Refuting 4 Irrational Assertions Made by Atheists

logicfailAssertion 1: “Evolution is ateleogical.”

Response: If ateleological causal relationships exist, then they are accidental and not essential. If they are accidental, furthermore, they cannot have a telos in view (either mediately via progressive adaptation and sturctural organization of the species in question) or immediately (i.e. in the immediate adaptive response of some entity to some other external entity). If evolution occurs, however, then changes within a species occur mediately or immediately (as defined above). And if changes within a species occur either mediately or immediately, then these changes have a particular telos. And if they have a particular telos, then they are not ateleological.

How, then, can evolution be ateleological if organisms undergo adaptive modifications to better equip them to survive in a given environment and/or among different entities like and/or unlike themselves? It is logically incoherent to say that “Evolution is ateleological,” for the very concept of evolutionary adaptation implies that change is adaptive, i.e. conforming to a particular environmental context.

To press the matter further: If evolution is an ateleological process, then any explanations offered up by evolutionary theorists as to why X underwent genetic modifications a, b, and c are, well, false. For if X underwent a, b, and/or c for any reason, then evolution is not ateleological. Thus, if the evolutionist is right about evolution being ateleological, he is wrong in saying that evolutionary adaptive modifications ever occurred for any reason whatsoever.

Assertion(s) 2&3: “Christians find no reason to believe that Zeus exists, so they do not believe in him. For the same reason, I do not believe in Jehova.”[1]

Response: Firstly, Christians do not disbelieve in Zeus because they lack evidence for Zeus’ existence; Christians disbelieve in Zeus because, according to Scripture, he is an idol, a non-existent fabrication of fallen men and angels. Scripture teaches Christians that “all the gods of the peoples [i.e. pagans/non-Christians] are worthless idols,”[2] that “‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’”[3] Therefore, Christians reason that:

  1. All the gods of the pagans are worthless idols.
  2. Zeus is a god of the pagans.
  3. Therefore, Zeus is a worthless idol.
  4. Worthless idols have no real existence.
  5. Zeus is a worthless idol.
  6. Therefore, Zeus has no real existence.

Or, more concisely:

  1. If there is no God but One, then Zeus is not really a god.
  2. There is no God but One.
  3. Therefore, Zeus is not really a god.

Christians disbelieve in Zeus because belief in the divinely revealed proposition “there is no God but One” necessarily leads to the conclusion that all other gods as false. Therefore,

  1.  If Christian disbelief in Zeus is evidentially based, then it is principally identical to atheistic disbelief in Jehovah.
  2. Christian disbelief in Zeus is not evidentially based, but based upon the explicit and implicit teaching of Scripture.
  3. Therefore, Christian disbelief in Zeus is not principally identical to atheistic disbelief in Jehovah.

Assertion 4: “Supernatural explanations are being replaced by natural explanations more and more every day.”

Response: In the first place, this assertion may be addressing other religions, but it isn’t addressing Christianity. The Bible not contain or consist of etiological myths.

Secondly, the presupposition underlying the assertion is that if “supernatural explanations” are being replaced by “natural explanations” more and more, then this suggests that the supernatural was originally postulated as a hypothetical explanation for the kinds of natural phenomena in question. In other words, the atheist who makes this assertion has to first presuppose the falsity of claims to/of supernatural causes by assuming them, without evidence, to be hypotheses postulated by less enlightened minds. This is hardly reasonable, intelligent, or rationally coherent. Where is the evidence providing epistemic justification for the claim that Moses, for instance, was filling in the gaps by writing: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”?

There is none.

Thirdly, the supposed statistical “fact” does not imply that such naturalistic explanations are any more or less true than supernatural explanations. It does not follow that because supernatural explanations are being replaced by natural explanations that the natural explanations are true. What would an atheist say if a religious group rose up in opposition to the rising tide of natural explanations, demonstrating their resistance by forming alternative supernatural explanations to replace natural explanations? What would the atheist say, furthermore, if the religious group in question continued to grow in size as it provided alternative supernatural explanations to the natural explanations? Would the atheist then become a believer? If the atheist says, “That would be different!” He is guilty of the fallacy of special pleading, making an unwarranted exception to his own criteria of judgment.

Fourthly, it is self-contradictory to, on the one hand, pontificate on the superiority of natural explanations to supernatural explanations, and yet, on the other hand, admit that natural explanations are tentative conclusions based on inconclusive evidence fitted to paradigmatic scientific constructs (i.e models) that may or may not actually correspond to “reality” (which is, btw, in continual flux).

-h.


[1] The author of this quotation is atheist Richard Carrier. Source: <http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/atheism.html&gt;

[2] Ps 96:5a

[3] 1st Cor 8:4b

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