Atheistic Arguments: Attacks on the Character of God (Pt.2)

[Continued from Part 1]

II. The Argument from Insufficient Evidence against the Existence of God

Another way in which I sought to deny the God of Scripture was by claiming that there simply wasn’t enough evidence to prove His existence. My argument ran something like this:

Major Premise: If an all good, all powerful, and all knowing God exists, then He will provide sufficient evidential grounds for placing one’s faith in Him.

Minor Premise: However, sufficient evidential grounds for belief in God do not exist.

Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.

This argument is a variation of the argument from evil against the existence of God, as it attempts to show that (a)if God is good then He will desire the salvation of all men, and if He desires their salvation and He is all good, then (b)He will provide sufficient evidential grounds for belief in His existence, and if He does (a) and (b) it is because He has (c) omniscient comprehension of what constitutes sufficient evidential grounds for belief in Him.

There are two big problems with this argument: (i.)Induction never leads to certainty; therefore, the accumulation of data regarding the existence of God can never establish with 100% certainty that God exists, let alone that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and/or set tomorrow evening;[1] and (ii.)Even if “sufficient evidence” could be appealed to as the basis for one’s belief in God, then the question that lingers is: Who decides what counts as evidence? Problem (i.) is one that I agreed with, even as an atheist, and which I used to justify my general skepticism, as well as my atheism. Claiming to be a skeptic is very helpful, as it leaves you with a veneer of nobility and provides an excuse for one’s immoral behavior (whether in the form of unbelief or complete hedonism), because if all one is doing is waiting for “sufficient evidence” to come in order to make a “rational decision” about whether or not God exists, then how can one be held morally accountable for not believing? After all, isn’t it God’s job to provide sufficient evidential grounds for belief in Him?

It is because induction never leads to certainty that one can always claim that sufficient evidence is lacking and feel completely justified in one’s unbelief. This was my justification for not believing and for feeling morally superior to those who tried to get me to believe in God. I considered myself more noble, more moral for not believing in God without “sufficient evidence” (which I never defined, by the way), and I considered my friends to be immoral for trying to get people to believe in God without having “sufficient evidence.” Thus, I was morally justified and morally superior for holding to skepticism and unbelief in God.

But, you see, the problem is: In order to be a skeptic, one has to be more certain of some things than one is of the matter of which one is skeptical. Otherwise, one wouldn’t even be able to raise the first question regarding the existence of God. Therefore, it was incumbent upon me to prove the certainty of those things which I was assuming were certain, and which were necessary to the formulation of any meaningful questions/doubts that I could have raised. So, for instance, I had to ask myself: Am I certain that my senses (i.)have the capacity to mediate facts about the external world to me, let alone (ii.)mediate that knowledge accurately?

Did I have sufficient evidence to support my belief in the mediatorial function of my senses? No. Did I have sufficient evidence to support my belief that my senses accurately mediated facts about the external world to me? No.  Then how could I honestly demand that “sufficient evidence” regarding the existence of God be given to me? I couldn’t, but I still demanded it. And that is where the moral accusation comes in: “If God is good,” I reasoned, “He would certainly provide me with what I consider to be ‘sufficient evidence.’ Therefore, God is not good.” Note that my denial of God’s existence really had no relation to whether or not He had provided me with sufficient evidence. I was, as all atheists who seek to deny God’s existence using an argument like this are, simply trying to indict God of immoral behavior.

Problem (ii.) is where things really get sticky. This is the problem of who determines what counts as “evidence” for the existence of God. What is to be counted as evidence? Says who? If there is no universal standard that determines what counts as “evidence,” then any standard set forth by the unbeliever will always be (a.)provisional and (b.)subject to change via an indeterminable number of subtle qualifications. Again, this sort of “argument” is very helpful if one wishes to completely duck out of an argument altogether while making it appear that one is still engaged in that argument. Here’s what I mean: If an atheist’s standard for evidence is always provisional (i.e. serving his own purposes) and always subject to change via innumerable qualifications, then the atheist can appear to be seriously seeking evidence for God’s existence, when in reality he’s just refusing to accept any evidence given to him.

While the claim of atheists like Bertrand Russell, who say that there simply isn’t enough evidence to believe in God, is absolutely bogus, even if it were true it would not be an argument against the existence of God. Rather, it would be an argument against the manner in which God has chosen to reveal Himself. In other words, yet again, the argument would be against the character of God and not His existence. I didn’t realize this until the Lord regenerated me and gave me eyes to see, ears to hear, and the mind of Christ to understand that my arguments against the existence of God were really nothing more than pitiful complaints against the Sovereign of the Universe who chose to do things in His own way and never chose to ask me for my permission. And this is what the atheist is doing when he argues that the existence of gratuitous evil is incompatible with belief in an omnibenevolent God, since God’s omnibenevolence in no way necessitates that He eliminate gratuitous evil at this moment, and to claim that one knows that the elimination of gratuitous evil at this moment would be a morally superior action for God to perform is to claim that one is omniscient – that is to say, it is an implicit criticism of God’s omniscience. Similarly, to argue that God “hasn’t provided enough evidence” for one to believe in Him is not to argue against His existence, it is to criticize Him for not doing things in a way that meets the atheist’s standards.

If there is an argument  against God’s existence, and not just the typical assaults on God’s character that atheists viciously sling around, I’ve yet to hear it.

[1] James N. Anderson, Assistant Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC), has a great article dealing with the problem of induction raised by philosophers like David Hume and Bertrand Russell and the (failed) attempts of secular philosophers to solve the problem. It can be found here.

About Hiram Diaz

Hiram Diaz has written 18 post in this blog.

Hiram Diaz is a New York native currently residing in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children. His interests are philosophy and presuppositional & exegetical apologetics. He maintains Involuted Speculations, a blog about pretty much anything that pops into his head and can't find its way out until it's written down.

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