Jonathan Gwilt has been KTLCC
Finance Director for over 20 years.
He finds engaging with the Giant
of Thought and Philosophy
exciting because so much hinges
on our mindset and thinking.
There is a God or there is no God – That is the question theism or atheism
tackling the giants: Influencing your world – Thought & Philosophy
In the 2011 Census, only 29,267 people declared themselves as ‘atheist’. When added to the 32,382 who said they were ‘agnostic’ and the 15,067 who responded as ‘humanist’ that’s less than 80,000 people, fewer than 1:750 of the population and less than 45% of those who responded with ‘Jedi Knight’. Compare this with the 33 million who responded as Christian. Yet today you could be excused for thinking that Britain is a secular, post-Christian nation because what atheists lack in number they make up for in their determination to shape the agenda in the academy, legislature and media. So what can we say about this seemingly modern phenomenon?
Firstly, atheism is nothing new. As its etymology suggests, it is as old as the Greeks and is founded Firstly, atheism is nothing new. As its etymology suggests, it is as old as the Greeks and is founded on the same ‘naturalism’ they espoused. This
philosophy holds that all being and all explanation must ultimately reside inside physical nature to the exclusion of anything or anyone super-natural.
God is simply ruled-out by definition! Whilst many Greeks believed in ‘gods’ plural, these were remote, capricious and unpredictable. Their involvement in nature had to be excluded in order to be able to begin to scientifically study the physical world with its components, laws and processes.
Secondly, despite claiming to have scientific support and to be non-religious in nature, atheism is itself a belief-system. It’s not derived from science even though it is applied to some areas of it and science is often used to support it. Scientific endeavour is supposed to be unbiased, following the evidence wherever it leads. In contrast, atheism is a worldview that concludes, proof-positive, that God does not exist (even though proofs are generally confined to the domains of mathematics and logic!).
Therefore, ironically, despite its claims to the contrary, atheism is a faith – one that hopes and believes (and preaches) ‘there is no God’.
Thirdly, atheism forces all explanation to be ‘bottom-up’ in source and to run from the simple to the complex in direction. This extreme reductionism leaves no room for any top-down causality or explanation because God (the ‘top’) is shut-out by
choice. Without God to draw on, atheists are forced to devise other answers to the ultimate questions of life, to try and reduce all explanation and meaning to physics and chemistry and to embrace some kind of evolutionary explanation for both the origin and development of life. But notice which comes first – the a priori commitment to a physical-only universe and the absence of any interfering God (or gods) and any meta-physical considerations.
Fourthly, atheism cuts people adrift from any notion of divine, purposeful origin and leaves them with a base, purposeless understanding of who they are and how they came to be. In contrast, the New Testament declares that all things came to be
through Christ (John 1:3). Atheism not only produces huge difficulties for the origins and complexity of life but also for the nature and source of consciousness, ethics, information and morality of which our everyday lives comprise. Moreover, by embracing naturalism and evolution, atheism cannot account for mind and thought other than to reduce them to chemical
reactions and motions of particles in the brain. This leads to an undermining of human rationality, the very rationality with which atheists maintain their beliefs!
Fifthly, if atheism were true then we would be irrelevant to the universe, our lives ultimately counting for nothing in a cosmos that did not have either the Earth or humanity in mind. But why should we settle for this view? Moreover, how can atheism, with its blind natural forces operating either by chance or physical necessity, account for the wonders of our Solar System and the fine-tuned universe beyond it, or for the beauties and complexities of life here on Earth?
Finally, atheism offers no hope at death or for what lies beyond. Jesus said “I am the door” (John 10:9).Atheism only offers bleak, pitiless uncertainty – just like its explanation of our origins and existence.
Whilst everyone is free to choose or reject theism and atheism, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist – do you?
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