Is Atheism a Religion?

Atheists will usually argue that atheism is not a religion, but rather is the lack of a religion. The American Atheists website states:

“Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a no-godlack of belief in gods… Atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion. While there are some religions that are atheistic (certain sects of Buddhism, for example), that does not mean that atheism is a religion. Two commonly used retorts to the nonsense that atheism is a religion are: 1) If atheism is a religion then bald is a hair color, and 2) If atheism is a religion then health is a disease.“

Is Atheism a religion? It depends entirely on how one defines the terms “religion” and “Atheism.”

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, religion is:

1             a :  the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>

b (1) :  the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) :  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

2 :  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

3 archaic :  scrupulous conformity :  conscientiousness

4 :  a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Similarly, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Atheism as:

1 archaic :  ungodliness, wickedness

2             a :  a disbelief in the existence of deity

b :  the doctrine that there is no deity

According to the dictionary definitions, Atheism is not a religion. Atheism, strictly speaking, is simply not believing any deity exists. This does not qualify as a religion or a belief system. However, by this sort of strict definition, theism also is not a religion – it is simply the “belief in the existence of a god or gods” (Merriam-Webster). Neither are pantheism or polytheism. No isolated belief is a religion. They are simply isolated beliefs.

Beliefs – or lack thereof – do not exist in isolation

The problem with this reasoning is that, in actual practice, beliefs do not exist in isolation. All of a person’s beliefs, attitudes, values, and practices are interrelated. The human mind hates contradiction. If a person does not believe in any deity, then other views held by that person must be consistent with this view. For example, Atheists almost universally hold to naturalism – the philosophical viewpoint in which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and all supernatural explanations are excluded or discounted. Almost all Atheists hold to the Big Bang and naturalistic evolution, because virtually any other belief regarding origins requires some sort of deity. Another almost unanimously held belief among Atheists is that science is the basis for correct attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Most hold to some sort of secular humanism – which is defined by the Council for Secular Humanism as a comprehensive, nonreligious lifestance incorporating a naturalistic philosophy, a cosmic outlook rooted in science, and a consequentialist ethical system.

Why are these beliefs nearly universally held by Atheists? Because almost any other combination of beliefs would contradict the notion that gods do not exist, and the human mind is wired to reject contradiction. In order to maintain a lack of belief in gods, any other philosophical or religious idea that requires or implies the existence of any deity must be rejected. This severely limits the Atheist’s philosophical options.

I find it ironic that Atheists frequently refer to themselves as “freethinkers.” According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a freethinker is:

“A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”

Why is this ironic? Because in the process of trying to free themselves of gods and faith, they severely limit their options. They are not free to even think God might exist. Rather than being free to think, Atheists become slaves to their limited thinking. Conformity to non-belief is demanded.

Atheistic worldviews are religious

I would agree with Atheists in their insistence that Atheism per se is not a religion. However, Atheism is always part of a larger worldview that is ultimately religious – despite emphatic protests and arguments to the contrary.

Religious worldviews have a number of common characteristics. Although the following is not a definitive list of these characteristics, it serves to show how most Atheism-based worldviews are also religious.

  1. Religions have narratives. Christians have the Bible, Muslims have the Quran, and Mormons have the Book of Mormon. DarwinFishSimilarly, Atheists have a number of narratives, including the evolution and Big Bang stories. As Atheist Richard Dawkins once said, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” The story of everything coming into existence from a singularity, life mysteriously appearing from non-living matter, and evolving into present day forms, is the Atheist’s narrative. Many Atheists hold to the Humanist Manifesto as a sort of sacred text, along with Origin of Species and other writings.
  2. Religions have doctrine. Christians have many doctrines, including the Trinity, the virgin birth, the dual nature of Christ, and so forth. Other religions have their doctrine as well. The central doctrine of Atheism is that no deities exist. Atheists derive other doctrine from this central tenet, including:
  • Faith must be rejected
  • Science is the only way of knowing
  • Science is the opposite of religion
  • Life evolved
  • Mankind is part of nature
  • Matter and energy are all that exist
  • The universe has no ultimate purpose
  • Ethical values are derived from human need

Although not all atheists hold to all of these doctrines, any more than all Christians hold to all Christian doctrine, they serve to show that atheists are religious in that they have doctrine.

