Saturday, March 18, 2017

Is Atheism a Worldview?

In my interactions with atheists, one of the most common tactics I have observed is the claim that atheism is not a worldview. Atheism is not belief, but the absence of belief. It is not a claim, but the absence of a claim. Therefore, or so it goes, atheism does not need a defense. Another interesting tactic employed by atheists is the move to redefine it. Atheism does not claim that God does not exist, but merely claims that there isn’t enough evidence to support the belief that He does. What is a Christian to do? How should we think about these tactics? The goal of this post is offer some suggestions for how you might think about these tactics, and from that thinking, how you might respond or challenge an atheist who happens to be employing them.
First of all, what is a worldview? A worldview is any paradigm that rests upon basic presuppositions that serve to inform how you interpret, understand, or view the world, or this reality in which we find ourselves. Worldviews typically seek to answer basic questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, and morality. So, the question would be simply this: does atheism seek to answer questions about the nature of reality, the nature of how human beings know things about that reality, and the nature of right and wrong? It seems uncontroversial to me that atheism denies that this reality is the product a supernatural act performed by God, that human knowledge is the natural operation of the human brain, and that right and wrong can be known without reference to a transcendent being. By simple definition, atheism is a worldview and ought to be treated as such. That there are various theories regarding metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics within atheism does not ipso facto rule it out as falling within the definition of a worldview.
The second claim is that atheism is not a belief, but a lack of belief. Atheism is not making any claims. The Christian ought to ask if such a situation is possible. Atheism, like other systems not only includes beliefs about reality, about human knowledge, and about ethics, but also beliefs about how beliefs ought to be formed.
Atheist: Atheism is not a belief, but a lack of belief.
Christian: In what exactly is atheism a lack of belief?
Atheist: Atheism is a lack of belief in God.
Christian: Why does atheism lack belief in God?
Atheist: Atheism lacks belief in God because there isn’t evidence that God exists.
Christian: So Atheism believes that all beliefs should have evidence to support them.
Atheist: yes.
Christian: Isn’t that a belief?
Atheist: Not really.
Christian: Of course it is. What evidence can you provide that demonstrates that all beliefs must have evidence to support them? Does “this belief” that all beliefs should have evidence to support them, have evidence to support it?
Atheist: It is self-evident.
Christian: How is it self-evident? A self-evident belief is one who’s denial entails a self-contradiction. My denial that all beliefs require evidence to support them is in no way self-contradictory.
The claim that atheism is merely a lack of belief is demonstrably false. The claim that atheism makes no claims is a claim as well. I said that the claim that all beliefs should be supported by evidence is not self-evident. Now, let’s look at the opposite view. Here is an argument that you should think about:
Assertion –> Belief
This is the Modus Ponens form of the argument. Now, notice something very interesting. If you want to get to the conclusion of no beliefs, you have to deny assertions. What happens when you deny assertions? Think about it. Can you deny assertions without engaging in self-contradiction? Indeed, you cannot. This argument, taken transcendentally, is making the case that belief is the necessary condition of assertion. In order to deny assertion, one must deny belief. But we cannot deny belief without presupposing it. The claim is self-defeating because it entails contradiction. This means that we know that beliefs are the necessary condition of assertions because of the impossibility of the contrary. And the contrary is impossible because it involves contradiction. In other words it is impossible to assert non-belief about God without expressing some belief about God.
Assertion –> Belief
This is the Modus Tollens form of the argument. It says that belief is the necessary condition of assertion, but that there is no belief and therefore, no assertion. However, the argument cannot be made unless there is assertion and on the face of it, it is false because it entails self-contradiction. In other words, the conclusion of this argument is made impossible by the very existence of the argument. think about it this way, my assertion that there is no belief is impossible to assert since belief if the necessary condition of assertion. The argument is valid as far as form goes. But since the second premise false, the argument is unsound.
Is atheism a worldview? Indeed, it is. Is it true that atheism is merely a lack of belief about God’s existence? It is not since such a claim is self-contradictory. Is it the case that atheism makes no claims? It is not the case since the very proposition of “making no claims” is itself a claim. What Christians have to do is move slower in these encounters, think about what is being asserted, and ask what has to be true in order for the claim to be true. Atheists are atheists because they are unwilling to acknowledge the God’s existence and the evidence all around us and within us that demonstrates God is there. God has made Himself known.
I have employed a transcendental argument to refute the atheistic claims that atheism is not a worldview, does not assert belief and makes no claims. If a transcendental argument is sound its conclusion cannot be denied without self-contradiction.[1]
[1] See Ronney Mourad, Transcendetal Arguments and Justified Christian Belief (University Press of America).

Monday, March 13, 2017

My Chattering with an Atheist

I understand you're trying to address three different people so I can understand the difficulty in doing so. There are a hundred things I could ask you from what you said but I want to ask you, from what you said, how you know god directly, and personally, and propositionally that you know things about him. This is the most interesting of any of the claims you have made...that you know him personally and directly. Ed, if you do you should know certain things about him like his favorite color, does he like pasta, who is his favorite football team? Ask him why he doesn't talk to me? Ask him why he remains hidden? Ask him why he gave eagles better eye sight and cheetahs faster legs? Ask him why he gave everything the appearance of age and that it evolved so as to make the belief around creation not only questionable but unlikely. If you know him Ed and you have him on speed dial please ask him these things.

I have come to personal knowledge of God not by any actions I have taken but rather by the actions that God has taken. It is by regeneration of the heart through the work of the Holy Spirit that Christians come to know God. We know Him not only as our Creator and Savior, but we know Him as our Father and our helper. We have experienced what it is to know God analogously to how you experience another person. How do you know your best friend? Do you think you could convince me he exists without me experiencing him if I really didn't want to believe it. And even if you introduced me, I could always say that you met him 5 minutes ago and he is not really your best friend. There is not enough evidence available for you to persuade me if I really don't want to believe it and if I really want to insist of my proofs.

[Below is a list of answers to some silly questions the atheist asked me. Atheists can ask the silliest questions.]

God does not have a favorite color.
God is immaterial and does not eat.
The Browns is God's favorite football team. He likes underdogs.
God said he has spoken to you but you keep ignoring him.
God hides from you because you despise him. But he has given you all you need to love him, to honor him, to submit to and trust him.
God said that his purpose for eagles and cheetahs were none of your business.
God said he didn't give things the appearance of age.
God said it is your own assumptions about how the universe came to be what it is that causes you to think God must have given it the appearance of age. God said that he created Adam, but that your assumption that it would have taken 25 years for Adam to have grown from a baby to his created state is the real problem.
God wants to know why you keep blaming him for your own faulty assumptions. He doesn't think it’s fair. God thinks you should adjust your assumptions to fit with His Word.

God has some questions for you Stevie. Are you willing to answer them?

Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge?
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?
“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?
“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?

Here is some advice Stevie; answer something like this:

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Remember Stevie: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Christian belief is immediate; it is formed in the basic way. [Plantinga] Christian belief is not the conclusion of an argument based on evidences or backing. Christian experience of the sort spoken of in Scripture is immediately warranted because it is the experience of God acting on the person.