Conversing with Atheists about God is Difficult at Best

I must admit that I have little interest in debates between atheists and those who adhere to a belief in God. Primarily it is because in my limited exposure to atheists or agnostics (which I profess was a position held in my youth) I find most of them to be almost gleeful in their disparagement of those who believe. For most the sole adherence to science, as if it was an indisputable truth to be believed without question, is an axiom written in stone. Most harbor an equal disdain for anyone who has the nerve to question the validity of some scientific ‘fact’ to which they find absolute. Believers are usually belittled as unenlightened, superstitious Cretans that undermine and inhibit their utopian vision for life. I’m sorry that we make your life so miserable. But believe it or not we do not wish to destroy science and reason. In fact faith and reason are inextricably linked to faiths such as mine: Catholic. By the way, did you know that it was a Catholic, Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître, who first came up with the big bang theory?

The atheist’s unhappiness and almost frenzied defense of a meaningless existence leads me to have some sympathy for them primarily because they seem to have developed into an anti-religion of sorts: peopled by  1) arrogant and rebellious youth who want to think themselves smarter than anyone else 2) those who have suffered loss or pain and cannot accept that a loving God could allow evil to exist or 3) embittered people who disdain the lives of those who seem so much more happy and fulfilled than are they.

I am not as smart as any of the atheists because I am one of those who believe in God, so bear with my unintelligent remarks or humor me: it might be a good laugh for those of the enlightened class who hold the highest ranking positions of intelligent thought. After all an oaf like me will never see the inside of an ivory walled institution of higher learning which should disqualify me from even voicing an opinion at all: though I will for humor’s sake.

The following are questions, observations and ponderings of one of the regular schleps that don’t know any better:

However, isn’t it true that science itself has no basis as a discipline unless it is founded upon the mysterious foundation of intelligence? If the universe has no intelligibility then our beloved science could not even exist: it would be an unintelligible hodgepodge of chaotic happenings without any hope of replicating an event in a lab or even within a mathematical model. Does an intelligent universe with mathematical rules point toward an intelligent creation or can intelligence be simply a random circumstance that we were fortunate enough to be privy to?

Is it also not true that in every age scientists felt that they had divined the secrets of some previously unknown phenomena just to see those theories overturned and replaced by their descendants? Am I to postulate that in this age things are different?  Or, have we reached the final truths? Or are we at the very brink of ultimate knowledge? If we are so much smarter than everyone who ever lived before us, can we foresee with any certainty that a glorious day will dawn when science will finally understand all things perfectly and no mysteries remain unsolved? For the atheists I have known had no taste for mystery, unless it was in the context of a completely intelligible event (in their estimation) that science will one day uncover.

Will we understand how the bombardier beetle came into existence (the scientific postulation for this is pretty weak from the answers I have read) or more fundamentally how does an organism develop sex organs with egg cells and sperm cells from a mass of single cell amoeba who might have banded together in a body of sorts? When these first sexual organisms evolved there must have been many billions of them morphed all in unison or how else could they find one another and create new little mutants of the sexual order? Had the first male organisms develop in the Pacific and the first female organisms develop in the Atlantic would they be able to find one another? I guess they are smarter than we give them credit. And since life is evolving by the law of the survival of the fittest, why didn’t all the lower forms evolve into the higher forms? Even the first 1 cell life forms still exist. How can that be? Further, if it is all about survival, why don’t some of the higher life forms devolve back into simpler forms of life when under stress instead of adding more complicated solutions to their quest for survival? Wouldn’t that make more sense to climb back into the ocean rather than evolve wings and take to the air? Maybe we will devolve back into apes someday if the banana trees start overpopulating the planet. Evolution is an accepted principle but devolution does not seem to be: I wonder why not.

To superstitious persons such as me, it seems that some kind of intelligence moved creation history along in a most intelligent way. I may be foolish but it seems that completely stupid creatures can do some incredibly complex, intelligent things: building nests, keeping their nests cleared of feces etc. This in my view is what you call instinct (a change in their genetics). But to us uninformed it seems more like a stupid animal acting in an intelligent and unexplained way. It remains a mystery to me and it only magnifies the mystery that is God in His creation. Many more mysteries exist in every science one can imagine. Are all these mysteries going to unfold before our god-like minds or will they continue to persist throughout all the ages?

