Today I want to an article as a response to an article I was provided with on Twitter. The person in question challenged me as well as others to rebutt this and while this is not necessarily worth my time, I haven’t written on here for a long time and the article has some very popular misconceptions which need to be taken care of.
First the author introduces us to what Atheism is:
“Atheism is not “a lack of belief in God,” as atheists are so fond of saying. If you lack belief in God, but don’t deny God’s existence, you’re agnostic (neutral position), not atheist (negative position).”
He supports this by citing various sources such as the Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy as well as other unnamed dictionaries.
Well that may all be true and well but we who identify ourselves as Atheists choose how we define the term. When I say “I am an Atheist” then what I mean is that I do not believe in deities or the number of deities I believe in is zero. You may think of us as agnostics in that case if we are not willing to defend positive Atheism but the arbiter of the label are those who embrace it. Whether you rebutt an agnostic or a self described Atheist whom you’d put in the category of “agnostic” isn’t really of any relevance now, is it?
He moves on to say this:
“There is zero compelling evidence for atheism. If there were, then atheists would be quick to point it out. When asked to defend it atheists must play make-believe agnostics, retreating into the safe space of neutrality. This allows them to dodge their own burden of proof: offering a stronger explanation for existence than God. (this isn’t to say theists don’t also have a burden of proof. Of course they do.)Anyone who’s ever had debated an atheist knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Atheist “God does not exist, you stupid theist!”
Theist: “If you say God doesn’t exist, what evidence do you have for God not existing, and for a better explanation for existence?”
Atheist: “I don’t need evidence, I merely lack belief in God’s existence.”
Explicit denial of God’s existence (atheism) when on the attack. Then they get challenged. Then they retreat into lack of belief in God (agnosticism) when on the defense. It’s a textbook bait-and-switch tactic. There is a secondary motivation for conflating atheism and agnosticism: to inflate the number of atheists.
Think about it . . .
If simply lacking belief in God makes one an atheist, then all agnostics are atheists. And if all agnostics are atheists? The U.S. (and the world) has a lot more atheists than we thought.”
Well in reality there actually is compelling evidence for Atheism (we’ll get to that) but the main point is this:
One need not offer alternative explanations to god(s) in order to be justified in not believing in god(s) or for that matter to even be justified in believing that no god(s) exist. Allow me to present an analogy mirroring the dialogue from his article:
R: “Whales aren’t birds , you scientifically illiterate buffoon!”
J: “If you say whales aren’t birds, what evidence do you have whales what not being birds, and what alternative do you have to offer?”
R: “Well long story short there is no evidence to suggest that whales are in fact birds. That is something you need to demonstrate and since such a Hypothesis as whales being birds was never warranted to begin with I need not lend it more credence than the existence of Santa.”
The God Hypothesis has not been shown to deserve its spot on the table of ideas. The same is true for fairies, Santa, Unicorns etc. . It is up to you to first of all define what you mean by God, show that such a thing is logically and physically possible and that this thing of yours has any more basis in reality than any other fantasy I could just randomly dream up.
He goes on with the following:
“Atheism Offers No Positive, Testable Argument. To be credible, a worldview must offer a positive, testable argument. You can’t say it’s true and leave it at that, you’ve got to show it’s true. If I told you that a purple alligator named Hector had created the universe, you’d demand positive evidence for this claim. If I couldn’t produce it (spoiler alert: I can’t), you’d reject it, and rightfully so.
“What does this have to do with atheism,” you might ask. It’s simple . . .
Atheists claim God does not exist, yet offer no supporting evidence. It’s a bald assertion; a claim with nothing to back it up. As the late atheist Christopher Hitchens was fond of saying:
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Lots to unpack here. There is positive testable evidence against God’s existence. There are various arguments I have written down here, here, here and here which disprove various conceptions of God among which would be the Christian version. There are various other arguments in deductive atheology which demonstrate various God concepts to be incoherent. Yahweh, Allah (who is defined to be a merciful humiliator in the 99 names of Allah) as well as other deities have been shown to be impossible. We also have positive evidence for the proposition that deities are man-made. It is therefore unlikely that deities have a basis in reality. Is this conclusive proof? No. But the existence of a god has been dreamed up and invented by humans and is therefore improbable.
As far as his following assertion goes:
“Ah, but there’s more, folks. In claiming that God does not exist, atheism logically entails that something other than God must be responsible for why something (rather than nothing) exists. If God didn’t create existence, then something else had to. Makes sense, right? And if you deny that God created existence, as atheists do, then you must believe something else did, right? Let’s break it down in point-by-point fashion:
- Fact: existence exists (if I didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this right now).
