More Thoughts on Atheism vs Christianity

16 Jan

I find my thoughts once again going to the debate about atheism, deism (a god, but uninvolved with his creation), theism (an involved god), and Christianity, as we see more attempts to suppress a) public displays of Christian symbols, and b) public expression of Christian beliefs.

[My first post offering thoughts on these murky waters was on 1/4.]

Over the centuries, and even in today’s society, we have had many great thinkers put forth cogent arguments for the existence of God and the correctness of Christianity.  They include well-known philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and theologians, as well as many “regular Joes”.

I rather like the relatively modern argument that if you are an atheist, you must believe (if you believe the “Big Bang” theory) . . .

1) that the “Big Bang” accidentally produced all the dozens of necessary physical laws and constants (to multiple decimal places) to have accidentally created the perfect synergy of forces that resulted in the eventual formation of life on a little orb we call Earth (yes, and maybe some other orbs out there), and even intelligent life (now in decline, of course) – the odds of all of this being infinitely small;  OR

2) that there were an infinite number of “Big Bangs”, and one of them did, by chance, wind up with all the right laws and constants — an alternative that is really hard to wrap our minds around, but is under discussion in some quarters;   OR

3) that all of these perfect laws and constants predated the “Big Bang”, which then leads us to . . . what??

Whether a deist, theist, or an atheist, logically we wind up at the question of TRUE beginnings (i.e., Where did God come from? or Where did the “Big Bang” physical matter come from?), and none of the basic three beliefs (deism, theism, atheism) solves this question.

So – to me —  if we ignore the unfathomable questions of beginnings of beginnings, it seems to me that, in thinking about physical beginnings as we know them, the theory of “Intelligent Design” sounds every bit as reasonable as a theory of “accidental occurrence”.

Of course, the “Intelligent Design” theory says nothing about whether there might be one designer (god) or a group of designers (gods), and whether designers/god(s) take any interest in this intricate, marvelous creation.  But at least after thinking about “Intelligent Design”, it seems to me that arriving at a preference for theism rather than deism is a rather small hurdle, for reasons I might get motivated to put into print one day (although many who are much smarter than I have already done so).

But if a person gets to a place where (s)he accepts theism as not only a reasonable hypothesis, but an accepted likelihood (as far as faith allows), there still remains a considerable hurdle in the jump from theism to Christianity.  Acceptance of a one-god view of the universe is a pretty decent first step, though.  And the truly curious will then go on to explore the options within that view.

Speaking as a Christian, I think this would not be such a great hurdle for the questioning masses if more Christians had been able to live up to the standard that the Christ set for us.  Unfortunately, seeking to live up to that standard is not only the most rewarding quest a human can undertake, but it is the most difficult quest to sustain, as we find in evidence all around us, within us, and throughout history.  Any arguments for Christianity must at least reconcile inconsistencies between the historical, current day, and internal motivations and actions of “Christians” with the direction and promises from the New Testament.  Sounds like another fun topic for another day . . . .

I wonder, though, if, in order to find “real” Christianity throughout history, we need to look more closely at the sidebars of history rather than its main events.  Main events are often led or inspired by corrupted leaders, with (again, often) horrible results.  If we simply look at the big events, we are, indeed, tempted to say that applied Christianity can be a hellish religion.  But if we push aside the ugly weeds and look into the sidebars of history, and at the millions upon millions of “lesser” people who have preserved and spread the central theology of Christianity, and add those observations to the big events that have been Christ-driven, maybe we begin to understand the power of true Christianity a bit better.

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6 Responses to “More Thoughts on Atheism vs Christianity”

  1. chandlerklebs January 20, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    “Speaking as a Christian, I think this would not be such a great hurdle for the questioning masses if more Christians had been able to live up to the standard that the Christ set for us. Unfortunately, seeking to live up to that standard is not only the most rewarding quest a human can undertake, but it is the most difficult quest to sustain, as we find in evidence all around us, within us, and throughout history. Any arguments for Christianity must at least reconcile inconsistencies between the historical, current day, and internal motivations and actions of “Christians” with the direction and promises from the New Testament. Sounds like another fun topic for another day”

    I think that there are Christians who are intending to live up to the standards Jesus set. In my opinion, I think that the very fact that no Christian ever comes close to emulating the positive actions of Jesus is what leads people to believe that there simply is no power, whether natural or supernatural, which can make the life of Jesus possible, or allow any other human to emulate him.

    • illero January 22, 2014 at 7:49 am #

      Thank you for visiting, and for your comment. I believe that occasionally we find someone who comes reasonably close to living up to the standards Jesus set for us – but not often. I agree that when we compare those standards to what we see today as achievable within the world’s societies, they seem impossibly high, and it can seem to unbelievers that we are chasing a myth. Certainly the promised gifts of the Spirit (which depend on deep faith) are rarely found in action today, with many (most?) churches just proclaiming them as archaic and no longer relevant. But I tend to think they are no longer commonly evident because of Christians’ lack of faith.

      • chandlerklebs January 22, 2014 at 9:38 am #

        I think the reason that few follow after the example of Jesus is because most likely they will be executed for being an unorthodox heretic if they do.

  2. illero January 23, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Ah, yes — of course. There is precedent for that, isn’t there? Thanks again for contributing.

  3. feivelsguide2014 May 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Enjoyed the post. You noted that you like the modern arguments that start with “If you’re an atheist, you must believe . . .”

    I think that’s an effective way to argue against atheism. The common myth today is that atheists have scientific proof, whereas Christians have blind faith. The atheists then conflate “blind faith” with the kind of Faith that the Bible talks about, as if they are the same or as if Christians cannot experience a relationship with Christ directly (rather than having no evidence whatsoever).

    You might enjoy an article (link below) on the sort of assumptions that atheists make, which they do not acknowledge, and which they will argue against to no end, without really addressing the substance of the argument.

    http://www.meditations-on-life.com/why-i-am-not-an-atheist-christianity-atheism-faith-reason/atheism-vs-christianity-atheist-faith-vs-christian-faith/

    In a nutshell, the atheistic account rules out the existence of an intelligent will to guide the process by which human life–and hence, human reason–arose, that account entails a belief that a non-intelligent agent (i.e., physical forces without any intelligent direction or design whatsoever, not guided by reason or purpose, etc.) was what created human life and human reason. This assumes that non-intelligent, non-rational causes can produce an intelligent mind, which has never been proven to be possible, let alone the most probable cause of human reason. Also, for the scientific materialist types like Dawkins, this entails a belief that a mind capable of understanding metaphysical concepts and of awareness (itself a metaphysical state) is the result of purely physical inputs (i.e., no metaphysical inputs). This seems illogical, but more importantly, it lies entirely outside the realm of what science is able to prove. The issue here is conceptual, rather than empirical, so it’s no good going to science for the answer; yet scientists claim to be able to give you answers about it! Finally, reducing thought to physical causes seems to conflict with the idea that thought can be caused by the Truth of what it apprehends, since the “Truth” (as it is not a physical event) is outside the chain of physical events that could have caused a thought. This undermines the credibility of human reason, although it is solely by human reason that we have an atheistic account of the universe. So atheist materialism is self-refuting.

    • illero May 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

      Thank you, Feivel, for your thoughtful comments — and for the reference to the longer article. I read several paragraphs and decided to set it aside for the moment, until I can get a window of time to really concentrate on it. It appears to contain a lot of very good points. Much appreciated. And thank you for “Following” my blog, although I have not gotten much time to add postings over the last few months. I’m sure I will also enjoy following your postings, as well.

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