Difference between revisions of "Atheism"

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(Atheism Quotes)
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*"A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." - Sir [[Francis Bacon]] <ref>http://www.notable-quotes.com/a/atheism_quotes.html</ref>
*"A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." - Sir [[Francis Bacon]] <ref>http://www.notable-quotes.com/a/atheism_quotes.html</ref>
*In his essay rebutting a work of atheist [[Jeffery Jay Lowder]] [[Christian apologetics|Christian apologist]] [[JP Holding]] wrote the following:  "...I find that there is no such thing as "reasonable nonbelief." The litany of excuses, wild speculations, and other absurdities ground out by skeptics and critics doesn't deserve the adjective "reasonable"."<ref>http://www.tektonics.org/lp/lowdstrob.html</ref>
*In his essay rebutting a work of atheist [[Jeffery Jay Lowder]] [[Christian apologetics|Christian apologist]] [[JP Holding]] wrote the following:  "...I find that there is no such thing as "reasonable nonbelief." The litany of excuses, wild speculations, and other absurdities ground out by skeptics and critics doesn't deserve the adjective "reasonable"."<ref>http://www.tektonics.org/lp/lowdstrob.html</ref>

Revision as of 16:18, 1 May 2008

An Atheist Symbol [1]

Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is the denial of the existence of God.[2][3] The atheistic worldview has a variety of effects on individuals and society at large which will be elaborated on shortly. In regards to individuals adopting an atheistic worldview, atheism has a number of causal factors that influence its origination in individuals which will be addressed. In addition, critiques of atheism will be offered and some of the historical events relating to atheism will also be covered.

Types of Atheism

There different types of atheism, based on different answers to the following questions:

  • What God or gods does the atheist deny?
  • Why does the atheist deny?
  • How does the atheist's denial manifest itself?

Which God or gods?

The Greek philosopher Socrates

Since atheism is denial of the existence of God or gods, it is important first to identify in which God and/or gods the atheist denies. In ancient times, for example, Christians were accused of being atheists because of their denial of the pagan gods, even though they believed in the Christian God.[4] Socrates was also accused of Atheism, although references to God run throughout his recorded statements.[5] Also, Albert Einstein and Baruch Spinoza professed belief in "God," but they defined "God" as the cosmos as a whole, and without personality.

Why do the atheists state they disbelieve?

Atheists claim there are two main reasons for their denial of the existence of God and/or disbelief in God: the conviction that there is positive evidence or argument that God does not exist (Strong atheism which is also sometimes called positive atheism), and their claim that theists bear the burden of proof to show that God exists, that they have failed to do so, and that belief is therefore unwarranted (Weak atheism).


There are three ways that atheism manifests itself:

  • Militant atheism which continues to suppress and oppress religious believers today especially in Communist countries.
  • Theoretical atheism: atheism of the mind -- that is, believing that God does not exist.
  • Practical atheism: atheism of the life - that is, living as though God does not exist. [6]

Attempts to Dilute the Definition of Atheism

Since 1979 proponents of atheism have often been attempting to dilute the definition of atheism to mean a mere lack of belief there is a God or gods.[7] One of the reasons why some proponents of atheism have been attempting to dilute the definition of the term atheism is to shift the burden of proof regarding the existence of God. [7]

In the article, Is Atheism Presumptuous?, atheist Jeffery Jay Lowder, a founder of Internet Infidels which is one of the principle websites for atheists, agnostics and skeptics on the internet, states that "I agree [with Copan] that anyone who claims, "God does not exist," must shoulder a burden of proof just as much as anyone who claims, "God exists." [7] In short, the attempt to redefine atheism is a merely an attempt to make no assertions so no facts need be offered.[7] The attempt to redefine atheism, however, is not in accordance with the standard definitions of atheism that encyclopedias of philosophy employ which is that atheism is a denial of the existence of God or gods.[8][9][7]

Biblical Statements Regarding Atheism

The psalmist David wrote: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"

The writers of the Bible considered the existence of God to be self-evident and Moses simply wrote: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1). [10]

Accordingly, the psalmist David wrote the following:

"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." - Psalms 14:1 (KJV)

The psalmist David also stated that "The heavens declare the glory of God..." - Psalms 19:1

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that the creation testifies to the existence of God when he wrote the following:

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse..." - Romans 1:19-20 (NKJV)

Tenuousness of Atheism in Prominent Atheist

The atheism of notable people who claimed to be atheists has had the characteristic of tenuousness in regards to maintaining thoughts in accordance with atheism. For example, Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the leading proponents of atheism of the 20th Century. Yet Jean-Paul Sartre made this candid confession:

