colored cubes are links to additional background materials
Readers’ note: Admittedly, this second point may be difficult to grasp for some with less background. Please make the effort to stretch that grey matter just a bit! :)
Epistemology is the study of what is true and how we order what we understand to be truth.
Modernism and Greek philosophy share the same first principle, they are materialistic.
An empiricist is one who believes that all data must be verified through one or more of the five senses. It is the foundation of the scientific method.
You are in the
Understanding Belief Systems
section of this site.
This may be a difficult study for some. Don’t get discouraged. Let the Bible speak!
Be satisfied to gain a little background now, and then grow yourself as your witnessing needs require.
Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? - Isaiah 29:16
By strict definition atheism denies the existence of a supreme being or beings. Atheists are often observed in one of two categories, the nominal atheist and the committed atheist who genuinely believes that theism is the nemesis of the human race. For our purposes, we have included the skeptic and agnostic in this grouping because they generally embrace the same reasoning as the atheist.
Atheists are present in numbers. The religiously unaffiliated atheist probably represents the third largest group of non-evangelicals we will meet. Because the majority of atheists do not affiliate, they are not included in many demographics and are more likely to go uncounted. In recent years, thanks much to the influence of Richard Dawkins1, atheists have become far more militant. At the same time, they have expressed a gentler and kinder representation (often called soft atheism) in the media. While the rhetoric of the older, “angry” atheist is certainly visible, the modern atheist is often more gentile and articulate. Because atheists have had a disproportionate presence in our university systems they have influenced an entire culture. Many atheists have been consistently less than honest by not allowing for the expression of creationist, or even intelligent design views. University instructors, in particular, have been well known for intimidating impressionable collegians.
In the final analysis, the atheist is his own god, but the basis of his atheism is rooted in materialism. All genuine atheists are philosophical or scientific materialists2. The historic roots of atheism can be traced back to the virtual collapse of Greek culture which resulted when their philosophers faced the grim reality that their gods had no power, were not rational, and in fact, did not exist. As Greek thought faced total bankruptcy and society disintegrated, Greek philosophers rebuilt their epistemological system by returning to a single first principle (Greek: stoicheon). It was assumed that somewhere, at some point, however minuscule, there remained a single material constant. They assumed the principle of constancy within the creation. Math and science as we know it, arose from this first principle.4. Of course, the Bible says this creation constancy does not exist and that the creation is in a state of constant “together change” (Romans 8:22 as noted in the Greek, and Hebrews 1:10-12). God alone is unchanging and He exists outside of His changing creation.
The Greek commitment to a materialistic constant lead to the later development of Western thought (via the Renaissance or rebirth of Greek thought). This view stood in direct contradiction to their earlier pagan assumptions that the universe was a mix of both spiritual and material influences.
The success of Christianity smothered this Greek influence, but by no means, eradicated it. In time, both Greek (or western) thought and paganism began to re-infiltrate corrupt Christianity and eventually re-emerged. Greek thought was now to be tested in what we call “modern” history and the twentieth century was its laboratory. The world’s great materialists, such as Karl Marx and others held sway and materialism reigned. Their empiricist mantra: If you can’t see it or measure it, it doesn’t exist!
The end of an era. Materialism with all its optimism began collapsing in on itself (in our lifetime!) because man simply could not deny his spiritual existence. In the end, it was replaced with what we call post-modernism, a system which calls for the deconstruction of modernism to allow for the re-emergence of ancient (pagan) religious practices - with an unholy mix of science thrown in for respectability.
We have said all of the above in order to understand the plight of the atheist. From the secular perspective, he is fast becoming a vestigial remain of a bygone era. As a materialist, he shares his heritage with the Greeks, but he is considered passé in the postmodern circles that are “emerging” in academia. The atheist is being replaced not by theists, but by creation based worshipers. His only remaining bastion is academia and his only Bible is Darwin. He is fast losing ground in both arenas3. The atheist’s god, then, is the universe (the creation of which he is part).
The theory of organic evolution as initiated by Charles Darwin and later refined, is not the basis of atheism, but rather, it is his chosen weapon of defense. Evolution has long since been shown to be irrational, to require giant leaps of faith, to be self-contradictory, and erroneous. The religious fervor of evolutionists has postured them in an embarrassing light that any thinking high schooler who makes half an effort can observe.
