There is a false separation within the non-believing community. That is the separation of “negative” atheism (the lack of belief in God) and agnosticism (the lack of belief in God). This is a reason that I find it so difficult to discuss these philosophical issues with people. Everybody is just so ignorant of the topics that they claim a strong bond with.
I would go as far as to say that the ‘New Atheist’ regime is one of cowardice, for it changes the definition of atheism that encyclopedia of philosophy maintains (the belief that God does not exist) to the rather sheepish position that they simply lack a belief in God. In doing so, all they have really done is retreat from atheism to agnosticism, while still bearing the atheism flag.
These people alter atheism in this way because the latter is a more defensible position. For one to say that they do not believe is easier than saying that they maintain that God does not exist. While a true modern atheist is rare, there are still defenders of this position, and this is the position that I would dissect in this article.
The Absence Of Evidence For God’s Existence Proves That God Does Not Exist
I have written about this topic before and deal with it very frequently. I have never heard a treatment of it that was intellectually persuasive. Even if there were no evidence of God’s existence, it would be positively irrational for us to conclude that therefore God does not exist.
Unless there exists an explicit contradiction between God’s existence, and the absence of empirical evidence for God’s existence, it follows that this argument collapses. But there just is no explicit contradiction between these two elements.
God could exist without providing evidence of his existence. There is no reason that he would be logically required to do so. Just imagine a possible world wherein God exists, and he did not provide any evidence of his existence. Unless there is a hidden premises proving that such a world could not exist, then we could currently be living in such a world. So long as that is even possible, this argument does not succeed. The absence of evidence is only evidence of absence when the existence of the thing being investigated would mandate evidence.
The existence of Santa Claus would mandate evidence of his existence. Santa would necessarily appear in the living room of every child on December 25th. But if Santa did not appear in the living room, it would follow necessarily that Santa did not exist. I would formulate this into an argument against Santa’s existence.
1 – If Santa exists, then, necessarily, he would appear in the living room of every child on December 25th.
2 – Santa did not appear in the living room on December 25th.
3 – Therefore, Santa does not exist.
This is an airtight argument, as Santa’s existence entails this evidence, and a lack of evidence entails Santa’s non-existence. In contrast, God’s existence does not entail evidence necessarily. So even if all of the arguments for God’s existence fail, we would not be justified in concluding that therefore, God does not exist.
God’s existence raises a greater question: who designed the designer?
An excerpt from my article, Who Designed The Designer?
I do find it so bizarre that the most widely championed book against the existence of God, (The God Delusion) is based on a central argument that is demonstrably fallacious. “Who designed the designer?!” demands biology professor Richard Dawkins. Even worse though, this was not merely dismissed as the ravings of a mad mad. It is echoed by every internet atheist that I encounter.
I might on another occasion dissect the reasoning behind the constant repeat of such poor philosophy. It may just be ignorance. But that is not the point of this article. The point is (and I am certain that it has been done numerous times in the past) answering Dawkins accusation, that the God hypothesis is insufficient in explaining the origin and design of the universe because it immediately raises another tough question, namely, ‘who designed the designer?’
I am confident that argument would be universally rejected if not for the atheism that it implies. We recognizes explanations all of the time, and we do so without asking the additional question of the explanation of the explanation. I will adopt Dawkins’ principle and apply it to something else in demonstration of this point.
If somebody crossed a field and found a pile of ashes, with Dawkins’ principle in mind, this person would be forced to concede that they are not justified in inferring fire as a cause of the ashes, because they do not know what caused the fire. Before they infer a fire, from ashes, they must, within Dawkins model, find an explanation of the explanation (find out what caused the fire.)
Alas, unlike Professor Dawkins, I submit that one would be amply justified in inferring a fire from a pile of ashes, even if they had no idea where the fire came from. The question of “what caused the fire?” can simply be left open for further inquiry. However it would be completely absurd to propose that this open question negates justification of the observation that fire is the best explanation for the ashes. This is the pitfall of Dawkins argument; he makes a most elementary mistake in asserting that you need an explanation, of the explanation, before recognizing an explanation as the best.
Similarly, the question, “but how do you explain the explanation?” in response to the Cosmological Argument fails to undermine the explanation, because you do not have to have an explanation of the explanation before recognizing that an explanation is the best. The question of the explanation of God can simply be left open for further inquiry. But upon further inquiry, what do we find? Well the argument which leads to this objection actually internally answers the question. As the cause of time, it is beyond time. In saying this, I mean that it is eternal.
Now that is not blindly saying that he is eternal to evade this objection, but it is a necessary consequence of the argument. So that objection does not work for two reasons. 1 – Before recognizing an explanation as the best, you do not have to have an explanation of the explanation. 2 – The explanation of the explanation is necessarily that it is eternal.
Finally, Richard Dawkins has offered this bad objection in response to The Teleological argument (the argument from the complexity of the universe). Dawkins explains that God as an explanation is more complex than the world that he is trying to explain, and therefore does not explain anything. Moreover, God would also fall victim to Ockham’s Razor (the principle that shaves away complex solutions). But that is simply out of ignorance. It confuses what is referred to as “complexity of structure” with “complexity of function”. The mind itself is remarkably simple, while the minds’ productions can be remarkably complex, and this is where Dawkins is confused.
