Monday, August 26, 2013

Article: Atheism and the Burden of Proof by Paul Copan

In this featured article, Dr. Paul Copan writes:

In conversations with atheists, they may challenge us:
“You’re claiming that God exists. Therefore, the burden of proof rests on you, not me. So … where’s your evidence?”
Atheist Michael Scriven insists “we need not have a proof that God does not exist in order to justify atheism. Atheism is obligatory in the absence of any evidence for God’s existence.”1 Or perhaps someone has told you that belief in God is just like belief in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. Where do we begin to respond to such assertions?

In the article, Copan advises:

  • First, define your terms-especially atheism.
  • Second, the atheist also bears the burden of proof in making the claim,"God does not exist."
  • Third, look our for the "atheist's" slide to agnosticism, from claiming disbelief to mere unbelief.
  • Fourth, distinguish between the two types of agnostics-ordinary and ornery.
  • Fifth, distinguish between "proof" and "good reasons."
  • Sixth, we have good reasons for belief in the biblical God, but not in mythical beings like mermaids, elves, unicorns, the tooth fairy, or flying spaghetti monsters. 
  • Seventh, we should distinguish between two types of ignorance — innocence and culpable — and the agnostic would be quite culpable of refusing to seek.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

19 comments:

Andrew Ryan said...

Belief isn't the same as knowledge. An atheist simply lacks BELIEF in a God - literally an atheist is simply someone who isn't a theist. There's no knowledge claim inherent in atheism.

Anonymous said...

So the atheist should stay out of discussion on the existence of God because all they can offer is a knowledge-less opinion.

John Moore said...

Opinions can be valuable. Why don't you want to engage with Andrew Ryan in a discussion? Just because he doesn't have absolute certainty, that doesn't mean you can't learn something from the interaction.

Andrew Ryan said...

When polls of bible knowledge are made, atheists tend to score hire than Christians, so Anon's assertion does not hold water.

Anonymous said...

So now we go from no knowledge to more knowledge than those who claim to have knowledge. Interesting in deed.

Seems like such a hopeless state to be in with the above definition of atheism. All the studying and yet all you come away with is unbelief. No matter how much one pour’s into seeking an answer the best one can get is unbelief. It’s like a hamster in a cage with its wheel, there is a lot of exercise but at the end of the day it’s stuck exactly where it started, unbelief, and that is all it can hope for the next day. Why bother?

Andrew Ryan said...

Anon, you've completely missed the point, and you've employed poor logic too. The term 'atheist' doesn't tell us anything about what a person knows. Any assumption you make is just that - an assumption. The term purely tells us their belief position with regards to the existence of a deity.

"All the studying and yet all you come away with is unbelief"

So it's pointless studying Greek or Roman mythology unless you start to believe in Juno or Jupiter? That's a poor argument. You seem to argue that there's no point studying anything unless you already have your conclusion decided from the outset. That's poor science too. Much important study is important for what it rules out.

Thanks for the conversation.

Anonymous said...

I see belief as the preperation for death, and goes to your statement on innocence and culpable, but not in the way you express them. The animals of the land, the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, all of which we named are innocence and not culpable. They don't know they are mortal, they still exist in the Garden. The animal does not know their actions either innocence or delibreite can and will cause death, wether its my dog knocking the fish bowl off the table with his wagging tail or the cat bringing a mouse to the back steps, where we (athiests and believers have the knowledge of death, even the athiest acknowledges that that they are motal and cupable of their own death. Just being cupable of death is acknowleging the existance of God (or any other name they choose to call the creator)

Roger Adlon said...

After reading the article, it may be a good idea to try to do what it suggests, “define your terms”.

So here goes, belief – 1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing, 2: something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group, 3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence.

Doesn’t the atheist hold to a state or habit of mind in which they are confident that there is no God? Isn’t the atheist part of a group that believes the tenet that there is no God and the body of tenets that follow from that? After claiming to examine the evidence, doesn’t the atheist hold the conviction of the reality that there is no God or the truth of the statement there is no God?

