Why Atheism Makes Reason Impossible

How many times have you read or heard atheists claim to be champions of reason?  They even organize “reason” rallies and call themselves “free thinkers.”  There’s just one problem:  there is no “free” and there is no “thinking” going on if atheism is true.  Atheism makes free rational thought impossible.

The New Face of Atheism (And It's Not Dawkins!)

How so?

If we are just molecules in motion as atheists assert, then every thought we have is the result of the non-rational laws of physics.  We don’t have minds just brains, which means that we are nothing more than moist robots.  But, of course, robots are not “free thinkers.”  If materialistic atheism is true, then we have no grounds to believe anything the atheist thinks or says, including his thoughts about atheism!

Without an ability to think freely, science is lost too. As C. S. Lewis put it, “Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true,” which would include the science of prominent atheists, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and everyone else.  Yet logic, reason and our scientific ability to understand the orderly world are well explained by a theistic God whose very nature is rational—“in the beginning was the Word” (or rationality) as the opening line of John’s gospel declares.

The bottom line is that atheism cannot be shown to be true in principle. It has destroyed all the tools necessary to do the job. In order to construct any valid argument for atheism, the atheist has to steal tools from God’s universe because no such tools exist in the world of atheism. Atheists must steal from the very Being who makes reason and science possible in the first place.

Want the details including answers to objections?  They are in the book and the new Stealing From God online course I’m hosting that beings January 15 (you can start the self-paced version any time after that too).  The course includes ten hours of video, and several live video conferences where I’ll be answering questions.   Since we limit the size of the live classes to ensure every student has an opportunity to ask questions, you’ll want to sign up soon if you want to be a part of this.

In addition to the details on that link, I’ll be discussing some of the course content right here on this page in the few weeks leading up to the course.  So keep checking back here for more.

 


 

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97 replies
  1. jcb says:

    It doesn’t follow that if there is no all perfect god, then there is no freedom, no thinking, nor any free thinking going on.
    A lack of a perfect being does not make “free rational thought impossible”.
    Atheism is not the claim that “we are just molecules in motion”. Nor does the fact that there is no god entail that we are just molecules in motion. (Straw person fallacy). Likewise, the fact that we seem to have “thoughts” doesn’t prove that god exists. We may indeed just be moist robots. If robots aren’t free in any sense, then yes, they couldn’t be free thinkers. It doesn’t follow that if atheism/materialistic atheism (this is undefined) is true, then we have no “grounds” for believing anything one says. If there is no god (and there isn’t, as far as we know), there still would be a ground for believing in cats: our senses indicate there are.
    Quoting C.S. Lewis doesn’t prove that “without an ability to think freely, science is lost too.” Moist robots like us would still be “doing science”: gathering data that is then sometimes used to make predictions about the future, etc.
    No, logic and reason are not “well explained” by a theistic god. Apparently, the evidence given by Frank Turek for this claim is that the Bible says “in the beginning was rationality”. That is not to explain the existence of logic and reason.
    Atheism, the claim that there are no known gods, can easily be shown to be true: by examining what we know.
    The argument for atheism is the failure of theistic arguments.
    Atheists don’t steal anything from god, which doesn’t exist.
    There is no evidence that God makes reason and logic possible.
    Everything Frank Turek asserted here is false, it seems.

    Reply
    • SRS says:

      So all scientific thing yet undiscovered or unseen don’t exist until you see them? Dawkins and Krauss and others have said the universe is meaningless and laws and morals don’t exist…yet we all get up and work, read, feed our kids and pets. Seems we have meaning, morals come from somewhere, why is it bad to murder? Why don’t we just kill and eat each other? Evolution would mean use force over others to survive and carry on what we desire. But we have compassion on the sick and weak, because people have meaning and purpose.

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        We can say things exist when we have evidence for them. We don’t have evidence for a perfect god. Values exist. Dawkins would probably admit that. People have purposes and find meaning in things. What Dawkins means is that the universe is meaningless in the sense that we do not know there to be some long term plan to its existence. Values come from somewhere: usually our biology and our environment/experience. Many people are compassionate. None of that proves god.

        Reply
        • AG says:

          If atheism does not claim we are molecules in motion, then it claims nothing. Unless, I suppose, it is now dabbling in the supernatural.

          Reply
          • jcb says:

            For me, atheism is a claim: it is the claim that there is no known god/gods. Whether or not we are molecules in motion is another matter, although it does seem that we are comprised of molecules, that are in motion. It is false that “if atheism doesn’t claim we are molecules in motion, then it claims nothing”.
            The problem seems to be this: theists are “dabbling” in the supernatural: they are making claims about what exists beyond this world with virtually no evidence.

      • KR says:

        “Seems we have meaning, morals come from somewhere, why is it bad to murder? Why don’t we just kill and eat each other?”
        .
        Natural selection tends to favour traits that increase the probability of survival and procreation. Do you see any potential problem in that department with a species where individuals will indiscriminately kill each other? We don’t see any such species for an obvious reason – they would tend to go extinct.
        .
        It’s not difficult to envision the evolutionary benefits of compassionate and co-operative behaviour in a species that was never the biggest, strongest or fastest kid on the block but that was arguably the smartest. In a population of individuals that stand to gain from sticking together for protection and finding food, isn’t that exactly the kind of behaviour you would expect to evolve?
        .
        Looking at our relatives among the other primates, we see the same types of behaviour and even taking a broader perspective, we can see the general trait among all mammals to care for their young. This clearly has deep evolutionary roots and seems like a plausible starting point for our social behaviour. Realizing that we are a social species descended from other social species tends to take the mystery out of the origins of our morality. We wouldn’t be here without it.

        Reply
      • jcb says:

        Exactly! If we haven’t discovered X yet, we shouldn’t be assuming/asserting that it exists.
        Dawkins said the universe has no ultimate meaning, not that it has no meaning. You are right that we all get up and work. There is meaning, things that are meaningful to us. But this meaning doesn’t prove god.
        Why is this meaningful to us? Whatever answer you give (which may be none), it will not prove god. If you think otherwise, give you answer and your evidence, and show that it does.
        People who value kindness don’t kill others. People who don’t, sometimes do.
        Define “bad” and I can answer your question about why murder is bad.
        Murder is unkind. Murder will lose you many friends. Murder will likely land you in jail. Those are some ways in which Murder is “bad”. If you mean something else by “bad”, be clear as to what that is.
        Evolution is not prescriptive: it doesn’t tell me what I value/have to value/should do.
        Again, none of this proves god or disproves atheism.

        Reply
      • Nelson Hernandez says:

        There are a few things you misunderstand.

        Science makes predictions. Black holes were predicted almost 100 yrs ago. It was only recently that we have actually been able to detect them and run experiments. Until then, it’s not that they can’t exist or don’t. It’s simply that there isn’t proof of them, so why behave as if they do exist? Same thing with god(s).

        People did eat people at one point. Please stop viewing things from a lens of where you live.

        Survival of the Fittest is not about violence and strength. Is the deer strong than the mountain lion? Of course not. The deer is the “fittest” animal in it’s niche due to it’s speed and reflexes. You don’t understand evolution

        Reply
    • SteveB says:

      Hi.
      We’re not talking about a theistic god.
      We’re talking about the true and living God, as described in the bible. There’s a huge difference.
      The god of theism is a finite, controllable, and manipulateable deity of man’s mind.
      The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel inhabits eternity, holds the cosmos in the span of his hand, and created humans in his likeness and image.
      The idea that we, as moist robots could do science still means nothing, because without the faculty of reason, and the mind, as created by God, we could not make any sense of it, and would lack the faculty to understand what we observe.
      The very fact that atheists exist is evidence that God, the creator exists.
      Why?
      Because you can choose to believe that you know enough to claim you disbelieve that God exists.
      That you can reason, and claim that you deserve to be taken seriously based on what you consider as reasonable, rational, and logical is evidence that YHVH is real.

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        That atheists exist is not evidence of that god. Nothing shows that we need god in order to do what we do: to “reason”/process information.

        Reply
        • Dan says:

          JCB, I don’t know if you know Dr Francis Collins? The man who mapped human DNA and was also head of project gnome. I believe he is a Theistic Evolutionist, what’s Collins missing that you are not. Afterall he is the expert in the building blocks of life. I believe also he has published more scientific papers than Dawkins, Harris and krauss put together.

