”God And Atheism‎”

“Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or God merely a mistake of man?” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

It is more rational to believe in God than to believe there is no God. In fact, belief in God is much more rational than atheism. The resting place of the mind, its natural equilibrium, as it were, is belief.

This is, in truth, a statement of the obvious. But it seems radical, shocking. This is because in Australia, and in Europe, many of our leading figures, certainly the loudest of them, and a substantial and growing minority of the population believe, or at least pretend to believe, in the religious faith of atheism, the faith that holds there is no God.

In subscribing to atheism they are in radical opposition to the vast majority of people on the planet today and the overwhelming majority of people who have ever lived in history. There’s our first clue.

This is partly because Western civilization, like most civilization and human nature itself, rests on the knowledge of God.

Knowing and believing in God has always been entirely rational. It is not only rational, of course. To know much more about God than merely that he exists requires faith.

But faith is not, as it is frequently represented, the enemy of reason. Rather, faith is the basis of reason. Almost all of rational life is based on faith. Most often faith is not a question of what you believe but who you believe.

I have faith that I am the son of my parents. I have no real empirical evidence for it. It makes the most sense as an explanation of my life, it is the proposition that best fits with everything I know. But the main reason I believe it is faith, my regular, normal faith in my parents. So this is a faith-based belief, entirely rational, confirmed by experience, but certainly not rationally proven.

Most of our lives are lived in this way. I have faith that my car will work when I turn the key in the ignition, but I have absolutely no idea why or how. Nonetheless, I am convinced that my faith is consistent with rationality, that my faith itself is rational.

Part of the crisis of belief in our society is a crisis of knowledge. Because the high points in our elite and popular culture have been colonized by a militant and intolerant atheism, our young people have been denied the fruits of thousands of years of intellectual effort on matters of faith and belief by the best minds humanity has produced. This is wickedly unfair to children.

To have a rounded sense, even intellectually, of the idea of God it is necessary to use all the human faculties — reason, spirit, intuition, emotion, conscience, memory, imagination — to name a few.

Nonetheless, you can get a knowledge of the reality of God through reason alone. It is important to understand that atheism is also consistent with rationality. Atheism does require its own radical leap of faith, but its biggest problem on rational grounds is that it is inconsistent with the world and life as we know it. It is a hypothesis with feeble powers of prediction. But it is not altogether irrational.

Modern science has not made atheism anymore or less rational. Science tells us a great deal about how, but nothing about why. It is a misuse and a misrepresentation of science to pretend that it answers the why questions. There were atheists in the ancient world. The Psalms of the Old Testament refer to people who deny the existence of God. It was always open to a person to say: the world is complex, I don’t understand how it works, but I don’t believe that God created it.

And some people did think that. It is the most insufferable condescension and unjustified vanity on our part to think of all of the rest of humanity, in the past, and beyond our little slice of the West today, as trapped in superstition, while we alone are wise, enlightened and free.

For while more than just reason is involved in faith, reason always played its part. The philosophers of ancient Greece, long before the birth of Christ, reasoned their way to God. This is most often associated with Aristotle, but it was a movement among many philosophers and poets of ancient Greece.

Their insights were integrated into Christianity in the 13th century by the greatest of the Christian philosophers and theologians, Thomas Aquinas.

Famously, Thomas provided his five ways to God through reason. Some Christians mistakenly took to referring to them as the five proofs of God. In truth, by reason alone, you cannot absolutely prove God or disprove him.

Thomas was trying to understand, not to prove, though understanding often leads to belief.

First, Thomas suggested that motion had to start somewhere, that there had to be an unmoved mover.

Second, the chain of cause and effect is so long, but it too had to start somewhere; there had to be an uncaused cause.

Third, contingent beings — that is, beings who rely on some antecedent for their existence — must inevitably proceed from a being who relies on nothing for their existence, a necessary being.

Fourth, there is so much goodness in the world, it must correspond to or proceed from a self-sufficient goodness.

And fifth, the non-conscious agents in the world behave so purposefully that they imply an intelligent universal principle.

That is a crude summary of what is called Thomas’s argument from design (which bears no relation to the modern fringe theory of evolution called Intelligent Design). And it all seems pretty dry. People don’t generally come to any serious belief in God purely through this or any other rational process.

But it is important to understand that there is nothing in reason that contradicts God. That our public culture so routinely suppresses this knowledge, mocks it and teaches the reverse, demonstrates just what a strange and dangerous cultural dead end we have wandered into. Yet even in our moment, in our society, there is already a nostalgia for God.

