• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • August 2010
    M T W T F S S
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The Arguments Against Atheism

Thomas Aquinas

There are a number of arguments against atheism which are worthy of consideration if you are witnessing to an atheist. The first is the teleological argument that says, “The universe exhibits overwhelming evidence of deliberate, intelligent, purposeful design, which implies an intelligent designer.” The fulfillment of Bible prophecy in history is another.

Then there is the cosmological argument. The premise of this argument is that every event in our universe necessarily has a cause. However, it is impossible that there should be an unending chain of causes going back. Therefore, there necessarily must be a cause distinct from the universe as we know it which is capable of causing all things and is itself uncaused.

Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world — e.g., from reason alone. There are also historical arguments for the existence of God. For example, arguments stemming from historical accounts such as Christian historical apologetics are helpful. Christian legal apologetics and archaeological evidence such as Bible archaeology are also very useful.

We also find that there are experiential arguments for the existence of God. These arguments are based on personal experience and human intuition. Belief in the existence of God is a belief not based on inference from other beliefs but is rationally justified due to one’s circumstances of immediate experience of God. The presuppositional argument, however, does not use evidences in the traditional manner. By the traditional manner, it means using evidences as an appeal to the authority of the unbeliever’s autonomous reasoning. The problem is, of course, that the unbeliever cannot reason autonomously. Without God, there would be no possibility of reason. And so the reality of the matter is that every time the unbeliever attempts to reason, he is borrowing from the Christian worldview. That is, he is being inconsistent with his stated presuppositions. And that is the crucial point. Ultimately the intellectual conflict between believers and unbelievers is a matter of antithetical worldviews. The essence of the presuppositional argument is the attempt to show that the unbeliever’s worldview drives him to subjectivity, irrationalism, and moral anarchy. And so the presuppositional argument calls for the Christian and non-Christian to set side by side their two worldviews and do an internal examination of them both in order to determine whether or not they are consistent even within their own framework. Since God does exist, and since Christianity is true, then any worldview which denies these truths is false and can be demonstrated to be so.

9 Responses

  1. The stupid, it burns!


  2. The arguments in this blog interested me up until the last paragraph. Then they boiled down to “we are here because God made us, and any argument to the contrary is wrong”

    I hereby agree with Derrick.


  3. @portableatheist. I would humbly suggest you have misunderstood the nature of presuppositional apologetics. Let me quote Dr. Greg Bahnsen to clarify the issue. This is taken from

    Differing worldviews can be compared to each other in terms of the important philosophical question about the “preconditions of intelligibility” for such important assumptions as the universality of logical laws, the uniformity of nature, and the reality of moral absolutes. We can examine a worldview and ask whether its portrayal of nature, man, knowledge, etc. provide an outlook in terms of which logic, science and ethics can make sense. It does not comport with the practices of natural science to believe that all events are random and unpredictable, for instance. It does not comport with the demand for honesty in scientific research, if no moral principle expresses anything but a personal preference or feeling. Moreover, if there are internal contradictions in a person’s worldview, it does not provide the preconditions for making sense out of man’s experience. For instance, if one’s political dogmas respect the dignity of men to make their own choices, while one’s psychological theories reject the free will of men, then there is an internal defect in that person’s worldview.

    It is the Christian’s contention that all non-Christian worldviews are beset with internal contradictions, as well as with beliefs which do not render logic, science or ethics intelligible. On the other hand, the Christian worldview (taken from God’s self-revelation in Scripture) demands our intellectual commitment because it does provide the preconditions of intelligibility for man’s reasoning, experience, and dignity.


  4. @ dustin: No, I respectfully submit that I have not misunderstood them at all. I simply reject them as logical fallacies. The concept of Christian apologetics relies on faith at its core. period.

    And it is faith that i reject. I humbly submit that until there was rational inquiry and Christianity started backpedaling both intellectually and morally, there were no apologetics.

    the fact that Christianity NEEDS apologetics in the first place undermines it’s very respectability and paints it to be the man-made phenomenon that it truly is. As an Atheist, I can see the logical reasoning behind your NEED for God, and then driving force and motivation behind your resistance when evidence to the contrary is presented. Simply put, it’s painful to have the rug pulled out from under your beliefs.

    but make no mistake, there have been no scientific tests that have managed to even hint at the possibility of a God. None. There has been no evidence presented that has not been discounted. And the mathematics and physics have drawn up working models for the origin of the universe that require no God for a first cause.

