Saturday, July 27, 2013

WHY ATHEISM FAILS

Let me say at the onset that I harbor no ill will against atheists. I am not sad for them, glad for them, or mad at them.  But as a system of belief, atheism fails.   An atheist may state clear reasons why he feels that a belief in God is not rationally justified, but he can go no further.  He cannot say with certainty that there is no God. For instance, just ask a friendly atheist (don’t bother with the angry ones) the following question: “How much knowledge do you think you possess in view of the sum total of knowledge that presently exists and is constantly growing?" Before he answers, you might remind him of the exponential increase of knowledge in the world in which we live. Just think of new developments and discoveries in the fields of technology and medicine. It has been said that every minute scientists add 2,000 pages to man's scientific knowledge, and the scientific material they produce every 24 hours would take one person five years to read.  That may or may not be true, but I cannot prove it either way.  I did, however, read an interesting article (The Expansion of Ignorance) written by a gentleman named Kevin Kelly (The Technicum) who states:

  Ninety- six percent of all matter and energy in our universe is some unknown variety we call dark." It is clear that “dark” is a euphemism for ignorance.  We really have no idea what the bulk of the universe is made of.  We find a similar state of ignorance if we probe deeply into the cell, the brain, or even the earth.  We don’t know nothin'. Yet it is also clear that we know vastly more about the universe than we did a century ago. This new knowledge has been put to practical use in such consumer goods as GPS and iPods, and a steady increase in our own life spans. Our beneficial progress in knowledge comes from tools and technology. Telescopes, microscopes, fluoroscopes,  oscilloscopes, for instance, allow us to see in new ways, and when we look with new tools, we suddenly win many new answers. Yet the paradox of science is that every answer breeds at least two new questions.  More answers, more questions. Telescopes and microscopes expanded not only what we knew, but what we didn’t know (emphasis mine). They allowed us to spy into our ignorance. New and better tools permit us new and better questions …. Thus even though our knowledge is expanding exponentially, our questions are expanding exponentially faster.”
The bottom line according to Kelly is this: “ In other words, science is a method that chiefly expands our ignorance rather than our knowledge.”  I believe Kelly is being forthright.  All men are extremely limited in knowledge, even the brightest of men.  Back to the question to the friendly atheist I mentioned earlier:  If he were to put any kind of percentage  on the amount of knowledge he thinks he possesses in consideration of all the knowledge that exists and is exponentially growing, he would only be demonstrating his ignorance and pride.  So the next question I would ask is this: Since you admit that you know practically nothing in view of all the things which can be known, do you think it is possible that somewhere in the vast amount of things you do not know, evidence for God might truly exist?   To confuse the matter, some atheists will attempt to redefine the definition of atheism to mean someone who doesn’t argue for the non-existence of God, but someone who is simply not a theist. But this doesn’t work.  As philosopher William Lane Craig has said, “If atheism is taken to be a view, namely the view that there is no God, then atheists must shoulder their share of the burden of proof to support this view.”  Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 are still the best explanation of why man exists and why he has the mental and spiritual capacity to even contemplate and discuss matters such as this. “The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1,NKJV).

Pastor Tom

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Tom,
I read with enthusiasm your insightful perspective on atheists and their possible responses to why they do not believe in the existence of God. In my past years of employment, I was privileged to see, as you have stated, the many ways, ideas, and things which we do not know. I smiled at your phrase "we don't know nuthin'". That is so true with regard to the tools we have which peel back and reveal much, which ultimately leads to exposing more and more unexplained things. Doing research on previously unknown topics, ideas, people, or intentions actually illustrate how much we still have yet to know about those very topics. Atheism falls right into that trap, if you will, by showing the very lack of knowledge, or ignorance, to attempt to prove the statement 'there is no God'. So, thanks again for your very insightful comments on the failure of atheism. See you tomorrow, or Sunday!
In His grip.....

Jonathan (and yes, I see the irony) said...

