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What all atheists have to believe

Paving the way for apostasy

by

Published: 17 March 2011(GMT+10)

Illustration Caleb Salisbury

Paving the way for apostasy

Have you ever had friends, acquaintances or family members who were coming to your church/youth group/Bible study etc., who began to come less often, until finally they stopped coming at all? Perhaps they turned hostile or just became distant to any conversation concerning God/the Bible etc.? Maybe they even used to profess that they were a Christian, that Jesus was their Saviour, but now they say they are an atheist. What happened?

Although every person’s story in every scenario like this will have certain differences, every instance of the journey from professing Christian to apostasy must include certain intellectual steps (unless the apostate just shuts down his/her thinking!):

  1. Belief that God’s Word (the Bible) cannot be trusted as plainly written.
  2. Belief in millions of years of time having occurred in the past.
  3. Belief in biological evolution of some sort.

Why? Since all atheists must have a way of explaining how they came into existence without God, evolution is a requirement for that belief system. Evolution (from pond scum to people) cannot have occurred quickly, so a belief in millions of years is also required for atheism. And of course atheists cannot take the word of God as plainly written because it claims to be the revelation from God, who they profess doesn’t exist!

The slippery slope to unbelief

Creation Ministries (and other creationist groups) is often attacked by other Christians or Christian organizations who do not hold to the biblical account of creation in the same way that we do. These groups sometimes characterize creationists as ‘alarmists’, saying we should not make a big deal out of this issue, and that we should just concentrate on ‘the gospel’ etc. Some have even tried to paint creationists as ‘anti-intellectual’ (a surprise to the scholars and scientists that work for our ministry) and say that creationists create barriers and mental stumbling blocks to people getting saved/accepting the Gospel.

But let’s think about this. Any other stance on origins other than biblical creation (such as theistic evolution, day age theory, gap theory, framework hypothesis, progressive creationists etc.) involves millions of years (MOY) and/or evolution.

Because the Bible does not support millions of years and actively teaches against it, a Christian that accepts that paradigm cannot claim to believe in God’s Word as plainly written and believes that ‘science’ should tell Christians what the Bible means.

As soon as a Christian adopts the concept of MOY they have already fulfilled requirements 1 and 2 (above) for accepting atheism. Because the Bible does not support MOY and actively teaches against it, a Christian who accepts that paradigm cannot claim to believe in God’s word as plainly written and believes that ‘science’ should tell Christians what the Bible means (‘science’ dictates their exegesis of scripture).

As soon as a Christian accepts the first two requirements for atheism they are now intellectually ‘open’ to accepting the third requirement—evolution. After all, if they accept the secular interpretations of scientific data in one area (MOY), there is no logical reason not to accept such interpretations in other areas (evolution).

Now these 3 requirements do not automatically result in apostasy, as there are many saved Christians who are evolutionists (therefore satisfying all the intellectual requirements for atheism). But they are much further down the slope leading to unbelief than their creationist brethren (who would have to skip ahead three steps if they were to turn from Christ to atheism). And of course many professing Christians who have already taken these three steps eventually become consistent thinkers and realize that if they already have a way to explain all of existence without God (evolution), then why bother believing in God?

Intellectual barriers?

Christians who do not accept Genesis as plainly written sometimes express embarrassment at us ‘unsophisticated’ Christians who do. It’s as if they think that … us biblical creationists insisting that the Bible is describing these things as reality brings shame on the Gospel and impedes our witness to unbelievers.

Christians who do not accept Genesis as plainly written sometimes express embarrassment at us ‘unsophisticated’ Christians who do. It’s as if they think, in our modern scientific age, a belief in a plain reading of Genesis 1–11 (young earth, dinosaurs and man co-existing, a global flood, a talking serpent) is just too fantastic to believe, and so us biblical creationists insisting that the Bible is describing these things as reality brings shame on the Gospel and impedes our witness to non-believers.

But what about the talking donkey in Numbers 22? What about the dead people that came back to life and the virgin that gave birth in the gospels? Secular ‘science’ doesn’t support those either, so which other parts of the Bible should we be ashamed of?

