Peter Boghossian has added another contribution to the ongoing conversation about belief in a scientific age in his “A Manual For Creating Atheists.” Unfortunately for atheists it lacks any substantial new material and appears to be a rehash of the old secular humanism. It is simply more of the same reasoning already skillfully addressed by numerous Christian apologists including Craig, Montgomery, and Dembski. For Christians however, Boghossian’s newest work presents another opportunity to engage atheists in a discussion of their “faith,” and in the process make the case for belief in God as defined by historical, orthodox Christianity.
In 2009 I attended the fourth annual meeting of the International Society of Christian Apologetics held in Deerfield, Illinois on the beautiful campus of Trinity International University and Divinity School. The theme of the conference that year was “The New Atheism.” Boghossian’s Manual encouraged me to delve into my files to reread some of my research collected and utilized in my presentation, “The New Atheism: Another Skirmish With a Twist.”
What I conceive the “twist” to be in the atheist argument is their continued attempt to clandestinely import moralistic arguments disguised as other things in order to shore up their position. Evolution cannot be both cold, hard, chance over billions of years and altruistically compassionate at the same time. One strength of the theistic position is that it provides the only satisfying rationale for morals.
There are other reasons for theism as the best of all possible answers to life and the universe. Whether the theist starts with a teleological argument (from design to designer), the cosmological argument (all things that exist have a cause for their existence), or the ontological argument (from conceivability to existence), unbelievers of every stripe are at a decided disadvantage when it comes time to “lay their cards on the table.”
As just one example let us examine the claim by the atheist that the universe is a non-contingent entity. Atheists argue for a universe that exists perhaps by its own necessity. They do so however, not on the basis of scientific evidence, for the available evidence demonstrates the theistic position, namely that the universe had a beginning, but on the basis of “I don’t like the implications of the evidence toward intelligent design so I’ll choose the irrational position” argument. I admit that was transparent sarcasm but it is sarcasm with a point – this is what they admit in moments of honesty. Take for example this admission by Richard Lewontin:
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment – a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot int he door.
The theist has good reason to reject the prevailing scientific position of materialism. Take for instance the very concise cosmological argument for the existence of God. The construction of the cosmological argument for the existence of God is generally stated as such:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
It is a very powerful argument for a number of reasons. Primarily it forces atheists to attempt to maintain their argument for the non-existence of God by suggesting that since God does not exist then there is no reason to believe that everything has a cause or explanation for its existence. But this approach is a double-edged sword of sorts because when atheists argue from this position they are also affirming the parallel and opposite claim that if there is an explanation for the existence of the universe then atheism is false. Further, the only logical explanation for the existence of anything ends up being God as the arguments for causality and sufficient reason so aptly demonstrate.
I’ll post more on this subject soon. Be sure and check out Tom Gilson’s site devoted entirely to answering atheism – http://www.creatingatheists.com/ – where I will be posting as well.
 Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.