Atheism and the Evidence for God

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Give me evidence that God exists.” This is usually the response from atheists when engaging with Christians. In and of itself there is nothing wrong with this, as we should not believe anything without satisfactory evidence (cf. John 20:24–29). The Bible does not place faith or belief against evidence, but rather it uses faith to refer to a conviction or confidence in that evidence (i.e. the resurrection, Romans 10:9).1 The suggestion from the atheist, however, is that belief in God is not supported by any evidence. While it is good to give evidence for the existence of God, it is important to understand that we do not all read evidence the same way and that evidence is not taken in a neutral fashion by those who are presenting and accepting it.

The problem is not with the evidence but with how we interpret the evidence, and the atheist will interpret evidence according to their unbelief (cf. Romans 8:7; 1 Corinthians 2:14). As Christians, we need to understand there is no neutral ground when it comes to worldview issues such as biblical theism and atheism. The reality of the matter is that for some atheists, no evidence will ever be enough to convince them of God’s existence, as they will always explain evidence away because they have a prior commitment to the philosophy of naturalism. A few years ago, in a conversation with fellow atheist Peter Boghossian, Richard Dawkins admitted that no evidence would convince him of God’s existence as he could always explain it away:

Peter Boghossian: Given that the hosts of arguments [for the existence of God] don’t work, what would it take for you to believe in God?

“I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming. The trouble is I can’t think what that evidence would look like.”

Richard Dawkins: I use to say, it would be very simple, it would be the second coming of Jesus or a great big, deep, booming, base voice saying: “I am God and I created.” But I was persuaded mostly by Steve Zaro . . . he more or less persuaded me, even if there was this booming voice or the second coming in clouds of glory, the more probable explanation is that it is a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield or something. He made the point that a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent, that it just doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything . . . Clarke’s third law “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” magic being supernatural. If you were to fly a Boeing 747 back to the middle ages, you would be greeted as god, and similarly an alien visitation would be so far beyond us in their technology that they probably could manipulate the stars to spell out words or geometric forms or something of that sort.

Peter Boghossian: So, that couldn’t be enough, so what would persuade you?

Richard Dawkins: Well, I am starting to think nothing would, which in a way goes against the grain because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming. The trouble is I can’t think what that evidence would look like.2

Dawkins states that there is no evidence that would convince him there is a God as he could always come up with a probable explanation (i.e. aliens or hallucination).3 However, Dawkins’ methodology, that nothing counts as evidence for God’s existence, is self-defeating. For example, using Dawkins own methodology, why should I believe that he exists? No doubt Dawkins would say his own existence is self-evident since people can see and hear him (cf. Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:20). But how would I know that powerful aliens are not tricking me into believing that he exists or that he is not just a hallucination I am having? Objecting to evidence for the existence of God (or anybody) based upon aliens or hallucinations will get you nowhere and shows the credulity of Dawkins position. Although Dawkins said that he used to pay lip service to the idea that evidence could change his mind, his previous work shows that this is not the case. Dawkins has argued that science properly understood renders belief in God untenable. Why? Because unguided, undirected Darwinian mechanisms have produced the appearance of design without itself being guided or directed in any way:

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.4

Dawkins believes that complicated things, such as DNA, only appear to be designed. Why does it only appear designed? Well, because if it is designed then the obvious question is, who designed it? The reality of the matter is that the double-helix structure of DNA could not form by chance as we know that it carries complex coded information that can only be generated by intelligence sources (not mindless natural processes).5 Since Dawkins sees design as an allusion, the possibility of a designer is also seen as delusional (i.e. the title of his 2006 book The God Delusion). In a recent interview, promoting his new book Outgrowing God, Dawkins was asked by a news reporter:

Krishna Guru Murphy: If you could change the world, how would you change it . . . I am assuming you would want to change the world by ridding us of religion altogether?

Richard Dawkins: Well I would, but I think I would generalize that to anything that’s not evidence based, where factual knowledge is concerned . . . all sorts of things that are based on emotion, tradition, revelation, authority rather than on evidence.6

But if Dawkins is consistent, then he will have to stop believing in a lot of the things that his naturalistic evolutionary perspective cannot provide factual knowledge or evidence for . . .

