EFAC Australia

Phillip Brown offers us a new resource to help answer atheists.

The most common objection raised by the New Atheists is that there is no sufficient proof that God exists and therefore no need to believe in Him. Behind this objection lies a problem relating to the nature of proof. The problem concerns the kind of proof that New Atheists are looking to find. For example, the Bible describes Jesus as the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). What form of proof might Christians offer in support of this claim? Asking a Christian to provide proof of this would be like asking a person in the street to provide empirical evidence that yesterday exists. Even though both parties to the conversation would accept that yesterday exists, neither could prove it because it is the wrong type of proof that has been requested. The type of proof that a person might be willing to accept may not necessarily be the type that is available, because this will necessarily depend upon the nature of the thing being investigated. Excellent grounds for believing the truth of Christianity’s claims can be found in history, morality and its rich cultural heritage. None of these things amount to proof in a scientific sense,
but science is inadequate to establish the claim of the truth of the claim of Jesus Christ to be God.
Since the events of 11 September 2001, religious adherence has had an increasing vocal opponent labelled the ‘New Atheism’.(1) Whilst atheism in the past focused on abstract philosophical arguments, particularly those of a metaphysical discourse, the attacks of the New Atheism rely on metaphysics combined with philosophical ethics, pragmatic morality and scientific rationality, right up to anthropogenic extinction.(2) But are these rhetorically turbo-charged opinions actually logically viable? And, how should a Christian respond?
Early in 2010 the Melbourne Anglican Diocese established a committee to address this debate. Their research led them to seven common questions posed by the New Atheists and a brochure was produced to answer them.
1. Can you prove God exists?
2. Was the world created or did it evolve?
3. Doesn’t Christianity cause violence and wars?
4. Isn’t science the only reliable knowledge?
5. Doesn’t Christianity endorse slavery?
6. Is the God of the Bible a monster?
7. How can you believe in a God that allows evil and suffering?
This article begins with the brochure’s answer to the first question: Can you prove God exists?
The brochure is available on line at the General Synod web site and the Melbourne Anglican Diocese web site: www.melbourne.anglican.com.au

Phillip Brown was once a graduate student in philosophy, and is now the pastor in charge of St John Chrysostum, Brunswick West, Melbourne.

1. Victor J. Stenger, The New Atheism: Taking a stand for science and reason (Prometheus Books, 2009) pages 11–12. See also Tina Beattie, The New Atheists (Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, 2007).
2. Ibid, page 17.