March 24, 2022

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Ain’t No Atheists

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If there is one thing you can read on Medium, it is the number of people who call themselves atheists. I believe atheists are really not atheists. I am sure if they read my reasoning, they would agree. The question of whether or not God exists actually begins in science and science is not developed enough to give us the most accurate answer.

What is an atheist?” Someone who says there is no form of deity in all of creation. The word originates with Theism belief in god and comes from the Greek Theos meaning god. The a in the word indicates the negation. So, an atheist is one who does not accept any deity. An atheist has no god.

Many atheists will claim they do not believe in God but do believe in science. Science cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God at this point, but science can help us understand the issue.

Science is agnostic on God

We can say we do not believe in God or for that matter we believe in God but neither position can be scientifically proven. In fact, if one studies science well, one can conclude that tools are not yet available which will enable one to determine the existence of God one way or another. As I often explain, one must be able to say “I have seen all of reality and I have not seen God, therefore, God does not exist.” Can atheists or even theists prove they can see all of reality?

We can perceive matter and ultimately all matter and nothing else. So, even what can be seen by the new telescopes orbiting the Earth, as distant as everything is, we can only see that which is made of matter, energy and their properties. So all that exists must be made of matter for us to perceive its existence.

The key question — is matter all there is?

Can we say without a doubt that if something is not made of matter, it cannot exist? This is really the question in regard to whether or not God exists. Jesus himself said that God is spirit and, therefore, not matter. So our questioning begins not with whether or not God exists but whether or not that which is not matter exists.

If we determine that only that which is matter exists then God cannot exist for even Jesus says God is spirit and spirit by definition is not made of matter. We must first determine once and for all whether or not this substance called spirit exists. If we can determine it does, then we move forward. If we determine it does not then the atheists are right and we move on.

So in order to determine the existence of God, we have to first determine the existence of that which is not matter. This is the key question on which the whole faith enterprise exists. For example, many will argue that Jesus existed and others will say that he is a myth. However, the real question is not whether or not Jesus walked on water, but whether he exists now because that is the determining point in all of Christianity.

Where we differ then is not whether God exists but whether there is a being not made of matter for if there is no being not made of matter, God does not exist.

So, we would have to begin there. If atheists are right, then all actions that happen in the universe can be explainable in terms of matter. So, really the question is not whether or not God exists, it is whether or not that which is not made of matter exists for God is spirit not matter.

But let us not end there.

Let us assume for a minute that we come to understand there is a spirit world and that God does exist.

The next step would be not settling the argument there, it would be asking who is God? I believe this is the real issue in atheism. It is not whether or not God exists, it is whether or not the god presented to the atheists exists or whether or not my concept of god exists.

When atheists say that God does not exist, then what they may be actually saying: there may in fact be a being that we could call God if science can so prove it but that God that may exist is not the God that you present to me. When I studied atheism at Boston College, my professor, Michael Buckley, explained that atheism as we understand it is only around 200 years old. In fact, the father of modern atheism is Ludwig Feuerbach who lived in the 19th century. Professor Buckley explained to us that prior to that an atheist was not a person who did not believe in God but did not believe in our god(s).

If we were to assume the possibility of the existence of God our next question would be who is this God? Atheists who claim that if they were to believe in God, the god they believe in is not the God I present to them would receive no argument from me.

Why do I say this?

If you were to study the man whom Catholics consider the greatest authority on all things theology, you would look to St. Thomas Aquinas. He of course is the author of many works including the Summa Theologica or “a comprehensive treatise on all things theological”. You would learn his teaching and he would define for you everything you need to know about understanding who God is. Then you would discover this powerful truth. Towards the end of his life, he claimed that all he wrote was straw. In other words, if you took all there is to know about God in all the works of the world and used that to define everything there is to know about God your definition would still be severely lacking.

Therefore, when you would say you do not believe in the God that I present to you, I can only encourage you to go and seek this God. If you were to be granted everything there is to know about God, still your human understanding would be severely lacking. I can say that according to my understanding of God what you say about him may or may not be in line with what I say, but I cannot tell you that your understanding is completely wrong.

Let me give you an example. Catholics do not believe in the sola scriptura of the evangelical community, therefore, how I define God and how evangelicals define God is different. We all would believe in the Nicene creed but we clearly do not agree on every point of our respective beliefs. Therefore, the God they present to me and the God I present to them do not match.

If an atheist came by and said I do not believe in either of your concepts of God, he may not be wrong. His concept may be drawing upon a bigger understanding of the possibility of God than my definition of what is known to be about God and that is by definition from St. Thomas Aquinas at best straw. In fact, our theology is more based on whom God is not rather than who God is.

Therefore, an atheist may not really be an atheist but someone who is saying that I cannot determine whether or not God actually exists but I do not believe that your concept of God matches what I believe God to be if he did exist.

This is why I always teach that the most important thing is to be people of prayer for only in seeking and knowing this God can we have the slightest clue who he in fact is.

RJ Carr is the author of Encounter Christ in Your Humanity

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