You are a logical person, you are a free-thinker, you don’t believe in silly children’s stories; therefore, you do not believe in God. At least, that’s what most skeptics would tell you. After all, how can a logical person believe in something that cannot be confirmed with empirical (observable) evidence? The accusation is that believing in a deity is intellectually inferior to atheism which goes “one god further” in religious skepticism: the position that supposedly has a monopoly on logic.
However, the assertion that atheists and only atheists are the truly logical people of the world creates a false dichotomy between religon and logic (a false dichotomy is making two things seem opposed when they really are not) and also commits a non sequitur fallacy. Since there is nothing inherent to religion that makes a person entirely irrational, the argument does not guarantee the conclusion. Are there illogical Christians? Sure. Are there illogical atheists? Absolutely. Does believing something that is not true make a person illogical? No. You probably believe or have believed things that aren’t true, but that does not in itself make me question your ability to use logic. Does believing something that is not true while being aware of the evidence that proves you wrong make you illogical? Yeah pretty much.
So let’s stop assuming atheism or theism is necessarily illogical and instead get to the heart of the quesiton and ask which side has better arguments and evidence. Most people (hopefully all people) would agree that these arguments should be logical. The problem for atheism is that it cannot account for the reliability of logic and our ability to use it.
In the atheist’s worldview, you and I are nothing but the byproduct of mutation, natural selection, and reproduction. We are basically nothing more than well-adapted organisms with intelligence that is able to anlalyze and adapt to most situations. Our brains seem far more advanced than that of any other species; at least in terms of what we can accomplish. However, you should notice that there is nothing here that says that what our intelligence knows is reliable, or that our brains have the ability to accurately draw conclusions from our knowledge.
Sure, we can make plastic stuff and put together chemicals to form medicine. I’m not denying that we are pretty smart, I’m saying that our brains are very well adapted to survive in our current circumstances (given the truth of evolution). Yet, our brains do not need to accurately observe or form conclusions about reality in order to survive, we just have to have the right ideas for survival -even if they are not true ideas.
The fact that our brains have developed by means of natural selection means that we are biased in the worst way possible; we are inherently biased to perceive that which will help us survive and not what is real. This means that there is nothing close to a gurantee that something is itself or that contradicting statements cannot both be true. Sure, you cannot really wrap your brain around how contradicting facts can be true and it is unfathomable that something is not itself, but that does not mean it is impossible, it only means that your brain evolved in a way that does not let you understand reality. This inability to grasp reality makes you far from the reasonable person in a pursuit of truth that you thought you were. How can you pursue truth when you cannot trust something that is as basic and necessary as the laws of logic?
Dr. Plantinga masterfully explains this difficult concept in this video:
The point could be raised that the laws of logic are so intuitive that they can be accepted without justifying our ability to perceive reality. However, logic is not as intuitive as you may think. In The Geography of Thought, Dr. Richard E. Nisbett demonstrates that the way in which Westerners and East Asians think is (typically) very different. Western thought developed from Greek philosophy which saw the world in an “either or” kind of way that was very logic dependent and left no room for two contradicting ideas to be true. However, the East Asians developed a philosophy which sought to understand conflicting things (just think of ying and yang). The law of non-contradiction and logic in general was frowned upon by the Asians who sought to understand things in terms of harmony with their surroundings whereas the Greeks tended to study the nature of a thing in itself. The Greeks would say that something is a certain way and cannot be any other way given its characteristics, but the Asians would look at the same thing in light of its surrounding and see it in many different and seemingly conflicting ways. (This is a very broad generalization, there were a few Greeks such as Heraclitus who saw things in terms of opposites and there were some East Asians who developed systems of logic)
This is not to say that the East Asians were right for being so cynical of logic, but their completely different mindset does demonstrate that logical intuititions are not as intuitve as we may think. Why then should an atheist trust logic? It is just an arbitrary and disputed set of generalizations from really old Greek guys. In an atheist’s worldview there is no reason to trust our brain or our Western delusions of logic to lead us to truth. All we have is a composition of neurons that is adapted for survival and a set of Western biases that only work to blur reality even further.
The Christian worldview is much more friendly to logic. If Christianity is true, then mankind was made in the image of a God who designed him to go into nature and hold dominion over it. It would seem silly for a deity to do this without giving mankind minds capable of perceiving that which is true. Furthermore, when Jesus claimed “I am the Truth” how could He expect mankind to recognize that unless He had given mankind the capacity to accurately comprehend and recognize reality?
The difference between worldviews is clear. Either human brains are evolved organs which have adapted to perceive that which helps us survive, and our perception of reality is obstructed by the biases and limitations which accompany such an adapted mind; or the human mind is a gift from God which can accurately perceive and subdue reality. One framework can account for logic’s trustworthiness, one cannot. I will give you a hint, the one that gives no account for the reliability of logic is the one that does not include God. It would then seem as though skeptics will need to get very creative in attacking theism given that they cannot trust logic which is neither intuitive to mankind nor guranteed to be accurate in their worldview.
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