“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God”” (Psalm 53:1).
The psalmist and fool sit across the table from one another, cards in hand, and bets tendered. The fool gambled with all he had in life, placing all his chips in the center of the table, sitting smugly in his chair, and holding his cards close to his chest. He daringly looks straight at the psalmist. The psalmist calmly and softly announces, “I call your hand. Show it.”
The fool lays down his hand and defiantly declares, “There is no God!”
The psalmist looks at the atheist’s cards and replies, “Say that again.”
The fool again exclaims louder and in a more boisterous tone, “There is no God!”
His cards reveal the word God on each card as both the psalmist and fool stare at them. The psalmist presents his hand. It, too, had God written on each card. He declares, “Sorry, you lose Mr. Fool. Your cards you held next to your heart betray you.”
The fool stared at his cards and gazed at what he just admitted. The cards were clear. His claim contradicted the cards he held close to his chest. The cards reflected what he thought in his heart and thereby conceived in opposition to what he claimed. His speech betrayed his thoughts. He claimed there was no God while his thoughts conceived God’s existence. The very mention of God showed what his cards showed that he held close to his chest. He claimed with his mouth that God did not exist while making mention of God on His tongue.
The psalmist met the fool’s eyes and said to him, “You lose the hand and all that you have, for one cannot think with his thoughts, conceive in his mind, or extrapolate from what does not exist. You have thought of God, because God implanted Himself deep inside you. You conceived God in your thoughts before making the verbal claim about the non-existence of God. See there, your thoughts appear on each card you held close to your chest right next to your heart…”
The fool raised his hand and shouted, “Hold on, Mr. Psalmist! I can think about unicorns and Superman.”
He smiled widely as he laid down a card with a unicorn on it and claimed, “They don’t exist! Yet I thought of them and conceived of a unicorn.”
He then laid down another card that showed a picture of Superman and said with a big grin, “Here is another non-existent being from another non-existent planet. I can conceive of him flying, bending steel with his bare hands, and moving faster than a bullet, but he doesn’t exist.”
The psalmist briefly thought and then spoke, “A unicorn is nothing but a horse, and certain novelists have simply placed a horn on his nose and given it the name ‘unicorn’. Horses exists in reality as do horns. Somebody got creative and integrated them into a fictitious animal and gave it a fictitious name. With Superman, his creators knew men existed. They then dressed him up in a Halloween costume and assigned him the powers of flying, great strength, and speed. All of these characteristics exists in the real world. Birds fly, polar bears have great strength, and the cheetah runs fast. It is easy for us to imagine all of these characteristics with a man, and comic book creators did just that.”
The fool replied, “But men have to create a god or gods because one does not really exist. These other things are not gods but fictional characters in novels and comic books. What do you have to say to that Mr. Psalmist?”
The psalmist raised his finger to his lips and thought for several seconds before continuing, “Think about what you just said, Mr. Fool. What is the source of these gods or god? They are extrapolations of what exist. Much like the creation of Superman or the unicorn, god creators integrate from things that exists, because they cannot think or conceive of that which does not exist. In spite of denials of God, individuals who create gods do so as extrapolations of what exist. They take from creation – animals, rocks, trees, the sun, and even people – and integrate them into what they conceived as God and take it to be their god or gods. They knew God exists because they cannot think of that which does not exists. God exists. Therefore, they think and conceive of Him. They want some image to represent what they conceive in their thoughts. As they perceive the created order, they choose from it those things they want to represent the God of which they already conceived in their thoughts. They then create their god or gods from the knowledge God planted in their thoughts and what they wanted from creation to represent Him from creation. They make an idol from corrupting the true God.”
The fool folds his arms and sits gazing at the five cards he placed on the table that reflected what was in his thoughts. He then looked at the psalmist’s card, and they reflected back his thoughts, also. What was he to do? In claiming there was no God, he admitted thinking of God and entertaining Him in his mind. He thought, “Where did those thoughts come from? My parents through their parents and their parents before them!”
The fool then looked up, and with a gleam in his eye leaned forward and looked straight into the eyes of the psalmist and spoke, “I asked myself where the thoughts of God came from and I have an answer!”
The psalmist, inquisitive then asked, “What is it?”
The fool then replied, “My parents told me of God just as their parents before them, and their parents even before them. You see, generations past passed on this fictitious thing called god. It’s like an inheritance passed down through the generations, an inheritance through the mind. What do you say to that, Mr. Psalmist?”
