The Undermining of Atheism

I have found that there are several really powerful arguments that undermine atheistic belief. They are difficult to refute and the one I want to explore in this blog has caused many an atheist to change their minds.

I have come away with a frequent observation of the contradictory nature of atheism. It is easy to claim to be an atheist yet it is hard to live as if it were true. The contradiction is generally a tension between logic and life. And that is why many atheists who have true intellectual integrity often change their belief. They recognize the contradictory nature of their atheistic worldview and, being honest people, conclude that it isn’t livable.

One of the people who first spoke out about this was phi­losopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He saw the hypocrisy in the lives of so many atheists, and he was outraged that they did not be­lieve in the God of the Bible yet felt an obligation to cling to Christian morality. Nietzsche strongly believed that when you abandon belief in the Christian God, you should be deprived of Christian morality. Otherwise, you are a hypocrite, or as he called it “slanderers of life.” He says that all atheists should rec­ognize that cruelty is a part of nature. He blamed Christianity for fostering the emotion of pity, which he felt was decadent. This, he believed, was consistent with natural selection and that if you were a person of integrity, you would embrace it.

The atheistic worldview has made its way into modern edu­cation. Modern educators do not adopt or support an absolute set of core values. They believe that values are purely personal and subjective and therefore should be left up to the individ­ual. You are to establish your own values. However, those same educators are shocked when they discover that many of their students are cheating on tests.

The contradictory nature of atheism is particularly evident when someone has accepted the evolutionary premise but then tries to set up a moral framework for life.

A number of years ago a controversial book came out that explained the relationship between evolution and sexual as­sault. The title of the book was The Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. The two authors were college professors who made the outlandish claim that biologically speaking, rape is not a pathology. It is a behavior that has been adapted to maximize the reproductive process. It is part of the evolutionary process. The book calls rape “a natural biological phenomenon that is a product of the evolutionary heritage.” They said it is akin to “the leopard’s spots and the giraffe’s elongated neck.”

The authors were shocked by all the controversy the book caused. Their reasoning was simple logic; behavior that has sur­vived over time must have some type of evolutionary advantage; otherwise, it would have been eliminated by natural selection.

One of the authors, Randy Thornhill, defended the book on National Public Radio (NPR). He found himself deluged by a series of enraged phone calls but reasoned that the logic is inescapable. If evolution is true, he explains:

“Every feature of every living thing, including human beings, has an underlying evolutionary background.”

And then he said:

“That is not a debatable matter.”

Apparently, he used that phrase “that is not a debatable matter” a number of times because of his belief that evolution by natu­ral selection is a proven fact.

For those who share Mr. Thornhill’s belief that evolution is a scientific fact, they have no defense against its application to human behavior. This left Mr. Thornhill’s critics hamstrung be­cause most of them accept the same evolutionary assumptions that he has accepted and, therefore, have no means to argue with his conclusion.

I read about a somewhat humorous moment in that NPR radio program. Thornhill was squaring off with a prominent feminist who had authored a book on rape titled Against Our Wills. As you can imagine, she was quite outspoken over his ri­diculous rape theory. Thornhill responded with this insulting re­mark: “You are starting to sound just like the religious right.”

Though there is some humor in this story, the point being made is serious. Evolution and evolutionary ethics go together. This is what Nietzsche firmly believed and the point Thornhill was making. They are a package deal. He was saying if you don’t like this conclusion, you should abandon your beliefs in evolution and turn to God.

Thornhill’s logic is clear. We are a product of nature and nature is cruel. He therefore believes that sexual assault in the animal kingdom is natural and accepted, and therefore should be acceptable among humans. However, this is totally outrageous and unacceptable behavior in humans, which brings me back to what I said earlier in the blog. It is easy to claim to be an atheist yet it is hard to live as if it were true.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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