Why Atheism Is Not Absence of Faith or Ideology

Here is an excellent supplemental article to go with the first Everyday Faith iGathering class.  Thanks to tektonics.org

Often people insist to be atheists (only) because there’s no objective evidence of God. However as I am about to show, one could as easily claim to be a theist because no positive evidence for atheism exist. In this chapter I will show that atheism is an ideology, not absence of one, and how it is based on faith and needs circular logic (atheism true by default) and misuse of science (science has disproven God) to sound plausible. The “God of the gaps”-argument doesn’t help atheists because it is based on the assumption that atheism is true, so over time it will prevail. On the other words, if atheism is true, gaps in our knowledge will be explained completely by “naturalistic” methods. To call mechanistic (atheist, materialistic, you name it) ideology natural is of course misleading – it is an attempt to make other explanations look like fictionary.

But isn’t this article just an example of religious thinking? This notion is irrelevant, since as well I could start accusing atheists of being equally brainwashed and guilty of non-religious or even anti-religious thinking. It is rather frustrating to hear anti-theist complaining when someone is “accused” of being atheist, way too often these same persons accuse people of religious thinking! Of course anti-theists don’t give up easily, so they insist that because religion is an ideology and atheism is not, they have the right to accuse religious people of their worldview. Well as I am about to show that this is not just untrue, but the whole thing will become an embarrasment for atheists:

Religions are knowledge of the supernatural. Science does not tell The Truth (you don’t have to look further than Darwinism to realize how The Truth is not absolute, but always… evolving?), it tells us something that might be true. Knowledge does not have to be absolute. If we did stop teaching the knowledge we have, wouldn’t atheism find it’s most satisfied followers among vegetables?

There are very few things that haven’t been taught to us. Language is example of tacit knowledge which is something that has it’s basis coded into our DNA (this is something that is very difficult to explain with neo-darwinian mechanism). However most of our knowledge is not “natural”, but something like an ideology for which we have been exposed from the day of our birth. To stop teaching about the supernatural would be just about the same thing as not teaching anything at all. Saying “God exists” does not make Him exist, but neither would He cease to exist if all knowledge of Him would disappear. This atheist argument is circular reasoning, because it starts with the presumption that atheism is true. Following the “since it must be teached, it is not true”-logic, atheism and absolute lack of knowledge would be just about the same thing. I’m sure that this is not how Sickticks want their ideology to be represented.

Why are theists obligated to reason without religious motives? It is almost absurd to see how atheism is seen as absence of ideology! Once I grew up, I learned that completely independent thinking does not exist. We are all “victims” of different ideologies. Atheism is an ideology that claims that only material world exist. Therefore doubting Evolutionism because of religious motives is perfectly ok, because Evolutionism is an ideology itself! Unfortunately not everyone is ready to admit their prejudices. Appealing to the “natural” or what most people think is not generally a good idea anyway. Ideologies are not necessary obvious (like teaching it in school for example), in fact most succesful ideologies are hiding, this is why they’re so succesful, people see them as natural – so no reason for them is needed.

The atheist argument is often based on negative- , rather than positive evidence. On the other words: because existance of God can’t be proven, He doesn’t exist, and so atheism must be true by default. Intelligent Design movement is accused of the same reasoning, instead of trying to prove the design [1], it attacks the Blind Watchmaker-thesis; because neo-Darwinian mechanism doesn’t explain evolution of Irreducibly Complex-systems, these systems must have been designed (to evolve). Of course ID movement is furiously criticized of this kind of reasoning, but atheists barely ever.

Why the negative evidence doesn’t help atheists? If God chooses to be reached only by faith, negative evidence would not be valid argument, because it reduces and oversimplifies the situation. Basicly negative evidence starts from the assumption that only two options exist, when one of them is false, the other one has to be true. Sure, in some sense there’s only two options: Agnostic worldview is always a failure in the end, supernatural exist or it doesn’t. But there’s much more in it, consider the following points:

To “God doesn’t exist because there’s no evidence of Him”-argument to be valid, the following presumptions must be true, or the argument fails:
(a) God is obligated to reveal Himself to us, just because we demand
(b) God must act the way we predict, we want and we define (“God would not do it this way”)
(c) existance of God could be proven somehow

Why God doesn’t give us proof, why the faith is so important? I have to limit this article, this is why I recommend this article. Now back to the question of what should be default, if anything.

