"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
| 7 Arguments Atheists Can't Use by Eli Brayley|
[b]7 Arguments Atheists Can't Use[/b]
[i]by Eli Brayley[/i]
"The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." - Psalm 14:1
An atheist, as the wordsmith Noah Webster so aptly defined, is one who disbelieves in and denies the existence of a God, and every now and again a person will find himself in the company of one or more of these kinds of people. Of atheism, here is the outrageous thing: there is not one viable argument which can be given by the atheist to support the disbelief in or denial of the existence of a God. Their position is entirely assumed apart from any reasonable basis. Of course, the atheist will deny such a charge, though it was C.H. Spurgeon who reminded us, "Skepticism is no very great achievement. Nothing is easier than to doubt. A man of moderate ability or learning can doubt more than the wisest men believe. Faith demands knowledge, for it is an intelligent grace, able and anxious to justify itself; but infidelity is not required to give a reason for the doubt that is in it." (The Clue of the Maze, p. 19) As a Christian, I am writing from the faith in the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible, and I have compiled several of the most common arguments that atheists use to support their atheism in order to show how none of them are viable arguments against the existence of God.
Probably the most common argument used by atheists in recent years to disprove the existence of God is an appeal to the theory of evolution - somehow they think that if evolution is true it follows that God does not exist, but such an argument is completely worthless. Though I myself ardently reject the theory of evolution, there are numerous Christians and non-Christians who see theistic evolution as an entirely tenable explanation of creation. That is the belief that God designed and had a part to play in the evolutionary process. In fact, I would argue that one would have to believe in theistic evolution if one was to believe in evolution at all. Were the theory of evolution true, the thought that the present state of things should have come about by chance is so utterly impossible and beyond all sensible hope that it is nothing short of miraculous. If evolution were true, either God had an active part to play in it or we must throw rationality to the wind. The fact that there are many theistic evolutionists in this world today (who are the only reasonable evolutionists) reveals that the atheistic argument that evolution disproves God is ridiculous, null and void.
2. The "Problem" of Evil
It is argued that because evil exists, God doesn't exist. However, the exact opposite is true: Because evil exists, it proves that God exists. Were it true that there was no God, and that everything in the universe had an impersonal, naturalistic beginning, then evil wouldn't exist at all. Evil is a moral word, and morality has no place in an impersonal, naturalistic universe. Whatever is, is, and whatever is, is not deviant but totally natural. In such a universe murder isn't wrong, it just hurts. Kidnapping children to use them as sex slaves isn't wicked; it's not even twisted. However, to talk like this is nonsense because every human being inherently knows evil exists, and every human experience proves the opposite. Even the atheist knows evil exists because he argues that the existence of evil disproves the existence of God! The existence of evil proves conclusively that we live in a personal universe that was created by a moral God. The "problem" of evil is really the atheist's problem, not the theist's.
That both evil and God exist is also not a problem for the Christian, for the Bible explains why God allows evil to exist, and how God has not turned a blind eye to evil but has condemned it conclusively and will judge it eternally. Therefore this poses no problem. But even if someone chose to reject the Biblical testimony concerning the existence of both evil and God, they still have no grounds to deny the existence of a God simply because evil exists. There is another valid option (though not a convincing one), and that is that an evil God exists. Whatever someone might choose, there is no grounds for atheism by an appeal to evil.
3. Hume's Argument Against Miracles
Another common argument atheists use against the existence of God, and against all things supernatural, is taken from David Hume's argumentation against miracles, or against anything out of the "ordinary". Hume argued, basically, that miracles were "a violation of natural law" and anything that might be purported as a violation of natural law (or anything out of the ordinary) needed such an incredible amount of evidence in order to be believed that he essentially ruled out all possibility of believing anything "supernatural".
But here a few preliminary questions are in order: What is "ordinary"? If indeed God exists, would not God be a part of the ordinary? As even an atheist once told me, "If God exists then anything He does in our world is technically not supernatural but perfectly natural, though we may personally not be accustomed to it." Also, who said a miracle was a "violation" of natural law? Today it has been generally agreed in the philosophical debate that Hume was wrong in his definition of miracle, which seriously undermines his entire argument (see Hume's Abject Failure by John Earman, PhD, Princeton). A miracle is not a violation of natural law but is wholly consistent with natural law, once one takes into consideration God. Therefore, in a theistic worldview, there is nothing so unusual about a miracle that would set it apart in a category making it hopeless to prove. The simple testimony of a miracle is just as valid as the simple testimony of anything else.
