Lacking Reality: The New [incoherent] Definition of Atheism

Below is an excerpt from Frank Turek’s recent book, Stealing from God which deals well with the oddly new definition of atheism, which simply stated is a “lack of belief.”

This excerpt from the recommended book is preceded by William Lane Craig explaining how this definition merely is a statement of an immediate psychological state, and is not a position on anything. If this is a definition, then Dr. Craig’s cat is an atheist. Enjoy:

Don’t Atheists Just
Lack a Belief in God?

It’s been fashionable lately for atheists to claim that they merely “lack a belief in God.” So when a theist comes along and says that atheists can’t support their worldview, some atheists will say some­thing like, “Oh, we really don’t have a worldview. We just lack a belief in God. Since we’re not making any positive claims about the world, we don’t have any burden of proof to support atheism. We just find the arguments for God to be lacking.”

What’s lacking are good reasons to believe this new definition.

First, if atheism is merely a lack of belief in God, then atheism is just a claim about the atheist’s state of mind, not a claim about God’s existence. The “atheist” is simply saying, “I’m not psycho­logically convinced that God exists.” So what? That offers no evi­dence for or against God. Most people lack a belief in unguided evolution, yet no atheist would say that shows evolution is false.

Second, if atheism is merely a lack of belief in God, then rocks, trees, and outhouses are all “atheists” because they, too, lack a belief in God. It doesn’t take any brains to “lack a belief” in some­thing. A true atheist believes that there is no God.

Third, if atheists merely “lacked a belief in God,” they wouldn’t be constantly trying to explain the world by offering supposed alternatives to God. As we’ll see, atheists write book after book insisting that God is out of a job because of quantum theory, multiple universes, and evolution. While none of those atheistic arguments succeed in proving there is no God, they do prove that atheists don’t merely lack a belief in God—they believe in certain theories to explain reality without God.

They believe in those theories because atheism is a worldview with beliefs just as much as theism is a worldview with beliefs. (A “worldview” is a set of beliefs about the big questions in life, such as: What is ultimate reality? Who are we? What’s the meaning of life? How should we live? What’s our destiny? etc.) To claim that atheism is not a worldview is like saying anarchy is not really a political position. As Bo Jinn observes, “An anarchist might say that he simply ‘rejects politics,’ but he is still confronted with the inescapable problem of how human society is to organize itself, whether he likes the idea of someone being in charge or not.”

Likewise, atheists can say they just “reject God,” but they are still confronted with the inescapable problem of how to explain ultimate reality. Just as anarchists affirm the positive belief that anarchy is the best way to organize society, atheists affirm the positive belief that atheistic materialism is the best way to explain ultimate reality. Materialism is the dominant view among atheists today and the view this book is addressing.

In other words, atheists don’t “lack a belief” in materialism. They are not skeptical of materialism—they think it’s true! As Phillip Johnson said, “He who is a skeptic in one set of beliefs is a true believer in another set of beliefs.” Lacking a belief in God doesn’t automatically establish materialism any more than lack­ing a belief in atheism automatically establishes Christianity. No atheist would say that a Christian has made a good case because he “lacks a belief” in materialism!

Frank Turek, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God To Make Their Case (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), xxii-xxiv.

What Is Faith? Is It Blind? Or Is It Trustworthy? (Updated)

RE-POST

(Originally Posted In February 2017)

I just wanted to update the below a bit with a great explanation of how theists view evidential propositions about God as compared to agnostics and atheists. Tim Stratton makes a great short example of what is being discussed in the below — but clearer: “ATHEISM: LACK OF BELIEF OR BLIND FAITH?

Many atheists claim that their atheistic beliefs are just as viable as my theistic beliefs. Typically, the following scale (or something similar) is provided:

1- God exists (100% certainty)
2- God probably exists (51%-99% certainty)
3- Neutral Agnostic (50%/50%)
4- God probably does not exist (51%-99% certainty)
5- God does not exist (100% certainty)

I have claimed to hold to proposition (2) as a theist. Because of a cumulative case of coherent reasons (backed up by evidence), I believe theism is probably true with extremely high degrees of certainty (say, 97% certainty). Although I am not 100% certain (but have justification to believe God probably exists), it is quite reasonable to put my faith in what is probably true. This is why Christian theism is a reasonable faith.

