A very popular but mistaken meme in the general consciousness is that “religion” is an old belief system that spawned in the dark, ignorant dawn of history, and is now fading into extinction due to the inexorable progress of “science.” Those who have kept abreast of the march of science are leading and riding the crest of the enlightened wave we call atheism.
Historically speaking of course, that position is utter bunk. As C.S. Lewis said back in the 1940s, “Please do not think that one of these views was held a long time ago and that the other has gradually taken its place. Wherever there have been thinking men both views turn up.”
That being said, there is no denying that in recent years, there has been an ascendency of sorts of the “New Atheists” and their arguments in the popular consciousness.
Their arguments against the existence of God seem to fall into two main categories:
- Materialist – there is no evidence for His existence, “evidence” being understood as strictly “physical evidence” of course.
- Evil – the existence of evil and suffering is proof for His non-existence.
They add to these a mix of pseudo-historical, anecdotal arguments about the “evil unleashed on the world in the name of religion” and the “progress and blessedly rational benefits conveyed upon the world by secular atheists.”
There are many clever and powerful counter-arguments to these “New Atheist” stances, and one can engage in some entertaining and spirited discussions with their adherents, starting from any one of their favorite lines. What is most ironic however is that they have no basis for their main positions, and in fact they inherently contradict each other.
If all of reality is solely comprised of visible, measurable matter, acting in pre-determined, fixed fashions, there can be no basis to speak of mere concepts like “good” or “evil.” They have no place in the materialist universe.
Neither is there any sense in discussing or arguing over the “evil done by religion” or the “good done by secularism.” Besides there being no evidence for the existence of those mere concepts — good and evil — there is no basis to speak of “will” or the choices influenced by religion/secularism. The religious people doing things, and the secularists doing other things, being mere matter themselves, were only acting in predetermined fixed fashions, and could have done nothing different.
At bottom, they don’t even have a basis to speak of the existence of “reason,” for sadly there is no material evidence for its existence either. As Chesterton said, “A madman is not someone who has lost his reason but someone who has lost everything but his reason.”
These are just some of the fun contradictions inherent in the atheist materialist belief system, and it is why I believe sincere atheists searching for truth don’t usually remain such for long.
Werner Heisenberg, the father of quantum physics, is quoted as saying “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
The forthcoming documentary “A Voice from Deep Space,” an Anteroom Productions project, will explore this two-stage journey of the sincere atheist, and look at the journey “down” to the empty and dissatisfactory answers of atheism, as well as the “twitch upon the thread,” that leads to the mysterious journey toward Faith.