My main thesis is to judge the statements made by these two belief systems by the same logical rules that apply to all statements made about reality. When a statement is made (i.e., “God does not exist”) about the nature of reality it is in effect stating itself to be true over other definitions about reality (i.e., “God exists”). Obviously both cannot be true at the same time, and both must stand under its own weight. What I mean to say is that when making a statement, that statement cannot self-refute itself; otherwise it would logically be incoherent. The law of non-contradiction is simply this: “‘A’ cannot be both ‘non-A’ and ‘A’ at the same time.” In the words of professor J. P. Moreland (Ph.D.,
- “When a statement fails to satisfy itself (i.e., to conform to its own criteria of validity or acceptability), it is self-refuting…. Consider some examples. ‘I cannot say a word in English’ is self-refuting when uttered in English. ‘I do not exist’ is self-refuting, for one must exist to utter it. The claim ‘there are no truths’ is self-refuting. If it is false, then it is false. But is it is true, then it is false as well, for in that case there would be no truths, including the statement itself.”
I wish to give an example taken from pantheism that shows how this relates to our experience. According to pantheism, there is no reality except the all-encompassing God. Everything else, meaning material things (i.e., train, floor mat, your arm, etc.), is an illusion (maya). This however is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting. If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions. There’s a real problem here. As Norman Geisler (Ph.D., Loyola University of Chicago) pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist.” When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite. The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition. It is an untruth by definition.
This same problem applies to atheism and agnosticism, as will be shown later. Atheism also involves a logical fallacy known as a universal negative. There are numerous logical problems inherent in the atheists belief system, one will be quickly considered here. The declaration, “There is no God,” for instance, is unfounded. I realize that only some atheists explicitly state that there is no God, however, all atheists believe it. Logically speaking (the rules that govern logical and coherent thought) this assertion cannot be defended by any from the atheistic position.
Observe the irrationality of the atheistic premise. The only way for the atheist to be absolutely certain that there is no God is for the atheist to know everything about reality. In order to maintain the premise, “there is no God,” the atheist must have total knowledge of all reality. He must know all facts and realities of existence. This would imply that an atheist must have a knowledge which only God could posses. He must posses infinite knowledge throughout time, be everywhere at the same time and be absolutely sure of everything. Theirs is not a statement made on facts (i.e., observation), since one would actually have to be God to claim this. Such a statement is based only on assumption or faith, not on the facts. Herein lies the dilemma, as Ron Rhodes (Th.D. & Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary) makes so clear:
Some atheists categorically state that there is no God, and all atheists, by definition, believe it. And yet, this assertion is logically indefensible. A person would have to be omniscient and omnipresent to be able to say from his own pool of knowledge that there is no God. Only someone who is capable of being in all places at the same time - with a perfect knowledge of all that is in the universe - can make such a statement based on the facts. To put it another way, a person would have to be God in order to say there is no God. This point can be forcefully emphasized by asking the atheist if he has ever visited the Library of Congress in
Mention that the library presently contains over 70 million items (books, magazines, journals, etc.). Also point out that hundreds of thousands of these were written by scholars and specialists in the various academic fields. Then ask the following question: “What percentage of the collective knowledge recorded in the volumes in this library would you say are within your own pool of knowledge and experience?” The atheist will likely respond, “I don't know. I guess a fraction of one percent.” You can then ask: “Do you think it is logically possible that God may exist in the 99.9 percent that is outside your pool of knowledge and experience?” Even if the atheist refuses to admit the possibility, you have made your point and he knows it. Washington D.C.
This does not mean that everyone will accept the evidence or this argument; however, to reject it is to reject formal logic and the rules of thought. By doing so, one would undermine his or her own argument from which their position is starting from, that is, reason. Philosopher William Lane Craig (Ph.D.,
- Premise 1: The statement “God does not exist” is a universal negative;
- Premise 2: But in principle it is impossible to prove a universal negative;
- Conclusion: Therefore atheism is false.