Many atheists ignore the plethora of arguments and evidence for God and attempt to make the same move on the other side of the scale. However, they run into the same problems I discussed above. If they claim to hold to proposition (4), then they need to provide coherent reasons (backed up by evidence) as to why they think atheism is “probably true.” Why has the belief needle moved from (3), neutral agnosticism, to proposition (4)? If there are no logical answers then the atheist holds this view for no good reason at all (especially while ignoring the cumulative case for the existence of God). Indeed, their commitment to this definition of atheism is still nothing but a blind faith.

I reside when discussing apologetics with persons in category two. If I feel moved to pray a sinners prayer with a person, I am speaking from category one, and the person who is inviting the Holy Spirit into their life is falling into that category as well. “… fundamentally, the way we know Christianity to be true is by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit.” Tim’s whole post is worth reading


HOW ATHEISTS VIEW CHRISTIAN’S FAITH


Dawkins Faith Atheist 330

  • Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. ~ Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York, NY: Marine Books, 2008), 347.

  • Faith in the prayer-hearing God is an unproved and outmoded faith. There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, the immutable [i.e., unchangeable] truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes. ~ John Dewey

John Dewey, “Soul-Searching,” Teacher Magazine, September 1933, p. 33.

  • There are those who scoff at the schoolboy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the schoolboy who said : “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, Mark Twain at Your Fingertips: A Book of Quotations (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2009), 116, cf. faith.

Betrand Russell 330

  • I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue. The harm that is done by a religion is of two sorts, the one depending on the kind of belief which it is thought ought to be given to it, and the other upon the particular tenets believed. As regards the kind of belief: it is thought virtuous to have Faith—that is to say, to have a conviction which cannot be shaken by contrary evidence. Or, if contrary evidence might induce doubt, it is held that contrary evidence must be suppressed. On such grounds, the young are not allowed to hear arguments…. The consequence is that the minds of the young are stunted and are filled with fanatical hostility both to those who have other fanaticisms and, even more virulently, to those who object to all fanaticisms. ~ Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects (New York, NY; Simon and Schuster, 1957), vi.

(See response to Russell’s “induce doubt” portion at bottom)

According to the A Manual for Creating Atheists, faith is:

  • “pretending to know things that you don’t know”
  • “belief without evidence”
  • The author calls faith “an unreliable epistemology”
  • a “virus”
  • and calls for a process and agenda that will “ultimately eradicate faith”.

(Bullet points via THE CONFIDENT CHRISTIAN)Boghossian Atheist 330

Two Definitions of Faith

The words we use are important. They can help us see clearly, or they can confuse, cloud, or obscure issues. I’ll now offer my two preferred definitions of faith, and then disambiguate faith from hope.’

faith /fāTH/

1. Belief without evidence.

“My definition of faith is that it’s a leap over the probabilities. It fills in the gap between what is improbable to make something more probable than not without faith. As such, faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities.”

—John W. Loftus, “Victor Reppert Now Says He Doesn’t Have Faith!” (Loftus, 2012)

If one had sufficient evidence to warrant belief in a particular claim, then one wouldn’t believe the claim on the basis of faith. “Faith” is the word one uses when one does not have enough evidence to justify holding a belief, but when one just goes ahead and believes anyway.

Another way to think about “belief without evidence” is to think of an irrational leap over probabilities. For example, assume that an historical Jesus existed and was crucified, and that his corpse was placed in a tomb. Assume also that eyewitness accounts were accurate, and days later the tomb was empty.

One can believe the corpse was missing for any number of reasons. For example, one can believe the body arose from the dead and ascended to heaven, one can believe aliens brought the body back to life, or one can believe an ancient spirit trapped in the tomb merged with the corpse and animated it. Belief in any of these claims would require faith because there’s insufficient evidence to justify any one of these particular options.

Belief in any of these claims would also disregard other, far more likely possibilities—for example, that the corpse was stolen, hidden, or moved.

If one claims knowledge either in the absence of evidence, or when a claim is contradicted by evidence, then this is when the word “faith” is used. “Believing something anyway” is an accurate definition of the term “faith.”

faith /fāTH/

2. Pretending to know things you don’t know.

Not everything that’s a case of pretending to know things you don’t know is a case of faith, but cases of faith are instances of pretending to know something you don’t know.’ For example, someone who knows nothing about baking a cake can pretend to know how to bake a cake, and this is not an instance of faith. But if someone claims to know something on the basis of faith, they are pretending to know something they don’t know. For example, using faith would be like someone giving advice about baking cookies who has never been in a kitchen.

