An interesting post called "Occam and Atheism" from John C. Wright's blog
On the Inadequacy of the Atheist Model
I have been asked to explain some of the ways in which the atheist model of the universe is either inadequate or inelegant, hence not the most rational approach to use to explain the facts of reality, nor to answer the deep questions of philosophy.
Now, I should say at the outset that a dogma shared by all atheists I’ve met or read to date (I include myself back when I was an atheist) is their unquestioned assumption that disbelief in Christ is a reasonable position, and belief unreasonable.
The firmness with which the atheist hold to the assertion of Christian irrationality is directly proportional to the strength of the argument supporting said assertion.
In reality, Christians believe in Christ for the same sort of reasons people believe in heliocentrism, Darwinism, bimetallism, monogamy or anything else: the unreflective man believes what he was taught by his parents and elders, and sees no reason to reexamine that belief; the reflective man believes because no other answer is as simple and yet suitable to the evidence and axioms.
In my case, I submit that Christianity reasonable because atheism leaves so much either to be explained in an awkward, ad hoc, and unconvincing fashion, or not explained at all.
I find myself unduly hampered when addressing subjects of this type with the ignorance, either natural or learned, that modern schooling places in the minds of the audience, so that few even have an idea of what topic is being addressed. The average schoolchild thinks that science somehow, a generation or two ago, disproved the existence of ghosts, and that belief in Christ is a belief of the same kind, long ago debunked. Listing the names of televangelists caught in scandals, or briefly referring to the Dark Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Crusade is a sufficient advertisement to convince a shallow and distracted modern child not to buy the brand of commercial good being offered.
Anyone who fails to revisit his schoolchild propaganda (and propaganda they certainly were, not lessons) will persist in such mental predispositions (I cannot call them thoughts or conclusions) for life. Of course, a revisit or reexamination of a long-held belief, particularly one meant to flatter the schoolchild, requires a Herculean effort, a love of truth, and a Socratic level of intellectual integrity: a willingness to follow the argument where it leads, humbly, impartially, without fear or favoritism. This is called rigorous thinking.
If you are a public school graduate, it is likely you have never been exposed to rigorous thinking. Allow me to take a moment to describe it, as it is necessary for what follows.
Rigorous thinking is thought where one’s axioms are stated, ambiguities avoided, and only conclusions that logically followed are held to be necessarily true. The effort takes for granted the facts on the ground, as these can be independently verified if disputed, and attempts to find an overarching explanation, rule, or pattern which will give meaning to the facts, or, in the case of empirical reasoning, provide refutable predictions of fact as yet unencountered.
Rigor requires distinctions be made between empirical and nonempirical reasoning, and that the standard of epistemology appropriate to the subject matter be employed. The conclusions in any field of study cannot be more certain than the field itself admits.
Epistemology is the study of the nature of proof and knowledge. Different fields of study use different methods of proof. These methods which cannot be applied outside those fields: one cannot use empirical proofs to support or to undermine metaphysical arguments, for example, or use divine revelation to support or undermine an empirical argument.
Now, there are any number of fields where rigor is possible even when precision is not. True precision and apodictic certainty is possible only within fields of pure reason, such as geometry and mathematics. Empirical science does not even attempt to find certainty, merely the best model to explain past facts concerning the measurable aspects of material events and to predict future ones. Economics properly so called is an a priori science concerning the invariant relations present in human action; it is not an empirical science like history. Historical reasoning and proofs are not subject to observation and experience because the past is past. Moral reasoning is based on moral intuitions present in every properly trained conscience, and proceeds by arguing in terms of precedent and hypothetical. Legal reasoning is a subset of this, but which limits itself to matters of written law, folk custom and the pragmatic need for an enforceable public order. Predictive history, such as is promoted by Marx or Spengler, is not rigorous reasoning at all, because no reasoning is possible in this area. And so on for other fields.
In regard to certainty, please note that it is the great boast of the empirical sciences that the standard model is overturned in a mental revolution each few generations, as when Copernicus revolutionized the Ptolemaic model, Kepler overthrew Copernicus, Newton overthrew Kepler, and Einstein overthrew Newton. If this boast is true, and I assume all my readers so believe, then the empirical sciences do not even pretend to address ultimate or universal truths, merely to acquire simpler, cleaner and more accurate predictive models.
And, by design, the explanations of empirical science exclude all discussion of final causes in nature: empirical science says by what mechanisms material events occur, and never speaks of for what purpose they occur, if any, Fermat’s principle of least time notwithstanding.
On the other hand, legal reasoning, as when a jury is debating a man’s guilt or innocence, the question of material mechanism (except in rare cases where, for example, the ballistics of the murder bullet is significant to the case) is not an element of the crime and need not be weighed by the jurors; whereas the question of final cause, that is, intent, is crucial in any case where the state of mind of the accused is an element of the crime or tort, as in murder, theft, or negligence.
A man cannot be convicted of murder in the first degree, for example, if the jury cannot be convinced beyond reasonable doubt of his malice aforethought at the time of the murder. But empirical science does not inquire as to the state of mind of the bullet or bludgeon: such a question would be nonsensical.
My attempt in this column is to show that the belief that Christianity is based on irrational faith is irrational, by showing that belief in God satisfies Occam’s razor as the most elegant yet robust model explaining the facts on the ground, when compared to atheism, which resorts to unwieldy ad hoc for some explanations, or offers none.
Faith and Eyewitness
Naturally faith in the promises of Christ, like faith in any promise, is not based on direct experience, since the fulfillment of any promise by definition rests in the future.
But, like all promises, the faith is given based on the rational assent to what is probable, based on past performance of the one making the promise, and based on the estimate of what could stop the promise from being kept, if any accident or intervention could do so.
In this case, God by definition, having created life to his specification, can make it live again; believing the historical evidence of the fact of the Resurrection makes disbelief in the general resurrection at Doomsday an unreasonable disbelief; God cannot be halted by accident or interference.
It is not the reasoning process nor the judgment of trustworthiness which makes a Christian differ from an atheist. The difference is metaphysical. Obviously no atheist disbelieves in God due to God making and breaking a promise to him. It is due to a naturalistic philosophy and a secular worldview which prohibits any investigation of claims of the supernatural, sight unseen.
