If I Were an Atheist…

by Max Andrews

When it comes to philosophy there are three things I ponder deeply about every day.  I’m not exaggerating when I say these things.  I think about God every hour I’m awake.  He plagues my thought and attention.  I often think about my relation to him, how he is who he is, his providence, his action in the world, etc.  It is so foreign to me when Christians say that they don’t think about God from day-to-day.  The second idea that occupies my thought is death.  I don’t think I’m morbid about this; I think I’m just being honest with myself.  I wonder what it’s like to die, that moment in between life and death. Is it painful? Is it joyful and painless?  What is it like to see the Lord for the first time?  The third thought I think about isn’t as often as the formers but is nonetheless occurent.  It’s the question: “What would it take for me to be an atheist?”

I certainly believe Christianity is falsifiable, that is, to be proven false.  I think there is biblical warrant for this.  Consider 1 Corinthians 15.17 when Paul says that if Christ had not risen from the dead then our faith is in vain.  To show Christianity is false one must demonstrate that the resurrection of Jesus did not happen.  I was speaking with my professor over lunch a month or so back and we struck up a conversation on what it would take for us to be atheists.  Proving the resurrection false doesn’t disprove God, it just disproves Christianity.  The cosmological, fine-tuning, ontological, and moral arguments still work.  I’m convinced of these arguments that God exists; however, I cannot abandon them intellectually.  I believe these arguments are sound.  If I were to become an atheist it wouldn’t be for intellectual reasons, it would be for emotional and existential reasons. What’s interesting is that I’m a Christian for existential reasons. My existentialism is what drove me to Christianity.  I recognized my life was utterly meaningless, valueless, and purposeless without God.  This is what got me interested in my forté–the fine-tuning argument.  The fine-tuning argument is a type of teleological argument and the implications are existential.

I would become an atheist solely on the basis of rebellion and disdain for God.  It would be the problem of evil that would drive me away.  I guess I wouldn’t really become an atheist per se but rather someone who doesn’t like God. I guess it just depends on what I believe if that were to ever happen.  I would need to construct a noble lie, a la L. D. Rue, to live off of. I would need construct my own teleology to keep me from committing suicide.  I would follow Camus and Nietzsche’s existentialism.

That’s what would happen if I were an atheist.


17 Responses to “If I Were an Atheist…”

  1. Interesting thoughts. The fact that I have a soul, and know it, makes me know that there is a God. I know that God knows my thoughts (my inner being), and that I am accountable to Him. My thoughts and actions are accountable to Him.

    When someone says there is no God, they have to absolutely reject that they have a soul. They are, in their minds, empty shells, mounds of flesh, and no more. They have to think this way in order to discount the existence of God. No soul, no God.

    But, I know that there is a God who loves my soul deeply through His Son, Jesus Christ.
    Thanks for sharing. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

  2. yes rebelling against god rather than denying his existence, would be effectively satanism. for me, my religious construct maintains that the laws are above God, and thus, if God was evil, to me, i would simply continue obeying the moral laws, while not worshipping god except for him being my creator. other than that, i would want nothing to do with an evil god.

    one thing is for sure, suicide is a no-option for me. no matter, i will always have something to justify on a logical basis continuing to live a religious life even if my religion cannot be definitely “proven” to be true.

  3. Dude, this is exactly how I feel.

  4. Here are some thoughts from an actual atheist…if you want them.

    “Proving the resurrection false doesn’t disprove God, it just disproves Christianity.”

    My concern with any supernatural claim, bodily resurrection being one of them, is whether or not there is good evidence for them having happened. I feel no need to ‘disprove’ something extraordinary that, as far as I can tell, has only written documentation from years later as evidence. I don’t feel the need to disprove the resurrection any more than I feel the need to disprove the divinity of Gaius Julius Caesar, for example.

    “I’m convinced of these arguments that God exists; however, I cannot abandon them intellectually. I believe these arguments are sound.”

    And atheists don’t agree with you. We can discuss each one individually, but only if you desire.

    I just want to be clear that atheists disagree with you. It’s not that we think those arguments are sound and STILL become atheists. It’s that we don’t think those arguments are good ones.

    “If I were to become an atheist it wouldn’t be for intellectual reasons, it would be for emotional and existential reasons.”