Next, knowledge – 1: the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association, 2: the fact or condition of being aware of something, 3: the range of one's information or understanding, 4: the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning, 5: the fact or condition of having information or of being learned.
Doesn’t the atheist claim that through experience they know the fact or condition of reality that there is no God? Doesn’t the atheist claim to be in the condition of being aware that there is no God? Doesn’t the atheist claim that the existence of God is outside of his range of information or understanding? Doesn’t the atheist claim to apprehend the truth that there is no God through reasoning? Isn’t the atheist in the condition of having the information and of having learned that there is no God?

Etienne Borne states “Atheism is the deliberate, definite, dogmatic denial of the existence of God. It is not satisfied with appropriate truth or relative truth, but claims to know the ins and outs of the game being quite clearly the absolute denial of the absolute.”

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines an atheist as “a person who maintains that there is no God, that is, that the sentence ‘God exists’ expresses a false proposition…a person who rejects belief in God.”

I understand that the atheist is in the unenviable position of having to present positive evidence for an absolute negation, which is quite difficult to do since the ability to prove an absolute negation requires infinite knowledge. So in order to avoid the difficulty of said situation, the atheist is left to play postmodern word games by redefining the terms and claiming to have no burden of proof. But when we jump into that can of worms, we must understand that postmodernism is a self-defeating world view since the postmodernist must use words and their definitions to defend his worldview. Also, no one is really a postmodernist when it comes to mortgage, financial or employment contracts, medications, food labels, etc., etc., etc.

The atheist should not hide behind the claim that he “lacks belief”. To say “I lack belief in God” is of no practical difference than to say “I believe there is no God”. He should be willing to do the hard work of researching and investigating the evidence. If he is truly open minded, and desires to know what is true, he will do this with honesty and sincerity.

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” – Rush, “Free Will”

“You aren’t open to learning at all if you don’t learn from your opponent.” – Christopher Hitchens

Roger Adlon said...

I was reading the book The End of Religion by Bruxy Cavey this evening and came across the following definition of faith in the chapter Religion Versus Relationship. Since the beginning point of this discussion is the definition of terms, I thought his comments would be useful addition to the posted comments.

“Faith is a deeply relational concept. It means “trust” or “trustworthiness.” Both the Hebrew emunah and Greek pistis have the double meaning of faith and faithfulness, trust and trustworthiness. Faith is the belief or trust in a person that moves us to act lovingly and loyally toward that person. It is not believing something that runs against our intellect, but moving beyond intellect to experience. If I have faith in Jesus, this means that I trust him enough to follow him, to embrace his teachings for my life. Dallas Willard states it simply, “Remember, to believe something is to act as if it is so.” (The atheist believes that God does not exists and acts as if this is so.)

I love my wife. I trust her. I have faith in her. And I am faithful to her. This faith is not unreasonable or anti-intellectual, but neither is it merely an academic process. It is relational, which is a higher way of knowing. So faith and reason are not opposites, but just different categories of knowing. I know 2 + 2 = 4. I also know my wife. One is reason; the other is relationship (and there are good reasons for that relationship). The faith I have in [my wife] is not unreasonable or contrary to evidence – it just goes far beyond reason to intimacy.

To have faith is not so much to believe a certain checklist of theology or to participate in a specific list of rituals, but to trust in a Person, to be committed to that Person, to be oriented toward rather than away from that Person.”

He then quotes Marcus Borg with “To believe in a person is quite different from believing that a series of statements about the person are true… Believing that and believing in are very different. The first leads to an emphasis on correct belief, on believing the right things (which is a good place to start). The second leads to a transformed life.”

In the Amplified Bible, the Greek word normally translated “believe in”, is amplified to its full meaning, to “believe in, trust in, cling to, rely on.” Faith is a confident trust in a reliable source. The object of faith is real and trustworthy. If you want to come near to God, you must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. He is real, He is reliable and He is trustworthy.

Anonymous said...


Anon, you've completely missed the point, and you've employed poor logic too. The term 'atheist' doesn't tell us anything about what a person knows. Any assumption you make is just that - an assumption. The term purely tells us their belief position with regards to the existence of a deity.

How can someone have a “belief position” on anything if they lack “belief” regarding that thing? There is no position to be had, unless the position is ignorance. But you have made it known that atheist have awareness of the Bible at least. It seems you are just trying to be evasive.

