The Blindness Of
Is There A God?
There are those that do not believe in the existence of God. Who feel God is the creative product of man, with religion established for the weak and ignorant. Fairy tales and myths for the superstitious. That a belief and a faith in God is for the simple-minded, the emotionally needy, or those who have not achieved a higher level of criticism, education, and culture. And, for some, that science has provided proof that God does not exist.
But what are these statements based upon? What facts can be pointed to, if any? Could there be any truth to this?
It would seem logical that the first step in our journey would be to first address the subject of there being no God or gods.
We will need to determine, based on what we can gather on this topic whether we can reasonably conclude that we can move forward beyond this point in our quest. And so we begin with the concept of no God, commonly referred to as "atheism".
For some atheism is a belief system and for others, it represents no belief system at all.
Atheism today is often defined as not believing there is a god, or not believing in God, and atheists as those who deny God exists. Their reasons for taking this position are often personal ones borne out of some experience they had within the faith or church they grew up in, questions and doubts that went unanswered, inaccuracies or falsehoods they believe have been exposed due to their own research, understanding, or as suggested by science.
Many reject the idea of a God based on the notion that if there was a God, He wouldn't allow such misery and suffering, evil and wickedness in the world. And since we have those things then this is proof that there must not be some loving God out there. For them, our imperfect world demonstrates the non-existence of a perfect God.
This was the stumbling block for Albert Einstein. He stated himself that he did not believe in a personal God, mainly due to this belief. In developing the theory of relativity, Einstein understood that his equations could only lead to one conclusion. If there was an initial beginning, then there was a God who created that beginning. That idea he didn't like and so he added a cosmological constant to his calculation in the attempt to rid himself of this initial beginning. He later said that this action was one of the worst mistakes of his life. Later it would be confirmed that the universe was in fact expanding and did have a beginning at one point. Something atheists are still in denial over and evolutionists can't adequately explain. Einstein converted from an atheist to a deist. He later went on to state, "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."
His comment revealed his reasons for rejecting a personal God. He could not get past seeing the harmony and beauty of creation and then attempt to reconcile that with the evil and suffering he saw in humanity. How could an all-powerful, God allow this?
Like Einstein, many of those that I have met are actually very smart, intelligent, fun, and sincere people that, to be honest, have some legitimate questions and objections that stand in the way of seeing the plausibility of an existing God. Hopefully, in the course of this journey, some of those obstacles will be addressed.
It must be noted that there actually exist two definitions for atheism. The second is one that is less often used but rather preferred by a growing number of atheists themselves. This being the absence of theism. Theism is defined as a belief in the existence of God. Therefore, it is stressed that an atheist is one that basically has an absence of belief in God, or in any theistic belief system. Therefore, with no theistic viewpoint, there is no view of God. Simply put, atheism attempts to be neutral, neither having a belief system in God nor, being guilty of having a belief system that says there is no God. For once you do have a belief system, you then are placed in a position to demonstrate its validity.
To better understand this view we defer to some noted past atheists themselves who have expressed their views:
B.C. Johnson, the author of The Atheist Debater's Handbook, states that:
"The atheist, for his part, does not necessarily offer an explanation; he simply does not accept the theist's explanation. Therefore, the atheist need only demonstrate that the theist has failed to justify his position."
Dan Barker, a former fundamentalist preacher who became an activist for atheism, as well as for the separation of church and state, wrote in his book Losing Faith in Faith; From Preacher to Atheist the following:
"It turns out that the word atheism means much less than I had thought. It is merely the lack of theism [...] Basic atheism is not a belief. It is the lack of belief. There is a difference between believing there is no god and not believing there is a god - both are atheistic, though popular usage has ignored the latter [...]."
George Smith, the author of the book, Atheism: The Case Against God, had this to say:
"Atheism, properly considered, is simply the absence or lack of theistic belief... you will often hear it said that an atheist actually denies the existence of a god or gods. This is true; many atheists do but not all. This kind of overt denial of the existence of a god or gods is a sub-category of a broader kind of approach, which should in a general sense be known as atheism. This gets quite complex to go into all of the reasons why some atheists would not wish to deny that any gods exist."
Gordon Stein described atheism in his An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism in this way:
"The average theologian uses "atheist" to mean a person who denies the existence of a God. Even an atheist would agree that some atheists (a small minority) would fit this definition. However, most atheists would strongly dispute the adequacy of this definition. Rather, they would hold that an atheist is a person without a belief in God. The distinction is small (no kidding) but important. Denying something means that you have knowledge of what it is that you are being asked to affirm, but that you have rejected that particular concept. To be without a belief in God merely means that the term "god" has no importance or possibly no meaning to you. Belief in God is not a factor in your life. Surely this is quite different from denying the existence of God. Atheism is not a belief as such. It is the lack of belief."
According to the previous statements, an atheist does not need to offer any explanation. They only need to demonstrate that someone who believes in God has failed to justify their position. And, few atheists ever concede that a person has adequately justified their stand, no matter how convincing it may be. This is why most conversations with atheists are entirely centered around what a believer believes and why. Most atheists are not genuinely interested in knowing if there is any truth to the matter of God's existence as they believe none exists. They enter the conversation already convinced God is not real. One often hears that they want empirical proof. For them, if science cannot prove the existence of God then there is no God. We will address this a little later on.
