Atheism now has a confession of faith

Alan Roebuck writes:

The atheist confession of faith is explained in my essay, “No Evidence for God?,” posted at Intellectual Conservative and excerpted below. The essay makes the elementary and crucial point that most atheists, when they try to rebut arguments for God, simply presuppose atheism. Viewing reality through atheism-colored glasses, they naturally see what they want to see. Their reasoning is circular. I lay out two common lines of evidence for God and show how the common atheistic rebuttals are invalid. There is evidence for God.

But making my point stick requires closing loopholes. Out of nearly 5,000 words, only about 1,400 demonstrate that most atheists reason circularly about theism. Most of the rest consists of foundational points about how to think correctly about God. I’ve been dissatisfied with my published essays on things theistic, and this essay lays a better foundation.

Proofs of God are notoriously subjective, in the sense that a proof that one reader finds persuasive and even inspiring leaves another reader cold. But this essay is more of a prolegomenon to thinking about how to prove God. The basic way to “prove” God is to awaken from the sleep of materialism and consequently to acknowledge the plentiful evidence.

My approach is partly presuppositional (ultimate truths must be presupposed, for if they were proved they would not be ultimate), and partly evidential (since man is not omniscient, he needs evidence.) I don’t promote any of the specific apologetic and philosophical schools; I’m just speaking sense to the man in the street.

Here are some excerpts:

Coining a saying:

Atheism now has a confession of faith. Christians say “Jesus is Lord.” Moslems say “There is no God but Allah.” And English-speaking atheists say “There is no evidence for God.”

Modifying the approach of the Presuppositional school of apologetics:

So how do we compare the presupposition of atheism with the presupposition of God’s existence? To proceed by formal reasoning we compare the two systems based on these two presuppositions to see which system works best. This project requires a great deal of knowledge and intellectual sophistication, and it is beyond the scope of this essay.

But proceeding informally, according to the way most people think, we compare the presupposition of God’s possibility with the presupposition of his impossibility.

Turning the tables on the atheistic cliché, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence:”

The atheist says there is no God, but how can he know? The atheist and the theist agree that the material world exists and has the physical properties that it does. It is the atheist who makes the additional claim, the claim that God and the supernatural do not exist. Since man is not omniscient, a universal negative cannot be assumed. The atheist’s claim requires support, whether it is the formal claim of atheism or the informal claim of the impossibility of theism.

Putting professional philosophy in proper perspective:

This discussion is unavoidably philosophical. But the topic of God is too important to be restricted to professional philosophers. All men need to think correctly about God, and clear thinking about fundamental matters is by definition philosophy. Furthermore, a significant part of contemporary professional philosophy consists of ideas created in part to evade the reality of God. A prime example of this would be materialism itself. Since there obviously exist many real things that are not matter (e.g., minds, laws of logic), some philosophers have crafted tools that permit them to appear to acknowledge the real existence of these entities without giving up their commitment to materialism.

Eliminating the atheist’s main argument:

Atheists typically demand that evidence be empirical, a word that basically means “based on experience,” or, as the atheists generally take it, “based on sense perception.” But it is a serious mistake to offer a precise definition of “evidence.” Any precise definition will mean that the definer knows reality before he examines it….

Therefore there can be only one fully valid definition of evidence: Anything that validly points to something else. That “pointing to something else” is a primitive concept that cannot be precisely defined without invalidly restricting knowledge.

Highlighting the atheists’ circular reasoning:

The most common response [of the atheist to the cosmological arguments] is, “We do not know anything about the cause of the cosmos. Therefore God is not proved.” But we do know something about the cause: it is outside of matter, and yet it is real. The atheist is actually saying, “Under the assumption of materialism (i.e., atheism), we do not know anything about the cause.” He is reasoning in a circle.

Concluding with an evangelistic appeal:

OK, there is evidence for God. Therefore what?

Therefore the God of the Bible exists.

True, this essay does not prove it, not in the sense that the reader is now intellectually required to acknowledge God….

The Bible makes it clear that people believe in God because he gives them the gift of faith (“faith” = “trust based on knowledge”), a gift that enables them to accept the evidence for God. Without the gift of faith, man hates God and he therefore rejects even the evidence for God that is obviously valid, including the evidence given here. With faith, a man can accept the valid evidence and draw the proper conclusion.

But God does not give faith just by “waving his magic wand.” He usually uses secondary means to generate faith, and he often uses a process whereby false beliefs are gradually abandoned and replaced with true beliefs. If you the reader find yourself with a sincere interest in examining the evidence for God, it could be because he is using these evidences to begin generating in you a saving faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ, who atoned for our sins on the Cross.

I also include a brief appendix of resources for further study, to build on the challenge issued in the last paragraph.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 14, 2012 10:12 AM | Send

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