“Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma” says Sam Harris, a prominent leader of the “new atheist” movement.
Essentially, his claim is, “those who subscribe to the dogmatic statements of any religion cannot be reasonable.”
This poses a problem on many different fronts.
First of all, atheism is itself a man-made religion–especially Harris’ form of “new atheism.” It’s adherents make what they claim to be true, empirically unprovable assertions about the actuality of the world, and rely upon faith to bridge the gaps. This is a religion of the worst kind–a blind faith religion.
Secondly, when Harris uses the word “dogma” he is talking about truth claims and exclusivism. But isn’t it an exclusive truth claim to say that God doesn’t exist AND to say that Christians (or other religionists) cannot be reasonable people?
Thirdly, he has committed the logical fallacy of “bifurcation” (also known as a false dilemma)–only presenting two possible options when a third is available, i.e., that religionists can also be reasonable people!
It is for these reasons and many more that I believe atheism to be intrinsically unintelligent.
If just one small sentence by one of the most prominent atheists in the free world is riddled with contradictions, falsehoods, and logical fallacies, how much more could the entire enterprise of atheism be?
While I am not, by any means, saying that certain atheists are unintelligent–I firmly believe that their worldview is.
In fact, we must be careful of this. Many unbelievers are only so because they have simply never heard the gospel. Some just don’t understand and are “willing to hear us again” (see Acts 17).
But if a person claims that you should not listen to the religious “dogma” of say, Christianity, all while promoting their own religious “dogma” of atheism–that deserves to be dealt with.
I believe Christianity is uniquely equipped to answer these challenges.
Let’s examine four reasons why I think we can make the case that atheism is, by definition, an unintelligent worldview.
1. The Biblical Argument
As Christians, we insist that all knowledge is in Christ (Colossians 2:3) and in order to access that knowledge, a respect for God as Creator is necessary (Proverbs 1:7).
The question we must ask then is, “What does the Bible teach (i.e., what does God think) about those who don’t believe in God?”
Here are a few verses of Scripture which accurately lay out the Biblical position:
- Romans 1:20: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
- 1 Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
- Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
- Psalms 14:1: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”
- Proverbs 26:4: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”
There are a couple of things to remember here: First, there is a difference between calling someone a fool (name-calling) and understanding their position as foolish. The Bible uses the word “fool” here in its historical context. It is describing a person who holds onto his position without any basis for doing so.
Also, the Bible claims that absence of evidence is not the reason for an atheists unbelief, although many claim that they would believe if God would essentially “do a trick” right in front of their eyes. But this is not so according to the Bible.
God has already performed the greatest miracle for all to see–the Creation of the world! God says we are without excuse on Judgment Day because “the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen.”
Finally, God’s Word teaches that the “natural man”–a man without a regenerated spirit–cannot understand the things of God. This is why the goal of apologetics should never be to provide evidence for God–the fact is that unless the Holy Spirit is working, the natural man can’t (and doesn’t want to) understand it! How does the Holy Spirit work? Through His revealed Word!
The most faithful application of apologetics is to show the unbeliever that his worldview is reduced to utter absurdity absent the God of the Bible (see Proverbs 26:3-4).
I conclude, therefore, that there is most certainly a Biblical precedent for the claim that atheism itself is an unintelligent position. It cannot access the knowledge of God, within whom all knowledge exists.
2. The Logical Argument
Atheism is a bankrupt position from a logical standpoint as well. I gave this a fairly thorough treatment here, but we’ll take a brief look here as well.
My argument is that atheism is intrinsically unintelligent–that is, the position itself is “lacking intelligence.” By that, I don’t meant that it’s not smart, I simply mean that it is not possible.
Atheism lacks the preconditions of intelligibility.
In other words, atheism does not provide a framework within which to explain facts of reality such as our ability to use logic, to do science, and to make moral decisions.
Of course–atheists use logic, do science, and make moral decisions all of the time! Whether or not they can do these things is irrelevant. Everyone can do them because we all live in God’s world.
The question is, “whose worldview makes these things possible?” The answer is “only Christianity–the worldview based on the God the Bible.” Again–more on that claim can be found here.
There are more examples of these impossibilities (such as why we can trust our senses, etc.), but since logic, science, and morality are probably the three biggest arguments used against God, we need to know why they are impossible in an atheist’s worldview.
First, logic. Atheists tend to say, much like Sam Harris in my opening sentence, “Religion is irrational. Only those who don’t believe in God are reasonable people.” But reason implies the need for laws of logic. Aside from the fact that laws only come from “personal agents”, why should we expect to be logical in a chance universe such as atheism declares? Does 2+2=4 only work where human life exists, or does this apply in the far reaches of space as well? The law of non-contradiction falls apart in all thought systems void of Biblical truth. This is most clearly seen in the broadly atheistic “postmodern” school of thought as well as most (if not all) Eastern religions.
