“I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” say Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t though of that” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
— Douglas Adams from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – 1979
An article on ChristianityToday.com asks the question: Why are there still atheists? “Still” is in reference to Romans 1:19-20 and Psalm 19:1 (as well as Creationists—young- and old-earth alike) that declare God has made it plain that he exists through the things he has made. The author, Shawn Graves, argues that the lives Christians lead and their own words must also be the illustration of proof that God is real.
I am relieved that Graves (more so than Jim Spiegel in a previous piece for the same website) acknowledges respectfully that atheists have rational, evidence-based objections against the Hebrew god Yahweh.
Spiegel asserts that for many atheists, it’s not “cool, rational inquiry” that led to their atheism. Rather, in many cases it’s complex moral and psychological factors that produce atheism.
… Surely some people accept atheism due in part to such powerful motivational factors. For some atheists, it’s not merely a matter of evidence. Yet, as Spiegel grants, these motivational explanations don’t hold for all atheists. Consider some of the personal essays found in Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life, edited by Louise Antony. Some testify that their move from theism to atheism came at tremendous personal cost and required significant, and painful, existential reorientation. A few even express a deep longing for Christian spirituality. Apparently, these philosophers had plenty of strong psychological motivation to retain or embrace theism. Yet they didn’t. Their atheism really did seem to be a matter of evidence and argument.
Yes! Someone gets it. I, for example, was extremely happy and content with Christianity. It had never done me wrong, and I benefited from it. As I’ve said before, I left theism kicking and screaming. I was horrified by the idea that I had been mistaken all my life, and that there really wasn’t a great and magic solution to suffering or evil.
I’m intrigued by the humility in this conclusion:
We should acknowledge that we have our own powerful non-rational motivations for belief. We ought to confess that our religious proclamations haven’t been as clear and compelling as the heavens and the skies in proclaiming “the glory of God and the work of his hands,” that our lives haven’t “made it plain” that God exists. We need to grant that our God is a God who sometimes hides and is silent. Finally, we need to concede that all of this does make a genuine evidential difference for plenty of atheists. Maybe that helps to explain why there are atheists.
Do you think Graves ever answers the question about why there are still atheists? Do you think it’s up to theists to fix this, or are they still incorrectly assuming that what keeps us atheists from belief is a lacking in humanity (namely pride, sin, etc.) and not because there truly is a lack of evidence?