    You are a rational man, and i ask that you look objectively at the Bible and consider the teachings impartially. Question why Moses was commanded to go slaughter entire races of people merely one page after proclaiming “Thou shalt not kill”. Look at the logical paradox presented by the Garden of Eden and the moral impossibility in such a story.

    Look at your book as though you were a believer in another religion (or better yet, a non-believer) and see what doesn’t make sense to you. that is rational inquiry, and Christianity does not hold up under it.


  5. Matt Slick writes at http://www.carm.org/atheism:

    The second law of thermodynamics states that the amount of energy in a system that is available to do work is decreasing. Entropy increases as available energy decreases. In other words, the purely natural tendency of things is to move toward chaos, not order, and available energy necessary for work is lost (mostly as heat) in this process. Eventually, the universe will run down and all life and motion will cease. This is the natural tendency of all things. Batteries run down, machines break, buildings crumble, roads decay, living things die, etc. Left to the natural state, all things would eventually cease to function.

    1. The universe is not infinitely old because it has not “run down.”
    A. If the universe were infinitely old, it would have reached a state where all usable energy was gone.
    B. But, we are not in this state; therefore, the universe is not infinitely old and must have had a beginning.
    2. Because the universe had a beginning, it is not infinite in size.
    A. It would require an infinite amount of time to become infinite in size. Since the universe had a beginning, it has not had an infinite amount of time to expand; therefore, it is finite in size.
    3. All events have causes.
    A. There cannot be an infinite regress of events because that would mean the universe were infinitely old.
    a. We’ve already established that the universe cannot be infinitely old.
    b. If it were infinitely old, the universe would be in a state of unusable energy, which it is not.
    c. If it were infinitely old, the universe would be infinitely large, which it is not.
    4. Since the universe is finite and had a beginning, and there cannot be an infinite number of regressions of causes to bring it into existence, there must be a single uncaused cause of the universe.
    A. A single uncaused cause of the universe must be greater in size and duration than the universe it has brought into existence.
    a. Otherwise, we have the uncaused cause bringing into existence something greater than, or equal to, itself.
    B. Any cause that is natural to the universe is part of the universe.
    a. An event that is part of the universe cannot cause itself to exist.
    b. Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause outside the universe.
    C. An uncaused cause cannot be a natural part of the universe, which is finite.
    a. An uncaused cause would be infinite in both space and time since it is greater than which it has caused to exist.
    D. An uncaused cause would be separate from the universe.
    a. Being separate from the universe, which was caused to be, it would not be subject to the laws of the universe since it existed independent of the universe and its laws.
    b. This would mean that entropy need not be required of the uncaused cause.
    5. This uncaused cause is supernatural.
    A. By supernatural, it is meant completely ‘other’ than the universe and is not the product of it.
    a. This uncaused cause must be incredibly powerful to bring the universe into existence.
    6. The Bible teaches that God is uncaused, is not part of the universe, created the universe, and is incredibly powerful.
    A. God’s existence (in Christianity) is not an event, but a state.
    B. Psalm 90:2 says that God is God without a beginning.
    C. This means that God is uncaused.
    7. Therefore, the God of the Bible is the uncaused cause of the universe.


  6. @ Samuel: Matt Slick makes dangerous assumptions and leaps of faith with no understanding of how to apply the second law of thermodynamics. Rebuttals to his argument took no effort on my part because many have already said it better.

    From about.com (http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/evolution/bldef_secondlaw.htm)

    Definition: The “Second Law of Thermodynamics” plays a common role in debates regarding evolution and creationism, but mostly because supporters of creationism don’t understand what it means, even though they really think they do.

    According to the 2LoT, every isolated system will eventually reach “thermal equilibrium,” in which energy is not transferred from one part of the system to another. This is a state of maximum entropy where there is no order, no life and nothing happening. According to creationists, this means that everything is gradually running down and, hence, science proves that evolution cannot happen. How? Because evolution represents an increase in order, and that contadicts thermodynamics.

