Dear Questioning Atheist,


If you cringe at authority concerning other things in life the way you do at religion you would have to be content to know nothing all of your life. Most of the things we know in this world come from authority. All this really means is that you believe certain things because you get the information from a trustworthy source. People believe in the concept of the solar system, the existence of the atom, and evolution because a scientist or teacher explained it to them. In fact, every historical statement in this world is believed because of authority. No one alive today was present during the Revolutionary War. We believe it happened because we are told it happened.

The point here is that information that is passed to people throughout history is done so on the sole basis of authority. It is a legitimate way of receiving information, otherwise we must be content to only know the things we experience or witness direct from an original source. We would have a closed-minded life indeed if we did the latter.

So, what’s the problem with God then? Why do some people not believe in him? The strange thing is, people are less inclined to believe in God, yet they have no problem believing in the existence of the atom, though most of them have never seen one. It still takes an authority to explain the atom. Nevertheless, the ones who have seen the atom first hand must accept another’s authority in scientific fields they themselves are not authorities in. So, it would seem, there is an endless need for authority. Let’s not forget, however, that these authorities are just as fallible as you and I.

We accept one authority and reject another, but why? We heap to ourselves teachers that tell us what we want to hear. We are always learning, but much of the truth we believe we will never witness to be true ourselves. Sadly, truth takes a backseat to our agenda. Truth then, only stays truth if it happens to fit our views of life.

Does God exist or not? Well, that depends on who you are listening to, and who you trust. It is still up to each man to make his own decision, regardless of what fallible authorities say. Only a first hand experience with God can convince you otherwise, and that takes a little faith. I wouldn’t cringe at the word “faith” either. You already have faith in the authority of your teachers. You can’t say you don’t have any. It’s just a matter of where you place it.

***Update*** See Side Notes April 27, 2010

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10 thoughts on “Dear Questioning Atheist,

  1. “Only a first hand experience with God can convince you otherwise, and that takes a little faith.”

    You see Daniel, that’s the problem – According to your theology, I can’t be convinced of God until I personally experience God…but I can’t experience God until I believe in God.

    It’s not that you have put the cart before the horse – it’s that your cart has no horse.

    I could comment line by line, but that would obviously be wasted words. I’ll just sign off with a few quotes:

    “Anyone who, in discussion relies upon authority, uses not his understanding, but his memory.”
    ~Leonardo Da Vinci, 1500

    “In matters of religion it is very easy to deceive a man, and very hard to undeceive him.”
    ~Pierre Bayle, Dictionary, 1697

    “A myth is a fixed way of looking at the world which cannot be destroyed because, looked at through the myth, all evidence supports the myth.”
    ~Edward De Bono

    What is faith? To me, it is nothing more than holding the opinion that an idea is true with a certainty that exceeds available evidence, and too often, ignores contrary evidence.
    ~unknown

    “We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year’s fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.”
    ~Robert G. Ingersoll

    1. What’s interesting to me is that you claim to have been a Christian for many years, but do not claim to have first hand knowledge of God. Yet, you can put your faith in men’s authority just fine.

      There is no evidence before faith in God (except for an authority telling you otherwise). There is evidence after faith in God. If there were no evidence after faith, there should be a great many intellectual, religious people abandoning their faith. Personal experience sustains faith.

      Two examples of faith:

      1.If I am never to travel overseas, I will never see the country of Spain. I believe it exists because I see it on maps and through the witness of others. I believe because I take it on the authority of the person who made the map, and the person who has been there. So, although I have never seen Spain, I believe it exists. That is faith.
      2.If I have no experience with cars, I would never know the correlation between the pressing down of a pedal and the acceleration of a vehicle. Yet, when I sit in the driver’s seat with the car on and press the pedal, the next thing I experience is acceleration. The understanding of how the vehicle works is irrelevant to my ability to accelerate it. Although I don’t understand it, I experience it, and believe I need to press the pedal down. That is also faith.

      One faith the evidence precedes and the other faith the evidence follows. You seem to have trouble with the latter kind. What is the danger of having faith in God if it is validated afterwards? Hopefully you understand that this: – “What is faith? To me, it is nothing more than holding the opinion that an idea is true with a certainty that exceeds available evidence, and too often, ignores contrary evidence.” – betrays a misunderstanding of what faith is.

  2. We accept one authority and reject another, but why?

    The answer is very simple. I don’t accept any authority. I may respect an experts opinion, but I do not necessarily accept them. (Look up “Argument from Authority Fallacy”.) I do not accept the propostion that atoms exist because someone says so. I accept the proposition that atoms exist because experiments have been performed and the results are best explained by their existence. I can look at the actual data and come to this conclusion myself. These experiments are repeatable and increase our understanding of the universe measurably.

    I reject the proposition that gods exist because there is no evidence to support such a proposition, and thus accepting the proposition is irrational. There isn’t even an expert who’s opinion I would even listen to because I can not distinguish what theologists say from the ravings of the insane. QED.

    1. Shamelessly Atheist,

      Have you personally conducted these experiments? Have you personally generated the data you are believing in?

      You have circular reasoning here. You say “I don’t accept any authority”, Yet you say, “I accept the proposition that atoms exist because experiments have been performed and the results are best explained by their existence.” If you “accept”, then you accept it on authority.

      Your circular reasoning is at fault for you not being able to “distinguish what theologists say from the ravings of the insane.”

    2. @ShamelesslyAtheist,

      Were the experiments conducted properly? Were the results reported honestly? Did the experiment test what it was supposed to test? How do you know the answers to these questions? You have trusted the authority of those who conducted and reported on the experiment.

