I recently listened to a debate between Christian apologist Norman Geisler and Paul Kurtz, one of the heroes of the secular humanist movement.
Several basic points occurred to me while listening. They all have to do with the atheist’s assuming ignorance rather than allowing his mind to go where the evidence (one of his favorite words) points.
The Origin of the Universe
There is overwhelming scientific and philosophical evidence that the physical cosmos (hereafter “cosmos”) has not existed eternally. Therefore there was a time (or perhaps we should speak more generally and say “a domain”) in which there was no cosmos: no matter, energy, space or even time.
Since the cosmos obviously does exist now, it seems obvious that some entity other than the cosmos must have caused it to come into existence. The only alternative is that sheer nothingness somehow “caused” the cosmos, an obvious impossibility.
The typical atheist responds to all this by asserting that we do not know what caused the cosmos, therefore atheism (or at least agnosticism) is the preferred position.
Here’s the basic problem with that: If someone really doesn’t know what caused the cosmos, then the cause could be anything. That’s what “I don’t know” means. Therefore if the skeptic is serious in his claim, he cannot rule out the possibility of God. If the cause is unknown, it could have been God. After all, the cause would have to exist outside of matter, energy, space and time, and would have be unimaginably powerful if not omnipotent, and either unimaginably lucky or else unimaginably wise. It would have to have these attributes. And these are some of the primary attributes of the God of the Bible, the one true and living God.
Therefore the honest skeptic would have to say, “Yes, it could be God, but I prefer not to believe that.”
Atheistic scientists and their fans claim that Darwinian, fully atheistic evolution (or, as they call it, “evolution”) is an established fact. But they also admit that science has not established the exact processes and sequence of events by which this atheistic evolution occurred.
[The word “evolution” has a wide range of meanings. We focus on the meaning used by apologists for atheism: That life developed by completely naturalistic processes.]
Question: If you don’t know how it occurred, how do you know that it occurred? The obvious answer: You don’t.
The atheistic scientists and their fans are assuming (not proving) that God could not have had anything to do with the development of life. This being so, something like atheistic Darwinian evolution is the only possibility: With no God to intervene, the only possible scenario is a vast series of tiny random changes leading, luckily, to ourselves.
Therefore the concept of Darwinian atheistic evolution has literally zero force as evidence against God. It is nothing more than the only possibility that survives the assumption of no God.
Evidence about the Life of Christ
The Bible, and a few other ancient books, gives testimony about Jesus. Atheists respond that these are just stories invented by the authors in order to spread a doctrine. Christians respond by pointing out various ways to argue that the biblical testimony is trustworthy.
Question: How do the atheists know that the biblical accounts are not accurate? Do they have independent evidence from the First Century which proves that Jesus of Nazareth was just a man, or even nonexistent? No, they do not. There are a few ancient sources claiming that Jesus was just a man, but these are hardly decisive.
All the atheists have is the assumption that Jesus as described in the Bible could never have existed. Under this assumption, they feel justified in rejecting all the arguments supporting the accuracy of the biblical accounts. Assuming atheism at the start, they arrive at the conclusion that the Jesus of Christianity is a myth. But that’s circular reasoning.
If you assume no God, or that knowledge of God is impossible, you get a system in which there is no God. A system in which you can discount all the evidence for Christianity. But it’s all based on a negative assumption. And there is no reason to assume the negative.
Most atheists won’t acknowledge that they are reasoning in a circle. They try to cover it up with various distractions. They will say that they actually do look to the evidence, but find it to be invalid. But they judge it to be invalid because they are assuming that God is impossible, and if he is impossible then any evidence that seems to point to him would have to be invalid.
When the sophisticated-sounding excuses are removed, it really is that simple. They choose to begin with unbelief.
But man is not omniscient. He cannot assume “no” as his answer. He must look to the evidence, not try to deny its fundamental validity.