The Irrationality of Atheist Belief

by Jefferson White

Picture of postmodern cityscape to illustrate "The Irrationality of Atheist Belief


Part I: That the Atheist Conception of Evolution Is Illogical

In this argument, we are not interested in the question of whether macro-evolution occurs.  For the sake of argument, we will simply assume that it does.  Thus we are arguing that it is the atheist’s conception of macro-evolution that is illogical.

According to Western atheists, there is a Big Bang and energy emerges. Energy then evolves into matter and matter eventually evolves into life.

However, this scenario is logically impossible.  It is not logically possible because the conclusion of a logical argument is also found in the premise of the argument. For example, the argument that “one plus one equals two” is a logical argument because “one plus one” is just another way of saying “two.”

Thus, as a matter of logic, energy cannot evolve into matter unless matter is already presupposed in energy. Nor can matter evolve into life unless life is already presupposed in matter – and in energy – from the beginning. Logically speaking, life must be presupposed from the instant that the cosmos begins.  Although life as a structure may not appear until billions of years later, the appearance of life is only if life is already presupposed.

If there is only energy at the beginning of the cosmos, there can only ever be energy.  According to the logic of identity (A=A) it is logically impossible for energy to evolve into something other than itself. If energy does evolve into matter and matter then evolves into life, this can only be because matter and life are already implicit within energy.

This is why the atheist conception of evolution is logically incoherent. It is logical nonsense to believe that life can evolve out of non-life.



Part II: That the Atheist Conception of Reality is Illogical

All Western atheists hold three beliefs about the nature of reality, with each which logically contradicts the other two. 

First, the atheist is convinced that nature has no intent, no purpose, and no design. Nature simply is and evolves without purpose.

Second, the atheist is convinced that some intellectual system – usually modern science or political progressivism or both – can somehow create intent, purpose, and design.  This logically contradicts the first belief. Since modern science and progressivism are part of nature, the atheist's claim that they can somehow create intent, purpose, and design is an illusion, since nature has no intent, purpose, or design. However, the atheist is distinguished by his refusal to recognize this logical contradiction.

Third, the atheist is convinced that the reason why he is an atheist, and why the rest of the world remains mired in superstition, is because he is uniquely capable of employing reason to discover that the cosmos has no intent, no purpose, and no design. But again: if nature has no intent, no purpose, and no design, how can it be possible for the atheist, who is a part of nature, to rationally discover this? How is the atheist able to invent purpose in order to discover that there is no purpose? However, once again, the atheist is distinguished by his refusal to recognize this logical contradiction.

So why is the atheist rationally incapable of recognizing the contradiction between his fervent belief that the cosmos has no meaning and his equally fervent belief that he can somehow invent meaning?

One possible answer is that the atheist does not really believe in one or more of his three claims. Perhaps he does not really believe that nature is without purpose. Or perhaps he does not really believe that modern science or progressivism can actually create purpose. Or perhaps he does not really believe that he is a rational human being. However, as anyone who has actually dealt with an atheist knows, the atheist will vehemently assert the truth of all three of these claims. One is forced to conclude that, if a lie detector test was given, the test would reveal that the atheist does really believe all three propositions simultaneously.

And what this tells us is that the atheist is someone who is uniquely irrational.


Part III: That Theophanic Events Are Real

A theophany is an appearance of God in the world.  By definition, therefore, no atheist can believe in a theophanic event. But there is a logical problem with this atheist disbelief.

From a scholarly paper written in 2012:

In the spring of 1976 at the University of Washington [the philosopher] Eric Voegelin presented a series of lectures…During one such session, Voegelin was expounding upon the crucial notion of a “theophanic event” to the utter astonishment of a world-renowned Weberian scholar in the audience. After all, as the professor remarked, how could Voegelin talk of such things in an age that Weber described as one of “disenchantment.” What could Voegelin possibly mean? Voegelin’s response to the professor must have seemed even more bizarre. Voegelin asked whether the professor was indeed serious about his question and really wanted to know what Voegelin meant. Or was he an “intellectual crook”? The professor, of course, vehemently denied the latter possibility and affirmed that he truly wanted to know. “Well,” responded Voegelin, “that is a theophanic event!”

