Five Questions for an Atheist

1. What is the origin of the universe? 

The current consensus of Science is that the entire cosmos (including time and space) came into existence at a precise point in the past.  All of our observations, equations, and physical laws testify to this point.  Given this troubling possibility that the universe may indeed have a finite beginning, consideration must be given to these questions: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and “Where did it all come from?”  If the cause of creation was not God, what was it? 

If there was no God, no creation, and no supernatural origin of everything, then matter, space, time, and all the binding laws of the universe must have miraculously emerged from a silent state of nothingness, and through some unknown process formed the conditions through which our present world would come to be.  Somehow nothing became something.   This hypothetical something, whatever it was, again through a completely coincidental chain of unknown events, eventually became everything.  Since that time, when nothing became everything, these worlds of uncertain origins have apparently been improving, still again through a series of inexplicable and implausible occurrences, building upon itself, moving towards the ideal state of existence we now experience.  Matter, energy, and molecular motion, the fundamentals of the physical world, all appeared from nowhere, for no reason, with no cause.  Sound unreasonable?  Of course.  That’s because nothing ever happens in this way.  The law of entropy well explains that such a scenario is simply impossible.  What’s more likely, a pile of bricks turning into a house, or a house turning into a pile of bricks? 

 Since its origin, whenever it was, the earth has been moving steadily from a state of order towards disorder, from utopia towards chaos.  This is the law of entropy.  Given this truth, we must logically conclude that the condition of the natural world is actually a degraded form of what it must have been in the beginning.  The earth was conceived in a condition superior to our present situation and has since its genesis been slowly unraveling.  The evidence is apparent – thousands of untold species have disappeared, ecosystems are crumbling, and the whole natural world is slowly but surely decaying.   Evolution and the related dogma necessitated by atheism rejects this view in favor of an inherently illogically theory, that the earth and all the cosmos somehow grew out of nothing into the balanced and life-sustaining universe we now observe.  How did this happen?  How did matter come from non-matter?  How did order appear out of disorder?  How did nothing become everything?  In atheism there are no answers.  Only in atheism is there an effect without a cause, an output without an input, and products without reactants.  If the natural world is the only world, logic demands there should be no natural world at all.  According to the physical laws of the universe, there should be no universe.  Everything couldn’t have come from nothing; everything must have come from a creator not constrained by the limitations of the material world.  

The genesis scenario portrayed in an atheistic perspective violates the law of entropy and several other natural laws as well.  To name a few: 1) mass cannot be created nor destroyed (the law of conservation of mass), 2) energy cannot be created nor destroyed (the law of conservation of energy), and 3) matter does not act unless acted upon (the law of inertia).        

How long must a paint brush lay next to the canvas before a painting appears?  It never will, not without a painter.  This is the fallacy of atheism.  If there is art, there is an artist.  Where there is a building, there must also be a builder.  If there is organization, there must be an organizer.  If there is a design, there must of necessity be a designer.  This creation must logically have a Creator. 

2. What is the origin of life? 

Most of Science now accepts at least six elements necessary for life.  An organism must have 1) nutrition, including specific mechanisms for capturing, digesting, and metabolizing nutrients, 2) a means of osmoregulation, that is, balancing water and solute concentrations, 3) a means of excreting metabolic waste, 4) a means of reproduction, 5) a mechanism for respiration, including processes for acquiring and excreting gases such as O­2 and CO­2, and 6) a means of internal transport, distributing nutrition and other substances throughout the organism.  In the absence of any one of these six elements organic life is simply impossible.  How did these biological basics suddenly appear in the first organism?  How did life emerge from non-life?  Without God, it’s anybody’s guess.      

The issue of abiogenesis (the origin of the first organism) is one of the most confounding questions for an atheist.  The more we learn about life the more that cannot be explained in an atheistic world.  Under what circumstances did lifeless matter develop the complex molecular processes fundamental to even the simplest life forms?  The position of atheism is akin to the deserted theory of spontaneous generation.  Science once held that basic organisms could simply appear from nothing if the appropriate environment was provided.  The theory was based on the observation that a rotting piece of meat would eventually yield a healthy swarm of flies.  As our understanding of biological life grew, theories such as this were promptly abandoned.  The only thing that can yield life is life itself.  This conclusion, though, comes with considerable theological implications.  Logically and biologically speaking life should not exist now if it has not always existed.  It must either be eternal or absent altogether.  Life either always has been or never was.  Since atheism assumes there is no eternal God, no giver of life, it has no explanation other than to suppose that life must have appeared accidentally of its own accord.  Spontaneous generation was never really deserted; the name has just changed to Evolution.       

