American Thinker | Alan Roebuck | Jan. 26, 2008
Not all atheists are supercilious, of course. Many are content to live and let live, and some even grant that religion (which, in America, basically means Christianity) does some good. But atheism as an organized, evangelizing movement has been on the offensive lately. Witness the “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, with their aggressive stance against God and their bestselling books attempting to debunk religion.
So, assuming you are a theist, what do you say to the atheist who asks, “You don’t (chuckle) actually believe in God, do you (snicker)?”
The natural response would be to start giving evidence for God: the origin of the universe in the Big Bang requires a cause that is beyond matter, energy, space and time, the design of life requires an intelligence to account for the information that it contains, the many accounts of miracles and the supernatural cannot all be fabrications, and so on. Entire libraries have been written on the evidence and arguments for God.
But before you start showing them the evidence, consider: Most aggressive atheists say “I would be willing to believe in God if there were any evidence that He exists, but no such evidence exists, so I don’t believe.” No matter what evidence you give, the supercilious atheist finds a way to dismiss it. To him, it is not the case that your evidence for God is valid but nevertheless is cancelled out by his superior evidence against God. No, in the atheist’s mind your evidence does not even count as evidence. And therefore your reasoning has no effect on his thinking, other than to confirm to him that you are irrational.
What’s going on here? Does the atheist have superior insight that allows him to see the errors that invalidate the arguments for God that seem valid to us theists? Or is it the atheist who is missing something?
I would argue that it’s the latter. Consider: the theist believes in the real existence of everything that the atheist believes in: matter, energy, space, time. The theist believes that the physical world really exists, just as the atheist does. And the theist believes that the scientific description of nature is fundamentally correct, as far as it goes.
But the atheist refuses to expand his mental universe by also believing in the transcendent things that the theist believes in: God, souls, angels and demons, for example. The atheist restricts himself to a sort of tunnel vision.
And this is where atheism becomes vulnerable. The atheist does not disbelieve in God because he has neutrally examined all the evidence, and drawn the proper conclusion that there is no God. On the contrary, the atheist radically misconstrues the plentiful evidence for God, and he does this because of his false worldview, which tells him that only the physical really exists. Before he has examined the evidence, the atheist thinks he knows that nothing non-physical actually exists, and this assumption governs how he responds to the evidence.
About that word “worldview:” It means a comprehensive system of thought that describes the nature of reality, answers the big questions of life, and provides man with a code of conduct. Most Western atheists have a worldview that the philosophers call “naturalism,” the basic elements of which include atheism, empiricism (the doctrine that all knowledge is obtained inductively, based on our sense perceptions), and materialism (the doctrine that only matter and its properties exist).
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