As for me, I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator; and this idea of a creating hand that created me refers me back to God. Naturally this is not a clear, exact idea that I set in motion every time I think of myself. It contradicts many of my other ideas; but it is there, floating vaguely. And when I think of myself I often think rather in this way, for want of being able to think otherwise.[11]

Charles Darwin wrote in his private notebooks that he was a materialist which is a type of atheist.[12][13] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states the following:

In 1885, the Duke of Argyll recounted a conversation he had had with Charles Darwin the year before Darwin's death:

In the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the Fertilisation of Orchids, and upon The Earthworms, and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature—I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of Mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, “Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,” and he shook his head vaguely, adding, “it seems to go away.”(Argyll 1885, 244] [14]

Claims of the Conditionality and Nonconditionality of Atheism

Plato wrote that "Few men are so obstinate in their atheism, that a pressing danger will not compel them to the acknowledgment of a divine power."[15] Reverend William T. Cummings is famous for stating that "There are no atheists in foxholes."[16] Chaplain F.W. Lawson of the 302d Machine Gun Battalion, who was wounded twice in wartime, stated "I doubt if there is such a thing as an atheist. At least there isn't in a front line trench."[17] On he other hand, the news organization MSNBC featured a story in which atheist veterans claimed that there are atheists in foxholes.[18]

Atheism and Communism

Karl Marx said "[Religion] is the opium of the people," [19] and also wrote: "Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction." [20]

Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could."[21]

The theory of evolution played a prominent role in regards to atheistic communism.[22][23] Communists, in particular Stalinism, favored a version of Lamarckism called Lysenkoism developed by Trofim Denisovich Lysenko.[24]. Lsyenko was made member of the Supreme Soviet and head of the Institute of Genetics of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. [25] Later Lysenko became President of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences.[26] Many geneticists were imprisoned and executed for their bourgeois science, and agricultural policies based on Lysenkoism that were adopted under Stalin and Mao caused famines and the death of millions.[27].

The atheism in communist regimes has been and continues to be militant atheism and various acts of repression including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.[28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

In regards to atheism, North Korea is a repressive communist state and is officially atheistic.[35] The North Korean government practices brutal repression and atrocities against North Korean Christians.[36][37]

China is a communist country that is also officially atheistic.[38] In 1999, the publication Christian Century reported that "China has persecuted religious believers by means of "harassment, prolonged detention, and incarceration in prison or `reform-through-labor' camps and police closure of places of worship."[39] In 2003, owners of Bibles in China were sent to prison camps and 125 Chinese churches were closed.[40] China continues to practice religious oppression today.[41]


Arguments Against Atheism and For Theism

Anselm of Canterbury was the originator of the ontological argument

In regards to theism vs. atheism, theists often criticize atheism as being contrary to persuasive argument and have a number of arguments against atheism. Arguments for the existence of God include:

  • Teleological argument: The universe exhibits overwhelming evidence of deliberate, intelligent, purposeful design, which implies an intelligent designer
  • Cosmological argument: Every event in our universe necessarily has a cause. However, it is impossible that there should be an unending chain of causes going back. Therefore, there necessarily must be a cause distinct from the universe as we know it which is capable of causing all things and is itself uncaused. Atheism denies that that First Cause is God.
  • Ontological argument: Since existence is inherent to the definition of God, it is impossible to conceive of God without conceiving of Him as existing;
  • Historical arguments for the existence of God. For example, arguments stemming from historical accounts such as Christian historical apologetics and archaeological evidence such as Bible archaeology;
  • Experiential arguments for the existence of God: Arguments based on personal experience and human intuition. According to philosopher Alvin Plantinga belief in the existence of God exists is a "properly basic" belief and not based on inference from other beliefs but is rationally justified due to one's circumstances of immediate experience of God.[42]
  • Presuppositional Apologetics

Christian Apologetics Specifically Addressing the Issue of Atheism

In respect to atheism and Christianity, while there have been numerous notable books by Christian apologists addressing the various issues in regards to atheism and Christianity (Creation Science, Bible Archaeology, etc.) there also number of books that have addressed the general issue of atheism in relation to Christianity. A notable book of this type is Dr. Norm Geisler's and Frank Turek's book entitled I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.[43][44] In addition, two notable works were produced by Ravi Zacharias entitled A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism and Can Man Live Without God?[45] Also, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart coauthored a work entitled Understanding Secular Religions .[46] Lastly, Alister McGrath wrote a book entitled The Twilight of Atheism.[47]

Atheism and Mass Murder

Joseph Stalin's atheistic regime killed tens of millions of people.

