Over at the Huffington Post, blogger Staks Rosch wrote an article on “5 Pretty Good Reasons to be an Atheist”. I thought he’d actually list some compelling reasons, but instead he presented faith-based statements that assume God doesn’t exist. He then uses his atheistic worldview to poke holes in strawman arguments, and refrains from presenting any substantive argument.
Here’s his basic list:
1: The Bible is ridiculous.
2: We don’t need no stinkin’ deities.
3: The Problem of Evil
4: Oh, Hell!
5: You just don’t know.
Firstly he states a personal opinion that neither I, nor 2.2 billion other Christians (according to some estimates) agree with. Secondly he makes an uninformed claim that assumes he doesn’t have a soul in need of being redeemed. Thirdly he assumes there is a problem of evil. Fourthly he expresses his disdain for the concept of hell and assumes it’s a man-made idea. And fifthly he assumes there’s no valid or compelling evidence for the existence of God without examining all the evidence.
I’ll start by addressing the first two arguments in this post, and then tackle the other arguments in a separate post to keep from getting too lengthy.
His first argument- that the Bible is ridiculous- is based upon incredulity, personal opinion, and whether or not a television producer would include it in their mini-series. He simply can’t believe that people were raised to life when Jesus died (Matthew 27:50-53), or that God would send a bear to maul 42 children for calling a guy “bald” (2 Kings 2:23-24). But just because he disapproves of these events and finds them unbelievable or disturbing doesn’t make them untrue. His argument hangs on a thread of assumptions and a worldview in which God doesn’t exist and miracles don’t happen- but even if miracles do occur, these are miracles he disapproves of, and his personal expectation of what a god should be would never allow such things to happen. However I have no problem accepting any of these miracles. I believe God does exist and that these are historic events that have been recorded in the Bible. I accept how God has described himself, and I don’t impose my standards upon God. If God does exist, then we can’t dictate how he should behave and act- as if he were a genie we could control and manipulate. Further, Rosch implies that, if God does exist and performed these miracles, then he expects a detailed explanation and demands that God justify his actions. It’s as if Rosch has put God on trial and has condemned him for not providing an acceptable answer. Rosch is making himself to be the authority over God’s existence rather than accepting God as sovereign. And that’s not a reason to be an atheist.
Rosch also makes the ridiculous argument that, because he finds the Bible boring, this is another reason to be an atheist. But since when has boredom been a determinant of truth? Aren’t many students bored when they have to read science and history text books in school? Does that mean that all the information in the science book is false just because they’re bored? And if you read a book and find it boring does that make it untrue? Of course not! But even though some of the passages of the Bible may be “boring”, not all passages are. Many passages provide truth, interest, hope, encouragement, wisdom and knowledge.
I could also state that since I find Charles Darwin’s book, the “Origin of Species” (or any book written by Richard Dawkins) to be ridiculous and boring, then that’s a pretty good reason to become a Christian. But I doubt Rosch and other atheists would find such an argument persuasive.
In his second argument, Rosch claims that “We don’t need no stinkin’ deities”. However, if God does exist, and we have a soul, then the belief that we don’t need any “stinkin’ deities” is dangerously false. In order to make this claim Rosch must first assume there is no God, humans don’t have souls, and we aren’t in need of redemption. But obviously such a belief doesn’t make God cease to exist, nor does it mean that humans don’t have a soul. If we do have souls, however, then what happens to us after we die is important and not inconsequential. Whether we go to heaven or hell matters; where we spend eternity matters. And that means we need God because he’s the one that’s able to save us through faith in his son, Jesus Christ.
Rosch argues that God has been minimized by science, and that religion is fighting a losing battle against science. But this argument is filled with false assumptions, flawed premises, incorrect information, and a misunderstanding science. Science isn’t based on explaining the universe without God and marginalizing him. Ultimately it’s based on understanding how the world operates based on the laws set in motion by God. It’s based on the scientific method and observing how the universe consistently operates around us. God has designed a consistent universe that we can make sense of. In fact, Francis Bacon, a creationist, is usually considered to be the man primarily responsible for the formulation of the scientific method, which involves experimentation and induction from data.
