A Double Blind Faith

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

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There is an interesting paradox with many atheists, particularly the neo-atheists.  They frequently see themselves as valiant warriors defending reason against the darkness of faith, which for them is little more than superstition.  For them believing in the events of the first Easter is little better than believing in the Easter Bunny. 

As I demonstrated with my reviews of the books of Hitchens, Harris  and Dawkins, nothing is further from the truth.  In fact, many of the atheist’s claims have little more than a façade of rationality.  They may seem rational at first glance, but any serious examination quickly reveals significant problems.  Take for example the common atheist claim that there is no evidence to support the existence of God; a bold claim, particularly given that it is entirely false. 

For just one example, the scientific evidence today is clear that the entire universe, the natural world as we know it, had a beginning.  Either it came from something, or it came from nothing.  But the idea of something coming from nothing is akin to magic, and is not rational.  If you say it came from something then this is evidence for the existence of God (i.e., some entity beyond the natural world powerful enough to create all of reality, as we know it.)

In this case the atheist is somewhat like the little boy caught with candy they are not suppose to have in their pockets.  Which is the more rational answer: A) the boy took it against his parent wishes, or B) it just appeared out of nothing in their pocket?   Likewise, which is the more rational answer: A) the universe was created by something; B) the universe just appeared out of nothing?  In this case, the theist only has to argue that they do not believe something came from nothing. 

Now the atheist here has several possible counters, but since the claim we are looking at is that there is no evidence to support the existence of God, they have a real problem.  They must not only argue that something from nothing is the best answer, this claim depends on it being the only rational answer, something that is clearly absurd. 

When confronted with this absurdity, most atheists I have talked to counter with some variation of the argument that since this does not prove God exists, it is not evidence that he exists.  This is an extremely anti-intellectual claim, which if the atheist applied universally would mean that we could know very little.   

Most of what we know, or think we know is built up on a whole range of pieces of evidence, both pro and con, where we, at least in theory, make the best choice we can based on the evidence we have.  Yet the atheist’s claim is that any piece of evidence that does not constitute proof is to be ignored, for only in this way can their claim that there is no evidence to support the existence of God be maintained.  Since their approach to the evidence for God would be so devastating to knowledge in other areas it is only applied here, and thus results in special pleading, which is yet another irrationality.

This brings us back to the initial question of why is it that the atheist’s defense of reason is so fundamentally irrational.  I believe the core of the problem is that there is an inherent contradiction in atheism and in agnosticism as well.   Both are grounded in an attempt to reject all forms of dogmatism, to reject anything that depends on faith, and to rely only on reason and evidence.  In many respects, this is a noble goal and when it emerged from the unscientific and superstitious past, it quickly brought great rewards. 

Where atheists and agnostics go wrong is that they attempt to apply this universally, and therein lies the contradiction.  All worldviews are, by their very nature, and the nature of reality, to some extent based on faith, and thus all have some aspects of dogmatism.  In short, what atheists have done is accept a worldview that rejects all worldviews. 

They frequently try to dance around this difficulty by claiming that theirs is the starting point, or in some way the default position.  This shows up in there constant insistence that they do not have to demonstrate anything.  The burden of proof is on everyone else; their views just are. 

Atheists cannot just accept the reality that they also have a worldview without a major rethinking of atheism.  In addition, as with the example above, once the atheistic worldview is acknowledge and compared alongside with all other worldviews, atheists do not always do so well.  They can continue to deny it, but ultimately this becomes little more than a dogmatic insistence that they are not dogmatic.

So the atheist paradox is grounded in the core irrationality that atheism is a worldview that attacks all worldviews.  Like everyone else, atheists have faith in the fundamental beliefs that make up their worldview.  Not only is it a blind faith, in many respect it is a double blind faith, as they cannot even see, and in fact strongly deny, what they are actually doing.   

This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

Jun 5th, 2009

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