Is It Possible to Prove Atheism?

Asstheists are quick to accuse believers of ignorance or superstition. They claim that Christian doctrines such as the Resurrection or the Virgin Birth are just foolish myths, meant to comfort people who don’t want to face reality. Follow reason, they exhort us.

But what reasons do the atheists have to support the conclusion that there is no God?  Some may say that since they have never seen him, and have never been contacted by him, there is no reason to believe he is there. But it is not enough to rely on this purported lack of evidence – their claim is that they know that such a being does not exist. This requires some showing.

Proving a negative -here, the non-existence of God – is of course quite difficult. Logically, it would require some evidence that every corner of reality – whether the physical universe or any domain that transcends nature – has been examined, a task that is, simply put, impossible. Consequently, the atheist will often claim that he does not really have a burden to prove his case. He might instead rely upon an analogy, saying for instance that he does not believe there are leprechauns even though he has not scoured the universe to prove that none exist. Or he might use unicorns or goblins or some other fictitious creature to make his point. But doing this amounts to a category error, for there is in this universe nothing like God. He is in a category of his own.

Consider: In the case of leprechauns, we are talking about figures from Irish folklore that are characterized by their size and style of dress, and their supposed penchant for mending shoes, storing coins in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and generally making mischief. Just describing them is the first step in intuitively realizing that they don’t really exist. God, on the other hand, is not a thing within creation. He is that Being, outside of and apart from this universe, from which all things derived; that Being a greater than which cannot possibly be conceived. He is the Uncaused Cause, the First Mover, the incomprehensibly intelligent and powerful source of all that exists.

Placing this image before our mind, we see that this conception of God is based not on fairy tale or folklore but on reason. Something must be there to explain what is here, to account for intelligence and consciousness, to make sense of the design inherent in nature, the laws that govern it, and the existence of morality and beauty. Even if all religious knowledge were suddenly erased, rational men and women would quickly grasp that such a Being is real – that He must exist.

To prove atheism, a person must do more than ignore all the evidence of design in the universe. He must do more than reject the testimony of those who witnessed Christ’s life, death and resurrection. He must be able to examine the entire universe, and everything that exists beyond the universe. In short, he must become omniscient, for only then could he know, with the certainty atheism claims, that there is no God.

Talk about chasing the pot of gold – ironically, the atheist would have to become God in order to prove that God does not exist.

 Posted by Al Serrato

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  1. A.C. says:

    That’s not the only way atheism could be proved. One way would be by showing some contradiction in the attributes of God. For example, I could prove that there are no square circles. If an atheist could do a similar thing with God, that would prove atheism. Or they could try to show that some objective characteristic of the world around us is mutually exclusive with God’s existing (this is what the problem of evil tries to do). But at any rate, in the scenario you presented, they wouldn’t need to be omniscient. All that would be needed is a sort of “ontological omniscience” or knowing everything that exists. That would be perfectly compatible with, say, not knowing who will win the 2016 presidential election. So even if that was the only way to prove atheism, that wouldn’t entail them becoming God.

    • Al says:

      I’m having trouble grasping your point here. A sort of ontological omniscience is another way of saying what I said – that complete knowledge would be necessary to be sure that nature is all there is. But to attain that level of capacity – unlimited complete perfect knowledge – I would have to be the kind of being that we understand God to be.

  2. Good word here. I like to use the analogy of two gentlemen inside a house. One is a theist and the other is an atheist. The atheist discovers the blue prints of the house and comes to the conclusion that there was never a builder. After all, he can now explain how it happened. But the theist, knowing the builder personally, sees the blueprints and gives credit to the builder for such a marvelous work.

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