Before looking at evidence FOR God, let’s talk a bit about atheism. Atheism is the belief that there is no God (from Greek a-, not + theós, god). Its opposite is theism, the belief that there is a God. (Agnosticism falls somewhere in the middle. Technically, “hard” agnosticism is the belief that God is unknowable; he may exist, but we cannot know that. “Soft” agnosticism isn’t a clearly thought out position at all. It says “I don’t know.”)
In the next few readings, we will see that atheism is not a strong (nor well understood) belief as well as evidence why it isn’t likely to be true. We will look at how agnosticism is also weak, and often favoured by those who find the quest for God and truth to be too wearisome (and possibly inconvenient).
Some reasons why Atheism Fails
(1) Atheism is Amoral
What would happen in a state where God was entirely removed from society? Where irreligion was institutionalized as the official ideology? There’s no need to wonder what it would be like, since this scenario has played out in several nations in recent history, for example in Cambodia, Communist China, and North Korea. Atheism as a political ideology has consistently proven to be a catastrophe. Why has it failed so spectacularly?
We live in a moral universe. That is, the real world has hard edges, formed by unvarying laws and mathematical formulas (think gravity). Yet not all the laws are physical; many are moral. To live as though there is no right or wrong dehumanizes. We are neither machines nor mere animals. Rather, we are called to live above the level of animal or automaton. (We don’t believe our computer is “guilty” for crashing, nor do we imprison the lion that takes down the antelope.)
To illustrate, think about genocide (the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.). What is wrong with genocide? Who is to say it is evil? Everyone seems to agree that true morals transcend social consensus. Even if everyone in society is united in supporting evil (think Nazi Germany), that doesn’t make evil actions permissible, let alone good. Morals aren’t legislated by governments; these categories exist whether or not society acknowledges them. The philosopher Nietzsche (1844-1900) denied that any actions are moral or immoral; there are only moral interpretations of actions. In a literally godless world, a world without any ultimate distinction between vice and virtue, as the philosopher famously said, “God is dead.” And when God dies, morality dies with him; we are doomed to inhabit a world where there may be preferences and opinions, but nothing like “sin,” or even true good.
Note: This is not to say atheists cannot act morally, only that if they are moral, it is not because of their ideology, but in spite of it. Atheism is amoral, not immoral. The atheist imagines a world without ultimate accountability, one where he is answerable to no authority beyond this life. If we are just evolved carbon and not part of a greater divine creation, then killing someone is not ‘wrong’ (a moral judgement), it just ‘is’.