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July 28, 2005

Ch.V. Q.33. Atheism

AN ULTIMATE philosophy of being and life is demanded imperatively by the human mind. Positive reasons have been given for accepting the theistic hypothesis as this philosophy. But other philosophies have been maintained of an anti-theistic nature. Their consideration and comparison with Theism will show their utter inadequacy and inferiority; and that Theism is not only reasonable but the most reasonable philosophy of the universe.

2. Atheism is not so much a positive theory as the negation of any adequate account of things.1 It is, however, anti-theistic, and should be considered here. Atheism consists in an absolute denial that God exists.2 In this it is clearly to be distinguished from Agnosticism, which merely denies our ability to know God, if He exists.

3. No doubt there are sincere atheists; but it can hardly be shown that they are morally disinterested or logically consistent.3 Atheists are opposed to the general convictions of men, so that the burden of proof rests upon their shoulders. It is their part to shift this burden either by showing that common consent has no legitimate basis, or by proving that God does not exist. It has already been pointed out that such proof requires universal induction for its success. No one but the Maker of all things, whose existence the atheist denies, could make such an induction.4

4. The bare possibility that such a moral Sovereign as God exists, whom it is our duty to serve and worship, puts us to a real probation of at least inquiring further before adopting an atheistic position. Atheism is either absolutely demonstrable or morally indefensible. There is no other alternative.5 A consistent and thorough-going attempt to demonstrate the universal negative of Atheism has never appeared in literature.6

1 Flint, Anti-Theistic Theories, pp. 19-20.

2 Flint, Lec. I.; Blackie, Natural Hist. of Atheism; Hodge, Syst. Theol., pp. 241-243; Christlieb, Modern Doubt, pp. 138-144.

3 Flint, pp. 5-8; Hodge, pp. 242-243.

4 Cf. Q. xxiii. 4 for refs.

5 Butler, Analogy, Pt. II., ch. vi. 9, and ch. viii. 9, 10.

6 Flint, pp. 8, 9, 456-458.

Posted by Debra Bullock at July 28, 2005 04:21 PM

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