An atheist says that no God is the best explanation for things

by Matt Slick

In this discussion, an atheist was promoting his atheism and evolution as the best explanation for the universe, and other things.  I jumped in and the following dialogue ensued.

Matt Slick: Is non belief a position?
Alexandros: I would say about my position is that god is a poor explanation for things.
Matt Slick: So you deny god.  You don't lack belief, or have a non position. You openly deny.
Alexandros: Better explanations exist that require simpler assumptions to be made.
Matt Slick: So how do you know your atheism is true?
Alexandros: In choosing between base assumptions I find that ones that include god are more complex.
Matt Slick: Since you cannot demonstrate that there is no God, all you have is your opinion.  Why are you in here arguing about your opinion?  I think it is arrogant for you to want others to believe in your opinion.
Alexandros: I do not seem to be communicating my position adequately
Matt Slick: Do you have a non-position or are you openly denying that God exists?  You cannot demonstrate your atheistic position is true. It is nothing more than your opinion. Yet you argue to substantiate your opinion as being true. Perhaps you could tell me how that is not arrogant.
Alexandros: When choosing between different hypothesis, one can use Occam's razor to assist in choosing the best set. If one is considering two hypothesis and neither offers better explanatory power, it is better to choose the simpler set.
Matt Slick: Better is a subjective term.  You aren't saying anything.
Alexandros: It seems you are focusing on picking at my exact wording than looking at the substance of what I am trying to say.
Matt Slick: Again, all you are doing is offering your opinion. Why should any of us in here adopt your position, your opinion, as the best representation of reality? 
Alexandros: Using God to explain things has failed.
Matt Slick: Using God to explain things has not failed. You would have to demonstrate that all explanations offered on behalf of God our failures. That cannot be done.
Alexandros: Well right now I thought we were discussing about whether or not god is a good explanation for things.
Matt Slick: Atheism has indeed failed.  Please tell me how you know you're atheism is true.  Please tell me why any of us should adopt your opinion as the truth.
Alexandros: God as an explanation has completely failed, but there are better explanations to be used
Matt Slick: Really?
Alexandros: You can always add more to make it work, but it becomes needlessly complex.
Matt Slick: All you're doing is making an unsubstantiated claim. It is not logical for you to say so. And all you're doing is offering us your opinion. It is something you hold by faith.
Alexandros: No I am choosing the best set of assumption by a well accepted method.
Matt Slick: It is your religious devotion and your faith in your atheism that fails.  It is only your opinion that you are choosing the best set.  You are a person of unsubstantiated claims.  You are full of assertions and opinions.
Alexandros: If you do not accept basic probability than we I suppose this discussion will not go much further
Matt Slick: You appear to be a person of great faith.
Alexandros: It sounds like you are going on a usual spiel that you use on less informed atheists.
Matt Slick: You can't substantiate that there is no God. You assume the validity of Occam's razor when applied to the issue of God's existence, yet, you cannot substantiate that your assumption is valid to begin with. When someone cites Occam's razor, it is generally a good starting place. But it is not always the correct thing to do. As I see logic, existence, morality, etc. the impossibility of an infinite regression of uncaused causes, etc., I think Occam's razor points to the existence of God. That is a single assumption in the simplest form.
Alexandros: I am not saying I can prove one way or another. I am just saying that there ways to explain the universe that do not require god and that the assumption needed for these explanations are simpler than those needed for ones that require a god
Matt Slick: Then, it would seem, that without God you would have to explain how the universe came into existence.  Can you please do that?  Tell us how the universe came into existence from your atheistic perspective
Alexandros: So talking about the big bang and how it was able to occur. It seems that physics allows an explanation for how the big bang may have occurred.  I am not going to say that it is even close to being proven.
Matt Slick: Atheism, when examined, as far as I can see, proves itself to be intellectually bankrupt. In atheism, logical absolutes, the undergirding principles of rational discourse cannot be accounted for.  Our own existence, the existence of the universe, cannot be accounted for either. This is especially problematic when you consider the impossibility of an infinite regression of uncaused causes, an actual infinite, potential infinite, necessary and sufficient conditions etc.  Furthermore, in atheism there are no undergirding absolute morals.
Alexandros: I do not think there is an infinite past
Matt Slick: I find it interesting that atheists like to boast in their atheism, yet they promote a lack of belief.  It is as though they also argue that they believe God does not exist.  I believe that God is provable. But, proof is different than persuasion.
Alexandros: Well, there is currently no actual proof for god; otherwise, I would expect most of the world would be theistic
Matt Slick: How do you know there is no actual proof or God? How do you know that your statement is true?
Alexandros: I really do not see how all I offer is my faith.  I really do not.
