Five concise responses to atheistic arguments
Published: 26 March 2011 (GMT+10)
Chuck P. sent us a request for help dealing with atheists on a popular online forum. We will reprint his message in full before Robert Carter replies below.
Illustrated by Caleb Salisbury
I’m sending this message because others might have the same questions. I was in an online forum when someone said, “There is no god”. I responded, “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’” There were several replies. I responded, “Your atheism probably exists upon two canards: Big-Bang Theory, and Evolution. Why don’t you research these things out?” Anyway, they said, “Adam and Eve isn’t a very convincing alternative theory.” To which I replied, “Mitochondrial DNA actually points to an Eve” (actually, the Noahic descendants).
My question, in a nutshell, would be, “What are three to five very concise, readily understandable arguments that one can make to an atheist?” I would start with the fact that the Big-Bang begins with two contradictions: the first and second laws of thermodynamics. If you would proceed down a different path, what would that be? I don’t want to win an argument with people, I want to win souls, as it were (fully believing in God using the intellect in the conversion of sinners to Himself). Anyway, I hope that I’m not putting you on the spot, but maybe others have this same question; so you might want to tackle this publicly, if you want.
Yours in Christ, Chuck
CMI’s Dr Robert Carter responds:
Those are some great questions. I will do my best to give you a few concise arguments. You will have to do a little background reading on each subject, but the gist of each argument should be clear from the information given below.
First, everyone in the discussion has to agree that all people operate with a set of starting assumptions. Nothing can be proven in the end. It is either faith in naturalistic science or faith in the science God created (this is going to be a huge diversion, but the other arguments pale in significance).
All philosophical systems start with axioms, or non-provable propositions accepted as true, and deduce theorems from them.
Quotes from the article above:
“All philosophical systems start with axioms (presuppositions), or non-provable propositions accepted as true, and deduce theorems from them. Therefore Christians should not be faulted for having axioms as well, which are the propositions of Scripture (a proposition is a fact about a thing, e.g. God is love).”
“So the question for any axiomatic system is whether it is self-consistent and is consistent with the real world.”
“ … the biblical framework is the only one that provides the foundation for science, voluntary will, logic and morality.”
#2: Big Bang
You made excellent points. BB requires a reversal of physical laws. It is as if the BB god waved a giant magic wand over the problem, “Kablam” faster-than-light expansion (inflation theory). “Kazam” dark matter to explain the excessive lumpiness. Etc.
Point them to the work of Russell Humphreys and John Hartnett (search Astronomy and astrophysics questions and answers). John has developed a cosmology that introduces a new mathematical term, “Cosmological Relativity”. If true, CR explains the structure of the universe, starting with its initial creation a few thousand years ago, followed by an expansion of the universe, without requiring dark matter or dark energy. Brilliant.
Junk DNA is dead. Long live complexity!
- Explain that measurable mutation rates are too high. Natural selection cannot keep up. Because of this, all species are doomed to extinction. Also, a high mutation rate means it does not take very much time to explain all the genetic diversity among humans in particular (we are a young race). Reference John Sanford’s book Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome (see also From ape to man via genetic meltdown: a theory in crisis and Genetics questions and answers).
- Despite the fact that mutation rates are high, there is a limit to the number of mutations that can be fixed (i.e., suddenly found in every member of the species, with a total loss of the original, non-mutant gene) each generation. There has not been enough time in the history of the earth to create the tens of millions of differences found between humans and chimps, let alone to create the genetic information found in every species in the world (this is a summary of the long-standing problem known as Haldane’s Dilemma, see Haldane’s dilemma has not been solved).
- No doubt they will bring up junk DNA (especially after 3b) and/or “pseudogenes”. You can refer them to my article on junk DNA (The slow, painful death of junk DNA) for a start (there are more articles on the subject available—see the Q&A section on genetics linked above and the section on vestigial organs Vestigial organs questions and answers). The take home point is that junk DNA was invented as a necessity to explain away 3b, but the theory has run into a Wall of Complexity. This is exactly what they did not want to happen. Junk DNA is dead. Long live complexity!
Random chemical reactions do not produce complex biomolecules. Period.
The rational failure of abiogenesis theory (chemical evolution) to explain the origin of life is another great subject.
Random chemical reactions do not produce complex biomolecules. Period. Worse, life depends on information, and, by definition, information is neither random nor highly repetitive (like in a crystal). Natural processes give us no way to generate the necessary information for life to exist.
#5: Missing links in the fossil record
Finally, the utter failure of the fossil record to back up evolution is an important subject to cover.
Darwin predicted that future scientists would find innumerable transitional fossils. In fact, he said this would be a direct test of his theory. 150 years later, the missing links are still missing.
Yes, there are “transitional species”, but
- they are few and far between.
- they are all controversial.
- their shelf life tends to be about a decade before they are replaced.
