articles and opinions on the absurdity and danger of religious beliefs
Response to a Christian's view of atheism
Written by Tim Sellers
Below is the text from a page about atheism from the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website. My comments are in red.
I chose this particular text for two reasons - partly because it gives permission to copy and paste sections of it, but mostly because it comes from a site that is better written than most apologetic sites.
The original article is here.
Dealing with atheism is actually easy to do. They don't have any
evidence for their atheism and they can't logically prove there is no God. There is no need to disprove something for which no evidence exists in the first place!
They can only attack the Bible and attack Christians' ideas of God.
But, if you listen to them, you can soon find that their logic has many
holes in it. It takes practice, but you can do it.
The following statements are for copying and pasting into chat rooms. Isn't that encouraging intellectual laziness?
Use them to see how atheists react. Use them to learn how to respond
better to atheists. Please understand that these are not "stoppers."
But, they can be challenging to atheists. Also, see how long it takes
before they become condescending. Pot . . . kettle . . .
Do not return their condescension.
Instead, ask them to give rational reasons for their positions. In
the process of interacting with them, learn how to argue with them better.
- Ways to Attack Atheism
- By asking questions
- Atheism is an intellectual position. What reasons
do you have for holding that position? Your reasons are based upon logic, and/or evidence or lack of it. So, is there any reason/evidence for you holding your position that you defend? Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, generally because 1) there is no proof that any particular deities exist and 2) the reasons given by believers for their belief are seen as flawed.
- If you say that atheism needs no evidence or reason, then you are holding a position that has no evidence or rational basis? If so, then isn't that simply faith? You are twisting language here. Lack of faith in something is not "having faith that it doesn't exist". Exchange "God" for something else (Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, the Flying Spaghetti Monster etc.) and hopefully you should see the ridiculousness of this argument (do you "have faith" that Santa doesn't exist?)
- If you say that atheism is supported by the lack of evidence for God, then it is only your opinion that there is no evidence. You cannot know all evidence for or against God, therefore you cannot say there is no evidence for God. This could be applied to any argument. We can only go on evidence we are aware of, not possible future evidence!
- If you say that atheism needs no evidence to support it
because it is a position about the lack of something, then do you have other positions you hold based upon lack of evidence...like say, screaming blue ants? Do you hold the position that they do not exist or that you lack belief in them, too? I do not have a "position" on screaming blue ants as no one is making any serious claims that such creatures exist. What is your position on the existence of screaming blue ants? Is it the same as your position on Santa, as mentioned above?
- By using logic.
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- How do you account for the laws of logic in a universe without God? The Laws of logic are conceptual by nature and absolute. Being absolute they transcend space and time. They are not the properties of the physical universe (since they are conceptual) or of people (since people contradict each other, which would mean they weren't absolute). So, how do you account for them?
To be very simplistic I would say that the laws of logic are a by-product of the natural laws of physics and therefore did not need to have been "created". I cannot give a better answer than that; I don't believe that you can either, which is why you simply state that "they originate from God". It seems that everything that cannot yet be fully explained you automatically attribute to God. You also seem to believe that this to somehow proves his existence: "I can't explain [whatever] therefore it must be down to God so that proves that God exists" - I would therefore like to point you in the direction of your own page on logical fallacies (see number six).
- This approach is a bit more complicated. If you
use this one, first be familiar with The Christian Worldview, the Atheist Worldview, and Logic.
- First of all, when using logic, you should be familiar with basic laws of logic and logical fallacies. It is very useful to point out the various logical fallacies to atheists as they commit them. Therefore, please be familiar with Logical Fallacies or Fallacies in Argumentation)
- The laws of logic are conceptual by nature and are always true all the time everywhere. They are not physical properties. How do atheists account for them from an atheist perspective?
- Everything that was brought into existence was caused to
exist. That is a meaningless sentence. You have just pointed out that "a = a". I guess that you are trying to stress that the universe was "brought into existence" - i.e. "created", although that is by no means certain (note that being brought into existence is not the same as just having a beginning) Can you have an infinite regression of causes? No, since to get to "now" you'd have to traverse an infinite past. It seems that there must be a single uncaused cause. The "uncaused-cause" argument is self contradicting and therefore a logical fallacy. You cannot state that everything that exists was brought into existence on the one hand, then state that something can exist without being brought into existence on the other. If the "uncaused-cause" can have brought itself into existence (or have existed forever) that you have to at least accept the possibility that anything else can have done the same and your argument collapses. If you can continue asking questions, you haven't arrived at the solution. Why can't that be God? Even if the universe was brought into existence, there is no reason to suppose that this was by God. You are not making much of a point by merely asking why it can't be God - particularly as you have yet to prove that he even exists (you're getting dangerously close to the ultimate circular reasoning of "God must exist - how else would he have been able to create the universe?" . . .)
