Posts Tagged With: Atheism

If I were an Atheist

Believers

If I were an atheist, I would try to really believe it and live it. What do I mean? Well, first of all, most atheists would pull out their first debate card right here and retort “Atheism isn’t a thing to believe and live! It’s non-belief – it’s a non-identity!” This is their favorite first chess move, because they really do see themselves as neutral observers on a seemingly ungoverned universe. They believe they are making no positive claims about what is, only what is not, namely, a supernatural realm, gods, or a God.

This push of the pawn into the center of the chessboard seems strong at first glance, but with a little examination, it fails to deliver on its promise. First of all, no human being can escape a life of -beliefs-. We are all believers by nature, inescapably, because no person has all knowledge. If one does not have all knowledge, and if that one is going to make any, any claim about the universe that cannot be objectively known and proven, then that person is swimming in the realm of belief.

No atheist can avoid this life of belief without evidence. My atheist friend on Twitter confirmed this for me here:

Agnostics, not atheists. So what’s the reason to call oneself atheist (or as some do, anti-theists)? My guess is that for some, it’s the feeling of satisfaction, and for others, a lack of self awareness. To be “atheist” by self label is to be a bold unbeliever, to strike at the heart of the vast majority of one’s human family with a shocking “you’re all way off!” (which is a positive claim of belief, mind you)…

Yet this seemingly bold statement of unbelief is nothing more than a belief in a philosophical materialism – that is, a belief that all of reality is a physical phenomenon – and that everything can be explained in terms of purely natural origin and conclusion.

Among the many and fatal logical problems with this belief system is perhaps the most emotionally unsatisfying of them: the atheist is forced into the twin buzz saws of Nihilism and radical subjectivism.

And it was recently in an extended conversation with the same atheist as noted above that I pressed the problem of Nihilism. Here I will post a snatch of our conversation (with his permission) where I was pleading with him to see and embrace the implications of his atheism, hoping that to do so for any person would lead to the abandonment of said atheism. Have a look:

I’m in blue, our atheist in gray.

I remind you that in the cosmic scale of our existence, rape and murder are just things that happen given enough time and chance. Moral value cannot be assigned to these things beyond the subjective sensations of the individual primate, in this case, you.

You’re jumping WAY ahead

Let’s baby step through this.

I know how difficult it is to remain in the abstract, false world of philosophical materialism, but you’re the one who has the lock and key. Yet I keep finding you out here with me, arguing from the bases of true meaningfulness in the moral categories!

It’s like you’re a man arguing against the existence of numerical objectivity but can’t help wanting to discuss mathematics.

I disagree. I don’t see any reason why a moral framework cannot be reasoned out in the absence of a deity.

Just because there is no cosmic prohibition against certain actions does not mean we cannot figure out how the best way to treat others.

What that means, with respect and care for you, is that you cannot reason through your stated beliefs. You’re bound to borrow mine.

I can’t? That’s news to me.

“Best” implies a scale of “good” and “bad” – how do you get these categories from stellar explosions and future thermonuclear winter?

Because human beings have preferences. We can know what can be universally preferred and what cannot.

It doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand if someone steals from you, a negative outcome had accrued to you = bad

What if by some cosmic calculus you cannot fathom, stealing benefits the race? What if the death of certain groups is a feature of evolutionary progression?

What do you mean, “what if?”

Utilitarianism is not in the realm of morality.

It seems that when stars explode, several aeons later carbon-based bipedal protoplasmic organisms sometimes turn off each other’s biological functions in physical conflict. What does it matter to a blind, pitiless, indifferent universe?

It doesn’t matter to the universe. It’s not a sentient being.

I think this view helps make us more focused on morality than less.

And in your worldview, we are little eyeballs of the universe that appear for a fraction of a second, then disappear back into the abyss.

In a way, yes. Like I said yesterday, consciousness is a deep mystery and highly profound.

That we are actually the universe coming to perceive itself. It’s beautiful.

I’m trying with all my might to convince you of the implications of philosophical materialism. If it were me, I could see no problem embracing these things.

Which implications am I missing in your estimation?

Am I supposed to be dragged down into the dark pit of Nihilism?

You should be believing: Morality is *merely* a trait selected blindly by chance evolutionary progress.

Morality is an illusion that we pull over our eyes to stave off the true nature of our existence: unknowable, meaningless, extremely fleeting, and forgotten.

All sensations of meaning, love, and beauty are the desperate paroxysms of agonized, highly self-aware biomechanical robots, like us.

We’re dying. We’re about to disappear from all hope. All memory. We are atomic accidents.

What is a species’ benefit in a world that will be eaten by its own star?

What exactly is your problem with this fact?

I understand the desire to want to live forever. Man…you’re dark.[1]

These are the implications of philosophical materialism. Atheists & antitheists should be brave enough to embrace them, in my opinion.

Life is short. It’s precious. It’s special.

Precisely because of how fleeting it is.[2]

And it’s comforting to believe we’ll live forever, but it’s just not true.

