For Atheists, Logic Seems Extinct (F.A.,L.S.E.)

In Battle of the New Atheism by Gary Wolf, he shares the following points that are flawed. I will put his arguments in plain text, and I will put my arguments in this form of text. The argument follows:

Dawkins' style of debate is as maddening as it is reasonable. A few months earlier, in front of an audience of graduate students from around the world, Dawkins took on a famous geneticist and a renowned neurosurgeon on the question of whether God was real. The geneticist and the neurosurgeon advanced their best theistic arguments: Human consciousness is too remarkable to have evolved; our moral sense defies the selfish imperatives of nature; the laws of science themselves display an order divine; the existence of God can never be disproved by purely empirical means.

Dawkins rejected all these claims, but the last one -- that science could never disprove God -- provoked him to sarcasm. "There's an infinite number of things that we can't disprove," he said. "You might say that because science can explain just about everything but not quite, it's wrong to say therefore we don't need God. It is also, I suppose, wrong to say we don't need the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, or fairies at the bottom of the garden. There's an infinite number of things that some people at one time or another have believed in, and an infinite number of things that nobody has believed in. If there's not the slightest reason to believe in any of those things, why bother? The onus is on somebody who says, I want to believe in God, Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, or whatever it is. It is not up to us to disprove it."

Dawkins' rejection of these claims by no means discredits them. I would be interested in where he finds his moral basis, how he explains laws of science, and all the factors that address the mechanisms that allow earth to exist.

"I'm quite keen on the politics of persuading people of the virtues of atheism," Dawkins says, after we get settled in one of the high-ceilinged, ground-floor rooms. He asks me to keep an eye on his bike, which sits just behind him, on the other side of a window overlooking the street. "The number of nonreligious people in the U.S. is something nearer to 30 million than 20 million," he says. "That's more than all the Jews in the world put together. I think we're in the same position the gay movement was in a few decades ago. There was a need for people to come out. The more people who came out, the more people had the courage to come out. I think that's the case with atheists. They are more numerous than anybody realizes."

How can atheism have "virtues?" First, this requires a sense of morality. True morality and logic share absolutes in common. One cannot have a sense of Good and Evil without absolutes. Yet, this atheism seems to come out of the belief that we are here by random chance, which is little more than the post modern fallacy of "All is relative." How? Well, if we are here by random chance and there is no God, then where is the basis for morality. Yet, there is a sense of morality. From where does this sense come? "All is relative" is a fallacy because if it is true, then even the statement "All is relative" is relative and therefore it cannot stand. Hence, we know that the statement "All is relative" is false. Therefore, to find the truth, we must negate the statement, which yields "All is not relative" or better stated as "Some is relative." This logically implies that some is absolute, also. If there are absolutes, then what are they? What is their origin? The ultimate Absolute, the beginning Cause cannot rise out of randomness. This flies in the face of atheism, while at the same time allows a substantiation of morality and virtue.

Dawkins looks forward to the day when the first U.S. politician is honest about being an atheist. "Highly intelligent people are mostly atheists," he says. "Not a single member of either house of Congress admits to being an atheist. It just doesn't add up. Either they're stupid, or they're lying. And have they got a motive for lying? Of course they've got a motive! Everybody knows that an atheist can't get elected."

Can he substantiate that highly intelligent people are mostly atheists? What about the highly intelligent people who are Christian, etc.? He implies that not admitting to being an atheist is stupid or lying. That is only true if indeed that person is an atheist. In this politically correct world, there are plenty of motives to deny God.

Dawkins is the inventor of the concept of the meme, that is, a cultural replicator that spreads from brain to brain, like a virus. Dawkins is also a believer in democracy. He understands perfectly well that there are practical constraints on controlling the spread of bad memes. If the solution to the spread of wrong ideas and contagious superstitions is a totalitarian commissariat that would silence believers, then the cure is worse than the disease. But such constraints are no excuse for the weak-minded pretense that religious viruses are trivial, much less benign. Bad ideas foisted on children are moral wrongs. We should think harder about how to stop them.

Dawkins apparently forgets about individualism. While my parents being Christians laid a foundation to help me become Christian, I did not become Christian because of them. If Dawkins understood Christianity, then he would know that God saves the individual. Granted, it may be in context of family, but family and culture do not guarantee a Christian. There are plenty of examples to suggest otherwise. Dawkins uses the phrases "wrong ideas" and "moral wrongs." Again, I beg the question, "Where is his basis for right and wrong?"

For the New Atheists, the problem is not any specific doctrine, but religion in general. Or, as Dawkins writes in The God Delusion, "As long as we accept the principle that religious faith must be respected simply because it is religious faith, it is hard to withhold respect from the faith of Osama bin Laden and the suicide bombers."

All of us have faith in something. Atheism is Dawkins' faith. Even the author likens atheism to faith. Atheism is a religion.

Harris argues that, unless we renounce faith, religious violence will soon bring civilization to an end. Between 2004 and 2006, his book sold more than a quarter million copies.

