Atheism: The Death Knell of Right Reason
By John Feakes
Peruse the reader comments that follow any online news story and you’ll see that if anyone even comes close to mentioning God the atheists come out hooting and hollering. Like Pavlovian dogs trained to salivate at the ringing of a bell, the aletheiphobes1 of modern times see red when God is even hinted at anywhere near the public square. Their venom-filled tirades are almost guaranteed to contain some mention of how atheists embrace logic and reason whilst God believers are hopelessly committed to blind, irrational faith. This ridiculous assertion has been made by the atheist camp for so long it’s become a sort of mantra. This brief column was born out of sheer frustration at hearing this thoughtless and groundless atheist proclamation.
According to the atheist, the universe’s birth and subsequent history is not result of intelligent agency, but is merely the result of physical processes that were random, accidental, and ultimately meaningless. It’s obvious that in such a universe, human opinion must be taken as ultimate with respect to dictating how and what to think. It doesn’t take any philosophical sophistication to recognize the fact that if human opinion is ultimate, ANY human opinion can be rationally denied. Such a situation is truly the death knell to any hopes of engaging in right reason. Indeed, in such a universe, what one human regards as right reason may be rejected as such by another. What is needed is a competent authority qualitatively greater than human opinion which can prescribe for us how and what we ought to think. Here we see the typical militant atheist for the walking contradiction that he is. The utter foolishness of atheistic thought is truly staggering. Consider three (of many) intellectual shortcomings with denying God’s existence.
First, materialistic atheists maintain that the universe is reducible to material particular things. If this is true then there is no way conceivable in which one can truthfully predicate. After all, particular things are by definition unique. This means that “sameness” is merely a human construct and can be rationally denied. This renders all predication rationally deniable as well. How can knowledge be gained in such a universe? How can meaningful dialogue take place? Holding to such presuppositions, how can an atheist seriously label any other human opinion as “irrational”?
Secondly, the atheist must see both contingency and determinism as ultimate. Because there is no plan, purpose, or supernatural agency governing what transpires in the universe, absolutely anything can happen. Nevertheless, at the same time the atheist claims to know that the miracles documented in the Bible did not take place because miracles are violations of natural law. On the one hand the atheist is forced to admit that anything can happen (i.e. a universe can pop into existence uncaused out of nothing) whilst maintaining that not everything can happen (i.e. miracles are impossible). Not only is the atheist being arbitrary (a cardinal sin according to widely accepted canons of logic), his thinking is downright contradictory.
Lastly, the atheist typically claims that consistency is an arbiter of, or at least a reliable test for, truth. The Christian would agree with this. However, unlike the atheist, the Christian has a reason for doing so. On Christian theism, God is consistent and unchanging. The Bible tells us it is impossible for God to lie.2 For the Christian, all truth is of God and reflects his consistent and unchanging character. Therefore, on Christian theism, consistency is indeed a legitimate test for truth. On the other hand, what reason can the atheist give for seeing consistency as any sort of legitimate test of anything? After all, there are plenty of worldviews and conceptual schemes that care nothing for consistency. Various eastern religious systems of thought may be cited as examples of this.3 Again, the atheist position seems intellectually problematic. The atheist wants to affirm that human opinion is ultimate while condemning as “irrational” worldviews and conceptual schemes that appear internally contradictory. In doing so the atheist actually condemns himself. For his own system of thought is obviously equally contradictory in that he regards human opinion as ultimate, while at the same time seeing consistency as ultimate and something according to which human opinion must conform.
Obviously there is much more that needs to be said. God willing I will post much more on this site regarding the senseless rants of today’s militant atheists. Even better, I welcome the opportunity to engage these folks on the debate platform where the playing field is level. For Christians fed up with the hateful militant atheist rants that dominate many of the threads posted on the net, feel free to send them a link to this column. I welcome the opportunity to pour a little common sense into these folks.
Notes and References
1. Aletheia is a Greek term meaning “truth.” To be aletheiphobic is to have a fear of the truth. What else can we label people who launch irrational tirades aimed at destroying the only worldview that can account for knowledge and rationality in the first place? Aletheiphobic is the only term that comes to mind.
2. 1 Samuel 15:29, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18
3. Not just eastern religious worldviews but western secular ones as well. In several debates with atheists, Dr. William Lane Craig has argued that the history of the universe cannot extend infinitely into the past but must have had a beginning a finite time ago. He argues that if the universe’s history did extend infinitely into the past that would mean that the number of actual events that have transpired would be infinite. This of course would lead to all sorts of logical contradictions and absurdities. Several of the atheists have responded to Craig’s challenge by insisting that philosophy has no right to dictate to science concerning what can and cannot be the case. What these folks fail to grasp is that any and all scientific inquiry is based upon some philosophy or another. It is simply naive to think that science proceeds on “just the facts.” In order to recognize any fact as such necessitates our first having a philosophical outlook on what constitutes a fact in the first place.