- There must be an explanation for this fact.
- Atheists deny one possible explanation: God.
- In denying the God explanation, atheism entails that some explanation other than God must be true.
- Atheists refuse to say what this other explanation is, let alone offer evidence in support of it.
- Thus, we’re left with a cold, hard conclusion: Atheism is a blind faith; a position with no evidence supporting it.
It is simply not true that something must explain existence. It may just be that existence is a brute fact. Existence just is the same way that God just is in a theistic worldview. In his argument then I reject P2 right out of the gate. There need not be an explanation. If he insists that I must account for existence then he must maintain that he must account for God (he can’t). P3 has not been established. It has not been shown that God is a possible explanation and dependent on the God in question, P3 might actually be outright false rather than just unsupported. P4 is rejected for the reasons already stated. P5 is kinda true: We have various Hypotheseses some Atheists would support but in general we tend to be humble about the claims we make.
As far as science from the perspective of theism goes he has this to say:
“Don’t Believe The Hype: Atheism Has Given (Almost*) NOTHING To Science
Atheists like to pretend that science is their domain. And sure, a lot of modern scientists are atheists (relative to the population as a whole).
But the claim that atheism and science go hand-in-hand? It couldn’t be further from the truth.
Atheism is anti-science, and anti-reason.
Before any atheists reading this scream at me, please allow me to elaborate.
Science “works” for two reasons:
- The universe is comprehensible. That is, it follows a set of orderly guidelines (laws) which allow it to be understood by cognitive observers (that’d be us).
- Cognitive observers exists (hi, mom!).
This makes perfect sense from the perspective of theism.
Theists believe that God is the designer of the universe; a “cosmic engineer,” so to speak. Most theists also believe that God wants to be discovered. This would mean that science is the reverse engineering of the cosmic engineer’s work.
Sure enough, reverse engineering the universe perfectly described what science is and does. We study the various parts of nature and figure out how they work. That’s reverse engineering.”
I agree that science works but this does not make sense from the perspective of theism. At least not if we posit an interventionist God. If God can mess with the laws of nature as he sees fit at any given time then we cannot be sure of our results: Is this gravity really a thing or is it just God messing with us constantly? Sure the results may be X but how can we tell that God not simply intervened to make it X because he just enjoys this outcome over the natural one? Notice how uniformity of nature goes out the window here.
Then he goes on to pontificate on Atheism:
“None of this makes any sense from the perspective of atheism.
Atheism entails mindlessness. Mindlessness entails chaos. Chaos is the opposite of science. Our minds are not chaos, and our universe is not chaos. If they were, science would be impossible.
Is it any wonder, then, that God-fearing men have built science over the centuries? From the scientific method, to nearly every branch of science, they’ve all came from the blood, sweat, and tears of God-believers. Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Max Planck . . . name a great scientist throughout history, and I’ll show you a believe in God.”
I am not convinced that mindlessness entails chaos and am not aware of any argument in support of this. He acts like nature can only be uniform if it was designed to be uniform. But why would he do that? Why are we to assume that utter chaos is the default position for everything and that there needs to be an agent to order things? Why assume that the force of gravity would change by whim every second if there’s no deity making sure that it doesn’t? There is no good reason to assume this. Is it so inconceivable that gravity just has the properties it has and that they do not change and that we can therefore describe its behavior through science and mathematics? That’s an atheistic account for science and it seems much more sensible than saying “Goddidit” .
Then he puts out a challenge:
“If you question any of the above, then I have a challenge for you:
- Make a list of all branches of science founded by theists.
- Make a list of all branches of science founded by atheists.
- Compare the two to see which is the more impressive list.
What did you find?
If you did the above challenge, and did it honestly, you’ll find exactly what I found: Science was built on the foundation of theism, and in particular, Christianity.
Atheism, on the other hand, hasn’t given science anything of note.
It turns out that believing all of existence is one great big directionless accident isn’t a great heuristic for discovering truth. A shocker, I know.
But science isn’t the only area atheism has failed in. Oh, no . . .”
Well I think we ought to ask ourselves whether this is due to Atheism itself failing or whether it might possibly be….. and I am just spitballing here…… due to the fact that Atheism has not exactly been a prevalent view throughout the centuries. Let’s be real here: Christianity has had the western world in a stranglehold for the better part of 2000 years so it should not come as a surprise that most scientists during that period were Christians.
I will skip the next bit titled “Atheism Has Given Nothing To Humanity (But Taken A Whole Hell Of A Lot From It)” as this is merely the Atheist atrocities fallacy and really has nothing to do with whether Atheism is reasonable or not one way or the other.
