Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Atheist's Atheism Examined

    Make a declaration and it may seem like you have something to say, but just because declarations are made does not mean they are substantive, sufficient, or satisfying. It behooves a person to check them out before forming conclusions and accepting them.

    The following declarations are taken from a section of the American Atheists website entitled "Atheism" with my examination/responses.

    Atheism is a doctrine that states that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.

    I love the phrase “nor can there be”. How do they know? How can they prove this? If man is continuing to find things even in physical nature they did not know before (like the turbulence of the sun in today’s news), how bold a claim to speak authoritatively on that which lies beyond their own experience.

    This being said, and recognizing metaphysical realities, on one level the knowledge of God is beyond the realm of natural man (Rom 8:7); yet on another level, with regeneration and renewed ability, the knowledge of God while spiritual is within the realm of spiritual man. God may be known to man because he wants to be known and therefore reveals himself to man.

    The following definition of Atheism was given to the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203, 83 S. Ct. 1560, 10 L.Ed.2d (MD, 1963), to remove reverential Bible reading and oral unison recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the public schools.
    “Your petitioners are Atheists and they define their beliefs as follows. An Atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An Atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy.

    This asserts either a simple declaration that atheists claim a love for man and not for God (while denying him) or it asserts a false dilemma suggesting that one must either love God or love their fellow man, when the truth is that believers love both God and their fellow man.

    Additionally, it points out the failure of the Atheist mission, for given the continued sin, strife, suffering, misery and death experienced each day here on earth(just read the newspapers) and this has not changed overall even given the increase in knowledge and technology of man, no one is justified in suggesting there is or will be heaven on earth in the present life given the world order and condition. The truth is there will be a new heaven and a new earth, a redeemed and renewed one, but it comes not through the work of man, but through the power of him who is creator and redeemer.

    An Atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction, and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and enjoy it.

    While there is truth to the fact that apart from faith one should not expect answer to prayer, at the same time one must ask the question does man have it in himself to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and enjoy it? While no one denies the responsibilities, opportunities and temporal blessings man enjoys, to suggest that man can subdue life is as far fetched as to suggest that one can determine the future, to handle all that comes one’s way, and even to conquer death, and this is just on the physical level which fails to take into account what it truly means to live according to holiness, etc.

    Seems a major tenet of atheism is to claim for man a sovereignty that he does not possess.

    The truth is that believers only, can enjoy life, not only in the spiritual realm, but even as they come to receive and enjoy the blessings that whatever comes their way will work out for good, and that no matter what they face, though they may fail or fall in their own strength, that ultimately they will gain the victory through another.

    An Atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.

    Is it possible for an atheist to possess a knowledge of himself if he knows not where he comes from, what his purpose is, and that his end leads to and results in a forgotten nothingness? Does this type of thinking lead to a life of fulfillment?

    He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man.

    It’s a poor man whose significance is found in his works. (It’s no wonder there’s such a low view of the fetus as well as others in latter stages of life or with health conditions in life by which they cannot contribute as much to society as others.)

    Another false dichotomy in the suggestion that those who look to an afterlife possess no interest or involvement in the present life.

    It’s not a question of wanting disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated; the question is the source and method of accomplishment. Will man, who is born with a sinful nature which includes greed, selfishness, love of earthly possession, power, etc., ever accomplish these things according to the present order? Or, is a power beyond man required to accomplish this and bring it about? Believers rightly hold to the latter.

    He wants an ethical way of life. He believes that we cannot rely on a god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter.

    Another false dichotomy to suggest that non-athiests do not want an ethical way of life.
    What is the standard for atheist ethics? Is there an absolute standard, or is it no more than the standard proclaimed in the past which even with progress and additional knowledge prove no more than a system which flip flops on issues such that they call good evil and evil good?

    He believes that we are our brother's keepers; and are keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now.”

    Was Cain his brother’s keeper? All seemed good for a time, but when things did not go his way, he tried to set that responsibility aside. God however is the one who upholds this principle regardless of the weaknesses and sinfulness of man.

    Atheism is a failed system, which while denying the future and focusing on the present, is nothing but frustration in the face of failed principles and promises.


    Puritan Lad said...

    I love how their own definition defeats itself. If "thought is a property or function of matter", then to what value will we place on any thought, including the doctrine of atheism?

    In other words,

    "Here is what we believe, even though we believe that our belief is the product of our own human neurons, which we believe were formed from a bunch of chemicals in a soupy ocean somewhere on a planet that was formed from stardust. Nevertheless, our belief is valid."

    Atheist put a lot of faith in stardust.

    jdlongmire said...

    yep - there is no source of appeal.

    Puritan Lad said...

    Not to mention that Atheism by itself cannot exist as a philosophy. It would have died out a long time ago except it was carried along by Neo-Freudianism and Existentialism. This can plainly be seen here.

    "An Atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment."

    If Atheism is so valid, why would it need to rest on the shoulders of these other philosophies? Why would we need the knowledge of ourselves and our fellow man?

    Note also the vain appeal to "love" (another product of human neurons) and deeds.

    "He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man."

    If atheism is true, then love is meaningless. It is nothing more than a biochemical reaction triggered by certain stimuli. From that standpoint, it isn't much different that hate.

    This might be stretching things a bit, but... atheists are usually socialists as well. They believe that man, given enough indoctrination (err...edukashun) can solve all of his problems. They always appeal to government and "society" as the givers of morality and freedom. Note that the atheist "wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated." Sounds good, right? I would have to ask, who is going to conquer disease, poverty, and war. My guess would be the state with your tax dollars (minus 70% for administration and handling).