Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Atheist Logic-An Oxymoron

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 14, 2010

Some atheists finally admit the logical absurdity of stating “There is no God”, but attempt to weasel out of the problem by claiming practically we can state there is no God (or, almost certainly there is no God), because they don’t have proof meeting their requirements. Here’s one attempt at such an argument — see if you can spot the logical error before reading the answer.

Logically speaking a general claim “god exists” can’t be refuted (until there are specifics and I have some idea what “god” is supposed to represent). But from a practical reality standpoint of what is and what is not, it’s perfectly reasonable to assert something does not exist in the absence of any evidence for the existence of that item. In other words, if I say to you “Grab my notebook off the coffee table for me,” and you look and there is a mug and a coaster, but no notebook on the table, it is absolutely reasonable for you to respond, “There is no notebook on the table.”

Nobody would assert that simply from an absence of evidence you are being illogical to conclude the notebook isn’t there—simply because there is no evidence of a notebook on the table.1

Get it? Read it again.

Yet another atheist logical error. To use the notebook-and-table example to reference God would have to go something like this:

  • “Grab my notebook”.
  • “There’s no notebook on the coffee table” (It must not exist).
  • “No, it’s on the office desk upstairs”.
  • “Sorry, I hadn’t considered that”.

Of course, the answer comes from a place you failed to consider, or exists outside your knowledge. Using the notebook argument with God is quite different, as God can exist throughout the entire cosmos, while the notebook doesn’t — it’s not the same argument at all. Using limited knowledge to falsely extrapolate to the whole (which you didn’t have knowledge of) is a logical error (unless you assume uniformitarianism).

Once again, atheism’s position comes from faith, not logic or critical thinking. You can believe it, but no amount of verbal twister changes the claim into a logical statement. Atheism (“There is no God”) requires faith. You can believe there is no God, fine. But to state it as fact? And belittle those not accepting your dogma, presuppositions, and faith? All while claiming superior intellectual and logical skills (while holding a logically absurd position)?

Atheists miss the irony.

Some atheists are really agnostic — they don’t have a reason to believe in God. Those people exist on reasonable logical ground the atheist lacks, even if their conclusion is faulty. But you can’t be a true atheist and at the same time expound on your logic and intellectual prowess — it’s a contradiction.

If atheists could just admit their position comes from faith, without proof, and based on hope (not critical thinking), we could progress to more interesting questions.

But if you follow the new atheists it’s not likely to happen, as they continue blissfully unaware of their contradictions and logical blunders inherent in their position, all while making fun of others and claiming atheists hold the intellectual high ground, while at the same time clinging to an unprovable, illogical dogma.

Courtesy of http://www.dyeager.org/post/2009/11/atheist-logic-oxymoron

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7 Responses to “Atheist Logic-An Oxymoron”

  1. John Gault said

    I can only assume that you know why your argument is dishonest and that you are intentionally misrepresenting the dominant atheist perspective in order to create your own straw man to attack. I would like, however, to set the record straight for the benefit of any who might read your post and come to the false conclusion that you know what you’re talking about.

    First, allow me to concede your major thesis…If one were to make the delcarative statement, “There is no God”, and defend said statement with the same level of certainty that most Christians defend his existence, then you would be right–there would be a certain degree of faith involved in that statement. I would argue, however, that while I deplore “faith” in anything on general principle, having faith in God’s non-existence makes a boatload more sense in having faith in the opposite–because view (atheism) is perfectly in line with the world as we know it, while the other (theism) involves the introduction of a factor unsupported by ANY evidence of ANY merit whatsoever–if 2000 year old books of fiction constituted evidence, then we’d all be worshipping the cyclops of the Illiad. For the purposes of this conversation, however, let’s just say you’re right–to state with certainty that “There is no God” requires faith.

    Here’s the problem with your argument. Just as Christians come in all stripes and all levels of intelligence, so do atheists. And if you talk to any atheists who have above a 12th grade education, you will find that there are very few who would be willing to make that statement. You villify the “new atheists” in your post. Obviously, Richard Dawkins is one of the most prominent members of that group. Surely, he must represent the hyppocrisy that you speak of? Obviously not…Dawkins has said in numerous books–most recently, The God Delusion, that while God MOST PROBABLY does not exist, it is impossible to say so with certainty. He even rated himself an 8 or a 9 on a scale of atheism (with 10 representing absolute certainty in God’s non-existence) for the very reason you stated above. Even his much-noticed bus campaign featured signs that said “There’s PROBABLY no God”.

