Atheists Don’t Exist

I do not believe in the existence of atheists. No, this is not a play on words or a trick statement. Atheists don’t exist. By “atheist” I am referring to the ideal person who does not believe in the existence of God, not the person who labels themselves as an atheist. Clear as mud? All people who label themselves as “atheist” are not, by definition, atheists, because they all believe in the existence of God.

I know they believe in the existence of God by their irrational behavior. I am not referring to the inconsistency of their lives with their claims. For instance, the nonbeliever (I believe I will refer to our “atheist” friends by that term for the duration of this article) necessarily holds the belief that we are the result of time plus matter plus chance, merely evolving accidents, the product of random collisions of matter. Yet they wish to believe that these accidental collisions produce truth, fact, and a coherent understanding of the universe. They are an accident producing accidents. As C.S. Lewis said, “It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.” I am not referring to that irrational behavior, though I did enjoy pointing that out.

The irrational behavior I am referring to is the nonbeliever’s inability to admit when they have been defeated. Many nonbelievers are well educated people. They have done well to keep Theists on the hot seat. But when a well educated man — especially one schooled in logic — has his entire belief system completely dismantled and displayed as inconsistent and false, everybody else knows that this smart person knows he has been defeated. But he refuses to concede. He will not admit defeat. Instead, he retreats to his study to continue his search for one — just one — argument or proof that God does not exist. And he will repeat this over and over.

This irrational behavior is indicative of the real issue, and that is, that God exists, they know it, and they don’t like Him. If they admit He exists, then they have to bow the knee. Their rules no longer apply, God’s law does. That law of God that is written on the heart of every man is eating them alive, and they want very badly to make Him go away so that hopefully the guilt will go away as well. And so despite the evidences to prove the existence of God and the inconsistency of their own worldview, they continue to irrationally hold on to these beliefs.

To further my point, compare the debate over the existence of God to the debate over the existence of unicorns. I could just stop there, right? What debate? And who cares? What bearing does that have on my life? If an intelligent person were clearly shown that belief or non belief in unicorns were unfounded and false, and unicorns did or did not exist, then for them to continue to hold that belief would be an insult to their intelligence. If God were just some unicorn theory that had no real affect on a person’s life, as some nonbelievers claim, then why don’t they treat it as such? Why don’t they just shrug and go on?

Here is how this works, and how I know I’m right. When the believer is discussing the existence of God with a nonbeliever, ask them why they don’t like God. Every one of them will present a list. That list will ultimately consist of areas of God’s law and His character that interfere with the self-law of the nonbeliever. They don’t want a God to tell them what to do and not to do: don’t fornicate, don’t steal, love your neighbor, go to church. They will also likely present a number of misunderstandings about God and the Church. They don’t understand grace. God to them is one big meanie and that if they don’t follow all of His rules perfectly, all the time, God will have no mercy and fry them like Uzza. And most of the time, the list usually begins and ends with Christians being such big jerks, which is, unfortunately, one thing the nonbeliever got right. They don’t want to believe in God because they don’t want to end up like us.

Whatever the list of reasons, they are the subjective beliefs of the nonbeliever. Proofs for the existence of God don’t address a person’s subjective arguments, which is why most apologists don’t ever address them. For some reason it is beneath the apologist to talk to a nonbeliever like he is a human being and not a broken math equation. By all means, use truth, logic, evidences, and arguments. After all, we have truth on our side. But after you have handed their worldview back to them in a broken heap, and they break into irrational behavior, find out what their real problem is with God.

There are no atheists. If you were to find one real atheist, as G.K. Chesterton says, you will have found a madman.

Dante Tremayne

Pitfalls for Atheists to Avoid

 

Through countless discussions surrounding atheism, it has become apparent that someone must be feeding bad advice to atheists.  Since the following errors are made repeatedly, this partial list has been populated to warn atheists of this underground movement in order for them to avoid these pitfalls.  If you are an atheist and hear any of the following advice, realize that if used, it will be harmful to your cause.

1. Assume that because you compare theism to believing in pink unicorns or fairy tales that you have made a good argument.

2. Become hostile and use degrading vulgarities while maintaining that Christianity is an immoral religion.

3. When you are having trouble answering an argument posed by a Christian theist, simply say, “well even if this were true, it doesn’t prove the existence of the ‘Christian’ God.”

4. Assume that simply because you explain a phenomena from a naturalistic perspective that it constitutes an argument which must be true.

