Below I have presented eight questions that I do not believe that atheists will be able to plausibly answer.
1. What explains our objective morality?
If we have no God, then we have no objective and transcendent moral values and duties. Yet we do have objective moral standards and duties to do what’s right. Therefore, God exists.
Despite the culture or era, sane humans have the innate sense of what’s right and what’s wrong and we prefer to do what’s right to help our fellow humans. No matter the major religion, we all are aware of the Golden Rule. We prefer the humble over the braggarts, the selfless over the selfish, and the truthful over the liars.
Evolutionary biologists have made observations to posit that cooperative societies were better poised for survival and over thousands of years in the distant past, groups fared better than individuals. Biology helps to explain in-group favoritism, but it fails to explain out-group helping behaviors. Biology helps to explain cooperation between people, but it fails to demonstrate the superiority of cooperation (and often selfless behaviors) over competition (and often selfish behaviors). Both cooperation and competition enhance our survival chances.
Biochemist Sy Garte notes the errors in trying to explain human morality with evolution, which he states is only about the diversity of life on earth. But that doesn’t stop biologists from making “just so” inductive propositions about the origins of our empathy. I have not seen propositions on the survival value of other desirable human traits, such as humility, gratitude and forgiveness. These would seem to diminish our survival possibilities. Finally, biology can only explain our morality in a descriptive sense, “what is.” Biology cannot explain our moral prescriptions of what “should be.”
Cross-cultural sociologists and psychologists and leadership scholars like Hofstede, Trompenaars, House, and Schwartz have found that societies vary in ways inconsistent with our innate morality. For example, not all societies are considered “cooperative or collective.” Collective societies are in Asia, Northern Europe, the Arab region, Africa, and South America. Highly individualist societies are in Western Europe, the United States and Canada. Many societies are hedonistic, hierarchical, and have preferences against gender egalitarianism. So, what we know that we ought to do is often inconsistent with what we are actually doing. How do we know what we ought to do? We know because it’s hard-wired in our conscience.
Furthermore, even in ancient historical times, we have examples of highly individualistic and highly successful societies, such as those in ancient Greece and Rome. Cooperative societies over the past couple of thousand years are not necessarily positioned better for survival, because it has been shown that individualism is more beneficial in some ways. For example, a multitude of global studies have correlated gross domestic product with individualism (Hofstede, 2001). Individualism also corresponds with capitalism, innovation, competition and entrepreneurship. So, why do even individualists know that we ought to help the weak, feed the poor, and be thankful, grateful, honest, humble, just, cooperative, empathetic, forgiving and loving? Why is it that all societies, regardless of their practices, know what we ought to do? Where did we get this moral compass?
In a consistent atheistic worldview, everything is relative and cultures can decide for themselves on what we should and shouldn’t do. In this worldview, we have no objective metric in judging the Nazi atrocities.
Atheists who are inconsistent about their views may admit that we have objective morality, which they try to ground in consequentialism. Yet this is based on flawed, circular reasoning. The source of our objective morality cannot also be the consequence, or outcome of our objective morality.
2. If an atheist’s position is that the universe is the product of chance and necessity (instead of the product of intelligence), how can he or she explain the fact that the universe is structured rationally, logically and with mathematical precision and predictability?
Pope Benedict XVI: “If nature is really structured with a mathematical language and mathematics invented by man can manage to understand it, this demonstrates something extraordinary. The objective structure of the universe and the intellectual structure of the human being coincide.” Further information can be found here:
3. If atheists adhere to the belief that the purpose of human life is merely to procreate and survive, is it possible to determine that human life has any more value than animal life – since animals share the same basic purpose?
Larry Moran said “According to what we know about the natural world, humans are not special in any way and life does not have a purpose.” Richard Dawkins said “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”
Yet we all seek meaning and purpose and to make a difference in this world. In an atheistic worldview, this is completely irrational as we’re just lucky beneficiaries with a temporary existence on some random planet that is doomed for destruction one day. The reason we desire meaning and purpose is because our Maker has hard-wired us to do so.
4. Why have so many atheists determined that the life of a fetus in a mother’s womb is less valuable than the life of his or her mother? Age discrimination? When is a human considered a human to them?
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5
5. How can atheists explain the ordering of our DNA?
If a reasonable person saw “I love you” written in the sand at the beach, he would assume that someone wrote the words intentionally. Similarly, our human genome has been mapped out and we know that our DNA consists of 3.5 billion perfectly ordered letters.
You may argue that we are highly complex and evolved, yet even the DNA of the simplest of organisms, the amoeba, contains thousands of volumes of information. The latter is noted by Richard Dawkins, a prominent atheist and zoologist.
6. How can atheists explain the force that powered the Big Bang of the universe?
For most of human history, many people believed the universe was eternal and unchanging and life was an infinite regress. In other words, life begets life, which begets life, and so on. Many in some Eastern religions still believe the universe is in an eternal cycle of growth and regeneration.
