Note: If you don’t consider yourself an atheist and are short on time you may want to start at the end of the article first.
As someone who previously used to consider myself an atheist, I would launch on vicious attacks against Christians using appeals to logic, science, reason and morality in order to show that Christianity was illogical, unscientific, stupid and immoral. However, the fact is I shouldn’t have even been allowed to have a leg to stand on in those arguments. Before going into the 8 points we must first define a few terms.
According to philosophy Professor Matt McCormick, “It has come to be widely accepted that to be an atheist is to deny that a God or gods exist. “
This is closely linked to the idea of naturalism. In the words of Eric Niiler writing in the popular Wired magazine, “Naturalism says there’s only the natural world. There are no spirits, no deities, or anything else.” In other words, everything comes from natural properties and causes. Given atheists assume this, they cannot prove no supernatural entities exist as that would simply be outside the bounds of what they assume is possible.
Quite a few naturalists also hold to scientism which is the idea that you should only believe that which can be scientifically proven which is obviously something you can’t scientifically prove! Other “atheists” take a more loose view on things where they say you can believe whatever you like, nothing really matters but ultimately there is no God.
Unfortunately, many atheists who hold to these views in an intellectual or philosophical sense contradict themselves on these points in other aspects of life. Here are 8 examples:
- Matter and natural laws are all there is but I can say “I love you” and “Christianity is illogical”
Isn’t is amazing that in a world produced by mindless chance, where the right chemicals by chance created an explosion which permitted pond scum to be formed and develop over time into humans who are obsessed with concepts such as purpose, mindfulness, will, self sacrifice and love? What can explain human acts of self sacrifice and a focus on equality being seen as something noble? They are at their core against the very idea of survival as one is limiting better outcomes for themselves for the benefit of someone else.
Many atheists who believe the universe is an impersonal physical accident still tell people they love them, fight for equality, view acts of self sacrifice as noble and strive to show love in their own lives. What do they love about people? Their random composition of chemicals or a “personality” which arises from a random, physical, impersonal process or some “intrinsic human worth” somehow brought about by an unguided accident?
Love is abstract and personal coming from an impersonal physical force according to atheists. I heard a speech while I was in college from an atheist student saying how they had come to dislike the idea of God and later in the same speech were saying the only reason they are still choosing to live is because there are many people in the world to love and who are prepared to love them! Basically they had decided life was a purposeless accident which came about from purely physical forces but had decided it was worth living for an abstract impersonal notion which gives them real purpose. Makes sense.
In the words of philosopher Peter Kreeft, “Love is the greatest of miracles. How could an evolved ape create the noble idea of self-giving love? Human love is a result of our being made to resemble God, who himself is love. If we are made in the image of King Kong rather than in the image of King God, where do the saints come from?”
Second, if matter is all there is how do you define something as illogical? What basis do you have to speak of logic or truth when you evolve purely for the purpose of survival? Have you touched or seen logic? Can you view it under a microscope? No, you assume logic when practising science and reason. There is no basis why this would even exist in a world which is a random accident. However, it makes sense to assume logic and rules which are uniform across the world if the world is created by an intelligent being.
2. Truth is relative but Christianity is false
This point is quite common with lay people who consider themselves “atheists”. “It’s true for you, not true for me. Believe what you want.” We have all heard it before. I mean if you are the product of an accident whereby stardust and pond scum somehow mix and evolve over time, why would truth really matter anyway? Surely there is no issue viewing truth as relative as everything is always changing by chance.
However, these same people will have no issue telling you the following are false.
- Anyone who does not follow Jesus is deceived
- Jesus physically rose from the dead
- Humans deserve God’s judgement.
Is the statement that the three points above are false, true? If truth is relative you cannot say the three points are false without a doubt.
Relativists will often cite the example of an elephant where one person sees the tail while another sees the nose and another the body. They all describe elephants differently but all saw an elephant. This is used to argue truth is relative.
An argument like this has multiple flaws. First, to make such an argument one must know what a full elephant looks like in an absolute, not relative sense. Thus, they would have to contradict the conclusion of the argument. Second, it disregards the fact different worldviews make mutually exclusive claims. One person is not saying an elephant has big feet while another says it has a big nose. One person is telling you the foot looks like a nose while another is telling you the foot looks like a foot and nothing like a nose! For example, Christianity teaches Jesus is the Son of God, while Islam denies this. Christianity teaches Jesus died on the cross while Islam denies this. Christianity teaches Jesus is the way of salvation while Hinduism and Buddhism deny this. These are mutually exclusive claims! Unlike different observations of different parts of an elephant, these are contradictory “observations” of the same part of an elephant.
3. There is no right and wrong but the God of the Bible is an immoral monster and we ought to fight for justice, equality and truth
You can read more about this in my article:IF there’s no right and wrong, then why protest?2020 has been a year of division and protests. Protests over injustice, protests over failed government, protests over…streettheologian.medium.com
Richard Dawkins is quoted, “there is… no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” He is also well known for saying, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Why does he seem to care so much and make the case the God of the Bible is immoral and unjust when there is nothing but pitiless indifference? Why isn’t he indifferent about this issue?
The same atheists who protest injustice, mock the “moral” standards of the Bible are the same ones who say nothing matters and there is no right and wrong. They are trying to stand on a leg they have removed from their own arsenal. Adam Lee even wrote in the Guardian, “It’s time for atheists to move past theoretical questions about the existence of God and onto more practical pursuits — like how to fight for justice.” Really Adam? They don’t even have any grounds to speak of justice or injustice under atheism. Maybe they have an in built moral sense due to the existence of objective moral values which contradicts their intellectual views. Did you think of that?