Suppose a miracle from God really did happen, and suppose it was in fact witnessed by several people (the number is irrelevant). In Hume's thinking, no one would ever be able to believe the witnesses even though the event actually happened, and thus the world is robbed of exceedingly priceless knowledge. Any epistemology that does not allow for the simple testimony of true events should be re-evaluated as obstructive and insufficient.
Finally, regardless of how untenable Hume's argument is, it contributes nothing to the disbelief in a God, for it concerns miracles, and Deism is still an option. Therefore it should not be used by atheists to support atheism. Meanwhile, the perpetual tide of miraculous testimony still genuinely attests to the existence of the personal God.
4. God is a Crutch
It is frequently stated by atheists that people only believe in God because God serves them as a crutch; something to help or comfort them because of their weakness or need. Of course, there are several obvious reasons why this argument is totally invalid.
First of all, regardless whether or not God helps and comforts people, the existence of God does not depend upon someone liking or not liking God to be there. We could point out the absurdity of the reverse, that since atheists believe that God does not exist, and draw a certain amount of comfort that, it follows that God must exist. This reasoning is just as ridiculous when applied to the theist. That the existence of God is indeed a comforting reality for believers serves nothing to disprove God, and what shall we say about people who believe in God and yet draw no comfort from it?
The thing is, in order for people to draw comfort from God, they must first believe that there is a God to draw comfort from - there must be some reason why they feel they can call out to a God who will help them. They have faith, and their faith must have a basis, or else there would be no faith. Speaking for Christians, we do not believe in God, as the atheist suggests, because God is a crutch for us. That is no basis. We believe in God because of the uniform testimony of creation, Scripture and human experience. It is because we believe in God (and the Judeo-Christian God at that) that we are able to draw comfort from Him, and not the other way around. Therefore the atheist who argues in this fashion misses the whole point and puts the cart before the horse.
The truth is, believing in God brings with it a certain amount of discomfort. If we believe Biblical revelation, for example, we must believe that God is a consuming fire - a holy and just judge who will punish the ungodly with everlasting destruction. That includes our lost friends, family members and even ourselves before salvation. We must acknowledge that our sinful passions are unacceptable, though we enjoy them so much. We must also face the ridicule and, oftentimes, persecution that comes with believing the message of Christ crucified. In all reality, to become a Christian is not to take up a crutch but to take up a cross. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Matt. 16:24-25) I should think, rather, that it is the atheist who finds a crutch in disbelieving the existence of God when all the evidence is finally weighed.
5. Religious Crimes
Another argument thrust forth, usually in a last ditch effort by the atheist to make his tottering position seem tolerable, is that because so many crimes have been committed in the name of God it must therefore follow that God does not exist, and that religion is false. But when we speak of crime, we are speaking of immorality, and immorality only exists as far as God exists, and immorality is immoral only because it is a transgression of the law of God. There actually can be no "religious crimes" without the existence of God.
Furthermore, it is not religion, true religion, nor God, that commit these crimes, but so-called "religious" people who themselves violate the very idea of religion by their crimes. We must also consider the immeasurable good that faith in God has caused in the world, as well as the immense evil this world has seen on account of denying God. It is always some form of godlessness that is the source of all sin, whether it be categorized as "religious" or atheistic.
6. If God Had No Beginning, Why Not the Universe?
Sometimes it is argued that if theists can say God has always existed, then atheists can equally say the universe has always existed. Whatever one believes, something has had to always have existed, because everything that currently is could not have come from nothing. The thought alone is staggering to both theist and atheist alike. Christians affirm the Scriptural revelation that God has always existed as God, and that at one definite point God created the universe from nothing. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) This verse refers to the beginning of the universe, not the beginning of God. It is the beginning of our history, and it is remarkable that such an ancient sentence holds such profound meaning today. But is it true that if Christians can say God has always exists, so atheists can say the universe has always existed?