As a Street Epistemologist, whenever you hear the word “faith,” just translate this in your head as, “pretending to know things you don’t know.” While swapping these words may make the sentence clunky, “pretending to know things you don’t know” will make the meaning of the sentence clearer.

To start thinking in these terms, the following table contains commonly heard expressions using the word “faith” in column one, and the same expressions substituted with the words “pretending to know things you don’t know” in column two.

Faith Columns - Peter Boghossian 680

Peter Boghossian, A Manual for Creating Atheists (Durham, NC: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013), 23-26

  • I regard faith as religious belief which is held without evidence. If someone thinks that a bus will arrive on time per its schedule, then that person has trust or confidence, not faith. I don’t use the word faith except to mean non-evidential religious beliefs. I work hard to identify the evidence, so faith for me is an lazy, easy way out.

~ Logicel

(See the response to “has trust or confidence” portion of Logicel’s definition at the bottom)

faith_full

~ THE GOOD ATHEIST

(See a professor comment on this definition at the bottom)


LETTING CHRISTIANS DEFINE FAITH


faith 1. Objective body of truth in the Bible, the creeds, the definitions of the universal councils, and/or the teachings of the church. 2. Positive, subjective, and personal allegiance to and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Faith exists in constant tension with three other elements: works, reason, and knowledge. In Protestant scholastic theology, faith is viewed as a threefold process: notitia (knowledge of what is to be be­lieved), assensus (intellectual acceptance of the truth of what is believed), and fiducia (personal commitment to that truth).

The first involves reception of the message of the gospel. The second involves objective accept­ance of certain theological concepts and historical events. Theologians call this fides quae creditur (the faith that is believed), comprising erkennen (recognition) and assensus (assent). Assensus includes confidence in God’s promises and trust in the events recorded in the Scripture. Peter Lombard pointed out that assensus alone is fides informis (incomplete faith).

Authentic faith must include a second aspect—a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Theolo­gians variously call this fides qua creditur (faith by which one believes), fides formata caritate (faith formed by love), bekennen (acknowledg­ment), and fiducia (trust in what is believed). Fiducia also involves obedience to God’s Word, perseverance in God’s will, and love for God’s people (John 3:36; Rom. 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 13:2; 1 John 3:1o). Thus Christians not only live because of faith but they also live according to the faith (Rom. 1:16-17). Faith is in one sense a human act, but it is also at the same time a divine gift.

George Thomas Kurian, ed., Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001), cf. faith, 292-293.

  • I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers, that imposes upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition.

Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.

  • Certain words can mean very different things to different people. For instance, if I say to an atheist, “I have faith in God,” the atheist assumes I mean that my belief in God has nothing to do with evidence. But this isn’t what I mean by faith at all. When I say that I have faith in God, I mean that I place my trust in God based on what I know about him.

William A. Dembski and Michael R. Licona, Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010), 38.

  • Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite. It’s a commitment based on evidence… It is irrational to reduce all faith to blind faith and then subject it to ridicule. That provides a very anti-intellectual and convenient way of avoiding intelligent discussion.

– John Lennox

Personal saving faith, in the way Scripture understands it, involves more than mere knowledge. Of course it is necessary that we have some knowledge of who Christ is and what he has done, for “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” (Rom. 10:14). But knowledge about the facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us is not enough, for people can know facts but rebel against them or dislike them. (Rom. 1:32; James 2:19)….

In addition to knowledge of the facts of the gospel and approval of those facts, in order to be saved, I must decide to depend on Jesus to save me. In doing this I move from being an interested observer of the facts of salvation and the teachings of the Bible to being someone who enters into a new relationship with Jesus Christ as a living person. We may therefore define saving faith in the following way: Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal lift with God.

This definition emphasizes that saving faith is not just a belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save me…. The unbeliever comes to Christ seeking to have sin and guilt removed and to enter into a genuine relationship with God that will last forever.

The definition emphasizes personal trust in Christ, not just belief in facts about Christ. Because saving faith in Scripture involves this personal trust, the word “trust” is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word “faith” or “belief.” The reason is that we can “believe” something to be true with no personal commitment or dependence involved in it. I can believe that Canberra is the capital of Australia, or that 7 times 6 is 42, but have no personal commitment or dependence on anyone when I simply believe those facts. The word faith, on the other hand, is sometimes used today to refer to an almost irrational commitment to something in spite of strong evidence to the contrary, a sort of irrational decision to believe something that we are quite sure is not true! (If your favorite football team continues to lose games, someone might encourage you to “have faith” even though all the facts point the opposite direction.) In these two popular senses, the word “belief” and the word “faith” have a meaning contrary to the biblical sense.

