Atheism’s Truth Dilemma

The Reconquista Initiative

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Atheism’s Truth Dilemma

One of my favorite arguments for God’s existence is the Moral Argument, and a hopefully novel offshoot of that argument is one that I wish to present here, and which, quite honestly, I like slightly more than the Moral Argument. And I call this related argument the “Truth Argument” (TA).

Now one of the reasons that I prefer the TA over the Moral Argument is that many opponents of the Moral Argument can, as an intellectual defense against it, simply embrace moral nihilism and thus deny the objectivity or absoluteness of certain moral rules and duties. And while these people never really act as if moral nihilism is true, they nevertheless do embrace moral nihilism as an intellectual defense against the rational force of the Moral Argument. Think, for example, of such individuals as Alex Rosenberg or philosopher Joel Marks, both of whom simply contend that God does not exist and thus that moral nihilism is true (see Rosenberg’s “The Disenchanted Naturalist’s Guide to Reality” and Mark’s “An Amoral Manifesto” for details). And again, while this intellectual denial of certain absolute moral norms and duties is never really practiced in reality, such individuals do vocalize this point of view, and thus they present the façade of having a quick and easy intellectual objection to the Moral Argument itself. And while I think that this intellectual objection is absurd given the fact that certain absolute moral rules and duties (such as that it is absolutely wrong to torture an infant for fun and that all human beings have an absolute duty to do our utmost to stop such as incident from occurring if we ever see it) are astronomically more certain than, for example, any claim that science tells us or the claim that matter exists, it is nevertheless the case that this intellectual act of affirming moral nihilism as a strategy against the Moral Argument does come into play almost immediately whenever the Moral Argument is presented. And this is where the Truth Argument can enter the picture, for the TA uses premises that opponents of theism often, and even righteously, affirm, and which would be very difficult for them to deny. Not only this, but if the unbeliever opposes the premises implicit in the TA, then he removes from his worldview any objective means to castigate others for believing worldviews which he claims are false. In this way, the TA puts the unbeliever in a serious dilemma. On the one hand, if the unbeliever affirms the premises of the argument, then he has good reasons to be theist, or at the very least, he has good reasons not to be an unbeliever. On the other hand, if the unbeliever denies the premises in the argument, then he has removed any objective reason that he might have had to rail against people holding beliefs which to him are false. Either way, the unbeliever, be he just an atheist or an atheistic-naturalist, faces a dilemma when it comes to the issue of truth and truth-seeking.

Now, in terms of its structure, the TA parallels the Moral Argument. As such, the Truth Argument is presented as follows:

Premise One: If God does not exist, then, for human beings, an objective (absolute) purpose and duty to seek out and believe truth over falsehood, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to follow the evidence wherever it leads, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to proportion our non-basic beliefs to our level of evidence, does not exist.

Premise Two: But, for human beings, an objective (absolute) purpose and duty to seek out and believe truth over falsehood, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to follow the evidence wherever it leads, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to proportion our non-basic beliefs to our level of evidence, does exist.

Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

Now, in reference to Premise One, I think that a strong case can be made that on atheism, this premise is true. And this fact is affirmed by numerous non-theists themselves, who routinely tell us that absolute / objective purposes and duties for human beings do not exist given atheism, or, more specifically, given atheistic-naturalism. And indeed, on atheistic-naturalism, it is hard to see how such duties could exist. After all, on atheistic-naturalism, reality is ultimately nothing but matter in motion, and matter in motion does not create objective / absolute duties or purposes, and so on atheistic-naturalism—the most popular and arguably most coherent form of atheism—a duty to believe the truth over falsehood simply does not exist. And indeed, you cannot derive an objective or absolute ‘should’—which is what a duty is—from an ‘is’, which is all atheistic-naturalism offers you, at least from an objective sense. And so, as stated, Premise One is readily defensible.

