by Ken Ammi
For many other articles on this topic, see Atheism, agnosticism and humanism: godless religionsQuestions and Answers
Some atheists apparently dont like this video, A Fool’s Heart, but you can view it here. It recaps some of the effects of anti-Christian atheistic/evolutionary thinking in recent times, beginning with Robespierre, a leader of the French Revolution.
There is confusion and debate about the term atheism and its definition.
The term atheism finds its etymology in the Greek combination of a and theos. What atheos means is, as with any term, subject to context (and perhaps personal interpretation). Note that if an atheist states, I do not believe in God, this is technically not a statement about Gods existence or lack thereof. Does atheos mean no God, without God, lack God belief or God does not exist?
Early Christians were referred to as atheists because they did not believe in the Greek or Roman gods. Yet, while they positively affirmed the non-existence of those gods they likely believed that those gods were deceptive demons whom they did believe existed (1 Corinthians 8:46).
Let us consider other Greek-derived a words:
Generally, as popularized by the New Atheist movement, atheists prefer the definition of atheism as lacking belief in god(s). Thus, by applying the term atheist to themselves, such atheists are not technically making a statement about Gods existence or lack thereof.
This definition has been popularized, at least, since Charles Bradlaugh (circa 1876). It appears to be preferred so as to escape the philosophic difficulty of proving a negativeGod does not existand in order to shift the burden of proof to the theist, since the theist is making the positive affirmation that God exists.
On a polemical note there are two things to consider:
In reference to the above mentioned term agnostic, note that Thomas Henry Huxley coined this term in 1869.1 He explained that he noted two extremes: one was the atheist who positively affirmed Gods non-existence (claiming to know that God did not exist) and the other was the theists who positively affirmed Gods existence (claiming to know that God exists). Huxley said that he did not possess enough evidence to affirm positively either position. Thus, he coined a term which he saw as a middle position, which was that of lacking knowledge to decide either way (whether such knowledge actually exists outside of his personal knowledge or may someday be discovered is another issue).
As we will see next, there are various sects of atheism. There is a vast difference between the friendly atheist next door and the activists. Generally, even the activist types who are typified by the New Atheist movement will define atheism as a mere lack of belief in God. However, it is important to note that their activism demonstrates that their atheism is anything but mere lack: it is an anti-religion, anti-faith and anti-God movement.
1.1 Variations of Atheism
Atheists may be categorized under various technical terms as well as sociopolitical and cultural ones, which may overlap depending on the individual atheists preferences:
Some atheists claim that atheism is a religion3 and others have attempted to establish secular/civic/atheistic religions which we will elucidate below.
Michael Shermer, editor of The Skeptic magazine, draws a distinction between the atheist who claims, there is no God and the non-theist who claims to have no belief in God.4
As to the sociopolitical and/or cultural terms, these abound and some are: Brights, Freethinkers, Humanists, Naturalists, Rationalists, Skeptics, Secular Humanists and Materialists.
Some atheists squabble about terminology. For example, American Atheists webmaster wrote, Atheists are NOT secular humanists, freethinkers, rationalists or ethical culturalists Often, people who are Atheists find it useful to masquerade behind such labels5 while the Freedom from Religion Foundation, claims that, Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.6
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By nature worship and neo-paganism I refer to the atheists tendency to replace a sense of awe of God and seeking transcendence by relating to God with seeking awe and transcendence in nature. This natural high, as it were, is not merely enjoyed but it is enjoined and said to be holier than theism.
Referring to our ability to step off the Earth and look back at ourselves, as was done in Voyager 2, Carl Sagan stated,
The very first episode of his televised series entitled Cosmos, began with Carl Sagan stating,
Presupposing a God-free reality, why atheists seek transcendent experiences remains unanswered.