Matt Slick:  That is because you're not being logical.  Step one. Demonstrate that your atheistic opinion is a proper representation of reality
Alexandros: I already explained why I think god is an inferior explanation.
Matt Slick: That's just your opinion. I'm not interested in mere opinions.  Please demonstrate that your atheistic opinion is a proper representation of reality.  If you can't, then your just a person of faith
Alexandros: I cannot offer certainty, I can only offer a reasonable train of thought.
Matt Slick: Then you admit it is a faith.
Alexandros: If it was just an 'opinion' then it would probably not be reasonable or logical.
Matt Slick: And yet you said here and try and destroy the faith of Christians?
Alexandros: Faith implies that you have no reason to believe it.
Matt Slick: Give me a reason why God does not exist.
Alexandros: I gave you a reason as to why I think god is an inferior explanation; the god hypothesis, by its nature, cannot be disproven which is what is required to 'prove' atheism.
Matt Slick: So you admit God can't be disproven, yet you argue from the position that he does not exist? Am I understanding you correctly?
Alexandros: I am arguing there are better explanations for things than ones that use god.
Matt Slick: Okay. Then I have a request of you. I would like you to give me a better explanation for moral absolutes than God.  I will propose a moral absolute to you.  I would like you to demonstrate how the no God position is a better explanation for the moral absolute.  "It is always wrong for people to torture babies to death merely for their personal pleasure." Can you please tell me how that moral absolute gains its validity in an atheistic worldview?  I would say that an atheistic worldview, particularly in a Christian one, God has given us morals which are a reflection of his character. Because we are made in his image (Genesis 1: 26), we recognize what is right and wrong because the law of God is written on our hearts (Romans 1: 18ff).
Alexandros: I do not think that such a thing can be said to be objectively wrong; instead, one must simply create an axiom that suffering is wrong in order to build a moral system.
Matt Slick: So you think it's okay to torture babies to death merely for your own personal pleasure? Is that what you're saying?  I sincerely hope you're not trying to argue in favor of torturing babies to death merely for your own personal pleasure.  Or would you agree that it is a moral absolute? "It is always wrong for people to torture babies to death merely for their personal pleasure."
Alexandros: I assume that suffering is wrong because it best aligns with how our psychology has evolved.
Matt Slick: Wait. So you are making a subjective assumption based on the evolution of psychology?  If it is a moral absolute, how does it obtain its moral absolute quality in your atheistic worldview? If it is not morally absolute, please give me an exception to it. If you cannot provide one, then my assertion that it is a moral absolute stands.
Alexandros: It is a subjective assumption, but one that only psychopaths would disagree with.
Matt Slick: I certainly hope you're not expecting me to take your answer seriously.
Alexandros: Its the best we can do for building a moral system
Matt Slick: So then from your position would it not be true that a subjective assumption based on the evolution of psychology could then produce a moral society in which it is proper to torture babies to death merely for one's personal pleasure?  If you say yes, then you're consistent with your assumption. If you say no, you contradict yourself.  Then again, if you say yes, you're opting for no moral absolutes and you're defeating your own position. Either way, you lose. So, try again.
Alexandros: I don't really see how a species could evolve such that they would find torturing babies to acceptable unless it somehow increases there ability to survive and reproduce.  So I suppose in that last case it is possible that such a system could lead to that.  However, that is not how humans have evolved. 
Matt Slick: You're making too many assumptions. You assume we are a species. You assume we evolved.
Alexandros: Well that is another argument.
Matt Slick: So, you admit your position is self-defeating.
Alexandros: I never argued for moral absolutes.
Matt Slick: Of course you don't argue for moral absolutes. Your atheism can't account for them. That is a simple demonstration of the deficiency of the atheistic position.
Alexandros: I don't see how that affects its validity; it is just a consequence of the perspective that some find distasteful. Unless you have proof that moral absolutes exist.
Matt Slick: The proof that moral absolutes exist is in the statement I gave you: "It is always wrong for people to torture babies to death merely for their personal pleasure."  If you can falsify that statement, you have proven me wrong. You have not falsified the statement. I have not found any atheist that has falsified the statement yet.  If you want to tell me that it is not a moral absolute, then all you need to do is falsify it. Go ahead.
Alexandros: A psychopath would not find it wrong because he/she lacks empathy. Which can be explained physiologically.
Matt Slick: Are you using a psychopath as a standard of moral propriety?
Alexandros: My point is that if we evolved differently, such that torturing babies made them tougher and better able to reproduce.  We might not find it wrong.
Matt Slick: But whether or not a psychopath says it's right or wrong is irrelevant. Please tell me if a psychopath believes that it is okay to torture a baby to death merely for his personal pleasure that he is he right or wrong for doing that? Please judge whether or not he is right or wrong.
