Some people propose that,
Only superstitious buffoons believe in religion. All evidence suggests that atheistic naturalism is the most compelling worldview.
Thinking through this statement has led me to criticize it and show its lack of cogent reasoning.
Photo Credit: Roebot
Based on my experience and research, there are two main reasons that this statement does not follow the cogent reasoning standards of presenting relevant information and providing good reasons to believe what is believed.[ref]Howard Kahane and Nancy Cavender, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life, 10th ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomas Higher Education, 2006), 6.[/ref]
- Some of the most educated, intelligent, and successful people have believed in God.[ref]Because of my faith as a Christian, when I write of “religion,” I will have particular focus on Christianity. My goal is to show that there is a Christian God through the two reasons I outline in this paper, but these reasons might also be applicable to the reader who believes in a god other than the Christian God.[/ref]
- One can deduce that God exists from a philosophical point of view.
These two critiques of the statement that “only superstitious buffoons believe in religion. All evidence suggests that atheistic naturalism is the most compelling worldview” will be shared in today’s blog post and my next post in order to shed light on the topic of God and belief in Him.
The list of educated, intelligent, and successful people who believed in God in both American and world history are numerous. To name a few, Abraham Lincoln was known to always have a Bible on his desk which he read often.[ref]David Grubin, Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided, DVD (American Experience and PBS, 2005).[/ref] In fact, the Christian Bible was one of the three books Lincoln read often and memorized sections of as a child.[ref]Ronald D. Rietveld, “Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?” Bibliotheca Sacra (January 1960): 59.[/ref]
Additionally, Benjamin Franklin showed his belief in God by stating, “I never doubted the existence of God or that He made the world and governed it by His providence.”[ref]Ben Franklin, Ben Franklin: America’s Original Entrepreneur, ed. Blaine McCormick (Canada: Entrepreneur Press, 2005), 113.[/ref] Furthermore the following brilliant scientists either personally believed in the Christian God or had a firm belief that some type of God created the universe:
- Nicholas Copernicus
- Galileo Galilei
- Rene Descartes
- Isaac Newton
- Albert Einstein
This list of individuals who believed in God is proof that people who believe in religion are not all superstitious buffoons.
It is important though to look at the reasoning atheistic naturalists use to decide that there is no God. With all fairness, science follows a good process for how it arrives at conclusions. That process follows the following steps:
- Observations are made;
- A general hypothesis is made to account for the observations;
- A prediction is made which is derived only from the hypothesis; and
- An experiment is designed as a way to test the hypothesis.[ref]James R. Henderson, “Teaching Evolution to Creationists,” Sociological Viewpoints (Fall 2007): 78.[/ref]
Even non-scientists can agree that this is a fundamentally sound process designed to observe and learn about life and the world. Additionally, criticisms of the God described in the Old Testament Bible are warranted based on scientific research and technology available today such as this:
The notions that the universe is at least 13 billion years old, that the earth is at least 4 billion years old, and that life has developed through a branching evolutionary process over many millions of years, are all very firmly established in the scientific literature by extensive empirical data. The geological ages of various fossil layers are particularly well established, since these ages are based on multiple dating schemes that are securely grounded in fundamental laws of physics that have survived careful scrutiny for more than fifty years.[ref]David H. Baily, “Creationism and Intelligent Design: Scientific and Theological Difficulties,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 43, no. 3 (Fall 2010): 67.[/ref]
Charles Darwin is perhaps the most well known educated, intelligent, and successful scientist to not believe in religion. He showed his unbelief by stating, “The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”[ref]Charles Darwin, Life and Letters. Quoted in Frank S. Mead, ed., The Encyclopedia of Religious Quotes, (New Jersey: Felming H. Revell, 1966), 367.[/ref]
However, in modern years there is a developing amount of support for what is called Intelligent Design (ID); a scientific method of thought that somebody or something must have created the world because the world and human bodies in it are so incredibly complex. ID has been noticed by one author, stating, “ID Christians belong in a long and distinguished line of great Christian thinkers who resisted the fideist flight from reason.”[ref]William A Dembski, Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2001), 228 quoted in Kevin Mongrain, “The Eyes of Reason: Intelligent Design Apologetics as the New Preambula Fidei?” The Heythrop Journal 52, no. 2, (2011): 200.[/ref]
Having analyzed the list of educated, intelligent, and successful people who believed in God and ID, it is also important to turn to a more philosophical way of believing in God (which will be explored in my next post).
Perhaps the best reason to argue for religion is not a deep and scientific one but instead a basic philosophical position based on the universal laws all people understand. This philosophical reason for believing in God is outlined in the book, The Case for Christianity written by C.S. Lewis.
CS Lewis’ book argues that all human beings understand and adhere to a basic standard of human behavior Lewis calls the Law of Nature or the Law of Human Behavior. These laws (which are the same law, just described using different words) are a standard of good and fair behavior every man knows about and attempts to adhere to or at least expects others to adhere to in their treatment of him. Lewis argues that people from different countries and different cultures are not as different as they may think.
