Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Denial of God Fallacy

When Christians are confronted by disbelief, a common counter argument many deploy against atheism is that atheists are in denial about God, or rebelling against him because of psychological reasons. They might know absolutely nothing about the atheist in question, but have little hesitation in pretending to understand how his/her mind works. You can find the latest example of this sort of knee-jerk anti-atheist reaction at Christianity Today.  

So-called philosopher, James S Spiegel thinks he has atheists all figured out. He even wrote a book about it. I question his label of philosopher because his thinking is amazingly shallow, and simply repeats one of the most common anti-atheist attacks used by even minimally educated Christians. He's also apparently arguing based on a series of mistaken assumptions. I wonder if he has ever had any sort of friendly discussion with an atheist, or actually asked any questions to find out why an atheist holds certain views. 

While atheists insist that their foundational reason for rejecting God is the problem of evil or the scientific irrelevance of the supernatural, the Christian philosopher says the argument is "only a ruse" or "a conceptual smoke screen to mask the real issue – personal rebellion"
Atheists do not necessarily have one or two reasons for disbelief. Some have many reasons. And he doesn't even acknowledge the biggest one -- the lack of evidence for the existence of God. It gets worse.
"Atheism is not the result of objective assessment of evidence, but of stubborn disobedience; it does not arise from the careful application of reason but from willful rebellion. Atheism is the suppression of truth by wickedness, the cognitive consequence of immorality.
These are typical assertions without evidence, based on particular assumptions that aren't shared by the people he is attempting to psychoanalyze. Why would a supposed philosopher advance such a ludicrous explanation for atheism? Because like many believers, God is just so obvious to him, that he simply can't understand how anyone could fail to believe. It must be caused by wickedness, rebellion, sin, and disobedience.
God has made His existence plain from creation – from the unimaginable vastness of the universe to the complex micro-universe of individual cells, Spiegel notes. Human consciousness, moral truths, miraculous occurrences and fulfilled biblical prophecies are also evidence of the reality of God.
None of those things makes God's existence "plain." A believer with philosophical credentials should at least be able to understand that many people see things differently, and see a lack of evidence where he sees a mountain. But Spiegel isn't capable of that level of thought.
Spiegel says the atheist's problem is rebellion against the plain truth of God, as clearly revealed in nature.
Again, atheists do not think God is revealed in nature, let alone clearly. We aren't "rebelling" against anything. We simply don't believe in your deity. What you see as overwhelming evidence for God, we see as superstition, an unconvincing & unnecessary attempt to find supernatural reasons behind natural phenomena.

The funniest part of the article is when Spiegel attempts to explain why those evil atheists just don't get it.

"There is a phenomenon that I call 'paradigm-induced blindness,' where a person's false worldview prevents them from seeing truths which would otherwise be obvious. Additionally, a person's sinful indulgences have a way of deadening their natural awareness of God
Here's a guy who lives in a bubble, who views everything through the narrow prism of his religious beliefs. He's incapable of even understanding that people evaluate evidence by different standards, or that others can honestly disagree without having some sort of evil motivation. He's a prime example of "paradigm-induced blindness." Everyone who holds a different view of what he considers "truth" does so because they are sinful and in denial about God. No doubt his book will be a big seller with Christians who want to reinforce their own misconceptions about atheists.


  1. Yes, there are plenty of leftists who view conservatives in the same way that type of Christian views atheists.