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Monday, August 6, 2012

A proof for Atheism

The following objection was presented on the Atheism discussion board on CARM as an evidence for atheism.  It is as follows:
"To my mind, the best evidence for atheism is the predictability of the universe. Atheism (or perhaps I should say naturalism) posits that there exists nothing capable of circumventing the laws by which the universe runs. Theism, on the other hand, says that there is an omnipotent being who, by definition as omnipotent, could cause the universe to run in any manner he/she/it chooses. Any "laws" we might think we observe are merely the coincidental result of God's choice to make things happen that way when we're looking. Atheism thus makes a specific prediction that theism does not. It says that everything within the universe must always follow natural law, since there is no being who could make it otherwise. Theism has no equivalent prediction."
I will break the argument down into its parts and deal with it accordingly. 
Premise: Atheism (or perhaps I should say naturalism) posits that there exists nothing capable of circumventing the laws by which the universe runs.
Response:  Naturalism is a logical conclusion for atheists.  It maintains that all things in the universe are the products of natural laws, which behave according to natural laws, and that these laws cannot be violated.
Premise: Theism, on the other hand, says that there is an omnipotent being who, by definition as omnipotent deity, could cause the universe to run in any manner he/she/it chooses.
Response:  This is a subjective statement with an erring premise.  There is no ultimate definition of the actions of the biblical god as defined in theism in general. However, the bible defines what the actions of the biblical god should. The Christian god is absolute and knows all the laws of the universe, since he incorporated them into the universe as he created it.  This would mean that he knows all laws in the universe, and can perform actions which would appear to violate other laws -- only for some reason they do not.  We are asked to accept that a god can violate his own rules' But does the bible agree with this premise? 
According to Deut. 24:16 "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." See also 2 Kings 14:6. (2 Chron.25: 54)

GOD CLEARLY VIOLATES his own COMMANDMENT by ORDERING the EXECUTION of Achan and his CHILDREN for ACHAN’S sin: God ORDERS Achan, with all his children and animals, to be BURNED TO DEATH for Achan's crime of keeping war booty (Josh 7:8-26).

HOW can God JUSTLY punnish Achan's children and animals for ACHAN'S SIN?
    Premise:  Any laws we we observe reflect the unchanging  nature of the universe. They are not arbitrary since the universe can only reflect the laws that actually exist.

Response:  The laws of a real god would not be arbitrary.  If a god exists and he has a nature, then what he created (laws and all) would be made in a way that is consistent with his nature.  He would not operate in a manner inconsistent with himself, because this would be self-contradictory.  However, the bible shows that he does this all time. 
Premise:  "Atheism thus makes a specific prediction that theism does not."
Response: On the contrary, as demonstrated above.  The Christian has every right to claim the predictability of the universe based upon the absoluteness of God's nature.  Instead of randomness that atheism would suggest since the universe and life are the product of chance, Christian theism supports absoluteness and consistency based upon the absoluteness of God's nature.
Premise: "It says that everything within the universe must always follow natural law, since there is no being who could make it otherwise.
Response:  And what natural laws must God follow?  If He created the universe as a reflection of His natural absoluteness, then it is logical that the attributes of absoluteness in physics, etc., also reflect His nature.  If miracles occur at the hand of God, then they occur in a system of laws consistent with his nature.  What we observe as supernatural is in reality natural to God, and consistent with his abilities and attributes. 
The extent of natural law can and does exist beyond the scope of human understanding.  Take quantum physics as an example; there are things we just do not understand.  Furthermore, if God exists and he created the universe with all that is in it, then why not admit there will be laws that may never be fully understood by people?  There is no logical reason that requires that if God exists, his abilities and knowledge of the laws of the universe (which He created) cannot and do not extend beyond the scope of human grasp.  This would mean that the "supernatural" is simply natural to God and miraculous to us.
Premise: "Theism has no equivalent prediction."
Response:  Yes it does.  Christian theism states that since God is absolute and created the universe, it will demonstrate the absolute nature of laws.  It further states that the supernatural, the miraculous, are consistent with God's nature; and since God is beyond us, God's behavior will also often appear beyond us.
This objection is a proof for God's non-existence, and it does offer a theory of natural law predictability that Christian theism cannot.  Therefore, it is a proof for atheism.

