What is Atheism?

spaceship, ufo, landscape-2285527.jpg

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has made Africans consider more technological research and consider religion as irrelevant in its wake 1https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/african-atheism-rising/. Though African atheists would like Christianity discarded for being a ‘white man’s religion’, Kevin Muriithi points out that “we could also challenge them that “Atheism is a white man’s irreligion.”” Some atheists though have pushed back by saying that some ancient Africans have had atheist tendencies like some pygmies. Nevertheless, African societies have mostly been theistic but the enlightenment starting in the West has affected Africa due to the world becoming a global village as well as Africans studying in the West. A lot of what passes as Christianity in Africa like the prosperity gospel and charismania has also influenced the emergence of atheism. The fathers of atheism were Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872), Karl Marx (1818-1883), Friedrich Nietzsche (1840-1900) and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) promoting the idea that humans are a law to themselves. The so-called four horsemen of the New Atheism, Daniel Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life (1995), Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (2006), Sam Harris’ The End of Faith (2004), and the late Christopher Hitchens’ God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007), have added to their ideas and promoted public disapproval of religion. In Africa, where atheism was virtually unknown, we have major organizations in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. It is important to note that atheism is not just a matter of the head but heart issues are normally involved too. Atheists will complain about objective evil a lot despite the fact that many of the new atheists would admit that there is absolutely no meaning to life like Richard Dawkins has in print.

This article aims to discuss what atheism is, its implications and the way forward for both believers and unbelievers alike. John Njoroge has written about how atheists would like to redefine the meaning of atheism from “the positive thesis that God does not exist” to “the neutral claim that an atheist is one who simply lacks belief in God.” 2https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/defining-atheism This makes the atheist insist that it is only the theist who has the burden of proof and not the atheist because the atheist is not making any positive case. This is mistaken since a lack of belief in God does not logically follow that God surely does not exist. This does not help an atheist also because it shows that they are only in a psychological state which could be affirmed by even another animal like a cow. “’Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God” as stated by J.J.C. Smart. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines atheism as “the position that affirms the non-existence of God. It proposes positive disbelief rather than mere suspension of belief.” 3https://creation.com/atheism-a-religion Redefining the word atheism based on the etymology of the word still insists that God does not exist in the universe. It is strange that atheists who insist that they only lack belief in God go on to insist on meaning in life and moral values and duties which shows how much atheists have been influenced by the biblical tradition. Nietschze and Jean Paul Sarte show us that despair is the only real consequence of the atheist perspective and that “the validity of such positive attitudes about life is directly propositional to the plausibility of the existence of a caring God who directs the affairs of humanity.” Many atheists attempt to create a false dichotomy between faith and Science which they insist is naturalistic but it can be argued that they are indeed “metaphysical naturalists, and as will be shown, they DO follow a religion.” It should be noted that the Science-Faith tension has been debunked by Elaine Howard Ecklund. It is interesting that on atheism, one requires to have faith that at some point the laws of physics and biology were broken in order to get life from non life.

It is important to understand that atheism, the lack of a belief in God, has presuppositions that need to be accounted for and by presuppositions we are talking about assumptions accepted by the proponent either consciously or unconsciously as was articulated by Greg Bahnsen.  4https://answersingenesis.org/apologetics/presuppositional-reasoning-with-false-faiths/ The presuppositional approach to apologetics, the Christian branch of theology dedicated to give a defense for the faith, is defined by Cornelius Van Til as urging “the Christian to argue with unbelievers in an “indirect” fashion, doing an internal analysis of the unbeliever’s worldview (his fundamental assumptions about reality, knowledge, and ethics) and comparing it to the worldview revealed in the Bible.” The worldview of atheism of there being no personal cause of the universe, no ultimate meaning in life and no accountability after death “is philosophically unable to argue ethically, scientifically, or logically against the Christian faith”. The atheist in essence has to borrow from the Christian faith in order to argue against it like when they are “borrowing from the objective morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview.” This presuppositional approach first assumes the truth of Trinitarian Christian theism and not just any deistic or theistic view.

Moreover, one can argue against the position of atheism from a classical apologetics standpoint. 5https://bible.org/seriespage/4-classical-apologetics-it-stands-reason This is popularized by the late Norman Geisler and his other colleagues. Atheism is proven by showing various cases of miracles, fulfilled prophecy, God’s revelation through Christ and the triumph of the Church throughout the past two millennia as Augustine, the North African church father argued. We also have Clive Staples Lewis, a well known apologist who had previously been an atheist, who took this classical standpoint when addressing atheism by “refuting the philosophical objections to the Christian faith that had bothered him as an atheist” but strangely enough he made the following comment of the inadequacy of arguments for theism:” It is very difficult to produce arguments on the popular level for the existence of God. And many of the most popular arguments seem to me invalid. . . .Fortunately, though very oddly, I have found that people are usually disposed to hear the divinity of Our Lord discussed before going into the existence of God. When I began I used, if I were giving two lectures, to devote the first to mere Theism; but I soon gave up this method because it seemed to arouse little interest. The number of clear and determined atheists is apparently not very large.” There seemed to be a need for him later on in life to make a case for the historical Jesus first before venturing towards a case for theism. There is another classical apologist known as Norman Geisler who has given the following as his reasons for rejecting the proposition that there is no God while simultaneously making a case for Christianity:”

