- Posted February 25, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
WHY I CANNOT BE AN ATHEIST
Being quite rational by nature and aware of this from early youth as a Roman Catholic, I teetered between a faith-based obedience to the doctrines of my church and a strong agnostic inclination that questioned the whole idea of God’s existence. Simply accepting in acquiescent faith that there was nothing wrong with the church, or its teachings on God, I had come to believe that my inability to attain unquestioning faith in God was not the fault of the church. Instead, it appeared that the nature of my mind was my dilemma.
However, this view began to change after reading—in my late teen years—Roland Bainton’s, “Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther.” Bainton’s book was so impactful in my young life, I began to think that my assumed mental dilemma as a rationalist might not be such a dilemma, as I had assumed. In this new way of thinking, Martin Luther’s life convinced me that the church and its beliefs and practices shared at least a significant part of the blame for what had become in me a troublesome predicament.
Not knowing enough about Protestant theology and what options I might have there to resolve my agnostic inclination, I did the only thing I could do at the time; I put an end to my membership in the Roman church. At this point, I then embarked on a journey as a freethinker, relying only on what my rationality could affirm to me as true as my agnosticism continued.
I was never an all-out hardened atheist. But my agnosticism itself had become a dilemma. Specifically, it was clear to me that, as an agnostic, however I resolved my doubts about God’s existence, either way, belief or non-belief in God’s existence would determine my behavior. If God exists and he is someone I would have to account to, then I needed to humble myself before him and try to live according to his will. But if he does not exists, then I was totally on my own to do as I pleased, with other human beings as the only ones who could frustrate and prevent me from doing so.
For this reason, and for the sake of attaining final peace of mind, I had a desperate need for closure on the issue of whether I could arrive at a belief that God existed or whether I could peacefully put the issue of God out of my mind altogether.
In my early twenties, the first important finding in my quest for closure came at a public library while reading an article on God from an encyclopedia of philosophy. The article gave an account of the basic rational arguments that have led various thinkers to believe there has to be a Supreme Being behind the universe as well as opposing arguments that referred to perceived problems in such a belief—chiefly because of the existence of evil. But it seemed to me that the arguments for the existence of a Supreme Being were of greater importance. I adopted this view on the strength that if such a being actually exists, I could not see that the problem of evil is insurmountable.
For some reason—undoubtedly too involved to discuss here—confronting this contest of two sets of opposing arguments, I found myself compelled to be more accepting of one particular argument in favor of God’s existence that the philosophy encyclopedia referred to. The argument was very brief but, in my mind, powerful in its impact. The argument is actually posed in the form of two questions. The questions asks that if there is no Supreme Being to explain why the universe in all its fullness, complexities, and levels of being exist, why does anything at all exists in the first place? Why not nothing, not even space in all its imponderable reaches?
Gripped by what I saw as the simplicity and force of this argument, I was convinced that if there was a sufficiently strong argumentation that at least infers in a most compelling way that there has to be a Supreme Being to explain universal existence, this simple argument was at least at strong beginning. Offering a beginning insight, this argument led me eventually to develop further argumentation that supports in a compelling way that there has to be a Supreme Being to explain universal existence. I will now enlarge.
Starting with the beginning insight, I went on to develop a series of other related questions: In addition to why does anything exist, why does anything exist in the curious, purposeful, and mutually dependent relationships that they do? Why also are we here in this universe as humans, conscious of the universe and standing apart from it, reflecting on its existence? Why are we not instead like the rest of the physical world—mute, dead, deaf and dumb like the rocks? Why instead do we possess the uniqueness we have in the universe as live, intelligent, and rational humans who can think, reflect, rationalize, create, analyze, love, or hate?
If all we are is biochemical substance and the results thereof, as the atheists assume, why are we having this rational discussion? Is it not fanciful for us to believe that chemicals are rational or can logically deliberate and methodically analyze? Does carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen get anti-social and commit crimes? Do they emote? In other words, do they “behave” with intelligent and deliberate intentionality?
After all, unless atheists are prepared to believe in magic without empirical proof on which to base their arguments, chemicals, in whatever form or combination they may exist, have always remained perpetually only chemicals and, as such, completely dead matter.
Moreover, in their chemical fables, atheists will tell us with a straight face—and without proof—that chemicals have an inherent power of their own to have organized themselves in the primordial swamp (some call it "soup") in just the right way to sprout life—again, no compelling proof has been given. Moreover, as the atheist chemical fable continues, these animated chemicals then crawled out of the swamp and transformed themselves into humans who can compose symphonies, write text books on Quantum Mechanics, perform brain surgery, and put together encyclopedias on universal knowledge. No intelligent and rational "human spirit" was ever needed to achieve any of this. Instead, it was all the result of chemical substance as the mother of everything we call "life" and "human." As smoke is a by-product of burning rags, even the mind is totally determined by the chemical reactions of our chemical brain.
Thus, human freedom is an illusion, chemicals—not a sovereign creator god—is the actual Sovereign Master that determines and explains all human existence, human behavior, and human creativity.
Hence, it is clear that a major problem with atheism is found in taking a huge aspect of universal existence for granted—not to mention the unique place humans have in it. It is as if, for atheism, universal existence, exactly the way it is, is the way “it's supposed to be” or “it is what it is.” The atheist is thus oblivious or insensible to any need whatsoever to explain why existence “is what it is” or who or what it was that determined that this is the way "it's supposed to be."
Such a facile approach to the wonder and complexity of universal existence is how atheism makes evident how limited and shallow is its view of existence. It is like admonishing others to just go with the flow of existence and don’t ask any questions about why it is, what it is, or why it is flowing the way it is. Clearly, all this is existing at the level of the animals that simply exist without knowing or questioning why. This is why I can never be an atheist. I refuse to take the intellectual short cut there is in atheism’s superficial route to understanding existence. Instead, I have a need to know the fullness and depth of existence and I’m convinced no one can attain this without belief in an Almighty intelligent and inscrutable Creator God to explain the utter totality of existence. Obviously, atheism comes pathetically short of this.