• David Schrader, PhD

Why I Am Not An Atheist Part 1


Some would ask, how is it possible to even believe in a God with so much evil and wickedness in our world? But the problem with this question is – if there is no God, then there is no such thing as evil or wickedness. For example, the acts of rape and murder are immoral acts only if they are based on an objective moral standard and that moral standard dictates to all of us what is moral and what isn't.


We don't have to believe in God, to do good deeds. However, the question is not whether we are capable of doing good deeds without believing in God, but whether we are even able to define what is evil or good without God. Do good and evil even exist, if God doesn't exist? Or are these just secular social constructs?


If there is no God, how do we determine what is moral or immoral? Who or what guides us in our decisions as human beings? If we are just purposeless products of biological evolution, then all morality is subjective; and that is not only chaotic, but downright frightening. If God does not exist, then the labels "good" and "evil" are merely opinions.


Also, if God doesn't exist, then who gets to impose their will on everyone else? Who gets to decide what moral laws all of us should follow? Why should one's view of morality have preference over another's? We all need an objective moral standard to appeal to. In times past, that standard was God and his moral imperatives as found in the Bible. I say, "in times past", because today fewer people want to follow God's moral guidance.


As an atheist, the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had much to say about the connection between atheism and morality. Nietzsche thought the world would seek to abandon a belief in God but hold on to Christian values. And he rightly predicted that if societies reject God, Christian morality itself will eventually disappear. The reason is that people will not be motivated to live moral lives and follow a Holy God but would instead naturally follow their own selfish instincts and desires.[1]


It's no surprise that Nietzsche's postulation – the rejection of God would lead to moral decay – has proven true. The evidence of moral decay and lawlessness is all around us.


In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times, the famous atheist philosopher Will Durant also declared his belief that common people's lives will fall apart morally if they believe God does not exist. What is interesting is what Durant says about his own life. He said that he was able to survive morally because he retained the Christian moral code he received from his youth. He acknowledged that he had discarded his faith but still retained the morals he had learned growing up. Then he made this thoughtful observation:


You and I are living on a shadow … because we are operating on the Christian ethical code, which was given us, infused with the Christian faith … But what will happen to our children? We are not giving them an ethic warmed up with a religious faith. They are living on the shadow of a shadow.[2]

Durant made these observations over forty years ago. Today, our society is no longer living on a shadow of a shadow – for nihilism has obscured even the faintest of shadows.


What are we to do? Where should we turn for moral clarity? We dare not look to our governments to solve our dilemma. They never seem to show any interest in morality except to ingratiate themselves to others who want less morality.


Like so many politicians today, Guenter Lewy was determined to show his conservative colleagues why America did not need religion as a foundation to morality and social stability. Lewy had been a faculty member at Columbia University and is currently Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts. In the early 1990's he set out to write a book and intended in his own words "to make a defense of secular humanism and ethical relativism." He wanted to prove them "damned wrong."


After extensive research, the sheer weight of the evidence caused Lewy to change his mind. Instead, he ended up writing a book titled, Why America Needs Religion, arguing that religion, particularly Christianity, leads to lower rates of almost every social pathology – including crime, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and family breakdowns. Lewy concluded: "Contrary to the expectation of the Enlightenment, freeing individuals from the shackles of traditional religion does not result in their moral uplift. To the contrary, the evidence now shows clearly that no society has yet been successful in teaching morality without religion."[3]


The impact of Christian morality is remarkable. To deny this is to reject the practical influence of Christian morality upon our society. For example, Dennis Prager was participating in a debate with the atheist philosopher Jonathan Glover from Oxford. Apparently, Glover was speaking of all the horrors of religion over the years and then Prager asked a most provocative question:


''If you, Professor Glover, were stranded at the midnight hour in a desolate Los Angeles street, and as you stepped out of your car with fear and trembling, you were suddenly to hear the weight of pounding footsteps behind you, and you saw ten burly young men who had just stepped out of a dwelling coming toward you, would it or would it not make a difference to you to know that they were coming from a Bible study?"