Thus, it is Premise Two that is the key premise of the argument. But note, if the unbeliever denies this second premise, then he can never—apart from his own personal subjective preferences—claim that we should all follow the evidence wherever it leads, or that we should believe truth over falsehood. Indeed, as an illustrative example of what would happen if this second premise is denied, consider a staunch “Blind-Watchmaker” Darwinist who nevertheless denies this premise. Such a Darwinist could thus never claim that an Intelligent Design proponent was doing anything objectively incorrect by denying the truth of Darwinism. In fact, if the Intelligent Design view became the dominant view, the Darwinist might express his subjective displeasure at this fact, but he still could not claim that people were somehow objectively incorrect or negligent in believing Intelligent Design over Darwinism. And yet the defenders of Darwin repeatedly tell us that we need to believe in Darwinism over Intelligent Design precisely because the former is true and the latter is not. So the very actions of such people show that they affirm the second premise of this argument. And this is the second key point in support of this particular premise: namely, that the vast majority of unbelievers do affirm this critical premise. After all, how often do we hear from the unbeliever that we must follow the evidence wherever it leads, no matter how harsh the outcome might be? And how often are we told by the unbeliever that we should believe extraordinary claims only if we have extraordinary evidence for the claim in question, thus implying that we have some type of objective duty to proportion our beliefs to the evidence for them. Thus, it is indeed the case that unbelievers often pronounce their adherence to something-like the second premise in their discussions with theists, which means that it would be rather hypocritical of them to deny this idea just because it is being used in an argument against their position.

Furthermore, think of what occurs with science or the process of justice if Premise Two is denied. Science and our courts depend on the idea that humans, and especially humans engaged in those endeavors, have an objective duty to pursue the truth, and to pursue it above other considerations, and so numerous aspects of our society implicitly accept such a premise, thus making its denial difficult.

Yet perhaps the most damning thing that occurs if the unbeliever denies the truth of the second premise is that the unbeliever loses any ability to claim that theists or religious believers are somehow irrational for holding to the views that they hold to. After all, rationality is purpose and duty dependent, and thus if there is no objective or absolute duty or purpose to seek out and believe the truth, and if the theist thus has some other purpose than the latter as his primary purpose, then the unbeliever truly does lose any ability to claim that the theist is irrational. Consider: maybe the theist’s primary purpose in life is to feel good, and maybe theism makes the theist feel better than atheism does, and thus, since the theist has no objective duty to believe truth over falsehood (if the second premise is denied), then the theist is eminently rational in holding to theism over non-theism regardless of where the evidence points or what the truth of the matter is.

We can thus see that denying the truth of the second premise does indeed come with serious consequences for the individual who decides to do so. And, in particular, for the unbeliever, who so often proclaims his belief that we should all follow the evidence wherever it leads and that we should believe truth over falsehood no matter how harsh the truth might be, one of the main dangers in denying the second premise is to expose his hypocrisy for all to see.

Now, note as well that the argument can also be modified slightly to make it even stronger. And the way that this would be done is by arguing that we, as humans, not only have an objective duty to believe truth over falsehood, and to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and to proportion our non-basic beliefs to the evidence that we have, but also that these are, in fact, our primary non-moral duties. So not only are these things duties that objectively exist and which we must fulfil, but they are our primary duties. And now, the reason that this modification makes the argument even stronger is because on atheistic-naturalism, the way that human beings came to be was through a process of blind evolution; but the focus of such a process is survival and reproduction, not truth. And so, on atheistic-naturalism, if we can be said to have any sort of objective duty to fulfil, it would be to survive and reproduce, even at the cost of believing certain truths. Thus, on atheistic-naturalism, if we could, for the sake of argument, have a primary non-moral duty, the most natural one given atheistic-naturalism would be to survive and reproduce, not to believe what is true. And lest a person try to argue that believing what is true is also what will help us survive and reproduce the best, it can be noted that religious belief, which atheists consider false but which is very evolutionarily advantageous—after all, you do not see many secular families with children in the double digits, but you do see that with very religious families—is one big objection to such a claim. And there are, in fact, many more examples which could be offered to show that believing what is truth is not always the best for survival and reproduction.

Thus, in the end, we have seen that both the original first premise and the modified first premise are very plausibly true. Next, the second premise is often affirmed by unbelievers, who are the key target of this argument. Furthermore, it is clear that if the unbeliever denies the truth of the second premise, then they put themselves in a position that either exposes them as intellectual hypocrites or seriously weakens their own position in general terms.

