Atheism and evidence

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Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is a religion that denies the existence of God.[1] Paul Edwards, who was a prominent atheist and editor of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, defined an atheist as "a person who maintains that there is no God." [2] An atheist who claims there is God has a responsibility to shoulder the burden of proof for this claim and many atheists freely admit that they cannot.

Beginning in the latter portion of the 20th century and continuing beyond, many agnostics and atheists have argued that the definition of atheism should be a lack of belief in God or gods. [2][3] [4][5]

In terms of contemporary definitions of atheism, the Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines atheism in two ways: "1) a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods 2) a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods."[6] Oxford English Dictionies defines atheism as "Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods."[7]

William Lane Craig writes:

If atheism is taken to be a view, namely the view that there is no God, then atheists must shoulder their share of the burden of proof to support this view. But many atheists admit freely that they cannot sustain such a burden of proof. So they try to shirk their epistemic responsibility by re-defining atheism so that it is no longer a view but just a psychological condition which as such makes no assertions. They are really closet agnostics who want to claim the mantle of atheism without shouldering its responsibilities.[8]

The atheist Francois Tremblay wrote:

Atheism, as commonly defined by atheists, expresses a lack of belief, or disbelief, in deities. It is not a positive belief in anything, but a negative concept...

Another problem of atheism qua atheism is that it does not contain its own basis. What I mean by this is that atheism is a punctual, ontological belief, which is itself the implicit or explicit result of metaphysical and epistemological deductions. Any reply to an attack on this basis cannot come directly from atheism. Concentrating oneself only on being an atheist is like trying to build a house from the second floor up. It may look less costly on paper, and for people who only build houses in their imagination this may be a good way of seeing it, but it's not good enough for a serious endeavour. And most importantly, it's too fragile. I see too many religionists attacking atheism from the bottom and atheists being unable to adequately reply to the arguments. If the atheist cannot answer to his most fundamental beliefs on the nature of reality and cognition, then his atheism is worthless in terms of validation. It is nothing more than a big paper tiger, made from the finest cardboard.[9]

The ex-atheist Theodore Beale wrote:

Underlining the utter vaccuity of the atheist position is the fact that the average atheist does not even understand what the word "evidence" means. There are many types of evidence beyond scientific evidence, the entire basis for our system of law explicitly denies the concept that "scientific evidence" is the only valid form of evidence.

Of the four types of evidence deemed permissible for determining truth in court, only "real" evidence for God can possibly be considered lacking in any way, although not necessarily as documentary evidence is considered a form of real evidence. There is ample demonstrative, documentary, and testimonial evidence, and in legal terms, testimonial evidence is the strongest as it is "the only kind that does not usually require another form of evidence as a prerequisite for its admissibility. See Evid. Code § 702(b); Fed R. Evid. 602."

Scientific evidence, on the other hand, is often not permissible in court because it is too often known to be unreliable.[10]

Many atheists, such as many new atheists, only accept scientific evidence as a valid form of evidence[11]

Reverend Dwight Longnecker wrote:

Very often atheists will ask for “evidence” for the existence of God, but I have never been able to ascertain from any of them what they mean by evidence. Do they want scientific evidence of the sort you produce in a laboratory? Archeological evidence? Documentary evidence? Historical evidence? Eyewitness evidence? Contemporary sociological evidence? Psychological evidence? Forensic evidence? I can provide all those kinds of evidence that points to the existence of God, but whenever one produces such evidence the atheist disputes the evidence. Interested in evidence? You tell me what kind of evidence you want and I’ll try to provide it. None have.[12]

Atheism, evidence and evidential standards

See also: Evidential apologetics and Atheism and irrationality and Atheism and logic and Atheism and logical fallacies

Atheists demand proof and evidence for other worldviews, yet there is no proof and evidence that atheism is true. Also, despite the abundant evidence for Christianity and the lack of proof and evidence for atheism, atheist reject the truth of Christianity. Atheists refuse to go where the evidence clearly leads. See also: Arguments for the existence of God

In addition, when atheist make claims related to naturalism, make personal claims or make accusations against theists, they often employ lax evidential standards instead of employing rigorous evidential standards.