Compromising Christians seem to forget that biblical Christianity requires far more than easy believing. Respected theologian and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr Albert Mohler (considered by Time.com as the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S”, and interviewed in Creation 33(1) 2010) made a great point in an article:

“ … when we are told that we have to accept and embrace the theory of evolution in order to escape being considered intellectually backward, remember the opposition to Francis Collins. It just doesn’t work. When Collins’ elevation to the NIH (National Institutes of Health) post was announced, evolutionary scientist P.Z. Myers lamented, ‘I don’t want American science to be represented by a clown.’
“This is the predicament of those who argue that evangelicals must accept some form of theistic evolution—the guardians of evolution still consider them clowns.”1

So despite all of Francis Collins’ achievements, qualifications, experience and the fact that he promotes ‘evolution as fact’ as vigorously as the most ardent atheist, he is dismissed by his evolutionary colleagues simply because he believes in God. (See also a review of his theistic evolutionary book The Language of God and a critique of the BioLogos organization he heads.)

As Dr Mohler states:

“Thus, you might think that the scientific world would have celebrated the elevation of Dr. Collins to the NIH. Not so. Harvard’s Steven Pinker declared that Collins is ‘an advocate of profoundly anti-scientific beliefs.’ Other leading scientists said far worse. Why?

As The New Yorker reports this week, Dr. Collins is “a believing Christian.”2

Sin factor

Some Christians claim that intellectual barriers are not the major reason why people turn away from their faith and claim it is primarily a ‘heart’ issue. Atheists who were once connected with a church often point to certain hurtful events which they say caused them to turn away from God. Some have simply confessed that God’s standards concerning sexual ethics, for example, conflicted with the way they wished to live, so they rejected the Christian faith. Many could not accept how God could allow a loved one to die tragically, and so concluded He doesn’t exist.

All of these stories have a ‘sin’ component to them, whether it was the person who was hurtful, the sin of the person turning away or the tragedy of death caused by sin.

However true these reasons may be (although many people have claimed it was simply intellectual barriers that caused them to drift), once a person is motivated to jettison their faith, they need a logical way to back up their atheistic beliefs and so must struggle to find a way to profess steps 1–3 to be able to embrace their new worldview intellectually. Those who are ‘already there’, so to speak, have a much easier time plunging headlong into apostasy.

Biblical creation (founded in an understanding of presuppositional apologetics) is one of the best immunizers against the atheistic worldview, and it helps Christians to be able to navigate around and through the hurts experienced in living in a sin-cursed world. And far from being a hindrance to the Gospel, it is actually one of the ways the Lord uses to win people to the Himself, as many have testified.

Related Articles

Further Reading

Related Media

References

  1. Mohler, Albert, The Predicament—Francis Collins, Human Embryos, Evolution, and the Sanctity of Human Life, Friday, September 3, 2010; The Predicament—Francis Collins, Human Embryos, Evolution, and the Sanctity of Human Life. Return to text.
  2. Reference 1. Return to text.

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A reader’s comment
Jack M., United Kingdom, 7 June 2012

Calvin Smith- Hi Jack, thanks for writing in. I'll answer your points as they come below...

Message:

I came to this article through the video of the same name. Whilst I'd agree with your general 'slippery slope' thrust, the initial premise of the 3 things that atheists must believe is not very well founded.

Point (1) is okay. The Bible asserts that there is a God and an atheist believes there is not, therefore an atheist cannot trust the Bible as plainly written.

However, points (2) and (3), whilst probable, are not necessary.

CS- I would have to disagree, see below.

Atheism was around long before anything we would recognize as evolutionary theory.

CS- Atheism was around before Darwin, but not before 'evolutionary theory'. Atheism requires (among other things) a way to explain the existence of various forms of life on our planet (including ourselves) without God (unless they shut down their thinking which I mentioned in my article). To put it simply, the concept of 'evolution' is that living things 'make themselves' by natural processes. Whether this is Darwinian evolution, neo-Darwinian evolution, punctuated equilibrium, chaos theory or the forms of evolution espoused by the Greeks or other ancient cultures (see http://creation.com/evolution-ancient-pagan-idea), anyone claiming there is no God must believe everything created itself (evolution).

So if your argument is that atheism existed before modern Darwinian or neo-Darwinian theory then you are correct, but that is not what I stated in my article. As a matter of fact many believe Charles Darwin plagiarized most of his evolutionary ideas from others (including his grandfather Erasmus), so there were obviously modern evolutionists before him as well as the ancients. See http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j16_3/j16_3_58-63.pdf

Okay an atheist has to accept that life was not created by God (aside from those who believe that there was once a God but is no more),

CS- When I speak of God I am talking about the absolute Christian God who exists, who is eternal and by definition must be eternal and so cannot die and be '...no more'. See http://creation.com/who-created-god to understand why God must be eternal.

but it does not have to be by evolution.

