According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of atheists in America nearly doubled in just 7 years (2007-2014), from 1.6 percent to 3.1 percent. Ironically, atheism is climbing at a time when the scientific and philosophical case for the existence of God has reached new heights. Believers in the monotheistic religions must work together to get out the word to the wider culture: God not only exists, He can be known to exist.
The existence of God is fundamental to our Constitution and our way of life. As Jefferson noted in the Declaration of Independence, our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are “endowed by our Creator,” a fact also reflected in the preamble to the Constitution, which we the people instituted in order to secure the divine “blessings” of liberty. Only the authority of God can empower the individual to resist the pressures of a tyrannical State and overbearing society.
Many recent atheist and agnostic philosophers have argued that there is no good reason to give special protection to religious liberties, including my former colleagues Brian Leiter ("Why Tolerate Religion?") and John Corvino ("Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination"). Given their atheistic assumptions, they are quite right: James Madison’s arguments for the First Amendment explicitly presupposed the existence of God. In his "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments" (1785), Madison wrote, “It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent… to the claims of Civil Society.” Our right to religious liberty rests logically on the reality of our supreme duty to God our Creator.
The health and progress of both science and philosophy also depend on the widespread recognition of God’s reality. All of the pioneers of science started with the conviction that a rational God had made the world in accordance with “number, weight, and measure” ("Wisdom of Solomon" chapter 13), and that He had created us in His image, sharing a spark of divine wisdom. If human thought consists of nothing but some “motions in the brain of a bewildered ape,” as G. K. Chesterton put it in his prophetic 1908 essay “The Suicide of Thought,” then we could have no reason to put any confidence in the validity of human thought, a point also made by C. S. Lewis in "Miracles: A Preliminary Study." All great Western art, literature, and music for the last millennium, from the Sistine Chapel to Rembrandt’s workshop, from Gregorian chant to the polyphony of Bach, and from Dante and Chaucer to T. S. Eliot, J. R. R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, or James Joyce, has been either inspired by awe for God or haunted by anxiety over His apparent absence.
Modern physics has discovered that the fundamental constants of our universe (such as the relative strength of the fundamental forces, including gravity, electromagnetism, and the two nuclear forces) have been carefully fine-tuned so as to make complex chemistry and so life itself possible. This fine-tuning is discussed by physicist Father Robert Spitzer in "New Evidence for the Existence of God" and by Dr. Francis Collins (former head of the NIH) in "The Language of God." The world’s expert on the question is philosopher Robin Collins at Messiah College, who maintains a website dedicated to the argument. The simplicity and elegance of the laws of nature also point to an intelligent creator, as argued by Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne ("The Existence of God").
Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, winner of the 2017 Templeton Prize in Religion, has demonstrated that the atheistic naturalist faces global “defeat” of all his beliefs due to Darwin’s doubt: the fact that natural selection (if undirected by God) has no interest in securing the capacity of any organism (including human beings) to secure really true (as opposed to merely useful or well-adapted beliefs). Plantinga’s "Where the Conflict Really Lies" is the most important work in the last century on the relation between natural science and theistic belief.
Finally, recent work in philosophical metaphysics has revived the classical “cosmological” arguments: the proofs that demonstrate the existence of an uncaused First Cause of the world. Recent work by Alexander Pruss, Timothy O’Connor, Joshua Rasmussen, and me has made a compelling case for the existence of a necessary being as the ultimate source of the existence of everything that is bounded by space and time. Empirical knowledge depends on the presupposition that all natural things have causes. Unless there is an infinite regress, this entails the existence of at least one supernatural entity as the First Cause, and Pruss and I have recently demonstrated that the possibility of infinite regresses would generate insoluble logical paradoxes, thereby closing that loophole.
Rob Koons is a professor of philosophy specializing in logic, metaphysics, philosophical theology, and political thought. He is the author and editor of six books, including "The Atlas of Reality: A Comprehensive Guide to Metaphysics" (with Tim Pickavance, Wiley-Blackwell, 2017). He has been active in conservative circles, both nationally and in Texas, including the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the National Association of Scholars, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Philadelphia Society, and the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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