Atheist community requested to provide proof and evidence that atheism is true

The popular YouTube Christian Shockofgod asked for proof and evidence that atheism is true. When atheism is weighed on the proof and evidence scale, it lacks evidential weight that it is a valid worldview. Unlike Christianity, there is no proof and evidence that atheism is true.

The popular Christian YouTube Christian Shockofgod likened atheism to a clown due to its hypocritical and foolish evidential standards.[13] Shockofgod regularly asks the YouTube atheist community, "What proof and evidence do you have that atheism is accurate and correct?".

The YouTube atheist community became flustered and upset by his question.[14] Shockofgod declared concerning their reaction to his question: "The hostility I am getting over this question is unbelievable...It's like..picture this...Atheism is a clown and it didn't know it. And then I got the clown and I walked it over...I forced it to look itself in the mirror. And it sees itself in all its red hair, big nose, big shoes, polka dot glory."[15]

Atheism and extraordinary claims

Western Atheists often claim that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", yet they have no proof and evidence that the extraordinary claim of non-life becoming the first life solely through natural processes is true (See: Origin of life).[16][17][18]

Atheism and the unobservable by senses or instruments

Physicist Stephen Barr points out, “How ironic that, having renounced belief in God because God is not material or observable by sense or instrument, the atheist may be driven to postulate not one but an infinitude of unobservables in the material world itself.” See also: Multiverse and Dark matter and Dark energy

Selective application of naturalism

Although all atheists indicate that they do not believe in the existence of God/gods, a significant portion of atheists do not strictly subscribe to the philosophy of naturalism (see also: Atheism and the supernatural).

Atheism and miracles

See: Atheism and miracles

Atheists and the denial that Jesus existed

Christ on the Cross by Jacques Louis David.

See also: Historicity of Jesus and Atheists and historical illiteracy

Despite their being an abundance of historical evidence for Jesus Christ living in the first century, many atheists embarrassingly claim the Jesus never existed (see: Historicity of Jesus).

In an article entitled Scholarly opinions on the Jesus Myth, Christopher Price wrote concerning individuals who insist that Jesus Christ was merely a mythical figure:

I have often been asked why more academics do not take the time to respond to the Jesus Myth theory. After looking into this question, I discovered that most historians and New Testament scholars relevant to the topic have concluded that Jesus Mythers are beyond reason and therefore decide that they have better things to do with their time.[19]

Price also indicates:

In his book, I Believe in the Historical Jesus, Howard Marshall points out that in the early to mid 20th century, one of the few "authorities" to consider Jesus as a myth was a Soviet Encyclopaedia. He then goes on to discuss the work of GA Wells which was then recently published.
There is said to be a Russian encyclopaedia in current use which affirms in a brief entry that Jesus Christ was the mythological founder of Christianity, but it is virtually alone in doing so. The historian will not take its statement very seriously, since ... it offers no evidence for its assertion, and mere assertion cannot stand over against historical enquiry. But more than mere assertion is involved, for an attempt to show that Jesus never existed has been made in recent years by GA Wells, a Professor of German who has ventured into New Testament study and presents a case that the origins Christianity can be explained without assuming that Jesus really lived. Earlier presentations of similar views at the turn of the century failed to make any impression on scholarly opinion, and it is certain that this latest presentation of the case will not fare any better.

Professor Marshall was correct that neither any earlier attempt nor Wells have swayed scholarly opinion. This remains true whether the scholars were Christians, liberals, conservatives, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, or Catholic. And even GA Wells himself has now conceded that a real figure called Jesus lay behind some of the teaching contained in the synoptic Gospels.[19]

Atheists and selective use of academic consensus

See also: Atheist hypocrisy

An irony of atheists asserting that Jesus never existed is that atheists often appeal to the academic consensus when it comes to pseudoscience such evolution. And secular leftists often appeal to the academic consensus when engaging in global warming alarmism.

