An Anti-Response to An Atheist
Over at Ebon Musings, one atheist writer offers a challenge to theists who claim that all atheists are closed-minded and exhibit their own brand of fundamentalism. Although he (I'm calling the write a "he" for brevity's sake alone) must agree that there are closed-minded atheists who are fundamentalists, I think he is right to defend the possibility that not all atheists are the same. To prove that he is open-minded, he is willing to convert if he could be convinced of the truth of any particular religion. I would like to comment on the article. He puts two categories that proof would fall under: the first category deals with "things that would absolutely convince me of the truth of a particular religion". He says that he would "convert on the spot" if any of these could be shown to him: verifiable fulfillment of prophecies that couldn't have been contrived; scientific knowledge in holy books that wasn't available at the time; miraculous occurrences, especially if brought about through prayer; any direct manifestation of the divine; aliens who believed in exactly the same religion. The second category he calls "circumstantial evidence", which, if he was shown any of these, might cause him to rethink his position even if he doesn't convert: a genuinely flawless and consistent holy book; a religion without internal disputes or factions; a religion who's followers have never committed or taken part in atrocities; a religion that had a consistent record of winning its jihads and holy wars. The third category deals with things that would not convince him at all: speaking in tongues or other pseudo-miracles; people's conversion stories; any subjective experience; the Bible Code or other numerological feats, creationism of any sort. That's the summary of his article. Frankly, I like it and generally agree with all his points. I don't believe in God because of any of the items in the first category (verifiable proofs). Neither do the items in his second category ("circumstantial evidence") impress me to stay or leave. And his third category are incidental. They don't matter. I totally identify with something that T.F. Torrance wrote in his important work, Theological Science:
If I may be allowed to speak personally for a moment, I find the presence and being of God bearing upon my experience and thought so powerfully that I cannot but be convinced of His overwhelming reality and rationality. To doubt the existence of God would be an act of sheer irrationality, for it would mean that my reason had become unhinged from its bond with real being. Yet in knowing God I am deeply aware that my relation to Him has been damaged, that disorder has resulted in my mind, and that it is I who obstruct knowledge of God by getting in between Him and myself, as it were. But I am also aware that His presence presses unrelentingly upon me through the disorder of my mind, for He will not let Himself be thwarted by it, challenging and repairing it, and requiring of me on my part to yield my thoughts to His healing and controlling revelation.What Torrance writes cannot be proven or documented scientifically. "God" has pressed upon my life and my mind. It is beyond science. Beyond knowledge. Beyond proof. Like I wrote yesterday, even the most impressive and seemingly perfect arguments for or against God are limited. There is a Wisdom that is beyond all human thought and discussion. I realize that this will be frustrating to some atheists who see it as another subjective theistic cop-out and to some theists as a cowardly compromise. My response will be unsatisfying to everyone, even me. Of this other Wisdom that presses upon me, what more can be said? The painting, "Face Emerging From Tree", is the creation of my artist friend Tina Newlove.