It is not as if atheists examine evidence and then come to conclusions on this matter: not a single atheist, for example, has ever questioned me about my conversation experience, weighed the evidence, inquired of my neighbors and coworkers my reputation for honesty (which is absolutely sterling) or discovered anything, such as a financial interest, which would tempt a man to invent such an unlikely story. The atheists who have commented on my particular case merely asserted that I am because I must be irrational.
They are not being cruel and stupid by so saying. Or not on purpose. They merely have faith that the experience of me or any man encountering the divine must be a faulty observation, faulty memory, lie, dream, or hallucination. Such are the only conclusions allowed by their metaphysical stance.
The difference between their faith and ours is that we can explain ours. If their metaphysical conclusion is correct, a universal negative statement that God does not exist cannot be certain knowledge. Atheist epistemology cannot account for universals. On the other hand, if our metaphysical conclusion is correct, positive statement that God exists can be proved, and eyewitnesses to that effect (such as myself) can exist.
An atheist cannot explain how he can know, not suspect but know, I am mistaken, mad, or lying without taking the time to hear my account and identify the mistake, examine my medical record and discover signs of madness, or hear my testimony and assess my character and reputation.
That is the difference between the two.
Faith is often misrepresented, sometimes by Christians themselves, as a type of substitute for thought or evidence. Nonsense. Faith is when, once your reason is convinced, you find irrational fears and unseemly doubts clouding your mind, and the memory of miracles and blessing past fade as if sponged away by evil mesmerism, and the hope of miracles and blessing to come is lost.
This is specifically a case, no different from a sudden influx of cowardice, or a temptation to intemperance, where a man cannot bring his passions under control of his reason. The reason is convinced for reasonable reason: his doubt, unreasonable doubts, are in rebellion.
Fortunately, one of the promises of Christ is the grace, that is, the gift, of fortitude needed to quell irrational or unreasonable doubts. Such is the gift of faith.
Reasonable doubts are a separate matter. We Christians are under a positive duty. No lesser figure than Saint Peter says “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
So, far from basing our world on blind faith, we Christians are under a positive duty to explain our reasons justifying our hopes within us.
For the purposes of this column, atheism the positive assertion that the God does not exist, meaning the Christian God. It is not a mere expression of doubt.
The positive assertion that man lacks the faculty to determine the question of God’s existence is called agnosticism. Again, it is not a mere expression of doubt.
The positive assertion that the supernatural does not exist is called naturalism. The most common form of naturalism is the belief that all reality is or can be reduced to material substance: this is materialism or panphysicalism, but one need not be a materialist to be a naturalist.
Naturalism and atheism are often used interchangeably, because the overlap is so great. If there are pagan atheists, I have yet to encounter one: even the famed skeptic Lucretius did not hold the gods not to exist; rather he held that the gods existed in such rarefied bliss that they had no concern for human affairs and did not meddle with the earth for good or ill.
Hence, no special term is needed in this discussion for those who do not believe in the various pantheons of pagan gods: a witch who believes that the God of Abraham is fiction but that the gods of Olympos are true would be, for the purpose of this discussion, classed as an atheist who is not a naturalist.
Faith I defined above: supernal fortitude divinely bestowed to quell irrational doubts, and to combat the natural but inexplicable forgetfulness of Adam’s race when it comes to recollecting signs of the divine.
The belief that the Church must be expunged and excluded from all exercise of political power is called secularism. The word is also used of those who believe the Church must be expunged from every social role, custom, and institution, including nonpolitical institutions, such as marriage or public charities.
The belief that all branches of philosophy must be uprooted from their theological foundations and placed on some other, as yet unannounced, secure groundwork is called humanism.
The belief that free will does not exist except as an illusion or self-deception is called determinism.
There are variations of this philosophy which hold that determinism is compatible with belief in free will, which are called compatible determinism. Those variations are not here addressed: the word determinism in this column is used solely to refer to a philosophy that holds the thoughts and actions of man are determined not by his free will.
Because many readers have been training in public schools to avoid thinking at all costs, it behooves me to mention that these are definitions, and not Rorschach inkblots. These definitions equate what is meant in this column by these words, so that one can be freely substituted for the other in the paragraphs that follow.
The words do not mean whatever it is you happen to be reminded of, an old song or an old argument with your father, which pops into your head free-association style when your eye falls upon it.
Sad experience teaches me that most, if not all, debates encountered among the young are exchanges of free-association reactions to the words of the opposition as if they were inkblots, hence the primary work of the debater is to convince the audience that his opponent meant something other than what was said. (The news has carried this technique to the level of a new and satanic form of art.)
The division between modern and ancient philosophy is the Cartesian method of using extreme skepticism to divide the wheat from the chaff. The assumption is that any statement which cannot withstand infinite skepticism is doubtful; only those that survive untouched are true. Hence, by the logic of Descartes, I know I exist: I think, therefore I am. However, he was unable to go convincingly beyond that point, and so the common sense notions upon which Scholasticism and all previous philosophy was based, such as the idea that sense perceptions were reliable and other people were not cunning wax automatons, fell by the wayside.
It is no coincidence that this happened in the Sixteenth Century. The religious scheme of Europe was shattered into two warring camps, a shipwreck from which some goods were salvaged, but not much, and theology was divorced from philosophy, which then withered and died on the vine.
Skepticism is useful up to a point. If the skeptic doubts the truth of his senses, the honesty of the witnesses, or the ability of his mind to reach logical conclusions, then all mental processes, skeptical inquiry included, are thrown into doubt.
Skepticism is useful up to a point. Beyond that point, thought commits suicide.
When a man asks, as a Buddhist does, how to know all sense impressions are not illusions; when a man asks, as a solipsist does, how to now other consciousness exists; when a man asks, as a Marxist or multiculturalist does, how to know one is not trapped in a false system of beliefs or an ideological superstructure so complete that logical reasoning is impossible; when a man asks, as a those who attempt to apply Darwinism to human psychology do, how to know that one’s thoughts are not merely evolved mechanisms meant to preserve the race and therefore not necessarily fit faculties to discover the truth; when a man asks, as the subjectivist does, how to know that honesty is a moral imperative; and, in short, whenever a man asks how to know that truth exists, the best answer is to point out that the statement “truth does not exist” refutes itself.
A statement is self-refuting when by its own terms, it can never be true at any time or under any conditions.
But then suppose the skeptic says that “a statement that there is no truth is self-refuting” presupposes that logic is valid. How can one prove logic is valid? Again, the syllogism “Your proof follows, granting logic; logic is invalid; ergo the proof does not follow” uses logical validity to make its case, therefore refutes itself.