Michael Shermer stated that his study of evolution was, far more enlightening and transcendent, spiritual, than anything I had experienced in seven years of being a born again Christian.8
Michael Shermer made reference to the spiritual side of science, which he referred to as sciensuality:
Michael Ruse; philosophy professor (University of Guelph), ardent evolutionist and professedly an ex-Christian who has argued for the ACLU against the balanced treatment (of creation and evolution in schools) bill in the USA, wrote:
Addressing fellow atheist Jonathan Miller, Richard Dawkins stated:
you and I probably do have feelings that may very well be akin to a kind of mystical wonder when we contemplate the stars, when we contemplate the galaxies, when we contemplate life, the sheer expanse of geological time. I experience, and I expect you experience, internal feelings which sound pretty much like um, what mystics feel, and they call it God. Ifand Ive been called a very religious person for that reasonif I am called a religious person, then my retort to that is, Well, youre playing with words, because what the vast majority of people mean by religious is something utterly different from this sort of transcendent, mystical experience [ ]
The transcendent sense the transcendent, mystic sense, that people who are both religious and non-religious in my usage of the term, is something very very different. In that sense, I probably am a religious person. You probably are a religious person. But that doesnt mean we think that there is a supernatural being that interferes with the world, that does anything, that manipulates anything, or by the way, that its worth praying to or asking forgiveness of sins from, etc. [ ]
I prefer to use words like religion, like God, in the way that the vast majority of people in the world would understand them, and to reserve a different kind of language for the feeling that we share with possibly your clergyman [ ] the sense of wonder that one gets as a scientist contemplating the cosmos, or contemplating mitochondria is actually much grander than anything that you will get by contemplating the traditional objects of religious mysticism.11 [the un-bracketed ellipses appear in the original transcript denoting Richard Dawkins halting way of speaking, the bracketed ones were added]
Richard Dawkins, in Is Science a Religion? said,
Stephen S. Hall, in Darwins Rottweiler Sir Richard Dawkins: Evolutions Fiercest Champion, Far Too Fierce, said:
Such sentiments appear to be fulfillments of the Apostle Pauls reference to:
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2.1 Atheist religion
Let us consider the atheists from the 18th to the 21st centuries who express desires to establish an atheistic religion. Perhaps we should begin with Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17121778), who conceived of a civil religion:
Two other notable 18th century attempts are Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (17601825) who conceived of a new Christianity which would be founded upon Humanism and scientific socialism. The secular priesthood would consist of scientists, philosophers and engineers. Lastly, Auguste Comte (17981857) conceived of a religion of humanity.
In atheism, when we die we end up as mere fertilizer; plant food. Human life has no particular meaning or purpose and there is no real basis for ethics, love or even logical thought. Atheism provides no footing for a just, caring and secure society.
Forwarding to the 21st century we will consider Gary Wolfs interview with Sam Harris:
Gary Wolfs interview with Daniel Dennett:
Sam Harris, Selfless Consciousness without Faith:
Sam Harris, A Contemplative Science:
ABC Radio National, Stephen Crittenden interviews Sam Harris:
Sam Harris, Science Must Destroy Religion:
Sam Harris, Rational Mysticism:
Humanist Manifesto I (1933) states,
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There may be as many reasons that people choose atheism as there are individuals who make that choice. These range from philosophy or science to emotion or rebellion and various combinations of such factors.
Prominent Argentinean hyperrealism artist, Helmut Ditsch, retells part of his upbringing:
Joe Orso, writing on the origin of beliefs, interviewed atheist Ira Glass, who said:
Note carefully the words of Thomas Nagel (B.Phil., Oxford; Ph.D., Harvard), Professor of Philosophy and Law, University Professor, and Fiorello La Guardia Professor of Law. He specializes in Political Philosophy, Ethics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the British Academy, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities:
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believersThomas Nagel
Consider the following words of Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific scientific writers of the last century:
Gary Wolf , contributing editor to Wired magazine, includes himself in the following description: we lax agnostics, we noncommittal nonbelievers, we vague deists who would be embarrassed to defend antique absurdities like the Virgin Birth or the notion that Mary rose into heaven without dying, or any other blatant myth. He wrote:
At dinner parties or over drinks, I ask people to declare themselves. Who here is an atheist? I ask. Usually, the first response is silence, accompanied by glances all around in the hope that somebody else will speak first. Then, after a moment, somebody does, almost always a man, almost always with a defiant smile and a tone of enthusiasm. He says happily, I am!
But it is the next comment that is telling. Somebody turns to him and says: You would be.