5. When arguing against the Christian God, simply say that you only believe in “one less god” than most people, as if that does not require you to defend an atheistic understanding of cosmology, anthropology, ethics, philosophy of history, philosophy of politics, philosophy of science, and epistemology.

6. Make metaphysical statements that suggest that metaphysics are a useless waste of time.

7. Argue that we should only believe things proven by empirical evidence without proving it with empirical evidence.

8. Use logic like it is a universal, transcendent, unchanging reality when atheistic naturalism cannot account for universal, transcendent, unchanging realities.

9. Argue that there is no evidence to believe in the existence of God because all the evidence that is produced fails to pass the standards of evidence which have been constructed from the belief that God does not exist.

10. Argue that human beings are robots, puppets, and machines programmed by natural selection in a closed system of cause and effect, and then argue for free thought and moral agency.

11. Place your ultimate trust in human reason while believing that man’s mind evolved from lower animals such as monkeys and will continue to evolve until we become the monkeys from which the minds of the future will have evolved.

Doug Eaton

*Updated 2/24/09

Apologetics.com has done a radio show elaborating these points.  Click the link below to listen

10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won’t Use

Presuppositionalism, Evidentialism, and Gordon H. Clark

(In Response)

Just to measure carefully, if one is using arguments, one is providing evidence.

Sometimes the best evidence for something is that everything contrary has been shown to be either false or self contradictory (incoherent) and so this or that must be true, even if we are not providing positive evidence. Providing empirical evidence for someone that we claim is not empirical (God) has always been a bit of a stretch because of the problem of induction. Bahnsen, in “the Great Debate”, certainly set out to prove the existence of God, though apart from the traditional empirical means. The Van Tillian methodology as a whole is particularly about proving the existence of God, even if by the mere impossibility of the contrary, which is a rationalistic argument. X’ is the only rational answer therefore the correct answer; y’ an impossible answer therefore a false answer. In this, rationality is the precondition.

If God truly is the necessary precondition of intelligibility the argument holds, but the presupposition is then “intelligibility” and not God because the validity of the logic is then the precondition of the deduction that “God exists” as the conclusion of the argument. Every worthy argument has premises and a conclusion. If we don’t take it this way, God is then proved to exist because He is the precondition of proving that He exists. i.e., circularity, and that is problematic.

To put it another way, no matter how forcefully someone argues that “God” is the presupposition of an argument, at the end of the day, it is logic. This is necessary because God is the conclusion of the argument. Now Clark (The Christian philosopher Gordon H. Clark), dealt with this necessity by identifying God, His mind, His being, with logic itself, saying that God is logic, and so logic is neither the a priori condition of the conclusion that God exists nor the a posteriori learned response to God’s prior non-rational existence creating logic. (Both Greg Bahnsen and John Frame seem to have followed Clark on this, consciously, even going so far as to specifically point out the distance from Van Til on this issue of the relationship between God and logic, including Van Til’s denial that logic was an aspect of the divine nature rather than a merely human and finite function or an aspect of the creation itself, or in one possible interpretation of Van Til’s thought, that God and man simply have different “logics” with no epistemological point of contact. Clark had theological eccentricities of his own but these were not them.)

If presupposing logic is not identical with presupposing God, one is essentially an Evidentialist, even if one’s methodological affirmations deny it. God is either the precondition of all intelligibility or He is the logical consequence of intelligibility. If one has an argument that the existence of God is the consequence of, as in, “…therefore, God exists.” it is Evidential.

Because of the epistemological limitations imposed upon all finite beings by them not being God, like that we cannot prove that our experiences of the external world are accurate representations of what actually exists, and that we cannot prove that other minds exist, that we can neither prove nor justify the laws of logic without using them, which is circular and so means that nothing is in itself justifiable, everyone is really, in the ultimate and final analysis, no matter how hard we fight against the inevitability of it all, a fideist of sorts.

We either submit to God in His revelatory knowledge as the ground, beginning and end of all knowledge or none can be had. We are either empty or full. Meaningful or meaningless. Something or nothing.

Still, the Christian only says this about what can be known by what we might call “natural”, or worldly, or autonomous methodologies; they all seem to end in nothing. What we can actually show is that every philosophical attempt to reach “knowledge” autonomously and independently, has failed; what we claim is that every future attempt will fail with every past attempt because religious truth is central to both the epistemological and moral aspects of the human project. What we are really saying is that in a strange way the Christian is the only one that is not a fideist. Secularists, tending to use the scientific method as their limiting function in the realm of knowledge takes the world and themselves on faith, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. So, as in many cases like this, what seems at first to be an epistemological problem, is actually a moral problem.