For the same reason, a philosophical conversation is not possible if one does not obey a duty of intellectual honesty. A man who hold himself under no duty to be honest in his thoughts with himself, encountering any question where is natural inclinations do not make it easy or pleasing to him to reach an adverse conclusion, will reach arbitrary conclusions. His self-deception renders his conclusions useless, even to himself, as conclusions. Their only use is self-flattery, and only for so long as he is in the mood to be flattered.
For this reason, any doubts cast on the existence or authority of at least one moral absolute is self-refuting. Again, this is a universal and not a particular conclusion. Hence, a man who says that all moral rules are manmade cannot be trusted, even by himself, not to be lying to himself.
Law is morality taken into the public sphere. A man who doubts the rights of man, particularly the right to freedom of speech and the press, can be stopped from making such philosophical inquiries in the public sphere if the magistrates conclude his inquiry threatens the public order; and the philosopher who inquires whether some men are born above others, as Socrates did, can be commanded by the laws to drink hemlock, as Socrates did. In a logical sense, it is not necessary to conclude that philosophers have a right to inquire into the question of the rights of man, but as a practical and legal matter, it is.
For the same reason, determinism eliminates the possibility of inquiry. A man who, for example, believes that fate or physics or deity or destiny, selects all his thoughts before he is born, and fixed all his conclusions beforehand, cannot trust the outcome of any mental process of deduction or conclusion. His thoughts are not trustworthy because they are not his. His reaching his conclusion is not something he does, it is something that is done to him by outside forces.
This includes all mental processes. There is neither truth, nor logic, nor morals, in a deterministic universe, nor even the possibility of any such thing.
Such a determinist cannot trust the outcome of his thought process for the same reason you cannot have a debate with a record player. If what the record says is determined solely by the grooves in the record, there is no way to convince the recording to reach a different conclusion and say something else instead. Determinism reverts to first case again: he is a man who says no truth is true, no knowledge is known, no logic is valid, no morals are imperative obliterates the process of inquiry whereby these thoughts can be supported as true.
Materialism or panphysicalism is in even a worse case, since it has all the problems of determinism, plus the problem that no symbols can exist in a panphysical universe. If no symbols exist, the words we use to describe the symbol-to-object relation, words like belief and doubt, true and false, accurate and inaccurate, fair and ugly, efficient and inefficient, moral and immoral, also have no meaning and also cannot exist. The statement ‘panphysicalism is true’ refutes itself.
Finally, I take it as granted that aesthetics can be learned. I myself, at one time no fan of opera, have learned to appreciate and admired Wagner and Mozart. To a degree, personal tastes differ, but only to a degree. That cannot be the whole story. Aesthetics cannot be entirely subjective to the person, or else there would be nothing to learn when one learned to see beauty heretofore invisible to the untrained eye.
Nor can the learning be an illusion covering an arbitrary change in taste, for then something as ugly as can be imagined could be placed in a modern art museum and the audience could force itself to see the ugly as beautiful; after roughly a hundred years of trying, it is safe to say no human has that power.
If aesthetics were subjective to the culture, one could not learn to appreciate the art of a foreign culture. If aesthetic were subjective to the race, Caucasians could not appreciate Negro music, nor vice versa but mulattoes could appreciate either.
Rather than being racial, cultural, or personal, aesthetics seems universal to mankind. No other animal decorates its tools or makes poems. No tribe of man, howsoever primordial, lacks decoration and poetry.
That man both admires the sublime natural beauties where found, and creates beauty for the sake of beauty, which is necessary for his happiness but which fulfills no bodily or natural need, I trust the reader will take as given: sufficient evidence to support this exists in ordinary life that I do not deem it worth the readers’ time to dwell on the point.
The Suicide of Thought
With these preliminaries to one side, we now see what the facts of the human condition are which any worldview must address and explain, or confess itself unable to explain.
Merely by eliminating every philosophy that refutes itself, we clear the underbrush of nearly all modern and postmodern philosophy. Here is a one paragraph summation of the errors of the moderns. It is all the same error, repeated in endless variations:
Hume by saying only empirical statements can be proved is making a metaphysical hence non-empirical statement. Away with him. Hobbes by denying the rights of man can and should be admired for the rigor of his argument, but the Leviathan which he himself would erect would order him to drink hemlock just as the Philosopher King of Socrates would have done to Socrates. Off with his head. Nietzsche does not even try to make a rational argument. He asserts in a series of parables and epigrams that it is better to will the truth into being that to follow the truth. Morality is dismissed as an arbiter of virtue, but willpower is elevated in its stead. But a statement that praises all acts of will as imperative negates the possibility of preferring one act of will over the other. If there is neither truth nor goodness the guide the will, the will becomes the mere slave of the appetites, and the superman is subhuman. By his own argument, there is no need to argue with Nietzsche: let us merely will his voice into silence. Hegel and his pursuit of the Absolute by means of contradictory thesis and antithesis seeking synthesis eliminates the possibility of truth by redefining truth as an ever changing plenum. As with Heraclitus, one finds one cannot step into the same stream of dialectic twice. Marx amplifies the error by turning Hegel on his head, and reduces all the history of philosophy to a material dialectic governed by the forces of history. The contents of your brain are reduced to the by produce of the means of production of your world-historical stage of evolution. What is right and good in the era of Feudalism, is wrong and bad in the era of Capitalism, which will be wrong again once the era of Socialism, which is inevitable, manifests itself via the mystic process of material dialectic. Freud introduced the idea that our thoughts and conclusions are influenced by subconscious thoughts, that is, non-thought thoughts, which warp our reasoning powers: of course, if Freud was saying that only because he wanted to kill his father and sleep with his mother, his theory is the byproduct of insane and buried anxieties of which he himself was unaware. Logical Positivism and Existentialism eliminate, for opposite reasons, their own foundations neatly, by making the universal statement that there are no universal statements. Under Wittgenstein, philosophy is reduced to a parlor game of words, with no ability to instruct a man how best to live or how best to die.
Lacking a metaphysical foundation, all of their philosophies treat man as a phenomenon to be studied as if by an outside observer, as if here were also one more thing that arose from nowhere, came into being for no reason, changes its nature and essence as external forces dictate, and sinks again into nothingness.