  1. Religions have faith. Despite vehement protests to the contrary, atheists have faith. The central doctrine of the non-existence of deity cannot be proved, any more than the non-existence of anything else – the view that gods do not exist must be held by faith. Atheists typically define faith as “blindly believing the impossible,” which is exactly what they must do if they believe that that the laws of chemistry, physics and biology were once violated and life arose from non-life via chemical evolution. Nearly all Atheist doctrines are a matter of belief and faith, rather than anything that can be taken into a lab and proved experimentally.
  2. Religion is a source of purpose and meaning. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and people of all other religions get their meaning and purpose for life primarily from their religious beliefs. Atheists are much the same. From the Humanist Manifesto III:

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

  1. Religions have rituals. From communion and baptism in Christianity, to circumcision and Passover in Judaism, to meditation in eastern religions, all religions have rituals. On the surface, atheism would seem to lack rituals, but a few exist. Because modern Atheism is a relatively recent movement, it does not have much of a history to commemorate. However, many atheists celebrate Darwin Day or the winter solstice. An increasing number of Atheist “churches” have been formed in recent years, complete with music and preaching. Although rituals are largely absent from Atheist practices, they are not completely absent.
  2. Religions use symbols. Christians have the cross; Jews have the Menorah; MuFSMslims have the Star and Crescent. Atheists have the “Darwin fish,” the “Flying Spaghetti Monster,” the unicorn, and several logos incorporating the letter A.
  3. Religion provides social construct. Christians have congregations and churches. Hindus have a caste system. Atheism also provides social construct. Communist countries have frequently made Atheism the state religion, often to the point of persecuting other religions. From the Humanist Manifesto III:

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

  1. Religions proselytize. Christians send out evangelists and missionaries. Muslims convert people under threat of violence. American AtheistsAtheists also proselytize. Modern Atheism has been driven predominantly by Atheist authors promoting their beliefs. In the preface to The God Delusion, Atheist Richard Dawkins writes, “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” The American Humanist Association spent thousands of dollars to place ads on buses in Washington, D.C., asking, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.” The Freedom from Religion Foundation has had billboards across the country promoting Atheism. A simple good search shows thousands of websites, blogs, and social media pages – all proselytizing for Atheism.


Atheism is not a religion, per se, but almost all Atheists practice a non-theistic kind of religion. Atheist religion is generally not an institutionalized system or organization, but usually more of a personal set of non-theistic religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. In the discussions I have personally had with Atheists, many defend their system of beliefs with as much ardor and faith as any Christian evangelist.

The statement, “Atheism is a religion,” is technically incorrect. A better way of stating this would be to say, “Atheists are almost always religious,” or “Atheism is the core doctrine of the religion of Secular Humanism.”

Why Use Reason When You Can Just Mock People?

no reason neededI didn’t bother blogging about the recent Ken Ham / Bill Nye debate, because I figured enough other people were already blogging about it. However, I ran across a blog by Ronald Bailey on entitled How Really to Debate Creationists: Bill Nye versus Ken Ham that I thought deserved comment.

Bailey begins with the typical argument that Nye shouldn’t have debated Ham, because creationists shouldn’t have a platform to promote their views. Basically, if you can’t beat ’em, shut ’em up. Not exactly a reasoned response.

Bailey continues by stating – or, more accurately, misstating – several creationist concepts, ranging from man and dinosaurs coexisting to fossil formation during Noah’s flood to why the Big Bang doesn’t make sense. Rather than actually giving rational arguments for why he thinks these concepts are wrong, he simply labels them “nonsense.” Ad hominem attacks are not a reasoned argument.

How should an evolutionist deal with creationists? According to Bailey, “there is a way to beat Creationists at their own game – mockery.” He continues:

So don’t try to knock down each individual assertion of mountebanks like Ham during such a “debate,” but instead concentrate on the goal of explaining by entertaining with a bit of mockery thrown in. You will gratify your intellectual friends; annoy your enemies; and perhaps persuade some of the confused to take a deeper look into the scads of evidence for biological evolution.

Bailey links to a video of himself and atheist Michael Shermer debating intelligent designers Stephen Meyer and George Gilder. Bailey uses the “Intelligent Design by Purple Space Squids” argument to mock his opponents’ arguments.

