I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

Below is my (2nd) response to an atheist who has written me twice to tell me why I shouldn’t believe in God, the Bible or even a Creator. The names have been changed to protect the foolish.  (“The fool says in his heart there is no God. Psalm 14:1; 53:1)

  March 11, 2012

Dear (Mr. Atheist),

I see that you are a man of great faith!  I admit that I do not have enough faith to be an atheist.  It seems to me we must believe either:

The universe has a beginning or no beginning,

It has a cause or no cause,

The cause is either personal or impersonal,

There is either meaning or no meaning,

There is absolute truth or no truth.

I believe science has accepted that the universe had a beginning.   To believe there is intelligent design behind the complex universe seems to be a logical conclusion that we apply to every other realm of thinking.  Has anyone ever suggested that such simple things as a chair, a building, or a clock had no design or maker?  It would be ludicrous to suppose that our complex computers and rockets came out of nothing and there is no creator behind them.  Even throwing in millions of years and shaking up  & throwing out all the components of a computer or rocket, it’s hard to believe you would come up with anything close to the complexity and function with no creative mind behind them. Yet, it puzzles me that atheists see no inconsistencies in failing to apply the same reasoning to something as complex as human life or the universe.

You find it incredible to believe God created the human species in an instant or that there was a worldwide flood, etc., but have no problem assuming the universe created itself out of nothing?  I contend that takes more faith than I have.

C.S. Lewis said, “If nothing is self-evident, then nothing can be proved.”  Even science has to assume that 1. Order exists, 2. A law of causality, 3. That we can learn.

I think it takes far more faith to assume that order and cause created itself.  Can something come out of nothing?  Can order come out of chaos?  Outside of a Creator God, it seems very reasonable to me to deduce that nothing can produce nothing and chaos cannot produce order.  If it started with a single cell, where did it come from?

You say that “potential has evolved with our purely material brains”, and that “ideas such as reason, democracy and liberty are human ideas, not a god’s”.  How do you get non-material out of purely material?  Can a rock produce an idea?  If beauty, truth, reason, and liberty, morality exist, one has to admit they are beyond the material.  All those, and logic itself have no place in a universe that is purely material.  Can there be meaning in a purely material universe?  What is the meaning of meaning?

It seems the crux of the argument is whether there is absolute truth or not.  If there is no creator, you are right.  There can be no unchanging absolute truth.   Well, are there unchanging truths, that are always true?   Is it always wrong to torture babies?  Rape women? Assault the helpless and elderly?  Commit incest?   Eat your neighbor?  If those truths don’t change, perhaps there are others.

The law of non-contradiction assumes that opposites can’t both be true.  This flies in the face of moral relativism, which seems to postulate there are no absolutes.  With moral relativism, it would conceivably be ok to torture babies if society approved, but not ok if another society disapproved.  But one society could not say the other was wrong.  Applying this to history, who are we to say that Hitler,  Mao or Stalin were wrong in murdering millions of  innocent people (FAR MORE  than “religious” wars, as some contend)?  They thought, through their own reasoning, they were right at the time.  Who are you to say they were wrong?  You might say their morality (or lack of it) evolved.  If it’s wrong to take innocent life—who defines innocence and why does a person’s life have any value?

If there are no absolutes, how can you criticize the God of the Bible, who you say doesn’t exist?  How can you criticize Christians who look to the Bible for morality rather than individuals “evolving” into ever-changing morals?  It seems that pluralism and moral relativism accept  ANYTHING as valid EXCEPT the Judeo-Christian morality based on the Bible?   That contradicts moral relativism, does it not?

It seems self-defeating to say:

“There is no absolute truth.”  Is THAT true?

“One can’t know truth.”  How do you know that is true unless you know everything?

“All truth is relative.”  Is that true for everybody, all the time?

You say the law of “my god” changes and then you give examples of how the Catholic church changed it from Judaism and Protestants changed it from Catholicism with much terror, torture, massacres and prejudice along the way.   The only fallacy is that you did not prove the law of God changed.  I readily agree the Catholics and Protestants changed their interpretation and their practice (totally contradicting the Scriptures).  That in no way proves that the law of God changed.  It only proves most churches ignore a lot of scripture.  Your statistics about “Christians” in prisons and committing various crimes only proves that they do NOT follow the dictates of the Bible.

Words used to mean things.  Tolerance used to mean that you would allow in society those you disagreed with.  Love used to mean you wanted the very best for another person.  God used to mean (in our society), the Creator God of the Bible.  Only He defines himself, but lately everyone else is giving Him a new identity, totally apart from the Bible.  OK.   But let’s define our terms.  That is not the God of the Bible.  Christianity USED to mean one who not only followed Christ, but His teachings, which are in the Bible.  (By the way, He taught more than “Love one another”.)   You quoted Confucius, who quoted the golden rule in 375BCE, as if Jesus was quoting him.  You forget the Torah, which is most of what Jesus quoted, was written long before 375BCE.   Many people define Christian as anyone who believes in “God”.  That is not the biblical definition.