But there is nothing an outside observer can see about man which reveals him capable of using his free will and his faculty of reason and conscience to perceive and deduce eternal, universal, unconditional truths. But without the ability to deduce eternal truths, no other truth can be held to be true except provisionally, tentatively, conditionally, and this includes all the truths necessary for man’s reasoning to be trustworthy. Looking at man as if from an outside observer reveals only a bewildered apelike Yahoo, a crooked being whose brain apparatus cannot be proved trustworthy.
But if that were the nature of man, the man who studies man, the philosopher, could not exist. He would know no undoubtable assumptions to be his axioms, he would have no assurance of the validity of the rules of logic (for, if eternal truth is closed to the human mind, the rules of logic must be manmade, or else a byproduct of racial psychology) and he could have no assurance as to his conclusions. He names for things would be merely arbitrary labels, and he could never know if the names were accurate. Indeed, all the categories by which human thought occurs, the category of cause and effect, of final cause, of self and other, of accident and essence, valid reasoning and invalid, and, above all, the right reason which divides moral from immoral and imposes imperatives upon the human soul: all these things, without metaphysics, fall by the wayside.
It may be possible to deduce an atheist or naturalist metaphysics, but it is difficult. Indeed, I am only aware of one.
Of modern philosophers, only Ayn Rand, who revived the Aristotelian teachings on metaphysics, ontology, and logic, was able to erect an ethical teaching which comported with pagan heroic virtues. Her ethic was a modern variation of eudemonism, the belief that the good life was one lived according to the dictates of reason.
Ayn Rand is so logical, that given her premises, I see no way to avoid her conclusions. She even makes a bold stab at a paramount problem other moderns avoid, namely, how to deduce a moral precept from a statement of fact. While I do not find her argument convincing, it is not one to be dismissed without deep thought.
Her argument is that life is the sole originator of value, on the grounds that whatever harms the organism is defined as evil and whatever aids is good. This unfortunately eliminates self-sacrifice as a possibility, or even self-risks such as childbirth or military service, hence cuts against what all men know to be the nature of good and evil. It merely defines selfishness as good, and proposes that groups of selfish men, if guided by right reason, will find mutually beneficial institutions, or else live in heroic isolation otherwise. The fact that men, addicted as they are by original sin to an exploitive mutually destructive form of selfishness, that is, crime and aggression, could not live in her proposed utopia is solved, at least in her own mind, by assuming as an axiom that original sin does not exist. Good men can eliminate evil men merely by allowing the evil to destroy itself.
However, if original sin did not exist, then men could indulge in adultery provided all parties agreed, and their emotions could not cause them lasting harm and woe any more than the emotions of the supremely rational creature, the Houyhnhnm, who are the only creatures capable of life in Ayn Rand’s proposed utopia. In her own life the experiment with consensual adultery turned out badly.
I dwell on her because of the moderns, Ayn Rand alone makes an error that is subtle and which requires the wisdom of experience to unmask.
Even so, I would not dare to say her conclusions are wrong or absurd, merely incomplete. If as John Galt was, all men were born without original sin, altruism would be a pleasure rather than a moral burden, and could not be used a as form of “white blackmail” whereby the whining victims of their own incompetence mooch off the productive members of society.
Her conclusions apply to all young and healthy bachelors in times of peace with no human relations to any other human aside from mutually agreed mutually beneficial exchanges of goods and services. The mere fact that this is not the whole of life overturns her scheme, however. John Galt’s own act of Christlike self-sacrifice to preserve his beloved makes a mockery of all his fine speeches.
But let us not move too far from the point: Objectivism does not contradict itself in its opening statement the way Hume and Marx and others do. It has a metaphysic, hence a foundation for the other branches of philosophy.
The other modern philosophers, who, ironically, are all held in higher regard by academics and professionals, indulge in one variation or another of the same logical error a schoolboy could penetrate: Hume, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre, and so on, each saws off the branch on which he stands.
(Technically, Hobbes does not, he merely argues himself to have no right to make such an inquiry, but then again, technically, he believes in God and argues in favor of a Christian Commonwealth with an absolute monarch.)
Each of these, for one reason or another, denies that that reality is real, truth is true, that reason is valid, the morality is good, laws are just, the will is free, that beauty is sublime. But without these seven principles, philosophy is not to be trusted.
No doubt even a generous reader who holds that belief in truth and logic are needed for reasoning to be trusted must pause at the proposition that a belief in the objectivity of aesthetic judgments is a presupposition for the trustworthiness of philosophy and science. Nonetheless, the case can be shown easily.
Please note that when the Ptolemaic model of the universe, with Earth at the center, and the wandering stars (planets) riding cycles and epicycles of perfect circles in the sky, it was not the inadequacy of the model which brought it into disrepute. An astronomer could predict, using Ptolemy’s tables, the hour of the rising and setting of planets, their houses, conjunctions, oppositions, and so on. It was just that the models of Copernicus and Kepler were more elegant: and Kepler’s ellipses could be deduced from Newton’s even more elegant three laws of motion, which also explains sublunary motion as well.
But elegance is an aesthetic criterion, not an empirical one. The predicted motions as seen from Earth for Ptolemy’s model and Kepler’s are the same. It is merely that the calculation of the motions of the planets for Copernicus involves some forty to eighty deferents, epicycles, equants, epicycles atop epicycles, and so on. Compared to Kepler’s three rules, the system is unduly complex. It is unwieldly to the point of ugliness.
And so scientists, from that day to this, have used the models of Kepler, Newton, not because Ptolemy and Copernicus are wrong, wrong as judged by the accuracy of prediction, but because the Newtonian model is more parsimonious of assumption, more elegant, and lends itself more readily to ease of calculation: and these are all aesthetic criteria.
So pervasive is the idea that the Christian faith is irrational, a matter of personal taste or personal reality, that even attempts to debate the question of its rationality are routinely ignored.
I once had the misfortune of agreeing to a public debate with an atheist on that point; but instead of answering, or even acknowledging, the argument I was making, the atheist merely asserted that I was making the opposite argument.
Let me make this clear: he did not say that Christianity was irrational and my argument (that it was rational) was untruthful or invalid. He did not say that I should be (but was not) arguing that Christianity was irrational. He did not say that I was unwittingly arguing a point whose logical corollary, unbeknownst to me, would prove Christianity was irrational. He said that my stated goal was to prove that Christianity was irrational.
