“I contend we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” — Stephen F. Roberts
I find this quote to be quite a troubling one… It leaves me wondering whether Stephen F. Roberts is really constructing an argument here…or whether he is just doing his level best to metaphorically “poke Christians in the eye” with a prickly soundbite!
Why do I say that?
First – in what universe can we equate Christianity with atheism? Atheism always involves the rejection of the existence of a deity – that’s what makes it atheism.
“Atheism : Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods”, Oxford English Dictionary
A Christian can never be an atheist – simply because the foundation of Christianity is a belief in Jesus of Nazareth (as presented in the New Testament) as God; the second person of the Trinity that is presented throughout both Old and New Testaments. Yahweh – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Stephen and I can never both be atheists. Altho he is welcome to it if he wants it!
Second – while we are both rejecting gods, we are doing so from a very different starting point. This is where the prickly part of the soundbite emerges – because I think what Stephen is getting at…is this. He is saying, I don’t have to take time rejecting Christ as God…any more than you take the time to investigate and reject all of humanity’s other gods from history. It just happens naturally. My atheism, Stephen says, is the same as your rejection of all these other gods.
My response to this is – no, its really not the same at all. My worldview, my framework for reality, is built upon an expectation of the existence of a creator God. Yet the atheist’s worldview – by definition – excludes any such creator.
What i’m saying is this. I’m committed to the expectation that a real God does in fact exist. Stephen is committed to the very opposite. But I would – of course – argue that my position is the more rational and reasonable one.
Here’s a taste…Belief in a creator makes sense of the observable fine tuning of the Universe and for the existence of the functionally specified information that sits at the center of all life. It explains why objective moral values exist and are – in fact – consistent across all peoples and cultures.
Third – my belief in Jesus as God has got nothing at all to do with my investigation and rejection of historical pagan Gods (or indeed other World Religions). Do Stephen and I have something in common here at last? I’m not so sure.
It is all about the strength of the evidence that points to Jesus of Nazareth as the exclusive and only God. I have raised the world “evidence” now…and it is something that is conveniently denied by many atheists who I have spoken to. The evidence for Christianity is the bedrock on which it stands. It always has been.
“If Christ has not been raised then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:14, NLT
So much evidence that so many atheists will deny…and sadly ignore when it is presented to them.
I think it is reasonable to say that – because the case for Christianity is so strong – our search for God can stop with Jesus.
Is this lazy or irresponsible? Well as J Warner Wallace points out, the legal system does this all the time. In a criminal trial, a jury is asked to weigh the evidence against a single defendant. Now – there are countless individuals who could have committed the crime. But the Jury’s job is to evaluate the evidence for just one person – the defendant. And if the evidence is strong enough – the jury will convict that person….based solely on the evidence pointing to that individual. And notice – they do this without evaluating any historical evidence around millions of different alternatives.
If Christianity’s claims are true – then ALL other religious claims are false. So we evaluate the evidence supporting Christianity. We are in the place of the jury in the trial. And if the evidence is strong enough – if the case is strong enough – we can reasonably look no further and stop with Jesus.
“…we can be confident unbelievers when it comes to every other potential god because the evidence for Christianity is more than sufficient.” — J. Warner Wallace
I’m no atheist – I accept my Creator wholeheartedly. Further, the case for Christianity is simply so strong – my search has reasonably ended. And my worship of Christ has begun.