There is nothing preventing God from having created a bewildering assortment of species (e.g. the “mammal-like reptiles”). From all appearance, He did not. Had we found the transitional species required for evolution, they would be used as evidence for evolution and as a club against creation. Yet, they could not logically be submitted as proof for evolution and disproof of creation because the data could easily fit into either model. The fact is, however, that a general lack of transitional species exists, which does not fit neatly into evolutionary theory. Darwin predicted that future scientists would find innumerable transitional fossils. In fact, he said this would be a direct test of his theory. 150 years later, the missing links are still missing.
Thanks for the great questions. I trust you will find some of this useful. If you need more information, please keep reading on our website. Also, you will find the information in the Creation Answers Book particularly helpful as it was designed to answer questions like these, and more!
I'm not sure any of these arguments really work.
Sure, maybe the Big Bang, Abiogenesis and Evolution are latest scientific theories, but, as any scientific theory, I doubt most of us hold them as immovable "truths." I think we'd all agree (Christians and Atheists) that scientific knowledge is growing and changing. It's possible that next week a new theory will be so convincing that it would replace the Big Bang, and atheists will not be affected in the least.
So, mentioning counter-theories really doesn't addresses atheistic arguments.
Similar to our 15 Questions For Evolutionists campaign (http://creation.com/15-questions), the 5 points I listed may not not be perfectly conclusive, and I did not say they were, but think of what you are saying in reply. For example, consider just one of the five points: everything we know about chemistry, physics, probability, and information theory argues against the abiotic origin of life. This is not an argument from absence. This is not a wishful hope for some future discoveries (as per your suggestion to rescue the BB). This is not a god (or Darwin) of the gaps. This is the result of several hundred years of careful experimentation and analysis.
True, mentioning counter theories does not conclusively answer atheistic arguments, for they will always have a corner in which to back themselves into. For instance, I see many of the younger professors in universities today preaching Gaia hypothesis or nebulous ideas about some self-organizing principle that naturally occurs in matter than drives evolution onward and upward. These ideas go beyond the pale of experimental science, but I believe they are a reaction to the obvious conclusions of that same experimental science: Darwinian evolution fails to match reality.
As for why CMI is even trying, please see our FAQ section. There are several hundred articles on our site, many of which explain the purpose and importance of our message. For example, start here: http://creation.com/history-and-theology.
In my experience people are mostly parroting what they hear. They don't have the honest intellectual backgrounds to argue or to debate. Their willful ignorance and blindness keeps them from desiring to know the truth.
Sadly, this is all too true and occurs in every circle. On the one hand, inquisitiveness is a basic part of human nature. But so is narrow mindedness.
While apologetic arguments are extremely helpful when dealing with this issue, I feel the role of prejudice (or presuppositions) must not be ignored in what got them to the point of believing “there is no god” in the first place.
Essentially, the reason many people have trouble accepting the God of the Bible is because He does not fit the fairy-tale ‘god’ they have in their imaginations. As has been argued by Gary Bates-“It is impossible, especially for those who do not know the Lord, to have any kind of mental framework in which they can recognize what ‘good’ really is”. This means they are setting their expectations by a set of flawed arguments, right from the very start-and when He does not meet them, they reject Him.
Therefore, I believe effective argument must also be made on the effect such relativism has upon the likelyhood of our ideas actually reflecting reality. In other words, the only way we can all be right-is if we are in reality, all wrong…
So if you think the God of the Bible is offensive, consider this : if God is real, is He necessarily going to conform to your ideas about what or who He is? In the end, it is only absolutes that declare what may be real-not relativism.-And when it comes to looking for absolutes, there are certain rules that must be followed due to the nature of absolutes itself(for example, it must not change).-There are very few models that fit this as well as the Bible does…
Hence, we should not run from the truth-even if it turns our lives upside down… And we should know-the truth is never made by Hollywood!
I would appreciate any feedback or help in developing this train of thought-although I expect it is already covered somewhere on creation.com
Thankyou for putting together and maintaining such an amazing resource!
You are using a sound argument, and, yes, we do cover this on creation.com.
For your edification, here are some excerpts from some of the hate mail I received this weekend (they prove your point):
“Your WHOLE ball of wax is nothing more than fantasy, based, on fairy tales, based on ancient, comic book style, fabrications. You have not one fact in ANY of the spiritual/religious claims bellowed. You have NO valid facts that this “sky pixie” god even exists. You have no valid facts that the bible you worship is any different than a bunch of “Uncle Remus type stories.”
“it fails belief that the lies that you continue to repeat are believed. Please for once be honest, you do nothing but spread mistruths and outright lies to the people that visit this site. I hardly feel that to be christian?”
Thank you for supporting CMI!
