This was originally posted in 2018. I repost with some editing (September 2021)
There is a battle of ideas in our secular world. Many atheists and agnostics are influential because the selfishness of man is a powerful desire to dismiss. In this long essay (2400 words), I give attention to some arguments set forth for why God is asserted to not exist.
ARGUMENT 1: The Problem of Evil (or the Argument from Evil) argues that an almighty creator-god, capable of creating or destroying anything and even capable of suspending or re-writing the laws of nature, such as is envisaged by most of the major world religions, should easily be powerful enough to alleviate all needless suffering in the world, to provide adequate resources for everyone, to prevent the occurrence of fatal or debilitating diseases or birth defects and to prevent all manner of destructive natural disasters. Indeed, an infinitely benevolent and loving god, of the kind envisioned by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, should make such actions his first priority. And yet what we see in the world is very different from that picture - proof positive that there is no such god in existence.
REPLY: In reply to this argument, the website offers what they call ad hoc replies by some theists, which, of course, is not any kind of counter argument or reply at all. The closest they come to giving a substantive theist reply is in relation to (1) man’s free will (though this is summarily dismissed by speaking of natural evils, or disasters), and (2) since evil can’t be precisely identified, it is nevertheless the case that God (if there is one) should act in such a way to eliminate evil. Atheism can’t account for man’s free will; in fact, an atheist is a materialist, and a mechanical (man is a machine) one at that. Also, since atheist can’t identify evil, their argument structure is made of hot air, upon which nothing is able to rest.
Note this remark: “There is no fixed and unchanging Platonic form or essence of evil. Like good, evil is merely a human construct, and to call something ‘evil’ does not lead us to a greater understanding of evil behaviour.”
If “good” or “evil” is a human construct, then there is no such thing as an actual good or evil, except as a human being so identifies it. Thus, to identify an “evil” from the atheistic vantage point is clearly arbitrary (as is the word “good”). Consequently, the counter argument against God’s existence goes nowhere because “evil,” as defined/identified by an atheist, is “begging the question”, or asserting something so (evil) without identifying or proving it to be the case.
A second reply is related to moral obligation. “…if God is ‘good’ in the same way that [he] expects us to be ‘good’, then he should act to prevent such calamities…”. Moral obligation does not and cannot prevail in atheism. Moral obligation within atheism is inherently a choice based on one’s desire (related to hedonism); there is no objective or transcendent obligation placed on humanity, not even a little bit! Atheists, however, want us to accept the premise of their argument along this line, and it is not to be granted. As soon as they attribute to God a moral obligation, they need to give the basis for that moral obligation. They can’t.
According to atheistic philosophy, the following remark is the foundation: “In the atheist hypothesis, on the other hand, there is no expectation that the world should be a good place, or that evil should not exist.” Judges 17:6 reads, “There was no king in Israel at that time; everyone did whatever they wanted” (GNB). An atheist would simply re-word it the passage to read this way: “There is no god in this world; so everyone can do what they want – since there is no real wrong or evil in this world, neither is there a real right or good in this world.”
This is a desired world of an atheist’s making.
ARGUMENT 2: The Argument from Lack of Empirical Evidence argues that there has not been any reliable, testable evidence to support the hypothesis that God exists despite many attempts, and it is therefore not rational to believe that there is a God. If God interacts with our universe in any meaningful way, then the effects of his interaction must be detectable and measurable, but no such interactions have been reliably demonstrated.
REPLY: Empirical evidence is an interesting word. Notice this remark: “If God interacts with our universe in any meaningful way, then the effects of his interaction must be detectable and measurable, but no such interactions have been reliably demonstrated.”
Detectable and measurable are interesting terms. Let us reword this remark to make a parallel statement. “The Argument from Lack of Empirical Evidence argues that there has not been any reliable, testable evidence to support the hypothesis that evolution from spontaneous generation ever occurred despite many attempts, and it is therefore not rational to believe that the general theory of evolution is true.”
However, the general theory of evolution is not true. Since there are no known exception to the so-called “laws of science” (Miller 9, 2017), “…the laws of thermodynamics prove the spontaneous generation and the eternality of matter are logically and scientifically impossible” (Miller 36, 2017). Yet, here we are, existing in a material Universe.
The material world/universe exists. There are only two options to account for its existence; 1) it always existed, 2) it came into existence. The first option is false.
The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence of the Universe, either in the past or in the future (Robert Jastrow, cited by Dr. Jeff Miller in Science vs. Evolution, 2013, Apologetics Press, p. 30, emp. added in book).
This leaves the second option of the two available.
The second option of the material universe having come into existence, then, presents us with two additional or “sub” options: 1) it came into existence without a cause, 2) it came into existence by a cause. On the first of the two options, “Until the First Law of Thermodynamics ceases to be a fundamental law explaining this Universe, the spontaneous generation of this Universe from nothing is impossible” (Miller, p. 27). Thus, the first option is false. Miller cites the words of Lord Kelvin, the Father of Thermodynamics:
I do not say that, with regard to the origin of life, science neither affirms nor denies Creative Power. Science positively affirms Creative Power…It is not in dead matter that we live and move and have our being, but in the creating and directive Power which science compels us to accept as an article of belief… (p. 33).
That leaves the second “sub” option, and from this comes two more options from which the material universe came into existence: 1) God, 2) not God. There is no third option.
