Some of the more devout atheists carry an air of arrogance toward Christians, especially when they have an opportunity to dismiss faith as irrational and unscientific.
But what if I told you that Christianity plays by the rules of the Scientific Method more honestly than most modern atheists? Would you scoff at the idea, or would you ask me to prove my case?
The ‘there-is-no-God-and-I-hate-him’ variant of atheist would stop listening right there, thinking he knew a thousand reasons that his unbelief is the only rational position.
But if that guy were truly loyal to the scientific method, he would take an interest and welcome the challenge. After all, not even Newton’s theories were ‘settled’, they were merely the best explanation until some guy named Einstein came along.
Real science has rules.
Real science welcomes the open testing of a hypothesis against the evidence. But do these same self-assured atheists who like to lurk in the shadows of the internet and throw insults at strangers for their faith have the *ahem* testicular fortitude to hold their own ideas to the same challenges they throw at the religious belief they despise so much?
Like any tool, there are tasks for which the scientific method works and others for which it does not. By definition, the scientific method measures the natural world, not the metaphysical world. It can’t evaluate poetry, tell the difference between love and infatuation, or predict which political candidate will actually keep their promises under pressure.
What it is good at is testing something that can be measured. Where it really shines is in testing falsifiable propositions. Paternity tests, for example, puts an end to dispute about whether that kid really was fathered by the guy mom says he was fathered by.
Can a claim (or hypothesis) be falsified?
One of the big differences between serious science, and the unserious copycat we so often see posing as science is the principle of falsification. For science to test if a claim is true, it must also be able to test if it is not true.
For example, if the DA says Jimmy robbed this bank last Thursday, but Jimmy was on the operating table having his appendix taken out while the bank was being robbed, that evidence will falsify the allegation. If Jimmy WAS getting his appendix out on Thursday, it MUST be true that Jimmy was NOT robbing the bank at the same time.
Most non-Christians attempting to take up a fight with Christianity are going about it the wrong way. They make silly arguments about Flying Spaghetti Monsters, mock an ‘invisible sky-daddy’, and ask if God can make a stone so big that he cannot lift it when Christianity itself has dropped the gauntlet and dared unbelievers to prove the central claim of faith as false.
Secularists and socialists, may be surprised to find the Bible itself is more honest about what it takes to discredit faith in Christ than they are about what it would take to discredit their respective belief systems.
Let’s focus on the challenge Christianity throws down before we look at the surprisingly unscientific nature of its rivals.
Here’s the hard truth: in terms of falsifiability, Christianity rests on one central idea without which, faith cannot exist.
…And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. –I Cor 15
If it can be proven that Christ is not raised, then the Christian faith is, by definition, false. But it turns out that’s a lot more difficult than an atheist might think. Even critics of the faith can’t come together on how to discredit the resurrection account. In trying to make the case for their version of events, each one pokes holes in the other skeptics’ explanations.
Here’s what we can all agree on.
Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person. He was crucified. His followers claimed he had been raised from the dead, and local authorities were unable to discredit those claims. Complicating this further is the fact that all of his followers faced persecution and death and STILL maintained that this claim was true.
If they had somehow conspired to fake a resurrection what would they stand to gain by giving their lives to defend an elaborate lie?
The irony about that fact is that, time and again, people have begun a journey to disprove biblical claims of Christ’s deity only to end up convinced that the critics (themselves included) were wrong.
One example is an American investigative journalist, an atheist, who was upset that his wife had professed faith in Christ, so he set out to show her that her faith made no sense. That journey not only led him to saving faith but to write a book about it called ‘The Case For Christ’.
Are the skeptics really as ‘rational’ and ‘scientific’ as they claim?
Some of the more strident opponents of faith are, unsurprisingly, our modern secularists and anyone flirting with some kind of socialism.
The socialists are just funny on this count. Have you noticed how they keep enthusiastically embracing up-and-coming socialists, only to change their tune after they crash and burn claiming that that guy’s version wasn’t the real socialism? Bernie’s embrace of a rephrased Bolshevik agenda and admiration of Venezuela as recently as 2011 didn’t age well. He 404’d the Senator web page on which he wrote that embarrassing essay. But don’t worry, internet is forever, and the Wayback Machine still remembers.
Do the ‘New Athiests’ who love to troll in the spirit of Dawkins or Hitchens fare any better at defending a rational basis for their beliefs than the devout socialists?
You could start by asking them what it would take to convince them that their atheism is a fraud. Most of them haven’t even entertained the idea that their assumptions COULD be challenged, let alone that the rules of scientific inquiry would expect that some kind of a fact, if proven true, would entirely discredit that worldview.
If the Dawkins-ites saw someone with that same level of emotional attachment to religious belief, they’d call it out as an example of irrational dogmatism. Why doesn’t that same adjective apply to their emotionally-charged unbelief?
Here’s an example closer to home for them. There are a couple of angry atheists who stop by from time to time to rage against Christian belief. They seem to think their demands for evidence of direct proofs of God are clever.
They allege that anything that cannot be provenmust not be believed.
But the rules they want Christians to live by are rules they can’t even live by themselves… for a few reasons.
First, why should we think that test is any good? What empirical evidence do our angry atheists have to suggest that belief in a thing requires direct evidence? What scientific experiment showed them that there was no other valid way of forming a belief?
If he can’t even point to objective evidence that his own demand for evidence as a test of truth claims is valid, on what rational basis should anyone else accept his arbitrary test as valid?
But let’s play along and pretend this is a valid test. Does the skeptic actually live in a world where you only believe what can be tested and proven? Of course not. And unlike his claims, this one is pretty easily proven.
Think about your life — the places you go and the people you meet — are they real? Unless you are a solipsist or institutionalized, the obvious answer will be ‘yes, they are real’.
So far, so good.
Of course they’re real. But here’s the tricky question — can you PROVE it? Don’t answer too quickly. You might think you can, but that very question has been a puzzle that scientists and philosophers have wrestled with for years.
If humanity cannot even objectively prove the existence of the world we interact with every day, how can people be so quick to claim they have conclusive proof against the existence of a God who — by definition — has neither energy nor mass for scientific instruments to detect?
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