Problems with atheists and God's Existence

by Matt Slick

I hope that as you read this article you are intrigued, if not by the title, at least by the content. You see, though we all have problems of varying kinds, atheists have problems when it comes to determining God's existence.  Their problems are well ingrained. 

Following is an attempt to outline some of the problems inherent with atheist when it comes to the topic of God's existence.

  1. Subjectivity
    1. That which is subjective proceeds from the person and is based on the person's opinions and preferences. The atheist's subjectivity means that whatever he encounters must be filtered through his experiences and opinions. But, this results in a problem. How can he ever know any objective truths (if they exist) if he filters things through his subjective experience? If he submits everything to his opinions and preferences, then what does he do when when something contradicts his opinions and preferences? He can dismiss it, explain it away, or change his worldview.  Such is the case with God's existence.  When atheists encounter evidence for God, because they functionally deny God and are working from the position that God does not exist, then they must dismiss the evidence and/or explain it away. Their subjectivity (and presuppositions, see #3 below) becomes a hindrance.  It means that no matter what we do to show God exists, they only need to filter any arguments through their subjective preferences and if it does not satisfy their subjective requirements, they need only find "any subjective way" to deny it.  Such subjectivity means that logic and evidence are not nearly as important as their personal preferences and desires when determining truth.  That is a problem.
    2. So, the atheists should be critical of their own subjectivity and be open to phenomena that do not fit in there worldview.  That is reasonable.  But, to do that would mean to subject their atheism to cross examination and entertain the possibility that it's incorrect. Are atheists willing to do that or are they committed to their position no matter what? 
    3. If the atheist says that the Christian is also guilty of subjectivity, we can respond by saying that yes we do have subjective issues, all people do. However, what we consider to be true and morally proper rests in the revelation of God as found in the Bible. It is therefore not subjective, but object.
  2. Presuppositions
    1. Every one has presuppositions. Atheists are no exception. To prove that they have them, all we have to do is ask an atheist how he knows he is the same person he was a week ago. How does he know he wasn't "created" today with all his memories in place.  He doesn't.  He presupposes the continuity of his own existence. He also presupposes the regularity of the universe each and every day. He presupposes the validity of the laws of logic upon which his rationality is, hopefully, based.  He doesn't relearn and re-verify these things every day.  He assumes their validity and operates from them.
    2. Atheists presuppose that God does not exist, or at least operate from the position that God does not exist (this includes "Lack of belief in God"). But, upon what are they justifying that assumption?  "Lack of evidence"?They cannot know all things and know there is no God. If they say they don't have convincing evidence for God, that is to appeal to nothing more than subjectivity (see point 1 above).  So, what is the actual intellectual, non-subjective justification for their atheism?
    3. Can he provide the intellectual foundations upon which his presuppositions about God and His non-existence are based? He cannot do that without presupposing the validity of his own experience, logic, regularity the universe, etc. Yet, the atheist requires "proof" for God's existence without "proving" that logic is true, that the universe is regular, and that he is same person he was a moment ago. Why is he so inconsistent? Is it because he is arbitrarily requiring validity for one thing and not another?  Perhaps the regularity that we all experience in the universe along with the regularity of the laws of logic (which they cannot account for in their atheism) make it possible for atheists to be "inconsistent" in their criteria for determining truth, particularly when it comes to God's existence.
    4. Areas that are often presupposed by atheists are such things as materialism and naturalism.  But, how do we know these are correct philosophical positions?  Why do they presuppose those, and presuppose a position that is functionally equivalent to openly denying God's existence?
  3. Evidence
    1. Evidence is subjective. What I might consider evidence for God's existence an atheist might not.  Something becomes evidence when it fits a set of criteria within an inquiry. I see the transcendental laws of logic, moral absolutes, the universality of justice, etc., as evidence for God's existence. But an atheist, because of his presuppositions, cannot agree. So when an atheist asks for evidence for God's existence, then we have to examine his subjectivity and presuppositions to see if he is judging the evidence properly or if he is being arbitrary.
    2. Evidence is filtered through a person's opinions and presuppositions. When an atheist says he is not seen any convincing evidence for God, he's appealing to his subjective preferences.
    3. Usually when an atheist asks for evidence he is asking for something material, something repeatable. But, this is the wrong approach because God exists outside of the material realm and is not subject to the repeatable, materialistic patterns of the universe observed through the Scientific Method. Therefore, the atheist should look for transcendental evidence for God, not material evidence (See #6 below.)
  4. Morality
    1. Atheists often sit in moral judgment of the God of scripture. They look at the flood, as an example and complain that God was wrong when he drowned so many men, women, and children. They certainly have the right to their opinions. But, where do they get the right to shove their morals down anyone else's throats?  Where is their moral standard by which they can judge someone else and assert that an action is actually wrong, not just that they believe it is wrong and others ought to agree with them? Is their standard objective?  Of course not.  It is subjective and based on their personal preferences and opinions?  (See #'s 1 and 2 above) Now I have to ask, is it morally right to impose their personal opinions on others of different times and different cultures? If it is, on what basis to the atheists assert that they can make such absolute moral judgments?  If they say that we are growing, maturing, and learning as a society, then they are saying that whatever society says is morally right, becomes morally right. Also, it "assumes" that society is getting better, but how do they know that? Besides, such a perspective is, of course, dangerous.  Think of Nazi Germany.
    2. Back to their problem. Was the flood "actually" wrong? Is it wrong by nature? If it was, then atheists are affirming what's called moral realism; namely, that actions have inherent moral value. But how do actions have inherent moral value in an atheistic worldview where morality is a subjective opinion?
  5. Pride
    1. Pride is an unwarranted opinion of one's own importance, wisdom, superiority, morality, etc.  Atheists display forms of pride when they essentially take the place of God by deciding for themselves what is true and what is moral and then seek to advance their opinions of truth and morality on others (This is what brought pain and suffering into the world). The problem with being prideful is that it blinds the person to his own problems such as his own subjectivity, erroneous thinking, self-righteousness, attitude of moral superiority, etc.  How is an atheist to find God if he is walking in pride and denial, especially when God says he hides himself from the proud (James 4:6)?
    2. Pride is also a form of self-deception, especially when one's own wisdom is used to judge God as being nonexistent and/or immoral. To do that is to appeal to the self-worth, self wisdom, self thinking of the individual as he projects his own opinions outward and upon God. That is most certainly pride.
  6. God's Transcendence
    1. Because they are atheists, they cannot accept transcendent properties of God because God's transcendence falls outside of their subjective experience and accepted belief system based in things like materialism, naturalism, etc.
    2. But, if God exists, then he exists outside of our universe and transcends it. If any atheist wants to know if the transcendent God actually exists, he must entertain the possibility of transcendentals such as the universality of the laws of logic, moral absolutes, the concepts of absolute justice and truth, etc.  After all, such transcendental properties, it would seem, emanate from the transcendental being where materialistic properties emanate from material objects.  Is the atheist open to this? If the atheist presupposes that materialism/naturalism is all there is, then he arbitrarily excludes the possibility of transcendence and also makes it impossible for him to discover God.
    3. If he says he has no experience of transcendence, then how would he know if he denies them?  And, if he would experience them would he admit it or even be able to recognize such transcendental characteristics such as the laws of logic, moral absolutes, absolute truth, etc.?  If he denies them, isn't he arbitrarily deciding that is non-transcendent experience is the proper criteria for judging a transcendent God? This is, of course, a problem.  See #2 above regarding presuppositions.


See related article I have not seen convincing evidence for God's existence



About The Author

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