Do I Only Have to Reject One More God to be an Atheist?
Posted by Cory Tucholski
There is one particular atheist argument that I hear quite regularly that inspires within me a desire to smack the smug person who says it right in the back of the head, as though he were Tony DiNozzo and I were Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
The argument runs a bit like this:
You are an atheist to thousands of gods. I’m only an atheist to one more god than you are.
The speaker is acting as if I only have to take one small step and I’ll be free of this Vulcan mind-meld of Christianity and I can live my life like a “normal” person. But atheism isn’t just lacking belief in one less god than the Christian. Atheism is lacking a belief in any sort of deity. In other words, atheism is rejecting the Divine. Let’s explore that for a moment, because it is far deeper than rejecting “just another god.”
People all over the world have long considered themselves separated from Something greater than they ever could be. Somehow, there’s a way for us to reunite with our original goodness and be in the presence of that Something. Most religions of the world have tried to build a bridge back to that Something by defining sets of acceptable versus unacceptable behavior. Living a good, moral life means that you can reconnect with this Something in the afterlife. Follow the code and you’re golden.
Atheism asserts that this Greater-than-Human Something is an illusion. A psychosis at worst, a mild delusion at best. Perhaps it conferred an evolutionary benefit to our ancestors when they began to talk and walk upright, so it stuck with us. Despite the fact that every culture to ever walk the face of the earth–even isolated ones–has a word for an Almighty Creator God with some kind of story of separation from this Almighty One, this is a human illusion that just doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter that everyone seems to be looking for it. It’s not there to be found.
I’m hoping that the sarcasm was evident there. Human needs always have an extant fulfillment. We need air to breathe, and it exists. We need water to drink, and it exists. We need food to eat, and lo! it also exists. We need to be connected to something greater than ourselves–so it makes sense that this Greater Something exists.
The atheist isn’t asking me to take one small step and reject another nonexistent god. He’s asking me to reject the whole concept and package of Divinity Itself. That’s a big step, and the atheist is seriously trivializing it by making an absurd statement.
In Mark 3:22-30, some Pharisees witness a miracle performed by Jesus. This is the work of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees didn’t recognize the work of the Spirit, saying instead it was the work of Satan. Jesus declared that they have committed blasphemy against the Spirit, which is eternal and unforgivable.
This Unforgivable Sin isn’t necessarily action or words. It can be that. But you don’t really commit the Unforgivable Sin by uttering a single phrase in a 30 second YouTube video. The Unforgivable Sin is one of omission; it isn’t a single word or phrase uttered one day, but a pattern of failure to see the work of God in the world around you.
While the Pharisees credited Satan with the work of exorcism and were thus guilty of blasphemy against the Spirit, I really fail to see how this differs from a scientist who looks at a DNA molecule and ascribe it to natural forces unguided by the hand of the Divine. In the case of the scientist, he looks at an obvious language and writes it off as a lucky chance that amino acids chained themselves together that way.
He is exchanging the truth of God for a lie; worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25). Instead of seeing the creation as pointing to the Creator, this scientist isn’t looking past the creation. He’s looking for repeatable, explainable, fully natural law to explain why this DNA is present, and why the creature looks or acts the way it does. Instead of believing this creature somehow pays homage to a Creator, he sees it as another link in a giant evolutionary tree.
What happens to people who are caught in this pattern? They become futile in their thinking, they become fools despite claims to be wise; their foolish hearts are darkened (Rom 1:21-23). They can’t understand spiritual knowledge (Eph 4:17-19).
Looking at creation as powerful evidence of a Creator is a step in the right direction. Even though mankind has worshiped millions of gods through thousands of religions, at least these religions have recognition of a Higher Power and a Creative Being greater than man.
Atheists don’t recognize the authority of anything except blind natural forces that inevitably shaped the universe as it is, the earth as it is, and life as it is. They look at the universe and just stop, not recognizing Divine Authority outside of the universe.
You’re not asking me, the Christian, to reject one more nonexistent god. It’s bigger than that. You’re asking me to discount any sort of Divine Authority. You’re asking me to view the very movements of God as a pure natural force. No personality behind it, no guidance, nothing of the sort. Other religions may have failed to identify the One True God, but they are at least searching for him. You’ve stopped, and you’re asking me not only to stop searching for God, but to view his very actions as something other than what they are. That is the essence of the Unforgivable Sin, and a society that goes down that path isn’t a pretty picture (see Rom 1:24-32).
Rejecting “one more god” is not a baby step toward utopia. It’s a leg in the mire of immorality.
About Cory TucholskiI'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!
Posted on March 26, 2011, in Apologetics, God, Morality, Religion, Sin, Theology and tagged atheism, Blasphemy, Divine Authority, Divine Command, Existence of God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Unforgivable Sin. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.