So, according to the website, one should not use reason to argue against creation. Bailey then justifies his argument:

My talk clearly did not persaude Meyer and Gilder, but by show of hands Shermer and I did win the debate at Freedomfest.

Since evolutionists cannot win the debate with reason, they should resort to mockery and entertainment. Mockery and entertainment win debates. And apparently, mockery also determines the truth.

As the Apostle Paul wrote, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. They think their beliefs are based on “reason,” when in fact they are based on logical fallacy and foolishness.

Logical, reasoned arguments will not sway a fool who has set himself in opposition to Jesus Christ. Such people have already made up their minds to reject reason and the truth. However, for those who are truly seeking the truth, logical, reasoned arguments can draw people to the truth of the Gospel.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15

Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

ThinkerA recent article by David Denison looked at the question of why few intellectuals are Christians. He noted that, according to a survey of the National Academy of Scientists, only 7 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God. Denson argues for two primary reasons for this tendency. First, there is a tremendous bias against theism within higher education; and second, the American church culture is unfriendly to intellectual scrutiny.

I would agree with Denson’s assessment on both points, but I would take his conclusions a bit further.

While I would agree that there is strong anti-theist bias in higher education, I believe this merely reinforces the tendencies already present in highly intelligent people. When I talk to intellectuals about Jesus Christ, the common answer I get goes something like this: “I’m too intelligent to believe in God. I used to believe in God, but now I’m much too sophisticated in my thinking for that.” What I hear is pride and arrogance. Almost all of the highly scientific non-believers I talk to have a tendency to place their trust in their intelligence. They see God as a crutch for the unintelligent. Paul addresses such thinking in Romans 1:

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools…

Scientists study the physical world, which they should see as God’s handiwork. However, because many highly intelligent people trust their intelligence above all else, they choose to ignore or explain away the very obvious creative design found in the natural world. Intellectuals really aren’t any different than anyone else. Athletes rely on their athleticism; the wealthy rely on their riches; those in power rely on their position. When a person has a lot going for them, it’s difficult to realize that they need anything other than themselves, and it’s easy to reject the truth.

One of the online responses to Denson’s article demonstrates another reason why many intellectuals reject God. Tianhe Yang commented:

I think the reason why people who seek higher ed, especially in scientific and theoretical fields, tend to be non-religious is simply because logic and the scientific method play such a vital part in how we think. Faith, in almost complete contrast, is, by definition, believing in something without all of the necessary evidence.

First of all, let’s get a common misconception of science out of the way. Science is not about “knowing stuff” – it’s a process of 1. constructing a hypothesis to explore, based on current knowledge, 2. testing that hypothesis and broadcasting the results to the greater community, so that other scientists can 3. try to disprove your results from as many angles as we can think of, until we aren’t able to disprove it, at which point it becomes added to the list of theories that form what we know about the world (which is constantly changing).

An important thing to note is that nothing can be absolutely known, because we don’t know the methods, nor do we have the resources, to test everything completely.

Every atheist I talk to about the Christian faith gives me the same reason for not believing: There is no evidence for the existence of God. The flaw in their thinking is that they believe the only way one can absolutely know anything is through the scientific method. They reject any other kind of evidence. Since God is not observable and testable, they argue, there is no evidence for God’s existence. However, there are many things that people know – or claim to know – that are not subject to the scientific method. For example, scientists know their senses are basically reliable, but there is no way to test this, because if their senses were not reliable, they could not reliably make the observations necessary to test whether their senses are reliable. They presuppose that the universe is real, and not imagined, but this cannot be tested. The scientific process itself cannot be tested and proved by the scientific process – there is no way to test the hypothesis that observing and testing a hypothesis produces truth.

There are many kinds of evidence other than scientific evidence, including historical evidence, testimonial evidence, metaphysical arguments, anecdotal evidence, logical arguments, and others. Most scientific intellectuals that I have talked to reject all of these, except the scientific process. The problem is not that there is no evidence; the problem is that there is no evidence that they will accept. Demanding physical evidence for the existence of God is a category error fallacy. A category error is “a type of informal fallacy where things that belong to one grouping are mistakenly placed in another,” or where “a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property.” If someone says, “My gerbil is a Republican,” they are committing a category error – a gerbil cannot be a Republican. Only people can be Republicans. Gerbils do not belong to the category of things capable of being a Republican. The Biblical God is not a physical Being. He is not part of the natural universe. By definition, God is supernatural (super- “Above; over;” natural “Present in or produced by nature”). God is in a totally different category than the natural universe. When someone demands physical evidence for the existence of a non-physical Being, they are committing a category error fallacy. It would be like demanding DNA evidence for the existence of dark matter, or asking for a beaker full of intelligence.

