Sometimes, certain things seem to come in waves. And lately it seems that, in my world at least, the waves of attack from Atheist philosophy have been driving hard to the shore. For some reason, a certain element of the Atheist population feels the need to attack videos and articles I produce concerning the nature of Atheism. I imagine many of you reading this may have at least one or two obnoxious Atheists you have to deal with, so I thought I would lay out some things that I find helpful in dealing with these kinds of people. To be sure, not all Atheists are like that. In fact, there are many who are very kind and decent people. But in our day, the obnoxious ones tend to be very brazen and are, literally, out spoiling for a fight.
Who is an Atheist?
First we need to identify just what we mean when we talk about Atheists. I find it quite interesting that there are several categories of people we can call Atheists, and many of them will dispute what it means to be one.
One category of Atheists are those who don’t even consider themselves Atheists. If you ask them they might even tell you they are Christians or that they believe in God. They may even go to church. This category is what I call the “practical Atheist.” These are people who, for whatever reason, self-identify as Christian or religious, yet do not believe the Bible and often live a lifestyle which is incompatible with biblical teachings. These are people who, perhaps, live with someone outside of marriage, hold to a form of theology which understands God in some abstract sense, or believe that the universe exists without any input from God. In spite of their verbal affirmation of belief in God, they live their lives “as if” he didn’t exist.
Then there are those who actually claim to be Atheists. These folks are also not monolithic, but fall into a couple of different categories.
One category consists of those who claim not to be firm Atheists (often even referring to themselves as Agnostics), and are simply waiting for more evidence before they are willing to believe in God. People who believe this way are self-deceived. The problem with this stance is that these folks are actually Atheists but are simply unwilling to admit it out loud. They say they would believe in God if only someone could produce evidence for his existence. The only problem is, they will only accept evidence that is compatible with a Naturalistic worldview. In other words, they insist that you prove the existence of God based on experimental science. The idea that they are simply waiting on evidence is deceptive because they are totally unwilling to accept the kind of evidence for God that does exist. Regardless of what these people call themselves, they are Atheists because they are basing their belief only on assumptions that are compatible with Atheism and nothing else.
The other category of Atheist are those who are up-front about not believing in God. Some of these people are very nice folks and are willing to “live and let live.” But increasingly we are seeing a more militant strain who are out to blast anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
The Problems of Atheism
As we look at the philosophy of Atheism, we find some very serious problems. If we understand what these problems are, we are in a very good position to stand our ground when attacked and to share a witness when there is an opportunity.
Interestingly, one of the primary arguments Atheists make in trying to put down Christians is that the Christian point of view is based on faith while Atheism is based on science. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Both the Christian faith and Atheism are faith positions. The question is not one of whether or not the ultimate foundation of the belief system is faith, but which faith position actually lines up with the way reality exists. In truth, Atheism is a meaningless philosophy. There are three basic issues which we need to understand in this regard.
Atheism Has Nothing to Even Support its Existence
In order for Atheism to be true, there are four major things which must also be true.
1. The material which makes up the natural universe must have a natural origin.
2. Life must have emerged out of non-life.
3. The diversity of life on earth must be explainable based on natural evolutionary processes.
4. Consciousness must have emerged out of non-consciousness.
In addition to these four things having to be true, all of them must also be explainable based on experimental science. Take a close look at the four. Are there any of them which can be affirmed using experimental science? The answer is NO – not a single one. Science cannot lead us to knowledge of the origin of the material that makes up the natural universe. Science has no explanation for how it is possible for life to emerge out of non-life. Experimental science cannot show how naturalistic evolution could possibly have occurred. And there is no known science able to explain how it is possible that consciousness came to be (much less the self-consciousness that human beings exhibit).
So, what must we conclude? Atheism (along with its naturalistic worldview foundation) is not in any respect based on science. It is a set of beliefs which has no empirical support whatsoever.
Atheism Is a Narrow-minded Point of View
While most Atheists proclaim from the rooftops that their belief is broad-minded, the fact of the matter is it is quite narrow-minded. The attempt to claim broad-mindedness is generally rooted in the belief that they are not bound by narrow religious constraints but are open to everything that science is able to demonstrate.