The word trust is closer to the biblical idea, since we are familiar with trusting persons in everyday life. The more we come to know a person, and the more we see in that person a pattern of life that warrants trust, the more we find ourselves able to place trust in that person to do what he or she promises, or to act in ways that we can rely on. This fuller sense of personal trust is indicated in several passages of Scripture in which initial saving faith is spoken of in very personal terms, often using analogies drawn from personal relationships. John says, “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). Much as we would receive a guest into our homes, John speaks of receiving Christ.

John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Here John uses a surprising phrase when he does not simply say, “whoever believes him” (that is, believes that what he says is true and able to be trusted), but rather, “whoever believes in him.” The Greek phrase pisteuo eis auton could also be translated “believe into him” with the sense of trust or confidence that goes into and rests in Jesus as a person. Leon Morris can say, “Faith, for John, is an activity which takes men right out of themselves and makes them one with Christ.” He understands the Greek phrase pisteuo eis to be a significant indication that New Testament faith is not just intellectual assent but includes a “moral element of personal trust.” Such an expression was rare or perhaps nonexistent in the secular Greek found outside the New Testament, but it was well suited to express the personal trust in Christ that is involved in saving faith.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 709-711.

Although suffering as a prisoner for proclaiming the gospel, Paul was not disillusioned or in despair. Why? Because of his faith. As he testifies to his faith, its essential elements become clear. “And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because Iknow whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I haveentrusted to him for that day” (2 Tim. 1:11-12). Truth about God can be known. Zeal for God without knowledge (of the Redeemer) did not suffice for monotheistic and moral Jews (Rom. 10:1-2). Neither did worship of an “unknown God” atone for the cultured Athenians (Acts 17:23-31). In contrast, Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:21).”

The faith that saves is directed away from human educational, cultural, and religious achievements to the Creator, whose redemptive plan has been preserved and publicized in Scripture. Faith comes by hearing the message of special revelation now affirmed by the written Word of God, the hearer being convinced that “Jesus is Lord” and trusting in him (Rom. 10:4, 8-11, 14). Faith involves knowledge (notitia), persuasion (assensus), and commitment (fiducia). These three elements of faith are operative, not only when one first believes the gospel and trusts the Savior, but also in a growing faith throughout the Christian life.

Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demerest, Integrative Theology, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 168-169.

  • There is more than enough evidence on every hand from every department of human experience and knowledge to demonstrate that Christianity is true… It is the faith of the non-Christian [that] is externally and internally groundless.  They are the ones who leap in the dark.  Some, like Kierkegaard, have admitted this

Robert Morey, Introduction to Defending the Faith (Orange, CA: Christian Scholars Press, 2002), 38.

  • When I was undertaking my doctoral research in molecular biology at Oxford University, I was frequently confronted with a number of theories offering to explain a given observation.  In the end, I had to make a judgment concerning which of them possessed the greatest internal consistency, the greatest degree of predictive ability.  Unless I was to abandon any possibility of advance in understanding, I was obliged to make such a judgment… I would claim the right to speak of the ‘superiority’ of Christianity in this explicative sense. 

“Response to John Hick,” by Clark Pinnock, in More Than One Way? Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World, Revised ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1996), 68.

See also: 

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Faith Geisler 1

Faith Geisler 2

Faith Geisler 3

Faith Geisler 4

Faith Geisler 5


Misc. Responses


Here is the response to Russell’s position:

Often, however, the cause of our doubt isn’t what you might think. It isn’t necessarily the strength of the arguments that rattles us, but the way they resonate with the unbeliever in each of us (what the Bible calls the “old self”). We hear Tokyo Rose’s voice and she seems to make pretty good sense sometimes. Yet more often than not, if we look closely at the atheist’s arguments, we find that there is little substance. Seeing this can change the argument’s frequency and therefore break its spell.

Believers often worry that their doubts signify the rapid approach of full-blown unbelief. But as pastor and author Tim Keller puts it,

Faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.

All thoughtful believers—even those whose faith is mature—encounter doubt. Not a single person has had unadulterated faith.