To borrow an analogy from the ex-atheist Sir Fredrick Hoyle, the chance of lifeless matter randomly assembling into even a simple life form is comparable to the probability of a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and leaving in its wake a Boeing 747.  Both are statistically impossible.  What’s more is that this analogy first assumes the appropriate organic matter essential for life already exists.  Where did this organic matter come from?  Excluding divine intervention, this, like the rest of the cosmos, must also have appeared randomly through the blind forces of nature.  Even elemental carbon, the backbone of organic matter, is held together only by an irreducibly complex balance of nuclear forces and subatomic interactions.  What’s the chance of even one carbon molecule randomly materializing out of atomic scraps?  Statistically speaking, there is no chance at all.             

Before there was life, there must have been a life giver, a master mind responsible for the perfect symmetry pervading the universe.  Without God, life is logically, biologically, and statistically impossible. 

3. What is the origin of the human conscience? 

The world of an atheist is by logical necessity a purely physical world, defined only in terms of physical processes, and is devoid of anything not attributable to natural explanations.  The state of consciousness is no exception.  For an atheist, there is no conscience, only chemistry.  

In this godless world, where there can be neither soul nor transcendent “self”, the conception of consciousness – awareness of one’s self – is but an illusion created by chemical interactions in the brain.  The mind is just a misleading metaphor we use to describe these illegitimate feelings of personhood we experience through the electrical activity in our nervous system.  Intuition, individuality, emotions, and intellectual autonomy are all creations of this unfortunate “self” delusion.  The notion of freewill is also excluded in this system as our “decisions” could not be more than the instinctive regurgitating of programmed responses embedded into the cerebrum through environmental conditioning.  Like any other animal, we are simple spewing out what nature puts in.  If the mind is merely matter and the conscience only chemistry a computer or even a simple calculator have just as much a mind as we do.  

These assumptions of atheism give rise to other increasingly absurd questions about consciousness and the human mind.  Given time and technology could a computer develop a sense of self-awareness?  Will computers someday be asking, “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?”  The acknowledgement of self and individual autonomy, if not a delusion, what is it?  Could the creative rational mind ever be acquired, even in billions of years of evolution, if it only exists in the limitations of a physical framework?   If consciousness happened upon the human race, why could it not spontaneously appear in any other collection of organic material?  As far as we know the dirt on your shoes may already be meditating on these same questions. 

The absence of a bona fide conscience creates more confusion in atheism, especially in the area of morality.  If the mind of humanity is driven only by chemical interactions, rational thinking is an illusion and man, like an animal, is inherently amoral.  In atheism there can be neither moral nor immoral as such classifications cannot exist without the context of an independent conscience.  There could be no such thing as mental illness, no right or wrong, no good or evil, no sane or insane, only different uninhibited biochemical responses to the environment.  So how should we explain the collective objective moral conscience common to humanity?  It can’t be explained, not without the acceptance of some existence of a human experience beyond the physical.  Even Evolution’s ideas of survival of the fittest and natural selection simply don’t fit the bill.       

The only explanation for objective morality, if not also an illusion, is that it was imposed on our intellect by some force greater than the human intellect itself and exists outside of the apparent limitation of a physical universe.  We understand all humanity to possess certain “unalienable rights”, if there is no deity affording these rights, how so?  Morality, then, must be the creation of God himself, to guide and protect his creation.       

The human mind is the most distinguishing feature of the human race, yet there is no biological explanation for it.  How could consciousness come from unconsciousness?  Can mere chemistry and electricity be responsible for something as abstract as a rational mind?  The mind must be something more than chemistry and electrical impulses.  The state of consciousness, like life and matter, must have an origin outside of the observable physical world.  What else is there besides the observable physical world?  The master and maker of the human mind, God.    

4. What is the origin of “God”? 

It’s hard to deny, the human mind is hardwired for God.  In nearly every culture of all time, the impulse to discover and serve something greater than self has been central to the human experience.  To an atheist, however, this “god delusion” is just the unfortunate creation of our collective human imagination.  In atheism, God was created in our image, rather than us in his.      

Such a conclusion gives way to some important question about this superstition in the supernatural.  Is the human mind really capable of conjuring up something so far from the natural world as God?  Even paranormal fantasies like fairies, aliens, ghosts, gremlins, gargoyles, and hobgoblins are all distinctly dissimilar to the notion of a supreme supernatural being.  These fairy tales and legends are exaggerations, conglomerations, or misinterpretations of real observations in the natural world.  Someone seeing the silhouette of a manatee in the water, not knowing what it was, concluded it must be some strange sea creature that was half person and half fish.  So began the myth of mermaids.   All these creations of the human imagination originated as an extension of reality.  Farfetched for sure, but not that far. 