Then, science. Christians expect to be living in an orderly universe (see Hebrews 1:3). The scientific method rests upon the fact that today’s experiments will still be valid tomorrow. Each morning, we count on the Sun to rise. But should atheists expect this? Not in a chance universe. Naturalists attempt to pit science against God, but God’s upholding of our universe is the only reason we can do science in the first place! It’d be like breathing in air while arguing the air doesn’t exist or is imaginary. To hold this position is fundamentally illogical.
Finally, morality. Once again, a moral law posits a moral law Giver. But what is intrinsically moral about gathered stardust or rearranged pond scum? Does bacteria make objective moral decisions? Do animals make objective moral decisions? If evolution is true, for example, we are all nothing more than animals. There is no naturalistic explanation for consciousness. One could argue that objective morality does not exist, but this is also a non-starter.
So, what are we left with?
If atheism is true, then the world is FULL of logical, rational people who are able to do science to figure out the complexities of the world and who can also make moral decisions, yet have no good, objective reason for believing they can do any of these things.
Sounds like absurdity to me.
3. The Causal Argument
Amongst Christians, there is an age-old, and very heated debate about whether everything that happens is foreordained by God or if free will exists (in the libertarian sense).
I personally believe the Bible teaches both, which is best characterized by a view termed Molinism.
I don’t write on this much because I doubt the debate will be solved by offering one more blog post, and my mission field is those who have not yet trusted Christ as their Savior—I don’t get involved in many “in-house” debates.
However, there is an element of this discussion that is actually very pertinent to atheism. Most atheists would claim that we live in a free universe. In other words, we are all free to do as we please, under no duress or constraint.
In fact, one reason they hate the idea of God is that they don’t want to have a “cosmic dictator telling them what to do.”
But one cannot escape the fact that if atheism is indeed true, and there is no God sovereign over the universe, then everything we do—including the actual act of questioning everything we do—has been causally predetermined.
How so? The evolutionary process, for example, is by definition “unguided.” That means that even though every step in the process is random, it happened the only way it was ever going to—therefore, it was determined from the time life first arose.
This poses a gigantic problem. It is fundamentally absurd to conclude that we have been predetermined by the bending and twisting of random mutational processes—but also able to think rationally about it! But I’m not alone in this; in fact, Dawkins, Hawking, and Berlinski—some of the worlds leading atheistic/agnostic scholars of today and days past—have all concluded this as well.
The problem is your average “internet atheist” has never given this any real thought. Nor has the unbeliever who has simply avoided the “God question” given this any real thought.
This is a classic case of someone holding a position without considering its implications.
The problem is that we all have the ability to make truth claims. And as Razi Zacharias has said, “the moment you make a truth claim, you rise above determinism.”
So while this has not been an in-depth analysis of the implications of genetic/biological determinism, perhaps if you are an atheist, you should start wondering if you are actually satisfied by the thought of living according to a predetermined set of circumstances made possible only by the genes which make up your bodily composition, or if you’d like to explore another alternative—one that actually matches the reality we live in.
To get you started you might look at Tim Stratton’s Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism.
4. The Practical Argument
My previous point raises an interesting question near the end. Does atheism match the actual reality we live in?
I mean—of course, there are atheists. But more specifically the question is, “does the world atheism advances match the world we see in front of our eyes?”
I don’t think that it does.
We have already seen how that works above in the “logical” argument. If atheism is true, there seems to be no explanation for ability to be logical, to do science, and make moral decisions.
But the real problem goes even deeper than that.
Everybody wants to know what is wrong with the world. Why is there so much hate? Why do national leaders devise strategies to war against one another? Why does sickness run rampant?
On ANY atheistic worldview, there is simply no explanation for these things. You can’t even say “survival of the fittest,” because that is not an evolutionary notion, despite what many think. Natural selection, as it were, has a happy home in the creationist worldview.
There is no survival value to blowing each other up. And if there were, then the atheists who claim there is survival value in helping one another are speaking in full contrast.
Practically, it makes no sense to be an atheist.
This is further brought to light when atheists use the problem of evil against Christians. “How can an omnibenevolent God allow so much evil and suffering in the world?”, they ask. This is a fair question—one the Bible answers quite clearly.
But on atheism, how is this any better? The only difference is that on atheism there is no God to get mad at—only other people! Which causes the hate! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Hear me loud and clear: Becoming an atheist does not remove the problem of evil—it simply removes the only solution, Christianity, from the picture.
Furthermore, many atheists reject the notion of the God of the Bible on the aforementioned basis—that He allows so much suffering and evil in the world. But these same atheists criticize God for dealing with evil in the Bible, particularly some of the Old Testament chapters! These are contradictory positions, and practically, make very little sense.
Therefore, I conclude that the worldview with the most explanatory power to match the world we actually live in is Christianity—the true Story of Reality.
Recommended Further Reading:
- The Ultimate Proof of Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle
- The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl
- Discerning Truth by Dr. Jason Lisle
Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!