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  • Writer's pictureRick LoPresti

Atheists' talking points

According to Wikipedia, a talking point is "a pre-established message or formula used in the field of political communication, sales and commercial or advertising communication. The message is coordinated a priori to remain more or less invariable regardless of which stakeholder brings the message in the media. Such statements can either be free standing or created as retorts to the opposition's talking points and are frequently used in public relations, particularly in areas heavy in debate such as politics and marketing". Talking points are also used in religious discussion, especially when discussing different doctrinal views. Atheists have talking points that are often used when debating believers about the existence of God.

One of the most noted atheists of the 20th century was the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. He gave a speech on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society in which he summarized several common talking points of atheists. Here is a review of those points.

1. The first cause argument

The first cause argument is also called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It states that everything that has a beginning has a cause, so if you keep going back through causes you arrive at the first cause, which must be God. The atheist asks, "then what caused God?". This forces the question, "which God?". If we are talking about the God of the Bible, He is clearly described as the first cause. He is the Creator of everything else (Gen 1, Jn 1:1-4, Col 1:16). He did not come into existence because He always was and will be (Ex 3:14, Is 57:15). He is self-existent, and is not dependent on anything else (Ps 50:7-13). He is the only true God, and there is no other (Deut 4:35 & 39, Is 45:5-22, Is 46:9, Jn 17:3). So, the real question is not if the God of the Bible is the first cause, but is the Bible true? Russell asks, "What if the universe did not have a beginning?". The vast majority of astronomers today whether they are believers or not acknowledge that the universe had a beginning. Although the big bang theory has Biblical and scientific problems, it teaches that the universe had a beginning.

2. The laws of nature

There are several points to consider about the laws of nature. They are consistent and universal. They are not material. They have no logical explanation without the existence of God. Russell addressed this by saying that many things that are claimed to be laws of nature are just human conventions. He bizarrely attempts to illustrate this by stating that measurements of space are the same everywhere in the universe. Einstein published his general theory of relativity 12 years before Russell's speech. That theory, which is famously expressed as E=MC2, shows us that time and space can be warped. Also, the fact that Russell asserts that a law is the same on earth as everywhere in the universe defeats his own point about human conventions.

Russell says that atoms are not subject to laws. That was not the science of his day and is certainly not the understanding of the very complex inner workings of a cell including DNA today. There are many parts and systems working in perfect organization. They are obviously governed by laws. When these laws are not followed, we get problems such as cancer.

Russell asserts that statistical averages allow for everything to come into existence by random chance without a Creator. There are several problems with this. The first one is that statistics are governed by mathematical laws. You cannot analyze anything statistically unless it is governed by laws. It is impossible to do statistical analysis on completely unguided randomness. An even greater problem is that it is basically statistically impossible for even the most basic systems and functions in nature to occur randomly. The numbers representing the odds are so long that what they tell us is that these things did not come into existence without the Creator. That is why evolutionists came up with the idea of millions and billions of years. There is no way that the number of mutations that would have to occur to supposedly cause macroevolution could happen otherwise. There are also many, many other fatal flaws to evolution.

Russell states that if God is not subject to the laws of nature, then they are not universal. Again, he is not talking about the God of the Bible. As Creator and Lord, God has the perogative of deciding how to do things. This leads into a more complicated discussion about whether or not miracles are a suspension of the laws of nature, but for this purpose God is Lord over all creation, and it was all created for His pleasure (Rev 4:11), not Bertrand Russell's. He can question God's ways if he wants to, but God is not obligated to explain Himself to us. He often does so for our benefit, but not always (Rom 11:33-35). We could never understand it all anyways.

The philosopher then argues that since the world has flaws, there must not be a God who created it because why would God make a world with evil and suffering in it? This is a simple question with a simple answer. It is plainly given in the first 3 chapters of the Bible. God created everything good and placed the condition of obedience on man for it to stay good. The consequences of disobedience were death, evil, and suffering entering in and spoiling the beautiful creation God placed man over. Adam and Eve sinned and brought in the flaws we now see. It is man's fault, not God's. The haters of God try to blame Him for something that is not His fault. In fact, God made a plan before Adam and Eve even sinned to reconcile man and all creation back to Himself (Jn 17:5 & 24, 1Cor 2:7, Eph 1:4, 2Tim 1:9, Titus 1:2, 1Pet 1:20). Even the impact sin had on the animals and the earth will be reversed back to its original state (Is 11:6-9, Rom 8:17-23, Rev 22:1-5). This plan cost God dearly in His love for us. To bring this to pass, God came into the world He created as Jesus Christ and died a horrible death (Jn 1:1-14, Jn 3:16, 1Cor 15:1-4). He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. He did not create the evil man suffers, but He did make a way at great cost to escape it. The Bible offers the only real explanation for death, evil, and suffering; and it gives the only solution - Jesus Christ.

3. Design

You don't have to be a professional scientist to see evidence of design everywhere. "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Rom 1:20)." There are signs all over creation - in the precision and order, in the irreduceable complexity of many interrelated systems, in the many information systems such as DNA which show an intelligent source, and many others. Mr. Russell and his fellow deniers say that the environment was not designed for animals but the animals adapted to the environment. There are many, many fatal flaws with the idea of evolution, but here are just a few examples of how this logic is flawed. How did the animals survive for millions of years before they adapted? If natural selection eliminates mutants, then how did mutants lead to new kinds of animals? How did the mutants continue to pass on their mutations when mutations are a loss of genetic information and often result in sterility? After thousands of generations of loss of genetic information, how would these mutants lead to more complex animals? If animals can fix their mismatch with the environment on their own through random mutations, why do they still have problems and die after millions and billions of years? How did interdependent animals and systems just happen by pure chance to perfectly evolve together?