CS- I'm sorry but yes it does, that's the only other game in town! I have had people postulate Aliens 'created' us so the creator didn't need to be God, but when I ask them where the 'aliens' came from they are back in the same boat (Were they created by God or did they evolve?), and if they want to claim atheism then they have to chose 'the aliens evolved', which means our ultimate origin was through evolution.

Nowadays, certainly, most rational atheists accept evolution, but only because it is the best non-creationist explanation.

CS- Evolution is not simply the best explanation but the only explanation. I have never had one person articulate an intelligent third option for our origins in 10 years of lecturing on the subject and have never heard of one from anyone on our staff either.

Even if evolution were utterly disproved it would not necessarily mean every atheist had to believe in creation.

CS- There is no other rational explanation, so they wouldn't have to believe in creation, but they would be irrational (shut down their thinking) not to do so.

Some might find it easier to accept that the universe came about by random chance than that it was created by God.

CS- Seeing as how things coming about by random chance is what evolution means, this is not an alternative explanation.

Others would simply be happy to accept that they do not know the explanation.

CS- And that is fine, as I mentioned in my article (if they are happy to shut down their thinking). Of course such a concept is basically irrational because really what they would be doing is saying "I don't want to believe in God and even though there is no evidence of any natural process or mechanism that could explain my existence I will chose to believe that everything made itself other than entertain the possibility of God existing in spite of the overwhelming evidence of design in the world". Irrationality at its best.

Let me give you an example to illustrate whether you think that arguing this way would be rational. Two cops discover a dead body. The obvious question is did the person die by natural causes or was it caused by a person (whether intentionally or not, intelligent design or blind chance etc).

Can you imagine one of the police officers saying "Well, I have no evidence to believe there is a natural explanation for this, and the evidence (16 cross bow bolts embedded in the corpse) show that this was intentional, but because I don't want to believe someone did that, I'm just going to be content that there is a third explanation that we don't know of and be satisfied with that." How long do you think he'd keep his job after spouting that out in a courtroom?

This would be the height of irrationality. If you are positing an explanation but you cannot 'explain' it, then you are positing NOTHING. So, as my article argued for, any THINKING atheist must believe in some form of biological evolution.

Admitting that one doesn't know is an option. We prefer to know but just because one theory is disproved does not mean we are forced to believe another that we find unacceptable.

CS- Again, only if you are willing to shut down your thinking (which my article covered) and become irrational. It is the equivalent of a stubborn child refusing to admit they are wrong.

This is true as much of Christians as atheists; no Christian claims to fully understand the nature of God, but will still believe in Him.

CS- This is not even close to the same situation. A Christian can claim to know much about the nature of God because it has been revealed to them in the Bible (a tangible source of knowledge). This means the Christian has an objective source for what they believe. An atheist claiming there is no evidence of things making themselves but still believing they did anyway is just plain silly (shutting down their thinking). That would mean they believe something arbitrarily, which is illogical.

The Christian worldview is not arbitrary, so again I must disagree with your analysis.

No atheist will claim to fully understand the nature of the universe.

CS- No, but they will claim to 'know' that there is no God and that the universe created itself even if they say they don't fully understand it. Which is to say they believe they know the most fundamental aspects of the universe.

With regard to the age of the universe, the same arguments apply. It is possible for an atheist to believe that the universe appeared from nothing seconds ago - it's simply more likely that it is old.

CS- No thinking atheist would posit that all of the various forms of life on this planet appeared from nothing a few seconds ago (and no atheist I have ever seen or heard of have suggested this) because to do so would be intellectual suicide. One can imagine all sorts of things like magical ponies or flying spaghetti monsters or things coming from nothing causing the biodiversity on our planet but such ideas are the thoughts of a child at best and a madman at the other end.

Thinking is a mental process by which you come to conclusions based on logic and reasoning from knowledge you have. Imaginings are arbitrary concepts based mostly on fantasy, so again, to reach such conclusions entails shutting DOWN your thinking, which I covered.

So all thinking atheists are forced to believe in millions of years of earth history because evolution can't happen quickly (that's called creation).

Essentially to both points there are three possible beliefs:

A God did it.

B Nature did it over a long period of time.

C Something else happened.

Atheists can generally be in two categories, those who take the likelihood of these things in the order:

B, A, C

and those with

B, C, A

CS- I am afraid you do not understand the word 'atheist' if you are including 'A' in what an atheist might believe, because by definition an atheist must say there is no God (past or present).

I would guess that most atheists are BACs, but don't ignore the existence of option C.