Atheism falls into the category of what logicians call “self-refuting statements.” In reality the atheist must be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, in which case the atheist must become God in order to prove there is no God. In fact, he has to become the very God he is seeking to disprove. But the atheist says there is no God, so how could he argue his position? There is no way by which he could defend his case. Consider the analogy: In order for me to affirm that there is no pin in your room, I must examine every space in your room. Then I could conclude there is no pin in your room. It would be meaningless to assert there is no pin in your room when I only have a limited knowledge of your room.
No one knows enough to be an atheist; therefore, there is no logical ground to claim such! Atheism, then, is logically impossible! An honest atheist must admit he is wrong and become an agnostic. The basis by which the atheist proclaims his faith is empty and he or she has no foundation, rationality, or epistemology for his denial of God. The atheist is committed to a set of beliefs, which makes the atheist – by faith – believe atheism to be true. He offers no evidence for his beliefs but merely imagines that there is no God, only because God is outside of his frame of thinking. The atheist mind-set is adequately illustrated in an analogy employed by the famous scientist Sir Arthur Eddington.
He spoke of a fisherman who argued from his experience with a particular net, “no creature of the sea is less than two inches long.” The people did not believe it: they affirmed that a great number of sea creatures were shorter than two inches and simply slipped through the holes in his net. But the fisherman was unconvinced, he simply insisted, “what my net can’t catch ain’t fish,” and went on accusing his opponents of having a pre-scientific, medieval, and metaphysical bias. He confines God to a particular point of reference and defines him out of existence. The net which the atheist habitually uses is hopelessly deficient – what I cannot see does not exist. Whatever does not fit into his view of reality (naturalism – the reductionist view which insists that all reality is just matter and excludes the supernatural) is meaningless. His blind faith in naturalism will not allow anything supernatural, transcendent, and metaphysical, thus subverting the question before it is asked.
A clear example of this appeared in the classic debate between Bertrand Russell and Frederick Copleston. Russell, arguing from a naturalistic base, insisted that God was a meaningless proposition outside empirical verification. Copleston gave a fitting response that merits our attention:
“The proposition that metaphysical terms are meaningless seems to me to be a proposition based on an assumed philosophy. The dogmatic position behind it seems to be this: ‘What will not go into my machine is non-existent, or it is meaningless.’”
The atheist in reality is engaged in explaining and defining God out of existence. The atheist (or, philosophical naturalist) cannot allow the possibility of a theistic world, the existence of God is ruled out a priori, and any discussion about his being, nature or behavior is futile; in other words, the naturalist (atheist) pronounces the answer before he asks the question. I will illustrate with a mock conversation between a science professor and a student:
Professor: “Miracles are impossible Sean, don’t you know science has disproven them, how could you believe in them [i.e., answered prayer, a man being raised from the dead, etc.].”
Student: “for clarity purposes I wish to get some definitions straight. Would it be fair to say that science is generally defined as ‘the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us’?”
Professor: “Beautifully put, that is the basic definition of science in every text-book I read through my Doctoral journey.”
Student: “Wouldn’t you also say that a good definition of a miracle would be ‘an event in nature caused by something outside of nature’?”
Professor: “Yes, that would be an acceptable definition of ‘miracle.’”
So an honest “atheist” would realize that his position is philosophical / presuppositional one, and not rationally nor logically defensible. Plato was right, “atheism is a disease of the soul before it is an error of the mind.” Another syllogistic example is in order before we go on to deal with agnosticism. The atheist can be shown that his starting point – presupposition – interferes with how he views evidence; much like the above example, biased philosophy is the guiding force rather than systematic investigation:
Premise: Since there is no God,
Conclusion: all theistic proofs are invalid.
Premise: Since the theistic proofs are invalid,
What about agnosticism, does the belief that one cannot ultimately know anything about God hold up to rational and logical thought? Before going any further, I should define the two different types of agnostics:
Agnosticism: The state of not-knowing whether there is a God or not. The humble [soft] agnostic says that he doesn’t know whether there is a God. The less humble [hard] agnostic says that you don’t either… [and] thinks that we can’t ever really know.