In respect to atheism and mass murder, Christian apologist Gregory Koukl wrote that "the assertion is that religion has caused most of the killing and bloodshed in the world. There are people who make accusations and assertions that are empirically false. This is one of them."[48] Koukl details the number of people killed in various events involving theism and compares them to the much higher tens of millions of people killed under regimes which advocated atheism.[48]

Koukl summarized by stating:

It is true that it's possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the detail it produces evil because the individual people are actually living in a rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it can produce it, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We're talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God.[48]

Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was asked to account for the great tragedies that occurred under the brutal communist regime he and fellow citizens suffered under.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn stated the following in relation to atheism:

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

Since then I have spend well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." [49]

Atheists in America and Charity

In regards to atheism and uncharitableness, charitable giving by atheists and agnostics in America is significantly less than by theists, according to a study by the Barna Group:

The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults.[50]
Atheists and agnostics in America generally give significantly less to charity than theists.

Arthur C. Brooks wrote in Policy Review regarding data collected in the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS) (data collected by in 2000 by researchers at universities throughout the United States and the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research):

The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions.[51]

ABC News reported the following in respect to atheism:

...the single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is their religious participation.

Religious people are more likely to give to charity, and when they give, they give more money: four times as much. And Arthur Brooks told me that giving goes beyond their own religious organization:

"Actually, the truth is that they're giving to more than their churches," he says. "The religious Americans are more likely to give to every kind of cause and charity, including explicitly non-religious charities."[52]

Atheism and Immoral Views

In regards to atheism and morality, the Barna Group also found that those who hold to the worldviews of atheism or agnosticism in America were more likely, than theists in America, to look upon the following behaviors as morally acceptable: illegal drug use; excessive drinking; sexual relationships outside of marriage; abortion; cohabitating with someone of opposite sex outside of marriage; obscene language; gambling; pornography and obscene sexual behavior; and engaging in homosexuality/bisexuality. [53]

Dr. William Lane Craig states the following regarding the comments of debater Dr. Kai Nielson who advocates atheism:

He doesn’t really defend his point there, but he says, "I have a reason why we should be moral." He says, "It’s in our self-interest to be moral." I was really surprised to hear that coming from him. That sort of purely self-interested motivation for morality is, I think, fatal to the atheistic position because for someone who is sufficiently powerful not to be worried about what others do, self-interest can only lead to a sort of self-aggrandizing hedonism. It leads to the kind of life of a Marcos, a Papa Doc Duvalier, a Mbbutu, and so forth. Self-interest will never be able to justify an ethic of compassion. And so I think that was a fatal admission on Dr. Nielsen’s part for the atheistic worldview.[54]

Dr. Phil Fernandes states the following regarding atheism and moral relativism:

Nietzsche preached that a group of "supermen" must arise with the courage to create their own values through their "will to power." Nietzsche rejected the "soft" values of Christianity (brotherly love, turning the other cheek, charity, compassion, etc.); he felt they hindered man's creativity and potential....

Many other atheists agree with Nietzsche concerning moral relativism. British philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) once wrote, "Outside human desires there is no moral standard." A. J. Ayer believed that moral commands did not result from any objective standard above man. Instead, Ayer stated that moral commands merely express one's subjective feelings. When one says that murder is wrong, one is merely saying that he or she feels that murder is wrong. Jean-Paul Sartre, a French existentialist, believed that there is no objective meaning to life. Therefore, according to Sartre, man must create his own values.

There are many different ways that moral relativists attempt to determine what action should be taken. Hedonism is probably the most extreme. It declares that whatever brings the most pleasure is right. In other words, if it feels good, do it. If this position is true, then there is no basis from which to judge the actions of Adolph Hitler as being evil.[55]

Atheism and Miracles

In regards to atheism and miracles, modern scholars are divided on the issue of whether or not David Hume was an atheist.[56] With that caveat in mind, Hume is well known for arguing that it is always more probable that the testimony of a miracle is false than that the miracle occurred.[57] Christian apologists William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, C.S. Lewis, JP Holding, and others have shown the inadequacy and unreasonableness of Hume's position regarding miracles. [58][59][60][61][62] [63] [64]

Atheism and Questions of Origins

See Also: Atheism and Evolution

Atheism provides no useful input in regards to origins. Creationist scientists state that the first law of thermodynamics and the second law of thermodynamics argue against an eternal universe or a universe created by natural processes and argue for a universe created by God.[65][66][67] A majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism since World War II have had the worldview of atheism.[68][69] Creationist scientists correctly assert that the theory of evolution is an inadequate explanation for the variety of life forms on earth.[70] In addition, the current naturalistic explanations for the origin of life are inadequate.

