The Impotence of Atheism – A Reply

Here we go again. Poor poor atheists. They just don’t understand. God did it… in which I comment on such a post. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Now, for the post I am talking about, shown in quotes. Not linked = less traffic for them but if you must, search for “The Impotence of Atheism” and I’m sure you’ll find that gold mine.

It’s not that atheist explanations are wrong, so much as that, qua explanations, they are simply impotent, in the final analysis. At bottom, they have no basis in necessity. So, at bottom, they end up able to say no more than, “this is the way things happened; er, that’s all.” They are descriptions, rather than explanations. Not wrong; not uninformative; often utile; but, just inadequate. Atheist explanations cannot close the deal; for, they have no ultimate cash value.

I’m left wondering if the explanation for why ice tea is brown is simply impotent. It seems to me that the author is expecting more than an explanation, setting their expectations higher than is reasonable so as to be unsatisfied by a valid explanation. I do see what they are hinting at when they call explanations just descriptions rather than explanations. Now we know that by explanation the author means: “reason or justification given for an action or belief” When we look at the two common uses of explanation we see that they are not synonymous.

 a statement or account that makes something clear.
“the birth rate is central to any explanation of population trends”
synonyms:    clarification, simplification;
description, report, statement;
elucidation, exposition, expounding, explication;
gloss, interpretation, commentary, exegesis

a reason or justification given for an action or belief.
“Freud tried to make sex the explanation for everything”
synonyms:    account, reason;
justification, excuse, alibi, defense, vindication, story, answers

When we ask for an explanation of rainbows, this author wants to hear something like ‘god made them to remind us he’d never kill us all with a flood … again’ rather than the actual explanation for the existence of rainbows.

This is why the juridical question is efficacious against an atheist. Just keep asking “Why?” Eventually, he will be forced to reply with an exasperated, “Because that’s just the way it is; there is no further explanation.” So saying, he cannot but reveal his unreason; which, as sapping the very foundations of his doctrine, so vitiates the whole structure thereof – and, could he but see, ruins it utterly. His triumph is in the undisputed possession of a castle fallen into complete desuetude, that lost its strategic value long since.

Yes, on this bit I had to look a few things up. To my  knowledge there is no atheist doctrine with foundations. I can kind of see where they are headed with the word doctrine but that technically requires atheists to be a group, organized in some fashion. (a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.) The problem is that saying atheist doctrine is like saying non-golfer doctrine. It is meaningless as is the rest of the straw man they are building there. The one question that bothers theists? How? Keep asking them how and they have to admit ignorance or claim magic via their favorite deity.

It may be objected that the theist foundation of explanation is in a way just as arbitrary and ‘brute’ as that of the atheist. The atheist says, “this is the way the world is, and that’s all there is to say about it;” meanwhile the theist says, “this is the way that God is, and that’s all there is to say about it.” How is one of these moves better than the other? Indeed, don’t they amount to the same thing, in the end, if God is among the things that exist, and thus a member of the world in the broadest sense?

Well, that’s a mighty big ‘if’ in that last sentence. So, if you are like me you already know that there is probably not much point in reading this authors post. It presumes that there is a extant god and that this presupposition trumps reason and science.

From our perspective, so it certainly seems to be. We come into the world and find that it is the way it is, and that God is the way he is, and that’s all there is to it. Indeed, by the definition of “God,” there can be no explanation for God, for nothing is prior to him, that might explain him.

Note that there is some less than polite discourse as to the way god is. In fact, among those that believe in a god there is little agreement at all. Sure, the adherents of one religion seem to agree mostly but this is not proof of their belief. For any religious sect, more than 60% of the rest of the world population disagree with them and many in a vigorous way. There is clearly no consensus on ‘the way god is’ among humans. As for physics and how the world is, well there is consensus on that. So to clarify this author is equating a known data set with a data set which looks to be made up by all measures and despite any claims otherwise is a hotly contested data set. Many have fought and died in an attempt to prove their version correct over all competitors in an argument which is far from ‘settled science.’ These things are not in the same grouping. There is a reason that if you go to a book store looking for information on ‘how god is’ you will never find it in the ‘science section’ of the book store or library.

Nevertheless the theist explanation of things does have one key advantage over the atheist, reductionist explanation: it completes, in the sense that it terminates upon necessity. This the atheist explanation cannot ever do. The theist ends by saying, “this, or something very like this, is just the way things must be, in logic, and by definition, and so by metaphysical necessity.” The atheist explanation terminates upon radical ignorance: upon, “no idea.” Under atheism, all and any of this might not have come to pass, and whether or not it did, there could be no explanation for any bit of it: it *just happened.*

Didn’t this writer just state that there can be no explanation for god? So the theist argument ends with ‘because god’ … without explanation. That’s not half full or half empty argument. It’s full on empty with a claim that it’s full. You  know, because god.

For the theist, everything happens for a reason, even if he can’t see it. Everything is for him therefore intelligible, at least in principle. For the atheist, on the other hand, nothing that happens bopttoms out in a reason that cannot be controverted, and so nothing can be intelligible.

