One of the most stubborn pop-culture canards of the modern era is this frankly unsupportable opinion that whereas atheism or agnosticism is a sober and rational view, theism in the strict sense – that is, a belief that there is a God – is a sub-rational and/or emotional devotion.
Case in point. With defenders like this, theism certainly needs no enemies:
Rationality is a specialized aspect of the higher brain, but it’s not the end-all and be-all of life as anyone can tell you who has experienced love, music, art, compassion, self-sacrifice, altruism, inspiration, intuition — indeed, most of the things that make life worth living.
More or less conceding the point. Ugh.
We can’t speak for every religious tradition, but in western civilization the ‘belief’ in God begins with the earliest known Greek thinkers, predating Christianity by centuries. Without getting into the depths of epistemology – from which no one ever returns – it is fair to say that the existence of a God is inferred from a few self-evident postulates, perhaps chief among them that reason is a more reliable truth finder than empirical observation. Thus, from this perspective the question: “If God is real why can’t I see him?” is too childish and ignorant to get bogged down with, yet of course that is precisely what happens with atheists.
None of which is to say that the chain of reasoning that yields the conclusion that there is a God and that God is eternal and maybe a few other attributes beyond that – none of this is perfect. But so what? Bring epistemology into that question – or any other, for that matter – and you’ll never reach the bottom.
The point is that within the parameters of the kind of reasoning we do all the time, upon which our very lives depend, there’s a good argument to be made that the existence of God is a certainty, and that argument was actually made centuries ago, long before the Christian religion, to which there is so much hostility, was even around.
It is atheism that requires endless intellectual digressions and contortions just to be plausible. You might say that it flows naturally from radical empiricism, but that simply proves the point: there is almost no view of reality less natural – and in many ways frankly stupid – than radical empiricism. That it has been a popular intellectual affectation for more than a century is a testament not to any compelling claim to empiricism’s truth but rather to the impoverished condition of our intellectual class.