In any case, it certainly won’t do to ignore your doubts, and defusing them will only strengthen your faith. To be sure, doubts can be strong enough to become a trial in your life; but like all trials, they’re meant to refine faith, not stifle it.

Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith: To the Head (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), xvii.

Here is the response to Logicel’s position:

…faith isn’t a theory of how to know things: “Faith is not an epistemological category. It is not a way of knowing something. Faith is a way of trusting something.

“Faith is trusting in that which you have reason to believe is true. Once you have come to believe that something is true, using reliable epistemological means, you can then place your faith or trust in those things.”

~ William Lane Craig (Christinaity Today)

Here is the Comment from Professor Gray:

The definition above of faith is ha-larious! Thanks for posting it. I’m using it to show how ignorant people are about the term, faith. It is totally opposite of the real meaning that it makes quite a contrast. Faith is the substance of things believed based on evidential material, eye witnesses reports, and logical reasons to hold something as true. Those who have “faith” without the evidence are deluded and would believe anything. It is like someone believing that one species evolves into another species without any transitional evidence. Even with no evidence they continue to believe its true! Now that fits your poster’s definition. Anyway, thanks for the post. I am getting a lot of laughs by using it in my presentations.

Greg Gutfeld’s “Agnosticism”

RE-POST

(Originall Posted In April of 2016)

In his book, How To Be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct (p.96), and in an article in NATIONAL REVIEW, as well as intimating the same in the above video, Greg Gutfeld said this:

This is important because it removes the sweaty veneer of ideological excess. While I love it when I’m certain about something, I realize those are rare moments in life. You cannot be certain about all things. As an agnostic, I do not call myself an atheist, because, to put it simply, “I don’t know.” For all I know there is a god, and it’s some dude in Jersey named Ned. True, I’ve pretty much discounted this theory — Ned has bad skin and a Beatle-do, qualities rarely associated with the divine. But the point is: I can’t be 100 percent sure. So I punt.

I will comment on his “agnosticism” in a bit, but first…

While I have enjoyed his contributions to Conservatarian though, I have to say this is one of the worse positions I have seen him take. And let me be clear… I am saying this NOT because he rejects “God” (Ned), but that he puts criteria on a position that is impossible in most fields of study (physics, biochemistry, philosophy, politics… you name it).

Making wise decisions always depends on various factors even though it does not provide us with 100% guarantee. So since we are primarily dealing with evidences garnered from history, science, philosophy, fulfilled prophecy, and the like… there is no silver bullet.

BUT…

There is a way to approach this as almost all person’s do (in their personal life or professional life). Just like a case in court so-to is the cumulative gathering through reason and logic evidences in a way that a strong case for God is made.

Even in a court situation, a case is made that sways a jury one way in order to not make a life-or-death ruling (in the case of a 1st degree murder trial), but to make a choice “beyond reasonable doubt.” Here is a great comment in an article on STAND TO REASON’S site:

The jury is asked if the evidence shows that the defendant is probably guilty.

It is to the evidence introduced in this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof.

The standard of probability is not “100% certainly guilty”; it is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence, or the lack of evidence.

If you have a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant not guilty. If you have no reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty.

Evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing about faith.

In life, not just in the jury box, we are forced to make decisions with incomplete information, but we are never forced to go beyond evidence.

Andy Banister explains this concept with a walk through the woods:

It is easy to see that Mr. Gutfeld is creating an impossible plateau for one to reach that no field of study, whether the sciences or law (except maybe mathematics), can ever dream to attain. Perfection ~ something Greg should be familiar with rejecting and warning others about. That is, Utopian ideals and goals. In making this impossible 100% claim he defines God in such a way that evidence for His existence — not Ned, but the real Creator of the space-time-continuum — is defined out of existence. Greg essentially presupposes that God out of existence.

To wit, I will turn my attention to Greg Gutfeld’s “agnosticism.” He has repeatedly said “I don’t know.” In the video at the top of this post he says right after the “practical joke” comment “that we will never know.” That is not an agnostic position. Professor Budziszewski explains:

“To say that we cannot know anything about God is to say something about God; it is to say that if there is a God, he is unknowable. But in that case, he is not entirely unknowable, for the agnostic certainly thinks that we can know one thing about him: That nothing else can be known about him. Unfortunately, the position that we can know exactly one thing about God – his unknowability in all respects except this – is equally unsupportable, for why should this one thing be an exception? How could we know that any possible God would be of such a nature that nothing else could be known about him? On what basis could we rule out his knowability in all other respects but this one? The very attempt to justify the claim confutes it, for the agnostic would have to know a great many things about God in order to know he that couldn’t know anything else about him.”


