Of all the meaningless statements that atheists make, I think the most irritating among them is the claim that “God is a failed hypothesis.” It isn’t just the arrogance that fuels statements like this that I find irritating, it is also the fallacious nature of the proposition itself, for behind the statement are metaphysical presuppositions that the atheist who argues this way wants the theist to merely accept. Within the proposition “God is a failed hypothesis,” firstly, the epistemological autonomy of man is presupposed as true. In other words, the atheist who makes this claim is first of all assuming that “Man is the measure of all things,” which means that if I do not approve of any given proposition or system of propositions, then I can (i.)create the criteria whereby any proposition is to be subjected to verification and (ii.)determine, upon the basis of my arbitrarily determined criteria of judgment, whether or not such a proposition or system of propositions can be proven within the confines of my criteria. But Christianity axiomatically denies that man has any such epistemological autonomy. We see this in passages such as Psalm 14:1, Proverbs 1:7, Isaiah 28:23-26, Daniel 1:17, Matthew 13:10-17 & Matthew 16:13-20, Luke 24:45, and Romans 1:18-23 & Romans 1:28; God is Sovereign, even over the very thoughts that man thinks. Presupposing that man is epistemologically autonomous is something that we cannot do as Christians; rather, we assert along with Scripture that men are only as wise as God allows them to be, for God reveals knowledge to whomever He wills to reveal knowledge.
After presupposing the epistemological autonomy of man, the atheist then proceeds to assume that God has been created by autonomous man to fill an explanatory need of some sort, much like the French Mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace assumed when he famously identified God as an unnecessary hypothesis. Laplace, and the atheists who call God a hypothesis, are, from the outset, assuming that God has not spoken and revealed Himself to man. In their view of things, it is man who has conjured up a reason as to why everything is the way it is. They have automatically ruled out the Scriptures as God’s revelation to man. Thus, they are left growling at a strawman version of the God of Christianity. Let them chew away at the strawman they’ve created, just make sure to correct them on their fundamental error. Christianity teaches that God condescended to reveal Himself to humanity in history which has been recorded in His Word, i.e. the Scriptures, whereby what He requires of man in terms of the Law, as well as what He promises His elect in terms of the Gospel, are made very clear. Christianity takes the text of Scripture seriously when it tells us: “God said to man…” in the beginning chapters of Genesis, while the unbeliever does not. And it is only upon the basis of presupposing that the Scriptures are not inspired that one can even begin to further presuppose that the Scriptures were written as a means of explaining what “primitive man” could not understand (e.g. the origin of the universe).
How to Respond
When presented with the claim that “God is a failed hypothesis” what I think we should do is point out the errors in the atheist’s thinking. He is not thinking correctly on a number of different levels. For instance, he assumes that (i.)man is epistemologically autonomous, (ii.)the Scriptures, therefore, reflect the minds of primitive men trying to figure out the mechanics of existence (whether in cosmology or morals), (iii.)therefore, God is a proposed solution to the ignorance of “primitive man,” (iv.)all that exists is matter in motion. These are all assumptions that the atheist cannot prove. All he can do is fallaciously appeal to “the majority of scientists,” or appeal to authority, or, when these two fallacious means of reasoning have been exposed by the Christian, resort to name calling.
I think, then, that before getting defensive when atheists claim that God is a failed hypothesis, we should pick apart their meaningless assertions, explain to the atheist that he has done absolutely nothing to either comment upon the Nature and Being of God or refute the One True God–Father and Son and Holy Spirit–of the Bible.
Then read 1 Corinthians 1:20 to them:
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?
There are many statements that fall under this category, a few examples are: “God is a moral monster,” “The existence of God, while not impossible, is highly improbable,” “Can God create a rock so heavy that even He can’t lift it?” ad nauseam.