Tuesday, December 11, 2012

If Atheism Was True...

Devin Rose wrote a book called If Protestantism Is True. Devin once said that my writing was a lot like his. That not only did we say many of the same things but we tended to say them in the same way. The title of his book made me think of that. My analysis of the Protestant/Catholic questions was very much along those lines. I was just bothered by all the things that logically one would expect to see and we did not see. The more angles I looked at it from the more things I came across that just didn't make sense if God really wanted Sola Scriptura to be the way Christians should live. At least initially it was a very negative case. I started to see some of the beauty in the Catholic faith later but my conversion was primarily based on scrutinizing the Protestant faith. It didn't stand up.

Bl. John Henry Newman noticed the same thing before he converted. He said to be deep in history is to cease to be protestant. He did not say it is to be Catholic. He thought the two logical places historical analysis would lead was Catholicism or Atheism. He saw Protestantism as being an inconsistent middle ground. So it was relatively easy to see the problems with it. At least atheism rejected all of what Catholicism claimed.

So what about atheism? Does it pass logical scrutiny? I don't think it does. It is harder to see. You can't appeal to scripture or God's desire to let people understand His gospel. Still there are some things that follow from atheism that don't seem plausible to me. Many of these are directly parallel to problems I saw with protestantism. Protestantism is essentially a protest against Catholicism. Atheism is protesting even more.

One of the things that complicates matters is that atheism means a lot of things to a lot of people. I like to talk about it as a strict scientific materialism. That is the denial of anything immaterial like virtues or nirvana rather than just the denial of God. To me, if you are asserting something supernatural that is different from Catholicism then you are in the territory of professing another religion rather than simple rejecting Catholicism. On the other hand, I consider many secular Christians to be practical atheists. A Christian who rejects miracles is in almost in the same place as an atheist who embraces the dignity of the human person. The biggest difference is one goes to church on Sunday morning and the other stays home.

Anyway, I was asked in the comments what would make me an atheist. I don't have a short answer but this is my blog so I am allowed to give long answers! I thought I would try a series of posts of the form "If atheism was true..." That is to give reasons why I don't find Atheism plausible. I was thinking of trying to draw the parallels to the reasons why Protestantism is implausible but I think I shall skip that part. Every time I try and connect those dots the posts get very abstract and nobody gets it. So I keep it simple and just try and write about why atheism can't be true or as Thomas Nagel put it, Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.

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