7 Slogans Atheists Should Not Use

atheist 1Atheists love slogans and soundbites. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using one to relay a complicated truth to a wide audience. People do that regularly and a skilled educator knows how to do that effectively. However, this becomes a problem when a slogan is not true. People just recite it because it sounds good. They do not have any knowledge beyond that particular slogan, but they like the way it sounds and so they propagate it without considering whether it is true. The result is often embarrassment. When relaying a line that evades the best available scholarship and persisting in using that line, it embarrasses their movement. I think there are at least 7 slogans atheists should not use. It disseminates misinformation and an educated person will think that atheism is quite superficial.

atheist 2“There is no evidence that God exists.” While it would be helpful to the atheist cause if there were no evidence for the existence of God, it is quite embarrassing when atheists utter this line precisely because of the abundance of evidence for God. This may be rooted in a misunderstanding of what evidence is. Evidence is not absolute proof. It is not an end to all discussion. There could be evidence that a certain proposition is true even if that proposition turned out to be false. There could be evidence for the existence of God even if God did not exist. If the existence of God is more probable given a piece of data, then that is evidence of his existence. For example, the fine-tuning of the universe is evidence of the existence of God. This is not because it is knock-down argument. It is just because the existence of God is more probable than it would have been if there were no fine-tuning. There are several other lines of evidence that make it more likely that God exists than it would have been if these lines of evidence were not present. Therefore, this is one of 7 slogans atheists should not use. It is just a misunderstanding of the nature of evidence.

“It is impossible to prove a universal negative.” Atheist philosophers have struggled for centuries to prove that God does not exist. But nobody has been able to come up with a convincing argument. So they will retreat to the position that it is impossible to prove a negative. The statement “There is no God” is a universal negative, and therefore it is just impossible to prove it. The problem is that it is trivially easy to prove a universal negative. Some (not all) universal negatives can be proven. Consider the universal negative, “There are no square circles.” Since it has properties that are self-contradictory, it follows that it does not exist. Consider also the universal negative, “There are no Europeans residing on Mars.” We can prove that because we have access to the necessary data. Further, every positive claim is the inverse of a negative claim. For somebody to say, “Mars is empty” is a positive claim and yet contains the propositional content that we find in “There are no Europeans residing on Mars.” The fact that it is so trivially easy to prove a universal negative is why it is one of 7 slogans atheists should not use.

“As we learn more science, there is less room for God.” Science is often thought of as an enemy of faith, for with scientific pursuit, we explain what people previously employed God to explain. Whether the organic world, the tides, claps of thunder; people have historically explained these things by appealing to the divine. Since science explains them, presumably, we no longer have any need for divine explanations. Well, this is to conflate different types of causality. It is to conflate agent causality with a mechanism. A pot of water boiling on the stove can be explained scientifically, but the fact that science reveals that explanation does not negate the need for somebody to put it there. Often certain phenomenon have more than one explanation. Scientific explanation is the mechanism while God is the personal agent. When somebody says that God is being crowded out by science, they are assuming that God is the mechanism. Therefore, because it conflates these types of causality, this is one of 7 slogans atheists should not use.

“We are all born atheists.” What is atheism? Many atheists tell us that it is a lack of belief in the existence of God. It is not necessarily a stance that somebody takes. It is a neglect to take a stance. It is just to say, “I do not believe in God” but that is not to hold the belief “There is no God.” Accordingly, even babies, cats, and chairs turn out to be atheists because they lack a belief in God. So, then, atheists will suggest that atheism is just the default state of humanity. Let’s grant that. So what? Everybody is born ignorant. Babies are born lacking a belief in physical objects. They are born lacking a belief in minds. They do not believe that their parents exist. Babies do not have the cognitive faculties to acknowledge beliefs about much of anything. Isn’t it a little strange that to justify their atheism, they have to appeal to babies? Imagine a 45 year old man was living with his parents, did not have a job, did not pay rent, did not buy his own food and was totally dependent. Then he came to you and said, “Everybody was born like this. I am just returning to the default state of humanity. Since it appeals to babies as a justification, this is one of the 7 slogans atheists should not use.

“Science is the only way of knowing truth.” The natural world is rationally intelligible. We may learn about it and investigate it and yield facts and data. This data that we yield from the natural world would be scientific discovery. Sometimes, atheists will tell us that scientific discovery is the only way that somebody could know what is true. But what about the principle “Science is the only way of knowing truth”? Is that a scientific principle yielded by mixing chemicals, or found under a rock in an archeological dig, or under a microscope? What breed of science is the principle “Science is the only way of knowing truth”? This is not a scientific statement. It is a philosophical statement. It is a statement about science, not scientific data. Therefore, if it is true, it would also be false. It is self-defeating. So that is why this is one of 7 slogans atheists should not use.

“If you need religion to keep you from being a bad person, you are already a bad person.” CS Lewis said that his argument against the existence of God was that that there was so much evil in the world. But, he continues, where did he get this idea of good and evil? One does not say that a line is crooked unless they have some idea of what straight is. Evil can only exist if there is a transcendent standard of morality. When Christians recite this argument, atheists will misunderstand it. They think the Christian is saying, “If you are not religious, then you personally have no standard of morality and you are an evil person.” But that is not the argument. The argument is that if God did not exist, then there would be no transcendent standard of morality. But, argues the Christian, since God does exist, there is a standard of morality and atheists often try to live by it. The atheist has mistaken epistemology – how we come to know morality – with ontology – whether morality exists. So this fundamental misunderstanding is one of 7 slogans atheists should not use.

“How can you believe in talking snakes?” I think we can sympathize with this one. There are some things in the Bible that seem difficult to believe. As Christians, we believe things that are unbelievable. They are literally miraculous, and we do not see miracles every day. But when the Bible records miracles, should we be surprised? After all, it is the Bible. The Bible assumes the existence of God. Atheists do not share that assumption. So when the Bible makes claims related to the existence of God, it will not comport with their perception of the world. Just imagine you turned off the electricity in your home. When you went inside, you tried to turn the heater on, but complained that it was not working. You have removed the power source and then wondered why the power was not working. Similarly, atheists remove the divine power source from the Bible and then complain that there are miracles. Of course there are miracles. It’s the Bible.

To prove that I am balanced in my criticisms, also read my article7 Slogans Christians Need To Stop Using

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