AntiTheism--An Attack on God and Rationality
Implications of the worldviews of Christian theism and antitheism are inferred from the first chapter of the New Testament Epistle to the Romans (Romans 1:18-32). A. T. Robertson wrote, “There people had already willfully deserted God. . . . The withdrawal of God’s restraint sent men deeper down. . . . [It is] the loss of God in the life of man” (330-31). They did not think it worthwhile (NIV), or did not see fit (NASV; ESV) to keep God in their minds. Vincent says, “They did not think God worth the knowing” (21). “[T]hey did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (v. 28, NKJV) means they “tested (Gk. dokimazo) God and made a decision about Him after a trial” (Rogers and Rogers 318). Lard says, “They preferred . . . to let the knowledge they had of [H]im perish from their minds. . . . They wished no farther acquaintance with [H]im” (62). This is the loss of God in human life that results from the loss of God in the belief system of the human mind.
Antitheism is obviously an attack on God, but it is also an attack on rationality. The view of some is that Christian faith and rationality are mutually exclusive while antitheism is rational. Richard Dawkins asks, “But what, after all, is faith? It is a state of mind that leads people to believe something—it doesn’t matter what—in the total absence of supporting evidence” (Gene 330). Marxist scholar, Terry Eagleton (himself an atheist), wrote a sharp review of Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, saying that Dawkins has misrepresented Christian faith. Even Eagleton admits that, for “mainstream Christianity, reason, argument, and honest doubt have always played an integral role” (qtd. in Keller 120).
Reason is the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking in rational ways. To be rational is to honor the law of rationality, which says one ought to justify his conclusions with sufficient evidence. This principle is recognized by all right thinking people whether they have formally studied it or not. One might attempt to deny the need to honor the law of rationality, but the very moment he begins to give reasons for denying this law he is, in fact, admitting it.
Any antitheistic view is irrational because it is unable to set forth a sound argument which has as its conclusion—“Therefore, God does not exist.” Paul, in the above cited passage (Romans 1:18-32) says, “. . .[T]heir foolish hearts were darkened” (v. 21). Foolish (Gk. asunetos) is derived from suniemi. Sunesis is found in Colossians 1:9. Here it is translated with the word understanding and “. . . refers to putting together the facts and information and drawing conclusions and seeing relationships” (Rogers and Rogers 460). Max Black, Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University, in his book, Critical Thinking, says that reasoning is the process of passing “from certain items of information . . . to others for which they are evidence. . . . [T]he connections between two such sets of items are ‘proof’ . . .” (9). Robertson, commenting on Romans 1:21 says, they were “not able to put together the manifest evidence about God” (329). Lard states that they either argued from false premises or “conducted the process amiss [invalid argumentation]” and either results in “unwarrantable conclusions. . . . Correct reasoning can injure no people. . . . [They] became foolish. This could not have happened had their reasonings been sound” [valid arguments with true premises] (54).
Antitheism is an attack on rationality, not only because it obviously is not based on sound argumentation, but it also reduces thought and reason to that which is the product of a purposeless cosmic accident. C. S. Lewis explained:
If my own mind is a product of the irrational—if what seem my clearest reasonings are only the way in which a creature conditioned as I am is bound to feel—how shall I trust my mind when it tells me about Evolution? They say in effect, ‘I will prove that what you call a proof is only the result of mental habits which result from heredity which results from bio-chemistry which results from physics.’ But this is the same as saying, ‘I will prove that proofs are irrational’: more succinctly, ‘I will prove that there are no proofs.’ (89)
All of this reminds one of the English critic, G. K. Chesterton, who, in a piece called, “The Oracle of the Day,” from The Incredulity of Father Brown, said, “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense” (qtd. in Rees 158).
Black, Max. Critical Thinking. 1946. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1952.
Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. 1976. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.
Keller, Timothy. Reason for God. New York: Dutton-Penguin, 2008.
Lard, Moses E. Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Cincinnati: Standard, ca 1875.
Lewis, C. S. Christian Reflections. 1967. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978.
Rees, Nigel. Cassell Companion to Quotations. London: Cassell, 1997.
Robertson, Archibald Thomas. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Vol. 4. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1930. 6 vols.
Rogers, Cleon L. Jr., and Cleon L. Rogers, III. The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 3. McLean: Macdonald, n.d. 4 vols.