I’ve covered this before in this post – in which apologists mistakenly confuse belief in evolution with unbelief in God – but comments in Hugh Ross’ The Creator and the Cosmos have inspired me to think about the issue again.
Ross for example, seems somewhat perplexed that there are still scientists and astronomers who do not accept the idea that the universe was created by the God of the Bible. Ross provides three reasons for their unbelief:
- Some individuals do not want to give up their sexual immorality by submitting themselves to the creator of the universe (pg 163).
- There is stubborn rebellion and arrogance lurking under the cover of intellectual objections (pg 163). Some scientists attack the idea of a creator because “the Bible seems an affront to their intellectual prowess”. (pg 93)
- Many who reject the creator hypothesis were once ex-Christians. They are simply reacting to their past, “holding bitterness over the wrongs and abuses they incurred in their experience with Christians.” (pg 103).
I received a recent email from a reader of this blog who shared similar sentiments:
When it all comes down to it, I believe that many of these persons [atheists] are hurting and confused individuals as well as people who find trying to live according to the standards of a Holy God just too much to bear!
Is there any room for intellectual reasons for unbelief? Alister McGrath, in his book The Twilight of Atheism, doesn’t seem to think so. He argues that nobody can conclusively determine, on intellectual grounds, the existence (or non-existence) of God. On page 179:
It is increasingly recognized that philosophical argument about the existence of God has ground to a halt. The matter lies beyond rational proof, and is ultimately a matter of faith . . .[this forces] us to reach two conclusions: either no decision can be reached . . . or a decision is reached on other grounds. As Blaise Pascal (1623-62) pointed out, “reasons of the heart” play a far greater role in shaping our attitudes to God than we realise.
To summarise the above: apologists argue that atheists have chosen to disbelieve because: (1) we have been hurt by the church, (2) we want to be free from sexual, and other moral, restraints; and (3) we are rebellious and arrogant.
What do you think? Do you think atheists reject theism on intellectual or emotional grounds? Maybe it’s a bit of both? And if there are valid intellectual reasons to reject theism, why do apologists insist that “reasons of the heart” are solely to blame?