I embrace those things.[3] I’m just not depressed by any of it. I’m energized by it. And I soak in every second of this amazing life.

[1] Note – he calls me dark for explaining the implications of his own worldview! [2] Really, this makes me very sad. He instinctively uses all the categories of a theist, because of course he is one by nature. He knows the value and beauty of life because he is not an animal, but rather a human being made in the image of his personal Creator. [3] The atheist “embraces” hopeless Nihilism in the same breath as he assigns meaning and value to life. The terminus of atheistic thought is pure contradiction.

So there you have an astonishing bit of honesty from our atheist friend. He sees my description of atheistic Nihilism, and “embraces” it (and the bold lettering is all my emphasis). Yet he tries with the other hand to force meaning, value, beauty, and a standard of goodness into the world.

Well sir, you can’t have it both ways.

If I were an atheist, I’d go for it. None of this “let’s make something nice out of a hopeless, meaningless situation.” No, if I were an atheist, I’d really live like there is no meaning, no external moral, no hope, no love. I’d pull off my best Jim Morrison impression (of course with far less success, ha). I’d be eating and drinking and filling myself with pleasures. I’d be the nothing I was born to be.

But you see, most atheists can’t be consistent within their claims. It’s too hard to do while living under the sovereign presence of our personal, unchanging Creator. We all have an awareness of His primacy and judgment. We know Him, and we fear Him.

Anyways, I’ll leave it off there. This is a really mediocre post with a need for wit or some unifying story that pulls you in, but if you got this far, I must’ve done something right.

Love to you all, including my atheist buds. Go easy in the comments, because I’m very reasonable to talk with.

  • Adam

 

Categories: Comparative Religions, Meaning Woven into Nature | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Apes in a Meadow (Christian – Atheist Exchange)

My interlocutor’s name on Twitter is @saykojack – a friendly atheist who enjoys a vigorous exchange of ideas – but I get tired of trying to discuss weighty matters in miniature form, so I am inviting him to talk more broadly here in the comment section with me. If anyone else wants to join in, please wait for our conversation to come to an end before you jump in. It’s really hard talking through the internet to even one person who is intelligent and serious about his or her message, let alone two or more.

So…

apes

Here’s a recap from Twitter (and I may accidentally omit something) –

1) Jack (as I’m calling him) asked me to defend/explain the purity of the New Testament text. We went back and forth with questions and answers of the nature of the New Testament. He asserts corruption of the original NT writings through the process of hand-copying transmission (the Bart Ehrman thesis), and I countered with the argument of multiple copies made and disbursed throughout extensive regions of the Roman world (thus securing the independent copying of all NT documents in isolated regions, therefore allowing the later comparison of these isolated text traditions for the purposes of ascertaining the original writings, always and still present within the whole family of 6,000 Greek, handwritten copies.)

Our disagreement is on whether or not some central control came upon the canon of the NT such that other, legitimate parts of the Christian tradition were discarded. I suggest reading Philip Comfort, Daniel Wallace, Richard Bauckham, and James White for further considerations here.

2) Jack asked me what I think of Thomas Jefferson’s edited NT, wherein the Founding Father and third president of these United States actually cut the miracles out of the pages of his Bible, to make it more amenable to his own presuppositions of anti-supernaturalism.

My answer Re: Jefferson directed our conversation to the question of our underlying, foundational assumptions, here:

I fully affirm the brilliance & blessing of the many humans who are not Christians. It’s just they are living upon a world constructed by the Son of God, for the Son of God, and which will be consummated in a restored earth to reflect the beauty of the Son of God. Folk like T Jefferson simply miss the reason for the world and their [own] brilliance – [which is] sad to me.

3) This led to Jack strumming the strings of his favorite guitar (I’m guessing) – evolutionary, atheistic psychology. But before I hit that, I want to note a really funny slip by my friend:

He asks me “So if all your senses are not enough to understand the world what do you use? All that is left is imagination. Do you have some “other” sense?”

He then continued “I sense the answer will be Super-natural but again with what do you sense that?”

So my question, to continue our discussion, is “what do you mean “I sense,” Jack? Which of the five physical senses did you mean to indicate here?

I hope to see you in the comment section…

 

Categories: Comparative Religions, Meaning Woven into Nature, Personal Stuff, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Christianity Answers our Universal Amnesia (Worldview pt. 4)

We Were in a Bad Crash

But it was no accident when Eve disobeyed God and Adam let her. It was a willing crash into the brick wall of death while going 1,000 miles per hour, and all while the whole human race slept in the back seat.car-crash

As John Piper said, “we are all of us like car accident victims, walking around asking ‘who am I,’ and ‘where did I come from?’ And the only means by which we will get the right answers is to get them from someone who is not affected by the same disaster that we are all a part of” (paraphrase).

So then, who has perfect knowledge of all things before, during, and after the creation of the universe; how everything came into being, the fall of humanity into sin, and the subsequent disaster zone on earth?