The answer is no. As much as atheists would like to believe it, the demise of this argument is that the more we learn about the universe, the more we learn that the universe in fact had a beginning. Scientific research has advanced leaps and bounds in the area of physics, astronomy and cosmology in the last 100 years, and as it has the truth of Genesis 1:1 has proven itself to be accurate again and again: that is, that there was in fact a beginning to the universe. Christians believed that the universe had a beginning for thousands of years despite the fact that the dominate belief in the ancient world was that the universe was a constant. Today, however, modern science has completely turned the tables. "[Today], the dominant idea of cosmology is that the universe had a beginning." (Dr. Adam Frank, University of Rochester) "The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the universe began with a "Big Bang"... the Big Bang theory is the most widely accepted theory of the creation of the universe." (Dr. van der Pluijm, University of Michigan) "All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning... This is probably the most remarkable discovery of modern cosmology." (Stephen Hawking, University of Cambridge)
Therefore, because modern science is revealing the fact that the universe did in fact have a beginning, this argument cannot be used. It is up to the atheist to first prove that the universe did not have a beginning - a belief contrary to the scientific evidence. Nothing comes from nothing, so if the universe had a beginning, as the ancient Scripture declares, it is one of the greatest proofs for the existence of God.
7. I Don't Want There to Be a God
Lastly (which is not so much an argument as it is an obstacle), is that I have learned that the source of all atheism springs from the heart, and not the brain. Atheism is not an intellectual position, but a dogmatic faith cloaked in intellectual jargon - else why do atheists argue so feverishly? Why do the emotions rise so? It is because they do not want there to be a God. It is because of what believing in God would mean, and that is something they are not willing to face. "The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, They have done abominable works..." (Psalm 14:1) History tells the story of thousands of atheists who have bowed their knees in repentant faith before the Lord God of heaven and earth. Was it because they suddenly gave up their intellect? Most certainly not! Was it not rather because they submitted their wills to the sovereign will of the true and living God? As long as the heart rages against God no amount of reasoning will stop the infinitum flow of irrational arguments proceeding from a fool, but all arguments will cease once the heart is still.
To my dear atheist friends: not wanting God to be there does not change the fact that He is there, and as long as you continue to fight against God you are only hurting yourself and others.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2009/9/23 8:33||Profile|
| Re: 7 Arguments Atheists Can't Use by Eli Brayley|
Good article. As Francis Shaefer used to say, the atheist is tragically irrational. He wants to erase God in hopes of declaring the supreme value of humanity. The problem is he has nothing to believe in, and so must borrow meaning, ethics, and sentiments from other belief systems that allow for purpose in order for his own humanity to have any value at all.
| 2009/9/23 9:43||Profile|
| Re: 7 Arguments Atheists Can't Use by Eli Brayley|
You have shamelessly distorted Atheist arguments from scientific rationalism and/or simply fail to understand.
Barring sufficient evidence, doubt is the proper default. This because for all that does exist, for each endless permutations are conceivable. The conceivable but nonexistent therefore vastly outnumbers the existent. Thus, all things being equal, the odds are against any particular conceivable phenomena existing are against. Indeed, that is the normal mode of thought about the color of the corner house on the next street over amongst all the possible colors of paint, likewise the amount of money in your bank account and the configuration of atomic particles, let alone the existence of Bigfoot, Santa Clause and God no less, barring special pleadings. It takes little effort of faith to believe that two and two is four or that London is in England. What is the effort of faith but willfully wishful thinking?
And Evolution does not rule out God, rather amongst competing hypotheses Evolution shows greater explanatory elegance. Appeal to God only removes all problems to another problem of even greater complexity and sheer supposition.
Whether the universe is of finite age is still in dispute. Indeed there are problems with Big Bang cosmology perhaps better explained by the Plasma Universe model. But more importantly, even if the universe has a beginning, that would still be a far cry from demonstrating God the Creator.
And religious crimes do not bring into doubt the existence of God, but far worse, the efficacy of religion in moral guidance and improvement of believers. It certainly doesn't seem much to be helping you to be honest or rational.
| 2011/4/11 12:47||Profile|
| Re: |
When I worked at NASA, I knew several highly respected scientists and engineers who had become Christians. One of them explained that the more she studied, the more she saw "creative oversight" to the laws of science and the patterns of the universe.
