Is It Too Soon To Be An Atheist?
Published by Matt Blair on June 9th, 2015

As a Christian I have been fascinated by the ongoing discussions about the existence of God. On one hand, Christians have built their case for the existence of God based on things like:

  • a finite and finely tuned universe,
  • the existence of rationality, conscientiousness, and morality,
  • the reliability of the biblical accounts,
  • the historicity of Jesus and the resurrection,

and many other finer points of justification.

On the other hand, atheists, who have declared as fact that God does not exist, have made their own set of arguments as to why they believe He does not exist. It seems to me, however, that the problem atheists face is that the arguments don’t necessarily lead to atheism. Which caused me to ask the question – Is it too soon to be an atheist?

Hear me out on this. As I understand the arguments for atheism, they largely center on

1) The lack of need for God in the age of scientific enlightenment

2) The impossibility of such a being existing in light of evil or suffering

3) The terrible atrocities done in his name by his people

4) The historical fallacies in his so called holy book(s)

5) The impossibility of a being existing before space, time, and matter came into existence.

And while these 5 arguments are certainly not exhaustive, they do provide us with enough of a framework to deal with the question mentioned above. Remember, atheism states as fact that God does not exist. This factual statement, therefore, must be substantiated with evidence. In other words, atheism must prove that God does not exist. Now, the initial reaction from atheists on the need to prove God does not exist usually centers around the idea that you can’t prove a negative, but this is demonstratively false. In an article published in Psychology Today by Stephen Law Ph.D, it’s clear that this posit of atheism is simply a clever tactic to avoid the lack of substantiating evidence for their position (You can read the full article here). By providing answers to certain questions, it is actually very possible to build a persuasive case that God does not exist, but has atheism accomplished this? Let’s take a look at where atheism currently stands in light of the evidence available today.  

As I’ve studied the arguments for atheism, what stands out to me is the fact that all the arguments seek to disprove the existence of God after everything is already in place without providing any real evidence as to the origins of anything! To restate it, atheism uses present realities without being able to explain how those realities came into being.

The Argument For Scientific Naturalism

For instance, atheism seems to suggest that the big bang and naturalistic evolution have shown us that random chance and natural selection can mimic design, therefore what may have once appeared to suggest a creator was merely an illusion. For the sake of this argument, I’ll concede the ground of the big bang and naturalistic evolution. My question is this – who or what started the big bang and who or what made life arise from non-life? It seems to me that if you can’t answer the question of origins then you’re not quite ready to state emphatically that God does not exist. I can see where this might give rise to agnosticism (not knowing if God exists) but can you really jump all the way to atheism?

And while I personally believe in an intelligent, creative, powerful, personal creator (AKA God), atheist need to provide us with their alternative to a creator for answers to the questions of the origins of the universe and origins of life on earth. Unless and until they have done that, atheism cannot be substantiated.

I also find it rather interesting that in terms of the origins of the universe, atheism suggests the multiverse theory. As I understand the idea of a multiverse, there is an unseen, untestable, powerful, universe factory, that brings universes into existence out of nothing. That sounds eerily close to a definition of God!

The Argument From Evil And Suffering

What about other arguments? On issues of the nature and character of God and his so called “people”, atheism suggests that the kind of God that could allow suffering or evil to exist, or the kind of God that would allow his people to do terrible things on his behalf, shows that God does not exist. Once again, atheism begins the argument after certain things are in place. Things like morality, human awareness, and rationality must be present for this argument to have any merit. Without knowing the origins of these things, how can one conclude that there is no God?

What’s also interesting about this specific argument is that this issue deals with the kind of God that must exist since these things are present in the world today, but just because we may not like this kind of God does not mean therefore that God does not exist.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that suggesting that there is no God based on the actions of his people is like saying that I don’t exist because my children do terrible things. Those two statements are non-sequiturs and is therefore not a rational argument against God’s existence.

For each of the 5 points for atheism listed above (and for every other argument for atheism I’ve heard) this same problem exists. Atheism simply provides no answers in terms of origins.

The Appeal

So in light of this reality (while I only cited two instances, this is true for each objection to theism), I’m wondering if it’s even possible to claim atheism without substantiating evidence for origins. I propose that it’s too soon to be an atheist.

As someone who believes in God, I believe the evidence for God’s existence is very persuasive, however, if at some point in the future, the preponderance of the evidence leads me to atheism, I’ll become an atheist. My pursuit is truth. I’m wondering if an atheist would ever consider becoming a Christian if the evidence leads them to it? I’m also wondering if my atheist friends might be willing to concede some ground and embrace agnosticism as I’m convinced its as far as one might reasonably travel (with intellectual honesty) away from the possibility of God’s existence.