          Reply
      • KR says:

        “The idea that we, as moist robots could do science still means nothing, because without the faculty of reason, and the mind, as created by God, we could not make any sense of it, and would lack the faculty to understand what we observe.”
        .
        These are completely empty claims until you can explain why reasoning requires anything supernatural. As far as I can tell, reasoning is about aligning our ideas with reality, which only requires a capacity to make empirical observations and process sensory data. Why wouldn’t a “moist robot” be able to do that?
        .
        “The very fact that atheists exist is evidence that God, the creator exists.
        Why?
        Because you can choose to believe that you know enough to claim you disbelieve that God exists.”
        .
        We can’t choose what we believe, that’s the point. If we could, we would never experience doubt since we would be able to simply decide to believe. If belief was just a matter of making a decision, the very concept of belief would be completely empty. You could keep a coin on your bedside table and every morning you could flip it and – based on the outcome – you could decide whether you were going to be a believer or a non-believer for the day. If your belief is based on nothing but an arbitrary decision, it’s completely vacuous.
        .
        “That you can reason, and claim that you deserve to be taken seriously based on what you consider as reasonable, rational, and logical is evidence that YHVH is real.”
        .
        More empty claims. Please explain why reason, rationality and logic requires anything supernatural.

        Reply
  2. Andy Ryan says:

    Computers don’t have free will but that doesn’t appear to impede their ability to correctly calculate. So I don’t see why questions of free will are relevant to whether we can reason correctly.
    .
    That aside, science works. It works partially because it accepts that human reasoning IS flawed, and it minimises the interference those flaws make. And it works without assuming any supernatural intervention. Whether practiced by Hindu, Christian or agnostic, it’s a secular system.

    Reply
    • Frank Turek says:

      Andy, Computers are designed by free will, intelligent human beings. If atheistic materialism is true, then, by definition (according to atheists’ own theory) there is no free will or intelligence. Free will and intelligence are mere illusions. Moreover, there would be no way to detect “flaws” in human reasoning unless one could freely and intelligently reason to detect those flaws. In other words, atheistic materialism would have to be false.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “Computers are designed by free will”
        .
        It’s irrelevant how they came to be – they do not themselves have free will and thus are a clear demonstration that free will is not required to make reliable calculations.
        .
        Why would a calculating device that evolved necessarily be less reliable than a designed one?
        .
        And a computer can detect flaws too. Again without free will. So even if humans are merely flesh computers that evolved sentience, that’s no reason to doubt our ability to reason.

        Reply
        • Eddie Setera says:

          “It’s irrelevant how they came to be – they do not themselves have free will and thus are a clear demonstration that free will is not required to make reliable calculations.”
          A computer can only do what it is programmed to do. Those reliable or unreliable calculations they make are completely based on what an exterior intelligence has designed it to do. How does a computer detect flaws? Obviously a programmer wrote laws within the system to detect those flaws. It doesn’t choose to make corrections on its own. We as humans have a basic understanding of what is right and wrong because God gave us this awareness. We also, unlike the computer, can choose to break the rules we have been made aware of through free will. It is of utmost importance, not irrelevant, how a system comes to be. We are not computers or robots and therefore responsible for our choices. That is one of the main reasons most people want to deny the existence of God. By rejecting God an atheist is searching for a way out of this responsibility. Most of their morality arguments bring out a rage and displeasure toward God. The choice to deny God creates a turmoil and restlessness that forces them to seek out believers and ridicule them. If there is no God atheists should calculate the time and energy they use on this “imaginary sky daddy” and make the choice to be happy. The problem is, though, that God’s law is written in our very conciousness and our choice to ignore that law doesn’t erase it or set us free. Only the Programmer can do that.

          Reply
          • jcb says:

            There is no evidence that “we have a basic understanding of what is right and wrong because god gave us this awareness.”
            We are able to do things that computers cannot. This doesn’t prove god exists.
            That some people argue with rage is not evidence of god.
            There is no evidence that “god’s law is written in our very consciousness”.

          • KR says:

            “A computer can only do what it is programmed to do.”
            .
            I would argue that the same goes for humans – we are programmed by our genes and our life experiences and can do no other than what we are conditioned to do.
            .
            “We as humans have a basic understanding of what is right and wrong because God gave us this awareness.”
            .
            Since our basic capacity for compassion and sense of fairness can also be observed in our closest biological relatives among the other primates, it seems to me that evolution is a much more reasonable explanation for the basis of our morality than any appeal to the supernatural.
            .
            When it comes to the finer details of human interactions in a complex society, we clearly don’t all have the same moral intuitions – hence all the moral conflicts we see on a wide range of issues. This “basic understanding” seems to have its limits and such issues tend to be resolved by a sometimes messy and completely subjective political process, not any God-given moral awareness.
            .
            “We also, unlike the computer, can choose to break the rules we have been made aware of through free will. ”
            .
            I have yet to see an example of a free will decision that holds up to any scrutiny. What would be an action that is neither determined nor random?
            .
            “We are not computers or robots and therefore responsible for our choices.”
            .
            The concept of responsibility absolutely requires free will so it would seem all the more important to actually demonstrate that it exists.
            .
            “That is one of the main reasons most people want to deny the existence of God. By rejecting God an atheist is searching for a way out of this responsibility. ”
            .
            As I’ve already explained, we don’t get to choose what we believe. Personally, my upbringing and education has made me value critical thinking and evidence-based reasoning, which when applied to the evidence and arguments presented for the existence of various deities have led me to reject them.
            .
            ” Most of their morality arguments bring out a rage and displeasure toward God. The choice to deny God creates a turmoil and restlessness that forces them to seek out believers and ridicule them.”
            .
            This makes very little sense. Since I don’t believe in God, I obviously hold no displeasure towards Him. My displeasure is with people who hold beliefs for what I think is bad reasons and who, based on these beliefs, make demands on how other people should live their lives. I find this completely unacceptable and this is the reason why I engage in these debates.
            .
            “If there is no God atheists should calculate the time and energy they use on this “imaginary sky daddy” and make the choice to be happy. The problem is, though, that God’s law is written in our very conciousness and our choice to ignore that law doesn’t erase it or set us free. Only the Programmer can do that.”
            .
            I will be happy when all decisions on public policy are based on evidence, compassion and rational thinking rather than religious dogma (or political dogma, for that matter).

        • James VanVolkingburgh says:

          “It’s irrelevant how they came to be” That right there is the core of the whole issue.

          Atheists acknowledge the design but deny the existence of a designer. Your view that an evolved computer could detect flaws is in itself flawed logic. There would be no way to know whether it’s programming was correct aside from comparing it to some standard that exists outside of it.
          But if all that exists evolved in the same way, then no such standard exists. The same holds true for morality. You want to appeal to a standard of truth without acknowledging the source of the truth.

          Reply
          • jcb says:

            What “design” are you talking about? Obviously atheists acknowledge that some objects (e.g., cars) are designed. You must be referring to the universe itself? Some atheists may think there is design to that, but others do not. Neither of those things proves that the universe is designed, nor does anything else we know of.
            You have shown that god is the source of any truth, and no one else seems to have done so either.

          • KR says:

            “Atheists acknowledge the design but deny the existence of a designer.”
            .
            The design of what? Nature? I’m an atheist and I don’t acknowledge design in nature. The only designer we have been able to study is man. Consequently, when we talk about recognizing evidence of a designer at work, we have a sample set of exactly one. Do you think the universe looks like it was designed by man? If not, on what basis would you claim that the universe looks designed?
            .
            “Your view that an evolved computer could detect flaws is in itself flawed logic. There would be no way to know whether it’s programming was correct aside from comparing it to some standard that exists outside of it.”
            .
            Bingo. That’s how we recognize flaws – by comparing with a standard outside ourselves. Luckily we have one – reality. We can test whether there are flaws in our thinking because we can observe reality.
            .
            “But if all that exists evolved in the same way, then no such standard exists. The same holds true for morality. You want to appeal to a standard of truth without acknowledging the source of the truth.”
            .
            Now you lost me. Why on earth would you think “all that exists evolved in the same way”? Who has suggested such a thing? You do understand that when we talk about evolution in biology we specifically talk about inheritable changes that are passed from parents to their offspring? Clearly not all changes in the universe happen by this process so lumping everything together and calling it evolution would be a sloppy and unhelpful use of the word.
            .
            To claim that no standard exists would be the same as stating that reality doesn’t exist, which is nonsensical. Whatever the state of the universe is, it is our reality and we can always compare our ideas about reality with the real thing.
            .
            As for morality I would dispute that moral claims are truth claims. If they were, there should in principle be a way to demonstrate them to be either true or false. If there were objective moral values then these values would be facts that should be demonstrable. I have yet to see such a demonstration and I really can’t imagine how one could be made. This suggests to me that moral claims are in a different category from truth claims and that there most like aren’t any objective moral values.

        • AG says:

          If humans are merely flesh calculators, who cares. You’re arguing because you have no other choice but to argue. Not because you’re accurate or that it would matter if you were. And there would certainly be no reason for you to condemn a meat calculator for being wrong if they had no free will to be right.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            “If humans are merely flesh calculators, who cares.”
            .
            Well, we obviously care. Until someone presents evidence that we have some kind of non-physical component, it seems we have to tentatively accept the proposition that “flesh calculators” have the capacity to care.
            .
            “You’re arguing because you have no other choice but to argue. Not because you’re accurate or that it would matter if you were.”
            .
            I don’t see the distinction. It seems to me that it’s my perception that I’m right and my conviction that this matters that gives me no choice but to argue.
            .
            “And there would certainly be no reason for you to condemn a meat calculator for being wrong if they had no free will to be right.”
            .
            It’s not about “condemning”, it’s about presenting an opposing view. Our beliefs are a result of our programming and part of that programming is our exposure to other people’s ideas. My thinking has changed plenty of times as a result of ideas that other people have expressed. I see no reason to think that the ideas I express couldn’t have the same effect on someone else.

