The Great Contradiction of Atheism

Christianity and atheism offer radically different perspectives of life. In fact they are mutually exclusive views, delivering opposite conclusions about life. The one that is true will be the one that is consistent with what you see in the real world. The one which is false will simply not be in harmony with reality.

This is what C.S. Lewis observed during those years he was an atheist. Over time, he began to realize that his atheistic worldview did not seem to be in sync with the real world. He said, “My life is full of contradictions, and I was at this time living like so many atheists, in a world of contradictions.”

For instance, Lewis realized that, as an atheist, he did not believe in a moral law. He could not believe in one because it did not exist. Yet he was appalled by what he saw in the world and what he saw in himself. He saw that the world seemed to be so cruel and unjust, yet he could not understand from where his idea of justice and injustice came.

Norman Geisler relates a great story that illustrates the moral confusion in people’s lives today and how one’s life will, in fact, be full of contradictions when absent a moral standard by which to live. Geisler tells a story of a philosophy student in an upper-level philosophy course. The student writes a research paper arguing that there is no God and, consequently, goes on to argue there thus can be no objective or absolute moral principles. Judged by the paper’s research, scholarship, and argumentation, most would have agreed it was easily and A paper but the professor wrote these words on his paper, “F . . . I do not like blue folders.”

The student stormed into the professor’s office waving his paper protesting, “This is not fair, this is totally unjust. Why should I be graded on the color of the folder? I should have been graded on the content of this paper, not the color of my folder.” Once the professor settled the student down, he asked quietly, “Was this the paper that argued that on the basis of the Godless universe in which we live, there are no objective moral principles such as fairness and justice? Did you not argue that everything is a matter of one’s subjective likes and dislikes?” The student finally acknowledged, “Well, yes.”

The professor said, calmly and precisely, “I do not like blue folders. The grade shall remain an F.”

He said at that moment, very abruptly, the face of that young man changed. It struck him that he really did believe in objective moral principles such as fairness, such as justice and injustice. Eventually the professor changed the grade and gave him an A, but, he said, the student left with a new understanding of the objective nature of morality.

It’s easy to proclaim that there is no God, but it’s quite difficult to live consistently and honestly within the resulting moral framework. Now, hopefully, this makes some sense. We have to have a basis for morality. Our morals cannot be determined by feelings and opinions of a plurality of men. Otherwise, we’ll become neurotic and morally confused, and we’ll have a difficult time living with the worldview we profess to believe in. This is again why the Bible is so important. It gives to humanity a permanent absolute, transcendental law and since the Bible is considered to be the means by which God reveals himself to man, we can know what is truly right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is moral and immoral. And this is what gives moral meaning and dignity to our existence here in this life.

If you want to learn more about the great contradiction of atheism, you can find it in Richard’s book Reliable Truth: The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism.


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