And no, I am not a strict creationist. I only believe that God’s hand is everywhere present in shaping it. In fact it adds greatly to His Mystery that by His grace and His will one animal species might develop into a completely different species of animal or plant. If I see a building I know that a architect built it. When I read a novel, I know that a writer penned it. If I see a computer, I know that electronic engineers designed it. But when the simplest forms of life are viewed, which no brilliant scientist can replicate, the obvious question is: who is the designer – who is the architect – who is the author? The same holds true for us little people when we behold the wonders of the cosmos. How great thou art.

I for one accept mystery as a fact of life and would not like to live in a world devoid of mystery; especially the divine mystery of God which allows me to feel awe struck every time I look upon his wonders, whether of this world or out of this world: from the subatomic to the massive quasars and black holes. It is uplifting to live in a world and a universe that creates so much awe and wonder in the human heart and mind.

The fact that we creatures of stardust, as Carl Sagan loved to call us, have the ability to think and reason, feel joy and sorrow, love and be loved is a mystery to me. To know ourselves and have cognizance of existence itself is either a fantastic dreamscape or a mystery: it’s like saying a rock can come to know itself and its surroundings and has aspirations for a better and more fulfilling life in a few million years but that it is not a mystery how this came to be. How awesome is the gift of consciousness and more so, a reasoned consciousness!

For atheists to say they have no need of answers to mysteries so deep is to live in a vacuum of numbers, theorems and postulations without truly living and experiencing the best of human life. Such a life would render me a person without hope. Mankind becomes nothing more than another animal or created object. It is a purely utilitarian view of man’s worth. Is it no wonder that Marx, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and all the major ideological leaders who murdered 100’s of millions of people were atheists who happened to hold utilitarian views of mankind? They were going to make ‘life better’. For society should be more in keeping with their enlightened personal ideology and the rest of mankind should be forced to adhere to a life that they are just too stupid to appreciate or understand. Elitists always have a solution for the rest of us though we never asked them for one.  Abortion, euthanasia, forced work camps all come from utilitarian views of humankind and sadly it makes them more beast-like than human.

Speaking only for my unenlightened superstitious self, I would prefer to continue to live a life with purpose than to spend my time criticizing people for living good, wholesome, productive lives while fostering family values and instilling hope and love in everyone they can. Where does empathy, sympathy, and love reside? It was built into the fabric of a man’s beating heart and that is what the mystery of a firm faith in God excels in fostering. There are many reasons for faith but first you must come to desire it and seek it. I cannot give it to you like a book containing the Pythagorean Theorem so that you might analyze it. Some will find the need of God’s mystery screaming from their heart and others will not. I only pray that the emptiness of these persons might someday be filled with more than scientific models that explain how an existence that came from non existence can spontaneously happen without a creator.

That’s why I find it hard to discuss God with atheists. I’m far too shallow, happy and amazed at the wonders of this life to understand them at all.

10 Replies to “Conversing with Atheists about God is Difficult at Best”

  1. 8 kids and a business

    If I were an athiest, I think I would quit arguing with you just from the sheer tenacity of your arguments 🙂 But what you say is so true. For me, the argument always comes back to the human body, since, professionally, that’s what I deal with. The different systems in the body are all intertwined and one relates to the other in ways that most people can’t appreciate. How can anyone think the delicate balance in the body is due to some random meeting of atoms?

    Reply
    • servusfidelis Post author

      To me its things like music, art, humor, natural beauty. Why do we react to it the way we do? We are different from any other creature — God made us unique.

      Reply
  2. Shaun Clarke (Atheist)

    wow a lot to answer there, so i wont go into detail but i will point out some minor details.

    Your projection of atheism is obviously based on your own opinion, its fair enough you are entitled to it, but your post is rather a generalisation of a minority you have encountered. Yes, there are some angry atheists out there and if you inquire you would find out theres a story behind it, they probably came from a religious background and feel betrayed, abusive background or some other reason I am not here to justify there actions nor do i care to.
    The arguement you have brought forward is presented on both sides the hostility, insults, belittlement and insults I have seen my fair share of “hell” threats and the “atheists have no morals” speech, So its useless to try and defend “my testimony is better than yours”.

    I do work in the field of science, Psychology actually, and i am very interested in the way the mind works, its quite predictable and habitual even on a good day. Science does not claim it has all the answers and its quite happy to accept that, science is always open for improvement and if a better theory comes along in a particular field then science will be corrected, its a self correcting system.
    However, there are rules in science, you cant come forward and claim a theory is false without sufficient evidence to back it up and without a theory to explain a particular phenomena. It doesnt work like that, its been like that for hundreds of years and its worked out pretty well so far.