But once again, what part of Atheism is based on science? Science doesn’t support the beliefs Atheism is built upon. In fact, to believe the tenets of Atheism, one has to actually ignore science in order to maintain a strict belief in Naturalism’s four basic presuppositions.
Now since Atheism steadfastly affirms its own faith presuppositions without scientific backing, and wildly attacks Christian beliefs, there is no other possible conclusion to make but that Atheism is indeed not broad-minded, but is, itself, a narrow-minded point of view.
Based on this kind of attack, “narrow-minded” is looked at to be bad while “broad-minded” is thought to be good. But this entire approach is simply wrong. In truth, there is no such thing as “broad-minded” in the sense Atheists try to use it. Every belief system in existence is narrow-minded. There are things it will include and things it will exclude. And the things it excludes defines its narrowness.
Atheism Is a Hidden Religion
So, we are down to the final matter in defining the problems associated with Atheism. While its adherents try to portray it as a science based, broad-minded point of view, in fact it is a faith based, narrow-minded philosophy. It is actually a religious belief masquerading as a non-religion.
The reason this is so bad for Christians is that for way too long Atheists have gotten away with efforts to push Christian values out of the public square based on the assertion that religion has no place in public culture. But pushing religion out of the public square is not what they are really doing. What they are actually doing is substituting their own faith system for the one the nation was originally founded upon. When the public accepts their spin, Atheists are then able to push out Christian values while freely advocating for their own beliefs.
The Damage of Atheism
So why, exactly, should Christians be concerned with this? What are the tangible results of the Atheist belief system as it becomes dominant in the culture?
The primary problem with Atheism lies in its moral underpinning. While there are many Atheists who live life based on a moral understanding that would be compatible with the beliefs Christians espouse, the reason for this compatibility has no basis in atheistic philosophy. Those who choose a set of moral beliefs compatible with Christianity must do so out of nothing more than either personal preference or some vague belief that following those kinds of rules is the most effective way to maintain order in their own lives and in society.
The problem we run into, though, is that there are other Atheists who hold entirely different values. They see personal pleasure or even societal domination as primary. And because there is no transcendent set of values upon which to draw, no one can say that any of the choices is wrong. So what we end up with is a situation where the person or group which is able to establish the strongest power base is the one which gets to define morality.
What gets promoted out in the culture, then, is a whole raft of values which do not encourage personal responsibility or societal stability. There are many examples we could use to illustrate this, but let’s just look at a few.
In the Christian faith, sexual morality has an absolute base. In the Bible, God has revealed that sexual relations are reserved for a married man and woman. The purpose of this is not to be prudish, but is God’s gift to mankind as an expression of the oneness which exists within the Trinity itself. It is this kind of oneness which provides the ultimate foundation for stability in human culture. Ignoring this approach to sexuality creates separation from God because it is disobedient to his specific revelation, but also serves to break down the social structure as it destroys the family.
Atheism, however, does not recognize the existence of God and, therefore, sees no point in a revelation which limits the expression of sexuality. For the Naturalist, any kind of sexual expression which an individual desires is okay. The only limitations on sexual expression are the personal desires of individuals or what can be enforced by those who hold enforcement power.
There are two reasons unbridled sexual expression is a problem. The first is that, as direct disobedience to God, it separates people from him. Of course, no Atheist will even acknowledge this one. The second reason is because it creates all kinds of havoc in society and has the ultimate ability to destroy it. This is the root of such things as divorce, lack of trust within families, poverty, child and partner abuse, sexual abuse, abortion, sexually transmitted disease, out of wedlock pregnancies, social and psychological issues in both adults and children, poor school performance, lack of ability to make family commitments, feelings of guilt, poor self image, and many other things. This is not to say that every person who participates in out of wedlock sex experiences or causes all of these things. But the cumulative effect of such participation does lead to an increase in all of these things within individuals and in the culture.
Another place where atheistic beliefs are played out in the culture relate to the very notion of truth. As Atheism does not believe in the concept of a transcendent reality, there can also be no such thing as transcendent truth – that which exists as an absolute standard. All that leaves is the possibility of individuals or groups creating their own “truths.”
