For Christian evangelist Ray Comfort, author of “God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists,” the idea that everyone at some core level has a cognizance of a higher power isn’t new.
But now a Hong Kong-based science writer has posted an article on the Science20 blog under the headline “Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke.”
Writer Nury Vittachi, who explains he is based at a creativity research lab there and is “fascinated by metaphysics” and the theories of the multiverse, said he has written a lot of books, has been published by Scholastic and once was shortlisted for a prize for a children’s book on relativity.
On the Science20 site, which was set up to “modernize science communication, publishing, collaboration and public participation,” he posts articles that are not filtered for size, and there are no political or cultural agendas.
Vittachi writes, provocatively, that God, “if he is around, may be amused to find that atheists might not exist.”
He cites several reasons for his suggestion, including that scientists are becoming more and more aware “that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.”
He suggests something that would be concerning to atheists, that “what you actually believe is not a decision you make for yourself.”
“Your fundamental beliefs are decided by much deeper levels of consciousness, and some may well be more or less set in stone,” he said.
He quotes Graham Lawton in the New Scientist, who wrote: “Atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think. … They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.”
And Vittachi quotes Pascal Boyer, from Nature, saying, “A slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith.”
Comfort, who leads the Living Waters ministry and is known for his innovative and successful Christian evangelism methods, cited a response he sent earlier to someone who claimed to be an atheist, yet was curious about Christianity.
“It’s important to understand that an atheist is someone who believes the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything. Some fundamental atheists will deny this by trying to redefine ‘nothing’ as being ‘something,’ because such a thought makes them look like a fool, which is precisely what the Bible says that they are (see Psalm 14:1),” he wrote.
“As Christians, we’re not asking the world to believe the Bible. What we are asking them to believe is the gospel. The early church didn’t have the Bible as we know it, so they didn’t go around saying ‘Repent and believe the Bible.’ The Old Testament scrolls were kept in the synagogue, not many could read, there was no such thing as the printing press, and the New Testament hadn’t been compiled,” he said.
“The Bible is a book written for the godly – as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It’s a special book written for the humble of heart, and those who try and read it without a humble heart are like a man trying to read Shakespeare in the dark. It will be senseless. However, when we believe the gospel, repent and trust alone in Jesus we come out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. God opens the eyes of our understanding, and a major part of that illumination will be that the Scriptures will suddenly come alive,” he said.
He recommends an online evaluation called NeedGod.com that enables people to determine for themselves what they believe.
Commentator Alex Kocman at the Barbwire.com blog noted the Bible affirms God has made himself known even to those who haven’t read the Bible.
“In Romans 1:18-23, the apostle Paul writes that ‘what can be known about God is plain to them’ – that is, all men – and that ‘his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.’ He then goes so far as to state that all such people ‘knew God’ (v. 21). The implication, thus, is that man innately assumes the existence of his Creator until he convinces himself to think otherwise.”
“In the United States, 38 percent of people who identified themselves as atheist or agnostic went on to claim to believe in a God or a Higher Power (Pew Forum, ‘Religion and the Unaffiliated,’ 2012),” he explains. “While the U.K. is often defined as an irreligious place, a recent survey by Theos, a think tank, found that very few people – only 13 per cent of adults – agreed with the statement ‘humans are purely material beings with no spiritual element.’”He also said there is an evolutionary purpose. “Social scientists have long believed that the emotional depth and complexity of the human mind means that mindful, self-aware people necessarily suffer from deep existential dread. Spiritual beliefs evolved over thousands of years as nature’s way to help us balance this out and go on functioning. If a loved one dies, even many anti-religious people usually feel a need for a farewell ritual, complete with readings from old books and intoned declarations that are not unlike prayers.”Literature supports the idea, he argues: “It appears that stories exist to establish that there exists a mechanism or a person – cosmic destiny, karma, God, fate, Mother Nature – to make sure the right thing happens to the right person. Without this overarching moral mechanism, narratives become records of unrelated arbitrary events, and lose much of their entertainment value.”
And where does atheism fit?
“Albert Einstein, who had a life-long fascination with metaphysics, believed atheism came from a mistaken belief that harmful superstition and a general belief in religious or mystical experience were the same thing, missing the fact that evolution would discard unhelpful beliefs and foster the growth of helpful ones. He declared himself ‘not a ‘Freethinker’ in the usual sense of the word because I find that this is in the main an attitude nourished exclusively by an opposition against naive superstition.’”
“We may be fooling ourselves if we think that we are making the key decisions about what we believe, and if we think we know how deeply our views pervade our consciousnesses,” Vittachi writes. “It further suggests that the difference between the atheist and the non-atheist viewpoint is much smaller than probably either side perceives. Both groups have consciousnesses which create for themselves realities which include very similar tangible and intangible elements. It may simply be that their awareness levels and interpretations of certain surface details differ.”