilson this question (the title of this article) years ago during a debate. It all popped into my head the other day while I was at work. The thesis of the debate was, “The Triune God of Scripture Lives.” I thought Doug, a presuppositionalist, really did a good job during that debate. You may disagree. It was funny to me because it seemd like Dan was ready to debate an evidentialist, and seemingly had all of his silver bullets in a row to shoot down each evidentialist argument. But Doug didn’t go there. You can listen to the full debate here.
After getting into a discussion of right and wrong, Doug answered Dan by saying, “I only know that it’s wrong because the Bible tells me.” That’s when Dan responded, “You mean you’re so dumb you need the Bible to tell you it’s wrong?” The crowd immediately began to applaud. Doug’s particular point there was that the Bible contains the law of God, telling us what is a sin and not a sin. It is objective. No guessing games. Apart from this, inclings of right and wrong that burst inside our minds from our consciences are purely subjective.The ironic thing about Dan’s response, and the crowd that subsequently cheered, was that they affirmed Doug’s whole stance in that debate.
Doug’s entire point in that debate boiled down to epistemology – which is a fancy word that means “how we know what we know.” Doug contended that we are each created in the image of God, with consciences that bear witness to the character of God. That is, that we employ logic and reason, morality, judgment, etc because that is what God is like. He is logic, He is the definition of good. These things don’t exist outside of Him. This is how we know what we know. The very fact that a materialist (someone who believes we are nothing but raw material) like Dan would say, “That’s wrong!” or “That’s not fair!” or “That’s good!” or “That makes no sense!” shows that he is created in the image of God. As Doug said in the debate, Dan has to borrow from our worldview to make his points. Transcendent attributes like logic and morality can not be accounted for in a worldview that proposes we are all raw material evolved from space dust. Dan could only define morality as “The avoidance of pain.” That may sound great for a moment, but anyone attempting to dive into that definition will soon find the pool has no water in it.
Next time someone is arguing against Christianity and says something akin to, “We don’t need the Bible to know right and wrong,” simply respond, “You’ve made my point. I know. We are created in the image of God.” This is why when we read God’s law, our consciences bear witness against us. The law gives strength to our sin, and easily shows us that we are sinful and in need of Christ’s forgiveness.