by guest blogger, BroKen
It has seemed to me that there are two possible reasons a person becomes an atheist. One was that they were uncomfortable with the idea of an authority in their life and choose to deny it exists. That is the psychological source for atheism that I asked you to consider at the end of the last letter.
The other possibility was difficulty reconciling an all-loving and all-powerful God with the evil around us. They say if God were loving and powerful, He would not allow such evil to continue. Philosophers call this issue the Problem of Evil. It is very deep and very wide. I won't wade in here except to say this is only an argument against an all-powerful and all-loving God. In these letters I am merely asking you to consider the possibility of something, not a specific deity. I listed some other possibilities at the beginning of that last letter. So, the Problem of Evil, since it is limited to one specific deity, still allows for some kind of God. Human experience of Love, Beauty, Reason, Justice, Consciousness, etc. all point to something beyond us. Can you admit that there must be something more than matter and energy?
I see now that there is at least a third possible reason people become atheist. This third reason involves confusion about what it means to know something.
Religious people say we know God exists. Even without direct experience, religious people express confidence. “I never spoke with God, nor visited in heaven; yet certain am I of the spot as if the chart were given.” --Emily Dickinson.
Some of us even say that we know God personally, that we've talked to Him, that He has made His presence known to us. Almost always that knowledge, while it might involve some sights or sounds, does not come through our senses but some other way. An atheist would likely respond that we might as well be talking about a six foot tall white rabbit. If they don't see it, it doesn't exist. For many atheists, it seems, there is no other way to know something besides their senses.
Religions are nearly unanimous that God is outside of the physical universe. He transcends what we experience through our senses. Do you see how the decision to limit knowledge to empirical sense data eliminates the possibility of finding God before the search even starts? It is like the man looking for his keys under a street lamp even though he dropped them a block away in a dark alley.
Science shines a very bright light. But consider how the most important things in human experience; things like Love, always resist scientific explanation. Science, when applied to them, reduces them to mere mental states; or practically nothing. Yet, we know that things like Love exist even when we aren't sure exactly what they are.
So, Dear Unbeliever, will you consider the possibility that there might be more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your empirical philosophy?