CS- You aren't giving an option 'C'. You are giving me a 'nothing'. If you cannot articulate what you are proposing then you aren't proposing anything. If the cops in my scenario said "Well, it looks like he got ambushed by a bunch of guys with crossbows, but there might be another explanation" they are not positing a third option other than death by natural causes or an intelligent agent. They are saying there might be another explanation WITHIN those two categories because it MUST be one or the other. So perhaps the man was holding some crossbow bolts in his hands while riding on the back of a pick up truck and he tripped, fell off and they all plunged into him (an accident- uncaused). Or maybe the driver of the truck deliberately swerved to try and make him fall (intelligently caused). But any explanation will still fall into the two general categories stated (intelligent design or by natural causes). Try and think of one and you will see they will always do so.

I encourage you not buy into the new pseudo-intellectualism many are embracing that states "We just don't know" rather than dealing with the obvious conclusions from real facts and concepts we DO know. It is not intellectual but anti- intellectual in fact because it leaves the mind so open to possibilities that it cannot come to intelligent conclusions.

By the way, in a very practical sense one can test my article's conclusions by simply asking atheists what they think. You will quickly find they believe what is stated in my article (unless they are willing to be irrational as pointed out above).

I hope this helps.

Blessings,

Calvin Smith

Creation Ministries International

Calvin Smith responds

Calvin Smith- Hi Jack, thanks for writing in. I'll answer your points as they come below...

Message:

I came to this article through the video of the same name. Whilst I'd agree with your general 'slippery slope' thrust, the initial premise of the 3 things that atheists must believe is not very well founded.

Point (1) is okay. The Bible asserts that there is a God and an atheist believes there is not, therefore an atheist cannot trust the Bible as plainly written.

However, points (2) and (3), whilst probable, are not necessary.

CS- I would have to disagree, see below.

Atheism was around long before anything we would recognize as evolutionary theory.

CS- Atheism was around before Darwin, but not before 'evolutionary theory'. Atheism requires (among other things) a way to explain the existence of various forms of life on our planet (including ourselves) without God (unless they shut down their thinking which I mentioned in my article). To put it simply, the concept of 'evolution' is that living things 'make themselves' by natural processes. Whether this is Darwinian evolution, neo-Darwinian evolution, punctuated equilibrium, chaos theory or the forms of evolution espoused by the Greeks or other ancient cultures (see http://creation.com/evolution-ancient-pagan-idea), anyone claiming there is no God must believe everything created itself (evolution).

So if your argument is that atheism existed before modern Darwinian or neo-Darwinian theory then you are correct, but that is not what I stated in my article. As a matter of fact many believe Charles Darwin plagiarized most of his evolutionary ideas from others (including his grandfather Erasmus), so there were obviously modern evolutionists before him as well as the ancients. See http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j16_3/j16_3_58-63.pdf

Okay an atheist has to accept that life was not created by God (aside from those who believe that there was once a God but is no more),

CS- When I speak of God I am talking about the absolute Christian God who exists, who is eternal and by definition must be eternal and so cannot die and be '...no more'. See http://creation.com/who-created-god to understand why God must be eternal.

but it does not have to be by evolution.

CS- I'm sorry but yes it does, that's the only other game in town! I have had people postulate Aliens 'created' us so the creator didn't need to be God, but when I ask them where the 'aliens' came from they are back in the same boat (Were they created by God or did they evolve?), and if they want to claim atheism then they have to chose 'the aliens evolved', which means our ultimate origin was through evolution.

Nowadays, certainly, most rational atheists accept evolution, but only because it is the best non-creationist explanation.

CS- Evolution is not simply the best explanation but the only explanation. I have never had one person articulate an intelligent third option for our origins in 10 years of lecturing on the subject and have never heard of one from anyone on our staff either.

Even if evolution were utterly disproved it would not necessarily mean every atheist had to believe in creation.

CS- There is no other rational explanation, so they wouldn't have to believe in creation, but they would be irrational (shut down their thinking) not to do so.

Some might find it easier to accept that the universe came about by random chance than that it was created by God.

CS- Seeing as how things coming about by random chance is what evolution means, this is not an alternative explanation.

Others would simply be happy to accept that they do not know the explanation.

CS- And that is fine, as I mentioned in my article (if they are happy to shut down their thinking). Of course such a concept is basically irrational because really what they would be doing is saying "I don't want to believe in God and even though there is no evidence of any natural process or mechanism that could explain my existence I will chose to believe that everything made itself other than entertain the possibility of God existing in spite of the overwhelming evidence of design in the world". Irrationality at its best.