Reasonable Explanations for Atheism

For More Information Please See: Causes of Atheism

There are a number of reasonable explanations for atheism:

  • Rebellion: Atheism stems from a deliberate choice to ignore the reality of God's existence[71]
  • Moral depravity: Moral depravity has been demonstrated in the atheist community through history and through various studies.[72][73][74][75] The Bible asserts that "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." (Psalms 14:1 (KJV)). The biblical fool is said to be lacking in sound judgment and the biblical fool is also associated with moral depravity. For example, the biblical book of Proverbs states: "A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated. The naive inherit foolishness, But the sensible are crowned with knowledge."(Proverbs 14:16-18 (NASB)). The book of Proverbs also has strong words regarding the depravity of biblical fools: "The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but [it is] abomination to fools to depart from evil." (Proverbs 13:9 (KJV)). Regarding the deceitfulness of fools Proverbs states: "The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, But the foolishness of fools is deceit." (Proverbs 14:8 (KJV)). Noted Bible commentator and clergyman Matthew Henry wrote regarding atheism: "A man that is endued with the powers of reason, by which he is capable of knowing, serving, glorifying, and enjoying his Maker, and yet lives without God in the world, is certainly the most despicable and the most miserable animal under the sun."[76]
Noted ex-atheist and psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz
  • Superficiality: Noted ex-atheist and psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz has stated that he had superficial reasons for becoming an atheist such as the desire to be accepted by his Stanford professors who were united in disbelief regarding God.[77]
  • Error: Some argue that atheism partly stems from a failure to fairly and judiciously consider the facts [78]
  • State churches: Rates of atheism are much higher in countries with a state sanctioned religion (such as many European countries), and lower in states without a sanctioned religion (such as the United States). Some argue this is because state churches become bloated, corrupt, and/or out of touch with the religious intuitions of the population, while churches independent of the state are leaner and more adaptable. It is important to distinguish "state-sanctioned churches," where participation is voluntary, from "state-mandated churches" (such as Saudi Arabia) with much lower atheism rates because publicly admitted atheism is punishable by death. [79]
  • Poor relationship with father: Some argue that a troubled/non-existent relationship with a father may influence one towards holding the position of atheism.[80] Dr. Paul Vitz wrote a book entitled Faith of the Fatherless in which he points out that after studying the lives of more than a dozen leading atheists he found that a large majority of them had a father who was present but weak, present but abusive, or absent.[81][82] Dr. Vitz also examined the lives of prominent theists who were contemporaneous to their atheist counterparts and from the same culture and in every instance these prominent theists had a good relationship with his father.[83] Dr. Vitz has also stated other common factors he observed in the leading atheists he profiled: they were all intelligent and arrogant.[84]
  • Division in religion: According to Francis Bacon, atheism is caused by "divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division addeth zeal to both sides, but many divisions introduce atheism." [85]
  • Learned times, peace, and prosperity: Francis Bacon argued that atheism was partly caused by "Learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men’s minds to religion."[86]

Atheism and the Existence of Evil

For More Information Please See: Atheism and the Problem of Evil

Those who advocate atheism commonly state that the existence of evil is a problem for theism which holds to a good and powerful God.[87] Theodicy is the branch of study in theology and philosophy that defends the goodness of God despite the existence of evil.[88] In traditional Christianity and Judaism the book of Job is used to explain the existence of evil.[89] In recent times Christian apologists often cite Alvin Plantinga's free will defense in regards to the existence of evil. [90][91]The work of St. Augustine is also cited in regards to theodicy. [92] Dr. Ron Rhodes of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministry states regarding this issue regarding the existence of evil in relation to atheism:

...it is impossible to distinguish evil from good unless one has an infinite reference point which is absolutely good. Otherwise one is like a boat at sea on a cloudy night without a compass (i.e., there would be no way to distinguish north from south without the absolute reference point of the compass needle).

The infinite reference point for distinguishing good from evil can only be found in the person of God, for God alone can exhaust the definition of "absolutely good." If God does not exist, then there are no moral absolutes by which one has the right to judge something (or someone) as being evil. More specifically, if God does not exist, there is no ultimate basis to judge the crimes of Hitler. Seen in this light, the reality of evil actually requires the existence of God, rather than disproving it.[93]

Atheism and the Foundation of Modern Science

In his essay Of Atheism Sir Francis Bacon wrote: "I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind."

The birth of modern science occurred in Christianized Europe.[94] Sociologist Rodney Stark investigated the individuals who made the most significant scientific contributions between 1543 and 1680 A.D., the time of the Scientific Revolution. In Stark's list of 52 top scientific contributors,[95] only one (Edmund Halley) was a skeptic and another (Paracelsus) was a pantheist. The other 50 were Christians, 30 of whom could be characterized as being devout Christians.[95] Sir Francis Bacon, sometimes referred to as "the Father of Modern Science", wrote in his essay entitled Of Atheism the following: "I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind."[96]

‎In False conflict: Christianity is not only compatible with Science--it created it Stark writes in relation to atheism the following:

Recent historical research has debunked the idea of a "Dark Ages" after the "fall" of Rome. In fact, this was an era of profound and rapid technological progress, by the end of which Europe had surpassed the rest of the world. Moreover, the so-called "Scientific Revolution" of the sixteenth century was a result of developments begun by religious scholars starting in the eleventh century. In my own academic research I have asked why these religious scholastics were interested in science at all. Why did science develop in Europe at this time? Why did it not develop anywhere else? I find answers to those questions in unique features of Christian theology.