4. Everything comes from blind chance but we can assume uniformity in practising science
Dawkins echoes this idea, “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice.”
We have blind physical forces or chance driving outcomes, there is no rationale behind what goes on. Yet, scientists assume uniformity in practising science. An example of this is Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity where it is assumed the speed of light is constant between two points and that the same laws of physics apply for different frames of reference. The constants and uniformity behind such assumptions are at odds with a world where unguided, blind, random chaos drives outcomes. It is also worth noting it is clear from this science holds assumptions which cannot be proven by science.
5. Nothing is important but my life has a purpose to prove that Christians are dumb
Nietzche is famously quoted, “Everything matters. Nothing’s important.” This is consistent with Dawkins famous quote about “pitiless indifference”. Yet, we often see atheists speaking of their life’s purpose in day to day life and entering debates with Christians as if they are discussing something highly important.
If nothing is important why should they care? If nihilism is that which brings man hope according to Nietzche and delivers hope why act as if some things are so important? Furthermore, if you are simply the result of a random accident why should anyone even take your words seriously? How do they know you mean your words and that they are not just random words with no intent? If you were produced by chance aren’t you just making arguments against Christians by random chance as well? Should we also start paying attention to the noises a door makes while blown around by the wind? If you are simply a predetermined biological machine why should I think you are intentionally using reason according to your own will?
6. Everything comes from blind chance yet this is rarely how we think
Where did this principle come from? Chance? How do you know if this principle will continue to apply in the future? By chance as well? Which part of the incredibly complex eye was able to register over generations of evolution that certain parts needed to be added so it could eventually see even though it had not done so before?
Even Dawkins and Darwin recognise this struggle. Darwin explained his struggle in these words, “It is impossible to conceive of this immense and wonderful universe as the result of blind chance or necessity.” Meanwhile Dawkins echoes this idea, “The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe it just happened by blind chance…the obvious alternative to chance is an Intelligent Designer.”
7. Chance is a mathematical term when you are at the casino or the races but when it comes to origins it is a blind, random force which got us where we are today
Philosopher RC Sproul had the right idea when he asked if chance flips a coin from heads to tails or reflects the probability of a coin being heads or tails when someone flips it. Chance is a probability term reflected in the odds of a horse winning, the adjustments in a stock price based off an earnings downgrade or the price for a bet offered by a casino. It is not something which makes your breakfast, brushes your teeth or drives your car.
8. The resurrection of Jesus is an impossible event but the first cell was formed by chance and eventually combined with other cells to form a complex human body and mind obsessed with purpose by chance while enabled by chance by the earth’s many unique properties which enable life
I cover these points more in my article:10 Quick reasons you shouldn’t be so quick to write off Christianitystreettheologian.medium.com
Atheist cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle claimed that a “common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.” Supporting this idea, atheist cosmologist Sir Roger Penrose estimated the odds of a life-friendly universe appearing by chance are less than one part in 1⁰¹⁰^¹²³.
Scientist Dr. Jay Richards lists 22 finely tuned parameters and conditions which if were slightly outside of a narrow range would mean life would be impossible on earth- parameters and conditions such as gravitational and nuclear field constants, proper concentration of sulfur, right planetary mass and a large moon with a right rotation period.
It is not just the planet we live on that is fine tuned for existence but the very cells in our bodies! Dr. Stephen Meyer who wrote Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design is quoted, “If we assume that a minimally complex cell needs at least 250 proteins of, on average, 150 amino acids and that the probability of producing just one such protein is 1 in 1⁰¹⁶⁴ as calculated above, then the probability of producing all the necessary proteins needed to service a minimally complex cell is 1 in 1⁰¹⁶⁴ multiplied by itself 250 times, or 1 in 1⁰⁴¹⁰⁰⁰.” That is the probability of a minimally complex cell coming into existence by chance! Not even close to a bone or a nail or a hair and certainly nowhere near a brain, eye or heart!
Yet, even though facts such as these point to the existence of God atheists call it all chance. Atheists then dismiss the resurrection of Jesus as pure fiction even though it is the best explanation of three key historic facts agreed on by the vast majority of scholars whether atheist, Christian or agnostic.
- Jesus burial/ female witness discovery of empty tomb.
- The fact the disciples believed they had post mortem appearances of Jesus.
- Origin of disciples belief and willingness to die for their faith.
The Apostle Peter stated in 1 Peter 1:3, that believers are given “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” If God exists, surely such an event once in history is mere child’s play? However, for a world based off chance under atheism what we have in front of us today in terms of the fine tuning of the universe and biological complexity is a sheer miracle..
I hope these 8 quick points have given you some food for thought about some of the hidden assumptions we often make while saying we are neutral. However, perhaps you’ve read this article think atheism does not make much sense but you were not an atheist anyway. I would then encourage you to challenge yourself on whether or not you are a “practical atheist”. While you profess God exists do you live life as if there is nothing bigger than yourself, no need to be moral, no real purpose to anything? If yes, similar to what I have encouraged atheists to do in this article, I would encourage you to see how can align your worldview with your behaviour better.
Perhaps we struggle to align our worldviews and behaviour for the simple reason that these issues are not just intellectual issues but issues of the heart. Jesus recognised this issue claiming out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, wickedness and deceit (Mark 7:21). Yet, Jesus offered a solution for the burdens and struggles we carry. He is the one who offers rest to those who are weary and heavy laden (Matt. 11:27–28).
I think it is fitting to close with a quote from GK Chesterton, “ But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”