Why then, is evolution held so fervently? It is a convenient system because, at first glance only, it does seem to argue for inevitable progress. Evolution also serves both atheists and humanists well. Evolution is palpable to the unregenerate mind because it releases it from being under God’s authority as the creator who demands our allegiance (Matthew 4:10). Secondly, like the carrot ahead of the donkey, it teases men with our imagined potential for progression and forward movement through “education,” (Genesis 3:5).
Though atheists would protest, Bible believers contend that men embrace evolution because they want to.3 Hitler’s propagandist once declared that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will come to believe it. What Mr. Goebbels failed to note is that men want to be told this lie. That is why God says they are fools5. Read Romans 1.
Nothing offends an atheist more than the suggestion that he is morally bankrupt. In fact, his argument often rests on the fact that he sees the biblical God as having moral issues with wrath, anger, and repression in general. While many atheists are generally good and somewhat moral people, this only evidences the great disconnect or contradiction in their system (not their characters).
By rights, atheists have no intellectual or material basis on which to assume any moral position because they see themselves as purely material, a collection of atoms and molecules, organized through the unseen force of evolution. Nature is amoral. The creation is less than moral, leaving the atheist with moral ambivalence or relativism as his starting point. Worse, atheism, carried to its consistent conclusion demands depression at best and self-destruction. While atheists hate the biblical God, they have never contributed a single solution to the dilemma of man. The atheist simply has no moral authority. The atheist who showcases his personal morality and compassion blatantly argues against his own case for amoral materialism. Morality is a spiritual quality which is not evidenced in matter.
a. Spiritual life cannot evolve from material any more than life can evolve from non life. The creation is bound in sin (Romans 8:21). God lovingly sent His Son into the creation in order to free us from the bondage of sin (John 3).
b. No man is neutral. We have all rejected the light God has given and have lost the capacity to be spiritually or morally objective. For this reason, atheists are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, 3:23, 6:23).
c. God has left His testimony in the creation, and demonstrated His willingness, ability, and intent to judge sin in the record of the flood (2 Peter 3:1-13). The atheist, who prides himself in open mindedness is willingly ignorant when he does not consider the empirical evidence that God has provided. He will be held accountable by his own intellectual devices (i.e. his own empiricism and rationalism).
d. Only Christ can fill the spiritual vacuum which is in our hearts. We were created to enjoy true spiritual fellowship with Him (John 10:10).
1. Search for “Richard Dawkins militant atheism” for a full discussion.
2. For advanced students: In this instructor’s opinion, atheists are illogical and anomalistic in that they embrace multiple “first principles.” They exercise the same kind of faith which is represented in all false systems, based upon a trail of what they consider to be observable evidence. They assume the existence of their first cause, the Big Bang. Like the humanist, they are evolutionary and dedicated to the principle of forward progress, (something else accepted by faith). At the same time, unlike the creation based worshiper, they are materialistic, denying spirituality of any sort.
3. What role, from the Christian perspective, does this “vestigial” atheist play in Antichrist’s plan, especially in this day and age when materialism is being rejected by so many outside of the old guard scientific community? The answer lies, not in Satan’s “theology,” but in his methodology. Atheism serves the same purpose anarchy does in political revolutions. It seeks to disrupt order and cast doubt (“...hath God said?” Genesis 3:1) in order to bring in a new order. Atheism, (while seeking to destroy true spirituality) creates the disorder and vacuum in the hearts of men while intimidating those who would know the truth. In the end times, the supernatural manifestations of Antichrist will persuade all living atheists to believe him (2 Thessalonians 2:5-12).
4. We need to understand that evolution claims to be built on the foundations of both math and science. Math and science often serve us well in the near context. Both, however, are based on the same first principle (the principle of constancy in creation) and both fail when extrapolated to the ends of the universe. Evidence of this may be found in the great tension (rarely admitted) between astrophysics and nano mechanics. Science is neither universally empirical nor rational.
5. As an aside. All lies are suggested alternate realities. We tend to mock ancient tribal peoples for their myths, taboos, and legends, while we fail to see that we ourselves are blurring the distinctions between fantasy and reality on a daily basis as is evidenced in our world of videos, entertainment, and even TV commercials. In the end, this inability to distinguish what is and what can be, has prepped us for the coming lie of Antichrist.