I believe your definition of atheism is practically useless. It does nothing to answer the question, “Does God exist?” Do you agree, disagree, or just lack belief in that proposition?


So it's pointless studying Greek or Roman mythology unless you start to believe in Juno or Jupiter? That's a poor argument. You seem to argue that there's no point studying anything unless you already have your conclusion decided from the outset. That's poor science too. Much important study is important for what it rules out.

Why would someone want to be an atheist if all they can claim is lack of belief in a God with no inherent claim to knowledge? You don’t need to do anything to get that point. So why bother to put in any effort at all?

At what point of study can an atheist have enough information to move from lacking belief to having a belief, one way or the other? It seems that most reasonable persons should only stay at this state for a very short time on any given subject if they make good use of their time.

With your definition of atheism in mind, what do you think is the percentage of people who claim that God does not exist? What do you call them?

My conclusion was not decided from the outset. I can be persuaded from theism if you can give me good reasons to believe that I should “lack belief” in God. But based on the information I have so far I will stick with theism.

I’m all for good science and ruling out stuff that doesn’t belong.

This is my final comment for this post; I am out of time for this interaction.

Andrew Ryan said...

"The atheist should not hide behind the claim that he “lacks belief”. To say “I lack belief in God” is of no practical difference than to say “I believe there is no God”."

Roger, it's the difference between saying "Not guilty" and "Innocent". Not guilty means the opposition has failed to make their case sufficiently to demonstrate that the defence committed the crime. It doesn't mean the client is necessarily innocent.

I don't know if a God exists or not, but I believe one doesn't. It's similar to my position on Big Foot or aliens visiting the earth. I can't prove the non-existance, but I feel those advocating for the existence of all the above have failed to make a convincing case. They COULD be right, but I don't think they are, pending further evidence.

And yes, I act as if none of the above exist.

"He should be willing to do the hard work of researching and investigating the evidence."

There's no reason why one SHOULD do that. Most atheists I know HAVE done that, but I wouldn't tell people they SHOULD. Certainly there's nothing inherent in the label atheism that states one has a prerogative to do so. I don't know many Christians who have investigated the evidence for non-Christian Gods (though I'm sure some have).

"Doesn’t the atheist claim that the existence of God is outside of his range of information or understanding? "

Some may, some may not. All the term atheist tells us is that they aren't a theist.

"I understand that the atheist is in the unenviable position of having to present positive evidence for an absolute negation"

No, they just have to show that the arguments offered by theists don't hold water. Without those arguments, you're in a position where while one cannot rule OUT the existence of a deity, there's no particularly good reason to suppose one does exist, similar to Bertrand Russell's teapot.

Roger Adlon said...

Hi Andrew,

As a jurist, my verdict of “not guilty” does not change the truth of whether the defendant is actually innocent or guilty. The defendant goes free and there is no practical difference between my “not guilty” verdict and his treatment as innocent. And he cannot be brought to trial again for the charges of the same crime – double jeopardy, so he is considered innocent. Again, let us not play word games with analogies. They can make a point, but do not have the power of a one to one correspondence. a = a is true, a = b can be true or false.

Regarding the arguments, the atheist cannot just fold his arms, sit back and rest after demonstrating the failure of the arguments for Gods existence. He must present his case and give arguments why the proposition “God does not exist”, the claim of atheism, is true. Demonstrating that a proposition is false does necessitate the truth of its negation. Maybe both are false (it could be possible that pantheism is true), or there may be other reasons why the proposition is true (perhaps the theists arguments fail because deism is true). That is why the atheist must make a positive case for the negations despite the fact that he is in an unenviable position (“I feel your pain”). The existence of “Celestial Teapots” or “Flying Spaghetti Monsters” and the existence of God are apples and oranges arguments. I can prove the negations of teapots or monsters because of the definitions. Likewise, I can make positive arguments that Bigfoot or aliens do not exist.

The Christian does not need to investigate the existence of other possible Gods. If the existence of the Christian God is true, then the existence of others possible gods is necessarily false. Until the Christian has a defeater for his belief, then he has no reason to investigate otherwise. This follows from the law of non-contradiction.