J. Budziszewski, found in Norman Geisler & Paul Hoffman, eds., Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe, revised ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 58

In other words… Gutfeld is showing arrogance by demanding 100% proof (that no jury demands), and by excluding God by defining Him in a way as to rig the outcome. As much as I respect him and his wonderful work… his position here is very childish. Not a position I would expect him to take… but ideology [his atheism] does tend to blind. And arrogantly so.

Sometimes the smartest skeptics give up what they wrongly view as faith for the most “childlike” reasons. For instance, Lewis Wolpert, who has too many letters after his name and is a very accomplished and respected developmental biologist, explained why he rejects God:

[I] stopped believing in God when I was 15 or 16 because he didn’t give me what I asked for. (Lewis Wolpert, “The Hard Cell,” Third Way, March 2007, p. 16)

During an interview, he also stated:

I used to pray but I gave it up because when I asked God to help me find my cricket bat, he didn’t help.

When asked by Justin Brieley (Unbelievable show episode, “What Does Science Tell Us About God?”):

Right, and that was enough for you to prove that God did not exist.

He replied:

Well, yes. I just gave it up completely.

(TRUE FREE THINKER)

While one would expect a meaty explanation that reasonable people would think about and come to a conclusion on… his reasoning is commensurate of a child’s reasons. Another well known skeptic, Bart Ehrman, doesn’t reject God because he found textual evidence against the Christian faith. He rejects God because there is suffering in the world:

“If there is an all-powerful and loving God in this world, why is there so much excruciating pain and unspeakable suffering?” He [Ehrman] says this “led me to question my faith when I was older. Ultimately, it was the reason I lost my faith”

(DR. CLAY JONES)

Bart’s way of dealing with this is basically the classical argument against God:

Premise 1: God is all-good (omnibenevolent)

Premise 2: God is all-powerful (omnipotent)

Premise 3: Suffering and evil exist

Conclusion: An all-good, all-powerful God could not exist since there is so much suffering and evil in the world. If he did, he would eradicate this evil.

Charles Darwin as well rejected God not based on evidence, but for theological reasoning:

  • That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes…A being so powerful and so full of knowledge as a God who could create the universe is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient. It revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the sufferings of millions of lower animals throughout almost endless time? This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent First Cause seems to me a strong one; and the abundant presence of suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection. ~ Charles Darwin, The Works of Charles Darwin, Volume 29  (Nerw York, NY: NYU Press, 2010), 121-122. (REVIEW OF DARWIN’S GOD)

Darwin was using theological pressups to drive his research, here are the precepts:

I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation):

  1. Human begins are not justfied in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.
  2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.
  3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.
  4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.
  5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.
  6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.
  7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.
  8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.
  9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
  10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.

(EVOLUTION NEWS & VIEWS)

This seems like a problem, but in fact, many atheists have abandoned this tactic. Why… through the work primarily of Alvin Plantinga. Here, Dr. Ronald Nash formulates WHY this syllogism is no longer a serious threat in philosophy:

Demonstrating the Consistency of the Theistic Set

After our brief detour into the differences between a theodicy and a defense, a short summary may help us get back on track. We have seen that the atheologian’s claim that the theistic set is self-contradictory remains nothing more than wishful thinking because of the atheologian’s failure to produce the missing premise required to show that the set is explicitly contradictory. Rather than rest on our laurels and live with the possibility that some atheologian might discover the missing proposition some time in the future, we have decided to see if we cannot beat the atheologian to the punch and actually demonstrate that the theistic set is consistent. Once done, this will eliminate any possibility of theism’s being shown to be logically inconsistent because of the existence of evil in the world. The method of demonstrating consistency requires that we add a premise (or premises) to the original set that logically entails the other proposition, which, in our case, is “The world contains evil.” In order to do the job, it is not necessary that our new premise be true or even that it be believed to be true. All that is necessary is that it be logically possible.

Consider, then, the following argument:

An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God created the world.

God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so.

Therefore, the world contains evil.

Numbers 1 and 2 taken together do, of course, entail 3. Therefore, the propositions from our original theistic set that now make up 1 are logically consistent with the existence of evil. The only relevant question regarding 2 is whether it is possibly true. Obviously it is since it is not logically false. Therefore, the theistic set is logically consistent from which follows the impossibility of anyone’s ever demonstrating that it is not.