Why? Because you enjoy [irritating] people …. Well, thats true.
This type of conversation takes place not in central Ohio, where I was born, or in Utah, where I was a teenager, but on the West Coast, among technical and scientific people, possibly the social group that is least likely among all Americans to be religious.13
Thus, we find various motivating factors which lead to atheism and have absolutely nothing to do with science or intellect.
Thus, we find various motivating factors which lead to atheism and have absolutely nothing to do with science or intellect.
Paul Vitz, Professor of Psychology at New York University, made a fascinating study of the lives of some of the most influential atheists. In his book Faith of the Fatherless: the Psychology of Atheism he concluded that these persons rejected God because they rejected their own fathers. This was due to their poor relationships with their fathers, or due to their fathers absence, or due to their rebellion against their fathers.20 Along this line of research, it would be interesting to consider the effect that the death of friends and family has had on the rejection of God. From Charles Darwin to Ted Turner the death of friends and family has played a part.
Gary Wolf noted,
The Associated Press reported on an interview with Ted Turner published in The New Yorker: 22
Tony Snow, who was the White House Press Secretary in 2006/2007, and was a Christian, died of cancer in July 2008. He wrote an essay entitled, Cancers Unexpected Blessings.23 Consider, in contrast, how a God-centered person dealt with his own impending death:
In contrast, consider the words of atheist William Provine, professor of the history of science at Cornell University:
With regards to his own cancer, a brain tumor, Provine has stated that he would shoot himself in the head if his brain tumor returned.25 Apparently, one less bio-organism is irrelevant in an absolutely materialistic world.
3.1 Natural born Atheist
Another reason for rejecting God (choosing atheism), is a willing acceptance of satanic deception.
The angel Lucifer (luminous one) fell and became Satan (adversary) due to his desire to supplant God. This was Lucifers single-minded obsession.
He not only rejected God by attempting to supplant Him, but he urged humans to do likewise. Satan urged Eve to choose against God for her own self-fulfilment:
He said to the woman, Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-5 ESV).
The tactic is clear: firstly, question Gods statements, then, contradict Gods statements and, finally, urge rebellion in seeking equality with God.
This manifests in atheists as
This satanic deception appeals strongly to atheists as it bolsters two of their desired delusions: 1) absolute autonomybeing free to do as they please, and 2) the lack of ultimate accountabilitythere are no eternal consequences for doing as they please.
A subset of the question of why some people choose atheism is the atheist claim that we are all natural born atheists. In part this is incumbent upon which definition of atheism we are employing. Obviously, we are not born positively asserting Gods non-existence. Thus, the claim is that we are all born lacking a belief in God. Logically, this claim is accurate only at this point and is actually not successfully applicable beyond this point.
Atheists who make this argument claim that this argument demonstrates that man is not God-made but that God is man-made. In other words, they claim that we only believe in God because someone taught us to believe in God, often during childhood before we were able to consider the claim rationally. Yet, this claim is faulty on many levels, for example:
We are born knowing nothing at all and must be taught, and later take it upon ourselves to learn, anything and everything that we will ever know or believe, including atheism.
We are natural-born bed wetters but that does not mean that we should remain that way.
This is ultimately a form of the logically fallacious ad hominem (to the man). This fallacy occurs when what is supposed to be a counterargument attacks the person, the source of the original argument, while leaving the argument unanswered. Thus, just because belief in God is something that is taught does not discredit belief in God. It would be fallacious to claim that God does not exist because human beings invented the idea of Gods existenceGod wants us to discover His existence: you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
Furthermore, this claim does not consider that many people came to believe in God in adulthood and having come from a completely secular (atheistic) upbringing.
Although, perhaps we could grant the claim: if atheists want to argue that atheism requires no more intellect than that which an infant can muster, why should we argue?
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Here is a video debate between an atheist and the author of this article: Morality: natural or supernatural?
Technically, ethics refers to what should be and morals to what is or; prescription and description. Atheists differ on the issue of ethics and morality; some claim that there are absolutes and some do not. As to the question of whether atheists can make absolute moral statements, this is tantamount to the first year theology student who, when asked, Do you believe in infant baptism? responded, Sure I do; Ive seen it done. Yes, atheists can make any statements about anything at allthe question is: are the statements viable?
