For those of you who read my last post, I will be responding to the four worldviews that I explained (Naturalism, Pantheism, Postmodernism, and Theism). This first post will be why I am not a Naturalist/ Atheist. For information on what Naturalism is more specifically see my previous post “Worldviews.” Growing up, becoming an Atheist was not even a consideration. In fact, as early as I can remember, I was praying to God even before I became a Christian. The prayers I prayed I got from a movie, so I would not say I had a personal relationship with God at age 10, but I nevertheless was not an atheist or agnostic. I was later invited to church by a good friend of mine when I was 13, and as I learned more about God he revealed himself to me as a God who sent his Son to die for me, so that my sin could be forgiven and I could have a personal relationship with him. That drew me to the Christian faith and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was 14. Since then, I researched other worldviews and belief systems including Naturalism/Atheism. I also got to know some Atheists and Agnostics at my high school. In College, Atheism was rare but I did have a philosophy professor who was an agnostic (someone who believes that God’s existence cannot be known) and a guy in my year who also was an agnostic. As I talked with people who held to a naturalistic worldview and as I researched about it, I saw that Naturalism, while it could give people freedom from moral accountability to a god was not ultimately fulfilling. In fact, I discovered that this worldview had numerous holes logically as well as emotionally. There are many reasons why I object to a Naturalistic worldview but I will explain my top four reasons. And these reasons are nothing new. They have been talked about by Christian apologists for centuries, I just happen to find that they are still to this day, good reasons for not holding a Naturalistic worldview.
- Atheism is illogical.
Imagine if I went to the beach and saw on the sand the words “Henry loves Esther” with a heart running through it. Now imagine if I told some friends near the beach that nobody wrote those words, that the process of erosion and the wind and water just happened to produce that message. What would they think of me? They probably would laugh at me and think I was joking at best or unintelligent at worst. They may not know who wrote that message in the sand but anyone would conclude that someone did, even if there were no footprints next to them. Why? Because that message contains specific information that is not the random look that you would expect from wind and erosion. I believe that our Planet and the Universe are the same. Every life form has specific information that is in its DNA, information about how this life form is from its nose, eyes, blood type and its other features. Essentially DNA is God’s “message in the sand” that is left to us to discover; Darwinian Evolution, if it is true, does not disprove the idea of a designer but only shows the mechanism by which God produced the diversity of life. Everything we see in our manmade world whether it is our houses, cars, or streets, was designed and built by someone or a group. When there are explosions they do not come uncaused from nothing, they are caused by someone or something. Why should the whole universe be an exception to this? Why can’t the whole universe have been caused by someone and designed by someone? Belief in the existence of God should be common sense and find an echo in every human heart. Paul understood this in Romans 1 when he said, The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20). According to Paul, there is no excuse not to believe in God because God’s fingerprints are all over creation. The mere presence of a physical universe points to a designer. We may not necessarily know who the designer is by looking at creation but it is easy to deduce that a designer exists.
- Atheism does not do justice to the reality of evil and suffering in the world
Many Naturalists may be surprised to hear me say that because the presence of evil and suffering is often viewed as being an air tight case against God. The argument goes as follows, if God is all good he would want to get rid of all evil in the world and if he was all powerful he would be able too. Since evil still exists an all good all powerful God cannot. But what if God has good reasons for permitting some evil to exist? What if God uses these evils to bring about an even greater good? The previous argument does not take these questions into consideration. Moreover, just because one cannot understand why God could allow evil and still be good does not mean that a good reason does not exist. Also, even if that argument is true it begs the question, is there any hope that there will be justice for the oppressors and hope for the oppressed? When I was in College, several professors of mine stressed the importance of establishing a “so what” in the paper. You could establish a great argument for the position you chose for the assignment, but if you do not explain the “so what” in the argument, the whole paper is not worth much. I believe that Naturalists are making the same mistake in regards to the problem of evil. Even if that argument completely disproves the existence of an all-powerful, all good God it does not offer any hope of good triumphing over evil or for justice to be done for agents of oppression. In my last post in this series (Why I am a Christian Theist) I will write on why I think Christianity offers this hope more firmly than any other worldview. Needless to say, a Christian will have different things to say to someone who is suffering from an incurable disease than an Atheist will. Also, Atheism cannot even explain what good and evil mean because without an objective moral law giver (i.e. God) there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong only opinions. Belief in God is not necessary to be moral, but God’s existence is necessary for objective morality to exist. When we say that an action is wrong for everyone, we are saying that that moral truth transcends humanity because if it did not it would only apply to the person issuing the moral truth and not all humans. If morality is objective and transcends humanity where does it come from? It must come from something or someone that transcends humanity. As a Christian I would call that someone who transcends humanity God. Why do you think that humanity as a whole has a general sense of right and wrong if a transcendent moral law giver had not given us a conscience that helped us with that? The existence of evil is then an argument for God’s existence more than it is an argument against his existence.
3. Science does not tell us everything
When I was a kid I remember loving science experiments. They were always cool and really helped me to see the natural world in action. As an adult, I still appreciate the scientific process and its contribution to humanity. But people with a Naturalistic worldview tend to appeal only to science to answer life’s biggest questions and that is where their mistake lies. Science answers how the universe works but it does not answer why we are here, who we are, and what we are to do with our life. Those questions are best answered by philosophy, theology. Using science to answer those questions is like using the Bible to find out the genetics of a particular plant, it won’t work.
But isn’t Theism unscientific? It is true that Theism cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. There can be evidence for or against but it cannot be proven. On the other hand Naturalism (the belief that only the material universe exists) also cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. So, if Theism is unscientific due to the fact that it cannot be proven by science, Naturalism/Atheism would also have to be equally unscientific. You can be a great scientist regardless of what worldview you hold but your worldview will seek to answer questions that science simply is not designed to answer.
- Atheism at its core equals nihilism
Nihilism is the belief that there is ultimately no purpose and meaning to life. If God does not exist, then there is no meaning or purpose to life. You could be a mother Theresa or an Adolf Hitler and it would not make a lick of difference. You would die just like anyone else and you would end at death. Sure your actions would affect future generations but once those generations die and our planet dies, it would have been as if we never existed. None of our actions will have mattered. Lawrence Krauss, physicist and Atheist responded to this by saying that there is no need for absolute meaning and purpose to life because we can and should create our own meanings. The problem in this argument lies in when created meanings contradict. For example, a Christian may have a created meaning that his life is about encouraging more and more people to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. An Atheist may have the created meaning that his life is about convincing people to reject all religious belief. What happens if these two people meet? Created meanings that contradict is what often leads to wars and conflict. To me, there needs to be a meaning and purpose to life that transcends humanity in order for there not just to be peace but also true meaning. Atheism does not offer that.
In conclusion, I will say that I can understand why some people might go for a Naturalistic worldview. It gives people the freedom to live and do whatever they want without any moral accountability from a creator. It also might give them relief, after all why do I need to worry about what my purpose is when I can make up any purpose I want to. However, Naturalism offers no hope in the midst of evil and suffering, it gives no ultimate meaning to our lives, it flies in the face of existing logic and evidence, and it ultimately misuses science. To me, these reasons far outweigh any potential freedom that might be gained in Atheism. Furthermore, I do not need to worry about my purpose because I know what my purpose is: to glorify God. And this is not a created meaning but an absolute and transcendent one. To me belief in God makes me love the beauty of the universe even more. You will hear more about nature in my next post called, “Why I am not a Pantheist.”