 (1) Truth about reality is knowable.(2). The opposite of true is false.(3) It is true that the theistic God exists.(4) If God exists, then miracles are possible.(5) Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God (i.e., as an act of God to confirm a word from God).(6) The New Testament is historically reliable.(7) The New Testament says Jesus claimed to be God.(8) Jesus’ claim to be God was miraculously confirmed by: a. His fulfillment of many prophecies about Himself; b. His sinless and miraculous life; c. His prediction and accomplishment of His resurrection.(9) Therefore, Jesus is God.(10) Whatever Jesus (who is God) teaches is true.(11) Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.(12) Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God (and anything opposed to it is false).”

Another classical apologist is Peter Kreeft who tackles the topic of atheism by presenting ‘arguments for the Christian position “from premises accepted by the unbeliever as well as the believer.”’ He also states that “Not all the arguments have conclusive demonstrative force, though; some are “probable” and function more as “clues” that gain persuasive force when “considered cumulatively””. He also adds that “every possible argument against every Christian doctrine has a rational mistake in it somewhere, and therefore can be answered by reason alone.” Kreeft sees the order that C S Lewis steered away from which was making a case for a Creator first then for the resurrection of Jesus as the best apologetic method against the onslaughts of atheism. However, it is important to note that C S Lewis in his dialogue with J.F.K said that “If truth is one, if God is the author of all truth, both the truth of reason and the truth of faith (I mean divine revelation), then there can never be a rational argument against faith that’s telling, that’s unanswerable. Faith may go beyond reason but it can never simply contradict reason.” The most popular form of argumentation today against atheism is propagated by Dr William Lane Craig. Amongst many of his accomplishments, he debated one of the leading atheists of the past century known as Anthony Flew who eventually abandoned atheism for deism. Dr Craig deals with the fact that Christianity is most probably true by advocating that “Christian apologetics does not pretend to create the grounds for knowing that Christianity is true, but rather points to or presents Christianity as rational as a means of encouraging unbelievers to receive the witness of the Spirit” which is different from Greg Bahnsen’s approach. Craig first shows the absurdity of life without God.

Craig also gives a case for belief in miracles after showing belief in God is reasonable.” To the objection that objectivity in historical knowledge is impossible, Craig points out that our ability to distinguish history from propaganda and to criticize poor history reveals our ability to access genuine historical facts.” Craig L Blomberg, an evangelical New Testament scholar, also agrees that it is “probable that a substantial majority of the details in the gospels and Acts do describe what Jesus and the apostles actually said and did.” Critics of their positions tend to have an anti-supernatural bias that leads them to atheism. Craig’s summary arguments for the resurrection of Jesus is summarized by this: ”The case for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus seems to me to rest upon the evidence for three great, independently established facts: the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith. If these three facts can be established and no plausible natural explanation can account for them, then one is justified in inferring Jesus’ resurrection as the most plausible explanation of the data.” The case can also be summarized as making a case for the reliability of the New Testament, Jesus’ deity, His resurrection and finally of His claims thus disproving atheism. Interestingly enough, the greatest apologetic for Craig against atheism is the love for God and people displayed by Christians.
It is important to note that atheism is not necessarily the belief that there is no God but actually the suppression of the truth of His existence despite the evidence which is actually articulated by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-23 6https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-to-engage-with-the-atheistic-worldview/


  1. https://answersingenesis.org/apologetics/presuppositional-reasoning-with-false-faiths/
  2. https://bible.org/seriespage/4-classical-apologetics-it-stands-reason
  3. https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/defining-atheism
  4. https://creation.com/atheism-a-religion
  5. https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/african-atheism-rising/
  6. https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-to-engage-with-the-atheistic-worldview/
  7. https://www.bethinking.org/atheism/the-john-lennox-richard-dawkins-debate
  8. https://crossexamined.org/from-christianity-to-atheism-parenting-millennials-under-a-biblical-worldview/
  9. https://www.crossway.org/articles/why-theres-no-such-thing-as-an-atheist/
  10. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/the-existence-of-god/alvin-plantingas-where-the-conflict-really-lies-science-religion-and-natura/


  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open chat
Scan the code
Chat with us via WhatsApp
We promise not to share your contact details with anyone or spam you in anyway.
Call Now Button