I find present in the atheistic world view this idea there is something grand and mysterious about our beginnings and so they ascribe to the universe, mankind, our DNA, characteristics and traits that take on deistic-like attributes.
Richard Dawkins’ “selfish gene” — that only humans have the ability to act in ways contrary to our makeup and do good — is significant in that — whether he acknowledges it or not — he is bestowing a metaphysical will and a conscience to microbiological matter.
At one point earlier in his life, Stephen Hawking appeared to allow room in his thinking for the possibility of a creator, but later decided the grandeur of physics rendered that possibility “unnecessary.”
Still, he and many of the other great thinkers of our time struggle to adequately describe that grandeur without at least alluding to the idea the universe gives every appearance that behind its splendor, there appears to be intentional thought, a plan; A design without a designer.
“We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.” [Hawking]
But what is even more significant is these men of science, who boast they are free from the childish trappings of faith, are comfortable placing their confidence in the infinitesimally minute chance that life and order came out of some random, chaotic, inexplicable act of nature.
They might not use the word nature, but whatever noun they do choose for the sheer utility of it, they offer very unscientific-like explanations to circumvent certain foundational truths, including the one that says every for every beginning there must be a cause because something can not come from nothing.
Hawking resolved the dilemma of what proceeded the big bang simply by declaring “time didn’t exist.” And if time did not exist, he reasons, “then there is no time for god to make the universe in.” In his mind, this simple syllogism resolves the issue for all … time.
Atheists dismiss god out of hand simply because the idea is too ridiculous for a serious mind to even contemplate. And while they have somehow made peace with the fact there was such a thing as a beginning without expending too much energy on contemplating what proceeded that beginning, they don’t extend that same courtesy to God: “If there is a god,” they mock, “then what was his beginning? Who created him?”
To be fair, the concept of eternity — that something or someone has always existed — is a head-scratcher for all of us. But probably not dramatically more so than how today’s technology would be perceived by someone who lived in the dark ages.
We measure out our lives in years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Every human who has drawn breath has an expiration date. So it’s not all that perplexing our thinking is bound to and constrained by this concept of time; it’s all we have ever known and therefore can understand. But theology says that God exits outside of time: “a thousand years are to Him as a day and a day is as a thousand years.” In other words, time is irrelevant to an eternal God and it only has utility and consequences to us finite humans.
Is any of this proof there is a god? Of course not. But then neither are any of the theories put forth by atheists prove that he “is not.”
One of the better lines of reasoning I have heard on this topic is illustrated by this simple thought experiment:
- Imagine a circle.
- Now imagine the area contained within that circle represents the entirety of all the knowledge in the universe, that which is known and that which is unknown
- As you consider the enormity of all that is contained within that circle, of what percentage would you say you have knowledge? Let’s say you consider yourself a pretty smart human and you give yourself a score of five percent. Draw a pie slice in your circle that represents that five percent.
- Now consider the smartest person who ever lived. For the sake of this exercise, let’s say the answer is Albert Einstein. Of what percentage of the circle would you say Einstein had knowledge? Let’s be really generous and say 10 percent. After all, we’re talking about the smartest guy who ever lived.
If the smartest person who ever lived has understanding of only ten percent of all the knowledge in the universe, then that leaves an awfully big chunk of that circle that is unknown. Is it possible then, that God exists in that unknown chunk of knowledge?
How could any reasonably intellectually honest person answer anything other than, “yes, of course it is possible”? Even if the answer is “yes, but…”, this illustration, if nothing else, presents a challenge to the unshakable confidence of the atheist. And yet, confidence is the very hallmark of atheistic thought. Otherwise, without it they would do well to stop calling themselves atheists and instead acknowledge the possibility their world view more closely resembles that of an agnostic.
Richard Dawkins has heard this or similar arguments before but casts them aside. He reasons that if a god could exist outside of that what is known, “the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies.”
By giving the tooth fairy the same consideration he would give to a creator, Dawkins makes it clear he has no interest in devoting serious thought to a subject he views with contempt. It’s a clever retort, but an intellectually dishonest one as well. This is particularly evident if you’ve ever heard him speculate — quite comfortably, in fact — that perhaps life on this planet is the result of a science experiment by some intellectually-advanced race from a galaxy far, far away.
Again, none of what I am offering here proves there is a god. Just as it is possible a god could exist outside that what is known, I also have to allow for the possibility that he does not. My goal here is much more modest, and that is to explore the idea that the roots of atheism are planted in soil that bares a closer resemblance to faith and ideology than to science and reason.
“The atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a thief can’t find a policeman.” Author Unknown