The term atheist tells us not only that he is not a theist, but that he is not a deist, a polytheist, a pantheist or a panentheist. If you know that I am a theist, you know a lot more about me than that I just believe in the existence of a God who is personally interested and involved in creation. And if I am a Christian theist, you also know that I believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and follow his teachings, AND that there are logical out-workings (ideas, views, behaviors, etc.) which follow. If you know that I am a Muslim theist, then you know that I follow the teachings of the Quran and that there are logical out-workings which follow. If you know that I am a Hindu pantheist, then you know that I believe in the law of Karma and that there are logical out-workings that follow. Likewise, if you know that I am an atheist, then you know that I believe that there is no God and that there are logical out-workings which follow.

to be continued...

Roger Adlon said...

...continued from previous

The question of Gods existence is of tremendous importance, because the reality of the answer has either zero or infinite consequences. If he does not exist, then there are no consequences. If he exists, the consequences of my faith or lack thereof are infinite (see my second post about faith as we are discussing definitions). Both of these positions have logical out-workings that not only affect us as individuals, but they affect families, communities and nations. classical Buddhism is an atheistic philosophy and is therefore a possible logical out-working of that position. I'm sure you can give me reasons why you are not a classical Buddhist. The Soviet Union is a logical out-working of an atheistic philosophy. The USA is a logical out-working of a Judeo-Christian theistic/deistic philosophy. The USA could not have come from a pantheistic, polytheistic or atheistic philosophy. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is not an pantheistic, polytheistic or atheistic statement. Therefore the term atheist means much more than just belief in the truth of the proposition that there is no God.

Therefore we SHOULD make every effort to examine the evidence and be open minded in our search for truth. While I respect the decisions of those who reach their own conclusion, I am responsible for my decision. I can and will disagree with others conclusions, but I can and should continue the dialogue as we both seek to understand the others positions and as we each continue to build, grow, develop and even be open to the possibility of changing our own.

Blaise Pascal said, "Being unable to cure death, wretchedness, and ignorance men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.” Living a life of diversion and indifference to avoid thinking about the big questions will not lead to happiness. Thank you for thinking.

Andrew Ryan said...

"my verdict of “not guilty” does not change the truth of whether the defendant is actually innocent or guilty."

Sure, and you believing in God and me not believing doesn't change the truth about whether a God actually exists or not. But we're talking about our beliefs here.

"The Christian does not need to investigate the existence of other possible Gods. If the existence of the Christian God is true, then the existence of others possible gods is necessarily false."

Then Muslims, Sikhs etc can all say the same – they don't need to investigate claims about Jesus being the son of God, as such claims must necessarily be false if their own religion is true. You'll say that's a big 'if', but it's the same 'if' that you start your second sentence with above.

"If he does not exist, then there are no consequences."

No. If you're making decisions based on a false belief, then those decisions could affect yourself and other people in the only life you'll ever have and they'll ever have. That's a pretty big consequence. The 911 murderers had what both you and I would view as a false belief, and it had profound consequences for thousands if not millions of people.

Andrew Ryan said...

"The Soviet Union is a logical out-working of an atheistic philosophy."

Communist Russia was based on a communist philosophy. There's nothing inherently atheistic about communism, or even about socialism. It's possible to argue what Jesus preached was essentially socialism. As for modern Russia, it's heavily influenced by the Church. Look at that girl punk band whose members are currently in prison (they've got 'riot' in their name if you want to look them up) - part of their crimes involve 'religious hatred'. Why would an atheist society care about 'religious hatred'?

"The USA is a logical out-working of a Judeo-Christian theistic/deistic philosophy"

That's not one single philosophy you've got there! America is a secular state that is generally capitalist, with elements of socialism when it comes to running schools, the military, building roads etc. There's nothing religious about capitalism – it's no accident that the term 'survival of the fittest' was coined to describe capitalism, not natural selection. If you wanted to argue that natural selection is synonymous with atheism (I disagree, but many Christians argue it is), then there's a strong case to make that a belief in the Free Market naturally follows, given that it's basically natural selection applied to business. Libertarianism was invented by my near namesake, the atheist Ayn Ryan. And the Lemon Test in US law means that every law must have a secular justification.

“We hold these truths to be..."

