Daily Archives: February 18, 2008

The Jewish Philosopher Profoundly Misunderstands Atheists

I still believe in the Bible when it tells me that only a fool says that there is no God (Ps 14:1).  Regular readers know that I am no defender of atheism.  Unfortunately, a post by a religious Jew has recently come to my attention as part of my series on refuting Kelly O’Connor of the Rational Response Squad that so badly mischaracterizes atheists that I actually am jumping to their defense in this post.

Religion is defined by its beliefs; atheism is a lack of belief in God.  Already I see the difference between religion and atheism, and why atheism cannot be a religion by definition.  I was skeptical reading this post from the Jewish Philosopher simply because I didn’t feel the subject matter couldn’t sustain a blog post.

As it happens, I was right.  “Atheism is not a religion” is little more than an assertion that Jacob Stein stretches into a blog post.  And its the second blog post that has Kelly angry (part 1).

Before I consider Kelly’s post, I wanted to briefly touch on a few things in Stein’s post.  First, I don’t believe that atheism is an extension of determinism.  I believe that its roots lay in metaphysical naturalism.  To the atheist, all that we see is all that there is.  Stein later will assert that determinism has been refuted by quantum mechanics and that atheists seem to hardly notice.  This just isn’t true.  To my knowledge, atheists don’t believe in determinism in the first place (often criticizing my own Calvinistic theology as deterministic or fatalistic).  This leads me to conclude that atheists lean more to the secular existentialist camp.

Second, his research that he lists in four points is flawed.  In his first point, he is wrong that atheists cannot define “god.”  They define “god” as an all-knowing, all-powerful supernatural being about whom myths and legends are composed.  While Christians and Jews would not include YHWH in such a definition, the atheists do and therefore do not believe in Him.  As I’ve heard it put, “Atheists and theists are the same in their lack of belief in gods,  atheists just go one God further.”

Stein is wrong in his assertion that atheists don’t seem bothered by an intelligent creator.  They emphatically deny such a being, insisting that the Big Bang is all that was necessary to set the universe in motion.  This is partially deterministic, but they don’t ascribe to the philosophy that there is only ever one possible future.  Many believe in human free will, which is why secular existentialism is so attractive to them.

I agree with Stein that atheists are bothered by a personal god who would judge their actions. Read the rest of this entry