EinsteinScientists are trained to use the scientific method to test theories. This is absolutely appropriate for gaining knowledge of the physical world. The category error fallacy is in trying to apply the scientific method to non-physical concepts. Because the scientific method plays such a crucial role in how many intellectuals think and work, it’s often difficult for them to think in any other terms.

Is the American church culture unfriendly to intellectual scrutiny? Unfortunately, for the most part, the answer is yes.

Most preachers and church teachers tell their congregations what to believe, but seldom go into any depth as to why any of it makes sense. Most Christians can tell you that Jesus was crucified and died, then rose again, and that if one asks Jesus into their heart, they will be saved; but most cannot adequately explain how they know this is true. They cannot explain fairly simple questions, such as why Jesus is the only way to salvation, or what it means to “ask Jesus into your heart,” much less more difficult questions about the supposed conflicts between science and the Bible, alleged Biblical contradictions, or why God allows pain and suffering.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” The vast majority of American Christians can’t even coherently share the Gospel, much less taking the time to prepare themselves to be able to defend the Gospel or answer the difficult questions that intellectuals ask. Far too many Christians are intellectually lazy. As Denison puts it, “Christ’s call to have a childlike faith has been bastardized to a point that encourages blind acceptance of whatever we happen to have been told.” For intellectuals, blind acceptance is unacceptable. Scientists are rightly taught to think critically. If logical, valid reasons aren’t given for the truth of the Christian faith, most intellectuals will dismiss Christianity as nonsense. Unfortunately, very few Christians are prepared to give a reasoned, logical defense of the Gospel.

FaithReasonEvery person is born a sinner, separated from God. Every human being needs Jesus Christ to be saved from their sin, to have relationship with God restored, and to avoid Hell. While it may be easier for less intelligent people to admit their helplessness to save themselves, God loves scientists and intellectuals just as much. It is imperative that believers prepare themselves to always be ready to give a logical, reasoned defense to everyone who asks about the truth of Jesus Christ. While it is true that the Gospel must be received by faith, faith should not be “blind” faith devoid of any evidence or reason. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This does not mean faith and reason are mutually exclusive; rather, faith is absolutely consistent with evidence and reason, but extends beyond what we can see, test, and logically comprehend based on evidence and reason alone.

Christians are not called to a “blind” faith. We are called to diligently study and allow the Holy Spirit teach us to all truth. We are called to share the truth with all people, including intellectuals and scientists, in a way they can understand and embrace, so that they may know the Truth, and so the Truth might set them free.

The Unreasonableness of Reason Alone

A friend of mine, who happens to be an atheist, posted a link to this video by atheist Steven Pinker on Facebook recently. I would encourage you to watch it to give context to my comments that follow.  It’s typical of the bankrupt arguments atheists make in defense of their worldview.

FaithReasonReason is necessary in order to make sense of the universe. However, if the universe is nothing more that matter and energy, why does reason exist? Reason should not exist in a materialistic, atheistic worldview. If everything that exists is nothing more than matter and energy that exploded into existence on its own, and formed itself into the world we have today entirely by accident, then reason should not exist. Reason presupposes the existence something more than just matter and energy – it actually presupposes God.

Pinker states, “At heart, morality is treating other people the way one would want to be treated oneself.” Sounds a whole lot like something Jesus once said. If there is no God, then why should we treat others as we would want to be treated? What is the basis for such a belief? Isn’t evolution all about the survival of the fittest? The strongest survive, the weak die. If God does not exist, and evolution is true, then is would be immoral to help the weak, because this stunts the natural course of evolution by allowing the genes of the weak to continue in the gene pool. Yet, even the atheist knows that the Golden Rule is the basis for morality. Atheists must steal morality from the Christian worldview in order to make their own worldview work.

