10 Things which make more sense as a Christian than an atheist
September 27, 2012
If I think of things as a Christian, rather than if I was atheist, the world makes more sense. None of these are proofs of God, and I’m not saying they are. But when I consider the world thinking God exists, rather than if he doesn’t, many things fall neatly into place.
1. Scientific Laws
I’m a physicist. It’s obvious to me when I look around that the way the universe runs is rationally intelligible, consistent. For example, we have beautiful results like Noether’s theorem which explains how symmetries plus Lagrangian dynamics give rise to conserved quantities. And it turns out our universe has a surprising amount of symmetry, and does appear to run according to this rationally understable law. Almost 400 years ago, before much of the scientific revolution, Kepler, waxed lyrical that if we were serious in thinking God existed we would expect to find such laws. I agree. If God exists, we should expect that “science works”. That science works makes more sense as a Christian than an atheist.
2. Personal Experience
It’s common for people to say they’ve had a direct experience of God. I’ve experienced a very similar thing. The experience comes by praying or reading the Bible. It is the most unbelievable feeling, and hard to describe. Something like your insides jumping around for joy, but clear and pure. Others describe it as a burning in your chest. I’m not saying that everyone has this, or even that it’s specific to Christians, but to me – being the incredibly geeky science person that I am it was a massive surprise. My own personal experience makes more sense as a Christian than an atheist.
3. Jesus Christ
Specifically history around Jesus. Atheists often seem to look it that if they can find a single thing wrong with the Bible then they’ve disproved Christianity. I look at it the other way around. If there’s a single case of God acting, anywhere, anytime then atheism can’t be right. So I went looking for places where I expected God might act. The obvious one was Jesus resurrection. I’ve written, just a little about 1 Corinthians 15 and obviously there’s much more to say here, but it fits a lot better if you simply allow that perhaps, just perhaps God has acted. The historical evidence makes more sense to me as a Christian than an atheist.
4. There’s something rather than nothing
This is one that makes absolutely no sense to me on atheism at all. When I think about it from an atheist perspective, I feel like something is seriously wrong. I don’t see any reason why anything should exist at all – the whole of existence seems absurd. I’m following people like Krauss and Stenger and their attempts to answer it from an atheistic perspective. But the thing is, I get the idea when I look at their arguments I get the feeling that they warp words, rather than provide a genuine answer. In contrast, Christianity seems very freeing – there’s no need to force science into answering gaps in my philosophy – I can let the science speak for itself. That there’s something rather than nothing makes more sense to me as a Christian than an atheist.
5. Atheist Apologists
I have spent, literally, years of my life reading atheists including the “new” atheists. In fact, one thing that really started to get me taking God seriously was one atheist argument that, instead of even consider God might exist, posit that every possible universe which could possibly exist mathematically, actually did. While I agree that this might solve some problems for atheists (like fine tuning for example), I struggled to see how anyone could find that a more likely than the much simpler belief in God. It was, essentially, an argument so bad that shook my belief that having no God was simpler or more straightforward than thinking God existed.
One thing that has happened in the last ten years is that arguments have moved from the facts to a social one. Half of Dawkins book, most of Hitchens book, and most of Harris book weren’t about God at all. They were just out to rubbish religion, and to belittle religious people. Somewhat ironically, being a Christian and seeing people as fallen, I’m not opposed to the idea religious people (like everyone else) have done things wrong. But resorting to mud throwing and ridicule as opposed to reason doesn’t make me think there’s some good argument against God which I haven’t thought of, it makes me think there isn’t one. Atheist apologetics makes more sense to me as a Christian than an atheist.
6. God’s promise to Abraham
One of the things that has constantly amazed me is that we know anything about Abraham’s God at all. His God forms the basis of the three great monotheistic religions, with over half the world’s population counted as his followers. But think about it at Abraham’s time, or even worse in Babylonian captivity. There were far greater empires, and far more powerful people. There’s no reason to think, from an atheist point of view, that belief in this tiny, ancient, impotent (if you’re an atheist, insert your usual derogatory terms about goat herders here) God from a tiny tribe would grow and come to dominate the world. Yet it did. From an atheist point of view it seems one massive coincidence after another, but from a Christian point of view it makes good sense, God promised it to Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham makes more sense to me as a Christian than an atheist.
One thing that strikes me is that if there’s nothing but cold physical laws and (perhaps) chance then it’s incredibly difficult to allow for anything like free will, purpose or meaning. When you think about the processes and what is controlling them it’s not even in ultimate control of our own thoughts. There’s no purpose. There’s no meaning. Not only in some universe wide sense, but its also very difficult to establish our own life. I, honestly, do not understand how people can escape nihilism from an atheist point of view. I recently went to ask atheists on Omegle. Two were honest enough, and said that they didn’t know if there was meaning or not. One said there was no meaning in life, no free will, and everything is totally deterministic so there’s no choices, but it didn’t matter because they ignored it. Another atheist said that, despite not being able to give a good reason to think we could make any real choices, or have anything like a free will said you could “choose” to have meaning. Now these waters run deep, and I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but in my own life, Ecclesiastes provided the response to nihilism. Meaning and purpose make sense to me from a Christian point of view, but none if I think God doesn’t exist.
The moral argument is not an argument I’d normally offer. But without any particular goal, meaning or purpose in life (especially without free will) it seems incredibly hard to establish morality logically. Note that I’m not saying atheists are necessarily bad people (at all), I’m simply saying how things fit together logically. That said, I’ve recently been shocked at some of the moral calls I’ve seen coming out of atheists, things like Dawkins interview with Singer, his comments on the sexual objectification of women or the eery experience of having murder justified to me by an atheist. And that in turn has made me realize just how hard it is to argue with someone who logically thinks, based on atheist arguments, that morality is illusory. You can’t reason with them that killing babies, or even other people is wrong, because they reject the whole concept of right and wrong. You can’t tell them humans, and women in particular, have a particular value, because on atheism they don’t. They simply reject the idea people are loved by God, or made in God’s image. But on the other hand, it’s absolutely clear to me that these things are immoral in reality. If your assumptions leads you to absurd moral conclusions surely it’s better to reject your assumptions than accept the absurd. Morality makes far more sense to me as a Christian than as an atheist.
9. Fine Tuning
It seems obvious the universe is fine tuned – if not for life, then at least to be an interesting area of dynamics. It’s often commented that if we changed the physical constants even slightly, the universe would either be too inert, or too chaotic for any interesting dynamics at all. For people interested, I recommend getting hold of Paul Davies’ books and see an excellent physicist, rather than an apologist talk about it. Fine tuning is something which makes good sense from a Christian point of view, but there’s no particular reason to expect it (or even that life would exist at all) from an atheist one.
10. The value of people
Many atheists agree that humans have value, in fact we’d call them humanists. I find, especially when I’m spending time doing charity work that humanists often share similar goals to Christians. But whereas a Christian can logically ground that belief in reality, many humanists don’t seem to have a particular reason why valuing humans and human life should be justified. Instead, it seems like an axiom you just have to accept. Note, that I’m not saying atheists who think like this are immoral. The opposite. I think they’re moral, but they just I don’t find the grounding for what they believe satisfying. Consider what is said in this real discussion between a Christian and an atheist. On Christianity it’s clear that God (and specifically God’s love) gives everyone of us, Christian or not, great value. And it gives us that value regardless of if we’re disabled, burdens on society, female or male, rich, poor, black or white. This isn’t a call based in abstract ideals, but based in reality. That people have value, completely apart from their economic value, is something that makes logical sense to me as a Christian, but not if I think about it as an atheist.