I think you misunderstand the definition of the word atheist. To the extent of my knowledge, no one can really be "atheist" in the sense that (s)he can know for certain that God does not exist. Rather, an atheist believes that worshipping God is impractical, seeing as He may very well not exist.

The key is that we atheists derive our knowledge from what we can observe. The idea is this: sure, my perception of reality might be flawed, but this perception, along with logic, is the best thing I can rely upon to construct an accurate view of reality. The resulting understanding might be flawed, but hey, it's the best a human can hope to create.

That's what science is. Ultimately, everything science has told us is based on our (potentially flawed) view of reality. We build all our analysis upon observations.

Here's my point. From a logical point of view, how could anything possibly be more useful for creating an understanding of our universe than observation? How is religion, which derives its supposed knowledge from books written hundreds to thousands of years ago and revised loads of times, be a better source of knowledge than what we can see and hear and feel with our own senses? Why are the words of the prophets, spoken in an era when the human race knew so much less than we do today, any more insightful than what prophets preach on the street today? Observation, although inherently flawed, is the only real way to gain knowledge.

I will now move onto my next topic: Kevin Kelly's words. I have no idea who Kelly is, so I don't know what the context of his argument is, or how to respond to it. However, I can respond to your analysis. By saying, as you did, that "science is a method that chiefly expands our ignorance rather than our knowledge," you imply that the gaps in our knowledge that science uncovers don't exist until science uncovers them. Frankly, that's ridiculous. Of course we don't know stuff. Now, acknowledging that our knowledge is incomplete, consider for a moment how science and religion handle this lack of knowledge. Science attempts to fill in these knowledge gaps with careful and objective analysis, whereas religion pretends that these knowledge gaps don't exist.

Clever segue to next point: whether or not it is possible to know everything is irrelevant. So what if science can never tell us everything. At least it tries. At least it tells us something. You helpfully pointed out that knowledge obtained via science "has been put to practical use in such consumer goods as GPS and iPods, and a steady increase in our own life spans". These results are proof (inasmuch as proof is possible, given our fixed and potentially flawed view of reality) that science teaches us actual knowledge. Do you think that iPods, with their complex circuitry, would work without the science backing them up being absolutely correct? Please observe that religion has never provided humanity with such examples of its own reliability. Priests in the medieval Europe never invented divine computers that worked because the priests believed they would. In fact, religion (as in the classic example of Galileo Galilei's research) has often directly impeded the human quest for knowledge.

I invite you to scrutinize what I have written, and point out any logical (or grammatical) errors you may find. Also, please consider what I have written as coming from a "friendly atheist"; sometimes it's hard for me to indicate emotion, or lack thereof, in my writing.

Tom Chesko said...

Jonathan

Thanks for writing. I have been away and haven't had time to reply.
You can send me an address to write back. The blog comments should be short. Just read this today:

Stephen Meyer, one of the founders of the intelligent design theory, spoke at a Socrates in the City lecture in New York on Thursday evening, explaining his newest book Darwin's Doubt and the latest in scientific debates over the origin of life. The room was packed with New Yorkers in snappy evening wear, as well as the famous journalist Tom Wolfe, in his signature white suit.


Intelligent design (ID), counter to its popular portrayal, is not an idea from "insecure religious fundamentalists," Meyer said, but the scientific theory that all the data in the universe points to "a mind, not a material process."

Meyer himself believes that mind is the Christian God, but he said as ID spread in the scientific community, scientists are developing different intelligent design-based theories. He said the purely materialistic view of the world, which has ruled the scientific community since the 19th century, is beginning to break apart.

"There's a huge disparity between the public presentation of evolution [in the media] and what's going on in the peer-reviewed scientific literature," he said. Meyer noted that in the last few years there have been six new theories introduced in evolutionary biology.

"It's a story that hasn't been told," he said. "There is a growing subterranean dissent from Darwinism." The growing knowledge about the complex engineering of cells and circuitry in animals, Meyer said, is "what's generating a lot of skepticism."