Reasoning from first principles, of course, is not even the primary rational way you can come to a rational knowledge of God.

For it is one of the central realities of humanity, one of the deep mysteries of the human condition, that all truth involves a balance of truths. Rationality needs a context in order to be rational. In isolation from all the other human faculties, it becomes a cult of hyper-rationality. And this is not more and better rationality but distorted rationality, and often leads to irrational conclusions. For example, you may describe in exquisite, painstaking rational detail a finger pulling the trigger of a gun, which fires a bullet, which kills a child. The description can become extraordinarily detailed and rational, following an unassailable logic. You can claim as a consequence that you have rationally and exhaustively explained the death of the child.

Yet you have not explained murder. You have said nothing about the morality, or even in a larger sense the cause, of the child’s death. Rationality alone is not sufficient — necessary, yes, but not sufficient.

Consider something entirely different. In one of the most important decisions we make in life, rationality is a part, but only a part, and not always the most important part. When you choose, say, your life’s partner, the decision is partly rational but not purely or wholly rational. There is a spark of romance, an intuition of commitment, an excitement, a sense beyond the rationale of adventure and deep homecoming.

These types of considerations are not irrelevant to a rational belief in God.

Let’s look at that a bit more. The subject that humanity understands best, and has the most experience of, is humanity. The proper subject for the study of man is a man.

What clues does humanity itself offer us about belief in God?

All of our strongest instincts, all of our strongest desires, correspond to a strong reality. Hunger indicates food. Tiredness suggests sleep. Sexual desire implies sex.

This is true not only of physical desires. Loneliness implies friendship. The desire to behave decently implies the existence of decency.

And as long as we have known human beings, they have yearned for and believed in God. It makes you ponder, this long, consistent, human intuition, or it should do. The long hunger for God implies God.

These are just clues, they are not proofs, but they are clues that are powerfully consistent with God.

In his magnificent book, From Big Bang to Big Mystery, Brendan Purcell, among countless scintillating insights, assesses our professional or scholarly knowledge of several of the earliest human burial sites that we have found.

These date back many tens of thousands of years. Almost every one involves some ritual and some symbolism. Many involved artifacts, or tokens, or tools buried with the dead, which paleoanthropologists believe indicate a belief in the afterlife. The tools buried with the dead are symbols of what the person would take with them to the afterlife.

There are clues and questions beyond humanity, which belief in God answers rationally but to which the faith of atheism offers no answers at all.

Why is there something rather than nothing? How come our world is so incredibly receptive to the evolution of life? It’s highly improbable statistically. What caused the big bang? Why is nature so regular from one minute to the next?

Most of these questions are not necessary or sufficient proofs of God. They are open to atheist conjecture. But cumulatively they make more sense with God.

There is a variety of sneering, intolerant and remarkably poorly informed atheism popular on TV talk shows and the like. It is faux-clever but strangely old-fashioned, trotting out a venerable retinue of cliches and platitudes but demonstrating an almost complete lack of familiarity with theology or metaphysical philosophy.

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” 
― Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion

This kind of atheism is associ­ated with figures such as Richard Dawkins, who wrote The God Delusion. Dawkins is an eminent scientist in one field, with no particular expertise in any other field and an apparently wilful ignorance of the variety and subtlety and history of the claims and ideas of Christianity. He is a kind of atheist fundamentalist and he conjures an extreme, fundamentalist Christianity, a rhetorical straw man (unrelated to the main lines of Christianity) that he can beat down with science.

This kind of atheism is also associated with Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens was in some ways a splendid journalist, brave and witty and engaged, but he was a poor philosopher, a tremendously tendentious historian, and an astonishingly ill-informed theologian.

With a few other popular atheist celebrities, men such as these seek (or sought) to impose the new, and frighteningly narrow, religious orthodoxies of our day. They mount a million wild attacks on belief in God, most of them absurd. Let’s consider just two.

One is that evolutionary science has replaced God in explaining humanity.

“There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.” 
― Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion

This is nonsense. Evolutionary theory and science offer marvelous explanations of how they offer no explanations of why. This is no challenge to belief in God. In fact, it is a fundamental point. If God brings the physical universe into being then, of course, he uses physical processes. Understanding the processes a bit better doesn’t bear on the questions of why, of purpose, of meaning, at all. Most scientists believe that evolutionary science is consistent with religious belief or atheism. I think they’re right.

