Consider the following statements. How would you respond?
I am an atheist. I am not an atheist because it’s cool. I am not an atheist because of religious extremism or oppression in some depraved corners of the world. I’m not an atheist because I believe science can disprove God.
I’m an atheist because of one simple fact: the burden of proof lies on religion. If you propose the existence of something you must follow the scientific method in your defense of its existence. Otherwise, I have no reason to listen to you.
The Bible is clear: “be ready to give a logical defense (apologia) of your faith, BUT do this *with gentleness and respect*.” (1 Peter 3:15) God never meant this as a suggestion. Rather, it is a command. And remember, our goal is never to ‘win an argument’, but to win a friend, regardless of if we end up agreeing, or not.
How would I respond? With something like this: (obviously, I wouldn’t ‘talk over’ my friend. They would be allowed to interrupt anytime and ask anything they wanted.)
“My friend, clearly you are a critical thinker. As such, I can tell you have given a great deal of thought about your chosen worldview. I respect you for that deeply. Would you permit me to respond to your statement? (If all they want to do is argue and make condescending remarks, just thank them for their time and excuse yourself, as they have no interest in hearing your opinion. But, let’s assume they kindly make this allowance, and are willing to have civil discourse.)
“I see you are respectful of science. I’m thrilled to hear that because I am, as well. So, let’s take your thesis to its logical end.
“Let me ask you a question? Can science *prove* love exists? Hate? Jealousy? How about objective beauty? Morality? Of course not. We observe these emotions through evidence by means of behavior. So, would you agree there are elements of life and existence that are beyond the purview of science? I think every honest scientist would agree science can’t prove everything. The very statement, ‘Only science can discover truth’ is self-defeating since this assertion cannot be proven scientifically.
“Hence, respectfully, and logically, your statement, ‘The burden of proof lies on religion…[using] the scientific method’ is clearly flawed.
“So, we are directed not to *proof*, but rather to *evidence*. From the laboratory to the court room, if you will. Now, this is an interesting intellectual intersection. But, even Plato’s Socrates affirmed mankind “must follow the evidence wherever it leads.”
“So, it comes down not to either side shouldering a burden of proof, but both sides carefully and honestly considering the evidence for their chosen worldview.
“Sure, there are scientists such as biologist, Richard Dawkins (who gets a lot of press) who describes the universe as ‘pitiful indifference.’ And anyone certainly has the freedom to ascribe to that opinion. But, in my opinion, the more science discovers about the beginning and fine-tuning of the universe, the more it sounds (to me) like the beginning of the book of Genesis and passages like the one we find in Colossians 1:15-17. Further, I agree with former atheist and Oxford scientist, Alister McGrath, who said, in his days of atheism, he discovered Christianity simply made better sense of reality.
“Of course, neither of us will find out what’s true until the nanosecond after we die. But, based on what I consider overwhelming evidence from cosmology, teleology, biology and the historical reliability of the New Testament, I am, as Martin Luther once confessed, “captive to the Word of God” due to my convictions based on the evidence produced by the scientific disciplines to which I just referred. Frankly, I’ve tried to un-do the evidence for God’s existence, but failed. Miserably.
“If I’m wrong, I lose nothing. But, according to the Bible, if you’re wrong, you lose everything. I don’t say this to scare you, but to let you know what the Bible says about ‘life after life’, and give you something to, perhaps, think about.
“Using philosophical reductionism – reducing our worldviews down to their smallest/quantum arguments for being true – you and I both hold to ‘faith worldviews.’ No one can prove God does exist. And no one can prove God doesn’t exist. Any proclamation on this topic from science – in either direction – ceases to be a statement from science (the physical/natural) and quickly becomes a statement from philosophy and/or theology (the metaphysical/supernatural).
“Along with many former ardent atheists, as well as Ph.D’s presently teaching everywhere from MIT to Harvard to Stanford, I’m placing my faith ‘where I believe the evidence clearly leads.’
As former atheist and Yale Law School grad, Lee Strobel, once wrote, “To continue in atheism, I would need to believe that nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason. I simply didn’t have that much faith.”
“If you have time – or interest – I would love to hear your thoughts. Or, we can pick up our convo another time. But first, let’s get refills of our robust, warm beverages. Also, I’d love to know about your family and what you like to do in your spare time. Ever heard of Elvis Presley?…”