Read the above argument. Further, what about religions that promote loving one another and the sanctity of life. Those who truly follow Christ will not seek to steal, kill and destroy. Those who twist and pervert their idea of God into some wrathful being who commands them to "kill the infidel." Those are the persons whose faith promotes violence. Harris' statement tying faith in general to religious violence is in error.

He is not. "Look at slavery," he says. We are at a beautiful restaurant in Santa Monica, near the public lots from which Americans -- nearly 80 percent of whom believe the Bible is the true word of God, if polls are correct -- walk happily down to the beach in various states of undress. "People used to think," Harris says, "that slavery was morally acceptable. The most intelligent, sophisticated people used to accept that you could kidnap whole families, force them to work for you, and sell their children. That looks ridiculous to us today. We're going to look back and be amazed that we approached this asymptote of destructive capacity while allowing ourselves to be balkanized by fantasy. What seems quixotic is quixotic -- on this side of a radical change. From the other side, you can't believe it didn't happen earlier. At some point, there is going to be enough pressure that it is just going to be too embarrassing to believe in God."

Harris falls into the trap of believing that just because institutions formed out of man's hardened heart, and just because something is mentioned in the Bible, and just because persons misinterpret and misuse the Bible, then the Bible must support something like slavery. The Bible does not promote slavery any more than it promotes divorce. Slavery and divorce are realities of human history that occurred due to man's hardened heart. Further, I think slavery is evil and have a moral basis on which to say that. What is Harris' moral basis?

We discuss what it might look like, this world without God. "There would be a religion of reason," Harris says. "We would have realized the rational means to maximize human happiness. We may all agree that we want to have a Sabbath that we take really seriously -- a lot more seriously than most religious people take it. But it would be a rational decision, and it would not be just because it's in the Bible. We would be able to invoke the power of poetry and ritual and silent contemplation and all the variables of happiness so that we could exploit them. Call it prayer, but we would have prayer without [expletive]."

What is the origin of reason? I think that a world without God wouldn't exist. Reason proceeds from a source. Order produces order. Chaos does not produce order. Reason, true reason, is orderly and thus came out of an orderly cause.

I do call it prayer. Here is the atheist prayer: that our reason will subjugate our superstition, that our intelligence will check our illusions, that we will be able to hold at bay the evil temptation of faith.

What if it is reasonable to believe in the supernatural? And again, he uses words like "evil" and "faith." Yet, by being atheist, there is no basis by which he can refer to something as "evil" and he is actually showing his faith in the religion of atheism.

Like rape, Harris says, religion may be a vestige of our primitive nature that we must simply overcome.

Rape is destructive to the victim. Religion as a set of works to please God is destructive, but if defined as a relationship with a God who redeems/saves, then it is not destructive. I think it is foolish to liken rape with religion. Further, by what means does Harris propose we "simply overcome?" If we are left to ourselves, what do we produce? I know that Harris would not even believe in something called sin, despite speaking of things that are immoral in his own paradigm. Yet, looking at the definition of sin, what person has not sinned? And if we have all sinned, or have those crazy and evil thoughts of lust or idolatry or selfishness or pride, then how is there any hope in the reasoning of the human mind to overcome such things, when the human mind itself is flawed with such things?

A variety of rebuttals to atheism have been tried over the years. Religious fundamentalists stand on their canonized texts and refuse to budge. The wisdom of this approach -- strategically, at least -- is evident when you see the awkward positions nonfundamentalists find themselves in. The most active defender of faith among scientists right now is Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project. His most recent book is called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. In defiance of the title, Collins never attempts to show that science offers evidence for belief. Rather, he argues only that nothing in science prohibits belief. Unsolved problems in diverse fields, along with a skepticism about knowledge in general, are used to demonstrate that a deity might not be impossible. The problem with this, for defenders of faith, is that they've implicitly accepted science as the arbiter of what is real. This leaves the atheists with the upper hand.

In the evolutionary religion, it seems that atheists do have the upper hand. They demand that evolution is fact and state that even to question it is unscientific. However, to deny questions about evolution's problems is to deny the very essence of science itself. Atheists do have the upper hand on secular evolutionary science. However, is that true science at all?

When it comes to concrete examples of exactly what we should believe, reason is a slippery slope, and at the bottom -- well, at the bottom is atheism.

I will repeat what I said several paragraphs above: "What is the origin of reason? I think that a world without God wouldn't exist. Reason proceeds from a source. Order produces order. Chaos does not produce order. Reason, true reason, is orderly and thus came out of an orderly cause." He sees atheism as the ultimate in reasoning. Looking argument though, one can see problems with his perspective. God is the ultimate in reasoning if one follows my argument.

The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a nonsubject," Dawkins has written. "Vacuous. Devoid of coherence or content."

It would serve Dawkins well to visit a Reformed seminary. He would find a very coherent, well-structured theology with plenty of content and substance.

If trained theologians can go this far, who am I to defend supernaturalism on their behalf? Why not be an atheist?

I could very well ask, why not be a Christian?