In Christian thought, everyone knows innately and without learning of the existence of God, and at least some of His moral and metaphysical attributes and these are the ground for self knowledge and the knowledge of the external world. The reason these cannot be “proven” by objective or non-religious epistemological methods is because there are no objective or non-religious epistemological methods that can arrive at knowledge. The Christian would love to provide everything the natural man claims is necessary to proving the existence of God through some kind of rational empirical data apart from God, but there are none, so we can’t.

Of course, this is not so much a flaw or weakness in Christian Apologetic method or in modern philosophy, or in the field of epistemology in general and certainly no cause to fall into that dreaded hole of epistemic skepticism. It is though, recognizing that by virtue of being a created thing that is a finite thing and yet a personal thing, there is something above us and beyond us that is necessary for the apprehension of any final truth or the measurement of any reliable noetic reference point that is universally personal in reference to our finite personality.

This is the greatest strength of Christian thought in general and of Christian apologetic labors in specific, that we begin with things as they really are in our most basic commitments and superficial experiences (consciousness and personality) and use this as the basis for self interpretation, instead of beginning with the hypothetical existence of a supposedly experienced “material” and arguing back from that whatever to a hopeful explanation of the fact that we are here to ask the question. In Christ, everything can be known and apart from Him little that might be claimed to be known would seem to be knowable. The issue of justification in philosophy is the absolute bar to humanistic attempts at knowledge; there simply is no non-religious justifiable knowledge.

Many brilliant Christian philosophers have the taken the epistemic path of Aristotelian Empiricism, mainly because of their own intuition that the external world is what they experience it to be, but an intuition has about the same epistemic weight in argument as a personal opinion or a feeling, and when there are no primary supports other than sensation for believing that our sensations tell us the truth about the world, our epistemology might eventually collapse into pure skepticism or mere wishful thinking.

Some seem to be adopting the method of merely repeating that we really know the world as it really is while calling those that deny it preposterous, and then affirming the preposterousness to the others that agree, but none of this should be confused with doing philosophy. Alvin Plantinga, one of the world’s best living philosophers, says that our apprehension of the external world should be considered a ‘Properly Basic Belief’, and perhaps it should, but we probably won’t be able to prove that and make it intelligible as a basis for knowledge, because if we could, whatever we used to prove it would be a basis for knowledge, and that in itself would not be “properly basic”, so really he is just saying that we don’t need to have any reason why, and maybe he’s right, but it’s hard to tell how.

The reason the humanists are winning these debates is because we keep pretending they know what they claim they know, for “the sake of argument” of course, in ways that they can’t even begin to justify, and then trying to base our retort to their claims upon the ground of their pretense of autonomous knowledge. It’s amazing we do as well as we with nothing very much in hand.

All of this is just to say that yes, God is the precondition of proving that God exists. That would be an especially bad problem if it were not so obvious, meaning, if God did really exist and were really the way that we think of Him as being, this is exactly what we might expect. If we can’t justify knowledge through any non-religious means, all the worse for non-religious attempts at the justification of knowledge. Perhaps the reason that knowledge cannot be justified in the absence of the personal deity or something so much like Him that to deny the identity is just quibbling over words, is because a true and real God who created and knows and sustains all things would actually be incapable of creating a personal being whose knowledge was somehow independent or autonomous, and that is the historic position, but wiser men than I have other theories.

This is the kind of thing that Clark was arguing, which is not that God is the necessary consequence of some apparent attributes of the neutrally apprehended world, or something we work back toward as the cause of all causes, but the condition of apprehension, cognition and reason. Some people choose to know nothing; some people choose to know God. Really everybody already knows God and so everyone already has real and true knowledge. These are the only two choices.

Christopher Neiswonger

Presuppositionalism, Evidentialism, and Gordon H. Clark, Presuppositionalism, Evidentialism, and Gordon H. Clark, Presuppositionalism, Evidentialism, and Gordon H. Clark, Presuppositionalism, Evidentialism, and Gordon H. Clark

Gordon Clark’s Argument for the Existence of God from Truth.

Gordon Clark being a presuppositionalist normally did not argue for the existence of God, but in this case he thought it was valuable. Taking his cue from Augustine, he developed this argument. This argument is also given by Alvin Plantinga in a slightly different way. The following is Ronald Nash’s explanation of Clark’s argument.

