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Does It Matter Whether God Exists?

By Eric Chabot

After talking to hundreds of college students for several years about spiritual beliefs, one thing that comes up from time to time is whether the existence of God is even relevant. In other words, the discussion kind of goes like this: “I don’t see what difference God would make in my life!” As a matter of fact, at this moment, we are in the midst of promoting an event at a large college campus called Stealing From God: What Makes Sense of Reality: Theism or Atheism? You can see our clip here:

Anyway, the comment “I don’t see what difference God would make in my life!” displays a very pragmatic view of truth. I have discussed the problem with this elsewhere. But when a student says God’s existence isn’t really relevant, my first response is to try to get them back to the issue of truth. After all, if there is a God and He does exist and it turns out Jesus is His Son, that is an objective reality. It has zero to do with how I feel about it. And the truthfulness of it isn’t determined whether the person stays busy and says “I don’t care if God exists.” Another issue that comes up is the following worldview questions:

• Origins: How did it all begin? Where did we come from?
• The Human Condition: What went wrong? What is the source of evil and suffering?
• Redemption: What can we do about it? How can the world be set right again?
• Morality/Human Rights, Human Dignity: What is the basis for morality? In other words, how do we know what is right and wrong? What is the basis for human rights, moral values, moral duties, human dignity, and equality?
• History: What is the meaning of history? Where is history going?
• Death: What happens to a person at death?
• Epistemology: Why is it possible to know anything at all?
• Ontology: What is reality? What is the nature of the external reality around us?
• Purpose: What is man’s purpose in the world

God Exists

Now after looking at these worldview issues, I think the one that is the question that is the most pressing one is the morality, human rights, and human dignity issue. This issue is directly related  to the origins question. They can’t be separated. Just recently in the recent presidential debate, the abortion topic came up. That is directly related to one’s view of humans and what makes them valuable. Of course, on a theistic worldview, human aren’t valuable based on their function. They are valuable based on their nature or essence. It is quite obvious we live at a time where people are obsessed with human rights, justice, and equality. I discuss why theism lays the foundation for these features of reality here. 

So in the end, when I run into college students that are apathetic about the existence of God, I now ask them if they think humans are valuable and whether they believe in justice, equality, and human rights. Every single time, the student says “Yes!” So now the door is open to discuss the origins question and how that relates to the human dignity and equality issue. Robert Spizter helps us understand the importance of this topic. He says:

“The best opinion or theory is the one that explains the most data. The general principle is this: opinions that explain the most data and are verified by the most evidence are better than those that do not. The vast majority of people consider this principle to be self-evident because if greater explanatory power and more evidence is not better, then additional evidence and explanatory power add nothing, which means that all evidence and explanatory power are essentially worthless. This leaves us with only our subjective assertions, which most people do not consider to be good enough. For example, as suggested previously, Einstein’s theory about the universe is better than Newton’s theory because it explains more data. (Newton was unaware of most of the data that the special and general theories of relativity account for.) Again, calculus has more explanatory power than algebra and trigonometry because it can account for curves through derivative and integral functions, which algebra and trigonometry cannot do on their own. This applies to virtually every science and social science. The more data a theory or hypothesis explains, the better it is. With respect to life issues, this principle is important because a theory of human personhood that treats a person as a mere individual physical thing (materialism) does not explain the data of persons being self-conscious or having transcendental desires (such as the desire for complete and unconditional Truth, Love, Goodness, Beauty, and Being). Therefore, materialism’s explanation of many acknowledged human powers and activities, such as empathy, agape (self-sacrificial love), self-consciousness, the desire for integrity and virtue, the sense of the spiritual, and the drive for self-transcendence, is, at best, weak. Theories that attempt to account for and explain these data, such as hylomorphism or transmaterialism, should be preferred to ones that do not, such as biological reductionism, materialism, and behaviorism. There is another more serious consequence of the underestimation of human personhood, namely, the undervaluation of real people. If we consider human beings to be mere matter without the self-possession necessary for freedom and love, without unique lovability, or without spiritual or transcendent significance, we might view human beings as mere “things”.
If humans are viewed as mere things, then they can be treated as mere things, and this assumption has led historically to every form of human tragedy. Human beings might be thought of as slaves, cannon fodder, tools for someone else’s well-being, subjects for experimentation, or any number of other indignities and cruelties that have resulted from human “thingification”. The principle of most complete explanation has a well-known corollary, namely, “There are far more errors of omission than commission”, which means that leaving out data is just as harmful to the pursuit of truth as getting the wrong data or making logical errors. This adage is related to the moral saying that “there are far more sins of omission than commission.” In the case of the underestimation of human personhood, history has revealed how close the relationship between errors and sins truly is.”- Ten Universal Principals 