Alexandros: Because I accept that suffering is wrong, I conclude that it is wrong.  My psychology is built to accept that initial premise
Matt Slick: I'm waiting for you to tell me if the psychopath is right or wrong.
Alexandros: Because I accept that suffering is wrong, I conclude that it is wrong.
Matt Slick: I didn't ask if you accepted whether suffering is right or wrong. I'm asking you a question. Is it wrong?  Is it wrong by nature? If so, why? Is it wrong because you "believe" it is wrong?  If you only believe it is wrong, then what gives you the right to impose your judgment upon somebody else who believes contrary to you?
Alexandros: I am not sure how that does not constitute an answer.  If I tell you it is wrong without that qualification then it is possible you will take it out of context.
Matt Slick: But if you say it is wrong, and you don't appeal to your own opinion, then you have to appeal to a higher source.  So, is it wrong by nature for someone to torture babies to death merely for his personal pleasure? Or is it not wrong by nature? Or, is it wrong because you don't like it?  You are stuck. If you appeal to an objective standard of morality that exists outside of yourself, then you are implying that there is a moral lawgiver. But if you appeal only to your opinion, then who says that your opinion is true?  In the former, you help my position. In the latter, you hurt your own.
Alexandros: It is wrong because I accept that assumption, an assumption that most people would accept.  There is not other way for me to answer.
Matt Slick: So it is wrong because of what you accept? I see. So if you did not accept it, then it would not be right?  You are stuck again.
Alexandros: If people had different assumptions of what was right and wrong then they might not see it as wrong.  My assumption set would find it moral to stop those people
Matt Slick: What makes you think that your assumptions are the right ones?
Alexandros: I cannot justify them.  That's the whole point.
Matt Slick: Exactly. So you just assume they are true. You just believe that they are true. That is all you're doing. Again, like I said, all you're offering is your faith.
Alexandros: In the case of morality, it is necessary to just make basic assumptions.  That one is chosen because most people will accept it.
Matt Slick: So you are admitting that your atheism necessitates the best you have to offer is assumptions. In other words, you're guessing.  Now, can you please tell us why we should adopt your atheistic position of guessing? I was hoping that you would give us something more substantial.
Alexandros: I am not guessing because I am not arguing for moral absolutes.
Matt Slick: But it is obvious that you don't have anything of any substance to give us without begging the question, making assumptions, offering unproven statements, giving us your faithful position in atheism.  You are not arguing for moral absolutes because you cannot. I have given you one that you have not been able to falsify. Here it is again, "It is always wrong for people to torture babies to death merely for their personal pleasure."
Alexandros: By offering such a statement, the burden of proof is on you to prove it.
Matt Slick: Anyway, I appreciate our discussion. Thank you for demonstrating your atheism is lacking.
Alexandros: You just declare victory and ignore the substance of what I am trying to say.
Matt Slick: On the contrary. I was ignoring nothing of substance. Dare I say, there wasn't any for me to ignore.  All you are giving was assumptions and opinions and unsubstantiated claims. Are you saying that those were the offerings of substance that you are proposing?
Alexandros: I see no reason to say that something is always wrong in every universe.
Matt Slick: ...."something is always wrong in every universe"?
Alexandros: I am giving you the base assumptions that I have, which are necessary to get anywhere in any belief system, and why I choose them.
Matt Slick: So are you privy to special knowledge about the existence of other universes?
Alexandros: For it to be a logical necessity than it must be the case in all possible universes.
Matt Slick: You mean you know that there are other universes besides our own?
Alexandros: In other words, if we had evolved differently, we might not find torturing babies wrong.  I have offered a possible way in which that could occur.
Matt Slick: Excuse me. But, could you please explain about the other possible universes?
Alexandros: In using that term I am referring to other ways in which one could imagine the universe.
Matt Slick: If you are arguing about our universe having different possible scenarios of existence, then I find problematic. You see, if you are an atheist you have to assume some form of materialism which necessitates that all physical laws are constant and that everything that occurs, occurs merely as a result of physical necessity as an out-working of the natural laws of physics. So how could things be any different than what they are?
Alexandros: One small example: The chance involved in evolution allows for things to easily be different if it were to go again from the start.
Matt Slick: Seeing no reason for moral absolutes doesn't mean that the one I proposed to goes away. You are not able to falsify it. So, your comment is kind of a non sequitur.
Alexandros:  I don't' see how it is there in the first place; the burden of proof is on you for that statement
Matt Slick: No offense, but you've not demonstrated your position to be valid. You've argued yourself into a corner. I will talk to meow mix now.
Alexandros: Oh boy.

At that point, our conversation ended and I began to talk to another atheist on another topic.




About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.