    What the person you so graciously quoted in your post was getting at is that, in life, we must be able to reach conclusions which do not satisfy the requirement of certainty in order to function. I am not CERTAIN there is no God, just as I’m not CERTAIN that there’s not a hobgoblin hiding in my kitchen pantry. I will, however, still open that pantry when I get home and get me a nice cup o’ soup without fear–because while I’m not a 100% CERTAIN about the hobgoblin, I’m relatively sure I’ll be O.K.

    • I appreciate your comment John to the blog but would disagree with you that the blog article “Atheism-an Oxymoron” is dishonest or misrepresenting atheism. I am not interested in straw men and do not need a straw man to show the illogic and foolish belief that atheists try to defend. It has been my experience that atheists do not like their faith in their theory that there is no God attacked or questioned and often resort to bald accusations of dishonesty or a lambasting with venom of anything to do with God. You would agree with me John that there either is a God or there is not a God. One statement is true and the other is not. There is no middle ground. What your argument states is that you and most atheists are sitting on the fence or at least have one foot on the other side. That surely is not my impression from most atheists I have come across but if this is true then it shows that they do not even believe their core fundamental belief that God does not exist but is all a part of religion’s imagination. You can’t have it both ways. Is there God or not? Do you choose to serve God or your own human instinct. Maybe the doubt is caused by that inner core hunger than every human being has to know God and have a relationship with Him and yearns for something bigger than just our own human frailities. An 8 or 9 on the scale of atheism shows a fundamental flaw in atheism itself and even more so would require a leap of faith to believe it. Faith in the Greek means simply trust or belief. Who do you trust in life? I would much rather trust God and the Bible then Richard Dawkins and his writings. We all have that choice who we choose to follow but your statement shows that even the prophet of new atheism is not 100% trusting or believing what he says. There could be that 1 to 2 out of ten chance that there is a God and then what do you do John? Waste your whole life hoping that Dawkins has it right. There is overwhelming evidence and proof every day you get up in the morning and live your life that there is a God. Look in the mirror and the wonders of the human body. Look at the sky and the earth during the day or the stars and night and see the awesome evidence of a wonderful Creator that took care of all these details of creation is such a loving and marvelous way. Random chance? Hardly. Everything in the heavens and earth points to the existence of God if you would simply open up your eyes and see it. Atheists condemn all notions of God but have you ever tried God? So often they look at people who have said they believed in God and by their actions have given God a bad name. God is so much bigger than religion as God is life. A relationship with God on a personal level is what were designed to have as we were created in the image of God. You can choose to believe whatever you want and atheism is a belief as there is no evidence that God does not exist so you must accept it by faith. I hope one day you try God and see how wonderful He is. You may have forgotten about Him, but He has never forgotten about you.

      Tim Rowe/Faith and the Law

      • John Gault said

        Tim,

        You claim to not be interested in straw men, yet here you are, again, spending several paragraphs trying to build one. First, you lambast atheism because of the “faith” you claim it exhibits. Then, when I point out to you why faith is not necessary for the atheistic point of view, you lambast it again for it’s failure to commit to a position. You are trying to place atheists on the horns of a rhetorical dilemma that doesn’t exist.

        I think it comes down to the difference in how you and I define three different terms–faith, belief, and certainty. Perhaps if you understand fully how I define these terms, you can understand why, for me, no inconsistency or hypocrisy exists in my position.

        Faith. Faith is a form of belief–but a very special form. It is belief without the requirement of evidence. It is having the highest degree of confidence in a position that is supported by the lowest degree of evidence. Christians are uninterested in double-blind studies measuring the effectiveness of prayer. They are uninterested in biblical inconsistencies. They are uninterested in geological and archaelogical evidence that is unsupportive of the gospels they hold so dear. They are uninterested in these things because they have “faith” in their position. They will believe it regardless of how little reason there is to do so. I detest faith–in anything. I believe that faith is a character flaw–a demonstration of intellectual weakness where one has given up on examining the world with a critical eye. I do not have “faith” in anything.

