Saturday, February 19, 2011

Evidence of Atheist Delusion?

These Christians think all skeptical arguments are utterly lame, including mine. Who in their right mind would think this? Just once I'd like to hear a devout Christian say something like: "Hey, that's something I haven't thought of before," or, "This is a serious problem for my faith." It's just that these things are almost never said. No, they have the answers. And they laugh at all skeptical arguments, many of which derive from David Hume, who is thought to be the greatest English speaking philosopher who ever lived.
Now it's one thing to disagree with the skeptics. It's another thing entirely to think our arguments have no force at all. The fact that most Christians think they have no force at all simply means these Christians are delusional--John Loftus.

John Loftus of the Debunking Christianity blog has been lamenting the pushback he has been getting from believers who aren’t bowled over by his arguments. Since he is an ex-Christian I’m amazed that he doesn’t grasp the fact that theists and atheists have been locked in a stalemate for hundreds of years. Both sides have intelligent people with decent although imperfect arguments. Both sides seek absolute proof that God exists or doesn’t exist, proof that, at this point, doesn’t exist. I’m amazed that atheists like him can’t see that atheism is the mirror opposite of theism, that atheism is a belief that requires faith.

To a certain extent I agree with John that some atheist arguments like the problem of evil, the Santa Principle; and John’s Outsider Test for Faith do have some force, but I disagree that they prove that God doesn’t exist. The best atheist arguments show that it is possible that God doesn’t exist just like the best theist arguments show that it is probable that God exists. Since both sides are in a stalemate it comes down to whether you believe that God exists or that he doesn’t exist or that we don’t have enough information to know whether He exists.

Since this is the case, most of the negative things that John says about Christians could be applied to atheists. Since atheism can’t be proved, atheists make the “leap of faith” that God doesn’t exist. John said, “Christians are illogical and delusional” since they believe in what is not seen, but I think you can say the same thing about some atheists. In order to get escape the various cosmological arguments for God’s existence atheists will appeal to alternate universes, which aren’t verifiable, or they’ll claim that the universe has always existed even though science says that the universe had an origin 13.7 billion years ago.

As someone who has argued on both sides of the God debates I can understand John’s frustration. We’d all like to have the ultimate argument that finally ended the debate, but that argument just does not exist. If you have two skilled and well informed debaters then the argument will always end in a stalemate. People witnessing these debates must decide which side is probably right because whether you’re a theist or atheist it always comes down to faith.


  1. I don't know if you've ever read the work of Van Til, but he makes a strong argument for why the Christian and the Natural Man have no common ground, and he criticizes the Arminian/Catholic approach to apologetics for trying to defend the faith while adopting the natural man's presuppositions, which he says is like boxing with one hand tied behind your back. I'd check out this book if you are interested

  2. Thanks for recommending Val Til’s work, Tony; I’ll check it out further. I believe that believers know that God exists via the work of the Holy Spirit, but that we can use reason as a tool for showing others that God is highly probable and to strengthen our own faith. Apologetics on its own will not make anyone a believer, but I think that God can use it to soften the hearts of people that he is calling and to open their eyes to His existence. I think that God used apologetics to slowly move me from atheism and agnosticism to Christianity. I gradually became more open to the fact that God exists.

    The goal of this blog is to be a counterbalance to the New Atheists and to show that it is possible to be a reasonable, intellectual Christian. Do you think that debating with the non-believing community is a worthwhile project? If so, how would you do it with Van Til’s apologetic system, which non-believers would argue is question begging?

  3. Hi Keith,

    I discovered your blog from reading your comments on Debunking Christianity. I have regular dialogue with atheists on my blog, so I was interested to read what you said about going from atheism to Christianity.

    I think that debating with atheists is worthwhile (as long as the tone is friendly and not adversarial) because theism and atheism are such very different conceptual frameworks that the rational arguments for Christian theism seem necessary. And I agree with you that it strengthens our faith as well. I have very much enjoyed the discussions I have had with non-believers.

  4. Hi Anette,

    Welcome to Intellectual Feast; I’m glad you found your way here! Yeah, my time debating on DC has always been interesting. It does take a lot of time but if I can make people think then maybe God can use that to soften hearts. It is a little frustrating that the debates often end in a stalemate, but I think by debating we can show atheists that we do have some good arguments for our faith.

    I definitely agree with you that debates should be vigorous and respectful.

    By the way I checked out your blog; it looks interesting. I just might join the debate on your blog sometime :-)

  5. You are more than welcome to join the discussion!

    A couple of atheists who read my blog but rarely comment have actually expressed interest in hearing from people who converted from atheism to Christianity. One of them definitely seems to be seeking and I'm not sure about the other--he may just be interested in reasons why people convert to Christianity. But I'm sure they would both be interested in your perspective.