Every once in a while you come across a believer who thinks he has come up with a clever rebuttal to atheism. Usually, it turns out to be some collection of inane arguments, quotes from a holy book and assorted bits of religious “cleverness”. These “3 things to say an atheist” by pastor Jack Wellman is no different.
Pastor Jack Wellman has come up with three questions that are apparently designed to checkmate an atheist but could be rebutted by almost anyone with a functional brain. Let’s have a look at these dreaded “3 things to say to an atheist”, shall we?
What do you do with your Guilt?
The atheist might say that they don’t believe in God but the Bible says that they actually suppress this knowledge. Paul writes in Romans 1:18 that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” The Greek word for suppress is “katechō” which means “to hold back, to detain” or “to restrain” so it is an intentional act of suppressing what they know to be true but what does the atheist do with his or her guilt? Good question.
Nope, bad question. First of all, it’s not quite clear what Pastor Jack is referring to. Is it guilt in general or is it “Guilt” (notice the capital G) for not believing in God? Assuming, based on the capital G and the quote from Romans 1 that he is talking about guilt for not believing in God, why would I feel any guilt about that? If I don’t believe in God, what’s the point in feeling guilty? I don’t feel guilty for not believing in Santa either.
Besides, how is quoting scripture going to convince me that I should believe in God when I have already rejected that belief based on reading your holy book?
Assuming it is guilt in general, here’s how I deal with that: I face it! I don’t have an imaginary sky daddy who I can call upon to cleanse me from guilt so I have to deal with that on my own. Which, if you ask me, is the grown-up thing to do. Next question!
Where did the Universe Come From?
I read about an astrophysicist who said that anywhere from 10 to 15 billion years ago the universe exploded into being but if it didn’t exist before the explosion, then what was it that exploded? Can something that does not exist begin to exist and if it didn’t exist at one time and then did, how can that be so? If would have had to exist prior to exploding into being, right? Then where did the material universe come from? What in the universe had not beginning? The law of causality is so fundamental to science and logic that if I said that the chair you are sitting in, which must have had a beginning, just popped into existence without any cause, you might justifiably think I need a psychiatric assessment and you‘d be right! If at one time there was absolutely nothing that existed, then nothing would exist today. The psalmist knew that “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1) and God’s “eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).
I’m pretty sure that no astrophysicist ever said that or wrote that. The Big Bang may sound like it has to do with things exploding but that’s because it is a nickname that was intended as a slur. A little bit of light Googling would have cleared that up for you, pastor Jack.
Apart from the many spelling errors (I think our pastor got a bit over-excited with all his cleverness), this question isn’t clever at all, it just reveals a lack of understanding of Cosmology 101.
Since the good pastor brought up the age-old argument of something can not come from nothing, then how did God get here? And if God didn’t have a beginning, is eternal, why can’t the universe be eternal, it’s current expanding state being just that, a state?
Science doesn’t yet know how our universe began or if it had a beginning at all. Science may never know the answer to that question. Here’s the thing though: the psalmist and pastor Jack don’t know either. All they are saying, is that God did it. Magic. That’s not an explanation, it’s just the end of searching for an answer. I don’t know about you but I prefer honest ignorance over a bogus answer any day of the week. Next question!
Can you prove there is no God?
Of course the answer to this must be no. The atheist, technically doesn’t exist because it is impossible for them to prove that God doesn’t exist. That takes a great deal of faith. What scientific evidence can they provide that God doesn’t exist? How can they be 100% sure that there is no God? If there is no God, then is it fair that Hitler and Stalin have no justice served for all their crimes against humanity? Are there moral absolutes? If not, then aren’t they making an absolute statement that there are no absolutes?
Not this old stinker of a question again, please. Yes, of course the answer to that must be “no”. Just like pastor Jack can’t prove I don’t have an invisible dragon living in my attic who is called Steve-O and loves reading Superman comics.
To go from here to saying that atheists don’t exist is a non-sequitur. If that were true, than there aren’t any people who don’t believe in Steve-O because they can’t prove he doesn’t exist. It’s a bogus argument.
Not believing in God doesn’t require faith, it requires reason and a modicum of courage. Not faith. Pastor Jack can’t prove that Steve-O doesn’t exist. That must take a lot of faith too, right?
It is pretty obvious pastor Jack hasn’t really listened to atheists. There are very few atheists around who say that they are 100% sure there is no God. Most atheists I know or am aware of, even someone like Richard Dawkins, say they would believe in God if there were evidence he existed. Just like people would believe in Steve-O if I could make his existence plausible. Most atheists say that the existence of God isn’t plausible based on the total lack of evidence.
Is it fair that Stalin and Hitler weren’t punished for their crimes? An argument like this shows that our good pastor thinks that life must somehow be fair. Well, it isn’t. If it were, children wouldn’t be abused, people wouldn’t be murdered or stricken with terrible disease, there wouldn’t be famine, etc. The kind of things a just and fair God would prevent if he were real and able to. Life isn’t fair and yes, sometimes evil deeds go unpunished and good deeds go unrewarded. To believe in an afterlife that will balance this out, is simply childish.
Are there moral absolutes? No. And yes, that is an absolute statement. Since we can never know all the factors and effects concerning an act or the lack of an act, we can not determine with 100% accuracy if something is a moral act or which is the most moral act. One thing is for sure though, our morality doesn’t come from God.
Pastor Jack, you go right ahead and continue with these 3 things to say to an atheist. Just don’t be surprised if they start laughing, rolling their eyes or become annoyed like me. That’s not because we are angry with God and want to hide our Guilt (look, capital G makes it important!) for not believing in him either. It’s just that these kinds of arguments aren’t really arguments. They’re things most atheists have thought about a lot harder than pastor Jack here and it shows. So, 10 out of 10 for trying but better stick to preaching to the flock, eh pastor Jack?