Ronald Nash, Faith & Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 189.

C.S. Lewis as well argues against this “evil universe” argument:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist–in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice–was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.


C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1952), 38-39.

So again, Bart’s rejection is dealt with handily, and shows his rejection is merely emotive in nature… devoid of any real substance. Similar to Greg Gutfeld’s position, his rejection is merely emotive in his reasoning. He is not worries about “evidence” per-se, but rather worried about some cosmic killjoy that may have a word with in regards to past or future hedonistic ventures. So his hiding arrogantly behind “I don’t know” is his crutch.

I have some really good books I can recommend to the person seeking good, well-thought-out, reasonable arguments detailing various forms of evidence for “faith”~

Post-Script,

May I also note quickly how a believer views faith as opposed to the faith Greg surely thinks is blind (and granted, some Christians are heppy with their “blindedness”):

Certain words can mean very different things to different people. For instance, if I say to an atheist, “I have faith in God,” the atheist assumes I mean that my belief in God has nothing to do with evidence. But this isn’t what I mean by faith at all. When I say that I have faith in God, I mean that I place my trust in God based on what I know about him.


William A. Dembski and Michael R. Licona, Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010), 38.

AND, unless we forget the bottom line in this discussion through hubris, we should know that which we reject through feigned ignorance:

The Atheist Delusion (Movie)

Having to prove the existence of God to an atheist is like having to prove the existence of the sun, at noon on a clear day. Yet millions are embracing the foolishness of atheism. “The Atheist Delusion” pulls back the curtain and reveals what is going on in the mind of those who deny the obvious. It introduces you to a number of atheists who you will follow as they go where the evidence leads, find a roadblock, and enter into a place of honesty that is rarely seen on film.

From Living Waters, creators of the award-winning TV program “The Way of the Master” and the hit movies “180” and “Evolution vs. God,” comes the powerful film “The Atheist Delusion.” Executive produced by TV co-host and best-selling author Ray Comfort (Hell’s Best Kept Secret, Scientific Facts in the Bible).

Learn more at http://www.AtheistMovie.com

Divine Feet ~ Philosophical Demarcations

Atheists reject evidence as illusory…

Why?

Because they “have to.”

I put these two ideas from separate fields of study together. Why I didn’t before is a mystery… but like with any field of study, you can go over the same topic again-and-again — you continue to learn. The first example come from biology and the natural sciences. Here are three examples of the beginning of my thinking:

  • “The illusion of design is so successful that to this day most Americans (including, significantly, many influential and rich Americans) stubbornly refuse to believe it is an illusion. To such people, if a heart (or an eye or a bacterial flagellum) looks designed, that’s proof enough that it is designed.” ~ Richard Dawkins in the Natural History Magazine;
  • “So powerful is the illusion of design, it took humanity until the mid-19th century to realize that it is an illusion.” ~ New Scientist Magazine (h/t, Uncommon Dissent)
  • “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Richard Dawkins enlarges on this thought: “We may say that a living body or organ is well designed if it has attributes that an intelligent and knowledgeable engineer might have built into it in order to achieve some sensible purpose… any engineer can recognize an object that has been designed, even poorly designed, for a purpose, and he can usually work out what that purpose is just by looking at the structure of the object.” ~ Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1996, pp. 1, and 21.
  • “We can’t make sense of an organ like the eye without considering it to have a function, or a purpose – not in a mystical, teleological sense, but in the sense of an illusion of engineering. That illusion, we now know, is a consequence of Darwin’s process of natural selection. Everyone agrees that the eye is a remarkable bit of natural “engineering,” and that may now be explained as a product of natural selection rather than as the handiwork of a cosmic eye-designer or as a massive coincidence in tissue formation.” ~ Steven Pinker, via Edge’s “Is Science Killing the Soul.”

The important point here is that the Judeo-Christian [theistic] view would posit that we (and nature) is designed, and would notice it in ourselves and in nature. The atheist MUST reject design as an illusion because their worldview demands that chance cobbled together what we see… so dumb luck needs to be seen as opposed to design.

