Rally For Reason

Print

By Terrell Clemmons

‚ÄúDon‚Äôt be surprised to find out that there are atheists and agnostics in your midst,‚ÄĚ Ted said to me, after railing against the evils of organized religion. I got the impression he expected some kind of visible reaction from me.

Rally For Reason

But I wasn‚Äôt surprised. He‚Äôd already said he was a humanist. The two kind of go together. Besides, I‚Äôm not horrified over atheists. I took the bait.¬†You wanna discuss atheism, Ted? Let‚Äôs discuss atheism.¬†‚ÄúSo, I get that you have problems with organized religion, Ted. But human organizations aside, do you believe there is a God? Or do you believe there is not a God?‚ÄĚ

Ted didn‚Äôt give me a straightforward answer, though. Instead, he referred me to Sam Harris, one of his ‚Äúfavorite authors and Freethinkers,‚ÄĚ who takes issue with some Catholic teachings and other Christian ideas about God. That was fine for Sam Harris, but Ted didn‚Äôt answer for himself. So I repeated the question.

This time he answered. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt believe there is a God,‚ÄĚ he said and followed up with a caricature of Christianity. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt believe there is a supreme being that created the universe; and sits in heaven and watches every movement and monitors the thoughts of every human. I see very clearly the problems of organized religion‚Ķthe hypocrisies, the greed, the sadistic, bullying behavior.‚ÄĚ

Now I had something to work with. In the language of the basic logic of reasoning from premises (P) to conclusions (C), I reflected his own reasoning back to him. “Ok, Ted, correct me if I’m wrong. From what I’m hearing, your reasoning goes something like this:

P: People associated with organized religion have engaged in the objectionable behavior.
C:¬†Therefore, there is no God.‚ÄĚ

Since he’d quoted Sam Harris, I did the same for Harris’s reasoning. “And Sam Harris’s reasoning goes something like this:

P: The character traits of God as presented by some organized religions are objectionable to me.
C:¬†Therefore, there is no God.‚ÄĚ

At this, Ted clarified himself a bit. He was a ‚Äúscience guy,‚ÄĚ and God, if he exists, is either ‚Äúimpotent‚Ķor evil.‚ÄĚ And then he was ready to be done with it. ‚ÄúBut, enough about what I think,‚ÄĚ he said, and he shifted the subject to something else.

This exchange illustrates something about non-theists, whether they call themselves humanists, agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, or whatever label they prefer. At root, the atheist’s position is intellectually unsound.

Here’s another example:

Ivan:¬†‚ÄúI‚Äôm definitely an atheist. I am an atheist because I cannot believe in fantasy. There is no God. There is no Heaven. There is no Hell. That stuff was created by man to help a man feel better about himself. When I look at the scientific facts, I cannot believe in that. So yes, I am an atheist. Absolutely.‚ÄĚ

Terrell:¬†‚ÄúWhich scientific facts?‚ÄĚ

Ivan¬†reads off statistics about the size of the universe, emphasizing its vastness. ‚ÄúTo think that there‚Äôs some type of supreme being, call it God or Jesus, that is bigger than that? That is concerned about us on earth? About our welfare? About our future? It‚Äôs absolutely preposterous,‚ÄĚ

Ivan’s reasoning went like this:

P: The universe is really huge.
C: Therefore, there is no God.

Like Ted, Ivan considers himself a ‚Äúscience guy.‚ÄĚ

Well, I like science, too. And, sure, the size of the universe is a marvel. But it says nothing about the existence or non-existence of God. Nothing, whatsoever. Soon, Ivan was ready to call it quits too. ‚ÄúI believe that at some point, people end up with firm convictions,‚ÄĚ he wrote to me in an e-mail. ‚ÄúTheir viewpoints should be respected and further attempts to convert them should be avoided because not everybody wants to be converted.‚ÄĚ

Ahh, now we have arrived at the heart of the matter:¬†Not everybody wants to be converted. These two exchanges expose the heretofore hidden reality that Ted and Ivan have made¬†a personal, philosophical faith choice to disbelieve. Believers need to remember this and press those vocal non-theists to make their case. The prevailing posture among atheism says the atheistic worldview is more intellectually sound and evolutionarily advanced‚ÄĒthat atheism is the belief anyone would come to if he merely examined the scientific facts, all other belief systems being vestiges of Stone Age superstition on a par with moon worship and child sacrifice. But it‚Äôs not. Get the facts out in the open and it becomes pretty obvious. Theism stands. Atheism falls. Because there really is a God who created the universe.

The smart atheists seem to know this. Tom Gilson invited David Silverman, president of American Atheists, to co-sponsor an open, reasoned debate at the Reason Rally which will take place this weekend. He declined. William Lane Craig invited Richard Dawkins to debate. He declined.

Nevertheless, unreason notwithstanding, the Reason Rally will go on this weekend. Take it as an invitation to reason together with the non-theists in our midst. Theism is up to the challenge. Atheism isn’t.

Related Readings

This post first appeared at Robin’s Readings and Reflections, where I will be guest blogging on occasion. Check it out.

 


Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2FY2I76

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit

Facebook Comments