World Religions – Philosophies and Belief Systems – Atheism
Table of Contents
The word Atheist is composed of two words; a for ‘anti’ or ‘non,’ or without, and ‘theo’ for god, therefore it literally means anti-god or without-god.
Atheism simply defined is the disbelief in the existence of any deity, which is in contrast to theism.
Implicit vs Explicit
A person could be an atheist simply because they have never been exposed to the belief or philosophy that reveals the existence of a god, this is implicit atheism.
Separately, those that know about the teachings of a god and consciously reject it is known as explicit atheism.
The first individuals to label themselves as Atheists lived in the 18th century. With the advent of modern Darwinian Evolution, and the spread of naturalistic philosophies. There was a large rejection of religion throughout Europe and the Americas during this time. Atheism became more wide spread as people found an alternative for believing in God, and accepted a completely naturalistic point of view for the origin of their existence.
Atheistic beliefs however date back to ancient times with its integration into many of the world religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism, and some pagan religions. These religions do not accept the belief in a god however some believe in a supernatural or higher existence.
Typically, the term atheists relate to those that are mostly non-religious, or do not adhere to the belief in anything supernatural.
Criticism & Apologetics
The typical critical claims that atheists use against theists are the following:
Lack of Empirical Evidence
This argument is simply sated as: “there is no evidence for a god.”
This is a weak argument as it denies the basic principle of logic and reasoning. The very ability for the human mind to cognitively be able to systematically formulate ideas to comprehend and identify the universe around us, gives a direct indication of the existence of something beyond the natural world which we observe.
To being with, simply taking time to understand the entire Pleromato Creation Model provides overwhelming amount of substantial, empirical evidence to prove the existence for an external intelligent designer.
Not to mention beyond this, the anthropic principle, laws of physical limitation and evidence of complex structures created all around us, pointing to only one rational conclusion, the existence of a supernatural intelligent creator God that must exist outside the limitations of our known universe.
The Problem or Existence of Evil
This argument is simply stated: : how could a god who is loving and/pr good allow evil to exist?’
This is another weak argument, or one made from a lack of theological understanding. In fact it is an argument that could only be used against Christian theology, as most other religions consist of gods would directly cause this suffering in the world.
In order to completely understand the answer to this question you have to understand all of the attributes of God, not just dogmatically cut and paste specific attributes about God to create a false statements.
God is good and loving yes, but also sovereign, all powerful, just, vengeful, etc. He created a world of free-choice so his creations could choose to believing in him or not. Evil is the result of experiencing an aspect of creation without God, and therefore should drive us closer to Him, or be reminded we live in a world where we will experience the consequence for our action, in a just and righteous aspect.
Argument From Inconsistent Revelations
This argument states it is unlikely that God exists because so many of those who believe in Him produce conflicting and exclusive revelations.
This is a weak argument based on a few separate fallacies. First, people are fallible, perform moral wrongs, and are always going to often be inconsistent OR misinterpreted, especially if you don’t get the whole story.
However, this arguments primary weakness come form the fact that it fails to consider or examine the philosophy of theology, which is the study of God, and bases its reject by taking the focus off of God and looking at humans.
Additionally, providing more evidence against the first objection, the Bible is absolutely consistent, and contents miraculously reveals a lifetime of information that relates to all people groups in the world, for all times.
Rejection of Concepts which Cannot be Falsified
This is the argument that specific claims within theology cannot be disproven, therefore it must be false.
This is another fallacy as the argument looks at the claims of theism, and dismisses it because some of the claims cannot be directly observed and verified, or disproven; then claims this is directly proportional to all of its claims.
This would be like saying, “I’m not going to drive to work today because you cannot prove to me that my car won’t break down on the way.”
Sometime, you have to look at additional evidence, or indirect evidence to rationally discern a situation or subject. This said, the proof found in philosophy, creation and the Bible all provide many claims that can be falsified on many different levels, yet have each been verified as true over and again. The many falsifiable claims of the Bible prove its accuracy as we continue to verify its claims.
The Argument of Non-Belief
This is a philosophical argument that claims there is an inconsistency between the existence of God, and a world in which people fail to recognize Him. The argument goes like this:
If God exists, God:
- Wants all humans to believe God exists before they die;
- Can bring about a situation in which all humans believe God exists before they die;
- Does not want anything that would conflict with and be at least as important as its desire for all humans to believe God exists before they die; and
- Always acts in accordance with what it most wants.
If God exists, all humans would believe so before they die (from 1).
But not all humans believe God exists before they die (based on t he claims of certain people).
Therefore, God does not exist (from 2 and 3).
This argument follows the same fallacy as the ‘Problem of Evil.’ In that it is directed only against the God of the Bible, and it is based on a lack of theological understanding of the God of the Bible.
When studying theology, we find that God has given humanity the ability to logically reason that He is the Creator of everything when looking objectively at the evidence, and that we must willing choose to believe in Him or not. It is our choice to have faith in Him or not.
i.e. If you so choose, you can say to yourself, “I am going to walk to work today, because I choose to believe my car is going to break down on the way to work.” Even if for the past year your car has given you no trouble at all.
Believing is ANYTHING, or not, is always a personal choice.
Turning Atheists into Agnostics
An interesting logical argument against atheism can be conducted as follows:
A person who doesn’t believe in the existence of something does so by choice. In order for someone to definitively conclude or exclude something from the possibility of its existence, you would have to have all the knowledge in the universe about that subject.
If you drew a circle that represented all the knowledge in the universe, and asked someone to fill in however much they believed represented the knowledge they currently had of the universe, any rational person would have a relatively small portion of the circle filled in.
Then if you asked the person, do you think that somewhere outside of your knowledge exists evidence for a god? Once again any rational person would have to answer yes, and by doing so they have move themselves form the realm of atheism (belief in no god), to agnosticism (belief there may be a god, and/or god is unknowable), in proclaiming that the possibility does exist outside their own knowledge, even if they are not aware of it.
Buckley, M. J. (1990). At the Origins of Modern Atheism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). 1989. “Belief in a deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-21