Mar 07,2014
Published in Common Misconceptions

Atheism in the dock

Atheism is the rejection of belief in the existence of God. Its proponents claim that adopting the atheist position is the dictate of reason. But is this really the case?

The following are some brief points in critique of atheism.

The aim here is not to prove the existence of God – that is done elsewhere – but to put Atheism in the dock of interrogation and show that it is far from the beacon of reason claimed by its adherents.

 

The onus of proof

The onus of proof is indeed on the one who asserts, and hence not on the atheist who is merely negating. To end the story here, however, is convenient but unreasonable. For any idea is proposed in order to answer an underlying question or solve a problem. Negating that idea is only to object to it being the right answer. It does not answer the question or solve the problem. Providing an alternative answer does.

Theism answers the fundamental questions about the reality of the world in which we find ourselves, recognising that nothing contingent, finite and dependent can account for its own existence, and that an infinite series of such things can not be the source or basis of their being either. Atheism merely negates the given answer (on fallacious grounds), but fails to answer the question. Why do contingent beings exist? What is the reality of the universe? Is it created? Is it the source of its own existence? It is eternal, having always existed?

There is little by way of rigorous answers from Atheists and more by way of ideology – unsubstantiated on its own merits - being passed as science. 

 

An eternal universe?

Negating the existence of God leaves only two options with respect to the origins of the universe – either it is eternal or it came from nothing. The eternal universe thesis requires affirming the impossible scenario of the actual existence of an infinite regress of temporal causes. It also requires ignoring or explaining away the bulk of modern astrophysical evidence that points to an absolute beginning.

 

Something from nothing?

The universe from nothing thesis is even more absurd and rests on a disingenuous re-definition of ‘nothing’ such that nothing becomes something but still keeps the label of ‘nothing’.

This thesis relies on describing the quantum vacuum as ‘nothing’, and then appealing to the modern findings of quantum mechanics – the rigour of which its mathematical structures is only matched by the highly-speculative nature of their interpretation as to real-world implications – to suggest that the origins of the universe may be this type of ‘nothing’.

Evidently, this is nonsense. The word ‘nothing’ in the English language is a term of universal negation, meaning ‘not anything’. It cannot be given as a label to something. The quantum vacuum is, excuse the double negative, not nothing. The quantum vacuum has properties. It comprises of space and energy. It fluctuates. It is subject to laws and the equations of quantum field theory. It has properties that are describable, predictable and falsifiable. It is definitely something.

The eternal universe thesis also requires appealing to the empirically unverified (‘quantum gravitation’) and the empirically unverifiable (multiverse theories) for the conclusion to hold. Here we see atheist ‘leaps of faith’ and ‘multiverse of the gaps’ come in to save the day by suspending the need for empirical verification and rigorous validation.

 

No explanation & faith in science

If the universe is not eternal and could not have come from nothing, the atheist is left with naught but to acknowledge that he or she is without explanation; but not without the faith in science and its ability to possibly provide an explanation at some point in the future. Perhaps. But is not a reasonable explanation, even if not absolutely conclusive in your mind, better than no explanation? What may or may not be proven in the future can only be reasonably taken into account if and when it occurs. Rational inquiry entails affirming the best explanation one arrives at based on available evidence at the time of that inquiry.

 

Secularism

Negating the existence of God also leaves the atheist with little choice but to adopt secularism and humanism, which are affirmative propositions, requiring positive substantiation of which there is little forthcoming from atheists.

Why should church be separate from state? Why should religion be singled out for exclusion from influencing public affairs? Religion is after all one worldview amongst many.

The reality is that secularism is taken for granted to be the best way whilst it is at its core irrational. It is the result of a compromise solution for a geographically, historically and contextually specific problem, that of pre-Enlightenment Europe. The centuries-old oppression of the Church was sought to be repelled by advocating the separation of religion from state. But this represents a classical flaw of jumping from a particular case to a universal conclusion.

Devoid of a rational argument for secularism (compromise solutions are never strictly rational), advocates resort to a rather romanticised view of it as a neutral system which allows for a pluralist society where everyone is free to practice their individual beliefs. Yet secularism is built on a specific worldview and is no more neutral than any other ideology. It disallows those parts of other worldviews which contradict it.

 

A call to reflect!

These are just some of the core questions that arise when thinking about atheist claims. The above is presented not to belittle the beliefs of atheists but to humbly invite those among them sincere in search of the truth to have a re-think about their worldview and whether or not it is the dictate of reason.

 

To download the PDF Tri-fold brochure of this article, click HERE.

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