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Atheism and the burden of proof.

By Richard Playford

When someone makes a claim about the world, if they want to convince others, they are required to provide justification for that claim. This is not a contentious or strange idea, but what does this mean for atheism? Is atheism a belief and does it require justification? In this article I will show that atheism is a belief about the world and that it does require a justification in the same way that theism does.

Atheism Burden Proof

When exploring this topic the most important thing to do is to define our terms clearly. Traditionally theism, agnosticism and atheism were seen as the three positions that one could hold towards the existence of God. Consider the claim “God exists.” We have three options that we could take toward this claim. We can endorse it and agree that God exists. We can deny it and say that God does not exist. Or we can neither endorse it nor deny it and claim not to know (or care). These, in theory, are the only three options (although I will come back to this later). The affirmation that God exists is called theism. The denial of God’s existence (the claim that he does not exist) is what is traditionally called atheism. We find this definition confirmed in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.”[1] Not knowing whether God exists is traditionally called agnosticism; again, we find this definition confirmed in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “‘Agnostic’ is more contextual than is ‘atheist’, as it can be used in a non-theological way, as when a cosmologist might say that she is agnostic about string theory, neither believing nor disbelieving it”[2]. Not caring whether God exists is traditionally called apatheism.

If we accept these definitions, then it seems clear that both the theist and the atheist have a burden of proof. Someone cannot simply assert that because there is no evidence for something it must therefore not exist. This does not follow because it suggests that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This is not true. Pluto was discovered in 1930.[3] Prior to then, there was no hard evidence that it existed. Did this mean that it did not exist? No! If somebody wants to say that something does not exist then they must provide a justification for that. They cannot conclude that simply because none of the arguments or evidences for a proposition fail, that the proposition is therefore false. The atheist philosopher Kai Nielson agrees and says, “[t]o show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false”.[4] This means that, in philosophy, even if all the arguments for a proposition fail, it does not follow that the proposition is false.

One criticism that is often voiced is that proving a negative is impossible; this is not true. I can prove that Santa does not live at the North Pole by going and looking, I can prove that a 30 cm piece of string is not 40 cm by measuring it, and I can show that there are no married bachelors by showing that it is a logically incoherent concept. The same applies for God. If somebody can show that God is an internally inconsistent concept or that it is incompatible with an aspect of the physical world, then this would prove that God does not exist.

Another criticism that is often voiced is that in the case of God an absence of evidence does entail evidence of absence. This criticism is similar to the argument from hiddenness (which is a formal argument against the existence of God to which there are various responses). As such, because this is an actual argument against the existence of God, this criticism does not detract from my argument.