Let me give you an example to illustrate whether you think that arguing this way would be rational. Two cops discover a dead body. The obvious question is did the person die by natural causes or was it caused by a person (whether intentionally or not, intelligent design or blind chance etc).

Can you imagine one of the police officers saying "Well, I have no evidence to believe there is a natural explanation for this, and the evidence (16 cross bow bolts embedded in the corpse) show that this was intentional, but because I don't want to believe someone did that, I'm just going to be content that there is a third explanation that we don't know of and be satisfied with that." How long do you think he'd keep his job after spouting that out in a courtroom?

This would be the height of irrationality. If you are positing an explanation but you cannot 'explain' it, then you are positing NOTHING. So, as my article argued for, any THINKING atheist must believe in some form of biological evolution.

Admitting that one doesn't know is an option. We prefer to know but just because one theory is disproved does not mean we are forced to believe another that we find unacceptable.

CS- Again, only if you are willing to shut down your thinking (which my article covered) and become irrational. It is the equivalent of a stubborn child refusing to admit they are wrong.

This is true as much of Christians as atheists; no Christian claims to fully understand the nature of God, but will still believe in Him.

CS- This is not even close to the same situation. A Christian can claim to know much about the nature of God because it has been revealed to them in the Bible (a tangible source of knowledge). This means the Christian has an objective source for what they believe. An atheist claiming there is no evidence of things making themselves but still believing they did anyway is just plain silly (shutting down their thinking). That would mean they believe something arbitrarily, which is illogical.

The Christian worldview is not arbitrary, so again I must disagree with your analysis.

No atheist will claim to fully understand the nature of the universe.

CS- No, but they will claim to 'know' that there is no God and that the universe created itself even if they say they don't fully understand it. Which is to say they believe they know the most fundamental aspects of the universe.

With regard to the age of the universe, the same arguments apply. It is possible for an atheist to believe that the universe appeared from nothing seconds ago - it's simply more likely that it is old.

CS- No thinking atheist would posit that all of the various forms of life on this planet appeared from nothing a few seconds ago (and no atheist I have ever seen or heard of have suggested this) because to do so would be intellectual suicide. One can imagine all sorts of things like magical ponies or flying spaghetti monsters or things coming from nothing causing the biodiversity on our planet but such ideas are the thoughts of a child at best and a madman at the other end.

Thinking is a mental process by which you come to conclusions based on logic and reasoning from knowledge you have. Imaginings are arbitrary concepts based mostly on fantasy, so again, to reach such conclusions entails shutting DOWN your thinking, which I covered.

So all thinking atheists are forced to believe in millions of years of earth history because evolution can't happen quickly (that's called creation).

Essentially to both points there are three possible beliefs:

A God did it.

B Nature did it over a long period of time.

C Something else happened.

Atheists can generally be in two categories, those who take the likelihood of these things in the order:

B, A, C

and those with

B, C, A

CS- I am afraid you do not understand the word 'atheist' if you are including 'A' in what an atheist might believe, because by definition an atheist must say there is no God (past or present).

I would guess that most atheists are BACs, but don't ignore the existence of option C.

CS- You aren't giving an option 'C'. You are giving me a 'nothing'. If you cannot articulate what you are proposing then you aren't proposing anything. If the cops in my scenario said "Well, it looks like he got ambushed by a bunch of guys with crossbows, but there might be another explanation" they are not positing a third option other than death by natural causes or an intelligent agent. They are saying there might be another explanation WITHIN those two categories because it MUST be one or the other. So perhaps the man was holding some crossbow bolts in his hands while riding on the back of a pick up truck and he tripped, fell off and they all plunged into him (an accident- uncaused). Or maybe the driver of the truck deliberately swerved to try and make him fall (intelligently caused). But any explanation will still fall into the two general categories stated (intelligent design or by natural causes). Try and think of one and you will see they will always do so.

I encourage you not buy into the new pseudo-intellectualism many are embracing that states "We just don't know" rather than dealing with the obvious conclusions from real facts and concepts we DO know. It is not intellectual but anti- intellectual in fact because it leaves the mind so open to possibilities that it cannot come to intelligent conclusions.

By the way, in a very practical sense one can test my article's conclusions by simply asking atheists what they think. You will quickly find they believe what is stated in my article (unless they are willing to be irrational as pointed out above).

I hope this helps.

Blessings,

Calvin Smith

Creation Ministries International

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