The atheist’s mind works in a peculiar way. Virtually every atheist boasts of being a rationalist or a freethinker, that his worldview is the most logical one. In fact, most are neither “free” in thinking nor rational in their thoughts. They reject whatever doesn’t square with their dogma. A true rationalist doesn’t dismiss what he does not understand or sounds outlandish as “fairy tales” or “hallucinations.” That is what a dogmatist does.
The dictionary defines dogma as a religious belief that is accepted without proof or a code of belief accepted as authoritative. A dogmatist is therefore, someone who accepts a belief without evidence or who despite the evidence, rejects an idea because it contradicts his notion of reality and truth. Many atheists live out this second definition. Richard Lewontin, an evolutionary biologist, in one of his textbooks warns his students: “You must be careful, as you examine the orders of living tissue in all of the world around us, that you don’t fall back on the explanation of a creative designer-intelligence for it all because, frankly, everything does seem to have the appearance of an intelligent designer behind it, but that is plainly wrong.”
Rather than letting these “wannabe” scientists follow the evidence where it leads, they are already told what they mustn’t conclude. That is dogmatism. Many atheists reject some Christian beliefs (e.g creationism, resurrection of Christ, virgin birth etc) as contrary to logic and science. In fact, they transcend logic and science but that doesn’t disprove their veracity. There is true rationality (and humility) when we admit there are some things we cannot explain by logic or science. A consistent rationalist does not dismiss what sounds illogical. A “rationalist” who toes that line is upholding a dogma just like any fanatical believer.
Atheists have made science their dogma. They worship at its altars and await its “high priests” to explain everything in the universe to them. Whatever claim or experience that can’t be put in its box is dismissed as “hear says.” But science does not have an answer to many of man’s questions. Science (as a variant of philosophy) starts with unproven axioms and therefore, cannot be the sole determinant of all truths. Science is constantly evolving and growing, and that’s why some feats which seemed “impossible” in the past are now accepted as possible today. The science of 100 years ago is not the same science of today. Granted, every belief or experience doesn’t have to be explained by science to be real.
Christian-atheist dialogues often take a well-predictable path: the atheist demands that the Christian presents “an objective evidence” for God’s existence. The demand may vary in subject, but the underlying basis boils down to the burden of proof on the theist to prove his beliefs. I was in a forum where an atheist challenged a Christian, “Prove to me that heaven exists. I want an objective proof, don’t quote any religious text to me.” I think the best response to this is to bring the discussion back to the underlying issue – theistic arguments about God (since there has to be God before we talk about heaven).
When an atheist throws the “show-me-the-evidence-or-shut-up” argument at you, what you are dealing with is empiricism. In Philosophy, this is the theory that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience. It emphasises the role of experience and evidence, and argues that the only knowledge humans can have is a posteriori (i.e based on experience). The cosmological and telelogical arguments for the existence of God present the empirical “evidences” atheists clamour for all the time, but I need to point these out:
1. Like good dogmatists, many atheists derisively dismiss and ignore these evidence when presented even though they are empirical (observable and experientially tested). Therefore, the atheist will first have to tell us what he considers a good and compelling evidence, how he defines the terms, what his epistemology is and if his application of it is consistent (which is hardly the case). When an atheist carps, “Prove to me that God exists,” a good answer is to ask, “How many evidence do you need? A thousand? A million? A billion? Will a trillion be sufficient to convince you?”
2. Many atheists demanding “empirical evidence” for God’s existence want Him to do something so compelling that everyone will see, like turning the Aso Rock building upside down, twirling it around 360 degrees 20 times, bouncing it up and down at 20ft and changing it into a bright pink cloud in the shape of Kim Kardashian with a plaque on it saying “I am God. I exist. I came to earth as Jesus Christ, so bow!” Then the atheist, satisfied in his irrational and arbitrary demands will gladly kneel
3. Let’s assume that X = God; if atheists don’t believe in X, yet spend tons of time debating people who believe in X and seeking to demolish their X-system of belief, are they indirectly seeking X or they are seeking to be persuaded of it? Or does it mean that they are justifying their non-belief in X or they just want to feel better by attacking the believers in X?
It doesn’t make any sense if atheism is “non-belief in an imaginary being,” yet atheists spend the bulk of their time talking to Christians about X. What purpose does this serve? Is it to win us to their view of not-something-else or they are striving to convince themselves of being intellectually superior by bashing Christianity and the Bible? Atheists need to sincerely answer these.
4. To insist that there must be empirical evidence for God’s existence is an illogical, irrational and arbitrary framework made up by the atheist. Who says a thing has to empirical for it to be real or true? Mathematics is a non-empirical and non-scientific field of knowledge, yet its reality in our daily life is not disputed. No thinking person will dismiss mathematics as myth because there is no empirical evidence for it, so why do atheists demand we present empirical evidences for God as if that is the all and all of philosophical inquiry? Its a viciously circular argument to assume empiricism presents us all true knowledge and that unless God first proves Himself by empirical He is non-existent.
5. Another fallacy in the atheist’s obsession with “empirical evidence” is this: since they believe human thoughts are determined by outside forces of randomness and mere chance linked with the physical brain, every time the atheist demands for empirical proofs as the only means of knowing God, he is dogmatically imposing his own idea on others. If our thoughts are the results of random collisions of atoms in our brain, such random occurrences cannot apply to everyone else let alone to God. The atheists is irrationally trying to make everything bow to his arbitrary rule.
6. Although atheists have made science the final determinant of all knowledge and existence, science itself starts with unproven axioms which have to be accepted by belief. In the same vein, Christians start with unproven axioms and faith in various things – a faith that transcends reason but is not contrary to it. Thus, both theism and atheism involve faith, even though the atheist desperately wants to believe that he doesn’t have any faith or axiomatic beliefs.
Regardless of the science flag atheists wave around, neither atheism nor theism rests purely on science. Atheism is faith in purposeless blind chance while theism is faith in an Intelligent First Cause, so the real question is which faith stands up to scrutiny. Indeed, Christianity is based on a faith that is “the evident demonstration of realities not beheld” (Heb. 11:1).
Many atheists ask, “Why is your God true and not the other 4000 gods worshipped on earth?” This is because of Jesus Christ, God revealed in the flesh who performed miracles including His resurrection from the dead and was ascended to heaven. No other “God” has spoken, no religious founder measures up to Jesus and no religious book has passed the tests the Bible has. Counterfeit religions have arisen because people followed false religious books, false religious leaders and false understandings of the Bible.
This is why we search, examine and scrutinise beliefs to arrive at truth. Many atheists have not done this to any degree and are impervious to evidence presented which they derisively dismiss, yet would say, “We have seen zero evidence in all religions.” This is dogmatism and the pinnacle of irrationality.