4. Hope

Russell's response to what a dark, hopeless proposition atheism is is that nobody is worrying about what will happen in millions of years, so that is a red herring. That may be true, but people are concerned about the problems of this life and eternity. God and the Bible offer the true answers. Atheism offers nothing.

5. Morality

Russell says if morals are by God's fiat, then to Him there are none. This is not only a logical fallacy, it describes a different god than the One the Bible does. God is holy in His nature (Ps 99:9). He cannot sin (2Cor 5:21, Heb 6:18, 1Pet 2:22, 1Jn 3:5). The command for us to be holy comes because He is holy (Lev 11:44, 1Pet 1:16). Morality comes from God to us. Without Him, there is no basis for morality. Man can make up his own perverted version of it, but that has been going on since the garden of Eden (Gen 3:5). Man without God is inevitably corrupt and deceived (Jer 17:9-10). That is why the cultures and societies that men develop without God always fail. They may last for hundreds of years and become empires, but they all fall eventually. Only God is the source of true and lasting morality.

The philosopher states that there could have been a superior god that gave God fiats. That is an unbiblical, pagan, and illogical version of the Supreme Being. If someone else is giving him orders, then he is not the Supreme Being. Russell repeats another bizarre, illogical assertion that the devil made the world while God wasn't looking. This is a ridiculous proposition from someone who is put forth as one of the great philosophers. How do we know about the devil without the Bible? The God of the Bible is never not looking, even over each individual person, bird, and flower (Mt 6:26-30, Mt 10:30). It is silly to say that the entire universe came into existence without God noticing, and especially to say that the devil did it.

In conjunction with morality is justice. That is a widely misused word, and what the Bible calls justice and what some people call justice are often two very different things. Russell says if the idea of justice exists here, it exist elsewhere as well. Apparently, he is referring to aliens for which there is no proof. The idea of aliens is often used as a red herring and also a substitute for God. It also creates unnecessary theological dilemmas and does not address the core issue of the existence of God.

6. Emotion

Russell says that most people believe in God because of emotion, particularly fear, rather than because of intellect. He says people are taught from infancy to feel a need for safety and to fear the judgment of God. He says religion is the problem with the world because it is based on fear. He says science can teach us to overcome fear and to rely on ourselves. Many atheists are also materialists. This means they do not believe in the existence of anything immaterial. Emotions are immaterial, so they respond by saying they are just the result of chemical reactions in the brain. First, they are still real and immaterial. Second, the chemical actions in our brains are often the result of stimuli, not the cause. As far as religion being the problem with the world and atheism being the solution, there was this thing called the 20th Century wherein atheistic governments were responsible for the deaths of approximately 100 million people. Places such as atheistic North Korea continue to heap huge amounts of death, evil, and suffering on their people in places that were previously much more blessed. If science can teach us to overcome fear, and we can be our own saviors without God, what is holding it up? Man is doing nothing but failing to learn from his extensive history of failing to do this very thing. From Adam and Eve (Gen 3) to the tower of Babel (Gen 11) to all of the empires such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Rome, Mongolia, and Britain man does not save himself. Kingdoms rise and fall. Only the kingdom of God will stand forever (Dan 7:13-14).

7. Bad teaching and hypocrisy

Russell asserts that there is no need to fear the God of the Bible because His teachings are not followed and are flawed. The imperfection of man is only correctly accounted for by the Bible, and only serves to confirm its teachings. Also, there is a difference between imperfection and hypocrisy, especially concerning intent. The sincere but imperfect man is striving to be better and to more closely follow the teaching of Jesus. The hypocrite has no intention to do it and is not making the effort. The existence of hypocrites does not disprove the Bible, it confirms it.

Russell gives the supposed example of man's failure to follow the scriptures by citing when Jesus told the rich, young ruler to sell his goods and give to the poor (Mt 19:21). Since Christians have things, this teaching is moot according to Russell. This logic is flawed in several ways. There is no commandment in the Bible for all Christians to have no possessions whatsoever. The Bible only commands us to prioritize the spiritual, eternal things over the temporal and material (Col 3:2). The instruction Jesus gave to this man was specific to him.

Russell states that Jesus taught about hell. Therefore He is not kind but rather takes pleasure in cruelty. He says torture is the result of this teaching and is thus His fault. If you see a child running into the street after a ball and you yell out a warning because there are cars coming, are you evil? The Lord loves us enough to warn us of the eternal consequences of unrepented sin, and He died to take the penalty for it so we can live forever when we put our trust in Him.

Atheists are really deniers grasping at straws to sustain their denial. They accuse God and twist or ignore what the Bible says to try to make their case, but ultimately they cannot prove there is no God. They say we cannot prove there is one, but that is only according to their arbitrary criteria which they often don't apply to themselves. While it is true that it is a matter of faith and choice, God has given everyone the innate ability to know Him; and He has given more than enough evidence of His existence so that we are without excuse (Rom 1:18-32). Man can argue all he wants, but the only attorney that will be able to do any good at the judgment seat is Jesus Christ (1Jn 2:1-2).

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