Finally, it should also be noted that a modified form of this argument can be offered. And while this modified argument is weaker in terms of its objective, which is to put the atheistic-naturalist in an overt dilemma rather than to argue for God’s existence, it is also an argument which is arguably easier to defend. And so this modified argument, rather than being a direct argument for the existence of God, is instead an argument which can be used to defeat atheistic-naturalism. And this modified argument can be presented as follows:

Premise One: To be a rational, coherent, and consistent atheistic-naturalist, an atheistic-naturalist—given all the points above and the various arguments from atheistic-naturalists themselves—should deny, or at best be agnostic about, the fact that human beings have an objective (absolute) purpose and duty to seek out and believe truth over falsehood, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to follow the evidence wherever it leads, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to proportion our non-basic beliefs to our level of evidence.

Premise Two: But it is absurd for a person to deny or be agnostic about the fact that human beings have an objective (absolute) purpose and duty to seek out and believe truth over falsehood, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to follow the evidence wherever it leads, as well as an objective (absolute) duty to proportion our non-basic beliefs to our level of evidence. After all, for all intents and purposes, our courts, the sciences, and numerous other human endeavors all depend on the existence of such a duty, and we all speak and act, in our daily lives, as if such a duty exists, so it is absurd to deny the existence of such a duty or be agnostic about it.

Conclusion: Therefore, the atheistic-naturalist either positively affirms the existence of a truth-seeking duty, but is irrational for doing so so long as he holds to atheistic-naturalism, or else the atheistic-naturalist does not affirm the existence of an objective-truth seeking duty and thus embraces absurdity, which is itself irrational. Either way, the atheistic-naturalist is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to being rational.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  the issue of truth, and whether or not humans beings have an actual objective and overriding duty to seek the truth come what may, presents a serious problem for the unbeliever, for the unbeliever’s worldview—usually some form of atheistic-naturalism—does not have the resources to necessary to account for the existence of such a duty, or, at best, makes belief in the existence of such a duty uncertain; and yet, at the same time, it is absurd to deny the existence of such a duty. So, either way, the unbeliever is in a dilemma. Furthermore, if the unbeliever denies that human beings have an objective duty to believe truth, the atheist must thus refrain from criticizing—apart from criticizing it subjectively, much like someone criticizes someone else’s choice of ice cream—any religious believer’s maintenance of his religious belief or that religious believer’s attempt to push his belief into the public square.

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Anno Domini 2016 12 10

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Atheists Cannot be Good without Belief in God

The Reconquista Initiative

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Atheists Cannot Be Good Without Belief in God

In today’s day and age, it is often contended, and very often contended by Christians themselves, that while atheists might not, on their worldview, have an actual foundation that undergirds the objective moral rules and duties that they follow, they nevertheless can still be ‘good’ people without a belief in God. Indeed, it is argued that atheists are individuals who, though denying the existence of God and thus not having a sound basis for their belief in the existence of moral rules and duties, still feel the pull of morality on their hearts—for they live in a theistic universe, or so the theist contends—and so when atheists act in accordance with the moral law and do what is morally right, they can thus be counted as ‘good’ despite their lack of belief in God. And so, the thinking goes, unbelievers can be just as good as believers can be, despite their rejection of God and despite their lack of belief in Him.

Now, while this contention is often used as a means to build bridges with atheists by trying to placate the outrage that some atheists would feel if told that they are indeed not good due to their lack of belief in God, the fact is that a strong case can be made to show that atheists are not objectively good people, or at least not as good as theists are, precisely because atheists lack a belief in God and reject Him. Indeed, it is the atheist’s own willful atheism which ensures that he cannot be considered a ‘good’ person, or at least not nearly as good of a person as a believer can be. And the funny thing is that there is no way that the atheist can escape this conclusion, for it stays with him regardless of whether theism or atheism is correct.