Glover conceded that it would make a difference."[4] But why would it make a difference? Because if a person has a Christian worldview and believes that a person has great value as one who is created in image of God, then that person would treat others with dignity and respect. However, if a person sees life from a godless perspective and sees humans as nothing more than a chance product of nature, then why not take advantage of them, mug them, and steal their wallet? What would restrain someone if their version of "morality" said it was, okay?


Christian virtue and morality do make a difference in a person's life and a community when its citizens subscribe to a Christian worldview.


Roy Hattersley is a columnist for the U.K. Guardian, and he is an outspoken atheist. Hattersley watched the Salvation Army lead several other faith-based organizations in the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina. He said: "Notable by their absence were teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers' clubs, and atheists' associations — the sort of people who not only scoff at religion's intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil." According to Hattersley, it is an unavoidable conclusion that Christians "are the people most likely to take the risks and make the sacrifices involved in helping others." "The only possible conclusion," said Hattersley, "is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make Christians morally superior to atheists like me."[5]


Even the historical evidence proves the influence that godly teaching and morals has had on our civilization and justice system.


For example, German philosopher Jurgen Habermas once said, "Democracy requires of its citizens qualities that it cannot provide." He recognized that free societies depend on their citizens to act morally and responsibly. Habermas is an agnostic, but he stunned his colleagues when he said that Western civilization and its legacy of justice and human rights was the direct heir of the Judeo – Christian values and ethics. He said, "We continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.[6]


In other words, the only way we can understand the conclusions of men like Lewy, Durant, and Habernas, is to recognize that when people embrace and follow the objective standard of God's moral law, they are happier and healthier.


The highly respected criminologist, Byron Johnson, in his book, More God, Less Crime: Why Faith Matters and How It Could Matter More, says:


"Religion is a powerful antidote to crime. It clearly impacts rates of drug use, violence, and gang activity in the inner city. This is why Eugene Rivers, a pastor in Brooklyn says, "If you want to help underprivileged youth, we have two options: It's either barbed wire and more black juvenile super predators, or a civil society and stronger black churches. It's that simple."[7]

God didn't give us his moral principles and guidelines to cramp everyone's style or to rain on their party, He gave them to us for our own benefit and security. He knew the suffering we all would face if we disregarded his moral absolutes. He knew that families would be destroyed because of adultery, perversion and divorce. He knew families would be devastated at the loss of a family member that was senselessly murdered. He knew children would be irreparably harmed and exploited by sexual predators and the pornography industry. Societies without moral restraint are not safe and healthy societies.


If you have been reading this and you are an atheist, I urge you to consider the moral argument for God's existence. Even the atheist Richard Dawkins acknowledged, "It is pretty hard to get objective morality without religion." Since Dawkins however did not believe in God, it is only natural that he did not believe in objective morality. It could not exist.[8] That's an incredibly sad conclusion to come to for an otherwise intelligent man.


For me, believing in God and following his moral guidelines just makes sense. It makes for a happier society. And that's one of the reasons why I am not an atheist.


[1] Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, An Invitation to the Skeptical, (New York City: Penguin Group 2016) , 47 [2] "Chicago Sun Times," August 24, 1975, Section 1B, p.8. [3] Nancy Pearcy, Total Truth, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 60-61. [4] Debate at Oxford University, March 3, 1993, included in the publication, "Ultimate Issues Vol. 9 No. 1." [5] Roy Hattersley, Faith does breed charity, The Guardian, (Religion) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/sep/12/religion.uk, September, 12, 2005. [6] Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace, Bringing Good News to a Deeply Divided World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 159-160. [7] Yancey, Vanishing Grace, 164. [8] Frank Turek, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case, (Colorado Springs, Nav Press, 2014), 101.

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