Gordon Clark’s account of the argument from truth utilizes six steps:

1. Truth Exists
2. Truth is immutable
3. Truth is eternal
4. Truth is mental
5. Truth is superior to the human mind
6. Truth is God

1. “Truth exists.” Clark establishes this point by reminding us of the self-defeating nature of any attempt to deny the existence of truth. Since skepticism is false, there must be knowledge; and if there is knowledge, there must exist the object of knowledge, namely truth.

2. “Truth is immutable.” It is impossible for truth to change. As Clark says, “Truth must be unchangeable. What is true today always has been and always will be true.” For Clark, all true propositions are eternal and immutable truths. He has no use for pragmatic views of truth that imply that what is true today may be false tomorrow. If truth changes, then pragmatism will be false tomorrow-if, indeed, it could ever be true. Truth itself is unaffected by the fact that sentences like “I am now typing” are sometimes true and usually false. Since I’ll present a rather long argument in defense of this claim later in this chapter, I’ll assume that this possible problem can be answered and move on to Clark’s next point.

3. “Truth is eternal.” It would be self-contradictory to deny the eternity of truth. If the world will never cease to exist, it is true that the world will never cease to exist. If the world will someday perish, then that is true. But truth itself will abide even though every created thing should perish. But suppose someone asks, “what if truth itself should perish?” Then it would still be true that truth had perished. Any denial of the eternity of truth turns out to be an affirmation of its eternity.

4. “Truth is Mental.” The existence of truth presupposes the existence of minds. “Without a mind, truth could not exist. The object of knowledge is a proposition, a meaning, a significance; it is a thought.” For Clark, the existence of truth is incompatible with any materialistic view of man. If the materialist admits the existence of consciousness at all, he regards it as an effect and not a cause. For a materialist, thoughts are always the result of bodily changes. This materialism implies that all thinking, including logical reasoning, is merely the result of mechanical necessity. But bodily changes can be neither true nor false. One set of physical motions cannot be truer than another. Therefore, if there is no mind, there can be no truth; and if there is no truth, materialism cannot be true. Likewise, if there is no mind, there can be no such thing as logical reasoning from which it follows that no materialist can possible provide a valid argument for his position. No reason can possible be given to justify an acceptance of materialism. Hence, for Clark, any denial of the mental nature of truth is self-stultifying. In Clarks words,

“If a truth, a proposition, or a thought were some physical motion in the brain, no two persons could have the same thought. A physical motion is a fleeting event numerically distinct from every other. Two persons cannot have the same motion, nor can one person have it twice. If this is what thought were, memory and communication would be impossible…It is a peculiarity of mind and not of body that the past can be made present. Accordingly, if one may thing the same thought twice, truth must be mental or spiritual. Not only does [truth] defy time; it defies space as well, for if communication is to be possible, the identical truth must be in two minds at once. If, in opposition, anyone wished to deny that an immaterial idea can exist in two minds at once, his denial must be conceived to exist in his own mind only; and since it has not registered in any other mind, it does not occur to us to refute it.”

To summarize Clark’s argument thus far, truth exists and is both eternal and immutable. Furthermore, truth can exist only in some mind.

5. “Truth is superior to the human mind.” By this, Clark means that by its very nature, truth cannot be subjective and individualistic. Humans know certain truths that are not only necessary but universal. While these truths are immutable, the human mind is changeable. Even though beliefs vary from one person to another, truth itself cannot change. Moreover, the human mind does not stand in judgment of truth: rather truth judges our reason. While we often judge other human minds (as when we say, for example, that someone’s mind is not a keen as it should be), we do not judge truth. If truth and the human mind were equal, truth could not be eternal and immutable since the human mind is finite, mutable, and subject to error. Therefore, truth must transcend human reason; truth must be superior to any individual human mind as well as to the sum total of human minds. From this it follows that there must be a mind higher than the human mind in which truth resides.

6. “Truth is God.” There must be an ontological ground for truth. But the ground of truth cannot be anything perishable or contingent. Since truth is eternal and immutable, it must exist in an eternal Mind. And since only God possesses these attributes, God must be truth.

“Is all this any more than the assertion that there is an eternal, immutable Mind, as Supreme Reason, a personal, living God? The truths or propositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thoughts of God. And insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God’s mind. Since further, God’s mind is God, we may… say, we have a vision of God.”

Therefore, When human beings know truth, we also know something of God’s nature. There is a sinse in which all knowledge is a knowledge of God.

-Ronald Nash – Faith and Reason – p. 161