I think the evidence very strongly suggests intelligent design.  (Seems an oxymoron to say, “We can’t allow intelligent design in science”, when we apply it to everything else.)  It seems apparent to me there are absolute truths.    If truth exists, it is true, whether I believe it or not.  Certainly, God doesn’t need your belief to exist.  I may not believe you have a car in your driveway, but that doesn’t make it untrue.  Ecclesiastes indicates a life divorced from truth and the Creator is a life without meaning.  Those who say their life has meaning apart from God, have to borrow from the truths He established to come up with meaning.  I find it far easier (because there is more evidence) to believe in a Creator than to believe the Universe just happened and we are all just material beings.  That doesn’t explain truth, beauty, kindness, intelligence, and justice, and meaning, which could not have evolved from the purely material.

As for our founding fathers being anti-Christian, the quotes you provided do not prove that.   Condemning the actions of some so-called Christians does not indicate they were anti-Christian.  I could list just as many quotes from the men you mentioned proving they believed in a Creator God and that our liberty came from Him.  I condemn a lot of things done in the name of Christianity, including the Inquisition, and Fred Phelps, but that doesn’t make me anti-Christian.  Again, many call themselves Christian, who don’t fit the Biblical definition.  Like moral relativists, they are also seeking to redefine “Christian”.

Some of your statements seem a little condescending, as if believers are somehow ignorant and less educated than you and those you agree with.  Many if not most of the great scientists and inventors at least believed in a Creator God.  Even Einstein spoke of the mind of God and the creation of the universe.

I also might mention there are several former atheists who come to mind (quite educated, I might add), who set out to disprove God or the Bible and had a change of mind along the way.  Among them, Antony Flew, Richard Morgan, Michael Bauman, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, Walid Shoebat, to name a few.  Other quite educated minds who make a much better case for belief than you make against it, JP Moreland, Phil Fernandez, Frank Turek, Calvin Beisner, John Stonestreet, Francis Beckwith, Francis Schaeffer, and of course, C.S. Lewis, and the list goes on.

That said, I don’t base my beliefs on who does or does not believe in or approve of a Creator or the Bible.   It is based it on evidence, reason and logic, in spite of your judgment to the contrary.

To say “I already read the Bible” is a little like saying “I already took a Spanish or Russian Class in the 2nd grade”, and expect people to look to you to be fluent, much less as an expert in that language.   Many of your charges and assumptions about it reveal your lack of understanding and no doubt, rudimentary study of it.  You mentioned that you study biblical analysis.  That’s not the same as studying the Bible.

You say we are no longer children, don’t need God, and can take care of ourselves. I suspect there may come a time when you have second thoughts, but maybe not.  That sounds a little like something one of my young teenagers would say.  Along with that goes the “And you can’t tell me what to do.  You’re not the boss of me.”   My children have the choice after they leave home whether to follow what I have taught them.  They don’t have to, but their lives will be better if they do.  You certainly do not have to follow the teachings of God, starting with the Ten Commandments, but you and society are always better if you do, whether you believe in Him or not.   Perhaps you can concede that we are better without rampant murder, stealing, lying, adultery…. or maybe not.  If there is not absolute right or wrong, who cares.?  Who’s to say society is better one way or the other?

You say that believers must “struggle under the constant burden of guilt….and non-believers can take pride in their achievements Saying believers must struggle with a constant burden of guilt is not a biblical concept.  While the Bible defines good and evil, it also clearly teaches repentance and forgiveness.  One who experiences forgiveness need not be under a constant burden of guilt.   That is the gospel message.

Since I am not retired (just tiredJ), I cannot address every point you brought up, but have attempted to answer a few.

Sincerely,

(batTorah)

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

  1. Pingback: understanding metaphors like the tree of life, the eyes to see and the ears to hear « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

  2. Pingback: Bible morality or depravity? « Impressions

  3. “There is absolute truth or no truth.” – Ever heard of relativity? That things can be different depending on your viewpont, its scientifically accepted fact.

    “Can something come out of nothing? Can order come out of chaos?” – Yes it can, quantum fluctuation is a well known phenomena. That the universe may have started in a singularity and progresses to the less ordered state we have now would suggest that the universe has behaved according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics and has become more chaotic than its starting point.

    ““All truth is relative.” Is that true for everybody, all the time?

    You say the law of “my god” changes and then you give examples of how the Catholic church changed it from Judaism and Protestants changed it from Catholicism with much terror, torture, massacres and prejudice along the way. The only fallacy is that you did not prove the law of God changed. I readily agree the Catholics and Protestants changed their interpretation and their practice (totally contradicting the Scriptures). That in no way proves that the law of God changed. It only proves most churches ignore a lot of scripture. Your statistics about “Christians” in prisons and committing various crimes only proves that they do NOT follow the dictates of the Bible.”

    the god in the bible regularly changes how he deals with people and the punishments to be acted upon them, he felt it was right to destroy huge numbers in genesis and exodus, yet did little to punish the idol worshipping tribes fighting with the Jews in the late, more historical books of the prophets. Jesus, who supposedly was god incarnate had very little to say about punishment, especially of larger groups.

    “Perhaps you can concede that we are better without rampant murder, stealing, lying, adultery…. or maybe not. If there is not absolute right or wrong, who cares.? Who’s to say society is better one way or the other?”

    Would you add to that list: persecution of people in a loving relationship who happen to be of the same sex, ritual mutilation of minor criminals, laws forbidding perfectly healthy food, the illegality of loans & mortgages (at least with interest), along with many more biblical laws that we have more or less decided to either forget or at least allow to be broken.

    I do not think that all the laws in the bible are there to be broken but I do think they were for a time and place and not all are suitable for our modern world, we should not be scared to change the law to suit the times, thats why we don’t have slavery anymore.

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