Then he argues the following:
“Atheism Shrinks As Knowledge Grows
As I demonstrated above, atheism lacks a positive supporting argument. This is because when you dig in and really examine atheism, you’ll find that it’s little more than an argument from ignorance.
Atheism, in a nutshell:
- I know of no evidence for God. (this is the ignorance)
- Therefor, there is no evidence (here’s some more)
- Therefore, God does not exist. (atheism’s argument from ignorance)
- Therefore, the universe self-created via magic. (the logical consequence of atheism’s argument from ignorance)
The problem with this sort of argument is that it becomes weaker the more we learn.
Atheists once claimed the universe was infinite. If the universe was infinite, than it had no beginning. If it had no beginning, then we don’t have to explain how it came to be; it was always there.
This worked for a while. Then along came a little something you might have heard of: the big bang.
What the data behind the big bang proved was that the universe had a beginning, which meant something had to precede it; something had to cause it.”
This is a profound failure of Big Bang cosmology. The Big Bang does not entail that the Universe began. It is a popular misconception but simply not true. The Big Bang is the beginning of the Universe as well as time and space as we know them. However let’s say it did. If the Universe began then time itself began with the Universe which means that nothing could have preceded it. Not only is it not necessary that something had to precede it is not possible that something did. But what the necessity of it being caused?
Well it may seem intuitive to us in daily life that things which begin to exist are caused. But when we talk about the Big Bang we talk about something we have no experience with. Things within the Universe require a cause to begin existing but we do not know that this principle within the Universe applies to the Universe itself and to maintain otherwise commits the fallacy of composition. Watch this:
P1 Humans consist of atoms
P2 Atoms can‘t talk
C Humans can‘t talk
P1 Finite things within the Universe are caused
P2 the Universe is finite
C The Universe was caused
If you can see the flaw within argument 1 you should be able to see it within argument 2.
The rest of this section he spends on arguing against evolution by citing Dr Wells from the discovery Institute. Now I accept evolution but evolution does not pretain to Atheism. I could in theory accept Intelligent design and remain as atheistic as I ever was. Likewise nothing about evolution goes against the idea of a god in general. So in essence this is little more than a red herring.
Finally he has this to say:
“My Challenge To Atheists: Either Put Up Or (For God’s Sake!) Shut Up
Show us the evidence for atheism. You claim to be rational, logical, and only accepting of things proven true, so this isn’t an unreasonable demand. Don’t hide behind the “lack of belief” lie, which is just intellectual cowardice. Don’t try to change the subject and demand evidence from theists (we have overwhelming evidence, which you ignore).Most of all, don’t shout out how you “don’t need no stinkin’ evidence!” (especially not with spit flying out of your mouth; it makes you look insane) Instead, just show us a better explanation than God for why something, rather than nothing, exists.That’s it. It’s that simple.If you want to go into even deeper detail, then great!Explain to us how nature arose from whatever it is you believe nature arose from. Explain to us how the laws of nature came to be. Explain to us the origin of life. Explain to us the origin of the laws of logic and of mathematics. The more atheism can explain, the stronger it will become, and the more people who adopt it as their worldview.If you can do these things, and do them compellingly, then you will have taken atheism from an irrational blind faith in a what appears to be little more than non-testable magic, to a legitimate, credible worldview on par with–maybe even superior to–theism. I’ll abandon my theism and proudly wave that scarlet A flag, as will all other reasonable theists. But you won’t do any of those things. You won’t do anything of those things because you can’t do any of those things. And that is why you get so angry when you’re asked to. Unlike a man named Jesus Christ, atheism won’t be rising from the grave. Atheism is dead, and it’s staying that way.”
Well it seems like I did just that within my article. Unlike belief in Jesus acceptance of Atheism is reasonable and while the author may think he has buried Atheism it is his mythical Messiah who shall remain dead.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation
4 thoughts on “Resurrecting Atheism: A rebuttal to an embarrassing obituary”
Brilliant article! Thanks for the well thought out defense of Atheism!
Glad you liked it.
Science is based on observation. Everytime we change our viewpoint or angle of perception, things change. Science changes.
Religion is based on speculation. It does not change with each change of viewpoint. It remains exactly the same.
Which one is alive? Which one is dead?
Atheism is NOT a worldview, a philosophy, or a belief. Atheism is a personal choice. Atheism is not something that can be taught. Theism itself must be taught. If a new-born baby is not taught to believe in some superbeing, it will never get there on its own. Nor, if such a circumstance were to occur, said baby would not know to call itself an atheist, the need for the label would never arise. This is something a theist will never understand.