And yet the Founding Fathers quite deliberately left any mention of God out of the Constitution. They had several votes on whether it should mention God, and every time they voted No. 'Lord' appears only once in reference to the year, and religion is referenced only to say there should be no religious test for office.

"The term atheist tells us not only that he is not a theist, but that he is not a deist, a polytheist, a pantheist or a panentheist."

Yes, I'll give you that.

"The existence of “Celestial Teapots” or “Flying Spaghetti Monsters” and the existence of God are apples and oranges arguments. I can prove the negations of teapots or monsters because of the definitions. Likewise, I can make positive arguments that Bigfoot or aliens do not exist."

I don't think they are apples/oranges arguments. Or at least I'd point out they're both fruit!

"Likewise, I can make positive arguments that Bigfoot or aliens do not exist."

I guess you can argue that aliens wouldn't be able to traverse the distances of space to reach us, but otherwise, arguments against aliens visiting earth pretty much rest on debunking visitation claims.

And at any rate, there are plenty of good arguments that the existence of the Christian God (at least) is illogical. Google "problem of non-god objects" for an example of one of them.

Roger Adlon said...

Hi Andrew,

If I understood you correctly, you were attempting to make the point that “not guilty” and “innocent” have different meanings as an analogy to your claim that “lacking belief” and “believe God does not exist” have different meanings. The point of our discussion is these definitions, and I am trying to point out that the definitions have no practical difference. The reality of actual guilt/innocence or existence/non-existence has no bearing on the practical meanings of the definitions we are discussing. So whatever the atheist is trying to achieve by claiming he “lacks belief” serves no practical purpose and he should just say that he "does not believe God exists". Then, as you graciously admitted, that belief (not lack of belief) reveals quite a bit about that person.

I think you know what I mean by apples/oranges. I imagine I could say they are apples/rocks arguments, but I guess you’d say they’re both matter. But again, the point is the definitions and you confirmed my point by being able to make a positive argument for the negation of alien existence. This is the challenge the atheist should willingly accept and pursue.

I should have differentiated between what I meant by the zero/infinite consequences and the effects of the logical out-workings. Yes, beliefs, both true and false, have consequences in life. I meant to say that the consequences I was referring to have to do with what happens after death. If there is no God, then the murderous 9/11 hijackers have no consequences and their end result is no different from the victims. If there is a God...?

Regarding the logical out-workings, communist philosophy is based on Marxism which is constructed on an atheist dialectic foundation. I said “Judeo-Christian theistic/deistic” philosophy because Christianity follows from Judaism and the majority of the founding fathers were Christian theists (I recall there were about 52 at the constitutional convention) with a few deists (I recall there were about 3). I’m not saying anything about natural selection, capitalism, socialism, etc. Those are other issues for other blogs. Also, modern Russia is no longer the Soviet Union. My point is that the Soviet Union is a logical out-working of atheistic philosophy, the USA is the logical out-working of a theistic/deistic philosophy, i.e. the “self-evident truths”. I think a cursory reading of the founding fathers will verify their conviction of the link between the morality necessary for liberty and the Christian religion. If Dawkins, Hitchens, et al were writing a constitution, would the free exercise of religion have any place in it? I think not, and that’s the point.

I hope I have sufficiently clarified what I meant on these last 2 points. It’s so easy to get sidetracked on tangential issues, and rabbit trails and red herrings. I have to work to remain focused on the main points of the discussion. Since I consider myself a lifelong learner, I am interested in learning from opposing views. As such, I will be investigating the logic of the “problem of non-god objects” you suggested. Perhaps we can exchange thoughts on that on a future blog. I am also interested in what you consider illogical about Christianity and the reasons why (fallacies, objections, evidence, etc.). Again, food for thought for a future blog. Are we having fun yet? Live long and prosper.

Andrew Ryan said...

"If there is no God, then the murderous 9/11 hijackers have no consequences and their end result is no different from the victims."

Right. So how we live on earth in the one life we KNOW we have is pretty important, no? Generally we hold that a resource becomes MORE valuable when we know there's a finite supply. Yes, it's bad that (from my viewpoint) we can't rely on 9/11 hijackers getting punished in an afterlife, but that makes it even more important to try to ensure we fight injustice in this life.

"If there is a God...?"