The psalmist still engaged the fool’s eyes, smiled, and then replied, “Are you accusing your parents of lying to you by later denying what they believed? Furthermore, where did the original humans receive their idea of God if one cannot entertain in one’s thoughts, conceive of, or extrapolate from what does not exist? How then did the thought of God come to be in the mind of the first person that ever lived if you wish to trace back that far?”
The fool thought hard for several minutes and then spoke once again, “Evolution! God evolved along with the evolution of all that exists! As we evolved, we continued to bring to mind that which is greater than ourselves, and we began to worship that greater thing or things. However, some saw through the charade of religion of a hierarchy of being with God as the highest to which humanity must worship. Those who recognized that all creatures are on equal plane without some hierarchy saw no need for a crutch like religion. Rather reason led them to the conclusion that humanity needed no God.
The fool paused, took a breath, and then continued, “They determined that the default position was really atheism at birth. Babies have no notion of God, because they are atheists when born. Humanity’s natural dependency led to the need for a god or something of a divinity, and hence god and gods arose from the creation of the mind.”
The fool folded his arms and thought, “I have the psalmist now.”
The psalmist then replied, “Are you suggesting that (all we are as persons with the attributes of thinking, acting, and feeling) some impersonal thing or process determined by blind and mindless forces of chance made us into more than a robot or machine?(1) How could we then be free or exercise any modicum of free will, make choices, or even guide our own thoughts. We could not be thought of as having personality with hopes and aspirations, goals, and dreams for guiding our lives and giving us meaning. Speaking of chance, how could it even move matter to generate the form of all that exists into millions and billions of shapes and give shape to the universe as we know it? Pure chance (or randomness) cannot give such direction without there being some determinism for shaping what exists.(2) At the point of direction, chance ceases to be chance and becomes intelligent direction for guiding and shaping the universe. Additionally, such intelligence gives rise to intelligence (humanity) and animate and inanimate objects as well as the knowledge of such intelligent design within us for promoting our own imagination, creativity, and thinking. That is, Mr. Fool, intelligence gives rise to intelligence, making the default position as theism or something greater than ourselves and the entire universe.”
After a moment, the psalmist continued, “Mr. Fool, do you not think and make choices or are you simply a machine for programming and that we obey the impulses of determinism without recourse? Do you really want to take the path that humanity is nothing more than a set of drones without meaning, purpose, and hope and that what exists in the material world is all that exists? How can you judge your life worth living? How can you distinguish between right and wrong or good and bad? How can you judge something fair or not fair? How can you make any moral judgments at all? How could such judgments even arise through randomness and chance?”
The fool looked at the cards he placed on the table between him and the psalmist, reading the word “God” on each card. Then he glanced at the other cards he place on the table that read “unicorn” and “Superman.” He pondered what the psalmist said and then replied, “Hmm, no I am not a machine but free to think, make choices, and act.”
After making that statement, the fool’s face brightened and he took another direction and exclaimed, “But Mr. Psalmist, you cannot prove scientifically that God exists.. You simply must accept it by faith, because in the face of a lack of fact and knowledge, you as a believer in God must simply take a flying leap of faith.”
The psalmist replied, “Mr. Fool, you have now taken several directions without replying directly to my rebuttals or giving a defense FOR your position that there is no God. Your tactic of evasion shows you have no answers or adequate replies to theism. It is one thing to deny something, but it is an entirely different matter to defend your own position. Denial is not a defense. So far you simply have offered excuses for not believing in God while failing to give a defense for your position. If your position is indeed valid, you must show it.”
The fool interrupted, “I do not need to “prove” anything. How can you ask me to defend what I do not have and do not need – faith? I do not need faith, because faith is a religious thing and arises due to a lack of knowledge and scientific proof. It is on you, Mr. Psalmist, to prove God exists and not on fools to prove or defend non-existence. You cannot prove non-existence, anyway.
The psalmist then replied, “Thank you for raising the issue of faith. I will join that issue with your assertion of proof for God and not being able to prove non-existence. I have several questions for you regarding:
- Have you ever been married? You make a faulty divorce between faith and knowledge as though faith takes over when knowledge is absent.
- Do you hold or need scientific proof that your spouse is trustworthy and faithful?
- Do you really claim that science is the arbiter or medium for all knowledge and that unless something is scientifically proven, it is false or not worthy of consideration and analysis?
- Do you really understand the nature of “proof”?
- Do you really claim you do not need to support any claim you have about your atheism?
- Do you really believe one cannot prove non-existence?
Let us take up these questions when we get together again for continuing our game. Thanks for all your chips I won.
(1) See Edward Feser, “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Kindle location 3890.
(2) See Robert J. Spitzer, “New Proofs for the Existence of God,” Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010, p.65-67, 74, 90-91.