        Belief. Belief is a different story. Belief is confidence in a position that IS supported by evidence. Belief is NOT certainty, but a position that one is willing to take based on the preponderance of evidence available until such time that that evidence is proven inaccurate. I “believe” that the sun will rise tomorrow. I am not “certain” of it, because I know that I can’t tell the future and I also know that there could be factors at play within the universe that would render my belief false. The sun could explode tonight as I sleep. The earth could be knocked out of orbit around the sun by a collsion that nobody saw coming. These things are highly unlikely, but they are possible. Therefore, my confidence in seeing the sun tomorrow is a “belief”. My confidence in the tennets of atheism is also a “belief”. Do not confuse this with faith. Faith is blind. Faith is stupid. My belief is informed by fact. All rational examination of the universe points to the fact that there is no God. Because of this, I will “believe” that there is no God until there is a reason to amend that belief.

        Certainty. Unfortunately, people of faith tend to view all three of these terms as the same thing. People have faith in their God, they believe he exists, and they are certain that they are right. Atheists draw some very important differences between these three terms, however–the most important difference, of course, lying with the term “certainty”. Certainty is EXTREMELY hard to achieve in anything. Certainty is NOT the same as belief or faith. Certainty is only achieved when something has been proven BEYOND ALL POSSIBLE DOUBT. That is an extremely rare benchmark to pass. I am not CERTAIN about very much in this universe, because I am humble enough, and self-aware enough to know that no matter how much I know, there is much more that I don’t.

        So you see, there is no faith in atheism. There is also no “fence-riding”. There is only a rational approach to the universe that acknowledges the fact that no matter how confident we are in a conclusion, new evidence and new facts have to be considered when they arise and previous conclusions have to be abandoned if those new facts warrant it. I am just as confident in the fact that there is no God as I am that the sun will shine tomorrow. However–if I am looking out my telescope today and I see the sun explode, I will change my belief about tomorrow’s sunrise. Similarly, if God appears at a nationally televised press conference and levitates a mountain while accurately predicting the next five Lotto drawings, I’ll be happy to amend my non-belief in his existence. That shouldn’t be too hard for an all-powerful deity, should it?

      • Alot of play on word games to base your entire life on. Science is limited to what it see, taste, touch, hear and smell. Scientific reasoning has its limits and is not qualified or able to determine anything about God. Science has no basis to analyze the supernatural or to try to put God into a laboratory for analysis. Science can test for natural causes but cannot take a leap and say no other causes exist. If there is a spiritual world, which I am certain of as I am of the sun rising, science has no way to test, analyze or reason about it. Science has limits which I think you admitted you humbly accept. When studying a phenomenon, science must always assume there is a natural cause because natural causes are the only thing its methodology can address. That there is no supernatural cause for natural phenomemon is a philosphical proposition and not a scientific finding. Science tries to say since it can’t test for supernatural causes that the supernatural does not exist. Now that is a leap of faith. I also strongly disagree with you that all rational examination of the universe points to the fact that there is no God. Just the opposite my friend as science itself points to the wonders of creation and the definite existence of God. Evolution more and more has been seen as junk science contradicted by all the fields of science. There are tremendous gaps in your scientific reasoning that can be rationalized as simply not being certain but they are fatal flaws. The intricate detail, beauty, order and balance of creation points to a divine Creator. Dawkins is in error when he says that all prominent scientists do not believe in God. Many do and many realize that science cannot explain everything. Science cannot answer the question why am I here, what is purpose of my life. If death ends everything, does your life have any meaning or are you just a random bunch of cells living out a meaningless existence? Hard questions that science cannot answer. If there is no God then everything that exists is an accidental collocation of atoms and there is no actual purpose for which we were made. We are all accidents. The belief that God does not exist makes all moral choices meaningless and makes life ultimately meaningless. Life is more than a series of proofs. Life becomes a pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench. Sounds like complete despair to me. Faith is not stupid but is one of the most beautiful and fulfilling things in life and God rewards faith with wonderful things such as answers to prayer, peace, contentment and assurance. The Bible was written to reveal God’s heart and give us certainty in the midst of these troubled times. I am as certain as the sun rises that there is a God as the sun would not be rising without him. John you have freedom of will and chosen to believe what you do and that is your right. Man’s reasoning and intelligence can only take you so far. God is just too wonderful, awesome and magnificent to be denied.

