So you're an atheist. Mazel Tov, at least you aren't wishy washy. As a former atheist myself, I won't condemn you. How could I? Some atheists think they've taken a heroic stand, but could it be that they really don't want to face up to the possibility that God is indeed there? I hope you'll be intellectually honest enough to consider what I have to say and see if it makes sense.
No one who has prejudged an issue can be convinced of anything contrary to what he wants to believe. There are still those who insist the earth is flat and no one can convince them otherwise, no matter what the evidence. There are always folks, no matter if religious or atheistic, who stubbornly believe what they prefer, no matter if reason and fact show otherwise. Someone like this has the unspoken philosophy: Don't confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up. Ask yourself: Am I open-minded or narrow minded? Am I willing to change my mind if I can be shown atheism doesn't make sense?
You might say, If God is there, let him prove it to me. I don't want to take an irrational leap of faith. Fine. In Isaiah 2:18 God says: come let us reason together. He wants us to reason and He certainly wants us to be be rational, but He will not submit himself to human scrutiny; to do so he would need to stop being God! He will not bow to our perverse judgements. Ask yourself, Would I ever be willing to believe God is there, however strong the evidence? You see, your problem may not be in your head as much as in your heart. Perhaps you've already taken a leap of faith. To assert God cannot exist, despite the impossibility of proving that statement, is the ultimate irrational leap! 1
THE IRRATIONALITY OF ATHEISM
Atheism tends to exalt reason, but it is actually irrational. Atheists tend to put a lot of stock in the empirical method and in logic. One cannot disprove God exists using the empirical method. You might reply: But I can't disprove a giant purple frog on Mars controls the universe, either. Granted, one can never disprove any given thing exists. The atheistic position denying God's existence, if based on the empirical method, is absurd. Why do I say that? In order to prove the assertion No God exists experimentally, one would need to comprehensively know all of reality. Comprehensive knowledge of reality is called omniscience. One would need to be omniscient in order to prove there is no God, but if one were omniscient one would, by definition, already be God! So, based on empirical methodology, the only one capable of disproving the existence of God would be God himself! But some would say you can indeed assert something does not exist if its existence is logically self contradictory, such as a square triangle. By definition it cannot exist. It is illogical for something to be a square and to also be a triangle. Again, granted, but this line of reasoning assumes logic and real meaning exist and are our basis for knowledge --something an atheist has no right to assert! The existence of God is not only logically possible, it is philosophically essential. (We'll get to that more later below.) One cannot prove logic exists unless one first presupposes a God in whom reason and meaning are transcendentally rooted, otherwise these categories are mere philosophical prejudices. Atheism is inherently self-contradictory. The evidence for the existence of God is there for all to see, only we refuse to see it. King David wrote: The fool says in his heart there is no God. (Psalm 14:1) In other words, Atheism is irrational. Apart from God there is no basis for truth or ethics. For the sake of brevity, let's simply consider ethics.
NO PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS FOR ETHICS
Beyond dispute there are moral atheists. I've known atheists who are more ethical than some people claiming to believe in a god. This is not the issue. The question is, why be ethical? Can an adequate basis for morality be found given atheistic premises? Think about it. Unless God exists, there is no eternal and transcendent standard for right and wrong. If God did not give the Ten Commandments to Moses at Sinai, thereby establishing a moral standard above human creation, we are merely left with humanly devised scruples. If humanity is left to create its own ethical standards, we are left with only three options to base ethics upon: 1) collective tradition, 2) human survival, or 3) personal preference.
IS COLLECTIVE TRADITION AN ETHICAL BASE?
Those who argue that morality is properly based upon what society as a whole deems moral have a big problem. What one society says is moral another says is immoral. Nazi Germany held that it was morally good and beneficial to exterminate the Jewish people. The Allies saw the Nazis as evil and fought against them. Who was right? If one believes God gave the law You shall not murder, the answer is obvious. Any society that advocates murder is evil. How can an atheist respond? Most would admit the Nazis were evil, but according to what standard? Were the Nazis evil just because the Allies said they were evil or were they in fact evil? One can try to argue that it isn't just what a few societies say that matters, but what the majority of human societies agree upon. This does provide a better basis, since God has given us a conscience, but it has been corrupted by rebellion. At one time most human societies placed less value on female offspring than on males. In many societies female infants were left to die. In some places this exists today. This is morally wrong, no matter if the whole of human society were to say otherwise! Basing morality on human society does not provide an adequate answer.
WHAT ABOUT HUMAN SURVIVAL
What of an evolutionary model for morality? Why not posit that whatever benefits human survival is moral? To some this may be appealing, but first ask some questions. Why, based upon atheistic assumptions, should we logically value human survival? What difference does it all make? Why is life valuable? Isn't belief in human survival itself a moral assumption, a value judgement that has no basis in an atheistic world view? Furthermore, consider what an ethic based solely on survival could lead to: the elimination of those perceived to have less survival value. The Nazi movement, based upon an evolutionary eugenic ideal of developing a super race, destroyed those deemed by them inferior or unsuitable. Reproduction was to be limited to those deemed most fit. Mankind, when left to its own devices to develop its moral basis, commits systematized murder and oppression. Consider the atrocities of Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, and the horrible situations we have witnessed in Rwanda and Bosnia. Both atheists and religious people so easily justify murder. Just because we have also seen horrors committed by those claiming to believe in some sort of god doesn't disprove my point. I'm not advocating just any old god! It is still true that when any society abandons the God-given law, You shall not murder, horror results.
FEELINGS, NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS...
What of basing morality on one's personal preferences? What of just saying you can know what is wrong by following your heart? What a dippy idea this is! Jeffrey Dahmer's heart led him to murder and cannibalize his fellow humans! Basing morality on feelings is the ultimate in irrationality. This puts moral judgement on the level of personal taste. Dahmer might have thought you suitable to his taste!
