In my recent article series, I’ve argued that without God, there can be no ultimate justification for reason, science, or morality. In this article, I want to be crystal clear about my argument. I am not arguing that people with a godless worldview are unreasoning, can’t do science, and can’t have good morals. I’m arguing that atheists have to borrow from God in order to justify the use of their reason, science, and morality.
Sye Bruggencate, in his documentary “Answering the Fool,” gives this illustration. “If you said to me, ‘I don’t believe in words,’ that would be absurd because you’re using words to tell me you don’t believe in them. The statement itself is self-defeating.”
Likewise, when an atheist says there is no God, then uses logic and reason to explain why, it’s absurd because without God there is no justification for trusting our logic or reason. Atheists can be brilliant thinkers. I’m not calling atheists stupid or irrational. I’m pointing out the absurdity of atheists using the brilliance of their minds to deny the God who gave them their brilliance!
At the end of the book of Job, God asked Job a rhetorical question, “Who has put wisdom in the innermost being or given understanding to the mind?” (Job 38:36). It’s rhetorical because the answer is obvious. God did! Atheists use their minds to deny the God that gave them their minds! They can certainly claim God doesn’t exist, but if so, they’re stuck with Darwin’s “horrid doubt” that our minds, which evolved from lower animals, have any trustworthiness at all. Atheists must borrow from God to have a basis for trusting their minds.
Furthermore, there are plenty of successful atheist scientists. Their science projects don’t fail simply because they don’t believe in God. However, they operate on a set of assumptions that are only justified in an intelligently created universe. They rely on the uniformity of nature which allows future conditions to be like the past. They rely on universal, unchanging laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. They rely on consistent mathematical formulas that are universally and objectively true. Without God, there is no way to account for such a reliable science lab in which to perform experiments.
Ironically though, atheist scientists claim science proves there is no need for God. Once again, it’s an absurd position because without God we couldn’t do science. Using science to disprove the God who makes science possible is like using words to disprove language. Atheists must borrow from God and use His science lab in order to have a basis for doing science.
Finally, some atheists may even put Christians to shame with their morality. Atheists can be incredibly kind, self-sacrificial, and philanthropic. Atheists aren’t automatically murderers and rapists simply because they don’t believe in God. However, the reason atheists understand the difference between “good” and “evil” deeds is because God made them in His image. He designed us with built-in consciences which gives us a universal sense of moral “ought.” It’s why all of us, no matter our beliefs, were infuriated by the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. Even atheists live like that was objectively wrong morally. The problem is, they have to borrow that moral objectivity from God. Their own worldview doesn’t provide it.
Famous atheist Richard Dawkins, in his book “River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life,” lamented evil in this world and said this: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
I understand he made that statement to argue against God (and it would take another article to show why he’s mistaken), but the very fact he’s lamenting “evil” and “lack of justice” in the world shows he’s made in God’s image. His argument also demonstrates the end result of a godless universe: “no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Yet atheists don’t live like that! They get angry at “evil” and strive to be “good” people. They lament like Dawkins about evil and lack of justice, but they have to borrow from God to make any sense at all of good and evil.
So please don’t misunderstand. Atheists can be rational, talented scientists, and can even do good deeds. The problem is, they have to borrow from God to make sense of any of it. Tragically, they try to use rational, scientific, and moral arguments to deny the God who makes their rationality, science, and morality possible. “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1a).
[Note: The word “fool” there doesn’t describe lack of intelligence, but a stubborn refusal to accept the obvious.]