It was as if I were arguing geometry, and I said “With this proof, I wish to show that vertical angles are necessarily equal” he were to answer not with a counterargument to show my proof did not follow, but with a simple denial of the argument subject matter: “No, you wish to show that vertical angles are not necessarily equal!” To call the reaction surreal is an understatement.
It was a surreal experience. He spent the rest of the debate trying to convince the audience (while I was present, mind you!) that the argument I was arguing was the opposite of what I was arguing. “Wright is trying to prove that vertical angles are not necessarily equal. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? He acted like a fussy director in a school play toward a stubborn student who says the wrong lines.
However, in the same way that Newton is an improvement over Copernicus, and he over Ptolemy, I submit that parsimony of assumption, ease of calculation, and mere elegance of model give Christianity a clear superiority over atheism in the realm of reason.
Let us list the things atheism either cannot explain, or must spun epicycle upon epicycle to explain:
First, where did the universe itself come from? If the atheist answers, as he should, that he does not know, here is a matter his model cannot answer. If he says the universe is infinite in age, or the product of endless Hindu cycles, he refutes the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as well as the philosophical principle forbidding an infinite regression of causes. If he says it arose from nothing for no reason, he refutes the foundations not only of science, but of all rigorous reasoning.
The principle of no infinite regression says that each cause cannot be the effect of a prior cause infinitely, on the grounds that if no first cause is present, nothing could have set them all in motion. More to the point, nothing defines the motion. An example might make this clear: you see a funicular train, climbing a hill on geared wheels. Each car takes its motion and moves at ten miles an hour, just as the car before it. Climbing the hill, you find the train tracks go entirely around the world, and there is no beginning nor end, and no engine. Hence, not only is there nothing to set all the cars in motion, there is nothing to answer the question of why ten miles an hour rather than five or twenty? In an infinite series of causes, nothing defines the magnitude of the cause.
If the atheist must add to his model events that arise for no cause, or an endless string or cycle of universes, they he add epicycle to epicycle.
Positing the creation to come from one supreme and unconditional, eternal being obviates all these objections nicely. The question “Since God created the universe, who created God?” attempts to impose the same shortcoming as the atheist model with its infinite regression of causes, or its uncaused first cause, but the attempt falls short: the material universe is filled with change and decay and entropy. It is made of matter, and material things cannot do things by themselves. They must be set in motion. God is a spirit, having the power to set things in motion, and is not a material thing set in motion by another. He is an unmoved mover and an uncaused first cause. If that seems a paradox, reflect that a train engine, a car that is not pulled by a prior car, must seem a paradox to someone who has only seen train cars filing by, and never seen an engine.
Second, how does the atheist explain the human ability to grasp and deduce universal, unconditional, and eternal truths? Even an idea as simple as twice two is four has no material or natural component to it. Surely there are objects in the universe which mimic these formal rules: two apples in a box placed with two more apples are four apples. But twice two was four long before the apple tree evolved, or the first carpenter built the first box.
The presence of universal concepts and universal truths is baffling to the atheist because, if his theory is correct, there is no supernatural mind or creator-god to establish any universal ideas. Either he embraces nominalism, and says ideas are all manmade, and therefore no universal exist, or, as many moderns do, he dismisses math, morality, justice, economics, aesthetics, as subsections of an empirically based but faulty deduction, disease of language. This again is epicycles: common sense is lost, and the atheist retreating into nominalism has to aver that twice two is not always four, that this appearance of universality is an illusion.
The Christian, like the Aristotelian or the Platonist, can posit that ideas and forms have independent existence because they were so created in the mind of God, who can maintain their universality and ineligibility by an act of fiat. The model explains what needs to be explained, and moreover fits with common experience without telling men their minds are sinkholes of self-deception.
Third, if God does not exist, the universe can have no mental properties. It is a machine made of particles, but one thrown together without a designer, serving no purpose. If so, when one unintentional byproduct of the machinery of the world is the bewildered ape called Man, the machinery of his brain cannot be designed by a designer for a purpose. At best, the purpose of preserving the man and his bloodline might emerge spontaneously by a statistical elimination of every pre-human man-ape whose brain chemistry made A equal to Non-A, or twice two equal five. But then we have no evidence of pre-human man-apes each with his several systems of non-operative logic and mathematics, and no reason to believe that natural selection would make the twice-two-is-five apes die off quicker than the twice-two-is-four.
In sum, absent God, logic is a human invention, or a byproduct of irrational natural forces designing brain machinery to function so as to deceive men into thinking logic is logical. But the relation of formal logic to the real world then becomes unintelligible. Just because “A is A” in our ape-brains, why should “A is A” be true in reality? (Indeed, some modern physicists hold that the law of noncontradiction breaks down when describing subatomic particles, which indeed shows that physicists should not attempt amateur metaphysics, lest they look like fools.)
Fourth, if there is no God, on what grounds does morality have any moral authority? Why should I obey a moral rule if I encounter a case where I stand no danger of retaliation, and obeying the rule neither pleases me nor seem a practical way to get some good for myself?
Now, to be sure, there are many moral and upright atheists. I was one myself, back in the day. Some sort of argument about the long-term benefits of moral behavior can be erected if the atheist is already a man of integrity who cares about his personal honor, or if he is a coward and frightened of getting caught and punished. The coward (and I am looking at you, Mr. Thomas Hobbes) can only be made afraid of disobeying the law, but not afraid of disobeying the principle which a bad law violates.
All moral reason, absent God, can be reduced either to an appeal to pleasure, or an appeal to duty. The former leads to hedonism in the shallow but eudemonism in the noble. The latter leads to stoicism.
But in no case is there a superior authority with the legitimate power to call him to account for secret violations of moral principles. If a man is in a life or death situation where morality is of most moment, such as deciding whether to throw himself on a handgrenade or push the nearby illiterate Negro drummer boy atop it in order to save his squad, absent God there is no judge, aside from the man himself in his moment of weakness and panic, to establish a right answer.
There is no reward in the afterlife for self-sacrifice if the atheist model is true: hence, in the atheist model, morality has to have a two step system: one which deals with life or death decisions, and one which deals with lesser decisions. An atheist might decide to endure the pain of studying for a test in order to enjoy the benefit of passing the course, but he cannot decide to endure the pain of slaying himself to save another on the basis of such a short versus long term calculus, because, for him, there is no long term. For the Christian, and for most pagans as well, the decision is the same in both cases, because death is not nonexistence.
