The Flaw In Atheist Thinking

Miracles_coverIn remembrance of C. S. Lewis upon the 50th anniversary of his passing, I reread one of his books entitled Miracles.

Lewis, himself having been an atheist, brought a perspective I had never considered before. He made clear how irrational it is to try and prove the Supernatural by using the Natural. It can’t be done because the two are separate entities.

It’s like two scholars debating the scope of knowledge. One might say mathematics is the only field of study. The other might argue that no, literature is also a field of study, wholly different and separate from mathematics.

Sorry, the first one says. I can find no evidence for literature.

That’s because you’re only looking at the properties of mathematics, counters the other.

Where else would you expect me to look? his friend answers. I’m searching and searching in the vast field of knowledge, and there is no sign of literature.

Don’t you see, says the second professor, your search is limited. If you look beyond math, you’ll find literature.

How can I look beyond the only thing that’s there?

And so the argument would continue. The first professor cannot grasp the idea that the field of study with which he is familiar is not the sum of all knowledge, and the second professor can’t grasp how he can demonstrate with math how literature exists.

He might think of ways that math and poetry are alike, how math is the basis of music and music is an art akin to literature. He can even point out how literature has structure much the same way math does. But none of those evidences will be proof to the professor not willing to consider that math is not the sum total of all knowledge.

In the same way, the atheist who believes the natural world is the sum total of all that exists will not find any “circumstantial evidence,” to use a law term, to be compelling proof that something, let alone Someone, exists beyond the scope of what his five senses can detect.

It actually makes perfect sense. The flaw in the logic, however, is the assumption that Humankind can detect all that exists with our five senses: atheists take that as a given which needs no proof.

However, it is a false assumption that nature itself exposes. The fact that we did not for thousands of years detect other universes did not write them out of existence. The fact that we did not detect atoms and subatomic particles for thousands of years, did not negate their reality. Our five senses failed.

Relying upon the use of our five senses, we were wrong to think the earth was flat, that the sun rotates around the earth, that there were no other stars than the ones we can see, and any number of other errant ideas. Our five senses, then, are fallible.

Some might counter that, in fact, it is the advancement of knowledge which has allowed Humankind to correct these wrong beliefs by the use of our senses. Our technological improvements have made it possible for us to see further and look at smaller.

But that doesn’t address the issue. The human capacity to detect reality is flawed. We can go for generations believing a lie because our five senses have restrictions. What restrictions might they have now to which we’re oblivious?

An honest person will admit that we cannot know what restrictions are limiting our understanding. Which of course opens the door to the Supernatural. Because we don’t see, touch, taste, feel, or hear God in the same way we do our sister or boss or neighbor, does not mean God does not exist.

The ironic thing is that Humankind for centuries accepted the existence of the Supernatural, in large part because of their five senses, but also, I’d suggest, because of a spiritual sense.

Biblical history records that humans had encounters with God–that He insinuated Himself in the affairs of Humankind–so their five senses verified the existence of the supernatural. Some heard God’s voice, others saw His Shekinah glory, still others felt His Consuming Fire. Others, however, received visions and were filled with His Spirit.

What’s happened, then, it would seem, is what happens with all our physical capacities when they aren’t used: they atrophy. The ability people once had to interact with God, dependent upon their spiritual vision, faded, and had God left us to ourselves, I suspect we would have completely forgotten all about Him. Thankfully, He had no intention of abandoning us.

His greatest intervention was His decision to take on the appearance of a man, live so as to show us the Father, and die in order to make a way for us to once again interact with God.

Jesus Christ penetrated the natural on behalf of the Supernatural to restore our faulty, faded vision–the kind that allows us to see beyond the restrictions of our finite senses.

This post is a revised version of one that first appeared here in November 2013.

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Published in: on August 17, 2017 at 5:43 pm  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well said,Becky! I’m glad you reran this. 🙂

    I often think of dogs and they way they can hear sounds we cannot. The fact that I cannot hear it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and you can see this in how dogs perk up their ears and their tail.

    We do have some atrophy in our spiritual senses. They really have to be exercised and trained to come alive. Another part of the problem is culture, spirituality is feared and shamed, you don’t want to be associated with the “Bronze age goat herders,” the atheist term for our prophets of old.

    Liked by 1 person

    • IB, what an awesome illustration. I want to remember that one. It so perfectly shows the principle that what we know isn’t all there is to know. love it.

      Becky.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In my case it was studying the Bible in my sophomore year of high school. Not only that but at the same time we learned about copy error, translation error, and editorializing by scribes. Plus seeing all the contradictions in the Gospels that was enough to convince me it was all based on only so much bovine effluent and nothing else.