Lewis states that these different civilizations “only had slightly different moralities. Just think what quite different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, where a man felt proud for double-crossing all the people who has been kindest to him.”[ref]C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity (New York: Touchstone, 1943), 5.[/ref]
How can that be that all men from different countries and cultures all have the same mode of thinking?
Someone or something had to have made humans in the same way. Lewis develops this topic further by writing there “are two points I wanted to make . . . First, that human being beings, all over the earth: have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can’t really get rid of it. Secondly, that they don’t in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.”[ref]Ibid., 7.[/ref]
Developing this topic further, C.S. Lewis states that “the Moral Law, or Law of Human Nature, is not simply a fact about human behaviour [sic] in the same way as the Law of Gravitation is, or may be, simply a fact about how heavy objects behave.”[ref]Ibid., 17[/ref] Lewis continues on to prove that there must have been, at one-time, a creator who miraculously created all of these things that exist today.
This idea that someone or something created this world is particularly relevant when you look at the chemical and biological make-up of specific organisms in our current world. For example, one prominent Intelligent Design (ID) scholar, Michael Behe, argues that “certain biological systems such as bacterial flagella, blood-clotting processes, and the immune system are irreducibly complex.”[ref]David H. Baily, “Creationism and Intelligent Design: Scientific and Theological Difficulties,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 43, no. 3 (Fall 2010): 70.[/ref] These biological systems are so complex that it is impossible, according to ID scholars, to have formed on their own; therefore some type of intelligent entity must have designed them.[ref]Ibid.[/ref]
Regarding that “Somebody” who once created everything which adheres to these laws, Lewis shares that “we have two bits of evidence about the Somebody. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist. . . . The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information.”[ref]C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity (New York: Touchstone, 1943), 25.[/ref]
In light of this philosophical position as the proof of a creator, God, it is also important to note the criticisms of Lewis’ view. The philosophical argument presented in the section of C.S Lewis’ writings and the commentary of Intelligent Design (ID) each have their own criticisms. The reality is that even though some of these philosophical positions have a solid base and ID has done its best to be scientifically relevant, there still is much criticism from the science field. One scientist commented on ID stating,
ID theory spans several fields of science, but it largely is associated with efforts to challenge neo-Darwinism in biology. . . . Many scientists who oppose the ID hypothesis define it as nothing but a thinly veiled re-statement of ‘Fundamentalism’ and ‘creationism’ that asserts the truth of the Judeo-Christian religion by simply identifying the ‘design’ of nature with the Creator God of the Bible.[ref]Kevin Mongrain, “The Eyes of Reason: Intelligent Design Apologetics as the New Preambula Fidei?” The Heythrop Journal 52, no. 2, (2011): 193.[/ref]
Despite the best attempts of Christians to find ways to scientifically explain their belief in God, they have faced a steady stream of criticism such as this: “ID apologetics’ explicitly stated concern for crafting a culturally appealing religious discourse places it more in the sphere of Christian rhetoric than logic, and this is how it ought to be evaluated.”[ref]Ibid., 201[/ref]
Additionally, some of the findings from science makes it hard to deny the relevance and authenticity of scientific discoveries. For example, certain features of the “creator” or “designer” theories are hard to grapple with when facing the reality that many humans suffer from back ailments because of a skeletal design adapted from four-footed ancestors of which humans have evolved from.[ref]David H. Baily, “Creationism and Intelligent Design: Scientific and Theological Difficulties,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 43, no. 3 (Fall 2010): 77.[/ref]
In spite of these scientific finds and criticisms, it is important that one would think about and make a decision about God. From this philosophical view we are able to simply deduce that a God does exist. With all his power and all of his might, he is the one in control, and he is the creator of our world and what it is.
This post has been my best effort to provide a critique of the statement, “Only superstitious buffoons believe in religion. All evidence suggests that atheistic naturalism is the most compelling worldview.”
My personal religious belief is that we do have a creator, who is a triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who created this world. Exactly how long ago it was created and other items of detail are beyond my comprehension, but I hope to have provided cogent reasoning in these posts that religion is not only believed by superstitious buffoons. Rather some of the most educated, intelligent, and intellectual people in world history have had a strong and devote belief in God.
Furthermore, I hope to have shown a philosophical view that a world and universe which are so congruent in their laws must have been made by a creator. With this information of the intelligent people who have believed in God and the philosophical reasoning about how this world was created by Him, perhaps the following quote is the best way to end this critique:
Look up on a starry night, and you will see the majesty and power of an infinite creator.[ref]Billy Graham, The Journey: How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World (Nashville, TN: W Publishing, 2006), 87.[/ref]
Question: Why do you believe the religion is not for superstitious buffoons?