Now the reason why the atheist cannot be considered good without a belief in God is two-fold. First—and for the sake of argument—consider what occurs if atheism is true. If atheism is correct, and if God really does not exist, then atheists cannot be considered good in an objective sense given that, on atheism, there are no objective moral rules and duties that would allow us to call atheists ‘good’ in some real or significant way. Indeed, as atheist Alex Rosenberg says in the first chapter of his book The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions, the reality of atheism means that there is no difference between right and wrong, and that, concerning the answers to moral questions, anything goes. That, Rosenberg contends, is the inevitable reality of atheism. But if that is the case then while atheists, on atheism, might be considered ‘good’ in a trivial and essentially tautological sense—because on such a view, anything that atheists do can be considered ‘good’ by them—the fact is that on such a view, neither atheists nor anyone else can be considered good in an objective sense, for there is no objective good that people can be compared to. Indeed, only if there was some type of external standard of goodness against which the actions and behaviors of atheists could be compared, could we determine if atheists were good or not in some non-trivial sense; but since there is no such standard on atheism, then there is no objective way to label atheists as good given atheism. So if atheism is true, atheists are not ‘good’ in the way that we normally use that term.

But now, consider what occurs if atheists are wrong. Consider that if God—the creator and continuous sustainer of all that is—exists, and yet willful atheists do not believe in Him and do not acknowledge Him nor give Him the worship that He is due from His creatures, then, in a very real sense, atheists are morally failures in a very significant way. Indeed, in such a case, atheists are not being good, or at least they are not being good about a very fundamental issue, for they are failing to fulfill the most critical moral duty and commandment that they should be fulfilling:  namely, to love God with all their heart, and soul, and mind. Indeed, by failing to believe in God—so long as the lack of belief is willful and not due to some uncontrolled cognitive disability or ignorance—an atheist is morally deficient in such a vital and significant way that we would be very hard-pressed to call him ‘good’; and even if we could label the atheist ‘good’ in spite of his lack of belief, then, at best, he would most certainly be less good than a believer in God would be—all other things being equal, of course. Thus, if God exists, then the atheist’s wilful lack of belief in God is not a morally neutral issue, but rather it is a factor which gives us the grounds to question the atheist’s categorization as a ‘good’ human being, and it is also a factor that allows us to rationally see a believer as more moral than an atheist—again, all other things being equal.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  whatever way that atheists turn, they cannot be meaningfully considered good without a belief in God, for if atheism is true, then their actions are neither good nor evil, and so it is essentially trivial to call them ‘good’; but if God exists, and atheists fail to give God the acknowledgement and worship that He is due as their creator and constant sustainer, then this is a moral failing of such significance that it is, once again, hard to label anyone who fails in such as way as ‘good’. Thus, whatever way the atheist turns, he cannot meaningful be defined as good, or at least not as good as a God-believer is. Consequently, Christians should stop conceding the point that atheists really can be good without belief in God, for, as seen, a strong case can be made that atheists simply cannot be considered good without such a belief. But lest some Christians suddenly think themselves ultimately better than atheists given this conclusion, they themselves should heed the words spoken by Jesus Himself in Luke 18:19 and Mark 10:18: “No one is good—except God alone.”

Anno Domini 2016 11 26

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Atheism Undermines Itself

The Reconquista Initiative

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Atheism Undermines Itself

Most people hold that atheism—defined here as the positive belief that no God or gods exist—is a stable and rational point-of-view. Indeed, most people, even theists, believe that atheism, while perhaps wrong, is nevertheless a position which does not undermine itself. However, in reality, this belief is, at best, questionable, for the fact is that a good case can be made that atheism is actually a self-undermining position. Now what do I mean by the idea that atheism is self-undermining? I mean that the moment that a person believes atheism to be true, that same person, without considering any other evidences or arguments and only based on certain ideas inherent within atheism, immediately has good reasons to be sufficiently uncertain about the truth of atheism that the person, to remain rational and intellectually consistent, should then reject atheism and move back to a position of agnosticism concerning the existence or non-existence of a deity. That is how atheism is self-undermining. But with this stated, we must now ask: how could this be so? How could atheism internally undermine itself, especially since atheism seems to be nothing more than the belief that no deity exists.

Well, to understand this problem, consider the fact that the atheist, by denying the existence of a god, must unavoidably contend that the universe—meaning all of physical reality—came to be in only one of a number of possible ways that is consistent with atheism. First, the universe could be self-caused. Second, it could be eternal and uncaused. And third, the universe could have come uncaused from absolute nothingness. And indeed, if we consider the matter, these are the only logical options—with some sub-variations among them—that the atheist has to choose from to answer the question of how the universe came to be. But the problem for the atheist is that every one of these options undermines atheism itself, thereby making atheism self-undermining.

