Posted tagged ‘Christianty’

Atheism Stands Alone? Don’t Fool Yourself

December 12, 2008

One of the most basic tenets in all of atheism is that atheism is not a belief, it is only a lack of a belief.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard it  . . . I’d have at least ten dollars.  The statement that either precedes or follows this is more than likely, “Atheism doesn’t take any faith”.  I’ll be honest, it took me a few months of hearing this statement to form a coherent response to it.  Only recently have I been able to do more than shout, “No, it takes TONS of faith!  You don’t know that God DOESN’T exist!”  As you can probably see, while true, that argument didn’t get me anywhere. 

A quick thesis:  The atheist is deluding themselves into thinking that atheism, or any belief can stand independent of a system of beliefs.

I am in three current conversations at different stages of development, so some of this might be repetative to those of you who am in the middle of this with, but the redundancy is necessary for me to clearly articulate my argument. 

To make sure we’re all on the same page, the most basic question becomes . . .

How Do We Know Things?

The study of that question is called Epistemology.  Atheists and Christians have completely different methods of epistemology.  However, we can all agree that there are three basic ways to know something (I’m stealing this from Eugenie Scott because I like it so much): 

  1. Personal state or insight — a.k.a. intuition or internal knowledge;
  2. Authority or revelation — including religious/spiritual revelation 
  3. Scientific inquiry — Which can only be related to the natural world around us

What this means to us:  Every piece or statement of knowledge such as “atheism is not a belief, and therefore takes no faith” must be scrutinized under, “how do we know this?”. 

This will become important later on. 

Firstly, NO Belief Stands Alone

That is, everyone has a system of beliefs, also known as a worldview.  Truly, an individual could not survive without an entire system.  When I get up in the morning to go to work, I must first believe that I’m truly awake, that I’m not mistaken about which car is mine, and that the interactions I have at work are with real people. 

Can you see what I did there?  I asked myself the all important “how do I know _____?”  in regards to my waking state, the accuracy of my memory, and the existence of reality.  When I ask this question, I must be honest and realize that scientific inquiry can answer none of those questions for me.  The knowledge must have come from one of the other sources of knowledge, either personal insight or authority/revelation.

Can the belief that my car exists be taken separately from my belief that reality exists?  Of course not.

As you can see, in order to function in the real world, I must have a very basic set of beliefs.  However, we must have these beliefs in order to function, so we merely acknowledge them and move on. 

In The Same Way

In order to be a Christian, you must have some very basic beliefs that science can’t inform you about.  That there is existence of things outside of matter (spiritual things), that God is able to speak with humanity, and that the Bible is that communication.  Those pieces of knowledge must come from either personal insight or authoritative revelation.  Of course, Christians believe that our knowledge of God’s existence and His Word comes from the ultimate authority!

Atheism is no different.

In order to believe that God doesn’t exist, you must first or concurrently believe that the natural world is the cause of all things and that only the material exists.  These beliefs are called naturalism and materialism.  Once you believe those two, then you’re free to believe that no god exists.  The modern atheist adds the beliefs of uniformitarianism and empiricism as well. 

Note: It was pointed out to me that perhaps Buddhists would call themselves atheists but still believe in a spiritual realm.  Even if this is true, the Buddhist would then have other beliefs that are inseparable from their atheism, the Buddhist is not an exception.

The Atheistic Delusion

One of my conversations is with morsecOde.  In his most recent comment he made a very interesting and telling statement.  This statement is the crux of the issue, and is one of the main reasons I was moved to write this article.  He said:

 Evidence backs up naturalism and materialism.

When morseOde talks of “evidence” he means evidence as a result of scientific inquiry.  This is the most basic of atheistic assumptions, that all the scientific evidence we have backs up their position and that God is an added, unnecessary and illogical conclusion.  You’ll hear it all the time, “If I saw evidence to believe in a god, I would”.  If it can be shown that scientific inquiry can not back up the big four atheistic beliefs, then their atheism becomes nothing more than personal preference.  So here it goes.

Note:  If, as an atheist, you want to object to my assertion that you must believe in these things.  Then please do so by more than just claiming that you don’t have to.  Please show me.

1. Naturalism

Let’s ask the all important question, “How do we know that nature is responsible for all phenomena?”.  Can scientific inquiry answer any question in the form of an absolute positive?  Of course it can’t.  Any attempt to use science, which only deals with the natural, to prove that the natural is responsible for everything only begs the question.  Does scientific inquiry test the natural world?  Of course, but it can’t test naturalism.  That’s the difference.

The atheist will attempt to get out of this trouble by saying, “The only thing we have is natural evidence so why add the assumption of a god?”  This is a cop out and part of the delusion.  If God doesn’t exist then nature MUST account for all phenomena.  There is no middle ground. 

2.  Materialism

How do we know that only the material exists?  In the same way, using the material process of scientific inquiry to test if only the material exists is circular reasoning.  Also, just like naturalism, there is no middle ground cop out.  Either a god exists or only the material does.

3.  Empiricism

How do we know that scientific inquiry (sense experience) is the only way to true knowledge?  Using scientific inquiry to show evidence that only scientific inquiry is true knowledge is circular. 

4.  Uniformitarianism

How can we know that the present rates of growth and decay stayed exactly the same in the past?  Using present growth and decay rates, can scientific inquiry tell us of past growth and decay rates?  Of course not. 

So Then What Do We Say?

Since scientific inquiry cannot give us evidence about the atheistic beliefs of naturalism, materialism, empiricism, and uniformitarianism, those pieces of knowledge must be decided by one of the other ways of knowing, either personal insight or authority.  The question then becomes, since science didn’t tell you about it, how do you know it’s right?  How does the atheist know his big four personal beliefs are more accurate than the Christian belief of a benevolent God? 

They don’t.

They ignore the inability of science to give evidence for their big four, or ignore the big four altogether, and delude themselves into thinking their atheism can be absent of any type of “belief” or “faith”.  When put under the microscope of epistemology, the big four degrade into nothing but pure personal preference.