      • Andy Ryan says:

        “according to atheists’ own theory) there is no free will or intelligence”
        .
        Frank, atheism just means lacking in theistic beliefs. In as much as it can be called a ‘theory’, where are you getting ‘there is no intelligence according to atheist theory’? It may be your OWN conclusion that a God is required to exist for intelligence to exist, but it’s false to say it can’t exist ‘according to atheists’ own theory’.
        .
        Likewise many atheist have arguments for free will just like theists such as Calvinists may argue against it.
        .
        Your other argument of ‘how can you know your senses and reason aren’t completely befuddled and unreliable’ is basically the argument for solipsism. Positing a God doesn’t solve this problem. If ‘Your reasoning may be completely false’ is in the table then you can’t even offer an argument that theism is a defeater of solipsism.
        .
        Perhaps your reasoning is wrong that theism defeats solipsism and supports our ability to reason – it seems to you like a reasonable argument, but if your ability to understand reasonable arguments cannot be trusted then who’s to say? You have to assume you can reason to make an argument that you can reason – and that applies whether there’s a God or not.

        Reply
        • Frank Turek says:

          I am not the one asserting that materialism is true and that the implications of this is that free will is an illusion and that everything is a result of the laws of physics– atheists are (Francis Crick, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc). Either reality is guided by order and intelligence or it’s not. If it’s not then nothing should make any sense, but it does. What best explains that? And what best explains the orderly natural laws that govern our universe? It seems to me some orderly, intelligent Source that transcends the natural world. If that’s not true, then we have no warrant to believe anything we think, including the thought that atheism is true. BTW, have you read SFG?

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            So ‘some atheists’ argue that (and I believe Dennett is a compatiblist with regards to free will). That’s not the same as ‘according to the theory of atheism’. Any more than I can say ‘according to the Bible/Christianity’ and quote the personal opinions of specific Christians.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “atheists are (Francis Crick, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc)”
            .
            None of these people hold that ‘intelligence is impossible without God’. That’s your contention, not theirs. We are in a universe that appears intelligible. To maintain this isn’t possible without God you’d need another universe to compare it too where nothing is intelligible.
            .
            I’ve not read SFG, but I don’t find the arguments you present here on the blog compelling, for the reasons KR and I have already laid out. It seems a way of trying to win an argument before it’s started.

          • jcb says:

            It looks like everything is the result of something, such as the laws of physics. But if reality is guided by that, it doesn’t follow that “then nothing should make any sense”. If I am a robot, it would still “make sense” to conclude that there is a keyboard here on my desk. Yes, there are orderly “laws” that govern our universe. It doesn’t follow that some intelligence probably set that law in motion. Even though there is no such known god, we do have warrant/reason to believe that cats exist: the evidence acquired by things such as our senses. And likewise, the evidence that we fails to make it probable that god (a perfect in all ways being) exists.

          • Frank Turek says:

            Andy, Agreed. Atheists certainly don’t say intelligence is impossible without God. They just can’t explain how intelligence is possible if nothing but molecules exist. How does one even get the laws of logic (which are undeniably immaterial) on materialism?

            The question isn’t about explaining other possible worlds, but this one. And everyone who wants to argue that their view of reality is true– atheist, theist, pantheist, etc.– has the burden of proof to explain why reality is the way it is. It will do no good to say that I just “lack a belief in God”. That would be just a statement about your psychological state, not reality. It would be no different than a theist saying “I just lack a belief in materialism”. That claim would not prove theism. It would just be statement about the theist’s psychological state.

          • KR says:

            “Either reality is guided by order and intelligence or it’s not.”
            .
            I’m not sure I understand what it means to say that reality is “guided by” something. Reality is what it is. It seems to me that what we perceive as order is a reflection of the fundamental properties of matter and energy. Why this perceived order would need anything supernatural I have no idea.
            .
            “And what best explains the orderly natural laws that govern our universe? It seems to me some orderly, intelligent Source that transcends the natural world. If that’s not true, then we have no warrant to believe anything we think, including the thought that atheism is true.”
            .
            This seems like a complete non sequitur. The warrant we have to believe what we think is if our thoughts are supported by our empirical observations. I don’t see why empirical verification would need anything supernatural.

          • jcb says:

            There are lots of things humans (and atheists) can’t/haven’t explained. That’s not evidence that god exists. To say that the laws of logic are immaterial is not to say what they are. “immateriality” is a lack of materiality, just as darkness is a lack of light (particles). How we “get” (?) the laws of logic may be confusing, but it doesn’t show that god exists.
            Atheists are happy to say that there are unexplained things. This fact (nor any other fact that we know of) doesn’t entail that god probably exists.
            If I assert that cats exist (which is a view of reality), I have the burden to provide evidence for that assertion, if I expect it to be believed. There is such evidence of course. But we don’t have evidence for everything, and that fact doesn’t prove that god exists.

          • toby says:

            They just can’t explain how intelligence is possible if nothing but molecules exist.
            Input, storage/recall, calculation, output. These are all that’s required for knowledge and intelligence. We receive information via our senses, we store it in our brains, we make calculations based on that input and other prior input and calculations stored in our brains, and our output is our thoughts.
            .
            How does one even get the laws of logic (which are undeniably immaterial) on materialism?
            They are quite deniably immaterial. They are descriptions of how our brains work in relation to the world around us. Saying a pear is a pear means nothing if there is not a physical thing called a pear. Logic is so grounded in material that it’s nearly impossible to say it’s anything but. Your problem seeing this might be your bias of labeling these things as laws–implying law givers–rather than what a lot of people refer to as “the principles of thought.”

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Frank: “They just can’t explain how intelligence is possible if nothing but molecules exist”.
            .
            You’re saying a God is required for knowledge to exist but haven’t shown this to be true. There is no universe you can point to where knowledge is not possible, that lacks a God.
            .
            ‘Thursday’ is not made of molecules, but there’s nothing about atheism that requires us to deny the existence of Thursday. So ‘nothing exists but molecules’ is an odd conclusion to derive from atheism. You’re basically saying magic is required for knowledge to exist. As I said, you’ve not shown this to be true. Even if we’re just flesh robots, there’s no reason to believe we cannot have knowledge.

          • KR says:

            “Atheists certainly don’t say intelligence is impossible without God. They just can’t explain how intelligence is possible if nothing but molecules exist.”
            .
            Until someone suggests a testable hypothesis for how intelligence forms supernaturally, the reasonable working hypotheses must be that it emerges physically.
            .
            “How does one even get the laws of logic (which are undeniably immaterial) on materialism?”
            .
            How are the laws of logic immaterial? Logic is a concept that requires a physical medium (like brains) to hold it. Logic is a way to describe how reality works. To claim that this would require a God would be like claiming that we need God to make maps. Logic reflects reality like a map reflects the landscape.
            .
            “The question isn’t about explaining other possible worlds, but this one. And everyone who wants to argue that their view of reality is true– atheist, theist, pantheist, etc.– has the burden of proof to explain why reality is the way it is.”
            .
            Atheism is still not a view of reality – it’s a lack of belief in god(s). I don’t know if this will ever penetrate but I live in hope. I don’t as a rule make claims about reality that are not supported by empirical evidence, that’s the basis for my view of reality.
            .
            “It will do no good to say that I just “lack a belief in God”. That would be just a statement about your psychological state, not reality.”
            .
            My lack of belief is not an attempt to explain reality, it’s just a statement about the specific reality of my psychlogical state. What I sense from your line of reasoning is that you seem to feel that we absolutely must formulate a comprehensive explanation for reality even if we don’t actually understand it. This makes very little sense to me. What’s wrong with acknowledging that we don’t know if we don’t actually know? Appealing to God as an explanation strikes me as just another label for “I don’t know” – the exchange of one mystery for another.
            .
            “It would be no different than a theist saying “I just lack a belief in materialism”. That claim would not prove theism. It would just be statement about the theist’s psychological state.”
            .
            Right. Now, I don’t know about Andy but I’m not a materialist. I don’t know if there’s anything beyond the physical (I’m not even sure what that means) so I’m not making that claim. The claim I’m making is that I know of no method for finding the truth that’s more reliable than empirical verification. Until someone demonstrates a more reliable method, I will confine my beliefs to what can be verified empirically or at least is consistent with our empirical experience.