First, consider self-causation. Now self-causation is contradictory and absurd, given that a thing must exist before it could cause itself, and so if the atheist needs to embrace a contradictory and absurd principle as a means of maintaining his atheism, then this is already a sign that his atheism is in serious trouble. But the problem for atheism is actually worse than this, for the main self-undermining issue is that if the atheist holds to the idea that something could cause itself, and if the atheist literally believes that the universe was self-caused, then how and why could the atheist restrict self-causation to only the universe. Indeed, doing so would be rather ad hoc and inconsistent given that there seems to be nothing about self-causation that would restrict it to just the creation of universes. But then the question arises: if the universe can cause itself, then why can’t a god do so? Indeed, if the atheist believes that the universe was self-caused, thus embracing the idea of self-causation, then what are his grounds for denying the possible self-causation of a god. In fact, perhaps a god self-caused himself to exist right now. And if a universe was able to self-cause itself to exist in the past, then how many self-caused gods could have come to be over the course of the past million years, let alone thirteen billion years. In fact, intuitively, a case could be made that an omnipotent being had a much better claim to self-causation than mere physical matter would, and so the self-causation of a god is even more probable than that of a universe. But regardless, the point is that if the atheist holds to the idea that things could cause themselves, then unless he provides a convincing reason for why such self-causation would be restricted only to a physical universe, then the atheist would be hard pressed to deny that a god—even if the god was a material being—could not cause himself to exist either. Indeed, it would be ad hoc and inconsistent for the atheist to embrace self-causation in the one case but not the other. And since there is no clearly sound reason to embrace self-causation only for the universe, then the atheist has no grounds to deny it in the case of god either. So, on the atheist’s ‘self-causation’ embracing worldview, one, or ten, or millions of gods could have self-caused themselves to exist and the atheist has no way of denying this live possibility given his worldview; thus, the atheist’s embrace of self-causation as an explanation for the existence of the universe is the very thing that then turns around and undermines the very atheism that caused the atheist to embrace self-causation in the first place.

Second, consider the idea that the universe came uncaused from absolute nothingness. Well, again, even ignoring the fact that the idea that something could come uncaused from absolute nothing is absurd and unevidenced, and thus ignoring the fact that any atheist who embraces this idea embraces absurdity, it is nevertheless the case that if such a position is embraced, then the same problem that was spoken of earlier still arises: namely, if the universe can come uncaused from nothing, then there is nothing stopping a god from appearing uncaused out of nothingness. Indeed, given that absolute nothingness is non-discriminatory, there is not a single thing restricting what could come uncaused from absolute nothingness, and so if a universe could do so, then a god could do so as well. In fact, a billion gods could pop into existence uncaused, not just one. So again, the problem for the atheist is that by embracing the idea that things could come uncaused from nothingness—and some atheists do embrace this idea—the atheist removes any non-ad-hoc grounds that he has for claiming that gods could not arise from nothingness. In fact, maybe a god popped into existence uncaused from nothing right now. And so again, the atheist’s embrace of the idea of coming into being uncaused out of nothingness as an explanation for the existence of the universe is the very thing that then turns around and undermines the very atheism that caused the atheist to embrace that principle in the first place.

Finally, consider the third option, which is that the universe is eternal and uncaused, and which is, in light of the absurdity of the other two options, really the most intellectually viable option that the atheist has. Now it is true that a solid amount of evidence—both empirical and philosophical—shows that the universe is most likely not eternal, but again, let us leave this point aside. The more interesting point is that if the atheist believes that the universe is eternal, then, once again, he has good reasons to actually be agnostic about the existence of a god, not atheistic about it. Why? Well, in an eternal universe, meaning a universe that has always existed and will always exist, one could easily see a non-divine natural being gaining sufficient power and ability that the being could and should come to be considered a god. Indeed, in an eternal universe, it would not only be possible, but arguably likely, that some finite being gains in sufficient power and ability that that being is eventually able to create his own universes and his own creatures, thus fitting the description of a pagan-like god. In fact, with the recent advent of a number of non-theist scientists and other thinkers stating that our own universe may simply be a simulated creation of far more powerful beings, it is not hard to envisage the case that a natural being, in an eternal universe, in which an infinite amount of time already passed, could become a Zeus-like deity. And since a lower-case god could easily be a god who is material, and/or caused, and/or previously not a god, then, once again, these points support the idea that a being in an eternal universe could eventually become a god. And in an eternal universe, some being would very likely become such a god. In fact, if it is possible that a natural being could become a lower-case god, which it is, then in a universe where an infinite amount of time has already elapsed, then this possibility not only could happen, but also certainly already has happened, for it has had an infinite amount of time in which to happen. And so, once again, believing in an eternal universe as a means to make atheism reasonable is actually the very thing that makes atheistic belief unreasonable to hold. And thus, even in this case, atheism undermines itself.

