Opinion

Philippine President Duterte Says He Will Resign if Anyone Can Prove God Exists

In June of this year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, asked, “Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid? How can you rationalize a God? Do you believe?” He went on to claim that he has the freedom to make such statements. “Why do you bind me with something very stupid?,” Duterte said. “I was given my own mind by God.”

On this occasion, Duterte seems to believe in God, since he declares that God gave him his invisible mind with which to reason.

Many of his comments about religion are directed at the Roman Catholic Church and some of its doctrines, some of which were rejected by the Protestant Reformation of 501 years ago. But rejecting man-made doctrines is not a logical reason to reject God. Jesus rejected the man-made reasoning and laws of the Pharisees:

The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN’ [Isa. 29:13]. “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (Mark 7:5-9).

Over the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has developed numerous traditions that are not found in the Bible, everything from indulgences and baptismal regeneration to a celibate priesthood and transubstantiation. Even the Papacy is a man-made doctrine.

In his most recent tirade, “the 73-year-old leader said that if there’s ‘one single witness’ who can prove, perhaps with a picture or a selfie that a human was ‘able to talk and to see God,’ he will immediately resign.”

Notice that Duterte is setting the conditions as to what constitutes evidence. No matter what evidence a person presents to Duterte, he can dismiss it by claiming that the evidence is not good enough.

It gives the impression of being open-minded, but it’s really a declaration of autonomy by a being that is not autonomous, as R. J. Rushdoony points out:

Men will either presuppose God, or they will presuppose themselves as the basic reality of being. If they assume themselves to be autonomous and independent from God, they will-then wage war against God at every point. There is no such thing as an area of neutrality: men will either affirm God at every point in their lives and thinking, or else they will deny Him at every point.… The basis of evolutionary theories is this anti-God position of apostate and fallen man. The convincing thing about evolution is not that it proves man’s origins or even gives anything resembling a possible theory but that it dispenses with God.1

Duterte has made himself the final arbiter of all factuality and meaning. He will sit as judge, prosecutor, and jury. All evidence will be evaluated by him and determined by him to be either valid or invalid. By what standard

The creature is calling the Creator into question: “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Rom. 9:20) Paul’s statement is similar to when God “answered Job out of the whirlwind”: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:1-2). Job responded, knowing his limitations, the only way he could: “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth” (40:4).

C.S. Lewis shows that Duterte has the roles reversed:

The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock [the enclosure where a prisoner on trial is placed in an English criminal trial].2 He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the Bench and God in the Dock.3

Tyron Power’s character “in the dock” in the 1957 film Witness for the Prosecution.

Atheists like Duterte claim that what’s invisible does not exist. Since God is invisible, He does not exist. The same would be true with Duterte’s mind since no one has ever seen the mind or reason or the laws of logic, and yet atheists use their mind, reason, and the laws of logic in an attempt to prove God does not exist.

The late Dr. Ronald Nash, who taught philosophy at Western Kentucky University, offers a helpful retort to Duterte’s silly requirement to provide a selfie of God before he will believe in God:

[W]hen I used to teach philosophy to undergraduate college students, I would sometimes ask them to tell me what the number one is. They would usually reply by writing some of the many symbols we use such as “1” or “I”. I would then explain that such symbols are not really the number we are seeking but are only convenient ways we use to refer to the real number one. No wise person should ever confuse a symbol for something with the thing itself.

So what then is the number one? The first step is to recognize that the number one is a concept.

What is a concept? The short answer is that it is an idea. The next step is to ask where the concept of oneness exists. The idea of oneness, like all ideas, exists in minds.

The third step is to note that the number one is eternal. If someone has trouble with this claim, ask when the number one began to exist.

Not only has the number one always existed, it is impossible for the number one ever to change. If the number one were ever changed, it would cease to be the number one. After all, if the idea of oneness changed, let us say, into the number two, then it would no longer be the number one.

So where are we? I believe we can show many people that the concept of oneness is an eternal and unchanging idea that exists in some mind. And, the only kind of mind in which this kind of eternal and unchanging idea could exist must be an eternal and unchanging mind. When I reach this point in my little example, some student in the back of the classroom usually raises his hand and asks if I am talking about God.4

Duterte is a living, breathing image-bearer of God. Without God, neither he nor the cosmos would exist (Acts 17:24-28). Duterte, like all atheists, is living off intellectual and moral capital stolen from the theist’s bank:

They are living off the unearned capital of Christian civilization, on the impetus, law, and order of centuries of Christianity. Like all parasites, they are destroying the host body, Christendom, and its collapse will be their death also. They are denying the eternal decree of God, His sovereign and omnipotent creative counsel and decree, and as a result they are left with a world of chaos which is destructive of science. If they were faithful to their philosophy, these scientists could have no science, because they would have to say that the world is a world of brute factuality, without meaning, purpose, causality, or law.5

This would mean that the number one could change and 1 + 1 could equal something other than 2, thus, making math and science unreliable.

There is this-world significance to a belief in an eternal “dirt nap” with no judgment to follow. If after death a mass murderer and a beloved philanthropist receive the same eternal end, why should there be a difference in their actions this side of the grave?

Katherine Hepburn, a prominent atheist and one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actresses, told the Ladies’ Home Journal in the October 1991 issue, “I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.”

Collision DVD and Study Guide available from American Vision

If there’s nothing we can know, then how did she know about the kindness thing? Are we obligated to be kind to other people? Who ultimately makes the judgment if there is nothing greater than molecules in the vastness of the cosmos? Certainly, molecules aren’t telling us to be kind. If they are, then who told them? The late anti-theist Christopher Hitchens argued that religious faith is the result of the evolutionary process.6 Why can’t the same thing be said for views of morality and everything else? Maybe Adolf Hitler was ahead of the evolutionary curve, and we have not evolved enough to see it.

Duterte’s comments about God means that he is a “fool” (Ps. 14:1) and opens the door to all types of atrocities in the name of autonomous man either by him or those he opposes.

  1. Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Mythology of Science (Craig Press, 1967), 47–48. []
  2. For an example of being “in the dock,” see the 1957 film Witness for the Prosecution. []
  3. C.S. Lewis, “God in the Dock,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 244. []
  4. Ronald Nash, “Apologetics is What?” []
  5. Rushdoony, The Mythology of Science, 57. []
  6. Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve Books/Hachette Book Group 2007), 12. For a debate between Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, see the DVD Collision (2009) and the accompanying study guide by Joel McDurmon. Wilson has also written God Is: How Christianity Explains Everything as a response to God is Not Great. []
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