          • Frank Turek says:

            Atheists don’t seem to fully follow the implications of their assertions. A claim that “God does not exist” isn’t made of molecules, but for materialists only molecules exist. So if there’s nothing but molecules, then truth claims such as “God does not exist” don’t really exist either. This is one of the incoherences of atheism and it is why I think the immaterial exists and that Immaterial reality is grounded in Intelligence. If you want to go further and don’t want to give my book a try, then I recommend you look at Ed Feser’s new book “5 Proofs of the Existence of God.” The Augustinian Proof is one that grounds truth propositions in the Nature of God. But even if Feser is wrong, atheism has the problem of stealing immaterial reality to make the claim that only material things exist.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Frank, again, atheism just means not believing in God. You’ve not shown there has to be a God in order to make a claim. That’s a huge non sequitur. You’ve not come close to supporting that.

          • KR says:

            ” A claim that “God does not exist” isn’t made of molecules, but for materialists only molecules exist. So if there’s nothing but molecules, then truth claims such as “God does not exist” don’t really exist either.”
            .
            1) Atheism is a lack of belief in deities – it’s not a claim or a philosophy or a worldview or an explanation for reality.
            2) Claims seem to uniformly be formulated and stated by physical entities consisting of molecules. Claims tend to be propagated by soundwaves (=air) or some other physical medium (like a computer), also consisting of molecules. If you think a non-physical ingredient is also required then that is a claim that needs to be justified.

          • jcb says:

            That I have claimed “God does not exist” doesn’t prove that god exists! Even if there were non-molecular things, it wouldn’t follow that god exists. But everything we seem to know to exist involves molecules. That I, a material being, make the utterance/claim “god does not exist” is not disproven by the fact that I (or reality, or the universe) is made of molecules. There is nothing incoherent about the assertion that people exist, and they make certain claims/utterances/sounds, and that those sounds/claims/utterances are sometimes “understood” by others/seem to have an effect on others.
            Ed Feser’s book seems to only argue for a non-material first cause, not anything like a personal, perfect in all ways being, and thus fails to prove “god”. (Changing the goal posts: are we arguing about god 1: an unmoved mover, or god 2: a perfect in all ways being? Most people refer to god 2 as “god”.)
            Nothing shows that immaterial reality itself exists, nor is “grounded in” “intelligence”.
            Even if immaterial reality exists (whatever that means), it doesn’t (seem to) follow that god exists.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            KR said – “Atheism is a lack of belief in deities – it’s not a claim or a philosophy or a worldview or an explanation for reality.”

            This is incorrect the proper definition of Atheism is a belief in the lack of deities.

            The difference between the two statements is massive. If you think the first definition is true then I would ask you what Dr. John Lennox asked Dr. Richard Dawkins: “Do you believe it?” The “it” being referred to is his contention that atheism is NOT a worldview but just a lack of belief in deities.

          • jcb says:

            I don’t think definitions can be “improper”, but I think you are right that “atheism” is not typically defined as “a lack of belief in deities”. It seems to usually mean, the claim or active belief that there are no known deities. So it is a belief. It is a claim.
            And it is true: there are no known, existing deities.

          • KR says:

            “This is incorrect the proper definition of Atheism is a belief in the lack of deities. The difference between the two statements is massive.”
            .
            Unless you can explain how “a belief in the lack of deities” is a claim, it would seem to be a distinction without a difference.
            .
            ” If you think the first definition is true then I would ask you what Dr. John Lennox asked Dr. Richard Dawkins: “Do you believe it?” The “it” being referred to is his contention that atheism is NOT a worldview but just a lack of belief in deities.”
            .
            Yes, I believe that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in deities. My worldview is empiricism, my atheism is simply a consequence of this worldview since I see no verifiable empirical evidence for any deities.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            The simplest definition of atheist is just ‘not a theist’. So if your answer to the question ‘Do you believe in a God’ is not ‘yes’, then you’re an atheist.

      • KR says:

        “If atheistic materialism is true, then, by definition (according to atheists’ own theory) there is no free will or intelligence. Free will and intelligence are mere illusions.”
        .
        There is no atheist theory – atheism is simply the lack of belief in any deities. There are very few things all atheists have in common beyond that and disbelief in free will is certainly not one of them. In my personal view, free will shows every sign of being a logically incoherent concept so yes, it’s most likely an illusion. As for intelligence, the claim that it requires something outside of the physical has to be justified and would probably be contested by the people studying and developing artificial intelligence.
        .
        “Moreover, there would be no way to detect “flaws” in human reasoning unless one could freely and intelligently reason to detect those flaws. In other words, atheistic materialism would have to be false.”
        .
        This doesn’t make any sense. If there are flaws in our reasoning then these are facts for us to discover, not a free choice to make. The way we validate our reasoning is by calibrating it against reality, which doesn’t require free will – only a capacity to observe reality. To claim that we need free will to determine facts is the same as claiming that we are free to choose what is factual. I sometimes think that the current president of the United States may actually believe this to be true but I would hope that most of us realize that reality is what it is and that it’s not under the control of our will.

        Reply
      • jcb says:

        If free will is an illusion, it wouldn’t follow that we remaining ‘moist robots’ would be unable to detect a flaw in our previous ‘reasoning’. If we were robots, we (many of us) apparently would still be constantly ‘upgrading’ ourselves, so that, on reviewing past events, we might detect ‘flaws’. Computer programs that didn’t detect something often later do, if they are upgraded (such as have more processing power), or acquire a wider search parameter, etc. The evidence shows that robots can detect ‘flaws’ in ‘reasoning’. In other words, nothing here shows that atheism is false (nor that god exists).

        Reply
    • Frank Turek says:

      Andy, this thread isn’t about proving God as much as it is about disproving materialism. The very fact that we are able to communicate on this thread and make truth propositions, which are immaterial, should be enough evidence that materialism is false. Then we can move on to the question as to why there are immaterial realities. Do you deny the immaterial?

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        To disprove materialism is to prove immaterialism, right? What have you proven to exist that is (purely) immaterial, and what is your evidence of that? Once you do that, how does that help show that god exists? We are communicating: physically/materially. We are typing, observing the words with our eyes, processing those visual images (the written word) with our brains. Nothing about that seems to show that some immaterial thing exists. What is true is that the material we refer to (e.g., this plastic keyboard) is “immaterial” in that it lacks other known materials (being made of wood, for example). Nothing here proves that something exists as having no material at all, nor does anything here prove that god exists.

        Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Frank, you seem to be arguing that concepts, claims, ideas etc are magic, such that a God has to exist in order for us to make claims or discuss ideas. You’ve not shown these things are magic. Your argument entails that if we were in a Godless universe, some mechanism would exist that would prevent us making claims. What is that mechanism? Why could sentient beings not discuss ideas in a Godless universe? If they evolved brains and language, they’ll be able to talk to each other about ideas – why is God required for that?
        .
        You also seem to hold that logic could not exist in a Godless universe. You’ve said yourself in the past that one has to use the laws of logic even to deny them. Given that this would apply in a Godless universe too, I don’t see how one can claim a God is necessary for logic to exist. A=A is a tautology – it’s nonsensical to say it requires explanation as it’s literally self explanatory.

        Reply
        • Frank Turek says:

          We are not talking about magic (whatever that means). And we are not talking about epistemology but ontology. Why do the immaterial laws of logic exist? What grounds the immaterial laws of logic? They can’t be human constructs because 1) we couldn’t communicate if we both had our own invented private laws, and 2) the statement “no human beings exist” would still be true before human minds actually existed, showing they must be grounded in a mind that preexists and transcends human minds (for more, see SFG chapter 2 or Feser chapter 3). Again, do you believe in the immaterial? And if so, what grounds it?

          Reply
          • toby says:

            And we are not talking about epistemology but ontology.
            This is a standard dodge that comes up in apologetics, Frank. Anytime I hear this it transposes in my mind to, “Look, I’m begging the question here, just shut up and let me beat you over the head with it and close my ears to calls for evidence.” You don’t have to tell us HOW you know they exist apart from the material, you just assume they do and try to force people to argue on your terms. You demand that they exist. Can you demonstrate the immaterial by any means other than suppositions? Because it seems all you want to offer as “evidence” of the immaterial is arguments from incredulity or ignorance. You don’t know how or just can’t believe that there can be free will or logic or whatnot without the immaterial, so therefore “immaterial . . . and if you don’t address the presuppositions in my arguments you fail and I win, therefore theism”.
            .
            It’s begging the question in regards to the immaterial existing, then waging a war against strawmen arguments that aren’t being made. No one has claimed to be materialists, but you assume they are because it fits into the way you’ve framed up your question begging.

          • jcb says:

            The fact that A=A seems to be true, and necessarily so, doesn’t prove that god exists. It is a basic foundation of reasonable thought. If A does not equal A, then it looks like reasoning is impossible. Nothing here shows that god exists. Your argument seems to be: You haven’t shown what “grounds” (whatever that means) the fact/truth that A=A, thus god did it. This doesn’t follow. If there were no human beings ever existing, then there wouldn’t be (nor would we know what it meant) a statement like “no human beings exist”. If there only existed one planet, and thus the statement as (we would verbalize as) “There is only one planet” is true (that statement would describe reality accurately), it wouldn’t follow that a mind exists. For one to articulate that statement, there would probably be a mind, but it would probably be a human mind. None of this proves god.