John Lennox's discussion with New Atheist Richard Dawkins about the historicity of Christ

John Lennox pointed out to New Atheist Richard Dawkins that Dawkins claimed in his book The God Delusion that Jesus may have never existed and that Dawkins errantly claimed that ancient historians have some disagreement on whether Jesus existed or not. After some additional discussion with Dawkins, Dawkins conceded that Jesus existed and said, "I take that back. Jesus existed".[20]

God of the gaps rebuttals

See also: God of the gaps and Rebuttals to atheist arguments

"God of the gaps" is a term used by atheists and scientists to disparage the belief that science cannot explain everything. Atheists argue that saying "God did it" as a response to every mystery is an ineffective argument. It should be noted that Gödel's incompleteness theorems has effectively established that science really can't explain everything; therefore, accusing believers of having a God of gaps is not in accordance with scientific principle.

Christian responses to unreasonable uses of the God of the gaps argument

Intelligent design response to the God of the gaps argument

Intelligent design (ID) is the empirically testable[21] theory that the natural world shows signs of having been designed by a purposeful, intelligent cause.[22] As Jonathan Wells wrote, "ID ... asserts only that some features of living things are better explained by an intelligent cause than by unguided processes." [23]

ID response to the God of the gaps argument

Evidential apologetics

See also: Evidential apologetics

Evidential apologetics is an approach in Christian apologetics which emphasizes the use of evidence to demonstrate that God exists and that there is compelling evidence to support Christianity and the Bible.

Within the discipline of Christian apologetics are various topics related to evidential apologetics:

Atheists, evidence and motives for disbelief

See also: Causes of atheism and Atheism and arrogance and Atheism quotes and Agnosticism quotes

The Christian apologist Tom Gilson, after citing cases where atheists hold to views without sufficient evidence, quotes the prominent atheist Thomas Nagel who declared:

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 believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.[24]

Gilson then quotes the agnostic Aldous Huxley who declared:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.[24]

For additional information, please see: Causes of atheism

See also

External links


  1. Multiple references:
  2. 2.0 2.1 Putting the Atheist on the Defensive by Kenneth R. Samples, Christian Research Institute Journal, Fall 1991, and Winter 1992, page 7.
  3. Day, Donn R. (2007). "Atheism - etymology".
  4. Definition of atheism by William Lane Craig
  5. Britain is a less religious country than the United States and the online Oxford Dictionaries offers both the narrow/broad definitions of atheism (As noted in a previous footnote the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which is a traditional American dictionary, offers a more narrow definition of atheism similar to the definition that major encyclopedias of philosophy use). Oxford Dictionaries: Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.[2]
  6. Atheism, Webster-Merriam dictionary
  7. Atheism, Oxford online dictionary
  8. Definition of atheism by William Lane Craig
  9. Herding Cats: Why atheism will lose by Francois Tremblay
  10. The atheist recants
  11. The New Atheists, Internet Enclopedia of Philisophy
  12. [Twelve Reasons Why I Never Argue With Internet Atheists] by Reverend Dwight Longnecker
  16. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
  17. Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence?
  18. William Lane Craig debunks the atheist's "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence?
  19. 19.0 19.1 Scholarly opinions on the Jesus Myth by Christopher Price
  20. Richard Dawkins admits Jesus existed
  21. "Dembski and Wells argue calmly and convincingly that intelligent design theory is empirically testable (in spite of Darwinists' shrill protests to the contrary) by indicating precisely what it would take to refute the theory, namely a clear demonstration that systems exhibiting irreducible complexity with specified complexity can in fact arise spontaneously by purely material processes" source: The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems - Amazon page
  22. An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences. ID Defined
  24. 24.0 24.1 'Atheism and Evidence: Self-Defense Against Belief? by Tom Gilson