It should be noted that people rarely fit neatly into the categories that I outlined above. Very few atheists claim to know for certain that God does not exist (many theists also would not claim to know for certain that he does). I suspect that it is views like this which lead people to adopt the title “agnostic atheist.” This has been defined in a number of different ways but one definition is “one who does not know for sure if any gods exist or not but who also does not believe in any gods.”[5]The problem with this definition is that it does not give us a complete account of what the person believes. This fails to tell us whether they believe in God’s non-existence (the belief that he does not exist). This is because lacking belief in God is not the same as believing that God does not exist. In general, people who label themselves like this tend to believe that, although we do not know for certain whether God exists, his existence is unlikely. As a result, they must justify the claim that God probably does not exist with a reasonable inductive argument. The lesson, however, is that people must be clear about what they believe and define their terms carefully before entering a conversation, and if they are making a claim about the world, they must justify that claim. We can see that atheism does require justification in the same way that theism does.

 

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[1] Smart, J. J. C., “Atheism and Agnosticism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Available athttp://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2013/entries/atheism-agnosticism/. [Accessed on 21/05/2013].

[2] IBID.

[3] NASA, “Pluto: Overview”. Available at:http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Pluto. [Accessed on 21/05/2013].

[4] Nielsen Kai (1971) Reason and Practice. New York: Harper & Row.

Why I Love Atheists

Last week I wrote a post Three Reasons I am Not an Atheist. For this post I am going to take a different route: rather than critique atheism as a worldview, I am going to discuss why I love atheists as people. So, I am shifting from talking about the idea of atheism to the people who embrace it.

Why I Love Atheists

I certainly don’t claim to represent all atheists in this post. There are a huge variety of people who consider themselves atheists (in terms of belief systems and demeanor), just as there is in Christianity, Islam, and many other religions. And there are even debates about what constitutes atheism—is it belief that God does not exist, or simply the lack of belief in God? My goal is not to enter into these kinds of debates, but simply to reflect on many atheists I have encountered personally, or through their writings, and what I love about them.

As apologists, we are often quick to criticize atheism as a worldview. But as I point out in A New Kind of Apologist, if we want people to hear our case for Christianity, we need to find common ground with others and also be charitable towards them as people. With that backdrop, here are three reasons why I love atheists:

1. Many atheists care about (what they believe is) truth

There are far more Christians in America than atheists. As a result, it is easy for people who grow up with Christian parents to simply embrace their family beliefs without genuinely considering any alternatives. There is little or no cost (at least in this country) to embracing the beliefs of your parents.

As a college student, I went through a period of significant doubt. In fact, I told my father, without knowing how he would respond, that I wasn’t even sure if I believed Christianity was true. While my father did respond graciously, and I ended up finding good answers to my questions, I remember counting the cost of what it would mean to reject my Christian roots. While thankfully I ended up keeping my faith, I still respect my atheist friends who choose a different path. Many count the cost and choose (what they believe is) truth over comfort. Even though I think atheism is wrong, I still can respect a person who makes a sincere decision based on what they believe to be true and tries to live accordingly.

Sure, I know some atheists who have rejected their Christian roots out of spite or rebellion. But that’s certainly not always the case. My atheist friends who have walked away from their faith remind me how important it is that we follow truth, regardless of the cost. Beliefs matter. And they do have consequences.

2. Atheists have made me think deeply about my own worldview

My worldview has undoubtedly been deeply shaped and influenced by great Christian writers such Aquinas, Augustine, Jonathan Edwards and even modern thinkers such as Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and N.T. Wright.

But just as formative for me are atheist writers such as Nietzsche, Russell, and Camus. They have forced me to think deeply about my worldview and to consider why I believe as I do. In fact, some of my motivation to study and learn has come from the challenges they have raised to my faith: Why does God allow evil? Is there life after death? Is my faith a crutch? The more I have studied to find answers to these kinds of questions, the more my faith has grown.

Similarly, I love having conversations with my atheist friends. They tend to see weaknesses and vulnerabilities in my arguments, and force me to clarify and justify what I believe. Sometimes I have a good response, but many times I have to go back and study further to find an answer. But regardless, these kinds of conversations are always beneficial and enjoyable.

3. Atheists are made in the image of God.

As a Christian, I believe every human being—regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, intelligence, athletic prowess, and sexual orientation—bears the imago dei. In other words, human beings have infinite dignity, value, and worth as members of the human race.