God simply does not fit within the framework of these fantasies.  God is not an extension of reality; he is purported as being the origin of reality.  He is nothing like anything in the natural world as he is supposed by many to be the creator of the natural world.  How could humanity dream up something so superfluous as God without a parallel or pattern in the physical world?  Is God the creation of our human imagination, or could it be that God purposefully placed it in our intellect the inclination to seek something more than what we find in the physical world?  Where else could this notion have originated?  Had not this instinct come from God, could it exist without him?  Would we have been compelled to find God if he was never there?  Why do we all keep looking for him if no one is really finding him?  If God is not real, should we suppose he was dreamt up during our evolution?  If so, how does this superstition encourage procreation of superior specimens?  Again, atheism affords no answers.   

5. What is the origin of atheism?

Given the unsettling fact that so may people have hope in God’s existence, why don’t you?  Are myriads of religious people really so sadly confused, or could it be you that’s mistaken?  Sifting through the issues and identifying the root of anyone’s atheism may be an unpleasant and complicated task, yet it is crucial.  No other question comes with as many implications as whether or not there is indeed a creator of the cosmos.  If you are not completely certain there is not a God, you must concede, even if only to yourself, that there might be a God.  If there might be God, he might have an interest in your life and he might have expectations.  If he has expectations, there’s a reasonable chance you’re not meeting them.  If you’re not meeting these expectations, there might be consequences. 

Atheism as a body of theological arguments denying the existence of God has no precise origin in our anthropological past – there’s probably always been some doubter – yet every atheist most certainly has reasons for their disbelief.  Among these reasons, some are offered more often than others.  The atheist will ask, 1) “If there is a God, why is there suffering in the world?” 2) “If God is good, what is the origin of evil?” and 3) “If there is a God, where is the evidence?” 

These are certainly legitimate questions, yet they do little in the way of invalidating the possibility of God’s existence.  Many of these objections, including those mentioned above, first make assumptions about who God should be and what one would expect him to be like.  When these expectations are apparently unmet the doubter concludes there is no God.  In the aforementioned examples, atheism contends if there is a God there should be no suffering in the world.  Since suffering does exist – and an omnipotent God would of course alleviate all suffering – there is therefore no God.  Does this show God to be a fraud?  Not at all, at most it demonstrates that if there is a God it is not in his agenda to rid the world of such suffering.  Unfortunately, this defective logic is applied in many other areas of atheism.  If God does not meet your expectations, is God the fallacy or it the assumptions that are faulty?  God is often dismissed as a myth when no God is found to fulfill our preconceptions.  

In similar form, atheism also assumes that because God is supposed to be the origin of everything he must therefore be the origin of evil.  Since a good God could not be the origin of evil an atheist says there must be no God at all.  This again, like the subject of suffering, does not show God to be fictional; rather it shows that God, if he does exist, does not operate as we have assumed.  If God is good, he of course could not be the origin of evil.  God could not be the creator of his own antithesis.  Evil therefore is not the antithesis of God it is the absence of God.  As darkness is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat, so evil is the absence of God.        

Finally, suppose there was no substantial evidence for God existence, does the lack of evidence itself constitute sufficient evidence against his existence?  Certainly not.  The question of God’s presence would simply remain unanswered.  The absence of evidence doesn’t even affect the probability of there being a God; it simply renders the question unanswerable.  For example, there is to this point no certain evidence that there is life on Mars, yet this lack of evidence hardly settles the question.  Such is the case with atheism.  Religious opinions aside, where is the evidence that there is no God?  Unless the lack of evidence is presumed to be the evidence – which it logically cannot be – atheism again offers no answers and no proof for their position.

As the biological and human sciences grow, the position of an atheist seems to be an increasingly precarious position.  Cosmology, biology, and all of secular science continually fail to give compelling explanations for some the most basic questions of our origins.  How did matter come from non-matter?  How did life come from non-life?  How did consciousness come from unconsciousness?  In atheism there are no answers.

avatar About Tad
I am a member of the Riverside Road Church of Christ in Ozark, MO, where I share the responsibility of teaching and preaching with several other men. In my secular work, I am a professor at Cox College in Springfield, MO, in the department of radiologic sciences and imaging.

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