  2. asdarrotu said

    I find it interesting that you are asserting a lack of logic, and intellectual honesty in an atheistic position, yet fall prey to pretty basic faults in both reasoning and intellectual honesty.
    You say that you have the evidence of your faith. What is your evidence and how can that evidence be evidence unless placed under scientific scrutiny? Is there any other test of evidence? If it was tested, and found to be sufficiently proved, then it would not be faith, but justified belief.
    You may choose to believe in God, and thereby have faith, but once you claim evidence for faith, the evidence is then under scrutiny. If you say that God rewards faith with answers to prayer – then how can I as a skeptical person believe what you say? You must provide proof of a testable nature. Why should I believe your view of the world? Because a book you believe in says that I should?
    You say “The intricate detail, beauty, order and balance of creation points to a divine Creator” so you accept this as evidence – then this is not faith but an acceptance of evidence. Yet why is it not even possible that the supposed order and balance is there because if it was not then things would just be different? How does this make life meaningless? – we are here – and here there is meaning, we live, there is life. The assumption that it must have a higher purpose is unexplained.
    I love my life, try to be good to those around me and to avoid doing bad things because it hurts others. So my moral choices are meaningless?
    If I do a good thing because I believe it to be good, does it diminish it’s worth because I do not also believe that by doing the good thing I will also be rewarded after death or avoid eternal punishment for the bad things I have done? Some would argue the opposite.

    You are right about the limitations of science, yet good science does not make claims that cannot be tested and verified. Science also sets parameters for proof that hypotheses are wrong.
    I accept that it is impossible to prove that God does not exist. I cannot prove there are no unicorns anywhere in the world – I do not believe there are unicorns, but there may be a small number of magical creatures in a hidden valley somewhere, if they turned up I would be forced to reevaluate my position!
    What would prove to me (I am not a research scientist so my level of proof may be lower than generally accepted) that God exists? Personal revelation would not be enough – I could be delusional, delirious or drug affected. Simultaneous worldwide revelation would suffice.

    A common misconception is that all atheists say “there is no God” what I, as an Atheist say is: “I do not believe there is a God”
    This is not an Agnostic position – which is more a position based on knowledge – “I do not know if I believe there is or is not a God” – usually the agnostic position would be based on the issue of not ‘knowing’ if there is or is not a God , and therefore not being able to make a conclusion about belief. It is possible to be atheist – “I do not believe there is a God” and somewhat agnostic “I do not know if there is or is not a God” at the same time. The surety of the Atheist is in their own belief. Yet an atheist can accept they may be wrong – that is why Atheism is not ‘faith’ but it is ‘belief’
    “Man’s reasoning and intelligence can only take you so far.” Yes! But how did you get to:
    “God is just too wonderful, awesome and magnificent to be denied.”? Is it without reasoning or intelligence? I do not think so – it is without evidence though.

    “Many realize that science cannot explain everything.”
    Yes, every thinking scientist would agree – but science never claims to do so. Most scientists would say it is unlikely( or even impossible) that science will ever explain everything. Science is a method for finding out about things that we do not know, about exploring this magnificent life and about testing our ideas about the universe. I do not expect to ‘know’ everything about the universe before I die – do you? But the journey of discovery is magnificent. How restricted the world is if all ‘knowledge’ is in one book and we all follow that one book – the Koran, Talmud, Bible – whichever, without question or inquisitiveness.
    I accept that you believe “God is just too wonderful, awesome and magnificent to be denied”, it is undeniable, as it is what YOU believe. But that is not enough for me to then believe what you believe.
    One final point. You started out with an analogy, involving a notebook and a table. The notebook is in a place that the person has no knowledge of and has insufficient instructions how to get to, and I assume they have no prior experience of the notebook . So what they can accurately state is “I do not believe I can get you the notebook, given the information that I have” –
    I do not believe I can ‘get’ your God, given the information that I have.

  3. cramshawbar said

    Scary. Very scary that the 21st century can still conjure a belief system based on nothing. The small picture kind of gives it all away. Reward, That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Like a child, attempting to appease his or her parents. The problem with this is that atheists are not looking for rewards, We are not looking for an afterlife. We are simply curious about the here and now and want to conduct a decent life without hate and as much knowledge as possible. No miracles, just a continuum of are species for its own sake. That may seem too simple for you but it is what it is.

    • The scariest thing and the most tragic thing in life is never getting to know your Creator, the awesome God that formed you in your mother’s womb and knows every detail, every thought and every circumstance of your life. A wasted life that never experienced the love, mercy and grace of the majestic God who longs to embrace you in His love. Life is more than simple existence. Life is about intimacy with God who created us in His image and the wonders of walking each day with Him. It is deeper than a reward as it is about living life how God designed it and having the peace and overflowing joy that comes from confident trust in Him. God is awaiting with open arms of love to show you the joys and beauty of living each day in His presence and love. Give God a try and see how life soars to heights never before thought possible.

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