(image thanks to Wikipedia. Only the vaguest idea what it means.) I don't like how this blog is formatting itself now, but there are more important things in life. Like death, life after death, life before death, etc.
This is the draft form of a talk that was spoken today.
I take it that to accept atheism is to believe the claim that God does not exist and neither do gods, goddesses or, presumably other supernatural beings.
I am not an atheist as I have found - and continue to find - Christian faith to be, (rather than ugly or irrational) – in fact, both attractive and coherent. I have been privileged to have been raised in a Christian home, attending Church since the age of 4. I came to know I am not a good person. I have found a need in my own life for what God offers in Jesus Christ; and this really has been life-changing, in changing and continuing to change my actions, thoughts, priorities, hopes and even my interests. I was pleased to be baptised at the start of 2009. So I am a Christian.
Atheism is a hopeless philosophy. It offers little; in the realms of ultimate explanation, – in science! - and in aid of human flourishing. Three fields of interest to me, I think seek a grounding:
Firstly, “reason” and rationality
*The importance of seeking truth; makes sense on theism, less so given naturalism. In seeking truth over self-interest, as we do, we borrow from a non-naturalistic worldview, in line with the Christ-focussed mottos of some of the world’s top universities. As a summary, God grounds rationality - it is far from clear that materialistic processes adequately account even for rational belief formation, let alone the question I raise of the legitimacy of a search for truth, prioritising it over falsehood.
*Also, atheism is not the obvious default metaphysic. A question for you all - is the universe an array of brute facts – a collection of matter/energy and its regularities, (and perhaps too mathematical facts and/or moral facts) – or does it all have a transcendent (and even personal?) source? Which is the correct explanation? To simply begin and end with naturalism is to take too much for granted – (indeed, the whole universe.)
*Science is popular here. The fact that we can do science ought raise questions. The world is ordered in a particular way, the human mind is ordered in a particular way – so as to comprehend a fundamental, mathematically structured reality. These orderings coincide and we can do science. Brute fact, or God-given?
*Also the evidence for Fine-tuning of the physical constants (leading to the development of rational moral agents) is evidence for theism, in that it is more probable given God than in God’s absence.
Third category, “society” (and human flourishing.)
*The existence of human rights and dignity and a desire for justice do not find their natural home within atheism.
*The phenomena of evil - and death point away from atheism. Often when horrors perversely done in the name of God are rightly condemned, a notion of evil is assumed. Yet naturalistic atheism has no answer to evil and indeed no room for it; it denies its existence. Atheism too, has no answer to death; indeed, all, it seems to me, on atheism, is finally meaningless – we are simply star dust perhaps with some pathetic illusion of personality or importance - and while that might seem pretty in a fleeting way, rocks and rubbish dumps are equally star dust with us - and with the same fate – some collections of atoms get ‘lucky’ briefly, but it all comes to an end.
So, I’ve surveyed Reason, Science and Society and touched on the intellectual cost of atheism; however my personal focus and the motivating factor for not merely holding an abstract belief, but living in a particular way, is Jesus. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are somewhat of an enigma for a naturalistic account of the universe. It might seem to be convenient for some if he had never existed, but this simply will not do, on the evidence. Of course, if Jesus was not raised, this faith is utterly futile, but if he might’ve been, then this conversation is very worthwhile.