If there's a God then perhaps the hijackers are being punished. Or perhaps they picked the right God and they're being rewarded.

"Marxism which is constructed on an atheist dialectic foundation"

I don't think it is. There's nothing inherently atheistic about Marxism, just as there's nothing inherently religious about capitalism. If anything, as I already said, one could in fact argue the opposite.

"If Dawkins, Hitchens, et al were writing a constitution, would the free exercise of religion have any place in it? I think not"

Really? I can't think of a single one of the high-profile 'New Atheists', from Dawkins onwards, who have argued against the free exercise of religion.

Regarding the Declaration of Independence – America was founded on the Constitution, not the DoI, and I've already pointed out that they deliberately left out references to God in that document.

"I think a cursory reading of the founding fathers will verify their conviction of the link between the morality necessary for liberty and the Christian religion"

I don't know, quite a few of the Founding Fathers seemed to reject such a notion. I read the following Jefferson quote just yesterday:

"Some have made the love of God the foundation of morality. This, too, is but a branch of our moral duties, which are generally divided into duties to God and duties to man. If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such being exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to-wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. have observed, indeed, generally, that while in protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D’Alembert, D’Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God."


"Are we having fun yet?"

From the start!

Roger Adlon said...

Hi Andrew,

If there is no God, why is this life that we know we have of any importance? Where do we get the idea of injustice? Why does anything have value? If no one wanted gold, would gold have any value? Value determined by the price one is willing to pay. Christianity teaches that you and I have value because God was willing to pay the highest possible price for our redemption, His own son, Jesus.

If there is a God - I think that we can assume for our discussions that I am referring to the Christian God.

So, those who vociferously argue that religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, exposed by rational argument, mocked and ridiculed wherever its influence arises because it is evil and the cause of the wars, oppression and injustices of humanity would include free exercise in a government constitution? Really?

You don’t think there is anything inherently atheistic about Marxism? A cursory search of Marxism found the following:

“In his rejection of all religious thought, Marx considered the contributions of religion over the centuries to be unimportant and irrelevant to the future of humanity.”

“Marx came to see that religion was determined by the economic superstructure and therefore he believed abolishing class society would lead to an end to religion. He wrote much about these things before he had much developed his ideas concerning the abolition of private property and communism. Hostility towards religion was in fact the beginning of Marx’s philosophical career and it preceded dialectic materialism. It became critically fused with his economic and social ideas in his claim that religion, along with all other forms of thought, was the product of material conditions and the distribution of property. When the economic structures that created religion were destroyed, religion assumedly would disappear with it.”

“Dialectical materialism had the task of offering itself as an alternative to religious views of creation. Human beings were the natural products of the interplay of material forces and there was no room for supernatural interference in human destiny.”

“Marx’s hostility towards religion lessened in his later career when he wrote less about the subject and showed less enthusiasm about combating religious belief. He came to consider later in his life that religion would disappear naturally through the richness of ideas that would emerge from a rationalized order of communistic social life.”

That sounds to me like the dialectical materialism of Marxism, which is the foundation of the Soviet Union, is inherently atheistic.

To be continued…

Roger Adlon said...

…Continued for the previous

Your quote of Thomas Jefferson argues that atheists can be good without God. I have no disagreement with that. However that was not the point I was trying to make. My cursory search of founding father quotes revealed the following:

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?” – Thomas Jefferson --Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." – Patrick Henry--The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." – John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798

Freedom and liberty is the idea that is the foundation of America. It is a logical out-working of Christian theism that the founding fathers not only thought was self-evident truth, but that religion was necessary for preservation. Perhaps we can discuss why God is not mentioned in the constitution some time in the future.
[Regarding capitalism, socialism, etc., since James (who came to believe that his brother is God) stated that the love of money is a root of all evil, I do not think that there is an inherently Christian economic system.]

So in review, I have tried to make the case that an atheist is someone who believes that there is no God, that this belief is based on a knowledge claim, that the term atheist reveals more about a person than just disbelief in God and that there are logical out-workings which follow.

I know we could go on and on and on and on, but I will afford you the opportunity of any final thoughts. I look forward to more discussions on future blogs.

You are remembered in my prayers,
Roger

“Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God or of ourselves.” – Blaise Pascal