- Examples of logical absolutes:
- Examples of logical absolutes are: something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time (Law of non contradiction). A thing is what it is (Law of identity). A statement is either true or false (Law of excluded middle). These are simple, absolute logical absolutes.
- If atheism is true: The universe has laws. These laws cannot be violated. Life is a product of these laws and can only exists in harmony with those laws and is governed by them. Therefore, human thought, feelings, etc., are programmed responses to stimuli and the atheist cannot legitimately claim to have meaning in life. To be "programmed" would require a programmer (i.e. creator). Learned response to stimuli would perhaps be a starting point, and from there I would say that we have evolved into such complex beings that free will and self-awareness naturally follow. Again, I can't give a better answer than that, but again "God did it" isn't any sort of answer at all. And anyway, the fact that a human emotion (for example) is basically just a series of chemical reactions doesn't make it less "meaningful". What would the existence of God have to do with this anyway?
- Human constructs?
- If the laws of logic are human constructs then how can they be absolute since humans think differently and often contradictorily. If they are produced from human minds, and human minds are mutually contradictory, then how can the constructs be absolute? Therefore, the laws of logic are not human constructs.
- The Universe exists
- The universe exists. Is it eternal or did it have
a beginning? It could not be eternal since that would
mean that an infinite amount of time had to be crossed to get to the present. But, you cannot cross an infinite amount of time (otherwise it wouldn't be infinite). Therefore, the universe had a beginning. Something cannot bring itself into existence. Therefore, something brought it into existence. And this something that brought the universe into existence ... brought itself into existence? But didn't you state in the previous sentence that something cannot bring itself into existence? (I can see that I'm going to have to continue to point out the problem with the "uncaused cause" argument again and again ...)
- What brought the universe into existence? It would
have to be greater than the universe and be a sufficient cause to it. My personal opinion is that the opposite is true. A tiny seed can grow into a huge tree. The meeting of two cells will in a short space of time become an entirely new human being. The big bang theory, with the universe starting small and growing - seems far more logical than the idea that an all powerful being was already around to start everything off. Is it not more likely that a "singularity" popped into existence and "grew" into the universe that we know than an already complex being just appeared (or always existed - whatever that means) and then decided to create the universe? The Bible promotes this sufficient cause as God. What does atheism offer instead of God? If nothing, then atheism is not able to account for our own existence. Atheism doesn't "offer" anything, it is nothing more than the lack of belief in a deity,
- The universe cannot be infinitely old or all useable energy would have been lost already (entropy). This has not occurred. Therefore, the universe is not infinitely old.
- Uncaused Cause
- Objection: If something cannot bring itself into existence, then God cannot exist since something had to bring God into existence. Answer: Not so. You cannot have an infinite regression of causes lest an infinity be crossed (which cannot happen). Therefore, there must be a single uncaused, cause. This is getting tedious now ...
- All things that came into existence were caused to exist. You cannot have an infinite regression of causes (otherwise an infinity of time has been crossed which is impossible because an infinity cannot be crossed). Therefore, logically, there must be a single uncaused cause that did not come into existence. *bangs head against wall*
- Responding to Atheist Statements about God
- "I Lack of belief in a God"
- If you say that atheism is simply lack of belief in a god,
then my cat is an atheist the same as the tree outside and the
sidewalk out front, since they also lack faith. Therefore,
your definition is insufficient. It is more than a little pedantic to say that your cat is an atheist. Is your front door blind? I mean, it can't see, right? How about your car - is it deaf? More importantly, do you have children? Did you label them as atheists when they were babies? After all, they had no belief in God then.
- Lacking belief is a non-statement because you have been
exposed to the concept of God and have made a decision to accept
or reject. Therefore, you either believe there is a God
or you do not...or you are agnostic. You cannot remain
in a state of "lack of belief." There are problems with the definitions here. I consider myself to be a "strong atheist" and that "weak atheism" is the same as being agnostic. I've tried to cover this in my definition of atheism (the second part).
- If you lack belief in God, then why do you go around attacking
the idea of God? If you also lack belief in invisible
pink unicorns, why don't you go around attacking that idea? People don't knock at my door and try to convert me to a belief in invisible pink unicorns. I don't have to worry about my freedom being restricted to "protect" believers of invisible pink unicorns. I don't have to worry about what political leaders might do in the name of invisible pink unicorns. I don't have to worry about people flying airplanes into packed buildings because an invisible pink unicorn told them to. I really hope you see what I'm getting at here as it is the most important point I am making on this site.