    What these creationists fail to understand, however, is that there are two key words in the above definition: “isolated” and “eventually.” The 2LoT only applies to isolated systems – to be isolated, a system cannot exchange energy or matter with any other system. Such a system will eventually reach thermal equilibrium. Now, is the earth an isolated system? No, there is a constant influx of energy from the sun. Will the earth, as part of the universe, eventually reach thermal equilibrium? Apparently – but in the mean time, portions of the universe do not have to constantly “wind down.” The 2LoT is not violated when non-isolated systems decrease in entropy. The 2LoT is also not violated when portions of an isolated system (as our planet is a portion of the universe) temporarily decrease in entropy.

    … more from about.com (http://atheism.about.com/od/evolutionabiogenesis/a/entropy.htm)

    First, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which limits the ability of a natural system to have a decrease of entropy, only applies to closed systems. When a system is open and can exchange energy with the outside, then that open system can have a decrease in entropy and an increase in order. The most obvious example of this is, coincidentally, a living organism. All organisms run the risk of approaching maximum entropy, or death. But they manage to avoid this by drawing in energy from the world: eating, drinking, and assimilating.

    Second, whenever a system experiences a decrease in entropy, a wider price must be paid. When a biological organism absorbs energy and grows — thus increasing in complexity — work is done. When work is done, it is not done with 100% efficiency. Some energy is always wasted and some given off as heat — this means that in the larger context, overall entropy is increased even as entropy decreases locally within an organism. Thus, the Second Law is not violated.

    more from about.com (http://en.allexperts.com/q/Atheism-2724/Second-law-thermodynamics-6.htm)

    The 2LoT is a function of space, time, and causality. In other words, it’s a function of our universe. Because of this, it isn’t a condition on the *origin* of the universe. I know that this may be difficult to wrap your mind around (nothing personal – this is a difficult concept to grasp), but at the origin of the universe, there was no time, no space, no causality, and no natural laws. There was no Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    No matter what sorts of restrictions the 2LoT places on events *in* the universe, that has no applicability to the universe *as a whole* (or the origin of the universe). The same is true of every other natural law. One consequence of this is that it may be impossible to speak about a “cause” of the universe. A “cause” implies a context of space, time, and causality which didn’t exist. A “cause” of the universe may be as coherent as saying that something is “north of” the universe.

    That doesn’t mean that math can’t be used to describe the origin of the universe, just that our notions of cause & effect, linguistic concepts, may simply not apply.


  7. By definition, atheism is the world view that denies the existence of God. To be more specific, traditional atheism positively affirms that there never was, is not now, and never will be a God in or beyond the world. But can this dogmatic claim be verified?

    The atheist cannot logically prove God’s nonexistence. And here’s why: to know that a transcendent God does not exist would require a perfect knowledge of all things (omniscience). To attain this knowledge would require simultaneous access to all parts of the world and beyond (omnipresence). Therefore, to be certain of the atheist’s claim one would have to possess godlike characteristics. Obviously, mankind’s limited nature precludes these special abilities. The offensive atheist’s dogmatic claim is therefore unjustifiable. As logician Mortimer Adler has pointed out, the atheist’s attempt to prove a universal negative is a self- defeating proposition. The Christian should therefore emphasize that the atheist is unable to provide a logical disproof of God’s existence.

    Atheism cannot adequately explain the existence of the world. Like all things, the world in which we live cries out for an explanation. The atheist, however, is unable to provide a consistent one. If he argues that the world is eternal, then he is going against modern science which states that the universe had a beginning and is gradually running down. If the atheist affirms that the universe had a beginning, then he must account for what caused it. Either way, the atheist cannot adequately explain the world.

    Second, the atheistic world view is irrational and cannot provide an adequate basis for intelligible experience. You see, an atheistic world is ultimately random, disorderly, transitive, and volatile. It is therefore incapable of providing the necessary preconditions to account for the laws of science, the universal laws of logic, and the human need for absolute moral standards. In short, it cannot account for the meaningful realities we encounter in life.

    The Christian theistic world view, however, can explain these transcendental aspects of life. The uniformity of nature stems from God’s orderly design of the universe. The laws of logic are a reflection of the way God Himself thinks, and would have us to think as well. Absolute moral standards, such as “Thou shalt not murder,” mirror the perfect moral nature of God.