Even in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the leading scientific figures were overwhelmingly devout Christians who believed it their duty to comprehend God's handiwork. My studies show that the "Enlightenment" was conceived initially as a propaganda ploy by militant atheists attempting to claim credit for the rise of science. The falsehood that science required the defeat of religion was proclaimed by self-appointed cheerleaders like Voltaire, Diderot, and Gibbon, who themselves played no part in the scientific enterprise......[97]

Dr. Charles Thaxton states in relation to atheism the following:

P. E. Hodgson in reviewing Stanley Jaki's Science and Creation said: "Although we seldom recognize it, scientific research requires certain basic beliefs about the order and rationality of matter, and its accessibility to the human mind . . . they came to us in their full force through the Judeo-Christian belief in an omnipotent God, creator and sustainer of all things. In such a world view it becomes sensible to try and understand the world, and this is the fundamental reason science developed as it did in the Middle Ages in Christian Europe, culminating in the brilliant achievements of the seventeenth century."[98]

Atheism and Debate

Although atheists claim there are reasonable arguments for atheism, the quality of atheist debate has been quite poor from the proponents of atheism. Below are some examples which demonstrate the unreasonableness of atheist debaters.

Doug Jesseph

In October of 1997, atheist Jeffrey Jay Lowder, a founder of Internet Infidels, stated that he believed that in regards to atheism "the most impressive debater to date" was Doug Jesseph.[99] Yet Doug Jesseph claimed in a debate with William Lane Craig in 1996 that the origin of life had a detailed atheistic explanation(s).[100] In 1996, John Horgan wrote the following regarding what the highly respected origin of life researcher Stanley Miller believed to the case regarding naturalistic explanations of the origin of life: "Miller seemed unimpressed with any of the current proposals on the origin of life, referring to them as “nonsense” or “paper chemistry.”"[101] In addition, in 1996, John Horgan wrote the following in Scientific American: "The origin of life is a science writer's dream. It abounds with exotic scientists and exotic theories, which are never entirely abandoned or accepted, but merely go in and out of fashion."[102]

Gordon Stein

Dr. Greg Bahnsen became known as the man atheists fear most" due to Michael Martin's cancellation of their scheduled debate.

In 1985, Christian apologist Dr. Greg Bahnsen and prominent proponent of atheism Gordon Stein had a debate at the University of California, Irvine regarding the positions of atheism and theism. John Frame wrote regarding the debate in which Dr. Bahnsen used the transcendental argument for the existence of God that "In the end, Stein walked and talked like a broken man."[103] The Greg Bahnsen-Gordon Stein debate was recorded and transcribed and was dubbed "The Great Debate".[104][105]

Greg Bahnsen and Michael Martin

Dr. Greg Bahnsen became known as the "man atheists fear most".[106] This is because Harvard-educated Dr. Michael Martin was scheduled to debate Bahnsen but pulled out of the debate at the "eleventh hour". A press release at the time said that Dr. Martin offered ruses on why he pulled out and didn't want the scheduled debate recorded but the real reason was that "...Michael Martin is afraid that he will be publicly humiliated just as his friend and fellow atheist, Dr. Gordon Stein, was..."[107]

Martin later released his transcendental argument for the non-existence of God (TANG) in 1996 which was rebutted by Christian apologists.[108]

Creation Scientists tend to win creation-evolution debates

As noted earlier, a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the naturalistic evolutionary position since World War II have been holders of the world view of atheism.[109][110] Creation scientists tend to win the Creation-Evolution debates and many debates have been held since the 1970's particularly in the United States.

Notable Incidences of Atheists Converting to Theism

Ex-atheist Lee Strobel

In respect to the issue of ex-atheists there have been some notable incidences of atheists converting to theism. Lee Strobel converted from atheism to Christianity and then became a Christian apologist. [111] Before investigating the claims of Christianity Strobel had obtained a undergraduate degree in journalism and also obtained a law degree from Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School. Strobel was an award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune also won Illinois’ top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International.[112] After a nearly a two year investigation of the evidence for Christianity Strobel became a Christian.[113]

C.S. Lewis abandoned his atheism and became a Christian and he was very much influenced by the writings of George MacDonald and G. K. Chesterton.[114] In Surprised by Joy Lewis says: "In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous."[115]

British philosopher Anthony Flew abandoned atheism and became an deist after as a result of the intelligent design issue. According to the news organization MSNBC, Flew became a deist because he believed a super-intelligence was the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.[116] In 2006, Flew and 12 prominent academics urged that intelligent design be taught in British government schools.[117]

The work of ex-atheist and psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz is often cited in regards to atheism. As alluded to earlier, Dr. Vitz wrote the work Faith of the Fatherless.