God does. He has perfect knowledge, memory, and foreknowledge of absolutely everything, and this is the foundation of all true knowledge. The objective definition that no atheist can ever give is that of reality. What is reality? What is true? Where do logic and reasoning come from? If we do not begin with the existence, preeminence, omniscience, and omnipotence of God, then we cannot make justified knowledge claims about anything.

Standing on the Rock

What we believe about reality is the foundation of everything we think and do. What we believe is the most important part of ourselves. Yet because of our separation from God when Adam and Eve sinned, none of us is born with clear thinking about reality. Our biggest problem is that each one of us tends to base our beliefs on what we can feel, touch, and test within our experience. We innately believe that we are autonomous – that we are perfectly capable of discovering reality on our own.

We don’t think we need the input of God. We see Him as a rival God – someone who will take away our own lordship. “I’m my own judge.” “I’m the master of my own fate.” “I say what’s right and wrong.”

Or a real life example from a 2004 interview with then Senator Barack Obama:

FALSANI: “Do you believe in sin?”

OBAMA: “Yes.”

FALSANI: “What is sin?”

OBAMA: “Being out of alignment with my values.”

FALSANI: “What happens if you have sin in your life?”

OBAMA: “I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward; when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.”

In other words, Mr. Obama represents all of us when he represents himself as a god here. Yet the Christian response must be to lovingly dig down underneath such a fallacious mindset.

“Mr. Obama, how do you know that?” We look to expose the inconsistency of their worldview, because at the end of the questions, Christianity remains the only consistent, reality-based worldview there is. Logic demands it. Intuition leads to it. God made us to find Him.

“Mr. Obama, from where do you derive your knowledge that you are your own judge and measure of sin?”

Without the God of the Bible as his (and our) foundation, the only answer left is “from within myself, and from the pooled experiences of humanity.” Yet you may be seeing it now: if we are all of us amnesiacs who have forgotten who we are and from where we come, then how can we know with any certainty that we are not all deluded? How can we base our choices on faith assumptions – on a perception of reality that could be totally false?

We cannot, and so any truth claims, any worldview that does not begin with God is fatally flawed. All attempts to make knowledge claims (e.g. the universe began with a spontaneous big bang, creating itself) are therefore founded on assumption… and assumption is faith without justification. This kind of ruins the atheist party, although of course there are 1,000,000 arguments to be had to obscure the plain, elementary truth.

God has Spoken

No matter who you are, you wouldn’t deny this, right? God, who is the source of logic and sentience, is also omniscient and omnipotent – and He is therefore capable of revealing knowledge to us, His creatures, such that we are able to rise above our amnesia. When God communicates to us, we break out of the vicious circle of subjectivity that poor President Obama illustrates above. We can relinquish the devastating slavery of self-godhood once the one, true God has revealed Himself.

Once we get this simple, unavoidable axiom on the table, we can be reconciled to Him through what He has done for humanity in Jesus Christ. Sadly, our great barrier to reality is that we are at enmity with God, as I discussed earlier in this series.

Yet in His Word to humanity, God tells us who He is, how He created everything, why humanity is in turmoil, and why there is hope in Him. Nothing in the Bible is a contradiction of logic. This is the key. Honest atheists and those of other religions should be able to admit this. A universe spoken into existence in six days? If God is who He says He is, of course! A global flood to destroy a decayed, rebellious humanity while 8 people and some of all the animals survive on a big boat? Why not?

A talking donkey? Child’s play for the God who created everything.

Sun standing still for a while? Yes. God is who He says He is.

Atheism? Absolutely indefensible. That’s not an insult to anyone’s intelligence. That’s our shared reality.

We Are Who God Says We Are

According to God’s Word, we are His special creation – sharing with Him in our sentience, creative ability, and in our morality. Our right and wrong is generally universal, though may be seriously distorted in certain cultures. Our knowledge and assumptions about the past, present, and future are based on a belief in God. Yes, even atheistic parents, bus-drivers, and scientists are founded on an innate belief in God. This does not mean that they make a conscious acknowledgment of it, as they suppress the truth in unrighteousness; but through gracious interaction we can help people to recognize the reality they are bound to for eternity. Unfortunately, the internet is a terrible place to find gracious interaction. I’m fairly tremulous about hitting the “publish” key on this post, actually…

We do not create ourselves, we only live within the cosmos as God has determined things to be.

That is the Christian foundation and worldview. From this point we argue the biblical record and gospel.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

P.S. A related post from Apologia Radio: http://www.apologiaradio.com/?p=445

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Humankind in Distress, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Since you Know God Exists…

You also live with a knowledge of His moral, holy nature. Since you know He is holy, and you are by nature the opposite, you have two choices: you can throw yourself on His mercy and ask His forgiveness for your sins, or you can suppress the reality of His existence, pretend He is just the imagination of religious people, and then fashion a fantasy of meaning outside of the foundation upon which you cannot help but stand. You know God exists. You owe Him your life and allegiance.

Pssst… (over here) It’s actually pure joy to come to Him on His terms.

“He’s not a safe God, but He is good.” C.S. Lewis, once atheist turned realist/Christian

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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