Note as well that atheistic appeals to the multiverse, which has often been posited as a means of avoiding the design implications of the fine-tuning of the universe, also support the claim that atheism is self-undermining. After all, in the type of multiverse required to overcome the design implications of fine-tuning, meaning a multiverse with an untold or possibly infinite number of universes, then, once again, it would be easy to picture, as a very real possibility, that some kind of entity would eventually come into being who would have sufficient power and knowledge to be rightly considered a lower-case god. And so even the multiverse, often seen as the last bastion of atheism, is no bastion at all, for the multiverse idea also undermines atheism the moment that it is believed to be true.

Now please note that this argument is not necessarily an argument for the existence of a deity, although it could be made into one. Rather, at this point, this argument is simply meant to show that the moment a person comes to believe in atheism, then the additional beliefs about how the universe came to be which necessarily flow from that atheism, and from which the atheist cannot escape, create a situation where the atheist’s own ideas about the universe and its genesis give him no way to rationally deny the very real and live possibility that a god, or a million gods, could exist. So the atheist’s own ideas and principles, which necessarily stem from his atheism, give him a reason to deny his atheism, and what this means is that the atheist, being in such a situation, and if he wishes to remain rational and intellectually consistent, should drop his atheism and shift to a stance of agnosticism about the god question.

Additionally, note that while the atheist can avoid committing to either one of these choices about the genesis of the universe, his lack of committal does nothing to negate the fact that those three choices are ultimately the only ones that he has, and since all the choices undermine the atheist’s atheism, then the atheist’s lack of committal about which choice to accept does not remove the problem for atheism that this argument represents. Indeed, whatever way the atheist turns, he has a serious problem.

Now the atheist might indeed object to this argument. He might, for example, claim that the universe is eternal but exists in a cyclical pattern of expansion and collapse. But this would do little to negate the fact that a being could still become a god in such a situation, even possibly with sufficient power to stop the cyclical pattern of the universe, or with the power to create his own universe, or with the power to survive through the expansion and collapse of the universe. Or maybe the atheist could contend that the universe was eternal but caused; this option, however, would do nothing to help the atheist’s situation, for a caused universe would itself be a pointer to a god and so such an idea would also serve to undermine the atheist’s own atheism. But maybe the atheist could argue that no being who was not a god could become one or be worthy of the ‘god’ label; but again, such an objection appears weak, for a being who could create life, create a universe, have full power over what occurs in that universe, and so on, would surely be worthy of the label ‘god’ even if the being had previously been a non-deity or was material in nature. But maybe the atheist could argue that he has good arguments for why atheism is true, and no arguments for why theism might be true. Yet the problem is that all the arguments for atheism are actually arguments against certain types of theism, not specifically arguments for atheism; indeed, consider, as an example, that the most popular arguments for atheism, such as the so-called Problem of Evil, have no force against a deity who is not benevolent or omnipotent, but neither benevolence nor omnipotence are requirements for lower-case god-hood, and so arguments such as these are impotent against many forms of theism. And the same is true for all other atheistic arguments; they are arguments against certain types of theism, but not directly for atheism itself. But perhaps the atheist will claim that he sees no good reasons for the existence of any gods, and thus he has no reason to renege on his atheism. Yet it is the atheist’s own atheism which, when coupled with what the atheist must believe about the universe, actually serves as the very reason which should make the atheist doubt his own atheism. After all, if the atheist really believe that things can cause themselves or come from nothing, or that an eternal universe exists, then these ideas, in and of themselves, are a reason to doubt that no god exists, for a god could cause himself to exist or pop into existence just as much as a universe could, and a god could certainly come to be in an eternal universe, only to create his own universe and his own creatures in that universe. And so, if the atheist embraces these ideas, it is impossible for the atheist to claim that he knows or is rational to believe that a god does not exist, for the very ideas themselves, by the sheer fact that they make the existence of a god a very live possibility at any moment, remove the atheist’s ability to genuinely and consistently claim that he knows or is rational to believe that no god exists, for how could the atheist truly know or rationally believe that no god exists when, given the atheist’s own accepted ideas, one god or a dozen gods could have come into being right now, or ten seconds ago, or at any moment in the past or future. Indeed, in such a situation, it would simply be irrational for the atheist to claim that he knows that no god exists, for any justification or warrant that the atheist would have for such a knowledge claim would be undermined by the very ideas that the atheist must unavoidably embrace concerning the genesis of the universe. And so, as stated, atheism undermines itself.