          • Frank Turek says:

            Toby, glad to see you’re not a materialist. Unfortunately, most of the major atheists writing books today are. So what is your explanation for why the immaterial exists, why there are truths independent of the human mind, and why you and I have the ability to reason?

          • jcb says:

            Immateriality is not a “thing” that exists. Brains have certain abilities. Nothing about that proves god. Nothing about unanswered questions proves god either. Please, provide evidence for your assertions about so called “immaterial” things existing.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Richard Dawkins invented the concept of memes. These aren’t made of molecules. So either Dawkins isn’t a materialist or your definition of materialism as ruling out the existence of anything not made of molecules is a straw man.
            .
            I don’t know anyone who argues that Tuesday doesn’t exist because it’s not made of molecules. You’ve not shown why logic couldn’t exist without a God. I don’t know what you mean by ‘What grounds the rules of logic’. Why does A=A need ‘grounding’? If A=A doesn’t apply in a Godless universe, what would it be? If logic didn’t exist, God could both exist and not exist. That’s nonsensical. Therefore I think you still have a case to make if you want to assert the existence of logic is evidence for theism

          • toby says:

            Wow. Frank, where in the Bible is the passage where Jesus says to pivot from uncomfortable questions concerning your beliefs? You didn’t address anything in my comment. You took a pass on trying to explain or providing evidence for immaterial things that was more than just assumptions and suppositions. Instead you went on assuming immaterial realities and tried to make me explain them. Is this just a cute trick? Are you winking at me while you type it and poking me in the ribs?
            .
            It’s nice to see you back here in the comment trenches, hashing it out. I don’t know all of the ins and outs of materialism, so I can’t commit to it. It does seem that most everything is physical in some way or another. Points/questions:
            1). You think we need free will to think and reason and the only way we can do that is if there is something immaterial about us. How is this not a circular line of thinking? We have free will because we’re immaterial because we have free will because we’re immaterial.
            2). Something is either determined or it’s not. Determined choices would mean that choices are based on something prior to the choice. How could anything other than that not be completely random and hence not a choice?

          • Frank Turek says:

            Hi Toby, not sure what you’re referring to, but I simply don’t have the time to reply to every assertion or claim made on this stream. But if I’m missing something big, let me know. What question or comment would you like me to respond to?

          • Frank Turek says:

            Andy,
            //If logic didn’t exist, God could both exist and not exist. That’s nonsensical. //

            Agreed. That’s my point. Immaterial, unchanging laws require a immaterial, unchanging nature to exist at all. If there is no God, then such laws wouldn’t exist. Since they do exist, then some kind of immaterial, unchanging intellect exists. Now, granted, this doesn’t completely prove the God of Christianity, only some kind of theistic existence. But it certainly disproves atheistic materialism.

            This is again an issue of ontology, not epistemology, and relates to the difference between the order of being and the order of knowing. Before any finite creature can know anything, something must exist (be) in order to know it. So being comes before knowing. God must exist, including the laws of logic which are grounded in his nature, before anyone of us could use the laws of logic to help us know anything.

          • jcb says:

            Cats are cats. If cats exist then cats exist. A=A. If A then A. These “laws of logic” are true not because of god, but regardless of whether god exists. Nothing about god is needed for something with property B to be something with property B. Thus it is false to say “it there is no god, then such laws wouldn’t exist”.
            I don’t think you’ve even given one clear proof of the existence of one immaterial thing, but if you have, please make it again, clearly.
            But again, even if you have (even if Tuesday, or “2” exists immaterially), it wouldn’t prove theism/disprove atheism. (Your argument that claims to disprove atheistic materialism also would disprove theistic materialism).
            The fact that there must be a human in order for there to be a human who knows something does nothing to prove that God exists.
            Nothing you’ve said shows that the laws of logic are “grounded” in god’s “nature”. Nothing shows that we need god in order to know anything, such as that cats exist, or A=A.

          • toby says:

            Frank,

            1). You think we need free will to think and reason and the only way we can do that is if there is something immaterial about us. How is this not a circular line of thinking? We have free will because we’re immaterial because we have free will because we’re immaterial.
            2). Something is either determined or it’s not. Determined choices would mean that choices are based on something prior to the choice. How could anything other than that not be completely random and hence not a choice?

        • Frank Turek says:

          Toby

          // 1). You think we need free will to think and reason and the only way we can do that is if there is something immaterial about us. How is this not a circular line of thinking? We have free will because we’re immaterial because we have free will because we’re immaterial. //

          It’s not circular. It’s based on intuition and observation. At least three things are involved here:
          1) We have the intuition that we have free will. Any argument against that would require us to use free will, and it would be built on premises that are far less obvious than the sense that we have free will.
          2) We are reasoning from effect to cause. I ask Toby a specific question about God and he responds to that question precisely. What caused that effect? It can’t just be the blind laws of physics. They do the same thing repeatedly. They have no capacity to give specific answers to unique questions. Otherwise, we would have to believe there are trillions of such laws, and for every unique scenario the right laws know when and how to impose themselves on us (that’s would be more than a miracle than simply believing we have free will).
          3) We realize that if we didn’t have free will– if there isn’t some immaterial sense to us– then we would be completely controlled by the blind laws of physics. And so we wouldn’t be able to trust anything we think or observe (including any thought we have about atheism or Christianity). But it seems we can trust many of our conclusions. So, again, we are reasoning from effect to cause.

          Since you claim you’re not a materialist, then my question for you would be what grounds immaterial reality, including the laws of logic which are independent of human minds (see my post above)?

          Please restate your second point because I’m not clear what you mean by it.

          Reply
          • Jcb says:

            The argument:
            We have free will
            We are immaterial
            Thus we have free will
            Is indeed circular, and that is the one you just cited above, at least at first.

            The argument (2):
            My intuition says we have free will
            Thus we have free will
            Is indeed not circular, but is a rather weak argument. It isn’t made probably that we have free will because you feel/intuit that you are. Nothing here says anything about what intuition is, nor what free will is. (Please define these).
            You then indicate that you observe that you have free will. Again, define “free will”. We do observe bodies doing various things. Is that all you mean by free will? It seems not.
            I think what you mean is: when my hand is moved, the cause of my hand moving is almost never things outside my body, and the cause is something within my body. Is that about right? Free will as “self-determined”? My body, not yours, determines (usually) what other parts of my body end up doing. Is that about right? If not, please explain clearly.
            It is false to say that “any argument (against free will?) would require us to use free will.” If you mean, any bodily action (such as in verbalizing an argument) would require a bodily action, that’s true. But if you mean, any argument against free will would require that we not be computers or robots, that’s false. A computer could make or create an argument.
            It is also an improbable and unsupported claim to say “any argument against (free will) would be built on premises that are far less obvious than the sense that we have free will”. Since there are countless arguments that could be made, you can’t (with probability) say “any” argument will be (less probable). Make the case if you think otherwise.
            What caused effect X? It can be just the blind laws of physics. Nothing you’ve said shows otherwise. If the laws do the same thing repeatedly, that means we have discovered that is how the world operates.
            If the world is controlled by various laws of physics we would still do exactly as we are doing now: trusting what we “think”, and sometimes describing things accurately, and sometimes not, and some things we “think” would be better at predicting the future, and some things we “think” would not. It doesn’t follow that if I “think” I will fall back down when I jump up, and this is “completely controlled by the blind laws of physics”, that I can’t “trust” this conclusion. No, in fact, the evidence we currently have gathered shows that this conclusion probably can be “trusted”, probably is reliable.
            And again, immateriality is not a thing (it seems).
            And again, Tuesday (an immaterial thing?) does not prove god. That is, if one immaterial thing does “exist” it doesn’t follow that any particular other one does. This needs to be proven, and you haven’t prove it. (You should first prove that Tuesday exists, what that means, how we know it. Then you should move on to prove that God exists, using similar means).
            That an atheist fails to “ground” immaterial reality doesn’t show that anyone else has “grounded” it. If you can do it, please do. If you can’t, you shouldn’t be concluding from that that god exists.
            If your only point here is that things like Tuesday exist (in some sense), and that sense is called immaterial, and thus immaterialists (those who deny that Tuesday exists in any sense) are wrong, be they atheist or theist, I agree with you. Nothing here proves god, nor disproves atheism.
            You don’t disprove theism by saying “cat denying theists are mistaken”.
            You don’t disprove atheism by saying “Tuesday denying atheists are mistaken”

          • toby says:

            Your points:
            1. Our intuition is often very far from reliable. People can intuit many things that are completely wrong, maybe most things intuited, and only through testing can things be confirmed. How do we test this?
            2. Physical laws are what they are, but their effects are often widely different depending on many things in a given moment. The way gravity is acting on me is very different than how it’s acting on Jupiter. It has to do with our mass and inertia and many other factors. I think it’s foolish for you to think there must be many many laws to govern each situation when you have to look no farther than the multitude of variables that exist in any situation.
            3. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that our senses should be untrustworthy without free will. That burden is on you to prove. It would seem that a successful organism would evolve to best fit the environment around it. Given that, it’s reasonable to think that it’s sense would evolve to be in line with the world around. Hence, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that a large part of their beliefs would be sound.