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    • truthspew, I’m sorry to say you were sold a bill of goods. Just like Eve when she let Satan lead her away from God’s word.

      Scholars reiterate over and over that the copies we have of the Scriptures are amazing in their lack of error. They show remarkable consistency.

      And the “contradictions” in the Gospels? Those don’t exist. Rather, because they were written to different audiences and for different purposes, they have different emphases, but the message of each is complementary to the others, not contradictory. I hope you do some study on your own and don’t just take the word of some doubters who have an agenda to push. Read, for example, Harmony of the Gospels—the editor has put every verse of the four books into a chronological sequence, showing that there is no disagreement at all.

      I think it’s so sad that someone claiming to know led you so far afield.

      Becky

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      • Well a whole lot of reading and researching went into it too.

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        • Are you saying, you put in a whole lot of reading and research? Because it all depends on the predisposition of the ones doing the research. Really, you can prove or disprove just about anything, depending on how you slant things. For example I can quote Scripture to show that there is no God. Not once but twice Proverbs says, “There is no God.” Truth. But what I left out is context: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” So you still have to think and research and read for yourself, not just take someone else’s conclusions as fact.

          Becky

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  3. Your statement. “He made clear how irrational it is to try and prove the Supernatural by using the Natural. It can’t be done because the two are separate entities.”

    If the supernatural can interact into the natural world they are obviously not separated. If they were totally separated, how would the natural world know about the supernatural and vice versa? The answer is simply brain power.

    If some of us have had some contact with the supernatural world it is usually as a personal experience such as an apparition or a voice but may also be an out of body sensation or a similar event.

    You must understand the supernatural world does not identify to the masses such as in public displays, but phenomenon that does is usually identified as a natural environmental occurrence, a UFO or something associated with alien life. The only answers science can give so far is that the supernatural exists inside our heads and it appears differently to each of us.

    Many people still believe that the human body has only five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, but these do not give the amazing body and mind enough recognition for what it is capable of. Neurologists identify at least nine or more senses, and some as many as 21.

    Your statement. “The human capacity to detect reality is flawed. We can go for generations believing a lie because our five senses have restrictions. What restrictions might they have now to which we’re oblivious?”

    This is what atheists have been telling theists for centuries. Even if a supernatural world exists the fact that it has anything to do with any of the gods, creators and their stories depicted in ancient books and on artefacts are manmade and limited to mans imagination.

    Your statement “Because we don’t see, touch, taste, feel, or hear God in the same way we do our sister or boss or neighbor, does not mean God does not exist.”

    I agree, however like the other thousands of gods this also does not mean this god or any others exist either, in fact much more compelling evidence that they do not exist, however atheists never close their minds completely to anything.

    Your 2 statements “Biblical history records that humans had encounters with God” and “The ability people once had to interact with God, dependent upon their spiritual vision, faded,”

    Yes, the Bible says many things that may or may not be true and if you are emotionally involved enough to want to have a supernatural experience with the dead relatives or your god, your brain will eventually accommodate you. Many people’s spiritual vision faded and left their faith when science started to answer many of the natural Earth like extreme weather events that were always attributed to God’s emotions.

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  4. I think breakaways came during the 18th Century’s Age of Reason and maybe earlier when men started to box in religion and science separately. I like the fact the C.S. Lewis saw through his original attitude and found God. I remember Nicky Gumble of Alpha saying that reading just the Gospel of Mark made him see the divinity of Christ. I also like Lewi’ phrase (when he changed) That one either saw “Jesus was a fool or the Son of God.”
    God chose to be involved in our lives and the Bible shows how many times He initiated a relationship with mankind in the Old Testament as well as through Jesus. Logic is defeated by Love and an understanding heart.
    Thanks, Rebecca.

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  5. Funny how the flaw in atheist thinking doesn’t have much to do with atheist thinking.

    …par for the course.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I believe, with a little bit of deeper thinking, it’s easy to point out what’s wrong with CS lewis’ concepts. I won’t go to far but just to give an example, We can’t study supernatural because it exist out side of nature. Thats ok to say, but we should be able to study the effects it has on nature.
    So basically if there’s a supernatural power that has no effects on nature, then it doesn’t matter because it’s not changing anything in the nature we live in. If these supernatural thing do have an effect in nature and changed our lives somehow, then they do matter, and we would be able to test them. So why believe in a concept that can’t be tested, and if you do, what can’t be proven without evidence?

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