This is not saying the atheist two step morality is necessarily wrong and the Christian one step morality is right. This is saying that the atheist reasons for moral behavior require eccentric epicycles to reach the proper conclusions. To judge from the vast majority of modern atheists, of course, they do not. Even high minded Objectivists condone adultery and infanticide. The lower minded atheists condone, nay, praise and glorify hedonism and sodomy. The atheist of the socialist ilk affirms trespass on property rights to be licit; the Marxist ilk affirms mass-murder.
With no God, the moral standard is manmade, and hence men can unmake it.
Fifth, the atheist has to explain modern history. The laws of Christian nations are noticeably superior in fairness and justice to those of pagan nations, and so have been throughout history. One need only mention the abolition of the gladiatorial games and the slave trade. Slavery is universal. Torture is universal. Even the Red Indians kept slaves and tortured captives. Christians have also done these things. But only Christians, and no one but Christians, has ever in the history of man outlawed them. The game of moral equivalence and tu-quoque is both illogical and ahistorical.
On the other hand, all nations, races, philosophies and peoples have had mass killings. And yet the genocides of the modern age all came from atheists and secular powers. The ghosts of the 150,000,000 killed by atheists in the Twentieth Century alone should give pause to anyone, anywhere, willing to claim that the atheist society has just a firm a claim on the ability to comprehend and enforce a moral standard as a Christian.
I can hear someone in the back objecting that these were Communist atheists of backward and barbaric nations in the Eastern world, not the enlightened and happy atheists of the civilized Western word, who favor abortion. The number of deaths of the unborn at the hands of seculars and atheist is of a like order of magnitude.
The degeneration of the modern age brought on by no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution is entirely the product of the West following secular, naturalistic and atheistic philosophies. Nearly every social pathology we suffer today, including such remote matters as the deficit spending of the welfare state, ultimately result from an abandonment of traditional Christian mores of chastity and decency.
Again, a clever atheist could, without falsifying or denying history, somehow explain how chastity, monogamy, and public decency, including the illegalization of recreational drugs and pornography, can issue from a non-theological basis of morality and law, but I can recall no atheist in the history of the world ever doing so. The fact of the matter is that atheists like sleeping with their harlots, and the majority of them become atheist not through a philosophical weighing of the evidence for and against the existence of God, but because they want to be free from standards of behavior too harsh and too strict for their ungoverned appetites.
Again, with no afterlife and no possibility of punishment for wrongdoing aside from what human law imposes, or one’s own conscience, what reason can an atheist give to reject the hedonist motto of eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die?
More to the point, the atheist who rejects that hedonist motto, what reason can he give to object to the socialist motto that, since there is no paradise in heaven, we must have a revolution to establish paradise on earth? Because any countless numbers of murder victims, even the astronomical numbers racked up by atheists so for in merely one hundred years, are as nothing compared to the infinite blessings of utopia, are they not?
Do not get me wrong. I am sure a clever atheist like Ayn Rand can find a formulation of godless moral reasoning to reach the proper conclusions in this area. It is just that, first, I have never seen such a formula. I have never seen an atheist argument in favor of self-sacrifice or strict chastity. Second, such an argument would require a complex epicyclical set of assumptions, such as a duty to uphold the racial evolutionary destiny, or to serve the purposes of history, or some other jabberwocky to serve as an ersatz god.
By contrast, the Christian worldview holds that God has the authority to make moral rules, first as a father of the race, second as the author and maker who made race to fit the rules, setting our nature to be such that moral uprightness is something we naturally crave, third by dint of superior power, fourth by superior wisdom just as a physician knows what is good for us, and finally by the heroism of the Crucifixion, which displayed him by the merit of his works to be worthy of kingship. Every justification needed or imagined to show not only why God has the power to make and enforce moral rules, but also has the authority, which he retained even when he refuses to use the power (see, for example, the ministry and passion of Christ) is combined into a single idea.
Sixth, the atheist cannot account for free will. Some, like Ayn Rand, take it as a given. But there is no explanation.
The Christian explanation is that men are partly divine, unlike beasts, and can decide and choice and do both good and evil, because these things from the same God who made us, and made us so able.
Seventh, the atheist cannot account for beauty or our human need for it. The best argument to be made is to say that certain women look attractive on the basis of the physical characteristics that indicate healthy childbearing physique. It certainly does not explain earrings and necklaces, or dance, or music, or why men are awed at the sight of the stars, or lofty great mountains, pathless oceans, storms and lightning.
Why should a lion or a tiger look beautiful to us, when these are predatory animals dangerous to us?
No Darwinian just-so story can say why all nations, races, and tribes of man regard the starry heavens as the abode of divine beings. Even modern atheists refuse point blank to believe there are no aliens among the stars. But stars neither aid in the hunt nor aid in the passing along of the selfish gene which is the modern explanation for everything that cannot be explained.
And why make up stories? There may be a Darwinian advantage to analogies, or theorems, or summaries of wise sayings. Even Aesop fables might possibly have something a selfish gene can use to replicate itself. But why stories?
The Christian answer, once again, has a startling elegance. We were created by our creator to be in his likeness and image, which means, like him, we are creative.
Next, the atheist cannot explain the Christian.
The Christian can point to many lives which were improved by miracle by Christ: men who gave up drugs to become philanthropists. Everything from missionaries teaching native letters to charity hospital are overwhelmingly Christian.
There is not a single story of a man who was on drugs, turned to atheism, discovered the freedom from morality that godlessness provides, and went on to run a charity ward. Not one.
If atheism is true, there should be some explanation as to why atheism does not improves lives, but the horrible misleading falsehood of Christianity does.
Usually atheists simply deny this is the case, with the same aplomb that they assert Christ never lived, or that his body was carted off my medical students or space aliens or something. They say Christianity made lives worse, and Christopher Hitchens mocks Mother Teresa of Calcutta in a witty yet halfwitted book.
I am not counting such dodges here: I am assuming an honest atheist is making an honest attempt to explain the facts his model has to explain to be a valid model.
Finally, the atheist attempts to explain the paucity of numbers of atheist throughout all history leads to bizarre and paranoiac conclusions. In order to explain why the brain disease of seeing ghosts, having prayers answered, and the stoicism of the martyrs, not to mention countless miracles witness by countless witnesses, is so universal the atheist is forced to conclude that most men, including men of unparalleled genius like Newton, have not just false beliefs, but absurdly and outrageously false, on the order of believing in fairies of Father Christmas, despite overwhelming evidences to the contrary.