I appreciate the original articles here.
Aaron, I appreciate your honesty. However, as a former agnostic, it helps to realize that some individuals play armchair theologians (or anti-theocrats) about matters that they haven't considered thoroughly.
One thing that I would suggest: Even if you don't really believe in God (or if you are unsure of the existence of God), why not make an honest effort to pray anyway? I don't think that you would be so bold as to claim that you "know for sure" about the non-existence of God. Therefore, the possibility should exist in your mind. I wonder if you would be willing to speak to God?
Prayer, to Christians, is the highest level of communication that one could ever attain. It is the notion that a mere mortal can communicate with the Creator of all things...and actually have His attention.
Would you be willing, regardless of how ridiculous it might seem, to speak to God? You don't have to do it publicly. You don't even have to believe (fully) in what you are doing. I did this...and it led to a series of fortunate events where my views of this matter changed. I simply asked "God" that, if He were real, that He would reveal Himself or show Himself to me.
Regardless, you will be in my prayers. Feel free to PM me if you like.
| 2011/4/11 14:44||Profile|
| Re: |
I think I have one thing in common with evolutionist Richard Dawkins that is that he believes christianity and evolution are totally incompatiable,as do I.
From my point of view for evolution to happen their would have to be a cycle of life,death,life,death,life,death over a period of billions of years with life continually improving .Eventually this would lead to Man coming into existance.Now if sin and death came into the world by Adam then Adam would have had to exist before the life,death cycle began which is not possible because he would have had to evolve.
The importance of Adam is that if we dont have an Adam bring death into the world then we dont need Christ redeeming the world.
So from a my and millions more of christians point of view any evolution has to be considered heresy.
So Richard Dawkins is right its one or the other,at least even though totally wrong his position is clear,
| 2011/4/11 18:50||Profile|
| Re: |
Ccchhhrrriiisss, the advice you proffer, which I am sure that we have all heard many times before, simply disregards significant Epistemological disputes. Would anyone argue that one ought to at least give alcohol a chance in order to try for oneself if drunkenness will help restore the belief in pink elephants? I know that prayer is an effective technique for many in order to cultivate pleasing beliefs, but does that then make them so? I think that you are just jumping the gun. It also seems simply patronizing to suggest that anyone who disagrees with you simply hasn't given the matter much thought. But such is not the case. Indeed, if my question has never occurred to you, then you're hardly one to talk.
| 2011/4/12 10:14||Profile|
| Re: |
Now, while evolution like anything else might be framed within the will of God, you are correct nevertheless, staff, that compatibility with Theism at all, is distinct from Christianity. And it would take some creativity indeed, to reconcile the Fall from Grace with mere behavioral evolution of both selfishness and altruism. So, where does the evidence lead? How are the problems framed thereby? And what promising solutions at all present themselves? For one thing, apparently catharsis that is a feature of the quest for redemption in many faiths, seems to still work even on utterly secular terms.
| 2011/4/12 10:15||Profile|
| Re: |
You may want to look at www.creation.com for scientific answers to many questions about the world, geology, the fossil record, etc. Just use the search engine to look up any topic you may be interested in. You will see that the evidence points to a Creator and the Biblical narrative.
| 2011/4/12 12:05||Profile|
| Re: |
Ccchhhrrriiisss, the advice you proffer, which I am sure that we have all heard many times before, simply disregards significant Epistemological disputes. Would anyone argue that one ought to at least give alcohol a chance in order to try for oneself if drunkenness will help restore the belief in pink elephants?
The advice that I have suggested certainly is outside typical philosophical apriorism. This is why it is considered a matter of faith. The difference, in this case, is that there are individuals (like me) who are, by human nature, doubters. Many of us aren't prone to just believing what we are told or taught. Yet, many of us came to a belief in God. This isn't "pink elephants" from drunken stupors that we are speaking about. My own journey from agnosticism to faith came only after long bouts of contemplation.