He also states, “Faith means believing something with no good reason to do it.” This is a classic strawman argument. Faith is not believing for no good reason, but rather, a reasonable step beyond what we can easily observe. Faith does not ignore reason, but extends it. Anyone who actually believes that faith means belief without reason clearly does not understand faith.

Pinker states, “I think that using the word ‘god,’ or the attitude of faith toward that you don’t know is a cop-out, it’s a way of slapping a label onto something rather than trying to understand it.” Pinker presupposes that God cannot be known. He presupposes that one cannot know through faith. Again, this simply shows his bias. God can be known, and faith can lead to real knowledge and truth. Just because he does not understand God does not mean there are no gods. But, because his atheistic worldview denies the existence of God, Pinker uses the cop-out of calling faith in God a cop-out, rather than trying to seek out and understand God and faith.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

Pinker states, “There are some questions that may not have answers because they are bad questions, a question such as, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ It may just be a stupid question.” A question is not a “stupid question” simply because one’s worldview cannot answer it. Perhaps it’s a bad worldview, not a bad question. The fact that a naturalistic, atheistic worldview cannot answer these sorts of “big questions” of existence is precisely why such a worldview is inadequate and flawed. Pinker states that asking why we are here or what is our greater purpose is an example of a stupid question. Ironically, he then attempts to answer the question he just called stupid. He says he has an ethical imperative to be good to other people, to put his life to some purpose. Yet, he cannot answer the question of why this is true. A naturalistic, atheistic worldview cannot explain why we should be good to others, or why we should have any purpose in life. Again, atheists must steal the concepts of goodness and purpose from the Bible in order for their worldview to have any meaning. It is precisely because God is good and purposeful that goodness and purpose exist. Yet, an atheist cannot understand this and remain an atheist. It’s actually rather funny that Pinker refers to “taking advantage of the gifts that I find myself with.” Gifts imply a Giver.

Pinker’s personal philosophy of reason depends on arbitrary beliefs in morality and ethics, which is irrational, cannot be explained through reason. He has to resort to calling things he cannot explain “stupid questions,” because his deficient worldview of reason alone cannot logically or rationally explain them. A materialistic, atheistic worldview is self-refuting. It’s a shame he and others like him cannot understand the unreasonableness of relying solely on reason.

What then is the rational, reasonable alternative to materialistic atheism?

An atheistic worldview is complex, convoluted, and irrational, and cannot even answer the basic questions of existence. The Biblical worldview is so simple and reasonable that most children can understand.

bibleGod exists; He created the universe. The nature of the universe reflects the nature of its creator. The universe is logical, rational, and reasonable because God Who created it is logical, rational, and reasonable. The world was originally created perfect, reflecting the perfect nature of God. God created mankind in His image, with the capacity to make moral choices. Mankind chose to rebel against God, and this rebellion is the cause of all the imperfections and evil in the world today. God could have simply snuffed everything out, but because He loves us, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our rebellion against Him. Anyone who chooses to turn from their sin, and who places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, will be reconciled with God. The Biblical worldview logically and rationally explains everything that the materialistic, atheistic worldview seeks weakly tries to explain, as well as those “big questions” that materialism and atheism cannot even begin to explain.

As for myself, I choose the straight-forward, rational worldview that explains everything, rather than the self-refuting, irrational worldview that explains almost nothing. I choose Jesus.

Atheist Day – April 1 – Psalm 14:1

I had the following exchange (paraphrased) on Facebook the other day:

Me: Atheist Day is April 1. Psalm 14:1 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Atheist: Atheists aren’t fools. You’re a moron.

Me: Can there be anything more foolish that telling God that He doesn’t exist?

Atheist: I don’t tell gods they don’t exist. I don’t talk to fictional characters.

foolI had to paraphrase the atheist’s remarks, because she blocked me from seeing her comments a few minutes after she posted them.

I was both amused and saddened by this person’s answer. She apparently had no idea that by stating, “I don’t talk to fictional characters,” she was doing precisely what she argued she doesn’t do – she was telling God He doesn’t exist.

According to urban legend, a judge in Florida once declared that April 1 is “Atheist Day,” citing Psalm 14:1. This legend has been debunked; it apparently originated as a joke on a humor mailing list in 2002.

Is Atheism Foolish?

The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.