Dennett is an advocate of admitting that we simply don't have good reasons for some of the things we believe. Although we must guard our defaults, we still have to admit that they may be somewhat arbitrary. "How else do we protect ourselves?" he asks. "With absolutisms? This means telling lies, and when the lies are exposed, the crash is worse. It's not that science can discover when the body is ensouled. That's nonsense. We are not going to tolerate infanticide. But we're not going to put people in jail for onanism. Instead of protecting stability with a brittle set of myths, we can defend a deep resistance to mucking with the boundaries."

His use of the word "believe" implies faith. His statement that Dennett advocates "admitting that we simply don't have good reasons for some of the things we believe" is quite interesting and telling. He implies that absolutisms "means telling lies." If something is a lie, it is false. If it is false, it is judged on the basis of true versus false. These are absolutes. Absolute does not imply lying. The phrase, "We are not going to tolerate infanticide" begs the question that I have for the atheist: On what can you base your morals to say that?

Prophecy, I've come to realize, is a complex meme. When prophets provoke real trouble, bring confusion to society by sowing reverberant doubts, spark an active, opposing consensus everywhere -- that is the sign they've hit a nerve. But what happens when they don't hit a nerve? There are plenty of would-be prophets in the world, vainly peddling their provocative claims. Most of them just end up lecturing to undergraduates, or leading little Christian sects, or getting into Wikipedia edit wars, or boring their friends. An unsuccessful prophet is not a martyr, but a sort of clown.

An unsuccessful prophet is not a prophet at all. What about prophecies that have come true, especially those from a source that are too numerous and too specific to be coincidental?

Where does this leave us, we who have been called upon to join this uncompromising war against faith? What shall we do, we potential enlistees? Myself, I've decided to refuse the call. The irony of the New Atheism -- this prophetic attack on prophecy, this extremism in opposition to extremism -- is too much for me.

I am glad Mr. Wolf has "decided to refuse the call." And I resonate with his statement "The irony of the New Atheism -- this prophetic attack on prophecy, this extremism in opposition to extremism -- is too much for me." Atheism is like taking a ruler and saying something is 10 feet long while arguing there is no such thing as inches.

The New Atheists have castigated fundamentalism and branded even the mildest religious liberals as enablers of a vengeful mob. Everybody who does not join them is an ally of the Taliban. But, so far, their provocation has failed to take hold. Given all the religious trauma in the world, I take this as good news. Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd. If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn't necessarily mean we've lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there's always a chance we could turn out to be wrong.

How is a peaceful follower of Jesus Christ an ally of the Taliban? Granted some have done horrific things in the name of Christ, but those very things while called Christian were not Christian. It's like those who think being American means one is Christian. I don't think atheist Americans would take too kindly of that. They have their religion. True Christians have their relationship. Absurd is indeed a good label for these atheists. The author (Wolf) writes, "If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn't necessarily mean we've lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there's always a chance we could turn out to be wrong." This is very telling, indeed. He has nearly used reason to argue himself. Values, convictions, and faith will point to something. Either that which is true or that which is a masquerade. That which is true brings up all the questions of the original Cause and the questions of morality. The original Cause and morality are real, but an atheist simply cannot speak of them justifiably. To do so is to contradict themselves. To speak of those realities is to contradict themselves. To really believe in atheism carried out to its fullest is to give up any basis for morality or absolute or even recognizing the protocols that say that what you read are indeed words. If things are random, purposeless, and have no definable cause, and there are no absolutes, then really, things don't exist. Yet, things do exist. What is the cause? What is the basis for morality?

Gary Wolf's article - SOURCE:,71985-0.html?tw=rss.index

I conclude with excerpts from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity:

Ever since men were able to think they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be there. And, very roughly, two views have been held.

First, there is what is called the materialist view. People who take that view think that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed, nobody knows why; and that the matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened, by a sort of fluke, to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think. By one chance in a thousand something hit our sun and made it produce the planets; and by another thousandth chance the chemicals necessary for life, and the right temperature, occurred on one of these planets, and so some of the matter on this earth came alive; and then, by a very long series of chances, the living creatures developed into things like us.

The other view is the religious view. According to it, what is behind the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. That is to say, it is conscious, and has purposes, and prefers one thing to another. And on this view it made the universe, partly for purposes we do not know, but partly, at any rate, in order to produce creatures like itself—I mean, like itself to the extent of having minds.

Please do not think that one of these views was held a long time ago and that the other has gradually taken its place. Wherever there have been thinking men both views turn up.

And note this too. You cannot find out which view is the right one by science in the ordinary sense. Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, 'I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2.20 a.m. on January 15th and saw so-and-so,' or, 'I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so.' Do not think that I am saying anything against science; I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science -- and a very useful and necessary job it is too.

But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes -- something of a different kind -- this is not a scientific question. If there is 'Something Behind', then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way. The statement that there is any such thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them.

After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became so complete that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, 'Why is there a universe?' 'Why does it go on as it does?' 'Has it any meaning?' would remain just as they were?

And one more quote from the same book: "If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

You may also want to peruse these resources or an evolutionist's attempt to claim "ample proof" for evolution.

-- Jamie Johnson