The "prayer" experiment isn't meant to invoke frustration on your part. After all, you ventured into this forum (rather than any of us venturing into, say, an atheist forum). You are the guestam simply telling you that you need to believe in "pink elephants" -- but HOW I came about believing in God.
Faith, according to Scripture, is the evidence of things NOT seen. If you are looking for tangible proof of God's existence through some physical means, you will never have enough to suffice any hypotheses. However, since God is Spirit, he must be reached via spiritual means. God has chosen the simple act of prayer as the means to speak with Him. I am not asking you to believe in God and pray. I am simply suggesting that you can attempt to speak with Him mingled with the remote possibility that you may be wrong about His very existence.
I don't believe in the Andromeda galaxy simply because a teacher or professor told me to. While I considered their words, I looked through my own telescope as a child and saw it...and looked upon it through the telescopes at my universities too. It was simply proving what I had been taught or heard. Likewise, I didn't come to believe in God by simply believing what others told me. In fact, I did NOT believe in God for a long time because of it. It was only after a period of time where I tested my own doubt...and was willing to speak to a God that I couldn't see or hear that I eventually came to such a faith.
The Bible actually ENCOURAGES such a test (I Thessalonians 5:21). Since God is spirit, then you will have to reach Him through spiritual means. It is certainly up to you. I would think that it isn't too wise to have arrived at such a concrete conclusion without having fully exhausted all avenues. For me, I asked God (prayer, in its simplest form, is just talking to God) to "reveal" himself to me. I even told Him that I didn't believe. This became a catalyst for my own journey into faith.
Anyway, I am not trying to "convince" you via some philosophical argument. Nor does it boast any ego to try and convince someone to find a reason to believe. But, in one of those strange coincidences about faith, I do care that you might believe. Of course, I know that you have probably thought long and hard about it before. But, perhaps, you may not have considered the things that I have mentioned.
| 2011/4/12 12:29||Profile|
| Re: |
First of all, I began simply by seeking to correct misrepresentation of Rationalist Atheist arguments, such as that I do feel qualified to do. And trust me, I am sure that we unbelievers have all indeed all been subject to precisely such exhortation to prayer on numerous occasions. But the religious test of doubt is entirely different from the systematic doubt essential to Scientific Rationalism. The religious test of faith is happy to find results at all consistent with and therefore conceivably supportive of a desired conclusion, regardless that the very same results might more easily fit entirely different conclusions.
As for example, the results of those ill conceived Quantum tunneling experiments, indeed consistent with Quantum tunneling, but also consistent with far more prosaic explanation. Scientifically, such ambiguous results are therefore deemed inconclusive. And as to the proposed prayer experiment, they appeal to special pleadings outright. Introspection and imagination as a rule, are simply not Empirical of external reality. Except, supposedly, where God is concerned. Why so?
In truth, the most dramatic results are still readily explainable by entire suggestion and wishful thinking without divine intervention whatsoever. Aha, but see for yourself, you'll reply. Why, to reproduce an entirely subjective experience? Even without becoming a test subject myself, I am already well aware of those who have, including those who had religious experiences and even where convinced by them. What of it? Indeed, what if the desired results never accrue for me? Will you accept that as refutation? Scientific experiments, after all, are defined by conceivable conditions of refutation.
The scientific quest for truth proceeds by process of elimination, narrowing the field of viable hypotheses that to be scientific, must include conditions of conceivable refutation. Theism simply has none. We know that scripture is the word of God, because scripture that is the word of God tells us so. Or substitute successful mystical experience of prayer for scripture. If it doesn't work keep trying until faith grows sufficient. Until then, there is always some excuse as to how Santa Clause as a magical being, might have again eluded detection. Indeed, religion seeks to overcome doubt embraced by science. To reiterate, you are still jumping the gun, because it is the very value of faith, particularly Epistemologically, Methodologically, that is in dispute.
Therefore the entire question of how you came to believe in God, only begs that question: Is faith actually evidence of anything? -Likewise whatever the results of prayer, one way or another. As it stands, your proposal simply is not serious, because it simply ignores all such begged question in the seeming embrace of wishful thinking. But Ontology is not just a matter of personal taste. Therefore, neither is Epistemology.
| 2011/4/13 3:03||Profile|