~ Psalm 14:1

Atheism is a very foolish worldview to hold. For one thing, atheism is completely illogical. An atheist contends that he or she knows there is no God. Logically, one cannot know that something does not exist.

sasquatchLet’s use Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, as an example. In order to know Bigfoot does not exist, one would have to look in every place Bigfoot could possibly exist. They would have to look in all of these places at the same time, to ensure Bigfoot wasn’t moving from place to place. They would also have to know what Bigfoot is. Otherwise, they might actually see Bigfoot, but not recognize it. Logically, no one can know Bigfoot does not exist. The best one can logically know is that they have never seen Bigfoot, or any evidence for the existence of Bigfoot. One can conclude that Bigfoot probably does not exist, but one cannot logically conclude absolutely that Bigfoot does not exist.  Personally, I don’t believe in Bigfoot.  However, it would be illogical to say I know Bigfoot does not exist.  I would be a sasquatch agnostic rather than an a-sasquatch-ist.

The same logic applies to God. In order to know God does not exist, one would need to be looking everywhere in the universe simultaneously, and would need to know what God looks like in order to recognize whether He was present, or not. Such a person would need to be omnipresent to look everywhere at once, and omniscient to know what God looks like. Unless a person is indeed omnipresent and omniscient, it is illogical to claim one knows God does not exist.

The most a person can logically claim is that they don’t know if God exists. This would be agnosticism, not atheism. At least with agnosticism, there is enough intellectual integrity to acknowledge not knowing for certain.

Blaise PascalAnother reason atheism is foolish is what is known as Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal (1633 – 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. He argued that if a Christian is wrong about Christianity, they basically live a happy life, and when they die – they’re gone. They really haven’t lost anything by being wrong in their beliefs. However, if a non-Christian is wrong, although they may live a happy life here on earth, when they die, they end up in Hell. In other words, if one “wagers” on Christianity and loses, they lose nothing; if one “wagers” against Christianity and loses, they lose everything.

Although many atheists have devised convoluted scenarios they believe work around Pascal’s Wager, the same basic question remains: What if one is wrong about Christianity? If I, as a Christian, am wrong about Christianity, I’ll never know. When I die, I’ll just rot in the grave, and cease to exist. But, if an atheist is wrong about Christianity, they end up in Hell for eternity. That’s one bet I would not want to lose!

The most foolish thing about being an atheist is that atheist actually do know God exists. However, they intentionally suppress that knowledge.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

~ Romans 1:18-23

God’s existence is obvious to anyone who is willing to see it. Everything in the universe points to His existence. The problem is that all people are born in rebellion against God.

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.

~ Psalm 14:2-3

Every person is born separated from God. Yet God, in His grace, reveals Himself to each of us, and gives us the opportunity to turn to Him.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

~ John 3:16

Those who choose to respond to the Gospel and receive Christ as Lord and Savior gain an eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Those who foolishly suppress the truth of the Gospel remain eternally separated from God, and spend eternity in Hell. This is why atheism is foolish. For God to offer forgiveness, reconciliation with Himself, and eternal life, yet to choose to tell Him, “No thank you. You do not exist,” is the most foolish thing a person could ever do.

The Logical Fallacy of Requiring Material Evidence to Prove God’s Existence

The following graphic, which I saw on Facebook, sums up the argument I consistently hear from materialistic atheists in their arguments against God.

For many, this seems like a rational requirement. If something is true, there should be scientific evidence to prove it.

However, such a “rule” is actually nonsense. There are logical fallacies involved in requiring the use of the scientific method to prove the existence of God.

Fallacy #1 – It’s totally arbitrary

The first fallacy of requiring empirical scientific evidence to prove God’s existence is that such a requirement is total arbitrary.

When an atheist demands physical evidence for the existence of God, my first response is, “Why? Why is scientific evidence the only acceptable evidence?”

The usual response is, “Because the only way we can know anything is through physical evidence.”

And again, my response is, “Why?” And I usually get a confused stare, like I’m crazy for even asking such a question.

The point is, there is absolutely no logical reason why such a rule should exist – except for the worldview of the materialistic atheist. The materialistic atheist believes that the material world of matter and energy is all that exists. The thought that anything else could exist is absurd to them. However, material atheism is itself completely arbitrary.