Even though atheists don’t believe in God, as a Christian, I still believe they reflect the image of their creator (Gen 1:17). As a result, like all people, they are unbelievably value human beings whom God loves. And so do I.

I am grateful for my atheist friends. Do I disagree with them? Yes. Do I pray for them at times? Certainly. Do I want them to become Christians? Absolutely! But my relationship with them does not depend upon their beliefs. My love for them does not depend on their conversion. Even if they never embrace Christ, I am thankful for their friendship. I love atheists, and if you are reading this as a Christian, I hope you do too.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Stuff Atheists Say: Believing in God Is Like Believing in Santa

By Timothy Fox

Welcome to the second installment in my series, Stuff Atheists Say! (Read part 1 here.) This series is dedicated to bad arguments and statements that some atheists (the internet troll type) make to derail a conversation and avoid having to put forth any arguments or evidence of their own. My intention is not to smear every nonbeliever as there are many thoughtful and honest questions that skeptics ask which need to be answered. In fact, there are many atheists who are just as tired as these nonsensical statements as I am! That’s why I want to clear up some of these pointless slogans once and for all. So on to the second one:

Stuff Atheists Say: Believing in God Is Like Believing in Santa

Bad “argument” #2: Believing in God is no different than believing in Santa Claus.
Or maybe you’ve heard it stated: “I don’t need to disprove God any more than I need to disprove the existence of leprechauns.” Or fairies. Or any other type of mythical creature. The point of this statement is to equate God with any other imaginary being that is ridiculous to seriously believe in.

The Santa Delusion

So is believing in God really the same as having an imaginary friend? An invisible sky daddy? Maybe, if believing in a fat man in a red suit who delivers presents in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer to every child in the world is the same thing as believing in a God who created the universe from nothing, brought life from non-life, and grounds objective moral values and duties. If so, then yes, they’re exactly the same.

But if believing in God is so ridiculous, you know what’s even more ridiculous? Giving lectures against his existence. Having debates about it. Trolling blogs and internet chatrooms. Writing popular-level books promoting unbelief. Meanwhile, I don’t see anyone penning The Santa Delusion or The Tooth Fairy Is Not Great.

And I guess that the overwhelming majority of humans throughout all of time are as deluded as little children. Because every culture across history has had some kind of religion or believed in a deity of a sort.  We discuss God’s existence in the classroom, at the dinner table, and over a coffee (or beer). From philosophers to scientists, with believers, skeptics, and everyone in-between. Silly humans.

No, Seriously

But let’s take this argument seriously. Is belief in God really no different than belief in Santa? First, how justified are we in believing in Santa Claus? What would it take for someone to actually think that he exists? Evidence. And here the atheist says “Correct! There’s no evidence for either of them! That’s why it’s ridiculous to believe in God or Santa!” But is the evidence for Santa Claus and God really the same? Well, if Santa does exist, we would know what to look for: a fat man in a red suit delivering presents Christmas Eve. But what about God? If God exists, do you know what you would look for? Before stating that there is no evidence for something, make sure you know what kind of evidence there should be if that thing does exist!

For it to be reasonable to believe that Santa Claus exists, he would have to be the best explanation for the existence of Christmas presents. But is there another, better explanation? Perhaps someone else put the presents under the tree, like parents. Maybe the gifts just popped into existence from nothing. Or maybe they’ve been there for all eternity! You can probably see where this is going. How did the universe get here? Did it just pop into existence uncaused, has it always been here, or is it reasonable to believe that something, or someone, caused it to begin to exist? God is the best explanation for all of reality. And even if you disagree, it’s still a legitimate option, is it not?

But maybe Santa exists and he’s just hiding. That’s why he has never been observed, just like God! Again, what are the reasons to believe that Santa exists? Are there any? Because there are very good reasons to believe that God exists, such as the cosmological argument, moral argument, fine-tuning argument, etc. Can you honestly say the same about Santa? Of course not.