Of course, Dawkins is assuming that the revelation and authority of the Bible is not based on evidence. But if Dawkins is consistent, then he will have to stop believing in a lot of the things that his naturalistic evolutionary perspective cannot provide factual knowledge or evidence for:

  • Where is the evidence for alien life?7
  • Where is the evidence for the universe coming into existence out of nothing?8
  • Where is the evidence for dinosaurs evolving into birds?9
  • Where is the evidence for people evolving from ape-like creatures?10
  • How does an atheist account for belief in the laws of logic?11
  • How does an atheist account for morality, good, and evil?12
  • How does an atheist account for trusting in reason or rationality?13

Even though atheists have produced arguments for the above, they have no actual evidence or factual knowledge to believe any of them. Atheists believe these things because of their faith that time, chance and the laws of nature will produce the “miracle” necessary to make them (aliens, the universe, a single cell, dinosaurs into birds, ape-like creatures into humans). Or they must assume the reality of the biblical worldview (without acknowledging it) in order to make sense of immaterial realities such as reason and the laws-of-logic.14 Much of the western world today is lost in the superstition of naturalism, and that idol needs to be destroyed (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5).

As with many atheists, Dawkins prides himself on the fact that science can provide us with all the answers. However, it is not science that proves that God does not exist but the philosophical system that Dawkins uses to interpret science and evidence, namely naturalism. The philosophy of naturalism which dominates the sciences today asserts that all reality can be explained in purely natural categories without any appeal to the supernatural. Naturalism is not only an attack on all things supernatural but also upon science. The universe needs to be orderly for science to even work. But why would the universe be orderly if it is just the result of a naturalistic cosmic accident? The universe obeys certain laws and is orderly because God is a lawgiver and a God of order. Only the biblical worldview gives us reason to believe in the uniformity in nature, the very basis of science, but this is something that the atheistic worldview cannot account for.15 Naturalism itself is a self-defeating worldview as it undermines the very faculties it takes in order to do science and evaluate evidence. The thinking of the atheist is totally committed (in all their thoughts) to their own authority, judgement, and standards when it comes to interpreting the evidence:

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:4)

Footnotes

  1. See Simon Turpin, “Are Atheists Right? Is Faith the Absence of Reason/Evidence?” Answers in Genesis, August 27, 2019, https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/are-atheists-right/.
  2. See “Richard Dawkins in conversation with Peter Boghossian,” relevant section 12:30–15:27, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoQurwEZmmQ.
  3. Dawkins confuses magic with miracles (the supernatural), but this is a category error. The Bible shows that the miraculous power of God is not the same as magic tricks (see Exodus 7:8-12). Roughly defined, miracles are specific manifestations of God’s power designed to accomplish a specific purpose (see John 11:4, 13–15): they are not tricks or illusions that anybody can do.
  4. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1986), 1.
  5. See Andrew Fabich, “Is a Limited Genetic Code Proof That God Is Not Required?” Answers in Depth 11 (September 28, 2016), https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/dna-structure/limited-genetic-code-proof-god-not-required/.
  6. Channel Four News, UK, “Ways to Change the World,” August 28, 2019, https://www.channel4.com/news/ways-to-change-the-world.
  7. See Answers in Genesis, “Is Anyone out There?” https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/alien-life/is-anyone-out-there/.
  8. See Danny Faulkner, “Problems with the Big Bang,” in Universe by Design (Green Forest: Master Books, 2004), https://answersingenesis.org/big-bang/problems-with-the-big-bang/.
  9. See David Menton, “Did Dinosaurs Evolve into Birds?” Answers in Depth 13 (September 7, 2018), https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/feathers/did-dinosaurs-evolve-into-birds/.
  10. See David Menton, “Did Humans Really Evolve from Ape-Like Creatures?” in Searching for Adam (Green Forest: Master Books, 2016), https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/adam-and-eve/did-humans-really-evolve-from-ape-like-creatures/.
  11. The laws of logic are non-material and cannot be explained by naturalism. Atheists may believe in the laws of logic, but their naturalistic worldview cannot account for them. For example, one chemical state (thought) that leads to another chemical state (thought) does not guarantee proper logical inference and therefore the conclusions you come to cannot be trusted as being correct. The laws of logic presuppose the existence of God, because they are abstract, universal, and transcendent which imply a universal mind.
  12. Dawkins has previously said: “The universe we observe has . . . no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1995), 133. If there is no evil and good in the universe, then how can Dawkins accuse God or anyone of being evil? Dawkins has no standard to differentiate between good and evil.
  13. Is what Richard Dawkins says about evolution just his neurons firing or is there an objectivity to it that transcends everyone else’s objectivity? If we are just “dancing to our DNA” (see above footnote) then reason disappears. In order to do science, it is necessary to use objective reason. But atheism undermines objective reason because it reduces everything to physics and chemistry.
  14. See Jason Lisle, “Atheism: An Irrational Worldview,” Answers in Depth 2 (October 10, 2007), https://answersingenesis.org/world-religions/atheism/atheism-an-irrational-worldview/.
  15. See Jason Lisle, “Evolution: The Anti-Science,” Answers in Depth 3 (February 13, 2008), https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/evolution-the-anti-science/.

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