Fallacy #2 – Category Error

A category error is “a type of informal fallacy where things that belong to one grouping are mistakenly placed in another,” or where “a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property.” If someone says, “My coffee is a Republican,” they are committing a category error – coffee cannot be a Republican. Only people can be Republicans. Coffee does not belong to the category of things capable of being a Republican.

The Biblical God is not a material Being. He is not part of the natural universe. By definition, God is supernatural (super- “Above; over;” natural “Present in or produced by nature”). God is in an entirely different category than the natural universe. When one demands physical evidence for the existence of a non-physical Being, they are committing a category error fallacy. It would be like demanding DNA evidence for the existence of black holes, or asking for a test tube full of consciousness, or trying to put time in a bottle.

Fallacy #3 – It’s self-refuting

What do I mean by saying this rule is self-refuting? Basically, this rule, when applied to itself, contradicts itself.

First, the rule requires “empirical results of repeatable experimentation.” There is no way to conduct a repeatable experiment to empirically test whether “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” are required to argue for the supernatural. One cannot use the rule to test the validity of the rule.

Second, the rule requires “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation.” Yet, as I’ve already demonstrated, the rule itself is fallacious.

Fallacy #4 – Even when the rule is met, material atheists ignore the evidence

This fallacy isn’t with the rule itself, per se, but with the way atheists handle the scientific evidence that does support God’s existence.

There is a tremendous amount of “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” and much “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation” that supports the existence of God. The sheer volume of such evidence makes it impossible to present these evidences in this brief blog. A simple Google search will bring up tens of thousands of articles, peer-reviewed papers, and Websites that present the scientific arguments for God. My point is, when confronted with these evidences, the materialistic atheist will reject it anyway. Why? Because to acknowledge the validity of scientific evidence for the existence of God would completely shatter the material atheist’s entire worldview. They would be forced to face the fact that they are wrong. In other words, the material atheist cannot objectively examine scientific evidence that is presented; they must deny it, not because it isn’t scientific, but because it leads to conclusions they don’t want to acknowledge. Romans 1:18 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Those that reject God must suppress, or hide, the truth. Romans 1 continues:

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Those who reject God ultimately do so, not because of a lack of evidence, but because they foolishly refuse to submit to His authority over their lives. The issue is not evidence; the issue is rebellion.

Christians need to continue to present the Gospel to non-Christians, including materialistic atheists. We must continually pray for the lost, be prepared to present cogent arguments when needed, and rely on the Holy Spirit to us to reach the lost. We must not be swayed by the fallacious arguments used to deny God, but must stand on the truth of God’s Word as the foundation of our beliefs.

Grabbed this off Facebook a couple of minutes after I posted this blog. It seemed to fit.

Pushing People Out of the Church – Part 6

Valerie Tarico

A while back, I read an article on the left-wing, anti-religion, news-and-commentary website entitled, “8 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Make People Convert — to Agnosticism or Atheism,” by skeptic Valerie Tarico.

While I personally find most of the articles on this site either tasteless or just plain nonsense, this article caught my interest, because it contains some truths that Christians need to understand.

It’s important to recognize that people who reject Jesus Christ ultimately do so because they choose to suppress the truth (Romans 1:18-19). Unfortunately, there are also many things that those in the church do to push people away. As Tarico states, “if you read ExChristian testimonials you will notice that quite often church leaders or members do things that either trigger the deconversion process or help it along.”

I’ve found that I can learn a lot by listening to what skeptics say about their perceptions of Christianity. This series looks at the eight reasons Tarico highlights.

Reason #6: Science Denial

One of my former youth group friends had his faith done in by a conversation with a Bible study leader who explained that dinosaur skeletons actually are the bones of the giants described in early books of the Bible. Uh huh. Christians have come up with dozens of squishier, less falsifiable ways to explain the geological record: The “days” in Genesis 1 were really “ages.” Or God created the world with the fossils already in place to test our faith. Or the biblical creation story is really sacred metaphor. But young-earth creationists who believe the world appeared in its present form 6,000-10,000 years ago are stuck. And since almost half of the American public believes some version of this young-earth story, there are ample opportunities for inquiring minds to trip across proto-scientific nonsense.

