23 September 2010

Atheists Respectable or Not

Are Atheists respectable or not?

I commented this (see below) on a First Things On the Square article with no response (on many sites, I am just ignored: no one will be ignored on this blog).
(1) From the On the Square article the day before this article was posted ("Cogito and Christ" by Mr. Carter)
"Over the past few decades, many Christians—particularly those intrigued by postmodernism—have rightly questioned Descartes’ reversal. They have attempted to dethrone the idol of reason by pointing out the limits of rationality and questioning the human ability to achieve epistemic certainty, particularly about matters of theology. Unfortunately, in trimming away the underbrush they have failed to cut away the root of Descartes error: the faith in doubt.

"Among these Christians, as well as among secular intellectuals, doubt about metaphysical truths—such as the existence and creative actions of God—has become viewed as a form of intellectual humility. Once considered evidence of a poor intellect, agnosticism and atheism are now treated as evidence of intellectual virtue.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. This reliance on doubt requires that the doubter be the supreme judge of what can or cannot be known. Rejecting a dogmatic certitude about what is known in favor of a questioning attitude of whether something can be known with certainty merely shifts the idol of reason to a new location and gives it a more palatable, humble-sounding name. The doubters accept the limits of the human mind, embrace pluralism, and do not impose any one idea of truth upon others.

"However when we put our trust solely in our own reason we either become dogmatic or skeptical, and even dogmatic in our skepticism. But when we set aside our self-idolatry and seek true epistemic humility we can discover that the only reliable foundation for reason is found in special revelation."

(2) From this article:
"There are two answers to the question: 'Why does anything exist rather than nothing at all?' The atheist answers, 'There is no explanation.' The theist replies, God. An intelligent case can be made for either answer. But to say that the laws of physics alone answer it is the purest nonsense—as Hawking himself once realized."

I find the two passages above conflicting.

I talked to an in-law who claims to be an Atheist. I basically said that one of us has to be right (there is God or not), but that I respected my in-law's belief. My in-law has reasons, and I have my own.

From the first passage, it seems that the in-law's reasons contra-God's existence are directed to "self-idolatry", and from the second passage, the reasons derive an "intelligent case".

Which one is it? Can it be both at the same time like it is in so many philosophical/religious topics?
So what is it?


  1. I think the atheist's answer is misrepresented - it is not that there is no explanation, it is more that no explanation can be known (or derived through reason).

    Personally, I disagree - an explanation can be reached by reason, although that explanation may not be as full and complete as an atheist may desire. Reason can discover that the universe has a Creator. I don't really see how you can reason to the Christian God being said Creator - that can only come from revelation. However, based upon revelation, the case for the Christian God being that Creator is reasonable.

  2. c matt, see here at 1:45 about creatio continuo.

    Without a Will (in Love) keeping the universe going, the universe would stop going on.

    The problem with the first paragraph is that atheists cannot accept any explanation of God in that they have reasons for themselves not to believe. There is usually a positively negative credo, if you will, in their thinking about their being in the universe. Of course, it all depends with which Atheist one is debating.


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