Furthermore, what are the consequences if Santa doesn’t exist? Then kids must get their Christmas presents another way, because we know from experience that presents exist (unless you were on the naughty list, I guess). But if there’s no God? Then the universe came into existence uncaused from nothing for no reason. Life came from non-life and consciousness from non-consciousness. There are no objective morals and values. Exactly the same? No. Not a chance.

Conclusion

I hope we can all see how ridiculous it is to equate God with some imaginary or mythical being. It’s not as trivial as who delivers Christmas presents or trades cash for teeth; we’re talking about the First Cause who created and upholds the entire universe. There are good reasons and arguments for God’s existence. So to those who say that belief in God is no different than belief in Santa Claus, please stop. You’re the ones making ridiculous claims, not us.

For another good and thorough treatment of this issue, check out the Reasonable Faith article Is God Imaginary?

 

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What Christian Parents Can Learn from Atheist Churches

By Natasha Crain

There’s a new church movement you may not have heard about, but it’s growing by leaps and bounds. It’s called the Sunday Assembly. It started less than two years ago in England and now has more than 60 congregations around the world. Twenty-five more congregations are expected to launch by early 2015. The Sunday Assembly is growing especially quickly in the United States, where congregations have formed in 17 cities.

At a Sunday Assembly, church members come together to sing songs, hear a speaker and reflect on their lives. Outside of church, they have small groups, book clubs, a choir, peer-to-peer support and a variety of opportunities to volunteer. Their motto is “Live better, help often and wonder more.”

So what’s unique about this rapidly growing church?

Most of the congregants don’t believe in God. It’s a church for atheists.

 

What is an Atheist Church?

The Sunday Assembly was started by two comedians named Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones who liked the idea of a church without God. Pippa is an ex-Christian who found she missed church elements like “community, volunteering, and music,” but didn’t miss God. Sanderson had noticed the joy at Christmas created by caroling and wondered if it was possible to harness those warm feelings and just celebrate the fact we’re alive.

When Evans and Jones launched the Sunday Assembly, they promoted it using the (appropriate) phrase “atheist church.” However, they now avoid the atheist description and promote the Sunday Assembly as a group “celebrating life.” A New York congregation actually broke off from the group earlier this year because they wanted to focus more on celebrating godlessness than celebrating life.

True to this rebranding effort, the “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the Sunday Assembly’s website attempts to distance the organization from a strict atheist association. In response to the question, “Is Sunday Assembly exclusively for atheists?” they say, “Absolutely not. We say in the Charter that we don’t do supernatural but we won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do. One of the unique things about Sunday Assembly is that it is radically inclusive–allowing us to celebrate life together, regardless of what we believe in.” They go on in other answers to discourage using their group as a vehicle for presenting atheist philosophy or for telling others that they’re wrong for what they believe.

Irony lurks below the surface of this shallow inclusiveness. The first item on their public charter says, “We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together.” Make no mistake: this isn’t just a secular gathering where no claims are being made about God one way or another. The Sunday Assembly is built on explicitly atheist assertions. And people are loving it.

 

A Very Important Lesson for Christian Parents

I’m fascinated by this rise of atheist churches, and I think there is a very important lesson Christian parents can take from it:

We have to make sure our kids are attracted to Jesus and not just the church.

Humans are built for relationships. We desire community; we desire to help others; we desire to live a “good” life and find meaning in what we do–all things that can be found in church. Christians believe that these desires are given to every person by God. That means church is a place that can fill a God-given need for our kids whether they believe in Him or not.

The risk is that they’ll mistake that partial fulfillment for the sum of everything they spiritually need.

Bart Campolo, son of well-known Christian pastor and speaker Tony Campolo, made the news last month because of his deconversion from Christianity. In an interview, he described how as a teenager he was drawn by the sense of community and “the common commitment to love people, promote justice, and transform the world.” He commented, “All the dogma and the death and resurrection of Jesus stuff was not the attraction.”