Atheism and its Decline as a Theoretical Position

According to Munich theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg "Atheism as a theoretical position is in decline worldwide."[118] Oxford scholar Alister McGrath agrees and has stated that atheism's "future seems increasingly to lie in the private beliefs of individuals rather than in the great public domain it once regarded as its habitat."[119]

Views on Atheists

In regards to various views on atheists, research in the American Sociological Review finds that among several groups listed, those who hold the position of atheism are the group that Americans relate least to in terms of their vision of American society and are the group most likely to be mentioned as one that Americans would not want to have marry into their family. [120]

Position: This group does not at all agree with
my vision of American society:
I would disapprove if my child wanted
to marry a member of this group:
Atheist 39.6% 47.6%
Muslim 26.3% 33.5%
Homosexual 22.6% NA
Conservative Christian 13.5% 6.9%
Recent Immigrant 12.5% Not Asked
Hispanic 7.6% 18.5%
Jew 7.4% 11.8%
Asian American 7.0% 18.5%
African American 4.6% 27.2%
White American 2.2% 2.3%

Brights Movement

File:Richard Dawkins.jpg
Richard Dawkins is listed as an enthusiastic bright by the Brights Movement website.

The Brights Movement was started in 2003 by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell in 2003 in order to assist in the advocacy of a naturalistic worldview.[121][122] The Brights movement had a media campaign and was announced in Wired magazine (by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins), Free Inquiry (by Richard Dawkins), and on the New York Times op-ed page (by the philosopher and atheist Daniel Dennett).[123] However, according to a 2004 Skeptical Enquirer article the movement the "Brights label reinforced a longstanding stereotype. Atheists already have a terrible rap for being coldhearted rationalists who attend Mensa gatherings and dismiss religious believers as simple-minded fools."[124] In October of 2003 in a article in the Guardian Dawkins associated being a "bright" with being an intellectual.[125]

Chris Mooney wrote in his Skeptical Enquirer article the following:

..a recent attack on the Brights movement in The Wall Street Journal by the conservative thinker Dinesh D'Souza confirms my worst fears (D'Souza 2003). The article blithely ignores a key caveat that the Brights defenders have explicitly laid out-namely, that the label isn't meant to suggest that religious doubters are smarter than everyone else. But I actually think this misrepresentation ought to be blamed more on Dennett, Dawkins, and the original founders than on D'Souza--for reasons I will explain.

In his original New York Times op-ed announcing the Brights label, Dennett wrote, "Don't confuse the noun with the adjective: 'I'm a Bright' is not a boast but a proud avowal of an inquisitive world view." That's certainly nice in principle. But who did Dennett think he was kidding? How could anyone hear the label Bright and think anything but that atheists were claiming to be smarter than everyone else? As ABC commentator John Allen Paulos remarked of the Brights campaign, "I don't think a degree in public relations is needed to expect that many people will construe the term as smug, ridiculous, and arrogant" (Paulos 2003).[126]

New Atheism

Dissent Magazine stated the following regarding the "New Atheism":

A number of prominent authors and scientists have published books in the past year that advocate a "New Atheism." The books, which include Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchen's God is Not Great, have sparked considerable public controversy across the political spectrum.[127]

Dr. Alfred Mohler Jr. describes some of the key attributes of the "New Atheism":

Now, WIRED magazine comes out with a cover story on atheism for its November 2006 issue. In "The New Atheism," WIRED contributing editor Gary Wolf explains that this newly assertive form of atheism declares a very simple message: "No heaven. No hell. Just science."...

Wolf accomplishes a great deal in his article, thoughtfully introducing the work of militant atheists such as Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett. At the same time, he probes more deeply into the actual meaning of the New Atheism as a movement and a message.

At the beginning of his article, he gets right to the point: "The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it's evil. Now that the battle has been joined, there's no excuse for shirking."[128]

Impact of the New Atheism

The "New Atheism" has not had much of an impact in terms of gaining new adherents to atheism. In a March 10, 2008 USA Today article Stephen Prothero stated the following regarding the impact of the "New Atheism":

Numbers lie, but they also tell tales untrustworthy and otherwise. So the key question stirring around the much discussed U.S Religious Landscape Survey released in late February by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is what tale does it state about the state of the union.

For some, the story of this survey, based on interviews in multiple languages with more than 35,000 adults, is the strength of American Religion.