- "I believe there is no God."
- On what basis do you believe there is no God? The definitions of the word "God" I have been given are usually self contradictory, logically impossible of just plain absurd.
- "I don't believe there is a God."
- Why don't you believe there is a God? I have no reason to believe there is a God.
- "There is no God"
- You cannot logically state that there is no God because
you cannot know all things so as to determine that there is
no God. This depends on the definition of God (see above) - although as I already pointed out, such arguments can be applied to anything. By the same reasoning I cannot logically state that there is no Tooth Fairy.
- "There is no proof that God exists"
- To say "there is no proof for God's existence," is illogical
because an atheist cannot know all things by which he could
state that there is no proof. He can only say he has not yet
seen a convincing proof; after all, there may be one he hasn't
yet seen. But, as I stated previously, I can only go on evidence I am currently aware of. If some new "convincing proof" is shown to me, I will then be able to consider it.
- "All of Science has never found any evidence for God"
- That is a subjective statement. There are many scientists
who affirm evidence for God's existence through science. But most do not.
- Your presupposition is that science has no evidence for
God, but that is only an opinion.
- Science looks at natural phenomena through measuring, weighing,
seeing, etc. God, by definition, is not limited to the
universe. Therefore, it would not be expected that physical
detection of God would be found. So . . . there is no way to prove God's existence anyway - it is simply a matter of faith. So what do you base your faith on?
- What is God? or Define God.
- God is the only Supreme Being who is unchanging, eternal,
holy, and Trinitarian in nature. He alone possesses the
attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
He alone brought the universe into existence by the exertion
of His will. That is not an argument of any kind, just a statement of your personal beliefs!
- Prove your God is real.
- I can no more prove to you that God is real than I can prove
to you that I love my family. If you are convinced I don't
love my family, no matter what I say or do will be dismissed
by you as invalid. It is your presuppositions that are
the problem, not whether or not God exists. But I could make a reasonable judgement on whether you love your family or not by watching you interact with them.
- I can no more prove to you that God is real than you can
prove that the universe is all that exists. Your demand
of proof precludes acknowledgement of many types of evidence...because
your presuppositions don't allow it. I demand strong evidence rather than believing in ancient myths and legends.
- The universe exists. It is not infinitely old. If
it were it would have run out of energy long ago. Therefore,
it had a beginning. The universe did not bring itself
into existence. Since it was brought into existence by
something else, I assert that God is the one who created the
universe. I have answered this already several times . . .
- When the atheist complains, ask him to logically explain
the existence of the universe. Point out that opinions
and guesses don't count. I can't explain the existence of the universe. Perhaps the answer will be discovered some day - until then, opinions and guesses (or hopefully intelligent theories) are all we have. As I pointed out earlier, you attribute anything that cannot yet be explained to God and then seem to think that this automatically proves his existence!
- Responding to Atheist Statements about the Bible
- "The Bible is full of contradictions"
- Saying the Bible is full of contradictions does not mean
it is so. Can you provide a contradiction that we can examine
in context? There are many websites that address alleged contradictions.
Here is one: www.carm.org. There is a list of contradictions here (not written by myself). Perhaps a few of them could be open to misinterpretation, but most are very clear cut.
- Responding to Atheist Statements about Evolution and Naturalism
- "Evolution is a fact"
- That depends on if it is micro or macro. Micro variations
occur, but macro variations (speciation) have not been observed.
The best we have are fossils and they have to be interpreted.
Besides, there are plenty of gaps in the fossil record. I'm no expert, but to be rather simplistic the theory (macro) part is based on the fact (micro) part. Obviously macro evolution cannot be observed due to the timescale. As for fossils, there are good geological reasons for gaps in the fossil record (we should probably be grateful that we have any fossils at all).
- Have you read any books that discuss the contrary evidence
to evolution? If not, then how can you say you are educated
enough to say it is a fact?
- Naturalism is true; therefore, there is no need for God.
- Naturalism is the belief that all phenomena can be explained
in terms of natural causes and laws. If all things were
explainable through natural laws, it does not mean God does
not exist since God is, by definition, outside of natural laws
since He is the creator of them.
- Responding to Atheist Statements about Truth
- There are no absolute truths
- To say there are no absolute truths is an attempt to state
an absolute truth. If your statement is true, then it
is self contradictory, and not true and you are wrong. You're twisting language rather childishly here. When someone says that there are no absolute truths they mean that "there are no absolute truths - apart from the fact that there are no absolute truths". Being a bit of a mouthful, the last bit is left out as it is assumed to be obvious.
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