Like other factors I’ve mentioned, science denial doesn’t just move believers to nonbelief; it also rallies opposition ranging from cantankerous bloggers to legal advocates. It provides fodder for comedians and critics: “If the world was created 6,000 years ago, what’s fueling your car?” It may produce some of the most far-reaching opposition to religious belief, because science advocates argue that faith, even socially benign faith, is a fundamentally flawed way of knowing. The Catholic church, perhaps still licking wounds about Galileo (it apologized finally in the 20th century), has managed to avoid embarrassing and easily disproven positions on evolutionary biology. But one could argue that its atheism-fostering positions on conception and contraception similarly rely on ignorance about or denial of biological science — in this case embryology and the basic fact that most embryos never become persons.

From my experience, the creation vs. evolution debate is the topic that is most likely to get a skeptic’s dander up. This is because atheism is utterly impossible unless evolution is true. If God or gods don’t exist, there must be a non-supernatural mechanism to explain how life came to be. The only remotely plausible explanation is evolution.

I’ve always found it ironic that when most creationists discuss evolution and creation, they tend to focus on the observable scientific inconsistencies of evolutionary theory and the observable science supporting the Biblical creation model, while most evolutionists simply state evolution as dogma and ridicule the Biblical model – without bringing up actual scientific evidence. Tarico is no different. Granted, two paragraphs isn’t enough space to lay out any real scientific evidence one way or the other. Yet, she does manage to state her dogmatic faith in evolution, and throw out a few question-begging epithets against Biblical creation (“proto-scientific nonsense,” “science denial,” “denial of biological science”). She also throws out a huge straw-man argument: “… young-earth creationists … believe the world appeared in its present form 6,000-10,000 years ago.” Wrong. The 6,000-10,000 years ago part is correct. The “appeared in its present form” is absolutely wrong. Biblical creationists generally believe the earth was created “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but that it was radically changed because of sin (Genesis 3). It was tremendously altered by the global flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6-8). Furthermore, natural processes such as erosion, weathering, natural selection, and mutations have continued to change the earth and the organisms live here. But, then again, it’s easier to argue against a straw-man with dogma and name-calling than it is to argue logically against actual Biblical creation.

The fact that some naïve Bible study leader ignorantly thought that “dinosaur skeletons actually are the bones of the giants described in early books of the Bible” isn’t an argument against Biblical creationism. It does, however, point out the fact that too many Christians are ignorant of both science and the Bible. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Unfortunately, most Christians are not ready, and cannot give a defense of the Biblical account of Creation. The un-Biblical compromise positions Tarico mentions, such as the day-age theory, Genesis as a metaphor, or any number of other theories, cause as much confusion about the Bible as atheistic evolution. All origins theories other than the straight-forward Biblical account of six literal days a few thousand years ago take mankind’s fallible ideas and hold them in higher authority than God’s Word. All of these other theories question the authority of the straight-forward teaching of the Bible.

Christians, especially Christian leaders and teachers, need to educate themselves. We need to understand science and evolutionary theory. In fact, Christians need to understand evolution better than most evolutionists do. We need to understand what evolution teaches, as well as the scientific, logical, and theological problems with evolution. We need to understand how various dating methods arrive at ancient ages for the earth, and the arbitrary assumptions behind these methods. We also need to understand what the Bible actually says – and doesn’t say – about origins and the age of the earth. What we actually observe in the universe solidly confirms the Biblical account of creation, and show the millions-of-years-of-evolution dogma to be utterly impossible.

I would argue that it’s not the young-earth position that drives people away, as Tarico believes; rather, it’s ignorant Christians that are unprepared to explain how science confirms the Bible that cause confusion and doubt. Too many Christians appear ignorant of science, not because they embrace the Biblical creation, but because they actually are ignorant of both science and the Bible. Incidentally, most skeptics are just as ignorant – but that’s no excuse. If we want people to realize the absolute truth of the Bible, and embrace faith in Jesus Christ as the only rational reality, then we need to take 1 Peter 3:15 to heart, and stop being so ignorant and unprepared to defend the authority of Scripture.

Numerous resources are available to help the Christian understand Biblical creation. I recommend starting with the Answers Book 1, 2, and 3 available from Answers in Genesis. Ministries such as Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, Creation Ministries International, and many others have thousands of articles, books, DVDs, and other resources available – many for FREE.