    It is my opinion that, when dealing with matters of ‘truth’ and ‘fact’, believing anything for emotional or existential reasons is the worst way you can go about it. If you care about believing the truth, anyway.

    • Well, I’m sure there are many atheists that disregard these arguments as being sound but that wasn’t my point. That’s how it would be for me. As for the comments on the resurrection. The resurrection in relation to Christianity is logically posterior to the existence of God. That’s why you don’t feel the need to discuss it because you exclude the prior commitment to the existence of God.

  5. “If I were to become an atheist it wouldn’t be for intellectual reasons, it would be for emotional and existential reasons. What’s interesting is that I’m a Christian for existential reasons.”

    Max, it’s interesting that you did not say that you are Christian for emotional reasons. You only mentioned the existential. I believe that any belief is rooted in and influenced by the emotional state of a human being. That is to say that our decisions to believe rely heavily upon one’s psychological comfortability. And then rational/intellectual arguments follow closely behind, in my opinion. Just thought I would point that out and ask if you left the emotional qualifier out purposefully? It could be an interesting convo.

    Also, in reference to your final few statements- Do you realize that Christianity could very well be a sort of “noble lie” you have already been convinced of, in order to escape the potential reality that “life is utterly meaningless, valueless, and purposeless without God?”

    Good post!
    -Vince

    • Well, I won’t wholly exclude emotional aspects to it but they weren’t the initiating thing for my conversion. Intellectual reasons followed and emotion didn’t kick in until later. Though there may have been undergirding emotions throughout the process. The intellectual aspect of my faith is my bedrock even though existential reasons were the main catalyst for conversion. I would need a noble lie to live contrary to my intellectual reasoning, that’s not the case here.

  6. This is incredibly well-written and compelling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  7. I’ve often thought in the past that if Christianity was somehow shown to be false then I’d have to become a Jew. Theism wouldn’t be false, and I’d still have no good reason to reject the consistency of the biblical God of the Law and the Prophets (which the NT claims to fulfill and preserve). And at the end of the day, Jesus and the disciples would be great Jewish teachers, even if they were ultimately heretical for making false Messianic claims.

    Yet for now, praise the Messiah Lord Jesus! :D

  8. Max, this post has given me a lot of food for thought! Believing that God (or Christianity) is real for existential reasons vs. intellectual reasons is an interesting way of exploring this further. In my experience with spirituality, I think my decision to seek God in more non traditional ways, and allow myself to reflect more on what this life is all about outside the limited Christian view has to do with my existential view of life, not intellectual. Intellectually, I still believe that the existence of God is possible, because of causality (something outside of the category of things created must have started all of created things). Existentially, the reason for living must involve something greater than me, I believe. I will ponder more on this and may return with another comment. Great post!

  9. I feel the same way philosophically. I believe in a God because I know in the bottom of my soul that I’m here for a purpose. I believe in the Hebrew/Christian God because I believe that for a God to create us and the world that God would need certain qualities, which that God miraculously fills perfectly. I believe Jesus died for my sins because I face every day that I am not good enough to fulfill a purpose created by such a vast God. However, what strikes me is that I don’t live like this is what I believe. I live like I am a wanderer on the earth, like I can make my life my own. I live like an atheist most of the time because of my evilness. Perhaps atheists do not believe they have a greater purpose but live like they do Becquerel of humanity’s other side, our goodness.

  10. :scratch: Ok. Why wouldn’t intellectual reasons convince you against some deity’s likely existence?

    Next, how does the listed arguments lead to a conclusion that your deity YHWH exists? There is a massive disconnect between those aguements and a particular deity.

    Likewise, if your beliefs were to be shown to be wrong why would you leap headlong into another set? Wouldn’t you try examine the flaw that lead you to the first set leaving you skeptical of new claims? A weak agnostic atheist if you will.

    I feel as if the title was a adjunct to the rest of the article; nothing to do with atheistic musings but an affirmation of your own ‘unmovable’ faith.

  11. I really like this. Would you mind if I referenced it in one of my future blog posts? The post is already written, but I don’t plan to publish it for another week or so. In the meantime I’d be happy to send it to you for approval.

    Thanks,

    Matt

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