Sunday Sermon - Atheism Is Impractical, Irrational and Illogical

A recent perusal of Twitter triggered - I mean, inspired - me to jot down a few thoughts. Atheists, especially those on Twitter, are arrogant, awash in smugness and poised to strike with derision at a mere blessing begat by a sneeze. God forbid you offer them prayers, or ascribe the adjective miraculous to the momentous, or actually say ‘God forbid’ let alone capitalize the word God. The outrage is not just an affront to their lack of belief, it triggers a visceral response to your apparent and unforgivable stupidity. You might as well be running around with a stick in your hand, and a broom between your legs, attempting to fly, play Quiditch and cast spells. To their superior rational and logical mind, you are Harry Potter and your God is less real and powerful than Dumbledore. You are a Santa believing child and your childish, willfully naive, faith is permission to abjectly ridicule you for choosing to believe. The irony is, it is far more practical, rational and logical to choose to believe in God. Arguments that for more esteemed and intellectual apologists have made for centuries. If the Twitter atheists weren’t so busy looking down on the believers they might have time to look up and see the reasoning behind their faith.

“I respect atheists who answer that they hope they are wrong. It tells me that they understand the terrible consequences of atheism: that all existence is random; that there is no ultimate meaning to life; that there is no objective morality — right and wrong are subjective personal or societal constructs; that when we die, there is nothing but eternal oblivion, meaning, among other things, that one is never reconnected with any loved ones; and there is no ultimate justice in the universe — murderers, torturers and their victims have identical fates: nothing.”

Dennis Prager

Practically speaking, let us say there is no God. That would mean there is no heaven, no hell and no ultimate justice. Without fear of ultimate justice, constraints on human behavior are just transient, expedient social constructs. These are as readily changed as winter clothes for summer swim suits with no more value and no less virtue. The mob rules. Without the promise of ultimate justice there is no hope for the sick, the poor, the exploited, the victimized, the powerless. Sucks to be you.

Therefore, practically speaking, the lives of most people are improved by choosing to believe. Only by choosing to believe do we get the morality that underpins the social stability we crave and the justice we desire. Only by choosing to believe do we garner the hope we need and the patience to wait for it to be realized. Practically speaking, people would be happier and society would be better if we all either acted as though we believed or chose to actually believe in a just God that will make it all right at the end.

“In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.”

C.S. Lewis —Miracles (1947)

‘In our world,’ said Eustace, 'a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.’

'Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.’

C.S. Lewis - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

It is part of male nature, across species, to seek as many sexual partners as possible for purposes of procreation. Even male humans have this impulse, it is part of our nature. However, for a variety of reasons, we learned to overcome our nature, be above our nature. We are self aware and by virtue of rational thought and reasonable conclusions we rise above our nature. Other ways in which we are above nature include concepts like truth, justice, love and faith. The natural - hormones, pheromones, society - play a part in these, but only one part, the other being something that is apart from nature. Sunlight may trigger photosynthesis in a plant but the sun doesn’t shine because it loves the plant and desires to feed it, unlike a mother does love the newborn she feeds. A mother has a natural instinct and ability to feed and care for her offspring and some of that is bound in our physical nature, but more of it is our metaphysical nature. That bond is both physical and metaphysical. It is rational to believe there is something beyond and above nature.

“If you think the principle is, “everything has a cause,” then you’re missing the point. Contingent things have a cause”

“If a contingent thing like you or me or a table has a cause, well then what caused it?’

‘You must come, the argument concludes, to some reality which is not contingent.’

‘The whole point of the demonstration is that we finally must come to one reality, namely, God, namely Ipsum Esse, that which isn’t caused.”

Bishop Robert Barron 

Logic is the study of valid arguments. A valid argument is one where there is a specific relation of logical support between the assumptions of the argument and its conclusion. Science tells us that something cannot come from nothing. So, it would be logical to conclude that the big bang, and the universe that formed as a result of it, came from something. Nothing didn’t produce the spark that begat the bang that produced the energy that built the matter that evolved into the universe. Something did that. In fact, something did it in a vacuum of governance by immutable physical laws we are still striving to fully understand, but we know they are there. It is illogical to think the bang, the universe and the laws came from nothing. Rather it is logical to conclude that Something caused it to be built.

You may choose to believe for logic or practicality. You may choose not to believe for the same reasons. It is not my place to compel you to faith or to judge you for a lack of it. I choose to believe. My life is filled with purpose as a result of believing. I act better and feel happier because I believe. To my mind it is practical, rational and logical to believe. I do not make it my business to tell other people to believe, even if I would encourage it. I do not condescend to people who make the choice to not believe because in my God’s eyes that would be uncharitable and prideful behavior unworthy of Him. All I am asking, is that, for the love of God, you respect my choice as I respect yours.

PS - someone will say ‘religion breeds violence and war’ to which I would say, ‘no, human nature does.’ It is one of the reasons we must work to be above nature. That said, the death toll of religious violence is a rounding error in comparison to secular violence and war. Let’s take two of the biggies for comparison: The Crusades - 196 years of fighting - killed approximately 1.7 million. World War II - 6 years of fighting - killed 87 million people. The Spanish Inquisition - 1500+/- killed. Russian Anti-Jew Pogroms - 115,000 killed. Human nature is not inherently good and religion is not perfect at making it good but it is better than secularism.