Further, religion is only fighting a losing battle against science if you frame the argument that way, and that’s what atheists like to do. They like to define the terms in their favor, but that’s not how truth or science is determined. If God does exist, then he’s the one who created the laws of science, which means it’s impossible for religion to be fighting a losing battle. We’ve already won. God is the God of science no matter how atheists frame the argument. God doesn’t cease to exist because they think they get to write the rules. God still upholds the laws of science and has made them predictable so that we can continue to work the earth, just as he commanded us at the beginning. Rosch seems to think that because secular science has explained away our existence without God, that proves that God doesn’t exist. But explaining the universe without invoking God doesn’t nullify his existence; it just means that they’ve rejected God, and that’s not a good reason to be an atheist. We can just as easily explain the universe scientifically without the Big Bang and evolution from a Biblical perspective, and that has been done by many scientists. Science is not owned by atheists, but was created by God. God’s role in creating the universe is clearly explained in the book of Genesis.
Lastly, Rosch makes a number of other false claims, such as “science is learning more and more answers”, “evolution has explained human origin” and “the Big Bang explains the origin of the universe”. However science, evolution, and the Big Bang are not thinking entities that are capable of learning or explaining anything. Only human beings are capable of learning and explaining such things, and human beings are flawed and limited. No modern day scientist was there to observe events like evolution and the Big Bang, so they must draw conclusions from secondary evidence, like fossils, gravity and chemical reactions. Scientists must make observations and complete experiments, and then draw conclusions based on those findings. Scientists who believe in God and the Bible have confirmed the Biblical explanation of God’s creation rather than invoking evolution or the Big Bang.
So none of Rosch’s arguments are logical or rational. He simply proposes that because he doesn’t believe in God, that’s a good reason to be an atheist. He hasn’t really examined the evidence to the contrary; instead he’s simply rejected what God has revealed about himself because he finds it objectionable. I suggest that if he were serious about finding out if God does exist, then he needs to begin with the premise that God exists, do some serious searching, and pray that God would reveal himself.
I can’t remember who said it, but someone once said, “The fastest way to become an atheist is to read the bible from start to finish.” I think that what most people find ridiculous about bible are things like owning slaves, stoning people to death for adultery, virgin births, resurrection, talking bushes, people living inside of whales, people living for 600+ years, Noah putting two of every single living thing on the planet on a boat he built himself, and a plethora of other things that either make no rational sense or that defy reason or logical explanation. I think a lot of atheists also find it ridiculous that there are so many versions of the bible (and I’m not just talking about new vs old testament…although God did undergo a miraculous transformation from jealous ethnic cleanser to benevolent, loving father…). If the bible is truly THE word of God, shouldn’t there only be ONE version?
All of that being said, I think that Rosch was mostly being satirical–the article is from HuffPo, after all. I don’t think it was meant to be taken as a logical refutation of theism. I’d also remind you that religion is entirely based off of assumptions. If there was one shred, one miniscule piece of solid, concrete evidence that God actually exists, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.
Yes, that seems to be a common atheist quote that’s been catching on. I’ve heard it repeated several times, and I do understand why they might think that way. But I’m not buying it. Sure, no one I know has experienced any of the examples you’ve provided, such as virgin births, the resurrection of the dead and people living over 600 years. In fact we tend to find things outside of our experience as impossible or ridiculous. But we can’t deny miracles in an effort to determine whether or not miracles occur. That just doesn’t make sense, but that’s exactly what Rosch and most atheists do. Aside from not having experienced true miracles, if we consider whether or not God exists, and suppose he’s the all powerful God described in the Bible, then we have to take those accounts seriously- otherwise it’s pointless to have a discussion on the subject. If God can do anything, then surely he could allow humans to live over 600 years, allow himself to be born of a virgin, send a fish to swallow a man, call two of every kind of animal onto the ark, rise from the dead, and perform many other miracles. Right? As someone who does believe in God, all those examples do make sense because I’d expect God to be able to do all those things. Otherwise he wouldn’t be an all powerful God- or any kind of god. So when an atheist states he can’t believe in an all powerful God, then what kind of God do you suppose he’d find believable or acceptable? What kind of miracles could God perform that wouldn’t be ridiculous?