So, only those that claim to know all the answers can see the world as intelligible. I believe that there is a medical term for this: delusional. Remember here that the claim of theists is that there is a god. There is no proof or credible evidence for that god and of course there is no explanation. To the theist god simply is, and from their god comes all the magic that makes the world intelligible to them. The writer here is not offering any explanation further than ‘god did it’ for anything and everything. I remember the last time such make believe was acceptable. It was back when I got 8 oz of milk and a nap mat in the afternoons.

The theist lives in an ordered world. It is ordered ex hypothesi, whether or not he can himself discern that order. The atheist lives in a world that rejects the very notion of order. The latter move is of course not something that can be rationally completed. As a motion of the reason, it is forestalled ab initio, as the antithesis thereof.

To the theist, things cannot but be ordered. To the atheist, they cannot be ordered.

Pity the poor atheists! So lost are they, and adrift! We should all pray for them that they may be relieved of their sufferings.

There it is: The world is ordered. No explanation, just the proclamation that it is so. Don’t question that or you’ll be told that you’re just not trying hard enough to see it. The non-believer does live in a world of order and can see it, look it up in books/online, and study it for themselves. It’s a world of mathematics and science. Fibonacci , the golden ratio, Pythagoras, E=MC2, chemistry, biology, and on and on. The world is ordered by the laws that govern it, from the very small to the very large. It is all out there for us to learn and discover. The theist believes they already know all the answers and do not bother to look. Sure there are theist scientists, but they are few and far between. What theists demonstrate most when talking about atheism and atheists is a complete lack of understanding and worse than that, a complete lack of desire to understand. Order is all around us, because of chemistry, biology, the laws that govern the natural world.

  1. Boy oh boy… I definitely consider myself a student of science and find no reason to argue against scientifically established facts…

    And yet… no matter how much science uncovers, as long as there is any kind of unpredictability in the universe, the believer will point to it and say “there! there’s the hand of God behind it and he moves in mysterious ways”. And, of course the Atheist will then say “no you idiot, it’s just stuff we haven’t learned yet”. And so the argument goes on and I see no possible way the argument could possibly stop… So… why do you think there’s a need to keep it going?

    Asking for a friend ™ 😉

    • Good point voidpointerblog, I suspect something along those lines is why Neil DeGrasse Tyson refuses to accept the label of Atheist.

      • Well hey, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an atheist or the label. Here’s what I’m trying to say:

        1) there are people who have had a scientific education and those who haven’t
        2) there are nice people and there are assholes
        3) there are people who call themselves believers and those who call themselves atheist

        So there you have 3 categories of 2 choices that make 8 possible groups and there are a lot of people in every group. My point is – everyone should be instructed in the sciences (if you want society to function). And no one should be an asshole. I’m very passionate about those two.

        But once you got those two, the third category loses significance, and it makes no sense to argue about that category alone. Science tells us that people aren’t always logical. And yet this is a logical argument about something that cannot be logically proven or disproven.

        • What I don’t like is when labels are utilized as a means to divide society. I don’t like it when the religious do it, and I don’t like when the non-religious do it – especially since human attributes tend to function on the level of ranges and balances. We are one humanity.

          Ironically, my direction is one that divides against those who divide, so I may have to rethink my approach.

    • The reason to keep it going is to work against the dogma and superstition. When we all work together much more gets done. If 70% of us are sure we already know the answers and fight against the 30% then it retards progress, knowledge, and the greater good.

    • Thanks for commenting!

  2. Judging from a couple of the quotes, a predilection for impotency and bottoms it seems?
    Freud would have a field day!

    Christians; can’t ban ’em , can’t gag ’em. Sigh…what can y’do? lol


  3. Spot on analysis. The original poster relates an argument to engage in childish “Why” asking in order to “defeat” atheism. That person may not like “I don’t know” as an honest answer. By extension, then, that person does not like honesty as an explanation…

    • Hey, thanks for commenting. Oh boy, I missed that point in my analysis. Thank you.

  4. I saw the post a few days ago, thought about writing a response and gave up the exercise.
    You have done a superb job

    • preacherontheweb
    • December 25th, 2014


  5. Well said, to say the least. What a supreme pity that the concept of a possible Creator/God has been made a farce by religion’s inventors and perpetuators, who cannot accept or see that their sham of a God precludes addressing the question of a God seriously.

  6. The problem is that theists need something they call “knowledge”. Where they don’t know, god fills the gap. When a non-theist says “I don’t know”, then for them the answer is “god” because it feels better and surperior to know… well something… even if it is incorrect.
    To be honest: By now, for my own sanity, I stopped reading their articles and blogs and stopped watching their videos because the ignorance and unwillingness to learn and accept new answers, when provided with enough evidence, is really annoying and quite frustrating.
    PS: Sorry for my unreasonably long sentences o.O

    • No need to apologize. Thanks for stopping and commenting. I still read their blogs (with a rubber head band to stop the face palming from damaging my good looks) and try to comment – but that probably makes me a troll 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on Opher's World and commented:
    I thought this was an interesting read!

    • Sandy
    • January 17th, 2015

    Very interesting read and love the interaction with the commenters. Nicely done!

    • Welcome, thanks for commenting. I’m happy that you like this blog. It’s the only one I’ve got. I’ve got no backup plan on this blogging thing 😉

  1. December 28th, 2014

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