I am mainly dealing here with the “hard” agnostic. The “soft” agnostic is open to receiving information about God from others and then tests these claims by the rules and science of logic, history, and experience. An example that bears striking similarities to the “hard” agnostic is that of a conversation between a teacher and her student:
The hard agnostic dismisses the argument even before hearing it. This type of agnosticism is refuted by the associate professor of philosophy and government at the
“To say that we cannot know anything about God is to say something about God; it is to say that if there is a God, he is unknowable. But in that case, he is not entirely unknowable, for the agnostic certainly thinks that we can know one thing about him: That nothing else can be known about him. Unfortunately, the position that we can know exactly one thing about God – his unknowability in all respects except this – is equally unsupportable, for why should this one thing be an exception? How could we know that any possible God would be of such a nature that nothing else could be known about him? On what basis could we rule out his knowability in all other respects but this one? The very attempt to justify the claim confutes it, for the agnostic would have to know a great many things about God in order to know he that couldn’t know anything else about him.”
Agnostics basically claim that nothing can be known about reality (or, Reality). Norman Geisler points out that “in its ultimate form [agnosticism] claims that all knowledge about reality (i.e., truth) is impossible. But this itself is offered as a truth about reality.” Atheism and agnosticism are basically stating that, “God does not exist because his existence threatens my worldview.” That’s all it says! Nietzsche, however, predicted that someday people would realize the implications of their atheism; and this realization would usher in the age of nihilism – the destruction of all meaning and value in life. We are in an age where people assign their own reality to the universe and their life, thus destroying all meaning and value in life. This subjective assigning of “reality” doesn’t magically give the universe or a life meaning, value or context. For one person can believe it to be one way (their reality) and another can believe the opposite (another reality). This being the case then, one isn’t confronted with an argument against atheism more so than with the reality of its outcome.
We have seen that the truth claims of atheism cannot be proven. The simple fact of the matter is that atheism is a faith, which draws conclusions that go beyond the available evidence. And if true, is a “life [that] is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” ~ Macbeth. Or as Sartre put it, atheism is “…a cruel, long-term business…” The antithesis, then, would be a universe and a life full of meaning, hope and context. Which is by default – theism.
Why I Am Not An Atheist
As a worldview, atheism must justify itself intellectually just like any other worldview. It makes various statements about the universe, man and God, which it expects us to accept as the truth. These assertions must pass the same tests for truth that judge any and all such assertions. Atheism is thus not exempt from having to prove its truth claims.
The creed of atheism is as follows:
In the entire universe,
there has never been in the past,
there is not now in the present, and
there will never be in the future,
any god, gods or goddesses
of any size, shape or description.
We will now examine the creed of atheism to see if it passes the tests of truth.
1. The first question is this: Is the creed of atheism logically valid or invalid? If it is invalid according to the laws of logic, then it is irrational and unacceptable to the educated mind.
The atheist’s creed clearly violates the laws of logic and is thus irrational in nature.
A. According to the laws of logic, it is impossible to prove a universal negative. When an atheist makes the assertion, “There is no god anywhere at any time,” he is making a universal negative which he cannot prove. Since he cannot prove or demonstrate his assertion, he is being irrational.
B. The second logical problem is that the only way he could prove his assertion that there is no god is to become God.
1. He would have to be everywhere in the universe at the same time, i.e. he would have to be omnipresent and infinite.
2. He would have to travel throughout the past, the present and the future at the same time, i.e. he would have to be eternal.
3. He would have to know all things, i.e. he would have to be omniscient.
4. In order to be infinite, omnipresent, eternal and omniscient, he would also have to be omnipotent.
C. Thirdly, if only an infinite and eternal God can logically say there is no infinite and eternal God, this itself would be a self-contradictory statement and, hence, irrational.
 Questions? You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
 From an online article found at: http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Atheism.html
 From an online article found at: http://www.faithdefenders.com/sermons/hu4.html