Suppose for a moment someone were in a coma and his family prayed every day for a year that he’d come out of the coma, and then, after a year he woke up from the coma, would you find that kind of miracle acceptable? Most of the atheists I know would laugh and say that’s not a real miracle because we know that some people do wake up from comas. So maybe that’s an example of a miracle that’s not ridiculous, but that’s not accepted as a miracle by the scientific community. Yet you say if Jesus rose from the dead then that’s ridiculous, and that would be a good reason to be an atheist. I’m just saying that’s a poor argument for being an atheist. Atheists can’t simply demand miracles, and then when a miracle is performed claim that it’s too ridiculous to believe in.
So if atheists don’t find a God that is in control of every piece of matter believable, then why would they find any god believable? If, however, God is all powerful, then why wouldn’t he be allowed to rise from the dead or heal others without atheists mocking it as ridiculous? Surely if God created the universe and the laws of physics, he also has the right to walk on water and separate the Red Sea. Rosch is simply saying that since he doesn’t believe in an all powerful God that can perform miracles, then an all powerful God cannot exist. That’s not a valid argument.
Further, things like owning slaves and stoning people for adultery doesn’t nullify the existence of God. Surely the Bible can provide a record of such disturbing accounts without us accusing God of wrongdoing. No one has ever claimed the Bible is rated G or PG. Just because the Bible presents a record of slavery doesn’t mean that God condones slavery, which a lot of atheists like to assert. God simply doesn’t find ones status (slave or free) to be as important as their salvation. God would much rather have us be a slave on earth and free eternally in heaven than be a slave owner on earth and then go to Hell. We tend to see slavery as unacceptable, which is true, but then again, we’re not omniscient like God, so we can’t see the eternal benefits that he has in mind. And as for adultery, God has demonstrated how much he hates it. Now that’s not to say that we should stone people today for adultery. Jesus provided us a good model to follow when he told the woman caught in adultery to go home and leave her life of sin (John 8:1-11).
All the different versions of the Bible isn’t a reason to be an atheist. The different versions make sense when you realize that the original Scripture was written in Hebrew and Greek, which most people don’t read. What we have now are translations, and since people translate languages differently, we’ll have different translations. I’m not sure why that’s a sticking point- unless atheists expect all Christians to learn how to read Hebrew and Greek so that they can read the original manuscripts. But I don’t think that makes much sense. God could command us to only have one version, but he seems to be okay with letting us read it in our own language. Is there a particular version atheists would approve of?
And perhaps Rosch was being satirical, but most of the atheists I know do believe these arguments, so it’s worthwhile to address them. He also meant to publish this in the religious section, so I do think he meant it to be taken as a logical refutation of theism. At least those who responded took him seriously, and he’s responded seriously to them.
If there was one shred, one miniscule piece of solid, concrete evidence that God actually exists, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.
If you’re serious, then let me throw out a shred of evidence (other than the other shreds I already presented). How about the origin of life? Only the Bible can explain the origin of life. Science hasn’t been able to do that, despite atheists like Rosch stating that science has explained everything. In this case it’s not that the Bible has a better explanation, which it does, but that the Bible has the only explanation. But atheists like Dawkins admit that “no one” knows how life began. But if God created the heavens and the earth as described in Genesis one and two, then that explains the origin of life quite nicely. The fact that the Bible explains the origin of life, while secular science remains unable to answer the question should be considered to be solid evidence for the existence of God. You certainly can’t claim that that doesn’t count.
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