I've met many atheists who are judgmental of religious people who have committed great atrocities, but upon what basis? Does this make any sense? Atheistic assumptions irresistibly lead to the conclusion that morality is nothing more than a matter of personal or societal preference. Based upon an atheistic philosophy, the very appropriate disdain for the despicable murderers of humanity makes about as much sense as a dog lover's disdain of those who prefer cats! How silly. Unless there is a moral standard beyond individual or societal preference, there is no logical basis for condemning atrocity. I challenge any atheist to give me a basis for ethics beyond mere personal preference, social custom, or survival. They simply cannot do it. Post-modern philosophers have come to the conclusion that there is no hope of finding morality or meaning based on materialistic presuppositions. They are quite right. It is a good thing that many atheists are too decent and too inconsistent to live out the irresistible moral conclusions of their philosophy!
Another thought: we even transgress the scruples we ourselves invent. Is this logical? No, but this is consistent with the Biblical view of mankind, which says we are by our nature law-breakers and rebels who don't want to believe in the true God. Thank God there is an amnesty program for rebels and atheists! (More on that later.)
SUPPRESSING THE TRUTH
A wise rabbi, the Apostle Paul, wrote:
The anger of God is being revealed from heaven against all the Godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise they became fools...2
God's existence is clearly seen in what He has made. The intricate brilliance of the created order reveals the mind of an infinitely intelligent Designer just as surely as a great work of architecture or a complex piece of technology reveals the mind of its designer. Furthermore, our own consciences and sense of justice, though corrupted by our rebellion, still tell us there is right and wrong and a God who has a perfect moral standard. The truth is, if you are an atheist, it is not because it makes sense, it is because you don't want to face up to the fact that there is a God out there to whom you are accountable. You don't like God and are trying to hide from Him. You need not feel this way. God has provided a way back for you.
How do we know God exists? Unless we begin with the assumption that he does, we can't know anything else exists! Unless we presuppose that God created us with the ability to know things through sensory experience and reason, we have no philosophical basis for trusting either. Philosophically speaking, unless we know a wise God gave us our senses, how can we know everything isn't an illusion? As for reason, we can't prove the validity of reason without using reason! We must assume what we are trying to prove in order to prove it. All human reasoning is circular, but when we leave God out of the circle we are left like a dog chasing its tail without any hope of catching it! Without beginning with the philosophical presupposition that a God who has spoken to mankind exists, we are doomed to reason in circles with no way of knowing how to discern truth.
As for positive proof, there is the communication of God to mankind. Moses received the Law at Sinai. This was attested by great miracles witnessed by millions. The Hebrew prophets foretold the rise and fall of nations and spoke of the coming of a Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish Bible. 3 His resurrection is historically documented, having been witnessed by the early Messianic Jewish believers who recorded their testimonies and were willing to die for what they knew to be true. 4
Many have asked: Does life have meaning? Why do I exist? There is abundant meaning to life when we know the Living God. Frankly, atheism is boring, but knowing, enjoying, and serving God gives life purpose and excitement. On what basis does human life have value? Each of us was created in God's image and therefore each individual is of great value.
AMNESTY FOR ATHEISTS
Good news! There is hope for atheists! After the Vietnam War there were many expatriate Americans living in Canada and other places. An amnesty program was established to welcome these people home. The message was: Come back home. All is forgiven. You will be received back with open arms. God also has an amnesty program. The true God is both just and loving. His justice demands that our rebellion be punished. His love provided a means to fulfill this justice and restore us to a right relationship with him. This is where the Messiah comes in. Out of love for us, God took on a human nature and visited earth to take upon himself the punishment we deserve for our lawbreaking. Jesus died as a substitute for rebels to pay the penalty of those who deserve it, whether religious or atheistic. There is a judgement day coming, and God has proven this to us by raising Jesus from the dead. You have this choice: let the Messiah take your punishment or take it yourself. The choice seems obvious to me! Why turn down a free gift? What a great amnesty program! God wants each of us to admit we are wrong, receive the payment He has provided, and come in with our hands up letting Him rule over our lives. He promises to renew us, to enable us to live a new life in His service, and to let us experience His presence forever. God calls atheists to come back home, spiritually speaking. All can be forgiven, even atheism. God calls atheists to turn from their rebellion and to trust the Living God through his Messiah, Jesus.
STILL NOT CONVINCED?
If you persist in your atheism, one day you will stand before God and you will have no doubt in your mind concerning His existence. His awesome reality will be undeniable to you, even though you won't want to believe it! Are you still open-minded enough for more information? Maybe you'd like to get together with someone for a friendly and relaxed talk about these things. Maybe you are intrigued, but wish some more in-depth reading. We are happy to help.
Please feel free to call or write: Fred Klett (a former atheist)
1. By the way, I do understand there are so called "Hard Atheists" and "Soft Atheists." It has been pointed out to me that while Hard Atheists say :"There is no God;" Soft Atheists say: "We simply do not believe in any God." Part of what I am saying only speaks to Hard Atheism, but much also speaks to so-called "Soft"Atheism." Atheist friends, if you don't like the popular understanding of atheism, perhaps you need to get the best known atheist organization first to change their definition! I found this statement by Madalyn Murray O'Hair on the American Atheists web page: "Atheism is based upon a materialist philosophy, which holds that nothing exists but natural phenomena. There are no supernatural forces or entities, nor can there be any." (Emphasis mine.) Quoted from American Atheists
2. Rom. 1:18-22
3. Isaiah 53, Micah 5:1, Jeremiah 31:31-34
4. For more on this see: The Easter Bunny Is Not Jewish.