      Sorry, it’s an inescapable fact that we accept (most) things on authority. Thus, the question remains. Why is it acceptable to trust XYZ authority over ABC?

  3. Daniel – “What’s interesting to me is that you claim to have been a Christian for many years, but do not claim to have first hand knowledge of God.

    It is very simple – when I was a bible believer, I believed I did have “knowledge of God”. Now, I can see that I mistook, just as you are doing now, belief – for – knowledge.

    Look, I have absolutely no problem with you, or anyone else, believing in God. I have no problem if you believe you KNOW God is real. I only object when people, such as yourself, claim to know that God is real. And my intention in objecting is really only to try to correct your false claim. You don’t KNOW, you only BELIEVE. That’s it.

    And the examples you proved, Spain and the car, don’t really work. I can actually get on a boat or plane and go to Spain to see for myself. And I have never, ever read one rebuttal for the existence of Spain. Spain is a Geographic and historical fact.
    As for the car accelerating when I press down on the gas peddle, if that is “faith”, as you say, it is experiential faith. It is a belief that what I have done ten thousand times before has yielded a certain result (the car engine speeding up) so it will most likely do it again, unless there is some kind of mechanical failure.
    Please tell me how this equates to a religious faith in a supreme being that seems to exist only in your mind, and on the pages of a 2,000 year old book.

    “Although I don’t understand it, I experience it, and believe I need to press the pedal down. That is also faith.”
    No! I don’t “believe” I need to press the peddle down, I KNOW I need to press the peddle down. I KNOW that the car will not accelerate unless I press the peddle down. That is a fact. No faith is required.

    “What is the danger of having faith in God if it is validated afterwards?” I don’t know what you are asking.

    “…betrays a misunderstanding of what faith is.”
    Feel free to clear up -specifically and to the point – this misunderstanding you are accusing me of. I mean, I had faith in the God of the bible for 25 years. Do you really think that I don’t understand what religious faith is? That is a common tactic Daniel – if someone points to a fault in the reasoning of the religious mind, they are accused of not understanding the religious mind.

    “If there were no evidence after faith, there should be a great many intellectual, religious people abandoning their faith.”
    Actually, there is a great many; Bart Ehrman, Dan Barker, John Loftus, just to name a few who were theologically trained and were either ministers or taught at the university level, and have wrote books on the subject, and who now no longer believe there is a God. And there are millions of former Christians, just like me, who perhaps are not “intellectual”, but we managed to leave the faith anyway.

    1. There are a great many intellectual, religious people who keep their reason and their faith. They believe the two are compatible, but why? It is because their faith is followed by evidence. That evidence is a personal experience with God. They themselves become “authorities” because they get their information direct from the original source. Now, they can distinguish between a correct authority and an incorrect one. Maybe, the people who leave their religion didn’t get their information from the original source.

      “That is a common tactic Daniel – if someone points to a fault in the reasoning of the religious mind, they are accused of not understanding the religious mind.”

      Are we to abandon common tactics merely because they are common? I am, however, not trying to send a “tactic” your way. Many religious people spend years trying to understand and explain faith. But, you don’t have to completely understand it to reap the benefits, just as you don’t have to understand each vitamin and mineral that is in your dinner to be nourished by it.

  4. “A myth is a fixed way of looking at the world which cannot be destroyed because, looked at through the myth, all evidence supports the myth.”
    ~Edward De Bono

    I think you know where I’m going with this.

    The same thing happens when internal materialist causes are defined into what is called science. Some might say this is a good thing. But you can be assured they are all materialists and the ones that are not have no alternative explanation based on those causes.

    The quote above is so appropriate in explaining how evolutionists can continue to believe a theory that is punched so full of holes by the world we see around us, that most of its evidence is filled in by the anecdote that none can detail with anything drawn from general scientific principles and that one only continues to excuse and defend because they are so inclined by materialist philosophy.

    “We have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…….we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations…..we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” – geneticist and evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin

    “It’s always easy to persuade yourself that you’ve understood something when you haven’t understood a thing. The issue before us is not whether retroactively we can explain an adaptation, but whether we can draw that adaptation from general principles. This is what Darwinian theory cannot do, and this is — this is the requirement of normal science.” – philosopher and mathematician David Berlinski

  5. “…we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door…”

    Tim, all you have to do is show me, even just a divine foot print, and I would be glad to acknowledge it, but all IDr’s present as evidence, as you did above – (“…how evolutionists can continue to believe a theory that is punched so full of holes by the world we see around us…”) is gaps in the theory of evolution. And you comfortably fill those gaps in with “God did it”.

    The church has been doing that for over a thousand years, and as evidenced by your attitude, will continue to do that.

    So Tim, I guess you discount all scientific evidence (fossil, biology, geology, etc) that scientist consider as supporting the theory of evolution, you consider all of it to be mythological, correct? Darwin started a myth, and 150 years of scientific investigation has done nothing but further that myth…

    …but…

    …a couple of pages in the beginning of an ancient book, claimed to be written by men under the influence of some supreme being 2,000 years ago, there is no way that can be a myth, right?

    That is what you are saying, right?

    Once again – “…how evolutionists can continue to believe a theory that is punched so full of holes by the world we see around us…”

    Tim, can you offer one, just one natural subject, (fossil, flower, planet, creature, formation, star, etc, etc) one, that has no possible natural explanation, but can only be explained as a product of a supernatural force, and that supernatural force can only be your God.

    Offer just one please. Perhaps just one of those many holes you claim is in evolutionary theory.

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