My friend, the atheist believer

My everyday atheist friend says, "I don't believe in God because I don't see any evidence for his existence... If you claim God exists, the burden of proof lies with you, because from the moment I came into this world, I've believed whatever I've seen or been shown."

What do I say to this? My friend is not going to even show the slightest interest himself in the subject of God before I first show him real and convincing proof of God's existence.

In The Reason for God Tim Keller shows us that actually, our atheist friends here show their own unbelievable inconsistency. Turning their very question around he asks them to "look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning." Keller shows that "all doubts, however sceptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs."
Some [say], 'My doubts are not based on a leap of faith. I have no beliefs about God one way of another. I simply feel no need for God and I am not interested in thinking about it.' But hidden behind this feeling is the very modern belief that the existence of God is a matter of indifference unless it intersects with my emotional needs. The speaker is betting his or her life that no God exists who would hold you accountable for your beliefs and behaviour if you didn't feel the need for him. That may be true or it may not be true, but, again, it is quite a leap of faith.

The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternative belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it. How do you know your belief is true? It would be inconsistent to require more justification for Christian belief than you do for your own, but that is frequently what happens. In fairness you must doubt your doubts. My thesis is that if you come to recognise the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs -- you will discover that your doubts are not as solid as they first appear.

Tim Keller, The Reason for God 2008, p. xviii.

My friend, indifferent about God because he doesn't see him, is making quite a leap of faith; it's a faith-position as big as my own as a believer in God. Does the burden of proof remain with me? How can one belief about God require proof if another does not?

My friend believes that God does not exist because he believes that he has never experienced him via his physical senses. He has faith but in a different doctrine; he believes that reality is the sum total of what can be measured, witnessed or perceived immediately, and that nothing else does or can exist.

It's quite a claim; quite a belief-system. The question is, "How does he know that this belief is true?" It is inconsistent to require more justification for Christian belief than he does for his own. So I ask this question:

What proof do atheists have that nothing exists except than what can be measured, witnessed or perceived immediately?

Keller's challenge is out there: "I urge skeptics to wrestle with the unexamined 'blind faith' on which scepticism is based, and to see how hard it is to justify those beliefs to those who do not share them."

1 comment:

Felicity Zimmerman said...

I don't know you, but I am a friend of Donna Sokol's. I wanted to let
you know that I shared part of your story with our congregation on
Sunday as we talked about caring for one another in the body of Christ.
I am praying for you today!