Skip to main content

Who Made God? Identifying Categorical Errors

A category is simply a distinct class to which something belongs… A set of objects that can be treated as equal in some way. A Macintosh apple belongs to the category, apple, and not what we categorize as an orange. Similarly, colors are in a different category than taste. 

When we say, “apples and oranges” what we mean is that there has been a confusion of categories. Sure, they are both fruit, but when you examine both, there is an obvious difference. An apple is not an orange, and an orange is not an apple. Macintosh, Granny Smith, and red delicious are all apples. Navel, blood, and Valencia are all oranges. To mix the two, for instance, to call a navel orange an apple, would be a categorical error, sometimes referred to as a category mistake. 

 

 

How Identifying Categorical Errors can Help with Apologetics

It seems that simply learning about or being reminded of categorical errors can help us be more aware of them. We have all heard or thought of ourselves, the question, “Who made God?” Richard Dawkins speaks of what he calls his central argument in the book and asks, “who designed the designer?”[1]

The problem is that it is assumed when someone asks such a question that God is in the same category that we are. This is false. When someone asks this question, they are assuming that God is in the category of created beings. God is uncreated according to the Bible as well as philosophy. Nothing came into being before Him. 


For anything material to exist at all, there must be something that exists outside the material in order to create the physical. There must be something that transcends material. If the thing that created material was material himself, then he would be self-caused, which is absurd. So, God lives outside the material boundaries and is therefore an immaterial being. The answer to “Who made God?” is that God always existed. He was never created. The Bible says in Genesis chapter one that “in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth…” In other words, He was there before the beginning. 

 

Another way people commit categorical errors is in asking questions like, “how can you be a Christian and have tattoos?” The assumption is that it is not allowed, because the Bible says so.

Leviticus 19:28 says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” Whether this is saying “do not put tattoo marks on yourselves for the dead” or, “do not put tattoo marks on yourselves” is irrelevant in this discussion. This type of law is called a ceremonial law, which was designed to make the people of Israel stand out in a very particular way in the Ancient Near East. To say that the laws are all the same, would result in categorical errors. For instance, to say that a ceremonial law such as not getting tattoos is in the same category as a moral law such as “do not murder” (Exodus 20), would be to commit a categorical error. They are in different categories. Ceremony laws are not for Christians because we are under grace. 

Moral laws are for Christians to hold, but not in a way that we are earning our salvation for such. After all, we are not under the Law, but are under grace (see Romans 6:14). But this does not mean we should toss them to the wind. Paul says, in Romans 6:15-18, 

 

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

 

A sin, a moral failure against God, is something we will constantly battle, simply because we are still composed of flesh. But we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. In other words, when we sin, we are convicted in the flesh of our sin because of the Holy Spirit within us. Paul says in Romans 8:9-11 that,

 

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

 

If we are in fact, Christians, then the Holy Spirit lives within us, convicting us of what is right and wrong. So, to claim that tattoos as a Christian is sin an example of a categorical fallacy. Much like asking the question what is the smell of brown? Brown is a property; it has no smell. Two different categories. 

In any event, the categorical error is placing the law against tattoos in the same category as the moral laws. Sometimes, it is good to ask oneself if there is any chance of a categorical error being made when we hear questions like these. Another area that seems to be such is when someone asks the question, “Is it true that once we are saved, that we are always saved?” 




Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus 

 © Nace Howell, 2024


[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 147).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Show a Mormon the Difference Between the Mormon Jesus and the Biblical Jesus

I find that Mormons frequently claim they are Christians, and that they want to be referred to as Christians, and they have even recently sought to distance themselves from the word “Mormon.” The problem is, they worship another Jesus, and here is how to show them the difference between the Mormon Jesus and the Biblical Jesus. Before we get to that, some clarifications are necessary.   The Mormon President Russell Nelson said,    “What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname? When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the “LDS Church,” the “Mormon Church,” or the “Church of the Latter-day Saints,” the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement.” [1]   So, according to Nelson, to call Mormons,  Mormons , is a victory for Satan. So, this also means that to call

Joseph Smith had the same Demon that influenced Muhammad

What does Islam have in common with Mormonism? Seriously, the similarities are uncanny. Like human beings, demons are creatures of habit . The Bible does not tell us much about them, but from what it does tell us, we can learn a lot. Jesus reveals to us some things about their behavior: When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first… [1]   Jesus clearly knows that demons have typical behaviors. He has seen it many times before. He lets us know that a typical behavior for a demon is that home is where the heart is . When your house crumbles to the ground, you move to a new one. Likewise, when a person dies, the demon is f

The Dividing Line of Doctrine

How and Where to Make Divisions... Sometimes, I get asked “Why do you get so up at arms about other religions?” or, “Why do you pick on other religions so much?” I think the following will help you see where I’m coming from, before I spill the beans on such.   We have difficulty sometimes in discovering where to make divisions when considering where to spend our money, and who to support, where to make purchases, and where not to do such. We also often have difficulty on how to know if a church or a congregation is a place where someone can actually become saved. Like, how can we know that a Mormon is likely not saved but we can know that a regular church attender at a gospel sound church is likely saved? What is it that would make my church attendance at a specific body no longer appropriate? Both answers to these questions deal with doctrine. If a company is pushing false doctrine using their influence and power to push a heretical doctrine or teaching, this is often when the red fla