            My second point is basically that it seems that either choices are determined by previous events, knowledge, etc or they’re random (and hence not choices, just randomness).

            I don’t commit to materialism because you clearly have some notion of what you think that is and what it means. I don’t brand myself with it because I don’t know what you think that means and how you came to believe it and if I did apply that label you’d likely use some standard talking points rather than engage in actual thought over my points and questions. I don’t commit to believing in the immaterial because I’m not certain that’s a coherent concept that could actually exist. If it is, I don’t see how it would be possible to take it seriously as I can’t see any way to verify it in any meaningful way.

  3. Susan says:

    I don’t know if atheism makes reason impossible.

    If everyone has intuition then reason could come from a higher source that no one controls. I am not sure of that though.

    But I have met some atheists who like to value logic over intuition though the reasoning systems seem to be different.

    Logic could be a more closed system while intuition is a more open one.

    I am not sure if atheism makes reason impossible or not as this is the first time I have heard this claim and haven’t had time to assess it.

    Wiki on intuition:

    Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence, or conscious reasoning, or without understanding how the knowledge was acquired. – end quote

    That quote above seems to suggest a supernatural quality to intuition to me.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      Under that definition of intuition, we should would have to see whether such a thing exists. But yes, we sometimes acquire knowledge without “conscious” reasoning: our brains often acquire data that we are not currently thinking about/consciously thinking about. But none of what we know about intuition shows that there is any supernatural element or being involved.

      Reply
  4. KR says:

    “If we are just molecules in motion as atheists assert, then every thought we have is the result of the non-rational laws of physics.”
    .
    There may be some atheists that assert this but it’s not what atheism is. How are the laws of physics non-rational?
    .
    “If materialistic atheism is true, then we have no grounds to believe anything the atheist thinks or says, including his thoughts about atheism!”
    .
    Grounds for belief comes from how well a statement or idea corresponds with our empirical experience of reality, whether it’s presented by a theist or an atheist. The way we test this is by making empirical observations of reality. I don’t see why this would require anything outside the laws of physics.
    .
    Oh – and this “materialistic atheism” thing is of course a rather transparent attempt to make atheism out to be a world wiew, which of course it isn’t. I’m an atheist but that only tells you that I hold no belief in any deities. I would describe my worldview as empiricism, i.e. I try to base my beliefs on what can be empirically verified or at least what is consistent with our empirical experience. Atheism is not my world view, it’s a consequence of my world view.
    .
    “Without an ability to think freely, science is lost too. As C. S. Lewis put it, “Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true,” which would include the science of prominent atheists, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and everyone else. ”
    .
    The entire point of the scientific method – and the reason for its success – is that it acknowledges that human reasoning alone cannot be trusted and must always be supported by verifiable empirical observations (i.e. evidence). IOW, C.S. Lewis’ assertion that science requires that human reasoning is valid is false. On the contrary, science requires that human reasoning must be validated by empirical verification.
    .
    “Yet logic, reason and our scientific ability to understand the orderly world are well explained by a theistic God whose very nature is rational—“in the beginning was the Word” (or rationality) as the opening line of John’s gospel declares.”
    .
    This is just a bald assertion that doesn’t explain anything. It also doesn’t make any sense. Logic is a description of how reality works. Reason is the attempt to align our thinking with this reality. Science is the systematic empirical investigation of the world around us. Why would any of this require a god?
    .
    “The bottom line is that atheism cannot be shown to be true in principle. It has destroyed all the tools necessary to do the job.”
    .
    Atheism is a lack of belief in any deities. Since it’s not a truth claim, the above statement is incoherent.
    .
    “In order to construct any valid argument for atheism, the atheist has to steal tools from God’s universe because no such tools exist in the world of atheism. Atheists must steal from the very Being who makes reason and science possible in the first place.”
    .
    I don’t see why I would have to construct an argument for the fact that I don’t believe in any deities, other than to say that I so far haven’t been convinced of the existence of any such deity. To claim that I have to steal from God in order to be unpersuaded of His existence is of course nonsensical.

    Reply
  5. Andrew says:

    There’s just one problem. I presume Mr. Turek is a theist who would assert that the universe could not possibly exist without God, or in other words, if atheism were true the universe would never have been created and we wouldn’t even be here. But he wants to tell everyone how things would work in a world that, according to his theistic position on the matter, couldn’t possibly exist in the first place.

    Reply
  6. ric24 says:

    You are right that atheism implies a commitment to materialism – that there is nothing in the universe except matter and energy. But matter and energy obey the laws of physics. A planet goes round the sun and has no choice: it does not say to itself – today I think I will go backwards or step out of orbit. Similarly, the laws of physics govern the chemistry of the brain: so if there is nothing but chemistry happening, the thoughts of the atheist are the involuntary result of his or her brain chemistry. Today, the chemistry dictates that they are atheists; tomorrow, they may wake up believers. Neither is a rational choice….if you hold that atheism is true.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Today, the chemistry dictates that they are atheists; tomorrow, they may wake up believers.”
      .
      Our brains are made of chemicals whether a God exists or not. Introducing a God into the equation who can overrule and mislead your senses or ‘harden your heart’ arguably makes your beliefs less reliable, not more. Why otherwise would a person’s brain chemistry suddenly change overnight such that their belief system changed for no reason?

      Reply
  7. Susan says:

    Maybe you wouldn’t be involved in so many nonsense arguments if you could just concede that a theist is different in nature from you and learn to leave well enough alone.

    There is no one you owe allegiance to asking you to deconvert people is there.

    You don’t change people’s identities by arguing with them.

    They have to be open to change and reason to their own conclusion not your’s to change.

    So why atheists dedicate so many resources trying to turn an orange into an apple I no longer understand.

    William Lane Craig already said his identity is Christian and no argument will cause him to deconvert.

    And if you can’t see connections between intuition and spirituality then that is because you are determined to ignore it or devalue it in favor of logic and playing logic mind games.

    I hardly use logic at all so I know how important intuition is in all this.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      “I hardly use logic at all”. And there is the root of the problem.
      Atheists are trying to state what is real and true, and that is that there is no god. They are concluding that because of logic, reason, and evidence. Intuition doesn’t prove/show/demonstrate that god exists. No, intuition is not at all important in the matter of whether it is true that “god exists”.
      When the evidence shows that X exists, or not, it is not a “nonsense argument”.
      Nothing we know of shows that god probably exists.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        I believe there is plenty of evidence for the existence of God. One of His main evidences is His people. I noticed early on in my conversion process that Christians demonstrate higher levels of social intelligence. Basic intelligence is set at birth but social intelligence has a lot of room to grow in people.

        I have always had an intense interest in people and their personalities and I notice a lot of Christians bending over backwards to be good to atheists and answer all their questions and complaints and that is social intelligence at work.

        Love is the highest form of social intelligence and it leads to the best actions or works like charity.

        When you simply acknowledge everyone is made in the image of God then you can start to show love and respect to everyone and when everyone loves and respects everyone else then cooperative partnerships can occur and peace and the progress of the human race results.

        But if you are easily offended or have decided early that you won’t accept what God says but will let your own personal idols rule you then you have burned your own bridges and you will have to stay locked up with your own fears and idols and passions and whatever rules you.

        Personal peace is freedom and God sent the Gospel to make peace in people’s hearts so they could have peace with Him and others. But on the peacemaking journey all the people who don’t recognize God’s love is social intelligence start to make problems and raise complaints against the peacemakers.

        That is how this world operates. The evil people with no love or respect for God in their hearts always have to quarrel and break the peace.

        Read Goleman on social intelligence. Reason doesn’t rule all the time. Take ten people with all the same skills applying for a job and you know out of the ten who will get the job? The person who demonstrates the most social intelligence will get it.

        Social intelligence not reason is the tie breaker and the tie maker.

        Now if everyone would simply get down the idea that he is made in the image of God then he might be able to start to respect himself, get over his own issues and start treating others with respect.

        God sent Jesus to set the example in showing love and respect to the least of His people and you know how this world of people with issues rewarded him?

        So if you think pure reason trumps social intelligence you are mistaken.

        This world needs more love and respect which is social intelligence. Not less.

        And if you want to pick and pull apart God’s people for being less perfect than you think they should be then maybe the error
        is in your own thinking because a lot of Christians don’t claim to be perfect but they do have enough sense to listen to God and allow Him to change them.