Nonetheless, evolutionary theory poses a much bigger problem for atheism than it does for religious belief. Some atheists argue that human beings evolved a religious instinct because it enhanced their chances of survival.

There is some appeal in this proposition, and also a lot of logical problems with it. But let it pass.

Consider, however, its implication. If the rational power of the human mind is so feeble that for countless millennia it could believe in God, when this belief is a delusion for which allegedly there is no evidence at all, how can we now accept that this same mind has miraculously developed a new capability to get to the truth and to understand evolutionary theory? If the mind is shaped by evolutionary theory to irrational ends throughout history it might just as well be shaped to irrational ends when it embraces the evolutionary theory. This is not what I believe but it is an inescapable implication of the Dawkins style of atheism.

If our minds and personalities and consciousness are no more than physical atoms and electric impulses, what basis do we have for believing that the mind can reliably apprehend reality at all?

The answer is that there is no basis for such belief within this atheist framework. You have to take it on faith. It is one of the many leaps of faith required in atheism.

The other frequent ground for a sneering assault on religious belief arises out of the science of the big bang itself.

That we now know so much more about the history of our planet, of our solar system, of our galaxy, leads some to the mistaken conclusion that God is superseded as an explanation.

I think rather than what all this knowledge really indicates is the majesty and generosity of God. That the physical universe we know is apparently 14 billion years old tells us nothing about who created it or why.

Dawkins and Hitchens and the others spend hundreds of pages claiming that God is impossible. Then when they admit that they cannot disprove God, they assert, with absolute dogmatic certainty, that God wouldn’t behave in a manner they deem inefficient or unsatisfactory or worse, profligate.

How would they know how God would behave?

It strikes me as absolutely characteristic of God that he would spend 14 billion years preparing a gift for human beings.

There are countless clues to God throughout our world and within humanity itself. There is the strange phenomenon of joy, the even stranger delight of humor, the inescapable intimation of meaning in beauty and music. There is the mystery of love, along with the equal mystery of our consciousness and our self-awareness. It’s a lot of clues to ignore.

There is one clue I like more than any other — the clue of the inner voice. Is there a single person alive who has not said, in some difficult moment: let it be this! don’t let it be that!

Who are we talking to at those moments?

Most of our life is spent with our inner voice, thinking things over, weighing things up, rehearsing our triumphs, dreading our failures, contemplating the people in our lives, anticipating the future, interpreting the past.

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47 thoughts on “”God And Atheism‎”

  1. This was deep. Read it till Christopher enters your post. He was a bloody good debator. The problem with believers is that they cling to religion, and most of their justifications for God derives from their understandings of religion, which can be troublesome for many. There’s one book where the author didn’t use that stick that much to the tenets of religion while justifying God. I’ll try sharing the link below. And, as far as humans go we all haven’t reached that stage of evolution where we can form a proper justification for God, or against God, in my opinion. Science is a relatively new field. Even language and reasonings are recent gifts of our evolution in the timescale of human evolution. 200 years ago, the Gods resided in the heavens above, and it turned out to be just a dumb imagination. 200 years from now, what we think of space acquire a whole new different meaning altogether. Man can now fly, communicate across seas with the dial of a number, and, heck, has even started giving birth to a new form of being – the AI. Who knows what we might discover 500 years from now! Who knows the science of today, might get replaced by an entirely new conceptual understanding of the universe ten generations after us. Who knows we might even get extinct before that happens – say, a nuclear war. There’s a reason why people have become skeptical, because a lot of truths of religions turned out to be just false assumptions. But as we learn more and more about the universe, even the sacred truths that science holds so dear until now, might get replaced by more practicle and accurate models later in the future. The thing that has worked for science, and which has worked against theism, is that science believes in not accepting anything until the empirical evidence satisfies a theory, while theism has a lot of conjured beliefs that are either empirically non-existant, or haven’t stood the tests of time. The concept of God and the percepts of theism are both entangled in such a confusing mesh that people naturally associate one with the other, when it should not be so. I guess the human conception about God will evolve in the forthcoming century. The possibilities of endless. From what I see, if there is a creation, there has to be a creator. The causal chain has to start from somewhere. But where?

