THE ILLOGIC OF ATHEISM
BY MILES MATHIS
Most people arriving here will assume I am a Christian or at least a theist. I am not. I am also not an agnostic. To be an agnostic is to be a doubter. But to doubt you must have a certain amount of information. A computer with insufficient data is not agnostic, for instance. A computer does not doubt, it reserves judgment. It refuses to give a conclusion when a conclusion is not in the numbers.
Now, humans are not computers. I am not a materialist and not reductive, so I would never make that argument. I am only making a loose analogy here. I do not even call myself a skeptic, since the word has been polluted by modern use. A modern skeptic is like an agnostic, and he or she is likely to lean to a “no” answer every time. Are there gods? Probably not. Are there unicorns? Probably not. Is there a Bigfoot? Probably not. And so on. I resist this “skeptic” tag because leaning toward a “no” answer is a prejudice itself. It is unscientific. Beyond that, the so-called skeptic societies are stiff with atheists and agnostics and cynics and other faux-scientists, and I prefer to remain as far away from all that as possible.
Of course, with the existence of Bigfoot and unicorns and so on we do have a great deal of information. We have made searches. The Earth is a limited environment and we have populated it widely and heavily and long. Even so, the mountain gorilla was not discovered until 1902, and huge populations of lowland gorillas were only recently discovered in the Congo (this very decade). Which is to say that we may lean a bit to a “no” answer for existence of larger beings in smaller areas we have scoured quite thoroughly, but even then we may be wrong.
But in looking for proof of gods, our search is pathetically limited. By definition, a god is a being whose powers are far greater than ours, who we cannot comprehend, and whose form we cannot predict. This would make our failure to locate a god quite understandable. A very large or small god would be above or below our notice, and a distant god would also evade our sensors. Not to mention we only have five senses. If we are manipulated by gods, as the hypothesis goes, then it would be quite easy for them to deny us the eyes to see them. Only a god of near-human size in the near environs would be possible to detect.
Again, this does not mean I believe in gods, any more than I believe in aliens or unicorns. I only point out that, as a matter of logic and science, a hypothesis that has not been proved is not the same as a hypothesis that has been disproved. I agree with the atheists and agnostics that the existence of gods has not been proved, but I do not agree that the existence of gods has been disproved. It would require a much more thorough search of the universe than has so far been completed to even begin to lean. As it is, our data is near-zero.
For this reason, I find atheists to be just as sanctimonious, illogical, and tiresome as the deists and theists, if not moreso. Because the atheists are often more highly educated and often better able to argue (in limited ways), they use this education and argument to prop themselves up in the ugliest ways. They blow apart the beliefs of religious people and imagine this solidifies their own beliefs in some way. But it never does. People of faith are actually more consistent in their views, since they never claim to believe in science anyway. They are not immediately hypocritical, at least, since it is possible for them create a closed system of illogic that circles back in a self-affirming way. The search for truth is no part of their system, so it is no failure when they find none. But atheists cannot say the same. They base their system on science, so that the very first instant they fail to act scientifically, they are back to zero. Yes, it is the same zero as the theists' zero, but the theists aren't measuring and the atheists are. A theist at zero is just a theist, and no harm done. But an atheist at zero has had a fall, and must be damaged.
To put it in philosophical terms, the atheist has chosen a position that is epistemologically stronger than the theist. By stronger, I do not mean that the atheist is more likely to be right, I mean that the position of the atheist requires more proof. The theist does not say he knows that God exists, he says he believes it. Faith is a belief whereas knowledge is a certainty. This gives the religious person some wiggle room. He doesn't need to talk of proofs, since a belief is never based on proofs. Belief and faith are built mainly on willpower. Atheists will say that such a foundation is quicksand, and I tend to agree, but atheists stand in even waterier mud. The atheist claims to be quite certain that there is no god, and he claims to be contemptuous of unsupported belief, so he must provide us with some firm foundation for his “knowledge.” This he can never do. If there are no proofs that God or gods exist, there are also no proofs they do not exist. The atheist is just as unscientific as the theist. The atheist's stance is just as mired in belief as the theist's, but the atheist also claims to disdain belief. So he must disdain himself.
[Notice that my argument is not one of meaning or definitions. This is why I do not consider it to be equivalent in any way to igtheism or theological noncognitivism. I think it is clear that both the definition of a god and the question of the existence of a god are meaningful (or can easily be made so). My argument in this paper is not about definitions or meaning, or about metaphysics; it is mainly about the intelligence of humans. Given our limited ability to spot evidence and to collate it and interpret it, we would require much more "conclusive" evidence than a being that was more intelligent. For another god, the evidence of gods might be clear at a glance. For us, all the hard evidence in the world might not suffice, since we could not recognize it for what it was. This means that my argument is also not a variation of "we can't know." Given more data and more intelligence, I believe we could know, but the fact is we have nowhere near enough of either, which makes all the talk on both sides wearying to me.]
Atheists always attack theists for being inconsistent, but atheists are wildly inconsistent themselves. For one example, let us consider Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens has been called one of the four horsemen of atheism (along with Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris), and knowing him, it is likely a self-naming and self-glorification. Problem is, Hitchens is also famous for saying,