        Imagine substituting inanimate evidence for the perfect godly example that Jesus Christ provides.

        Someone taught you atheists to forfeit your social intelligence in favor of their own weak thinking.

        People need more love, respect, peace, etc. than they do things. Those are the things that bring inner change and lasting security.
        If you have love and peace in your heart then you don’t have to backstab and kill people to get
        ahead. You can be
        In charge of yourself and learn to be content in all circumstances.

        This world likes to steal people’s love, joy and peace all the time but imagine that you could hold onto it through hard times.

        Well having Jesus makes you able to hold onto those things better and why would anyone allow a fear of man induce him to give up those things for other people’s false idols?

        That would be a very poor trade indeed sacrificing your personal sense of security and well being to appease other people’s idols.

        I deliberately try not to let other people’s idols rule me any more because I already serve the most perfect one which is Jesus Christ.

        Reply
        • jcb says:

          The existence of people is not evidence of God. I’m sure some Christians are intelligent, but that also fails to prove that god exists. Most Christians fail to answer my questions, fail to prove that god exists, fail to respond effectively to the (intellectual, evidential) problem of evil, etc.
          You can’t acknowledge everyone is made in the image of god when it isn’t true. It is asserted, but there is no evidence of this.
          I also value love and cooperation. Unfortunately, nothing about that proves god.
          Some atheists, and some Christians, won’t accept evidence, and are dogmatic. Nothing about that is relevant to the issue here of whether god has been proven by any known evidence.
          Being social rather than analytical is valued more in various contexts. Nothing about that proves god. Nothing about that shows that in general using your social intelligence is better at determining reality (what exists) than reason.
          We aren’t made in the image of god, so wise people would abandon that assertion.
          Pure reason does trump social intelligence, usually, when determining reality/what is true/what exists.
          No one is perfect, that we know of. None of that proves god.
          Someone taught you to forfeit good reasoning for intuition, to your detriment, it seems. Nothing about that proves god either.
          Yes, most people do need more love: they want more love and would benefit from it.
          I value love, but god does not exist.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            Well bye. There is no burden of proof on theists.

            God already supplied the evidence but you refused to accept it.

            That is all.

            I hope you have an epiphany some day that sets you straight like many people do.

            God Bless!

      • Steve says:

        I read an article about a women who believes she is a cat. Is what this women believes true? The chemical make up of her brain tells her she is a cat. No different that Bruce Jenner thinking he is a women I suppose…but I digress. So if you agree that objective truth exists, on what foundation is that objective truth based?

        Reply
        • jcb says:

          If a person believes she is a cat, but the evidence we have shows that she is not, we should not believe she is a cat. What you have described is a situation where one’s belief is false: a human woman is not a non-human cat. Yes, if someone with a penis thinks they don’t have a penis, they would be mistaken. However, theists and conservatives can’t seem to understand that transgender people usually aren’t denying the fact of their biology, but are saying things like, even though I have a penis, I prefer to wear dresses, be called She, etc. Regardless, nothing here proves god/disproves atheism. Cats exist. God does not.

          Reply
  8. SRS says:

    The order on earth, our solar system, everything in time, perfectly balanced. When life began on earth, if one gas was off a few percent, the sun a couple miles closer or further away, life couldn’t exist. Just a single cell, made of many parts, can’t survive without each part, if one is flawed the cells dies, how did so many cells develop perfectly, and keep producing perfectly? I believe there had to be a Creator. Man designs beautiful art, clocks and watches, computers, automobiles, all built perfectly to perform certain tasks. No big explosion and something pops out, thought and a plan, creates things…

    Reply
    • James says:

      “The order on earth, our solar system, everything in time, perfectly balanced.”

      Until an asteroid smashes into the earth and wipes out large chunks of life.

      Reply
    • KR says:

      “The order on earth, our solar system, everything in time, perfectly balanced. When life began on earth, if one gas was off a few percent, the sun a couple miles closer or further away, life couldn’t exist.”
      .
      In which case we obviously wouldn’t be around to discuss the matter. Do you think the fact that there was a planet with the right conditions for life is evidence that God created life? If God’s purpose in creating planets was to have life, why do most planets not have the right conditions? Moreover, why would an omnipotent God need to worry about gas mixes and distances to the sun – surely He would be able to create life on any old planet?
      .
      “Just a single cell, made of many parts, can’t survive without each part, if one is flawed the cells dies, how did so many cells develop perfectly, and keep producing perfectly?”
      .
      You seem to assume that life started with cells made of many parts. What do you base this assumption on?
      .
      “Man designs beautiful art, clocks and watches, computers, automobiles, all built perfectly to perform certain tasks. No big explosion and something pops out, thought and a plan, creates things…”
      .
      Yes, we have no difficulty recognizing things that were designed. We call them artificial because they don’t look like natural objects. This seems to me to be a pretty good reason to think that nature was not designed.

      Reply
    • toby says:

      I believe there had to be a Creator. Man designs beautiful art, clocks and watches, computers, automobiles, all built perfectly to perform certain tasks. No big explosion and something pops out, thought and a plan, creates things…
      But as a theist you believe that a god created everything, designed everything. How do you know what not-designed even is? You can’t say a rock isn’t designed because of your beliefs you have to believe that it is.

      Reply
  9. Fergus Duniho says:

    First of all, the molecule is not the smallest unit of reality. Physics also concerns itself with atoms and subatomic particles, not to mention weird stuff like wave/particle duality, quantum entanglement, and the role of the observer in determining the results of observations. So, the idea that atheists say we are just molecules in motion is a misrepresentation of both atheism and what many atheists actually believe. Scientists will readily admit that they do not know all the laws of physics and that the nature of consciousness remains a mystery that science has not explained. And maybe we’ll never crack the secret of consciousness, because, as Alan Watts has put it, this is like the eye trying to see itself. While science does have a better understanding of what isn’t conscious, this does not mean that atheists buy into the idea that everything is just unconscious pinballs bounced around by deterministic laws.

    Although I am an atheist, I do not believe that thinking is a purely mechanical process that can be fully described at a level that does not reference thoughts. I can have thoughts about thoughts, which doesn’t make sense if thinking is just an unconscious mechanical process. Furthermore, I am aware of myself being conscious of various ideas and sensory inputs. My direct experience tells me that there is more to reality than unconscious mechanics. I know consciousness exists, and I know it can make use of ideas and reasoning, because I have direct experience of that. So, no matter what an incomplete understanding of physics may tell me about the world, I know I’m not simply unconscious molecules bouncing around to something like Newton’s laws of motion.

    So, I know I can think. I also know I can direct my thinking along logical lines. I have done lots of logical problem solving, such as math problems, symbolic logic proofs, and computer programming. I know how to frame a problem and use logical methods to come up with a solution. Furthermore, I know that some logical ideas are indisputably true. I understand that a meaningful proposition is either true or false, that no meaningful proposition can be both true and false, and that any particular thing will be identical to itself. This knowledge comes from my understanding of what a meaningful proposition is, what the terms true and false signify, and what identity is. I understand these to not only be indisputably true but necessarily true. When something is necessarily true, it is true no matter what, and it is not thanks to anyone making it true that it is true. So, I know for a fact that God cannot be the author of logic. If God exists, God is just as subject to logic as the rest of reality.

    Furthermore, the idea that God is in any way responsible for logic throws the utility of logic under the bus. If logic depends upon God, then God is not subject to logic, and it cannot be used to prove the existence of God. Arguments like the Ontological argument, the Cosmological argument, and the Teleological argument all become worthless if we must assume that God is above logic. The underlying presumption behind all of these arguments is that God is subject to logic, and that is what allows any of them, if any of them indeed work, to prove that God exists. There can simply be no logical proof of any being who is responsible for creating logic.

    Let’s now turn to how the scientific method works. This is not a method of logically deducing facts about the world from mere observation, as if all it depends on is our ability to think straightforwardly. The scientific method is a trial-and-error process. It works through using experiments to rule out incorrect ideas about the world. In general, someone observes the world and forms an hypothesis about how something works. He then thinks of a test that should have one result if the world does work that way and another result if it doesn’t. Then he does the test. This is the experiment. Getting the predicted result does not imply that his hypothesis is correct, but getting a different result can be enough to rule out that hypothesis. When a hypothesis is ruled out, it can be reformulated and tested again. Through repeated failures of hypotheses, various ideas can be ruled out, and scientists can gain better understandings of how things work. Remember, this is not some house of cards that can fall apart if someone can somehow debunk freewill. This is a trial-and-error process of repeated reality testing, and it will hold up even if done by people who are not the best or most deliberate of thinkers.

    Reply
  10. Robert Saget says:

    /// Atheists certainly don’t say intelligence is impossible without God. They just can’t explain how intelligence is possible if nothing but molecules exist. How does one even get the laws of logic (which are undeniably immaterial) on materialism? ///

    At the very most this shows an explanatory gap in atheistic worldviews. It does not however do anything to prove intelligence is impossible under atheistic worldviews. Those are two VASTLY different claims which seem to have been conflated.

