"'If a truth is dangerous,' he said, 'then perhaps it is not true enough.'" - Greg Bear, Eon, (Arrow Books Limited, 1985), p.244
I met Dr. Jaco Gericke through a South African web site called Kletskerk ("Chat-church"). The majority of the participants of the Message board were not actually Christians (at least as the Bible defines the term), but a whole group of atheists seemed to grab the opportunity to have their say. He was one of the few Atheists there that actually made sense, or at least seemed to know what he was talking about instead of just raging against the Christians and God. However, I could not agree with his conclusions. The most important reason is simple that I know God exists because of what He has done (and is doing) in my life. Although the testimony of what He has done in my life may not convince somebody else and cannot be used as a "scientific" argument, neither can I simply discount it. This assurance in God that I currently have, has not always been the case. There has been a growth in faith as I trusted Him more and as a result saw more of His faithfulness.
Most atheists I have talked to and argued with had hidden motives and reasons for not believing. Anger at God, painful experiences in the past, wanting to live as they like without any regard for the law of God... these were some of the reasons I found for atheism. The intellectual arguments were usually just an excuse given for their unbelief, not the true reason. Wedergestorwe Christen (Died-again Christian) as Dr. Gericke called himself on Kletskerk, claimed to have wanted to continue believing, but was convinced by "the facts" that God doesn't exist.
Now, I am not a theologian, but I am a student of the Bible. I went through the trouble to at least learn some Hebrew in order to understand the Bible better. And I am a scientist (zoology, computer science, ecology) with at least some practical experience of using the scientific method and thinking critically. To a large extend, it seems to me that the only primary source of most (all?) modern biblical scholarship, remains the biblical text, and with that I am fairly familiar. What I will plead for here, is to try and forget who I am and look at the arguments I make. If they are wrong, correct them... that is the way science (and knowledge in general) advances.
Personally, I don't think that theology (the knowledge of God) is a science and neither should it be. Just as it is inappropriate to write a whole history of the Anglo-Boer war using only archaeological excavations (ignoring the written accounts by those who experienced it themselves), it is inappropriate to "study" God without at least speaking to Him in prayer. From the Christian perspective, God Himself comes and live inside us when we are born anew by giving us of His own Spirit... the same Spirit that lived in Jesus and inspired the prophets and other writers of the Scriptures. And He "resist the proud", but gives grace to the humble. The whole idea that God, the Creator of the universe, can somehow be studied in the same way as the natural world that He has created, seems to me the very apex of arrogance. The best science can do, is to cast some light on the contexts in which God has revealed Himself historically.
So why am I writing this response to the thesis called: "DOES YAHWEH EXIST?" ? For two reasons:
Thus starts the Foreword of the thesis. And right there he addresses my main issue with the whole thesis. The conclusion, to which Dr. Gericke comes, makes absolute sense to me if his premises were true. It is the foundations that have been attacked by "liberal" scholars for a long, long time. And it is the validity of these attacks on the foundations that I question, rather than simply the conclusions of the thesis.
As for Appendix B, I just hope that the same cognitive dissonance doesn’t prevent Jaco from seriously considering turning back to God. I have had some inkling of what it feels like to lose faith in the existence of God after having experienced Him in your life. In my case it was for barely a week or two and I cannot think how one can continue like that if it should go on for longer. At least it appears from recent Blog posts as if Jaco has reached some new equilibrium with himself as an atheist. It might be too much for him to really consider again if he might be wrong after all his struggles and I think it will require an immense amount of humility. Is it possible that the satan can deceive intelligent people? (That is assuming that the devil exists!)
My knowledge of philosophy is probably too small to take up the challenge of Appendix C and look at the biblical text from a “philosophico-religious” point of view. During the course of the rest of this writing, the way I consider the biblical text will no doubt become clear enough. It might be useful to make a comparison between some of the different ways of approaching the biblical texts. However, I do give my fundamental "philosophical" approach to the question of knowledge and truth in general in my own Appendix C. I believe it is necessary to explicitly state our presuppositions in the current "post-modernist" climate to ensure that we don't just talk past each other.
After working on the answer for a while now, I realised that answering the thesis fully will require a whole thesis of my own and I do not currently have time for that. So I will try and summarise each chapter and give a summarised answer only.