Those 5 topics form a great rebuttle outline for a DVD against Atheism. Or a movie like the ‘Voyage’. Please Dear Lord, release your funds for this type of clear message to be available to the unsaved people of the world!
Thank you so much, Dr. Carter for your reply to my original question. I’ve read your reply once and wanted to respond with a quick “thank you,” but wanted to let you know that I will be reading your response more than once and researching the links that you have provided.
I believe that the five points or arguments that you’ve presented are extremely convincing: may God use these to point people to His word, and ultimately, to Christ.
Yours in Christ,
It fails belief that the lies that you continue to repeat are believed. Please for once be honest, you do nothing but spread mistruths and outright lies to the people that visit this site. I hardly feel that to be christian? e.g. lack of tranistional fossils???? [profanity removed]??? there are numerous transitional fossils, yes not for every species but that is an impossible ask, but for many, many species there is a traceable route from their development to current status. I personally see this everyday, I work as a miner and find many fossils buried deep below the surface (AHD) and hundreds of kilometres inland proving that not only do transitional fossils exist but an old earth, and dont give me that crap about a great flood as their is no sign of weathering due to water. Please, having faith is one thing, but to blatently lie is another.
As a Christian, I am well aware of my lapses in judgment, failure to always tell the truth, and tendency toward reckless self-absorption. For these reasons, I force myself to take a critical look at everything I write in an attempt to root out deceit and stupidity. I did that prior to submitting this article, and several others took a look at the article prior to its release. Even after all that, there is no guarantee that we did things perfectly, so I took a careful look at your claims before writing this response. Happily for me, I still strongly disagree with what you wrote.
Transitional fossils: Did you stop to look at any of the links I provided to back up my claim? Darwin knew this problem existed, discussed it extensively in Chapter 6 of Origin, and pawned off the answer to future generations of geologists to discover the missing links. Yet, generations later, Stephen Jay Gould had the audacity to say, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.“ I have no doubt that you run across myriads of fossils in your work and would love to have an opportunity to sit down with you and discuss the things you have found. However, what you find are the same old things everybody else finds, depending on what type of mining you do. And what you find easily fits into the creationist orchard model that can be applied to many levels of biological hierarchical organization. For example, do you find trilobites? Perhaps you even find many different types of trilobites? I would wager you have never found the missing link between trilobites and horseshoe crabs, horseshoe crabs and scorpions, or scorpions and spiders. The big-deal transitions are what evolution needs, but this is exactly what is missing. And, when one is “found”, it typically does not stand the scrutiny of time. Even the once-mighty Tiktaalik has fallen.
No sign of weathering due to water? Exactly. For this reason, a great amount of time did not elapse either between the layers or during the formation of the majority of the geologic record. You find marine fossils inland, hundreds of miles from the sea, on top of continental basement rocks that are lighter than the underlying rocks, lighter than the oceanic crust. Why, therefore, would one ever expect to see continents under the ocean and not as we find them today, as expected, above the oceans? What made the continents go underwater “multiple times” (in your model) in earth history?
There is so much more, but I do not have the time to re-state everything that has been written on creation.com over the past 30 years. Please help yourself.
Some very very good point. However, I would have maybe added the difference between operational vs historic science. Interestingly, I was in a debate with an atheist a while ago and started with the following:“It is very important to realise the following things:See http://www.glodiebybel.co.za/component/content/article/251-bible-debate-between-carel-j-and-andries.html.
- Good arguments do not necessarily win arguments. One can come with the best arguments, but still not convince the other person. Nobody is really objective.
- The difference between operational and historical science is a very important issue. Things like evolution, the age of the earth and geology falls in this category. See “It’s not science”-http://creation.com/its-not-science and “Science Questions and Answers”-http://creation.com/science-questions-and-answers.
- All of us have figuratively glasses-the glasses you have on will determine how you interpret the factual data. Ie in geology people dig up things (which are fact) but which need interpretation.
- Just like I will not be able to proof God, no-one will be able to disprove Him. And all people have to believe in something, even atheists that claim they only believe from facts. That is a lie. Christians believe that God created and atheists believe that everything happened by chance and believe that we will in the future be able to explain how things could have happened by pure chance. And for some things the chance is so low, to believe in that requires more faith than to believe in God. See “Is there scientific proof of the existence of God?”-http://creation.com/science-existence-of-god and “Meer oor waarskynlikhede en Hawking”-http://www.glodiebybel.co.za/component/content/article/196-2010-11-28-meer-oor-waarskynlikhede-en-hawking.html (it is unfortunately in Afrikaans, but there are links to English articles).”
Yes, I could have added O vs. H science, but the questioner asked for 3-5 points and I was trying to keep my list as short as possible. Your suggestion would have been a very valuable sixth point. I would have put it right after the first point about presuppositions.
The list of arguments you sent is excellent. Keep up the good work.
And thank you for supporting CMI.