Finally, if the atheist seeks to justify his lack of belief in God by appealing to the principle that ‘an absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence if certain evidence that would be expected is not present and a comprehensive search for that evidence has been done’, then please note that the atheist cannot, in fact, legitimately appeal to this principle. Why? Because, once again, if the atheist truly believes that something can come from nothing, or that something can cause itself, or that the universe is eternal, then it is impossible that the atheist could ever conduct an adequately comprehensive search to allow this principle to come into effect. After all, if the atheist tried to figuratively “search” an area for a god, the search could never be comprehensive or complete, for the moment that the atheist stopped searching one area, a god may have popped into existence in that area or caused himself to exist there the moment that the atheist stopping looking; furthermore, if the atheist holds that things can come into existence uncaused or can cause themselves to exist, then the moment the atheist stopped his search, thinking it complete, the atheist would have no way of denying that a god could come into existence uncaused from nothing or be self-caused right in the very moment that the atheist stopped his search. And so there are indeed numerous reasons why the atheist’s search could never be sufficiently comprehensive given the principles that he appeals to. But the atheist also has the problem that there would not necessarily be any evidence that the atheist would expect to find even if he conducted his search, for there is no indication that the gods that would come into existence would necessarily leave any evidence for the atheist to find. Indeed, for consider that, right now, a god may have popped into being uncaused from absolute nothingness, but there is nothing that says that such a god would be interested in giving us evidence of his existence, nor that there would be any such evidence to find. Thus, even if the atheist could conduct a figurative search for the evidence for a god, there is not necessarily any evidence that the atheist would expect to find. And so, for all these reasons, the atheist cannot appeal to the ‘absence of evidence is sometimes evidence of absence’ principle as a means to justify his atheism.

And so the long and short of it is this:  atheism is self-undermining, because the moment that a person accepts atheism, that person is simultaneously given internal and unavoidable reasons to be skeptical about it. Furthermore, the atheist has no means to avoid the self-undermining nature of his atheism. And while the self-undermining nature of atheism is itself not a positive argument for theism, it does mean that if the atheist wants to be rational and intellectually consistent, then, arguably, he should not be an atheist at all.

Anno Domini 2016 11 15

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

The Trinity in Nature & a Biblical Explanation

The Reconquista Initiative

 Presents…

The Trinity in Nature & a Biblical Explanation

The Trinity: one God; three persons. A fascinating concept, but one which many people have said is mysterious, difficult to grasp, and hard to accept. Yet we can rightly wonder whether we make the Trinity more mysterious than it actually is, especially since, when we look at our own world, we can see analogous examples to it existing in the here and now. Indeed, how can the Trinity be so difficult to understand and accept when we have an example of something very much like the Trinity in nature. After all, consider, for example, the story of Krista and Tatiana Hogan, which is a real-life case of conjoined twins where we have two distinct individuals with two centers of consciousness, and yet, given its interconnectivity and inseparability, these two people share one large and unique brain. And miraculously, these girls, being connected as one, can see through each other’s eyes, can share sensory inputs, and might even be able to share the same thoughts. But don’t take my word for it; instead, here is a snippet—which has been edited for relevance—of an article from Denis Ryan of the Vancouver Sun newspaper, published on the 2nd of January 2014, and accessed on the 27th of October, 2016:

–QUOTE–

Tatiana and Krista Hogan hold hands. …they perch on a sofa between the two women raising them in Vernon — their grandmother, Louise McKay, and their mother, Felicia Hogan.

