The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

The Soulless Atheist

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The Thing’s shifty scientist, Carrington, helps to keep the ‘super-carrot’ alive, hiding it from the military men who want to destroy it; according to him, ‘There are no enemies in science… only phenomena to study’, and he is awed by the creature’s evolutionary perfection: ‘No pain or pleasure as we know it. No emotions. No heart. Our superior. . . in every way’, although the compliment isn’t returned.”[1]

An atheist creates a closed system of his own making. Only those things within his worldview are real. Of course, he defines the nature of reality. Those things that do not fit his rationalistic worldview do not exist. As a result, the consistent rationalist will reject the reality of God, the soul, special revelation, miracles, providence, immortality, sin, and the need of salvation. For the atheistic rationalist, “‘Good’ and ‘bad’ as ideas are rooted in bodily tissue as realities.”[2] Only those things that can be seen, handled, and analyzed are real and verifiable. “Good” and “bad,” whether conduct or opinion, are subjective terms that are defined for the moment.

In rejecting God, the atheist still has to face evil in the world and explain where it came from. Can he? I doubt it. But the atheist also has to explain where good comes from. If there is no God, it’s hard to make any sense out of either of those concepts. If there is no God, then there is nothing that is evil or good. You have to have a standard of good and evil that stands outside of us to define what evil and good actually are.[3]

New-atheist advocate Sam Harris believes that one day science will tell us what’s good, what makes us happy, why we love, why it feels good to smile. “These are ultimately questions for a mature science of the mind. If we ever develop such a science,” Harris writes, “most of our religious texts will be no more useful to mystics than they now are to astronomers.”[4] The definition of what’s good and bad can (and often does) change tomorrow in the random worldview of the rationalist since he defines the parameters of his own worldview. If he wants to include a new behavior and declare it to be moral, he only has to redraw the lines of his worldview. When a group of high level Nazi officers met to confer on how to rid Germany and Europe of the “Jewish Problem,” the issue of how to identify a Jew arose. It was a matter of biology. Science was the determining factor on identifying Jews and how to exterminate them.[5] Their arguments were very reasonable given Hitler’s operating presupposition “that ‘Juda’ was ‘the plague of the world’ and that Germany’s future health depended on eradicating it.”[6]

The biblical understanding of reason and the use of the mind in pursuing rational lines of arguments is quite different from that of the rationalist. “The Christian is not hostile to reason as reason, but to Reason as god. The Christian does not believe in reason [as an ultimate authority]; he believes in God and he uses reason under God.”[7] We were created to use our minds. “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding” (Prov. 32:9a). The Christian who does not think in terms of God’s Word is described as “senseless and ignorant,” like the “beast” (Ps. 73:22). They act “like unreasoning animals” (2 Pet. 2:12). Reasoning is required of the Christian and non-Christian, but on God’s terms. In this way, “reason can be thought of as a tool — man’s intellectual or mental capacity. Taken in this sense, reason is a gift of God to man, indeed part of the divine image. When God bids His people ‘Come let us reason together’ (Isa. 1:18), we see that, like God, we are capable of rational thought and communication. God has given us our mental abilities to serve and glorify Him. It is part of the greatest commandment of the law that we should”[8] love God with our mind (Matt. 22:37). In general, the church agreed. Take, for example, Tertullian (c. 155–230): “Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason—nothing which He has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.”[9]



The Bible tells us that the world is a rational place in which to live. The world runs by fixed and predictable laws. This is why it can be studied, investigated, and analyzed with the assurance that what’s true today will be true tomorrow. Is it any wonder that science, music, and the arts, to name just three areas of study, had their greatest advances in the Christian West where an environment for inquiry and experimentation was cultivated?[10] Loren Eiseley writes in Darwin’s Century that “it is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself. . . . [T]he sheer act of faith that the universe possessed order and could be interpre ted by rational minds . . . . It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.”[11]

Endnotes:

[1] James Marriott, Horror Films (London: Virgin Books, 2004), 32.
[2] Lionel Tiger, The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), 17.
[3] Greg Koukl, “You’ve Got to Believe Something,” The Plain Truth (January/February 1999), 39.
[4] Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2004), 20.
[5] From the notes taken at a meeting of German officials on January 20, 1942 at a villa on the shore of Berlin’s Lake Wannsee. See the minutes of the meeting, known as “The Wannsee Protocol,” in Mark Roseman, The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2002), Appendix.
[6] Roseman, The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution, 10.
[7] Rousas John Rushdoony, The Word of Flux: Modern Man and the Problem of Knowledge (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1975), 36.
[8] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Publications, 1996), 113.
[9] Tertullian, On Repentance, chap. 1. Quoted in Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (New York: Random House, 2005), 7.
[10] “From the beginning of the thirteenth century onward we see a persistent effort to integrate Aristotelian natural philosophy with Christian theology, a goal that was not achieved without soul-searching and struggle. In the end, Christianity took its basic categories of thought and much of its metaphysics and cosmology from Aristotle. . .” (David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers, “Introduction,” God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science [Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1986], 10). For example, Copernicus’s sun-centered hypothesis was a rejection of Aristotelian physics.
[11] Loren Eiseley, Darwin’s Century (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1958), 62. Emphasis in original. See Stark, The Virtue of Reason.

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