    Reply
    • Frank Turek says:

      HI Robert, I don’t think we’re just talking about an explanatory gap here, but a possibility gap. Materialists, by definition, assert that nothing but materials exist. So immaterial laws cannot exist on their view. And if everything is completely controlled by the blind laws of physics, then there doesn’t seem to be anyway to explain intelligence. That’s why people like Daniel Dennett claim consciousness (which, of course, requires some kind of intelligence) is an illusion. He’s not trying to explain it because it’s unexplainable given materialism. So he just claims, in effect, that it doesn’t exist.

      Another problem with the materialists’ view is that the laws of physics themselves are immaterial. They act on material things, but physical laws are immaterial (as are the laws of logic and mathematics).

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        So Frank, it seems like you are saying something like this: Tuesday exists. It isn’t material. (You fail to say what “immaterial” objects are though, what it is for Tuesday to “exist”). Thus since Tuesday exists (an apparently “immaterial” “thing”, atheist materialists (and apparently, theistic materialists, and all materialists) are wrong, at least about their materialism (the claim that only material things exists). Is that about right? If so, you might notice that this really has nothing to do with atheism, and only something to do with materialism. Nothing here proves god, nor disproves atheism. (And, it’s not clear that you’ve even proven that immaterial things, such as Tuesday, exist. But if you have, you definitely haven’t shown that atheism (the claim that there are no known gods) is false/theism (the claim that we know at least one god to exist) is true).

        Reply
      • Stardusty Psyche says:

        @ Frank Turek December 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm

        ” Materialists, by definition, assert that nothing but materials exist. ”
        —Agreed, as a provisional postulate, not a strong negative claim.
        “So immaterial laws cannot exist on their view.”
        —That would be a strong negative assertion. I prefer to say immaterial laws are not necessary, and the very notion of an immaterial existent thing is incoherent.
        ” And if everything is completely controlled by the blind laws of physics, then there doesn’t seem to be anyway to explain intelligence.”
        —Non-sequitur. What we call intelligence is a label for the processes of material in brains.
        ” That’s why people like Daniel Dennett claim consciousness (which, of course, requires some kind of intelligence) is an illusion. ”
        —For a materialist the word “illusion” does not mean that there is no reality to an underlying process, rather, our apprehension of that process is only an approximation that is illusory in the sense that it is an approximation.
        “He’s not trying to explain it because it’s unexplainable given materialism. ”
        —The explanation for intelligence on materialism is that real underlying processes are occurring that we have apprehensions of that are in many respects illusory.
        “So he just claims, in effect, that it doesn’t exist.”
        —The underlying processes do really exist. Our apprehension of them is in many respects distorted and inaccurate.
        “Another problem with the materialists’ view is that the laws of physics themselves are immaterial. ”
        —I am a materialist and I have never expressed that view, perhaps some materialists I am not aware of have.
        “They act on material things, but physical laws are immaterial”
        —Materialists typically reject even the use of the word “laws” except in a very loose manner of conversational speech.
        “Laws” in the sense of physics equations are descriptive abstract approximations of observed material behaviors.
        “Laws” in the sense of how material behaves, or acts, or interacts, or changes over time are simply what material does. The “laws” are verbs and the material is a noun, as it were. “Laws” are not themselves independently existent things, rather, the processes over time of things.
        ” (as are the laws of logic and mathematics). ”
        —“Laws” of logic and mathematics are postulates or axioms, they are abstractions, not outside existent things.

        Reply
  11. Andy Ryan says:

    Frank, if you admit that it’s impossible to deny the laws of logic without affirming them, then that means those laws would apply in every possible universe. That would include Godless ones. That means you’re effectively ‘stealing credit’ to say God is needed to explain logic. The laws couldn’t possibly be different, with or without a God. A situation where one can deny the laws of logic is impossible.

    Reply
  12. Andrew says:

    Mr. Turek, do you believe that the universe would even exist in the first place if atheism is true? With no God to create everything there would be no creation, nothing would exist, right? Setting that aside, perhaps you are willing to assume for the purpose of discussion that the universe could exist without a God who created it. But if you can’t accept that the real world that you see around you is what the universe would look like if atheism is true, and instead feel compelled to describe some hypothetical universe that doesn’t actually exist, populated with “moist robots” who can’t think logically or rationally, then you are being disingenuous.

    Obviously, if atheism is true then that would mean people who believe God exists are mistaken. It’s that simple. And if atheism is NOT true then obviously that would mean atheists are mistaken. But if you’re going to start your discussion with the premise that atheism is true then you would be wise to concede the obvious: it would mean that Christians are mistaken. Is that too difficult to accept? I haven’t seen you mention that, you only seem interested in portraying some hypothetical universe that looks nothing like the real world around us. Why is that? If you can’t accept the possibility, even for the purpose of discussion, that Christians might be mistaken and the universe would function exactly as it does right now all around you and people could indeed think rationally, then why even bother to grant that the universe could exist at all in the first place without God?

    Reply
  13. toby says:

    Frank, can you imagine being born blind? You’d be completely ignorant of colors, shapes, etc. Now add deaf to that. You’d be a creature of smell, taste, and feel. Take those three senses away too. You’re born completely free of senses. It means you have no sense of the world around you. How could you say you’d have free will? You have said that if we didn’t have free will we’d not be reasoning, but only reacting. How does an “immaterial mind” avoid being anything beyond reactions? If you were a senseless thing you’d be closer to immaterial than anything you’ve ever considered in your arguments for immateriality. It seems that the formation of who we are requires these inputs of senses. How then are our wills free if they depend on preexisting conditions?

    Reply
    • Susan says:

      Google and read Creation’s Jubilee. I have problems with free will, too.

      If a person can be influenced by others and circumstances then how free is his will?

      Maybe the best we can do is pick the best influences on us carefully.

      Reply
  14. Nelson Hernandez says:

    Bad logic from the very beginning are you a follower of Sunderboot01? Lol.

    Atheism cannot be true as atheism doesn’t make a positive claim. Atheism cannot be false either. Atheism is simply the response to the theistic claim of “a god exists”. The response is not that “god doesn’t exist” is simply the theist has not provided evidence to support their claim that a god exists. We lack a belief. Like most people lack a belief in Bigfoot.

    You also assert that in an atheistic world view (which again is wrong as atheism doesn’t have ideologies or worldviews) a mind couldn’t exist and all we’d have are brains. To help me understand you. Can you please give me examples of minds without a brain? Your stance implies a duality of mind and brain being separate entities. So what examples can you provide of a mind that manifests and a physical brain is not present?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  15. Bob Seidensticker says:

    The bottom line is that atheism cannot be shown to be true in principle.

    Translation: providing evidence for my side of the argument is really hard, so I’ll just try to disqualify the other guy so I don’t have to.

    Reply
  16. Dan says:

    My, my, don’t we all love our own press. It seems we are trying to make this all more difficult than it is. Clearly, we have free will or there would only be one type of soda on the market. Only one car manufacturer would be necessary and marketing companies would be out of business. Madison Avenue, however, has made a fortune based on their ability to harness free will.

    Arguing any point in a vacuum is myopic. I could make Hitler sound like a pretty good guy if I focused on only one aspect of his accomplishments. Its when I take the aggregate of his deeds over the course of his administration that I uncover the true monster. Likewise, when I gather the preponderance of evidence over multiple disciplines I can apply my understanding of the material world to arrive at the most accurate logical conclusion.

    When I account for genetic limitations, irreducibly complex organisms, the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record and many other leaps of logic that evolution asks me to make, I can conclude that evolution is a theory to which I should not subscribe. However, if evolution is false, it does not automatically follow that creation is true. When I add, though, that Penzias and Wilson rediscovered the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation in 1964 and supplement that with what I know to be true of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, I can discount the steady state theory. Creation is suddenly much more likely because I believe the universe had a starting point.

    Does this mean that God exists? Still not enough evidence; but, if I could determine that humans have souls, then materialism is in serious jeopardy. Conversely, if we are molecules in motion, meat machines, moist robots, then God will lose this argument.

    If I built two machines out of the same materials, put them into the same environment, put the same materials into them, the chances are fantastic that I would get the same product out of each machine. But, that is not what I observe from mankind. If we are just chemicals reacting to stimuli, we should all be having the same levels of success and failure. There should be no difference in our output. That is not what I know to be true in the real world. I witness a huge disparity in desires, needs, hopes and likes. Why don’t we all have the same favorite color? I believe we must have a soul, for I can not account for this with a molecules in motion model.

    I did not arrive in my belief in God casually. The evidentiary process that I just walked through is a small portion of the investigational journey. I do think that empirical evidence is a vital tool that deserves much weight; but, limiting myself to a materialistic world view and denying the immaterial that is starring me in the face seems short-sighted.

    Reply

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