“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans” Old Proverb.
God is probably laughing at those who are the subject of this post. However, God’s laughter or lack thereof will not be a consideration among a growing and increasingly strident and intolerant group of scientists who have declared war, yes war, on belief in God, gods, or anything that goes beyond their atheistic worldview. As the cover of the latest edition (November 2006) of Wired Magazine says: The New Atheism: No Heaven. No Hell. Just Science: Inside the Crusade Against Religion, this war is real.
The title of the Wired article is The Church of the Non-Believers. This is a legitimate and important distinction, because atheism is legitimately a matter of faith and its belief system is a form of religion. That is because every argument, every assessment of evidence, every deduction flows from an initial a priori, a foundational position that is derived from belief not fact (see my earlier post: A Priories: How We Build On The Sure Foundation). Christians begin with a God a priori, while atheists begin with not God. It all begins there, by a statement of faith.
The Wired article begins with a significant question.
A band of intellectual brothers is mounting a crusade against belief in God. Are they winning converts, or merely preaching to the choir?
The author, Gary Wolf, the executive editor of Wired, closes the article by declining to join in the “uncompromising war against faith.” He closes his article with the following observation:
Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd. If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there’s always a chance we could be wrong. [Emphasis added.]
Reflecting on my previous assertion about a priori positions being rooted in faith, Gary is honest to admit his position is faith-based, one which he believes (in similar fashion to Christians) is a bedrock faith, but it is still faith.
That is an important point, especially for the average person to understand. Its significance lies in the fact that you cannot argue someone out of their a priori. I consider all debates between atheists and theists, like the one discussed in the article between Richard Dawkins, an Oxford evolutionary biologist, and a geneticist and neurosurgeon, basically useless. That is because non of these arguments really touches the a prioris of the debaters, only their constructs.
Most of the historical constructs used in these debates are philosphical. The positions have changed little since ancient times. Some are weak, some are strong, but all depend on the a priori from which they spring. Dawkins, along with most scientific atheists, argue that science is empirical (derived from observation or experiment) and that science speaks in probabilities. While even the staunchest atheist will admit that the probability of God is not zero, they argue it is so small as to be insignificant.
While that argument sounds important, even valid, it is loaded, like weighted dice at a craps table. Empirical evidence depends on several things, among them our senses and devices designed to extend their ability to perceive. The assumption of course is that reality is limited to that which we can observe and measure as we touch, taste, hear, see, or smell the world around us. While our ability to understand reality may be so limited, no honest person can say that everything that exists respects those limits.
Atheists believe time is on their side, time and human science. Given enough time, they believe science will continue, by its advancing frontiers, box the possibility of God into an ever-decreasing probability so that eventually, no thinking person would even consider it. I disagree. I believe that the more science discovers, the more difficult it will become to believe God does not exist. Why do I think that?
The Bible does not have much to say on the subject of atheism and proof for the existence of God. It does, however, consider anyone who says there is no God a fool.
The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. Psalm 14:1a
What the Bible does argue, using Romans 1:19-20 as an example, is that creation itself provides the only necessary witness to God.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1: 19-20
Recently, using the empiricism of science, and the probabilities so enamored of the atheists, a new discipline is beginning to emerge, arguing that the complexity and apparent design so evident throughout the universe, from our genetic code to the balance of physical laws that makes life even possible, speak to design and that design requires a designer. The approach is right out of Romans 1 and I believe this is the only legitimate argument to make for God in a debate, because it calls into question the a priori of scientific atheists, using their own constructs.
I suggest you read the Wired article. It
will not be available online until sometime in December [see Update below], so for now you have to find the magazine. Most public libraries carry a copy. When the article does appear online, I will amend this post with a link. Until then remember, despite the smug assertions of scientific atheists, they are also arguing from a position of faith. Grace and peace.
Update: The article is now online, under the title Battle of the New Atheists. I love the proliferation of titles for this article. In the magazine’s Contents it is called The New Atheists, while the title on the first page of text says The Church of the Non-Believers. Take your pick, but if you are referencing the online version it’s Battle of the New Atheists. It sounds like a riff on Battle of the Network Stars or similar items. My title would have been The War Against Belief in God, because that is what it is. However, the lead to the actual text was very accurate in using Church in the title, because atheism is a non-theistic religion, built on an a priori of faith, just like the theistic faith it attacks.