Not too long ago, I wrote that American atheism was going the way of the freak show. As books by Christopher Hitchens and other "new atheists" climbed the best seller lists, I caught a lot of flak for that prophecy. But atheist make up only 1.6% of respondents to this survey....[129]

A prime reason for the ineffectiveness of the "New Atheism" is the shallowness of its material. For example, even atheist philosopher Michael Ruse stated that that Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion made him "embarrassed to be an atheist".[130]

The "New Atheism" largely has a unfavorable view outside the United States as well. The liberal leaning British publication the Guardian stated the following regarding the "New Atheism":

Anti-faith proselytising is a growth industry. But its increasingly hysterical flag-bearers are heading for a spectacular failure...

These increasingly hysterical books may boost the pension, they may be morale boosters for a particular kind of American atheism that feels victimised - the latest candidate in a flourishing American tradition - but one suspects that they are going to do very little to challenge the appeal of a phenomenon they loathe too much to understand.[131]

Atheism and the Bible

In respect to atheism and the Bible, atheists and skeptics have been disputing the reliability of the Bible for centuries. Christian apologist JP Holding rightly states that Bible exegesis and Bible exposition is a multi-disciplinary pursuit and often critics of the Bible have not done a fraction of the due diligence required when making a allegation regarding the Bible. JP Holding states the following:

Having now been engaged in apologetics for eight years actively and more years than that on the side, I have long since come to a conclusion that I have shared with others, but will now present in a systematic form here for the first time. My conclusion is a warning that is appropriate for any new readers (hence I link this article from my front page) and will be familiar to veteran ones.

I'll sum it up to begin: Whenever you run across any person who criticizes the Bible, claims findings of contradiction or error -- they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have to earn it from you. Here's why.

It doesn't take very long to realize that a thorough understanding of the Bible -- and this would actually apply to any complex work from any culture -- requires specialized knowledge, and a broad range of specialized knowledge in a variety of fields....

Not even most scholars in the field can master every aspect -- what then of the non-specialist critic who puts together a website in his spare time titled 1001 Irrifutible Bible Contradictions? Do these persons deserves our attention? Should they be recognized as authorities? No, they deserve calculated contempt for their efforts. (By this, I do not mean emotional or behavioral contempt, but a calculated disregard for their work from an academic perspective.) They have not even come close to deserving our attention, and should feed only itching ears with similar tastes.[132]

Christian theologian and apologist Bernard Ramm wrote regarding the Bible and its critics the following in his often cited work Protestant Christian Evidences:

A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.

No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles lettres of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet?

The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions.[133]

In regards to the proponents of atheism, Christian apologists have responded to their various claims that the Bible contains errors or contradictions.[134][135][136][137]

Internet Infidels

As mentioned previously Internet Infidels (also known as the Secular Web) is one of the principle websites for those who advocate atheism, agnostics and skeptics on the internet. Christian apologist JP Holding has stated regarding the website Internet Infidels the following: "The Secular Web has a few intelligent people, but overall has long been a haven for every skeptical know-it-all to pronounce judgments upon matters outside of their expertise."[138] Although JP Holding has written rebutals of the more well known members of the skeptical community such as David Hume[139], Friedrich Nietzsche[140] and G.A. Wells[141][142], Holding has also written rebuttals of lesser well known members of the secular community who publish and/or are featured on Internet Infidels such as:

Atheism in Academia

In 2001 atheist and philosopher Quentin Smith stated the following in respect to atheism:

Naturalists [atheists] passively watched as realist versions of theism … began to sweep through the philosophical community, until today perhaps one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors are theists, with most being orthodox Christians…. God is not 'dead' in academia; he returned to life in the 1960's and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments."[151]

Denials That Atheists Exist

Some have asserted that atheists do not exist. In regards to a biblical statement on atheism Sir Francis Bacon stated in his essay Of Atheism the following regarding atheism:

The Scripture saith, The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God; it is not said, The fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith it, by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it....It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip, than in the heart of man.[152]

In addition, Christian philosophers and apologists Dr. Cornelius Van Til and Dr. Greg Bahnsen argued there are no atheists and that atheists are actively suppressing their belief and knowledge of God and enigmatically engage in self-deception.[153] The English poet Edward Young wrote in his famous work Night Thoughts that "By night, an atheist half-believes a God."[154]

The Christian Cyclopedia states regarding the atheism the following:

It is not possible for a man to be an atheist, in the commonly accepted sense, in his innermost conviction. No amount of reasoning will erase from the human heart the God-given conviction that there is a Supreme Being; those who theoretically deny God's existence replace Him with something else.[155]