John Lennon’s words to his song “Imagine” is wishful thinking, not based in reality. One can imagine there is no heaven, no hell, but that is only because the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). The secular world in which we live does not want to give attention to these matters because, as a society, if we do (including individually), then questions with the corresponding answers becomes clearer. 1) Where did we (I) come from? 2) Why are we (am I) here? 3) Where are we (am I) going? To a hedonistic society, these profound (and answerable) questions bring meaning and purpose to life, and hedonists (atheists, agnostics, secularists, progressives, liberals, some theists) don’t want that, lest they be deadly wrong in their moral philosophy. In the end, John Lennon’s inquiry/message in the song is meaningless.
The scientific method atheists and agnostics are fond of (especially), leaves them hanging in mid-air, with no foundation upon which they can stand. The material universe has not always existed but came into existence. The material universe that came into existence did not come into existence by spontaneous generation but came into existence by a cause. That cause, however, from the perspective of the atheist is not God (a priori)!
Who or what then? There is absolutely, positively no evidence that is on their side in this debate.
The creation of the universe remains unexplained by any force, field, power, potency, influence or instrumentality known to physics – or to man. The whole vast imposing structure organizes itself from absolutely nothing. This is not simply difficult to grasp. It is incomprehensible. (Berlinski, 1998, quoted in Investigating Christian Evidence, 2003, p. 18).
Since atheists/agnostics demand evidence based knowledge, and the premises I submitted are evidence, then which of the options, God or not God, will they choose? Will “not-God” be chosen, then by atheistic faith (a leap in the dark) the evidence they demand must be forthcoming. We will wait.
ARGUMENT 3: Atheism stresses moral responsibility and the need to make moral decisions appropriate to the here and now, rather than just acting in accordance with religious scriptures and always with a view to a reward or punishment in some unproven after-life. Some of these ideas are addressed in more detail in the sections on the Moral Argument and the Argument from Justice.
REPLY: What a lark! This is the weakest of all the arguments atheists put forth for the non-existence of God. Take note of the empty remark by Madalyn O’Hair: “An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that deeds must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.” This is nothing but a strawman attempt to make fun of Christians. In truth, there is no argument in what she said, and neither is there any substance in her words, otherwise.
Since an atheist cannot not identify that which is intrinsically good or bad, I find this remark interesting: “Religion tends to give people bad reasons to behave well…because a god wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it…” Really? A bad reason? Then there is this: “when good reasons are actually available…out of concern for the suffering of others or for the need to tread lightly on the earth, because it is the ‘right thing to do’.” What are those good reasons, when man can’t even identify what is morally good except on the basis of what he likes? Remember this remark? “In the atheist hypothesis, on the other hand, there is no expectation that the world should be a good place, or that evil should not exist.” If there is no expectation the world is a good place, or should be a good place, then how can “good” exist?
Yes, I know, there is a difference between the quality “good” existing and whether the world is a good place or not. But, in the case of the atheistic argument, there is no standard available to determine whether anything can be ascribed as “good” or not. Remember, it’s nothing but a human construct, thus, it does not really exist. “There is no fixed and unchanging Platonic form or essence of evil. Like good, evil is merely a human construct, and to call something “evil” does not lead us to a greater understanding of evil behaviour.”
Jesus made this same point when He asked of a young man, “Why do you call me good?” He followed up with the clear observation from heaven, “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17, NKJV). “Good” as a human construct? If so, then there is no such quality existing in life. The sheer number of people living on earth at one time, allows for the word to be defined however one wants, or constructed according to one’s likes or dislikes. “Good” as a construct from heaven, allows one to understand the word “good” in relation to God’s holiness. There is no “good” outside the will of a being. Man’s only two options.
One’s ethical behavior is motivated by something. It may be motivated by affection, judgment, love, pressure, or something else. It is fool hardy to say it is not motivated by some response one gains from another. Should a person not steal only because there is fear is getting caught? “No, you should not steal because you take for yourself what belongs to another, and that is wrong.” An atheist can’t tell you why this is the wrong course of action to take (stealing from others), except to say, “This is what I think about the matter.” “So!” another might reply, “What does it matter to me why you think this? Your opinion is of no more value than my own; I think differently!”
This is illustrated well by Bertrand Russell’s daughter, in her book, My Father Bertrand Russell (Katherine Russell Tait, Harcourt, NY, 1975).
In the last volume of his Autobiography, written toward the end of his life, my father wrote: “We feel that the man who brings widespread happiness at the expense of misery to himself is a better man than the man who brings unhappiness to others and happiness to himself. I do not know of any rational ground for this view, or, perhaps, for the somewhat more rational view that whatever the majority desires is preferable to what the minority desires” (p. 182).
Thus, the so-called argument put forth by atheists is based on the foundation of moral responsibility (for which there is no rational ground (foundation) upon which to build, only “mid-air-hanging”). To the atheistic way, a non-prudent person is just as moral as a prudent person. There is no real, substantive distinction between either. If moral values do not derive their existence from “divine edict”, then their existence is derived from the fluidity of man’s thinking. Is adultery wrong? Why? Because society says so? What difference does it make if society says it’s wrong? Society can just as easily say it is right sometime in the future! Real substance in that!
Katherine Tait saw the emptiness of atheism, and knew it was not for her – at all. She left the empty philosophy and moved to a moral philosophy that is not of this world.