So from neither God’s existence nor his level of complexity follows a need for another creator, and therefore the central argument of The God Delusion offers no grounds to doubt the existence of God. It is nothing more than a product of philosophical misunderstanding.
God possesses traits that conflict with each other.
God’s Perfection Conflicts With His Creation (Why would a perfect being need to create anything?)
God has created for the benefit of the creature. Creation, like salvation, is an expression of God’s grace. From this, it could very well follow that perfection actually entails creating. So long as this is even possible, it follows that these traits do not conflict.
God’s Transcendence Conflicts With His Omnipresence (How could a being that is beyond space be everywhere in space?)
Omnipresence does not entail necessarily that God is diffused through space as some sort of invisible gaseous entity. Instead it means that God is causally active everywhere in the universe.
God’s Mercy Conflicts With God’s Justice
This is actually precisely what the Bible tells us. God must give justice to the wicked. That is why Christ had to come. God offered a crossroad between mercy and justice, and has had it since the fall of man in Genesis.
So God is wholly just, and wholly merciful. In contrast, the Muslim conception of God falls victim to this contradiction. I invite you to read my article, Why I Am Not A Muslim
The Existence Of Evil Is Incompatible With The Existence Of God
I recently addressed the problem of evil and suffering briefly in a Bible Study session. It is actually trivially easy to refute. The problem of evil and suffering in the world may carry a lot of emotional weight. Nobody likes to see that, and one would think that a loving God would put an end to it.
However, the problem of evil does not carry much weight intellectually. So long as it is even possible that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil and suffering, this argument fails. For this argument to succeed there would have to be some hidden premises that shows an explicit contradiction between God’s existence and the existence of suffering and evil. But there just is not one.
There are even times in the Bible that God has permitted suffering to an end that his followers did not understand at all. God reduced King David’s family from royalty to peasantry. Generations upon generations of worldly failure must have occurred, and it was within the will of God. They must have cursed the heavens, and they must have cried out to God. They may have even blamed themselves for the rapid degeneration that occurred in their family, and fallen into the clutches of depression.
Such failure is not indicative of our falling asunder of God’s will, nor does it suggest that God has abandoned us. That inexplicable things happen suggests that God is infinite, and we are finite. God knows everything, and we know very little. So when we fail, or when something does not align with our plans, we need to remember that the Creator of the cosmos and the Source of knowledge and truth might have a better plan than we do.
So there is no hidden premise which disassociates God’s existence with the existence of evil and suffering. Further, I would go as far as to say that the existence of evil proves that God exists.
1 – If objective moral values do not exist, God does not exist.
2 – Objective evil exists.
3 – Therefore objective moral values exist.
4 – Therefore, God exists.
While on the face of it, the problem of evil might seem to prove that God does not exist, it actually offers a hand in proving that God does exist.
Evolution Proves That God Does Not Exist
I offer this speech from Doctor William Lane Craig (also can be found in my Therefore God Exists section.
Genesis 1 permits all manners of interpretation and one is not necessarily committed to special creationism. Howard Vantille, a professor at a Christian school, writes, “Most of those in my acquaintance who are engaged in either scientific or biblical scholarship have concluded that the special creationist picture of the worlds’ formation is not a necessary component of Christian belief.”
Note well that this is not a retreat caused by modern science. Saint Augustine, in the 300′s wrote that the creation days needn’t be taken literally, nor need the creation be a few thousand years ago. He didn’t even envisage special acts of creation. He said that the world could have been made by God with certain potencies that unfolded through the progress of time. This was enunciated 1,500 years before macro-evolution was popularized, and therefore it is a position that is consistent with being a Christian.
Any doubts that I might have about the theory of evolution are not biblical but scientific. Namely, what the scenario envisages is just so fantastically improbable. John Barrow and Frank Tipler, two physicists from Oxford University, in their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, lay out ten steps necessary to the course of human evolution. Each of these steps are so improbable, that before they would have occurred, the sun would have ceased to be main-sequence star and incinerated the earth. So it seems to me that if evolution did occur, it would have had to have been a miracle, and is therefore evidence for the existence of God.
I would go as far to say as the Christian has an advantage over the atheist here. As Alvin Plantinga points out, for the atheist, evolution is the only game in town. So he is stuck with it; no matter how fantastic the odds or how poor the evidence, he has no choice. But the Christian can be open to follow the evidence where it leads, and therefore can be more objective.”
So like the problem of evil, the argument from evolution not only neglects to prove that God does not exist, but also offers a hand in proving that God does exist.
The Falsification Principle
This is the principle which says that if something is not falsifiable, it can be taken as irrelevant or false. Many atheists will adhere to it in the name of pseudo-intellectualism.
The falsification principle has been abandoned by philosophers for nearly a century. The claim “A statement is false if it is not falsifiable,” is itself not falsifiable. So the falsification principle does not meet it’s own standard.
Further, there are statements that do not pass the Falsification Principle test, yet we would be obtuse to take as false. “I exist,” for example, cannot be falsified; it would be self-defeating to try to falsify it.
Finally, and critically, God passes the Falsification Principle test. If one could find traits in the nature of God which were contradictory, God would be falsified. So even if this principle were true, it would not apply to God.
There really is no good reason to think that atheism is true. Atheists demonstrate this fact effectively as the majority of modern atheists hide behind the agnosticism ideology (while maintaining the atheist title).