    Nearly everyone, at least in their more reflective moments, has asked some simple but deep-seated questions such as: Where did the world come from? Why is there something rather than nothing? How did the world come into existence? The asking of these elementary but profound questions has led to the formulation of a popular argument for God’s existence. The argument is known as the “cosmological argument.” It derives its name from the word kosmos, the Greek word for world. While there are several variations of the argument (See Scaling the Secular City by J. P. Moreland [Baker Book House, 1987] and Questions That Matter by Ed L. Miller [McGraw-Hill, 1987]), the basic point of the argument is that God is the only adequate explanation for the world’s existence. This argument, which I consider to be both cogent and persuasive, was first formulated by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Its most famous presentation, however, was given by the medieval Christian philosopher/theologian St. Thomas Aquinas. We will now examine a popular and simplified form of the cosmological argument that can be presented to the atheist.

    Just how do we account for the universe? How do we explain the existence of the world? Well, logically speaking, there are only a few options — and only one of them is rationally acceptable.

    Our starting point in discussing the world is to assume that a real world of time and space does in fact exist. There are some who would dispute this assumption, arguing rather that the universe is simply an illusion. However, most atheists, being materialists (who believe that all reality is ultimately matter and energy), will be willing to accept this starting point. (If the world was an illusion, there would be no good reason to believe that we would all perceive the world even remotely the same way. But we do, generally speaking, experience the world the same way — and can even make accurate predictions [science]. To argue that the world is illusory violates our common sense and experience.)

    Since we have a real world staring us in the face, how do we account for it? Well, the first option is that the world somehow caused or created itself. This, however, is an irrational conclusion. For something to create itself, it would have to exist before it was created, and that is completely absurd. Something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way. Concluding that the world created or caused itself is simply not a rationally acceptable alternative.

    A second suggested explanation is that the universe came from nothing by nothing. Some atheists do, in fact, argue this way. This, however, is also irrational because something cannot be derived from nothingness. An effect cannot be greater than its cause — and in this case the cause would be nothing. One of the basic laws of physics is expressed by the Latin phrase ex nihilo, nihil fit, “from nothing, nothing comes.” It’s a tremendous leap of faith to believe that the world emerged from nothing. Remember the atheist is not supposed to have any faith.

    Our third option is that the universe is simply eternal. It has just always been here. This alternative, however, is also doomed to failure. First, the world that we live in shows signs that it is contingent (dependent for its continued existence on something outside itself, ultimately something uncaused and absolute). The fact is, no single element in the universe contains the explanation for its existence. Therefore, this chain of contingencies we call the world necessitates the existence of a non-contingent or absolute ground of being.

    Further, the concept of an eternal universe directly contradicts the prevailing view of contemporary science which teaches that the universe had a specific beginning (Big Bang) a finite period of time ago. Worse still, it contradicts the scientific fact that the world is gradually running out of available energy (Second Law of Thermodynamics). If the universe was always in existence (i.e., eternal), it would have already run down (see The Fingerprint of God by Hugh Ross [Promise Publishing, 1989]). Additionally, if the universe was eternal, then it would have an infinite past (i.e., an infinite number of days, weeks, months, years, etc.). This, however, leads to a logical contradiction. By definition one can never reach the end of an infinite period of time; nevertheless, we have arrived at today, which completes or traverses the so-called infinite past (see Scaling the Secular City). These points make an eternal universe theory scientifically and philosophically untenable.

    Seeing that these other alternatives have failed, the only truly rational alternative is that the universe was caused by an entity outside space and time, an entity that is by definition uncaused and ultimate. And, because this Being created other beings who possess personality, He must also be a personal Being (remember, the effect cannot be greater than the cause). This explanation is perfectly in line with what the Bible teaches: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

    If individual atheists are willing to consider the evidence for God’s existence, they should direct their attention to the claims of Jesus Christ. Jesus claimed to be none other than God in human flesh (John 8:58). This astounding claim was supported by His matchless personal character, His fulfillment of predictive prophecy, His incalculable influence upon human history, His many miracles, and ultimately by His historically verifiable resurrection from the dead (for a fully developed discussion of the Christological argument see William Lane Craig’s book, Apologetics: An Introduction). The evidence is definitely there for the honest atheist to examine. As the late Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer put it, “God is there and He is not silent.”

    This information is provided by Kenneth R. Samples at http://www.inplainsite.org/html/atheism_burden_of_proof.html


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