THE SELF EVIDENT PROOF
by Richard Kouchoo
(Protea Publishing, USA, 2002, 120pp, US$14.98. Available from www.proteapublishing.com)
Richard Kouchoo claims that knowledge of the existence of God is possible through simple reasoning and logic. The main thrust of his argument is that since there is objective truth it follows that there is a moral law. As moral laws are "mind commands" they must have been created by a personal intellect, which we would call God.
In order to establish his first proposition that truth exists, Kouchoo demonstrates the erroneous and self-contradictory nature of the arguments for agnosticism and relativism. His treatment of these two philosophies is admirably concise and clear, showing the absolute irrationality of subscribing to their arguments.
Using a conversational style between a fictional believer and an unbeliever, Kouchoo presents an example of how to deal with people who refuse to admit the existence of truth. In fact, by claiming that there is no such thing as the truth, the unbeliever is effectively proving that it does exist.
When a relativist claims "there is no such thing as absolute truth", one can respond: "Is that absolutely true?". To the agnostic who claims that "we cannot know anything", the appropriate reply is: "Do you know that for sure?". They are themselves making absolute claims and stating something that they believe to be objectively true. The existence of truth is therefore inescapable and undeniable.
The self-referential style of these philosophies is their great undoing at the most basic level. It is disturbing, when faced with the obvious logical errors involved in relativism and agnosticism, to note nevertheless the great influence such thinking has had in our higher education institutions in the Western world.
Other absurdities used by those trying to deny the existence of objective truth are demonstrated in the book. For example, Bishop John Selby Spong is quoted as claiming that "no word is objective" and "words are never the truth". But as Kouchoo points out, Bishop Spong has used words to convey this to us, so should we believe what he says?
Through objective truth we come to know that some things are good and some are bad, which in turn leads us to know that there is a moral law, e.g., we know innately that "murder is wrong". Such natural laws are "mind laws", meaning that they refer to values and morality and therefore could only have been produced by a personal intellect. This brings us to the existence of God, the mind from which the moral law originated.
The Self Evident Proof would make ideal reading for any philosophy student, serving as a stimulant for informed discussion. It is also a valuable resource for anyone wanting to know how best to contend with those rejecting the existence of objective truth.
Kouchoo presents his arguments in easy-to-understand language and in 'bite size' morsels, chapter by chapter, making them accessible to anyone whether a student of philosophy or not. His use of the conversational technique is helpful in conveying the arguments and allowing the reader to absorb them. He also defines key philosophical terms and introduces the arguments of major philosophers such as Augustine, Aquinas, Hume and Kant.
Some may find the style somewhat repetitive in places but it certainly drives home the theme of the reality of objective truth and moral law, which inevitably points towards the existence of God.
Catherine Sheehan is a Melbourne Catholic writer who is completing her Arts degree at Monash University.