This requires him to believe the martyr and saints, men he otherwise would admire, were lunatics and masochists. This requires him to pretend, despite the evidence of history, that science blossoms in non-Christian lands, and is repressed and thwarted in Europe. This requires he pretend someone other than Churchmen did all the significant work to create the scientific revolution, which he has to pretend happened a century or two after it did happen, in order to not give credit to the university system created by the Church, or the astronomical observatories founded.
This requires him to say that every man who has seen a miracle or a ghost is a liar, or a fool, or an observer so sloppy in his observations so as not to be able to tell the difference between causality and coincidence.
The ad hoc and absurd explanations needed by the atheist to explain the existence of Christendom, and indeed of all world religions, usually verge into the logically absurd. In order for men to be as stupid and easily deceived as to believe that there are gods when there are no gods, then men have to be stupid enough to be atheists. The theory that some special genetic coding allows you and you alone, and your small circle of fellow crackpots, to be free from the religious brain disease that afflicts everyone else in the world, including men smarter than you, is not just an awkward ad hoc epicycle. It is self-flattery to the point of madness, and is logically absurd: why not say atheism is a brain disease akin to autism, making the afflicted victim unable to see the obvious hand of God at work in the world around him? One theory is as sound as the other.
While Christians can admit that the fantastic tales of other lands, apparitions and works done by pagan gods, may indeed have happened, or oracles spoken by the Sybil come true, the naturalist atheist cannot admit even the smallest fairy sitting on an acorn, because one iota of supernatural grit will jam the gears of his entire cosmic system of remorseless natural law, and send the whole thing crashing.
For the Christian, the world can be more filled with mystery and wonder than even we suspect. For the atheist, it must be smaller. For the Christian, even a small act of grace done in secret, if God sees, will be remembered after the stars turn cold. For the Christian, even the monstrous crime of the worst of tyrants can be forgiven and forgotten. Even the dead can walk again. Even lost loved ones can be found. Peace, happiness, and joy are possible.
The Christian world is larger than the world. The atheist world has to be smaller than the world. Historical events, from the resurrection of Christ to the Angel of Mons, have to be explained away as illusions, the deceptions of cunning apostles, or mass hysteria. Why atheism is not explained away as mass hysteria likewise also needs explanation.
For the atheist, there is nothing. Life is hard, and then you die. Some people will remember you, but their memories will fade. If you are famous enough to make it into the news, or the history books, people will tell false stories about you, but those stories will fade and fail in time. Perhaps next year a mad scientist will tell you how to upload your brain information into an invulnerable robotic body. The brain information will last as long as the earth, as long as the sun, as long as the energy holds out. What does that matter? On the last second of your life, no matter how many seconds were prior, entropy wins and you die and go into nothingness just the same.
Everything is vanity and self-deception. The atheist either faces the inevitability of death with the fortitude of Cato of Utica, or Socrates, and dies without regret, or he quails at the abyss of infinity awaiting him, and rushes back to the raucous music, colored lamps, heady wines, and buxom paramours of the orgy life provides to the fortunate, and embraces the vanity, and flees from all philosophy.
For the last thing atheist thought cannot explain is thought.
Given that life is so fragile, so unfair, so drenched with evil and cruelty and pointless suffering, and given that death is inescapable, unmerciful, spares no one, ineluctable, and given that all human effort comes to nothing in the end, and that all meaning is arbitrary and manmade to begin, why suffer the burden of thought? You cannot discover the meaning of life nor the secret of happiness, because there is no meaning and no secret.
The Christian model is here even more elegant and clear than its normal clarity. God made the world out of an overabundance of love, nor because of any need of his, he who cannot suffer lack or loneliness, but from sheer munificence of love. Man is meant to know, love and serve God, and only this will make us happy, and give meaning to our lives.
The atheist lives in a world where there are facts but no truths. Outside of the minds of man, there is no world of the forms, no Absolute, no supernal repository for the right answers to all life’s questions to rest, and no one who know them.
By the Christian model, we have the right answer and the pagans have partial or incomplete answers because the man who knows the answers, Christ, told them to us.
But under your model, what is your explanation for why you have the right answer and everyone else is wrong? You figured it out? How? You have no more nor less facts than Aristotle or St. Thomas Aquinas. Your intelligence (trust me on this one) was not greater than theirs.
And please, in the name of sanity and logic and everything that is holy, do not pull out that old canard that men of old thought gods tossed lightning bolts to fight trolls, but modern men know lightning is a natural phenomenon which operates by Maxwell’s laws. The concept of natural phenomenon, that is secondary causes that operate under their own nature, is a conclusion of Christian theological thinking about the operations of the natural world. The primary causes being divine is not disproved by the secondary causes being reduced to four simple proportions. Nor did the ancient not believe that natural things operated of their own nature. Even a tree without a dryad grows.
No, that old canard attempts to make theology sound like abortive physics, when, in fact, not even the pagans of old spoke this way about the gods and their relation to nature. It is both a false statement about the past and the misrepresentation of the argument.
The reason why men stopped honoring God has nothing to do with Maxwell, or Galileo, or Kepler, or Einstein. It has everything to do with Darwin, Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche.
Science has no enmity with Christ. The idolaters who see science as an ersatz god, who worship science but lack the ability to think scientifically, they certainly have enmity with Christ.
In the ancient world, there were other idols, Mammon and Moloch to which the blasphemer weary of goodness and seeking thrills could bow and sacrifice his children.
The nature of man and morality, life and death, law and love has not changed. The scientific facts known about the natural world have no bearing on the question of the existence of God, indeed, if anything they cut the other way: we now can have no doubt but that the handiwork of the universe is a work of awe and wonder.
Again, I have no doubt the clever atheist can explain his unique position in history and the scheme of the world. (Usually this is done by pretending men who were not atheists, like Gibbon or Thomas Paine, were, and claiming a long tradition of freethinkers. In reality, freethinking is merely the protestant rebellion against Protestants. Atheism, odd as this sounds, is merely a heresy, an offshoot of Gnosticism.)
But my point is that this clever explanation will again, I have no doubt, be ad hoc, another epicycle added to the deferent in order to get the theory to match appearances.
The Awkward List
To recapitulate: the atheist theory cannot explain the origin of the universe, the nature of truth, the intelligibility of universe through logic, the origin of the laws of logic, the nature of numbers, laws of nature, or the nature of any abstraction, the nature of morality or law, the significance of beauty or it the origin of song and story, the history of man, the history of Christendom, or the existence of theists, atheists, ghost stories, changed lives, or the abolition of gladiatorial games.