The Two Systems: A Confused Definition of Love

A couple years ago I wrote an article called  the Jehovah’s Witness training videos . The article was meant to be humorous in a sense, because there are likely not any actual training videos, but it seems that they have all watched them. We can suspect this because they all often have the same points of conversation. When you talk about the Trinity, they will use the Bible like a machine gun and shoot you with verses. The verses are always the same: Colossians 1:15, Mark 10:18… So, there is an implication that they all have the same information. There is one source from where they gather their patterns and behaviors. Similarly, I think we can see the power behind the system of the world as well. We can see what this power is like by the tracks he leaves behind. The contrast of the two systems is really seen in Revelation 14:8. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” John is using the word  Babylon  here for

The Highest Virtue

A virtue is a trait of excellence. What is the highest virtue? It seems that based on the nature of truth, that truth itself is perhaps the highest virtue. For instance, I could say that love is the highest virtue, but then I could ask the question of whether that is true or not. If it is or isn’t true, this places truth virtuously higher than love, at least in some sense. The fact that I can question love through the lens of truth seems to place truth above love in height of virtue. On the other hand, if I said that truth is the highest virtue, then it seems that it would be loving to tell others the truth! Perhaps truth and love go hand in hand, but this also concerns the nature of what truth is.  Truth is a requirement for love, which I argue here , but is love a requirement for truth? Love must contain truth in order to be  true  love. But truth does not have to contain love in order to be true truth. Take for instance, mathematics, or numbers in general… Sometimes, the truth hurts

Objectivity is the Language of Heaven

NDErs (i. e. people who have claimed to have had a   Near Death Experience ) often report that when they go to Heaven, they frequently see and recognize people such as friends and family members. It is often also reported that when they were communicating with friends and relatives, they realized that they weren’t speaking English, but that they were telepathically speaking to one another.   It seems it would be impossible to have communication with others without learning every language that has ever existed under the sun, but since heaven is a perfect place, [1]  then communication should be perfect as well. In other words, it seems unlikely that there are barriers to communication. So, I should be able to communicate with the Apostles, upon my arrival for instance, but how? I personally only really know how to speak English fluently. My Spanish, Japanese, German, Russian, Chinese, and Latin is like that of a child, and my Greek is only in reading and writing.  If communication is me

Defending Christianity against Mormonism

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect ” (NIV 1 Peter 3:15). In other words, LOVE THEM . Mormons                                                             Biblical Truths Mormons are monolaters, meaning, they believe in many gods, yet worship only one. LDS believe that “As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.” LDS do not believe in Hell. LDS believe God is flesh and bones. LDS believe in baptism for the dead. LDS believe Jesus and Satan are created brothers. LDS do not believe in the Trinity. LDS believe that “it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (Nephi 25:23). Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (See also Isaiah 43:11; Acts 5:4; 1 Timothy 2:5; Exodus 20:3; et. al.). God kn

The Evidence and Power of Testimony

What to say to People who Demand more Evidence for God. Why is there something rather than nothing? Glacier National Park. © Nace Howell, 2018. The question is, how much evidence do you require? Would Jesus have to come back and slap you in the face with evidence that He is God? It seems to me that there is a line we must draw. We do this in all other areas of our lives, so why would we treat theism any different? When a court convicts, they do so “beyond a reasonable doubt.” I would like to take a few moments to explore this a bit. But before we get to that, I want to pose a question, which is… why are you the standard? What makes you think He has to prove His existence to everyone individually? He already created the universe from nothing. In the beginning, there was a big bang. Seriously… do you believe your mom when she tells you a story about her day? Did you believe the reports of 9/11 when they were happening? Do you accept the testimony of anything you hear on social

Does Baptism Save People from Sin?

There is a lot of confusion, and I would go as far to say that there is a perversion, of baptism in the world today. Some people, such as those in the Church of Christ, teach that baptism is a requirement for salvation. Others say that baptism is something we can do for the dead . But what does the Bible teach about baptism?   Those who say that baptism is a requirement for salvation use verses like 1 Peter 3:21 which says,  baptism which corresponds to this now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Christ Jesus…  This is not talking about soul salvation but being saved from one’s own bad conscience. In other words, by obeying Jesus in getting baptized, we have a good conscience in doing so. Other times some  people  may use Acts 2:37-38 to show that baptism is a requirement for salvation.  Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers,

Argument from Beauty: Evangelical Christians have Neglected a Favorable Catalyst for the Gospel

It seems to me that some Evangelical Christians have taken a biblical passage in the wrong direction. Perhaps I, considering myself to be an Evangelical Christian, am guilty of such as well. Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Verse 2 is where we get the phrase,  be in the world, but don’t be of the world . What this means is that we should know our place. Our place is in heaven. The Bible says that we are citizens of heaven, and that we should think and act as if we are. Philippians 3:20-21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the po