Since Origins of life and Universe are not explained by atheism, it should not be true by default. Of course neither is theism true by default, because no unambiguos evidence of God or the Creation exist either. Why should the science serve atheist-ideology? Atheism is based on the assumption that life was born spontaneosly, this is called abiogenesis. However it is known for sure that life could have not formed spontaneously (sometimes called chemical evolution) at present conditions on Earth. Well, the atheist have invented the prebiotic soap and biochemical scaffolding to make their worldview possible, however no evidence of the soap exists! It is mere a hypothesis – just like theism. At this point the ranting atheist is most likely to quot talk.origins to show that abiogenesis is a fact like gravity – it’s always as amusing because these guys don’t usually even understand the text they quoted, they just try to scare theist with list of plausible looking buzzwords. As always they’re willfully ignorant of the other side of the issue – whis in this case would be critique of abiogenesis scenarios. If you don’t believe in God because there’s no evidence, the only logical conclusion you have is not to believe in abiogenesis either! In this case the only option you have is to believe that Universe and life have always existed – idea that has been abandoned by modern science, thermodynamics is one of the best established scientific laws, and it shows that the Universe indeed had the beginning.

The Design, or lack of it, is there for those who want to see it. If God chooses to be out of our reach, I cannot prove He exist, and neither can atheist prove He doesn’t exist. Subjective evidence is not the same thing as fiction, tinnitus and hyperacusis (linkki tästä) are perfect examples of subjective experiences which are certainly not fiction, but a reality which one can’t share with others. In this sense every true Christian actually has subjective evidence of God. Of course it should be obvious that metaphysical theories about Origins and the Beginning (yes, it extremely likely that there was a beginning), cannot be fairly compared to the empirical sciences.

At this point anti-theists usually complain that they can’t prove that elves, orcs or balrogs doesn’t exist. I call this Argument of Quantity, which is based on the presumption that number of different options prove them all false, this logic is not reductive but additive, because it makes up arbitrary options. Argument of Quantity fails as absolute – it is not always true. Darwinism is a modern replacement for Creation stories of traditional religions, it is a religion and creation story itself [1]. If you examine it’s basic thesis’ (life has evolved from simple to complex) in the right context, it would look like a just another story. Let’s assume that I made a book about fantasy world like Middle-Earth, but with one exception: no gods, supernatural or anything like that. Darwinian evolution would be the creator in this World. Would this prove Darwinism wrong and make it just another creation-myth? No, because Darwinism existed before my idea. Making up arbitrary options to prove it false would not change anything. Besides, using anti-Christian logic, different Evolutionary scenarios should prove against Evolution.

At this point anti-Christians note that even if the sheer amount of options doesn’t prove them all false, it does prove that one of the options is not likely to be true, because it surrounded by other options that are seemingly true as well. Of course this could be used against single Evolutionary theory as well, because competing options exist, orthodox neo-Darwinism is not likely to be true. An anti-Christian will answer by saying that Evolution is a fact, even if doesn’t know the mechanism. Of course they show their true colours: It doesn’t matter exactly how life evolved, only one thing matters, that Christianity is not true, anything else goes. So it seems that purpose of the Evolution is to prove Christianity wrong.

Positive evidence for atheism would be complete explanation of what was before Big Bang, law of abiogenesis (it is just a hypothesis at the moment – not even a theory) and complete understanding of Origins of life and Universe in general. As the most clever readers know, it is quite unlikely that all of these things will, or even could be proven by empirical sciences. What happened billions of years ago is matter of history, not something you can put to test tube. Of course God can’t be disproven beoynd doubt, but at the moment He is not even close of being even remotely disproven or useless hypothesis.

Once atheist is asked to explain Origins without God, he accuses theist of appealing to the Gaps. Unfortunately this is circular logic which is based on presumption of atheism being true. As well atheist could be accused of appealing to the Gaps – if there’s God, over time our knowledge of Him will increase over time, and so theism will be once proven to be true (by Christs second coming for example). In this scenario all the attempts to disprove, or show that God is not needed, would be labeled as appealing to the Gaps in your knowledge of God. Of course atheists will appeal to the trend – reality is increasingly explained by natural mechanisms. But is it? And which trend we will choose, life is much more complex than it was thought – what if this complexity is machine-like, not just any complexity? Sure science is great tool to explain reality, but only when it empirical. Historical sciences are much more ambigious. If God was once used to explain all gaps in knowledge, it was obviously a mistake. But so what? Cell is not a simple bag of protoplasm, but a complex machine. Sometimes evolutionary biology is asked to explain how love for music evolved for example. This is somewhat unfair question to ask from biologists. Or is it? If reality is so mechanistic as materialists claim, if human behaviour can be explained just by chemichals in our brains and if sexuality is explained by genes, the question is no longer unfair. This would mean that Darwinism is excepted explain to something it was never supposed to – Darwinism was/is based on reductionism, and life being simple. Besides, it is almost funny when Evolutionists appeal to the Gaps by themselves – “We don’t know enough about evolution”. Of course this argument can’t be proven wrong – they can always appeal to the lack of knowledge, but still say that “we know that life evolved”. Basicly everything could be explained with “It evolved. End of discussion.”. Funny. When Creationists are unable to explain how Adam was created, Evolutionists complain that Creationism is not science. Talking about double standards… Of course the argument could be reversed to mean “We don’t know enough about design, but we know that life was designed”.