Atheist population as a percentage of various countries' populations

For more information please see: Atheist Population

In regards to the atheist population as a percentage of various countries' populations, specific research on atheists conducted in 2006 suggests that the true proportion of atheists is 4% in the United States, 17% in Great Britain and 32% in France. A survey published in the 2005 Encyclopedia Britannica stated that 2.3% of the world's population consists of individuals who profess "atheism, skepticism, disbelief, or irreligion, including the militantly antireligious."[156] In regards to the 2.3% figure just mentioned, the 2005 survey cited by Encyclopedia Britannica survey did not include Buddhist in regards to the 2.3% figure and Buddhism can be theistic or atheistic.[157][158]

Other Well Known Proponents of Atheism

Prominent holders of the position of atheism and atheist schools of thought have been or include:

Atheism Quotes

For more atheism quotes please see: Atheism Quotes

  • "Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the Earth at the right distance from the Sun to receive proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance." - Sir Isaac Newton[159]

  • "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily. Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors." - Sir Isaac Newton[160]

  • "Atheism is a disease of the soul before it becomes an error of understanding." - Plato[162]

  • "Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman." - Francis Thomson[163]

  • "The atheists are for the most part imprudent and misguided scholars who reason badly who, not being able to understand the Creation, the origin of evil, and other difficulties, have recourse to the hypothesis the eternity of things and of inevitability." - Voltaire[164]

  • "Atheists put on false courage and alcacrity in the midst of their darkness and aprehensions, like children who, when they fear to go in the dark, will sing for fear." - Alexander Pope [165]

  • "An atheist’s most embarrassing moment is when he feels profoundly thankful for something,but can’t think of anyone to thank for it." - Mary Anne Vincent [166]

  • "Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist there is no God." - Heywood Broun

  • "Atheism is a crutch for those who cannot bear the reality of God." - Tom Stoppard[168]

  • "I gave in, and admitted that God was God." - ex-atheist C.S. Lewis, On relinquishing atheism at age 31 in 1929[169]

  • "A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." - Sir Francis Bacon [170]

  • In his essay rebutting a work of atheist Jeffery Jay Lowder Christian apologist JP Holding wrote the following: "...I find that there is no such thing as "reasonable nonbelief." The litany of excuses, wild speculations, and other absurdities ground out by skeptics and critics doesn't deserve the adjective "reasonable"."[171]

  • "To be an atheist requires an indefinitely greater measure of faith than to recieve all the great truths which atheism would deny." - Joseph Addison, The Spectator, Mar. 8, 1711 [173]

  • "It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist. Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves. We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love. Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is a part of an unending plan." - Calvin Coolidge, speech, Jul. 25, 1924 [174]

  • "Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been its drastic un-interestingness as an intellectual position. Where was the ingenuity, the ambiguity, the humanity of saying that the universe just happened to happen and that when we're dead we're dead?" - John Updike [175]

  • "God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it." - Sir Francis Bacon [176]

  • "The habit of arguing in support of atheism, whether it be done from conviction or in pretense, is a wicked and impious practice." - Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 B.C.), Roman orator, philosopher, statesman[177]

  • "How to trap an atheist: Serve him a fine meal, then ask him if he believes there is a cook." — Source Unknown [178]

  • "I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up . . . they have no holidays." - Henny Youngman[179]

See Also

Online Videos Regarding Atheism

External links


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  5. Plato, Apol., 26,c.
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  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/athart3.htm
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  162. http://en.thinkexist.com/quotation/atheism_is_a_disease_of_the_soul-before_it/166811.html
  163. http://www.afcministry.com/Atheism_Examined.htm
  164. http://history.hanover.edu/texts/voltaire/volathe2.html
  165. http://books.google.com/books?id=cs4eAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA383&lpg=PA383&dq=atheists+and+%22alexander+pope%22+and+%22false+courage%22&source=web&ots=Fx7SL7Z7UB&sig=mYdRm6hkdBkmsF_uJW9mPv3JRhE
  166. http://www.weeks-g.dircon.co.uk/quotes_by_author_uv.htm
  167. http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/atheism/
  168. http://www.tentmaker.org/Quotes/atheismquotes.htm
  169. http://www.bartleby.com/63/95/4195.html
  170. http://www.notable-quotes.com/a/atheism_quotes.html
  171. http://www.tektonics.org/lp/lowdstrob.html
  172. http://forthardknox.com/2007/06/02/the-10-best-quotes-to-counter-an-atheist/
  173. http://www.notable-quotes.com/a/atheism_quotes.html
  174. http://www.notable-quotes.com/a/atheism_quotes.html
  175. http://www.just-quotes.com/atheism_quotes.html
  176. http://www.just-quotes.com/atheism_quotes.html
  177. http://www.bartleby.com/66/50/12450.html
  178. http://forthardknox.com/2007/06/02/the-10-best-quotes-to-counter-an-atheist/
  179. http://www.bartleby.com/63/79/4779.html