Louise covers Tatiana’s eyes.

Felicia holds up a small stuffed animal in front of Krista’s open eyes.

“What am I holding?” she asks Tatiana.

Tatiana, her eyes completely covered, hesitates.

Her mother prompts her. “Tati, look through your sister’s eyes.”

…Tatiana, eyes covered, somehow floats into her sister’s brain: “The Lorax!” she announces.

In order to see through each other’s eyes there is some internal shift, a decision, as if each sister’s soul moves over and makes space for the other.

The moment, repeated at will or on request, is as magical every time as the last. Each girl can see through the eyes of the other: a purple crayon, a teddy bear.

Recent functional MRIs demonstrate that physical sensation can be a shared experience too: one can feel the touch of a hand on the other’s kneecap, identify a particular toe being tugged, laugh when her twin is being tickled. They also may share some motor function.

This seemingly magical ability — to see through each other’s eyes, to feel what the other experiences, perhaps even to share thoughts — has stunned neurologists and makes these tiny girls unique in the world.

They are conjoined not just by flesh and bone. Their brains are “zippered” together by a neural bridge between the thalami, the sensory processing hubs of their brains.

This bridge, which the girls can flitter across at will, has raised questions and inspired a sense of wonder among even the most seasoned specialists.

How does it work? What are its limits? What could it mean to our understanding of the ability of the brain to change and adapt? What does it mean in terms of how we understand the development of personality, empathy and consciousness?

What does it feel like to literally see through another’s eyes?

(http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Through+sister+eyes+Conjoined+twins+Tatiana+Krista+were+extraordinary+from+beginning/7449226/story.html, emphasis added)

–UNQUOTE–

So here we have, for all intents and purposes, two people in one brain. Two people who can share what they see, what they touch, and what they sense. Two people who might very well share their own thoughts with each other directly and without the medium of verbal communication. And so, in this real-life case, it is possible to see and understand how a thing that is ultimately one in its ‘whatness’, namely their one unique brain, can be two in its ‘personhood’. But is this not analogous to the Trinity, in that the ‘whatness’ of God is shared by three persons. And while such an analogy for the Trinity is, of course, not perfect—for no analogy is—this analogy nevertheless does provide us with a living example of two centers of consciousness in one brain sharing sensations and perhaps even their thoughts, which is precisely what the Trinity is said to do. Thus, this real-life case does serve as an example which should diminish the mystery that surrounds the Trinity itself, for here we have an illustration, in nature, of two persons being able to act in a manner reflective of how Christian theology teaches that the Trinity can act.

At the same time, I also wish to point out that the Bible itself, in its interesting distinction between a ‘spirit’ and a ‘soul’, as found in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12, might also provide us with the very means to better explain the Trinity, for God could be one soul with three spirits, or vis versa, just as Krista and Tatiana Hogan are one brain with two persons. Indeed, in such a case, the soul would be analogous to the body and the spirit would be analogous to the mind of a person (or vis versa). Furthermore, since, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, the New Testament states that a human person is a mix of soul and spirit and body, and since the Bible, in Genesis 1:26-27, also says that men are made in the image of God, then this gives us yet further reason to think that God is a mix of soul and spirit. Finally, Isaiah 42:1 also hints that God is indeed both soul and spirit when it says, speaking in God’s voice, that “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him (NASB)”. So the idea that God is both soul and spirit, and that the Trinity thus could be three spirits in one soul, has some Biblical support. Thus the Bible itself, through its division of soul from spirit, when combined with the real analogous example of two persons sharing one brain, provides us with yet further means by which we can better understand the Trinity.

And so the long and story of it is this: not only does nature provide us with a living example of something that is analogous to the Trinity—namely, two persons in one brain—thereby lessening the alleged mysteriousness of this Christian concept, but the Bible itself gives us the grounds to understand that the Trinity might be structured in a similar way, namely three spirits, or three minds, in one soul. And there is nothing contradictory or overly difficult to grasp about that.

Anno Domini 2016 11 11

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.