Atheists Must Be Divine!

Atheism is the belief that there is no god(s) whereas, agnosticism believes that the idea of there being a god(s) is unknowable.  Both Atheism and Agnosticism both have their feet embedded concretely in the modern scientific method.  Holding to the scientific method, they will typically reject any reality that cannot be empirically verified.  By setting this rule up a-priori and allowing for no other evidence, they inevitably win the God debate.  From the get-go the deck is stacked against any Theist before the debate even begins.  It is like saying, "the only evidence I accept as evidence is that which is verifiable by empirical science, and since you have no empirical evidence-- I win."  The problem with this is that the Atheist always insists that the burden of proof is upon the Theist due to the Theist making an assertion of a deity.  This presupposition misses the whole point though.  The Atheist is also making an assertion--that the only reality that exists is that which can be verified by the Enlightenment method, the scientific method.  The Atheists though, does not believe they have to prove their assertion, because to them it is not an assertion, it is a fact for them.  This is the Enlightenment's myth of naturalism and rationalism.

So, the Atheist believes their presuppositions are the default position.  This places the burden of proof upon the Theist... if the Theist is unable to make a persuasive case for the existence of God, then the atheist is justified in his/her atheism.  

The problem is that many so-called Atheists are really not Atheists.  Rather they are "Anti-Theistic."  These Anti-Theistic claims of there being no God in essence do not pass their own criteria of the necessity of empirical data.  Dr. Chalmers discuss this saying, 
"To be able to assert that there is no God, we must walk the whole expanse of infinity, and ascertain by observation that no evidence of God exists anywhere.  Grant that with the narrow limits of our observation no traces or vestiges of Deity be found, does it follow that throughout all immensity a Being, with the essence and sovereignty of a God, is nowhere to be found?  Before we can assert that there is a God, we must have seen on some portion of nature to which we have access, the print of his footsteps, or have had direct intimation from himself, or been satisfied with authentic memorials of other days.  But before we can say, there is no God, we must have roamed over all nature and seen that no mark of a Divine footstep was there and we must have gotten intimacy with every existent spirit in the universe and learned from each, that never did a revelation of the Deity visit him; and we must have searched, not into the records of immensity not one trace of a living and reigning God ever had been made."[1]  
Chalmers goes on to say, "An Anti-Theist, one who dogmatically asserts, 'there is no God,' must arrogate to himself the ubiquity and omniscience of a God."  In other words, for the Atheists to say, "There is no God," they must possess attributes of divine quality and knowledge so as to make this claim.  

In the book, "Anti-theism: Its Moral and Philosophical Blindness," we read the following quote that comments on this subject further, 
"By what great process could a man arrive at the immense intelligence that can enable him to assert that there is no God?  What ages and what lights are requisites for this attainment?  This intelligence involves the very attributes of a Deity, while a Deity is denied; for unless this man is omnipresent, unless he is at the same moment in every place in the universe, he cannot know but that there may be in some place manifestations of a Deity, by which even he would be overpowered.  If he does not absolutely know every agent in the universe, the very one that he does not know, may be God.  If he is not himself the chief agent in the universe, and does not know what is so, that which is so may be God.  If he cannot with certainty assign the cause of all he perceives to exist, that cause may be God.  If he does not know everything that has been done in the immeasurable ages that are past, some things may have been done by a God.  Thus, unless he knows all things, --that is, unless he precludes another Deity by being one himself, he cannot know that the being whose existence he rejects does not exist."[2]
Thus, it is then impossible for Atheists to insists that God does not exist, unless they are Divine.  For unless they are Divine the cannot provide sufficient empirical data to substantiate their claims of God not existing.

A Special Thanks to Dr. Gaylan Mathiesen for his insights on this topic.

1. P.C.H., Anti-theism: Its Moral and Philosophical Blindness (Judd and Glass, Gray's Inn Road, And 21 Paternoster-Row, 1856), 9-10.
2. P.C.H., Anti-theism: Its Moral and Philosophical Blindness (Judd and Glass, Gray's Inn Road, And 21 Paternoster-Row, 1856), 10-11.


Ben said…
Pastor Matt,

An atheist need not take a position of absolute certainty. He is free to say that, say, on balance of probability, God does not exist. This he might glean through an inductive inference that since we can find no evidence for the existence of God, therefore it is reasonable to suppose that probably no such evidence exists to be found.

We don't need to be divine to make inductive inferences.