On The Unreasonableness & Inconsistency of Atheism

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Image credit: Jeff Schechtman, 2015, Podcast: WhoWhatWhy

This is an article penned by the author of the blog site Thomistic Bent that is well worth the read. The author tackles an important epistemological question concerning the nature of evidence, what constitutes evidence, and how atheists fail to apply evidence consistently when they critique the beliefs and views held by non-atheists and those who believe in God. According to Thomistic Bent,

There is great post over at the Shadow To Light blog. You can find it here.  That post reminds me of a statement made by Richard Howe, where he said this:

“When I was debating this atheist, I asked him, ‘what would convince you there is a god?’ He said “If all the chairs in this room rose up, flew against the back wall, and spelled ‘I am here — God’ then I would believe there is a god.” I am not convinced he would believe if this happened. If he was consistent philosophically, his atheism would have some way of trying to account for it, that there is some type of natural law that we have not yet discovered. Why do I think this? Because they already do this in things they observe, like the DNA molecule.

Suppose that all the chairs did rise up and float against the back wall and spell out “I do exist — God” and this atheist does believe there is a god. Suppose then that he goes out and tells others that he believes there is a god. They ask him why, and he tells them about the chairs. Then the same thing happens to them….the chairs rise up and float against the back wall, and they believe there is a god. And so he goes out into the world and everywhere that he confronts an atheist, chairs rise up and float against the wall. Until finally, he tells a person that he believes in god, and the person asks why. He tells the person he believes because chairs rise up and spell things against the wall, saying that there is a god. The person then responds, ‘Oh, that happens all the time. That’s no evidence for god; that’s always happening.’

So the atheist complains that God is not giving enough miraculous evidence for His existence, but if you give enough evidence for His existence, they just take the abundance of that evidence and call it a natural event. Ask the atheist, ‘DNA has information. Do you think that at least shows there is an intelligence?’ They say, ‘No, DNA is a natural thing. It’s in everything.’ Thus if there is not enough evidence, the atheist complains, but if there is an abundance of evidence, they redefine the evidence and call it natural.”

Both the post on Shadow To Light and Howe’s comment support the same idea. The modern atheist speaks a lot about reason and logic and the demand for evidence. But when they are forced to state what would be enough reasonable evidence to convince them of the existence of God, they either hide behind the false idea that atheists do not have to prove anything, or they demand a god-of-the-gaps type of evidence. In reality, no evidence would satisfy the modern atheist, for they have already approached every problem from a viewpoint that only allows non-god answers. The atheist assumes a metaphysical naturalism, saying that all events are caused by physical or chemical forces, only allows physics and chemistry in the discussion, then ridicules the theist for not having a physical explanation for a non-physical cause, God.

The questions in the Shadow To Light blog are insightful and point out the weaknesses of the typical atheist position:

1. What would you count as actual, credible, real-world evidence for God?
2. Why would that dramatic, miraculous, sensational event count as evidence for God?
3. Is the God-of-the-gaps reasoning a valid way of determining the existence of God?

The atheists’ only possible answers to 1. and 2. are a type of miracle that cannot be explained by natural causes, but 3. forces us to realize they only allow natural causes. In Howe’s story, he is correct that in the atheist world, no matter how fantastic or inexplicable the event, a miracle is not the cause. Skeptic David Hume told us that uniform experience is against miraculous events caused by God. C. S. Lewis responded with his typical wit:

Now of course we must agree with Hume that, if there is absolutely “uniform experience” against miracles, if, in other words, they have never happened, why then they never have. Unfortunately, we know the experience against them to be uniform only if we know that all the reports of them are false. And we can know all the reports of them to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred. In fact, we are arguing in a circle.

The modern atheist puts up a front of demanding logic and reason, then rigs the rules like a carnival game, going around looking for easy marks.

Our response is to show that the atheist, holding to a worldview that only allows natural causes, must admit that he is not approaching the questions from an intellectually honest, neutral position. They do not allow evidence for God because they do not want there to be a God, especially one that demands answers for how we live.

If we shine the clear light of logic upon the naturalists’ positions, we find they are mostly sweet-tasting rhetoric devoid of proofs. In but one example, Sam Harris’ book The Moral Landscape spends a great deal of ink telling us that morals come from natural causes, but fails to give us a single one or speculate as to how this could happen. Yet Harris worships at the altar of reason as much as the other leading atheists.

5 responses to “On The Unreasonableness & Inconsistency of Atheism

  1. The two things that drove me away from religion are: 1. The behavior of Christians, both moral (they elected Trump, but that is 25 years too late to affect me), and the anti-reality attitude. 2. The problem of evil. God makes the sun dance in the sky for a few people while millions of children die horrible deaths?

  2. Asserting that atheists are motivated “because they do not want there to be a God” shows disappointing closed-mindedness. Evidence-based reasoning requires discipline without which the whole enterprise fails. If God claims are not supported by evidence they rightly fail. The view that an atheist is duty bound to accept whatever the theist asserts to be evidence is nonsensical – following that would lead to belief in Goblins, Harry Potter and the Spaghetti Monster. If you like theological games, replace “God” with “Goblin” in your 3 questions and answer them yourself.

    Although the nature of the God claim rules out the possibility of evidence, you could aim lower and look for some underlying intelligence. Evidence for this would be quite conceivable, but claims (including for DNA) always fail to stand up to scrutiny. The issue is not so much whether atheists would accept evidence, but more whether theists would ever accept that there is none.

  3. James, you don’t understand evidence, this is clear from your post. Lucky for you I wrote on this topic, https://thespartanatheist.wordpress.com/2018/05/04/a-word-on-evidence/.
    I’ll sum up for you. Evidence is information that points to a specific conclusion. If that information is tainted, if that information does not point to a particular conclusion, or if the information is unreliable in it’s nature, then it is not good evidence.
    In your example with the chairs flying against the wall, it’s not the number of times something happens, it’s if it points to a particular conclusion. DNA doesn’t point toward a god any more than it points to natural causes, or alien construction for that matter. God is only one of the many possible conclusions, so it is not evidence for god. We have to dig deeper.
    The sun rises in the east, moves across the sky, and sets in the west every single day. This could be a god carrying the sun on a chariot. Or it could be aliens. Or it could be that we are on a very large spinning ball. The mere fact that the earth reliably moves across the sky every day is not, in itself, any evidence for god. It is an observation. And as it turns out, every single person that thought it was a god carrying the sun across the sky in a chariot was wrong, which we discovered after we investigated further, and actually got real evidence.
    I appreciate your attempt, but as it stands there is no evidence for god.

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