    The questions you have put forward about sexual organs, evolution etc is a trip to the library and opening biology books, not one but many books. This is very time consuming so i would expect you would not do that.

    Its quite interesting that you claim atheists and scientists have no awe or need for mystery, but you claim that this God gives you the wonders and awe, this is not true. The wonder and mystery of the universe drops jaws and opens eyes to anyone that looks, the moment of excitement and immense intrigue when witnessing a child being born and growing up. You might say that its a gift from God, but i have to decline because i have seen babies die just after birth from natural causes, babies born with down syndrome and mental disabilities etc. So saying its a gift from God doesnt really explain it.
    However seeing is only the half of it, you got to have the knowledge, i know by looking at the sky through my telescope i am not looking at the planets i am looking and the size of things, the scale of things and seeing what i have learnt come to life. When i see babies born i see the allele frequency, genetic composition and how life is almost on the brink of collapse, at any given moment the heart can fail, the organs can shut down and illness can take its toll.
    This information is essential to understanding in exactly what life is, what the universe is and you’ll come to realise that we havent even cut the tip of the iceberg, there is still much to learn. A long time ago we were told there was only the earth and we were the centre of it, we have found out to be false. We are still in shock, we havent fully adjusted to the magnitude of what is out there and what is in here.

    The question we ask ourselves is “are we prepared to move forward”?

    The bible depicts a culture of beliefs that lightning and thunder were from god and earthquakes are a result of Gods anger, Diseases were caused by demons and mental illness is from demon possesion. The bible also claims presenting striped patterns infront of a pregnant flock they will produce striped offspring. The people of those days were superstitious and had limited understanding of the world around them, they could only explain by the tools apparent at the time and they described their understanding as God.

    Through the years the doctrine served a purpose for containing societies and giving the society a common goal, to work together. Man replaced old laws with new laws, old cutoms with new customs. The religion evolved over time to the point where man began to think outside the doctrine and begin seeking answers through secularism.

    The universe is bigger than we think, the human mind is beyond the capabilities than what we are told, trust me i have seen it. The current situation in our society of these debates is a mere transformation to move forward, people are scared, people do fear the unknown but if we accept and move together we will be fine. We dont need bronze age beliefs dictating our lives, we have come off the bottle and we are beginning to walk, its not going to be easy and there will be stumbles along the way.

    You dont have to live in fear, you dont have to oblige to the belief that you are being watched and judged every day of your life, you dont have to bow down anymore, Its time to drop the ignorance and look at the horizon. We are standing on the shoulders of giants of men and women who have set the foundations to where we are now.

    If there was anything that needed to save my soul, Then science saved it.

    t

    Reply
    • Servus Fidelis Post author

      Thanks Shaun for way too much for me to comment on in a comment box. However, just a few things. I am first of all happy that you are in the field of science that is just about as demonized as are theologians by the “hard” science types — so I am assuming you know the disadvantage of trying to argue with them about your science as I would in someone who works in the realm of knowing God. They are more than skeptical.

      I can no more show you how a dying baby is a gift of God unless you were to also read volumes of theological works to try to understand the concept of redemptive suffering: a hard one even for believers.

      Although I, as well as the Church, believe that most anomalies in human mental diseases, classified as such are strictly in your realm, you would have a hard time convincing a Fr. Amorth or Malachi Martin or any other of the exorcists who have been involved in such things. Again, you too, would again have to study, read, or see a series of these encounters to claim that they have any veracity at all. I wouldn’t expect you too because these types of cases are rare and a psychologist or psychiatrist would not be the right person to evaluate the condition. But again, I believe that these things have credulity and you don’t. It is a matter of my faith while you have a faith in your science to cure these maladies.

      You will not convince me, nor will I you. And you are right when you say there a many mean people on both sides of the issues but I don’t think I have ever encountered such meanness in debates as I have with what I would term militant atheists. So you and I are not of that type. I have a way looking at faith and reason operating together and I see Theology as a science in itself. You see things in a different way and we could discuss them rationally.

      But the article was to say – I will not enter those forums anymore because ‘goodwill’ seems not to exist in many of the members. It only serves to trouble one’s soul rather than to lay out another rational form of thinking. They will never agree that Christians are rational. I hope you do, at least, give us that. By your tone, I think it is at least implied. Thank you for that.

      Reply

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