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    1. I think this universe I just a bowl…in this bowl..we have a lot of stuff…in simple language.. And here we are just a minute particle… But how the bowl was created…..why only this planet has life…why we are adopted to this planet why not in other planet…why time is different in each and everyplace….why do we have day and night….why? You know if there is a creator I’m sure he superior no word to describe… And I believe if creation happen there must be a creator … But unimaginable:) thanks for sharing your thoughts

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      1. Yup! I also think that science hasn’t understood what ‘life’ actually is. If the human is a machine, where cells are just components driving this machinery, then how do we differentiate ourselves from robots. I mean, what exactly is life. Life isn’t just the chemical and physical processes occuring within us, it’s more than the sum of the parts. Then there’re problems of consciousness, about ‘self’ with which we identify ourselves so much. These are all components of ‘life’. And, I am utterly sure that life is present elsewhere too, just in a different form, in a different sort of existence. Something, inconceivable to is right now, as we haven’t yet encountered anything similar to it, similar to how a Roman would be surprised if he time-travelled 2000 years into the future. Ha Ha Ha. Anyway, cya. 😊

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    1. Ya sure… I think sometime for me god is something which is not easy to be known… Not easy to understand… Not easy to conclude ..he is something great:) but now i have seen most of the people share their own though and give a name of god… Because of this scenario I feel sometime I’m an atheist who want to share facts:)

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  2. In the world I live in, I have encountered the external, the existence of another world, and It really puts in the spotlight, the original teachings of Jesus, who made it too simple almost, as generation after generation add to the to do list, in order to be approved as they say. In a world so much in conflict, why is there such a divide between Islam and the other religions, when all of them, revere Jesus. In one part of the world there are those who know they do wrong, and in the other part of the world, there are those who are aware that what is going on, is hypocritical, yet they all claim to be believers in Jesus. For future simplicity and ease of mind, would it not be wise to settle the issue of Jesus, once and for all, simply peace love and understanding, amen

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  3. In short the author of this article either is ignorant of science or deliberately disregards it. He describes that children accept on faith without being able to prove that they are their parents children. That is totally false. Through the science of DNA testing, a certainty can be established, eliminating need for faith; granted that process is seldom used. Strictly speaking, Faith means that we accept as TRUTH something that cannot be proven. What he is speaking of is implicit faith versus explicit faith. We can and do know scientifically what makes our auto engines start and run. We know and can prove many, many things we have explicit faith in. On the other hand, when we board an airplane, we show implicit faith that it will carry us to our destination, all the time knowing the possibility that it may not. We accept that knowledge as “risk factor”. Personally. I have faith in a Supreme Being. I can neither prove nor disprove its existence. However my knowledge of basic particle physics (quantum mechanics) , and much more scientific facts allows me to assert that there is absolutely nothing in this universe that is not perfect in form and function. On the other hand, my philosophic observation allows me to assert that everything in this universe is evil in its activity as witnessed by its universal selfishness. It has to be that way or the universe would be frozen in time (eternity). Seeing that perfection and needed selfishness lends credence for me to concept of Supreme Being; however not proof . I was forced to define the essence of that being (philosophically, we are not permitted to attempt definitive discussion about any entity we cannot and/or do no define its “essence”. That i have done , and by virtue of that, I have developed a complete philosophy never before promulgated. Amazon labels it A REAL EYE OPENER.

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      1. There is nothing wrong with the concept of god….it’s us human who have made god name meaningless… Because if such reason god is loosing its value…for me god is such which is unexplainable… The one who created universe, a great designer of universe someone who is still controls every single thing going around universe…

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  4. Awesome post mate, I also have a apologetic knowledge of God and have come into many arguments with Atheists and their claims of a Godless universe. Funny thing is while they try to disprove Him they happen to steal from God to make their argument. Evil is a great example. If there was no God, there can’t be evil. Objective morality no longer holds water without a God. Evil is officially subjective and is all Opinion. But you know Atheists. Thanks for the great post.

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    1. You can say me I have a half view of atheists I m a believer of science and other view as spiritual yogi I’m a believer of universe… So for me I believe on things which is proven and had seen or done and other half I have a believe there is a hand in creation of universe nature and environment for us… Every life from bacteria to us we all have some role to give to universe for which we are send ..for the benefit for human kind and universe,…I believe to make a change in everyones life , making them understand the truth and value of living for once.. God and evil Its the term I actually put to make my audience understand about energies… If there is a good energy ..there is bad energy that’s why things are neutral….its all because of good energy this world still exist…we see Buddha and Jesus as example Gandhi or nelson mandala…this people found enlightenment so made a big change…. For people not for them…practical if we can them all as same form of god… Because this all people made changes in life.. After all , this are the portion of energies my real believe is there is only one energy that is taking care of this universe …its unexplainable…protecting from bad energies:)

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