I had a close friend many years ago that fell into this camp. At the time we were hanging out we never discussed religion or faith so I never knew what he believed. After he moved out of state we kept in touch long distance. We would send songs we were working on back and forth to critique with calls in between. I started writing some songs from a faith perspective. The preceding phone calls unexpectedly became debate matches that at times got rather heated concerning the existence of God. I found myself having to fend off an onslaught of questions meant to belittle or throw doubt. I learned after those few calls that arguing was getting nowhere. No matter what answer was given it was never going to be a satisfactory one. And if I didn't have an answer at all then it only proved to him that he was right and I was sadly wrong. So instead of looking to prove a point and to save our friendship, I realized the best thing to do with a question I didn't have the answer for was to simply let him know his question was a good one and I would look into it and get back to him. And that is exactly what I did. Our conversations only drove me to get a deeper and richer understanding of what I believed and why I believed it. He actually did me a favor, although that was not his intent. After I shared what I learned he stopped wanting to talk about the topic altogether.
An atheist is simply someone who is not a theist, therefore they are an individual who lacks or has an absence of a belief in God. This is, according to them, to be differentiated from having a belief in no God. To be without a belief in God merely means that the term "god" has no importance or possibly no meaning to the individual. Belief in God is not a factor in their life.
Atheists may not believe in God, but all atheists have some belief system in which they believe in something.
To be able to state unequivocally that there is no God an individual would have to know all that there is to know, or that we will ever know, have attained all the knowledge there is to attain, explored the various dimensions of time, matter, and space, and mastered all the realms of the sciences, history, mathematics, existed since the dawn of time, gone to the furthest reaches of the universe in order to be able to make a statement such as this and be 100% sure. If that is you, well hey, you are the God I've been looking for.
Even the most conceited, self-absorbed, prideful, hardheaded person would have to concede that of all the knowledge there is to know, it is possible there might be yet 1% they don't know. And, in doing so would have to honestly acknowledge the possibility that God might exist in that one percent. No true, rational, reasonable intellectual would say otherwise. Only a fool would reject the possibility.
This example has been shared often for which atheists laugh about. However, it still points to a truth one has to acknowledge. If a person could color in how much they possessed of all that there is to possibly know, EVER, how much of the circle would be colored in? Would it be 3%? A generous 40%? If the whole circle cannot be colored in then a person would have to concede that the door is open to the possibility that there is a God or gods. It's just possible we have not gained that knowledge, information, or understanding yet. After all, we are still learning, discovering, and finding things out.
In acknowledging this, that person has moved from being a self-proclaimed atheist to the more reasonable position of an agnostic. Agnostics are at least willing to admit to the possibility, they simply don't know one way or the other. This is why I believe that atheists are actually agnostics. They either just don't realize it, or simply refuse to change their position.
Richard Dawkins is considered by many to be the most influential atheist of the modern era. Not long ago there was an interesting interview between Ben Stein and Richard Dawkins that was quite revealing:
Richard Dawkins, like most atheists, considers a belief in God to be nothing more than primitive superstition. And, because of this belief, he is not capable of even considering that there is a God that is the intelligent designer behind creation. However, he does open the door to intelligent design. Interestingly, when asked what percentage would he put on the possibility of God existing, instead of saying 100% as one might expect an atheist to say, he took the agnostic position of at least acknowledging that there is a small possibility. Even he understands one cannot totally reject God's existence. He simply chooses not to entertain the thought beyond this acknowledgment. When it came to creation, his answers were based on speculation, conjecture, assumptions, his own biases, and a belief in the only other alternative that a person has to choose from which is evolution.
We find that what he believes is not based on any empirical evidence that he requires of others, but rather preferred theories that keep God out of the picture. In the end, Richard Dawkins is a scientist with no real answers for us to consider in our quest on whether God does or does not exist.
For an atheist, the primary argument is that no God claim has met the burden of proof. That there has not been sufficient evidence presented to show God exists. Therefore, the default position is that God does not exist until that burden of proof has been made and sufficient evidence is presented.
Short of actually being able to shake God's hand and saying "Hey!", it is doubtful there will ever be enough sufficient evidence. And, even that close encounter of the first kind may not even be convincing enough.
An atheist's denial of God's existence is primarily based on their inability to be convinced by anyone's ability to provide proof of God. However, they are not able to prove with absolute certainty that God does not exist. That is why the main focus is always on others to defend their stance.
My recommendation for any atheist would be to consider converting up one step to agnosticism. It is a smarter intellectual stance in my opinion.
But, just maybe, the following chapters may help move the needle even a bit further for someone.
Atheism has not brought us to a reasonable, sound conclusion on the non-existence of God. Many even conveniently claim that it is not for them to provide a burden of proof that God does not exist. So how do they know then?
Unlike an atheist, we realize that there are yet future discoveries to be made, whether it is through archeology uncovering more of our past, or discoveries in science and biology that may open doors to knowledge and understanding yet unknown.
So, beyond the spirited debates that usually lead to nowhere, we are left with them providing nothing that would keep us from moving forward other than the desire to seek further answers and information. Their questions and doubts should actually challenge us to see if a solution or answer exists.
We see then that there remains the plausibility that God could exist and so we must press forward in the attempt to gather more information with which we can analyze and evaluate, for we find none available in this camp. The next mile marker is just ahead as we look at agnosticism as the next stop along our way.