The rational absurdity of atheism is revealed in this exchange. It is revealed in the puzzlement of the “Weberian scholar” who both “knows” and “does not know” that it is impossible to understand at all unless that understanding transcends what is being understood. And this transcendence is an attribute of the divine, a gift that is given to man by the divine. Human understanding is inevitably a theophanic event. But since the “Weberian scholar” considers himself to be a “modern man,” he is utterly opposed to any reference to theophanic events, since “modern men and women” can no longer believe in such things. And this is why Voegelin asks him whether he really wants to know why Voegelin believes in theophanic events or whether he is just an “intellectual crook.”  When the professor says that he really wants to know, Voegelin then points to the desire to know as one example of a theophanic event.

The problem is that the atheist asserts that there is no such thing as a transcendent understanding of reality, while at the same time claiming that his own understanding is transcendent. The atheist philosopher is, as Voegelin states, “an intellectual crook.”


Part IV: That There Is No Rational Atheist Argument

The difficulty in arguing with an atheist is that the atheist has no rational argument.

But to make this the argument is to “disrespect” the atheist and his claim to be a rational human being. And if there is one thing in which the Western atheist believes, in addition to his atheism, it is in his own, personal rationality. Indeed, the atheist considers himself to be more rational than other people because he is an atheist.

Thus one can only engage in a rational argument with an atheist on one of two grounds. Either one participates in the atheist lie that he  has a rational argument or one “insults” the atheist by demonstrating that he does not have a rational argument. Unfortunately, most people participate in the atheist lie out of a misguided sense of civility.

Now why do we say that the atheist has no rational argument?

We say this because the atheist denial of God necessarily involves the re-appearance of God at some other level of his argument, but that atheist never acknowledges this.

For example: if one argues that intent, purpose, and design are possible only if human beings are a reflection of the divine, the atheist will answer in one of two ways. Either he will insist that these human attributes can exist as the products of an entirely evolutionary process or he will agree that such human attributes do not actually exist, but that we do not really need these attributes to be fully human. 

Let us begin with the first argument, which is that these attributes can be the products of an evolutionary process. According to the atheist, evolution as a process has no intent, no purpose, and no design. And yet somehow this process then produces human beings who possess all three of these attributes. But it is a matter of simple logic that if the evolutionary process does not contain such attributes, then the attributes can never “evolve” out of that evolutionary process.

Of course, the atheist will go on to argue that, thanks to modern science, we are able to “understand” evolution and this this“understanding” empowers us to “control” our evolution. But this argument is nothing more than hand-waving. It is simply magical thinking. The logical truth is that if we are the products of an evolutionary process and that process contains no intent, no purpose, and no design, then those attributes can ever “emerge” as part of that process.  The atheist has simply re-invented God by claiming that human beings have somehow become God by magically transcending the evolutionary process.

This brings us to the second atheist argument. In this case, the atheist agrees that there is no such thing as intent, purpose, or design. But he will then go on to argue that we can be fully human anyway, so long as we illogically believe, or pretend, that we have these attributes. The problem with this argument is that every atheist lives as if he really believes that he has intent, purpose, and design. In short, the atheist who agrees that these attributes do not exist is the living refutation of his own argument. 

Logically speaking, if we are the products of an evolutionary process then we can never transcend that process. The puppet called Pinocchio will never become anything other than a puppet. Pinocchio will never become a real human being. But the atheist believes either that the wooden puppet Pinocchio can become a human being, and therefore believes in what amounts to an atheist miracle, or the atheist believes that he is actually is nothing more than a puppet, but then puts the lie to that claim by living as if he possessed those attributes.

This is why the atheist has no rational argument.

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Jefferson White is also the author of the book The Political Theory of Christ

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