Re: the atheist question

Stephen Jones (
Wed, 22 Apr 98 05:51:23 +0800


On Tue, 14 Apr 1998 20:06:57 -0500, Glenn Morton wrote:


GM>In short, if christians of all strips can't handle observational
data correctly...

At best this is irrelevant-Christianity could still be true, despite
any alleged deficiencies in Christians handling of observational
data. And at worst it is false-you have presented no evidence that
Christians *as a whole* are any more prone to mishandling
observational data than any other comparable group of human beings.

Just trotting out quotes from your favourite whipping boys the YECs,
who indeed may mishandle (not necessarily "can't handle")
observational data where it conflicts with their YEC presuppositions,
does not establish that "christians *of all strips* can't handle
observational data correctly".

GM> can one know that Christianity is correct?

The simple answer is that one can't *know* that Christianity
is correct, any more than one can *know* that any of the
alternatives to Christianity, like atheism, are correct.

The best that anyone can do is look at all the available evidence and
alternatives and make their own personal decision, recognising all
along they could be wrong. My personal assessment of the evidence is
that Christianity is correct, but I could be wrong. I "walk by
faith, not by sight" (2Cor 5:7).

But one thing I do know, if atheism is correct, then it doesn't
matter if I believe in Christianity, because atheism holds that there
is no capital `T' Truth, life is ultimately meaningless, and that all
life in the universe will inevitably be extinguished in the heat
death of the universe (if not before), in which and it will be as
though we all, atheists and Christians alike, had never existed:

"That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision
of the end hey were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his
slopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of
accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no
intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life
beyond the grave; that all the labours of: the ages, all the
devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human
genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar
system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must
inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins-all
these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain,
that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only
within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation
of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be
safely built." (Russell B., "Mysticism and Logic," 1949, pp47-48)

In my teens I was a militant atheist (not just an agnostic), who
positively believed and argued that there was no God. Whether I had
then read the above by Russell or at had worked it out for myself, I
cannot remember. But I still do vividly remember thinking that if one
day it wiould not have mattered whether the human race had ever
existed, then I might as well commit suicide and spare myself the
pain of living.

In the end I became a philosophical theist because I could not accept
(bear?) that it was a meaningless universe. It seemed to me that
there was too much order in the universe for that. I knew nothing of
Christianity at that stage (having come from a completely
non-Christian home), and did not in fact become a Christian until about
a year later.

If someone has never been an atheist, I don't think they can *really*
understand the depth of despair that people like Russell (and me in
my own small way) felt when contemplating a universe heading for
total, inexorable, meaningless, ruin.

But the reverse is definitely not the case. If Christianity is
correct then it most certainly matters whether I believe in atheism!


Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \
Warwick 6024 ->*_,--\_/ Phone +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, West Australia v "Test everything." (1Thess 5:21)