Thanks to Science God is not needed, because world can be explained without him. This approach is reductive. Even if it was once thought that Freud’s ideas can explain human behaviour completely, it doesn’t mean they did. Darwinism was once thought to be able to explain everything. If a method excludes options by default, it is not a valid tool to explain everything. Because modern science is based on naturalistic philosophy, teleological explanations (purpose) are excluded, this is why ID’ers have to “appeal” to the Gaps – because their opinions are excluded by default.

It is not news to say that Evolutionism is a religion [1] which attempts to replace tradiotional theism – especially Christianity. Philosophy of Evolutionism doesn’t want to see design, a perfect example of this is the so called “junk” DNA, which is used to prove that there was no design. My personal opinion about ID is that detecting design from the nature is very difficult, or even impossible – but this doesn’t mean that science should be misused to prove against it. Evolutionist philosophy is based on conscious misunderstandment of the design-argument (the desing doesn’t have to be perfect, because it is not recent). However just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it proves against theism! This is inversed version of “just because we don’t know, doesn’t mean that God did it”. Whole God of the gaps-theory is anti-theist circular reasoning and double standards, because it starts with presumption of atheism being true, therefore “once given enought time” it will be proven to be true and gaps explained by atheism, not by God:

“Unfortunately, the point is made with circular logic: it depends on the presupposition that life is not designed, which is the point at issue. If life is not designed then, yes, a theory of intelligent design is ultimately a blind alley (if not quite “giving up”). However, if aspects of life are indeed designed, then the search for the putative unintelligent mechanisms that built them is the blind alley. But how do we decide ahead of time which is correct?” – Michael J. Behe [11]
What we have here is a core of atheism, the reasoning behind it’s alleged superiority is circular: because atheism is true by default, it’s presumptions will be proven correct over time. I would have no problems what’s so ever with this – but I’m afraid that the explanations we have been given, and will be given, actually do not explaing enough. And once we make this objection, we get accused of being religious.

What we have is a circle, both sides demanding evidence from eachother and using negative evidence to prove their case. I think I’ll just cut it here because it should be obvious that the the burden of proof is not by default with the theist. I could say that I am a theist because materialists can’t explain without ideological prejudices how Universe and life came to be spontaneously. Especially interesting is the question: “What was before the Big Bang?”. Once I read an article from atheist who claimed that such questions are “unfair” – why make difficult and “arbitrary” questions of something that happened. Of course making arbitrary options is additive argument. But in my opinion questions of what was before Big Bang, and how did the order in Universe came to be, are not arbitarary.

I recently read an interesting article with the title “Whatever happened to atheism?” [8]. The author is an atheist who claims that militant atheism is no longer relevant, because religion is nowadays simply matter of belief. If it is about personal relationship with God-the-hypothesis, it is certainly not threatening. This is quite a good observation since it explains so well why religion is accepted, as long as it isn’t “concrete”. God is acceptable as long as He is not used to explain anything in this world. I guess this is why theist is excepted to prove his/her case, and atheism is the default.

Let’s assume that the atheists are right in their faith, and there’s no God, doesn’t this mean that I have wasted my life? But what would be so special in being right, if your worldview was just a lucky guess, as I have shown, atheism is faith as well. And if atheists are right, they will never know it! Well, actually I once saw an “atheist” claiming how Christians will know in the afterlife they were cheated 😉 Even worse kind of argumentation is appealing to the quantity and whining about possiblity if the god is not the God of the Bible, but let’s say Allah for example. Well, I am sure this god/Allah/whatever will appreciate that at least I take responsibility of my actions, including my faith – why would atheists who have been in denial, be in any better position in this scenario? Information is sometimes defined as measure of unexpectedness – the more bold your claim is, the more informative it is. Unfortunately bold claims are more likely to be proven wrong, than the confirmative ones. I see no problem in taking a risk, what is so awful of being wrong anyway? Cell was once thought to be simple lump or bag of protoplasm. This rather amusing idea of cell was once a fact, not fiction, and many believed it – including Darwin. At this point anti-theists start whining how Christians miss the “good things in life” – however these claims are based on caricatures and straw men of Christianity, it is always as frustrating to meet “Skeptics” who have made up their mind about Christianity, but are still so ignorant about it.

It is not a good idea to say: “Prove that God doesn’t exist”, once an atheist has asked the opposite, because he/she can’t. Actually both of the questions are somewhat unfair, but there’s no reason why the burden of the proof should be with a theist. Atheist should not whine about God of the Gaps – there are gaps in our knowledge, they could be explained by theism or by atheism. In a nutshell: There’s no reason to start from the atheist presumptions and prove God. The one who claims to know the Truth is wrong – at the moment – I can’t say anything about the future. It should be obvious that atheism is not absence of faith – what could be better example of faith if not materialism, “it just happened like we say, don’t ask stupid questions”?