Church – not Jesus – was the attraction.

How can you know if your kids are attracted to Jesus or just the church? Look at their spiritual development outside of church:

  • Do they show an interest in reading and understanding the Bible, or just an interest in good values and community service?
  • Do they initiate conversations about faith and ask thoughtful questions?
  • Do they demonstrate a desire to discern what God wants for their life?
  • Do they pray? (If you don’t know, ask!)

There are certainly a lot of kids kicking and screaming all the way to church each week. That’s a whole other problem. But let’s be sure to not assume a happy church-goer is also a Jesus-lover. As the Sunday Assembly has shown us, a lot of people are happy to do church without God.

What kind of “relationship” do your kids have with your church? Have you ever considered if it’s a Jesus-centered relationship? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

For more articles like What Christian Parents Can Learn from Atheist Churches visit Natasha’s website: ChristianMomThoughts.com

The Forbidden Fruit of Atheism; What question they cannot ask?

By Billy Dyer

When God created man he gave us free-will. He did this so that He could have genuine children who loved Him. For love by its very nature has to be freely given and freely received. Therefore, He had to give mankind some kind of law so that they could choose to love Him or disobey Him. The Devil tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. He attacked on three levels:

  1. God’s Word–“Indeed, has God said”
  2. God’s Character–The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”
  3. God’s Goodness–“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We all know the story. Eve ate and gave some to her husband and he ate of it. That was the only thing God forbade them to do. So the moral of the story is to eat more bacon because fruit can ruin the world…..ok just kidding!

Today we use the phrase “forbidden fruit” as a metaphor for an object of desire whose appeal results from knowledge that it should not be obtained. Admittedly, the common human experience is that we all are tempted with our own forbidden fruit. But I’d like to suggest that Atheism, as a worldview, has a common forbidden fruit and that is asking the question, “Why?”.

Atheist don’t like to ask that question for two reasons.

  1. They’d rather state their view then have to defend it
  2. There is no why

As to the first reason I understand it is a general statement and not all atheists are like this. But when you do not have evidence to support your worldview it is a lot more comfortable to simply assert your belief than defend it. As to the second view I believe the atheists can speak for themselves.

Richard Dawkins said, “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (River Out of Eden) We see here that there is no rhyme or reason to atheism. We just are in this sort of universe. If we ask “why” the answer is “just because” or “there isn’t a why”. When we begin to examine this thought it is very disturbing. It is like there is something inside of us screaming that this is wrong but we don’t necessarily know why. The Bible on the other hand says that God has set eternity on our hearts (Ecc 3:11). There is something hard-wired within us, by God, that longs for something more than this world. We intuitively know we are different. That is why all humans across the board, regardless of the answers they decide on, struggle with the questions, “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?”.

Dawkins goes on to say, “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” (River Out of Eden). I always laugh at statements like this because they are so self-refuting and the authors who say them don’t even live by them. Let us think about this for a second. If we are really just dancing to the music of DNA then that means we are like a soda can that is simply fizzing because we were opened. We didn’t decide to fiz and we don’t even know that we are fizzing. We simply fiz as a chemical reaction. If this is the case then why try to convince me of it since I don’t even have the ability to change my mind? In fact, according to Dawkins’ view, I believe what I do about God as a chemical reaction. These atheists can’t even live by their worldview. If we are all simply reacting to chemicals in our brains without abilities to make conscious decisions then why ask me to make a conscious decision to change my worldview and accept yours?

Christians are commanded to ask questions and seek (Lk 11:9; Prov 1:2, 4:7, 23:23, et al.) for answers. There is no fear with the truth. We have the truth on our side. Our interpretations may change but the Word of God is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, I have no problem asking the question “why” or any other question about Christianity. Every time I’ve questioned my faith it has led me to a deeper understanding of God and a stronger faith. There are good answers out there it is just a matter of whether you want to do your homework to find them. What questions do you have about Christianity or your faith right now?