Steven Pinker summation:

Pinker’s newer book, The Blank Slate, revised his views on free will, in that he no longer thinks it’s a necessary fiction. The chapter on “The Fear of Determinism” takes an explicitly deterministic stance, and usefully demonstrates the absurdity of contra-causal free will and why we shouldn’t worry about being fully caused creatures. However, Pinker remains conservative in not drawing any conclusions about how not having free will might affect our attitudes towards punishment, credit, and blame,; that is, he doesn’t explore the implications of determinism for ethical theory. This, despite the fact that in How the Mind Works he claimed that “ethical theory requires idealizations like free, sentient, rational, equivalent agents whose behavior is uncaused” … We await further progress by Pinker. (Via Naturlism)

Daniel Dennett:

Dennett worries that there is good evidence that promulgating the idea that free will is an illusion undermines just that sense of responsibility many scientists and philosophers are worried about losing. Critics maintain that Dennett’s kind of free will, with its modest idea of “enough” responsibility, autonomy and control, is not really enough after all.

[….]

“It’s important because of the longstanding tradition that free will is a prerequisite for moral responsibility,” he says. “Our system of law and order, of punishment, and praise and blame, promise keeping, promise making, the law of contracts, criminal law – all of this depends on one notion or another of free will. And then you have neuroscientists, physicists and philosophers saying that ‘science has shown us that free will is an illusion’ and then not shrinking from the implication that our systems of law are built on foundations of sand.” (Via The Guardian)

Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Kruass, Christopher Hitchens:

Sam Harris:

Stephen Hawkings:

One of the most intriguing aspects mentioned by Ravi Zacharias of a lecture he attended entitled “Determinism – Is Man a Slave or the Master of His Fate,” given by Stephen Hawking, who is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s chair, was this admission by Dr. Hawking’s, was Hawking’s admission that if “we are the random products of chance, and hence, not free, or whether God had designed these laws within which we are free.”[1] In other words, do we have the ability to make choices, or do we simply follow a chemical reaction induced by millions of mutational collisions of free atoms? Michael Polyni mentions that this “reduction of the world to its atomic elements acting blindly in terms of equilibrations of forces,” a belief that has prevailed “since the birth of modern science, has made any sort of teleological view of the cosmos seem unscientific…. [to] the contemporary mind.”[2]

[1] Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 118, 119.

[2] Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch, Meaning (Chicago, IL: Chicago university Press, 1977), 162.

The bottom line is that free-will, self, freedom to be above and distinguish between actions, is all an illusion.

Why?

BECUASE if free-will existed… then this would be an argument f-o-r theism. F-o-r God’s existence. Like the founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institutes, Robert Jastrow’s description in his book of a disturbing reaction among his colleagues to the big-bang theory—irritation and anger.

Why, he asked, would scientists, who are supposed to pursue truth and not have an emotional investment in any evidence, be angered by the big-bang theory?

They had an aversion to the Big-Bang.

Because it argued F-O-R theism. F-O-R God’s existence.

Jastrow noted that many scientists do not want to acknowledge anything that may even suggest the existence of God. The big-bang theory, by positing a beginning of the universe, suggests a creator and therefore annoys many astronomers.

This anti-religious bias is hardly confined to astronomers.

As we see, the above persons in rejecting evidence of design in nature and consciousness, are doing so based on an aversion to “God evidence.” Another well-known philosopher John Searle notes this illusion as well:

All these people are misusing science and remaking it into “scientism.” AND, they are “not allowing a divine foot in the door,” as Dinesh D’Souza notes:

Scientism, materialism, empiricism, existentialism, naturalism, and humanism – whatever you want to call it… it is still a metaphysical position as it assumes or presumes certain things about the entire universe.  D’Souza points this a priori commitment out:

Naturalism and materialism are not scientific conclusions; rather, they are scientific premises. They are not discovered in nature but imposed upon nature. In short, they are articles of faith. Here is Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin: “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have [an] a priori commitment… a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great about Christianity (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2007), 161 (emphasis added).

“Minds fit into an theistic world, not an atheistic one”

What are intentional states of consciousness? Are states of consciousness plausible on either a theistic or atheistic worldview? This clip shows the exchange between Dr William Lane Craig and Dr Alex Rosenberg on intentional states of consciousness in the world. On February 1st, 2013 at Purdue University, Dr Craig participated in a debate with Dr Rosenberg on the topic, “Is Faith In God Reasonable?” Over 5,000 people watched the event on the Purdue University campus along with tens of thousands streaming it live online from around the world.

For more on this, see my “quotefest” here: Evolution Cannot Account for: Logic, Reasoning, Love, Truth, or Justice