Yet in the 1920s, Edwin Hubble cast doubt on such theories. Hubble observed that galaxies outside of the Milky Way existed and their light appeared to be stretched, which is a sign they were rushing away from the earth. A Catholic Belgian physicist studied Hubble’s observations and interpreted findings as evidence of an expanding universe, which was a possibility within Albert Einstein’s field equations of general relativity. According to what was dubbed the “Big Bang” theory, the universe inflated, expanded and cooled, starting from a very small, very hot singularity that emerged into what we know of the universe today.
The Big Bang suggests a start date for time, space and matter of around 14 billion years ago, so whatever existed prior to the Big Bang and caused its sudden inflation must necessarily lack those qualities. The cause of the Big Bang must be an uncaused first mover that is transcendent in time and immaterial, intentional, and powerful. These are the characteristics of a Supreme Being and Creator who started the expansion of the universe from nothing.
Prior to the discovery of the Big Bang, Albert Einstein struggled with the theological implications of a universe in a mode of expansion, so he created a cosmological constant, also known as a fudge factor. Einstein considered himself an agnostic. He didn’t believe in a personal God or an eternal life, noting that this life was enough for him. His cosmological constant served as a repulsive force, which kept the universe from collapsing under its own weight. It also enabled Einstein to favor a static universe over one with a start date. A Boston University physicist and Einstein scholar named Michel Janssen noted that “Einstein needed the constant not because of his philosophical predilections but because of his prejudice that the universe is static” (Overbye, 1998). Einstein stubbornly held to his cosmological constant until 1931, when after a visit with Edwin Hubble at an observatory at Cal Tech, he abandoned it and never mentioned it again, calling it “theoretically unsatisfactory anyway” (Overbye, 1998). Since then, the Big Bang theory has come to be well-accepted by NASA and the vast majority of scientists all over the globe.
Astrophysicist Hugh Ross (2018, p. 28) has indicated that all Big Bang theories share “(1) a transcendent cosmic beginning that occurred a finite time ago; (2) a continuous, universal cosmic expansion; and (3) a cosmic cooling from an extremely hot initial state.”
Interestingly, we have Biblical support for each of these points. In other words, centuries before 1925 when the Big Bang was promoted by Abbe George Lemaitre, Job, Moses, David, Isaiah, John, Zechariah, Paul and other Biblical authors noted the creation and expansion of the universe.
a. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
b. The universe (time, space, matter) began to exist.
c. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
d. The cause must transcend time and be intentional, powerful and immaterial.
7. How can atheists explain our desire for heavenly joy?
When we are thirsty, we have a means of satisfying our thirst. When we are hungry, we have a means of satisfying our hunger. We have natural ways to satisfy every desire in this natural world. Yet, as C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is we were made for another world.”
8. What is the best explanation for the minimal facts surrounding Jesus’ resurrection?
Roman pagans, Jews, and Christians in Jesus’ time have all have indicated that Jesus’ tomb was found empty – and multiple sources have indicated that second class women made that important discovery. In fact, Paul stated that five hundred people witnessed Jesus over the next forty days after He rose from the dead. Many Biblical and extra-biblical sources have indicated that early Christians preached illegally in support of Jesus for decades, braving beatings, stoning, crucifixions, beheading, and being burned to death.
Gary Habermas uses the minimal facts argument in support of Jesus’ resurrection. Even the most skeptical scholars agree upon these minimal facts.
- Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
- He suffered, died, and was buried.
- His apostles said He rose from the grave and appeared to them multiple times over a period of days.
- They preached for Jesus for decades, despite widespread and brutal persecution.
- Most of His apostles were martyred for their beliefs. We have extra-biblical support for the martyrdoms of Peter, James (Jesus’ ½ brother) and Paul.
The only way to explain ALL of the minimal facts is that Jesus resurrected.
“And then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32
Hofstede, G. (1980; 2001). Culture’s Consequences. Comparing Values, Behaviors, and Institutions Across Nations. Tilberg University, Netherlands. Sage Publications.
House, R.J., Hanges, P.J. Javidan, M., Dorfman, P.W. & Gupta, V. (2004) Culture, Leadership, and Organizations. The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies. Sage Publications.
Overbye, D. (1998). A famous Einstein “fudge” returns to haunt cosmology. The New York Times. May 26.
Ross, H. (2018). The Creator and the Cosmos. Corvina, CA: Reasons to Believe.
Schwartz, S.H. (1992). Universals in the Content and Structure of Values: Theoretical Advances and Empirical Tests in Twenty Countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25. Accessed May 28, 2018 at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.220.3674&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Trompenaars, F. & Hampden-Turner, C. (1993; 2012). Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business. McGraw-Hill Companies.