In a society where the concept of truth is understood to be relative, it can become anything the individual wants it to be. There is no Truth (with a capital T), only “truths” which relate to the outcome an individual wants to see in particular situations. So, for example, in the process of trying to sell Obamacare, when the president says you can keep your doctor, it doesn’t have to really mean you can keep your doctor. It can mean you can keep your doctor if your insurance doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter that he knows it will be impossible for your insurance not to change, he can still claim he was telling the truth because his truth claim was based on a particular situation, not on some absolute standard. The very same thing happened when Bill Clinton was trying to defend his conduct with Monica Lewinsky. Perhaps you remember when he made his famous quote, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” He was attempting to make his “truth claim” relative to a particular situation and avoid the idea that he actually needed to base his testimony on a more absolute standard of truth.
It would be so easy at this point to list dozens of high profile examples where prominent people in the culture have based what they said on this very same kind of relativistic understanding of truth. Based on a naturalistic worldview, it is perfectly okay to do that. So, in essence, they are promoting a belief which says it is okay to tell “their truth” even if it means not telling “the truth.”
When this becomes the practice of a large part of the culture, actual truth telling goes away and you end up with societal decline that cannot be stopped. The court system falls apart, the political apparatus gets degraded, and the family degenerates – all because no one can depend on anyone’s word.
Breakdown of the Family
Let’s look at one more example where atheistic beliefs are overtly playing out in the culture. Over the last several generations, we have seen increasingly how the family structure has been coming apart. We have especially seen it in the rising divorce rate and in the increasing prevalence of people setting up “alternative” family structures (polygamy, polyamory, homosexual marriage, people living together out of wedlock and others).
Based on an atheistic belief system, there is, literally, no objective reason why the family structure should be one way rather than another. The determining factor for establishing a family has nothing to do with God or “the way things ought to be.” Rather, it can be built entirely on what individuals want for their own satisfaction. It doesn’t matter if the breakdown of the traditional family causes increased poverty, psychological problems in children, worse grades in school for the kids, increased child and spouse abuse, or other social problems. All that matters is that particular adults get the personal gratification they want.
What Christians Need to Do to Counter this Problem
As we look at how Atheism is penetrating the culture and observe the negative effects of that point of view, Christians do need to be active in opposing it. The opposition we give, however, needs to take a particular form. What actually exists, at its deepest level, is not simply two political, cultural or philosophical points of view going head-to-head. What we are really dealing with is a spiritual battle. While the results which are expressed out in the world are important considerations, the eternal destiny of those holding the different points of view is even more an issue. As we push back against the atheistic tide that is sweeping over the land, there are three matters we must address.
1. Understand the religious nature of Atheism.
While many Atheists will try to dispute this claim, there is no such thing as a non-religious (w/o faith) point of view. Atheism is as surely a religious position as is our Christian faith. If we are going to press the case that our Christian faith should not be excised from the public square, we are going to have to make this point. There is no such thing as eliminating religion from the public square. All that is happening is the replacement one faith position by another (under the guise of removing religion).
2. Push back against Atheism in politics, entertainment, news media and education.
While the battle is essentially a spiritual struggle and the ultimate war will only be won at that level, the expressions of Atheism in the culture do great damage to individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole. It corrupts the moral fabric and eliminates freedom – the things that are necessary for the purposes of God to freely take hold in society. We must be very careful that in our efforts to push back against the expressions of Atheism in the culture, we do it with the right motives and attitude. Our purpose is not to change the culture, that is only the result. Our purpose is to bring people to Christ.
3. Share Christ.
Ultimately the battle will not be won or lost based on what happens in the culture, but what happens in people’s hearts. Winning the culture war requires that we win the heart war. And the only way to accomplish that is for people to come to know Christ. Our first priority must be to bring Christ to those who don’t know him. When that happens, everything else will fall into place.
In an ultimate sense, Atheism will fail. It does not represent reality. And when people try to live by the beliefs of atheistic philosophy it creates destruction on two levels – in individual lives as people become spiritually and morally hollow, and in society as the social structure collapses. The only true hope is for the masses to know Jesus Christ. Only he can turn lives and cultures around to bring hope and meaning to a world in desperate need.
© 2014 Freddy Davis