All these things are unanswered or given complex and unconvincing answers having to do with selfish genes acting unselfishly or life having an innate moral meaning even when it does not. Or something.
The Simpler Model
Now, at this point, the atheist is no doubt clamoring to ask me of the things in the Christian worldview the Christians cannot easily explain, things like the answer to the question why does evil exist if God is omnipotent and benevolent?
Well, I will not bother with that now. For the atheist cannot explain why evil exists in any way. I ask him, if there is no God, and no standard of good aside from manmade musing, why is does evil exist in us and not in the apes?
The Christian can give a partial answer: the rebellion of Man against God, both in Adam and in all men who take their form from Adam, severs man from God hence severs man from that natural goodness he knows and craves and yet cannot, while suffering from the moral corruption following that rebellion, of his own power achieve. Why God permitted the matter is still a difficulty, but at least the theory explains how a man can know and will the good, and somehow still do evil.
God is the source of goodness of life, and when men moves away from God, he becomes evil and mortal, and further sins further darken the intellect.
What can the atheist say? If morality is based on self-interest, why do men act against their self-interest to do evil? If morality is based on long term self-interest, why does a man who knows better act for short term pleasure? If, as Ayn Rand would have it, morality is based on the values needed to secure and preserve life, why do men act in obviously self-destructive ways? Why so suicidal?
If morality is based on the habit of obedience to avoid punishment, why do they commit crimes even when they know they will get caught?
The Socratic answer that all evil is merely based on false information or bad education must be met with gales of scornful laughter, if not with pitchforks and torches: for if this arrogant little answer were true, then college professors would be paragons of ethical purity instead of the main disease vector of immorality in the modern world. Obama and Pol Pot were both college professors, highly educated men, and both brought more ruin more swiftly each on his own nation than leaders less learned. So, no, the Socratic answer equated evil to ignorance is contradicted by all human experience.
If morality is based on instinctive behaviors programmed by Darwin over generations, why is the programming so flawed? Animals commit acts of violence, but not sins. They do not commit moral wrongdoings.
The atheist usually answers this challenge by simply denying the reality: there is no such thing as sin and wrongdoing, and men’s beliefs to the contrary are one more illusion our blindly created brain mechanisms continually deceive everyone about (everyone but the atheist, of course).
This leads to another question needing another ad hoc explanation, which is, if there is no such thing as sin and wrongdoing in nature, why does everyone of all races of man throughout all time believe in such things (everyone but the atheist, of course).
So to the atheist eager to leap up and point out unanswered mysteries in the Christian model, all I can say is, remove the epicycle from your own eye first.
Truth is Beauty
My point here is not to argue Christianity is true and atheism false. I will thank any uneducated yahoos in the audience not to direct comment toward those points. I am speaking specifically to the argument by the atheist that says the Christian worldview is not based on reason like any other. I am comparing the number of ad hoc and epicycle-like assumptions needed by the atheist model to save the appearances, compared with the common sense assumptions of the Christian.
Of particular note is every single ad hoc explanation which presupposes that the human brain actively deceives the human using it, or which dismisses large multitudes of men as gullible fools, or which turns heroes into cads, martyrs into lunatic masochists, geniuses into halfwits.
Note again that no modern philosophy, all of which were made in the absence of theology, fails to contradict itself in a blatant way (with the exception of Objectivism). Note also that unlike the theology of Thomas Aquinas, or the philosophy of Aristotle or Plato, the modern philosophies all propose common sense is illusion, and that reality is sharply other than what common sense proposes. Unlike Christianity, the stories told by the modern philosophers are ugly, ungainly and pointless.
Again, this ugliness certainly does not prove one model is wrong and the other is right, but it is one more thing that is rather awkward for the atheist philosopher to explain away.
For the truth in the atheist worldview is bitter and astringent: it is Lovecraftian truth, truths to drive all but the hardiest cowering back in awe at the magnitude of hostile nothingness the endless aeons of nonbeing, the bottomless chaos of uncaused cacophony, which stands behind the fragile appearances of order and beauty in nature.
There should be no philosophers in the Lovecraftian world of the atheists: because truth hurts, demeans, and destroys the meaning of life. They should rightly be called phobosophers.
But why? If we were created by blind natural processes alone, and polished by the harsh culling of natural selection, our race should be a suited and fitted to live life as mortal men on earth as fish as fitted to live in the sea. We could not yearn for immortality or union with the divine any more than fish could yearn for outer space.
If Darwin is right, the members of our race that see ghosts and regret the passing of loved ones and that deceive themselves with fairytale stories of life after death, we should all have been wiped out by remorseless competition by the more rational and more efficient atheist man-apes, who waste no time with tears or tombs or telling tales of ghosts and gods.
Again, the only reasonable atheist explanation as to why evolution failed to make us fit in with the harsh reality of real life is that our brains are wired for self-deception, and, yet again, that leads to the question of why the atheists and them alone are free from the wiring.
And as an ex atheist who converted, I’d like to know why I was free of the wiring for 42 years, and then fell so handily back into it, despite being forewarned and on my guard?
In the Christian worldview, some facts can be harsh, harsh as hell, but truth itself, the eternal truths of the immortal things, such truth is lovely as a bride, bright as a lightning bolt, sublime and awesome, and so the proper response to seeing the light of truth is love.
Our explanation for this is simple and clear: truth, like love itself, comes from God and is God, and he made us to serve and love him, hence to love truth.
And we Christians can explain, in our worldview, why scientific theories can be judged on aesthetic grounds, such as the elegance of the explanation or the parsimony of assumptions, and still be known to be true. Because our minds, and the mind of the Creator who created the universe, fitted them to reflect each other.
The sad thing is that the final thing an atheist is hard pressed to explain is why he uses and abides by the rules of metaphysics and epistemology that Christians invented in order to create the scientific community and the scientific method, when those rules are ultimately based on Christian metaphysics that no modern philosopher can address or explain.
Atheists cannot explain why science can explain anything. We can.
Whose worldview is a more complete, robust, and elegant model? We posit the existence of one entity, God, from whom all other truths flow into all other branches of philosophy and science. How many entities and ad hoc explanations are needed to explain godless philosophy, ontology, logic, ethics, politics, aesthetics, history? I lost track at about a dozen.
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