Pitfalls of Atheism

Carl Sagan was a famed Astrophysicist.  Indeed the man was an erudite scientist in his rank. Whenever his name is mentioned, one common quote crops into my mind: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Lamentably, some people have taken this quote as it were an absolute law of logic. And most of us have fallen into this trap. Atheists have joined this bandwagon. They will brush aside, with a wave of the hand, anything to do with the supernatural. Recently I saw one assume that it is stupidity to believe that Joshua stopped the sun. It is incredible how some of our atheist brothers and sisters display their hollowness in literature, ancient writings, history, and logic. This line of thought is quite disturbing because by doing this we let people know how superficial we are. It also borders on an argument from incredulity.

Another one of Carl Sagan’s quote, that has been kissed left, right, centre by the naturalists, goes like this, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”

From this, naturalists will whimsically demand evidence for the supernatural. I think this leads them into the trap of begging the question. It is fallacious to limit the definition of “evidence” to the purely natural. It even gets worse, to use that definition to deny any evidence exists for the supernatural. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you calibrate a thermometer to measure in the range of zero to 50 degrees, you can’t use it as evidence that nothing ever gets below zero or above 50.

So for atheists to prove their assertion that there is no evidence for the supernatural, they would have to devise a way to both affirm and falsify (disprove) the claim.  So since a pure naturalist philosophy can never observe the supernatural, it cannot be used to refute it. Just as the negative assertion “there is no God” cannot be either proved or falsified, neither can the assertion “there is no evidence for the supernatural”.

At this point we find ourselves at the feet of the argument from ignorance.

When you work as a scientist, you assume a methodology that you will only seek natural causes. There is no place for the supernatural. The supernatural is expelled from the table as methodological naturalism is hugged.

Some atheists have a wrong definition of the supernatural. They equate supernatural with magic, fairy tales, and overall nonsense by definition. The supernatural cannot exist because nonsense cannot exist. That is how we arrive at a strawman argument.

Down the line, they equate God to an anthropomorphic being of some kind with a long beard – your buddy in the sky, your sky buddy, your invisible friend, and things like that. Defining what supernatural means and defining God could go a long way in getting rid of this and avoiding strawman pitfalls.

Laws of nature

The laws of nature describe what would happen in a particular case assuming that there are no intervening supernatural factors. These laws have what we call ‘all other things being unchanged or constant’ clauses implicit in them – namely, all things being equal, this is what will happen in this situation. But if all things are not equal, the law isn’t violated. Instead, the law doesn’t apply to that situation because there are other factors at work. In the case of a miracle, God doesn’t violate the laws of nature when he does a miracle. Rather, there will be causal factors at work, namely God, which are supernatural and therefore what the laws of nature predict won’t happen because the laws of nature only make predictions under the assumption that there are no intervening spectral factors at work. So a miracle, I think, properly defined, is an event which the natural causes at a time and place cannot produce at that time and place. Or, more succinctly, a miracle is a naturally impossible event – an event which the natural causes at a particular time and place cannot bring about. It is beyond the productive capacity of nature

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