Visit Billy’s website: Dyerthoughts.com 

Billy Dyer is a CrossExamined Instructor Academy Graduate.


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Stuff Atheists Say: You’re Almost an Atheist

By Timothy Fox

We at FreeThinking Ministries are dedicated to answering the biggest objections to Christianity. We respect sincere skeptics and seekers and understand that everyone has doubts. We do too at times. If there’s a certain obstacle that is keeping you from faith, we want to help remove it. Responding to objections is mandatory to the Christ-follower: “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Many times, it’s that last part that makes all the difference: “do it with gentleness and respect.” We don’t ever want to come across as arrogant or disrespectful but we do what we do because we think that Christianity is true and we want you to think so also.

But this series, Stuff Atheists Say, isn’t about the good objections; it’s about the bad ones. Things that need to go away for good. Many things skeptics and atheists say aren’t really arguments; they’re meant to mock and ridicule, to smugly derail a conversation and make you feel stupid in the process. You know, the kind of thing you find on social media or hear from a certain famous British comedian.

So we’re going through the worst of the worst and ending them once and for all. But enough talk. Let’s get started:

Bad “argument” #1: You’re almost an atheist

This “argument” goes like this: “You believe in one god and deny thousands of other gods. I just go one god further and deny the existence of all of them. So you’re almost an atheist.”

Or you may hear it worded like this: “You’re an atheist towards thousands of other gods; I’m an atheist towards all of them.”

The first thing you need to notice is that this is not an argument against the existence of God. It offers no evidence and puts forth no objection. This statement is about you. What you think and believe, how you label yourself. But it is not about God and whether or not He actually exists.

Second, theist and atheist are specific terms. Regarding the second phrasing of the slogan, you can’t be theist towards some gods and atheist towards others. That’s not how the words work. It’s like saying someone who doesn’t eat chicken is a vegetarian towards chicken. Ever heard anyone say that? Me neither.

To believe in at least one god makes you some form of a theist; to believe in no gods at all makes you an atheist. By definition. There are no degrees orpercentages of theism, that if I believe in one god I’m less theist than someone who believes in two. The difference isn’t between one or many; it’s between zero and one. Let’s look at an analogy that will further show how ridiculous this statement is:

How many women do you think there are in the world? Let’s just say one billion. Out of those one billion women, I’m only married to one of them. So does that mean I’m almost single? No, that’s stupid. Married is married and single is single. Whether I’m married to one or twenty women, it doesn’t matter. I’m married. It’s binary: 1 or 0. Sure, if it’s the night before my wedding, you could say I’m almost married, if you mean that I will be married soon. But that’s in regard to time, not degrees of married-ness. And that’s not what the argument is trying to do. It’s making a fraction or a percentage of theism as if that’s meaningful in the discussion, which it isn’t. It’s ridiculous. So don’t fall for it.

Conclusion

Yes, I only believe in one God, but that’s because I think the God of the Bible is the one true God who exists. I’m not picking gods randomly from a hat, as if one is just as reasonable as another. I believe in a creator God, a personal First Cause who designed life, the universe and everything and is the standard of objective morals and values. I believe Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, vindicating His claims to be God and placing his seal of approval on the Old Testament as well as the men who would go on and write the New.

In case you haven’t gotten it yet, let me make it perfectly clear: I am not almost an atheist. I am a Christian theist.

Please understand that I’m not calling atheists stupid. I’m saying some things atheists say are stupid, such as the “almost an atheist” slogan. It needs to die. Now, if you have an honest objection to theism, feel free to raise it in the comments and we would love the opportunity to discuss it for you. But if it isn’t, I’ll add it to my list of Stuff Atheists Say.

Visit Timothy Fox’s website: Free Thinking Ministries