The Bible Indicates that In Addition to the Written Word, we are to accept Oral Tradition.
Perhaps the clearest Biblical support for oral tradition can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:14, where Christians are actually commanded: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle." 
Sacred Tradition complements our understanding of the Bible and is therefore not some extraneous source of Revelation which contains doctrines that are foreign to it. Quite the contrary: Sacred Tradition serves as the Church’s living memory, reminding her of what the faithful have constantly and consistently believed and who to properly understand and interpret the meaning of Biblical passages. In a certain way, it is Sacred Tradition which says to the reader of the Bible "You have been reading a very important book which contains God’s revelation to man. Now let me explain to you how it has always been understood and practiced by believers from the very beginning."

The Catholic Church emphasized that the Scriptures must be read in light of the apostolic Tradition that was handed down through the ages. 
As Saint Peter writes in his epistle, Scripture is not a matter of personal interpretation.
It therefore must mean that it is a matter of public interpretation, and that is the interpretation of the Church. 
The Church has always encouraged reading the Scriptures.
In fact, the Catholic Church is the one who first translated the Scriptures into the vernacular. 
Since the Catholic Church holds that the Bible is not sufficient in itself, it naturally teaches that the Bible needs an interpreter. The reason the Catholic Church so teaches is twofold: first, because Christ established a living Church to teach with His authority. He did not simply give His disciples a Bible, whole and entire, and tell them to go out and make copies of it for mass distribution and allow people to come to whatever interpretation they may. Second, the Bible itself states that it needs an interpreter.
The doctrine of Sola Scriptura overlooks – or at least grossly underemphasizes – the fact that the Church came before the Bible, and not the other way around. It was the Church, in effect, which wrote the Bible under the inspiration of Almighty God: the Israelites as the Old Testament Church (or "pre-Catholics") and the early Catholics as the New Testament Church.
To say that the early Church believed in the notion of "the Bible alone" would be analogous to saying that men and women today could entertain the thought that our civil laws could function without Congress to legislate them, without courts to interpret them and without police to enforce them. All we would need is a sufficient supply of legal volumes in every household so that each citizen could determine for himself how to understand and apply any given law. Such an assertion is absurd, of course, as no one could possibly expect civil laws to function in this manner. The consequence of such a state of affairs would undoubtedly be total anarchy.
Since the Bible did not come with an inspired table of contents, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura creates yet another dilemma: How can one know with certainty which books belong in the Bible – specifically, in the New Testament? The unadulterated fact is that one cannot know unless there is an authority outside the Bible which can tell him. Moreover, this authority must, by necessity, be infallible, since the possibility of error in identifying the canon of the Bible would mean that all believers run the risk of having the wrong books in their Bibles, a situation which would vitiate Sola Scriptura. But if there is such an infallible authority, then the doctrine of Sola Scriptura crumbles.

Another historical fact very difficult to reconcile with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is that it was none other than the Catholic Church which eventually identified and ratified the canon of the Bible. The three councils mentioned above were all councils of this Church. The Catholic Church gave its final, definitive, infallible definition of the Biblical canon a the Council of Trent in 1546 – naming the very same list of 73 books that had been included in the 4th century. If the Catholic Church is able, then, to render an authoritative and infallible decision concerning such an important matter as which books belong in the Bible, then upon what basis would a person question its authority on other matters of faith and morals?

Protestants should at least concede a point which Martin Luther, their religion’s founder, also conceded, namely, that the Catholic Church safeguarded and identified the Bible: "We are obliged to yield many things to the Catholics – that they possess the Word of God, which we received from them; otherwise, we should have known nothing at all about it."

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