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Atheists  

By Jim Killebrew

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[March 12, 2014]  We read about the people who profess to be atheists, not believing that God exists, but I wonder how many true atheists there are. It is truly difficult to believe that anyone can live in and experience life with its physical surroundings and the multitude of marvelous attributes the earth and universe have to offer and still formulate in their mind's eye a worldview without a Creator.

If it wasn't so tragic, it would be humorous to watch a person who proclaims their atheism so publicly and proudly. Tragic in that usually the person is such a defeatist with a pessimistic, negative viewpoint that it creates for him a fatalistic worldview that everything eventually will end up into nothingness. Humorous in watching the person interact with the world around him, using only the created earth and universe, from the microscopic, subatomic design that extends throughout the universe as the proof-text for his fatalistic worldview.

An atheist looks to a Christian and derides him because of his faith and acceptance of the Word of God as presented in the Bible. The popular cry is to negate any proof of God's existence by using the Bible as a proof-text. The atheist says of the Bible, "You cannot use something we don't accept as a proof to believe in something else we don't accept: the existence of God."

Yet, the atheist only has the planet Earth, solar system, galaxies and universe to observe and deduce from their observations of the consistent design found therein that this somehow negates the existence of God. To that so-called scientific method of observation, analysis and conclusion, as a Christian, I say, "You cannot use that method to prove something does not exist when you have not completed an exhaustive, complete observation and analysis with the apparent infinite number that exists, and reach a conclusion with such incomplete data." In a matter that is as important as the existence of God, it is not enough just to generalize from a sample of data to make inferences to the total number of possibilities that exist in the universe.

Any researcher knows that you must isolate variables and manipulate conditions to determine the effect on some dependent variable. In a very controlled study, the researcher can establish a set of independent variables to measure their effect on some dependent variable on which his research hypothesis rests. It is a valid method to speculate that within this specific set of variables used in this particular research, this independent variable had this much effect on the dependent variable and this other independent variable had this much effect. But that is true for only that particular experiment. Replication with similar results is required for even the smallest amount of "truth" to be sustained from any set of conditions. From that method comes knowledge, and knowledge becomes cumulative over time, and certain generalized inferences can be projected toward similar populations of datum.

Of course discovery is an important part of the "scientific method" that leads people to make inferences. Think back to the earliest times when men dreamed of flying. Each person knew through observation, even before Sir Isaac Newton, that there was something that caused an object to fall from heights. Things simply fell out of trees, or off cliffs. If it was up higher than the ground, it would eventually fall. Someone, however, discovered that if air was heated and trapped by some kind of bladder, it somehow defied the "falling" phenomenon and drifted up into the air. Eventually balloons became a way to leave the ground; but even they fell to earth when the air inside cooled.

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Each new discovery and each new application of that discovery drives researchers to explore deeper into the new discovery and test it over and over for more applications. With all that research into the effects of heat on air, we learned we can have balloons of many different shapes, and we can heat the air inside them in more than one way. From that research emerged the knowledge that heated air rises; and it not only rises, but rises consistently and with purpose. Our inference was that generally, all air when heated will rise, and when trapped in something, it will cause that to rise as well.

Hundreds of years have passed since the balloon was researched and inferences made. We make those kinds of discoveries all the time and make inferences about what we find here on earth, and now even in space, as we continue to reach out to make discoveries all the time.

The point is that somewhere, sometime in history, someone made an inference that was invalid. Somewhere someone said, "Oh, now that I know this about that, it must mean there is no God, no Creator." Well, I believe that was an incorrect conclusion based on incomplete data at best, or irrelevant data at least.

In a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he explained, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes  his eternal power and divine nature  have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse; for although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles."  Romans 1:18-23

"Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."  Romans 1:24-25

Even in the days of Paul, people needed to be reminded that God is a part of the human experience. He has made Himself known in so many ways through His creation that we really do not have any excuse to believe or say that He does not exist. For those who say that He does not exist are not basing their belief on any fact they have discovered; it is simply their deep-rooted faith that is based on a long line of inferences that have been proposed by those who have observed some cause-and-effect relationships in their observations and then pronounced such inferences.

Consequently, as with everything, whether there are true atheists or not depends on each individual and the choices they make. I suppose, in the end, to be a practicing member of the church of atheism requires more faith than it does for the Christian to be a part of the body of Christ. After all, for a Christian, it only takes a faith no larger than a mustard seed; but for the atheist, it takes a faith large enough to overcome all the evidence of the entire universe. Could anyone have that much faith?

[By JIM KILLEBREW]

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