On Wednesday, my esteemed colleague Mike Boylan wrote a rigorous criticism of religious moderation and, in so doing, the idea of religion itself. Religion, he says, starts from an “illogical premise.” The holy books contain beliefs that are “insane” and fuel our “insufferable ignorance” for “claiming to know things [we] can’t possibly know.”
His beliefs could be summed up with this sentence: “If we are ever to become serious about the tangible and cyclical problems borne of religious literalism, it is imperative that we call into question, publicly and incessantly, what Harris calls the ‘entire project of religion.’”
There is, however, a problem with this analysis: There is no justification for these claims.
Let’s assume that God does not exist. When we die, we will cease to exist in any form. Life was for naught. Our existence has no meaning.
If we live an ultimately meaningless life, then our actions on earth are meaningless as well. What we do does not matter. Your mother and Adolf Hitler are essentially equivalent. For if our lives are meaningless, then there is nothing to base our values on—values do not exist. It does not matter if we steal or give. It does not matter if we kill or save. What we do on this earth matters none.
This is troublesome. The only way this works is if we decide that no values are absolute and eternal, for something cannot be absolute and eternal without a God. But cold-blooded, unprovoked murder has never had justification. If it can be agreed that murder is always wrong, then some values are not relative to time, place or human construction. Some just are. And if values exist, something beyond them must exist to judge those who act upon those values.
There is also the problem of creation: Where do we come from? The very word creation presupposes a creator. Order, the fact that logic exists, implies one who does the ordering. Art implies an artist. If someone went around claiming that a painting came into existence without a painter, that person would rightly be decried as a lunatic. Only when it comes to God do we doubt that His creation necessarily needs Him as the Creator.
Yes, one might say, but there is a scientific response to every thing that exists on earth. Yet a simple child could unravel this argument by asking why? If we asked why for every scientific response explaining how things came to be as they are, our opponent would eventually get to a point where he must answer, “I don’t know.” For if it is said evolution created man, we can ask how the organism that evolved into man came to be. If it is said that the Big Bang created the earth, how did all the matter that banged together come to exist? And how did the universe get there in the first place? These questions cannot be answered.
Instead of asking Christians and believers in a God to prove why God exists, why don’t we ask atheists to prove why God doesn’t exist?
For Boylan’s argument could just as easily be turned around: Atheism starts from an illogical premise; a belief that God does not exist is insane and fuels our insufferable ignorance for claiming not to know things that have already been revealed to us; and it is imperative that we call into question, publicly and incessantly, the entire project of atheism.
This debate will go on long after this column is forgotten. Some atheists will never be convinced by religious arguments, and some religious people will never be convinced by atheistic arguments. But one side must be right.
And after examining all the evidence, the only conclusion I can come up with is that God most definitely exists.