Atheists make epistemic statements about morality but do not provide an ontological premise for ethics.26 That is to say that they can muse upon issues of morality and come to any conclusion that they please. However, these turn out to be arbitrary personal preferences that are expressed as dogmatic assertions.
Some atheists do make attempts at providing an ontological basis for ethics. These range quite widelyfrom considering the behavior of apes to Game Theory.
In the first case, it is, of course, being presupposed that we share a common evolutionary lineage with apes and that their behavior tells us something about ours. Even when such observations successfully correlate their behaviors to ours, it is merely a description. Moreover, from such correlations it is inferred that morality is part of our overall evolution. This amounts to intuition or urges which we are free to act upon or disregard.
In the second case investigators concoct games that they claim dissect human behavior. With regards to Game Theory, Benjamin Wiker notes,
Another supposed basis for ethics is that an action is unethical/immoral if it causes harm to others. Thus, it is the nature of the consequence caused by the action that determines whether an action is ethical or unethical. The fundamental problem with this definition of ethical behavior is that an action ceases to be unethical if no adverse consequences are experienced. As such, nothing is inherently wrong; an action is only wrong if it causes harm to another.
Consider the example of adulterous behavior: under the do no harm definition of ethical behavior, adultery is wrong because it harms the other party in the marriage (i.e., the faithful spouse). This harm can include mental anguish, the spread of disease to the faithful party and the loss of affection from the adulterous party. An additional adverse consequence includes unwanted pregnancies outside of the marriage. However, what if an adulterous act did not lead to those outcomes (e.g., a husband, who has had a vasectomy, occasionally has sexual relations with women free from sexually transmitted diseases while on trips to foreign cities)? In such an instance would adultery cease being unethical? Would the husbands behavior turn from ethically neutral to unethical only if he were to confess his adultery to his wife, or if he was otherwise caught, thus causing her mental anguish?
It seems that there is something else behind, or beyond, the consideration of causing harm. In fact, there must be something else. Why must there be something else? Because it is precisely by knowing that which causes others harm that I may come to know how to push their buttons, how to manipulate them, how to take advantage of them, how to suppress them, etc. I may find that I can assist my survival by causing such harm to others and so, on this view, their harm is for my benefit. There must be something beyond that which makes causing harm itself unethical.
An ethical code based on God is determined by Gods communication to man of what is ethical and unethical. This is because Gods ethical code to us is derived from Gods very triune, relational, ethical nature. This nature is ethical and relational as it is unified by virtue of God consisting of one in being and yet, diverse as it is experienced and enjoyed amongst the three persons of the Trinity. Under such an ethical code, and in contrast to any Godless moral code, a given action such as adultery is still wrong even in absence of adverse consequences to another party. Thus, under a God-authored ethical code some actions are inherently wrong.
Furthermore, the atheist has no basis for saying that it is wrong to harm others anyway. Why should it be wrong to harm others? This supposed basis for ethics fails at this very point.
Let us consider some atheists statements about morality:
Dan Barker, co-founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, claims that, Darwin has bequeathed what is good and refers to Jesus as a moral monster.28 He includes the following within his understanding of Darwinian goodness,
This appears to be in keeping with his general view on human worth, value and dignity, a fetus thats the size of a thumb that haswhat? What? Would you put it in a little locket and hang it around your neck?30
Dan Barker has also stated, There is no moral interpreter in the cosmos, nothing cares and nobody cares and he bases his humanistic morality upon his reasoning whether, it will ultimately matter what happens to us or a vegetable: what happens to me or a piece of broccoli, it wont. The Sun is going to explode, were all gonna be gone. No ones gonna care.31
He does not seem to consider that the fact that the concept which holds that There is no moral interpreter in the cosmos, nothing cares and nobody cares were all gonna be gone. No ones gonna care, quite logically and easily, leads to inhumane immorality.
Dan Barker has further stated:
Dan Barker has also offered motivating factors for moral actions that are quite common within atheist thoughtthese are self-serving motivations, whereby one should be good not for goodness sake but in order to benefit oneself, for example,
Read the rest here:
Atheism – creation.com