This article also appeared on Catholic Stand, a Catholic e-magazine.
In 1947, C.S. Lewis popularized an argument against atheism, specifically, atheistic naturalism. This argument is known as the argument from reason. In this article, I will not comment on all the support for or criticisms of Lewis’ argument. Rather, by reframing his argument, I will demonstrate why it makes sense.
The Reframed Argument
Without God, matter (generally, the substance/s of which material objects are composed) exists and moves without direction and purpose because nothing exists to give it direction and purpose. Due to this matter’s aimless nature (aimlessness in its existing and moving), it cannot give direction or purpose to that which it happens to create.
Thus, whatever this directionless and purposeless matter arbitrarily creates must, without exception, be absent direction and purpose regardless of the created being’s seeming perception about itself or its actions. Afterall, the created being is simply a clump of matter.
Even the direction and purpose this created being seems to give itself are merely the product of matter moving aimlessly in its so-called mind, arbitrarily ascribing “purpose” to its behavior. It has no intrinsic direction and purpose and can never have it. Accordingly, every thought this creation thinks and word it speaks are aimless.
In other words, without God, humans are simply the consequence of aimless matter arbitrarily moving and assembling to form random organisms who form random thoughts and speak random words. I should pause here to demonstrate my point.
Today, my brain told me the weather was rainy and cold. Consequently, it advised me to seek shelter and warmth, and I did. In a world in which matter has God-given direction and purpose, my brain worked as designed and I responded to the reality of rain and cold.
However, in a world in which matter is aimless (lacking direction and purpose), I cannot know if the rain and cold exist or if they are merely thoughts arbitrarily emerging in what I believe to be my brain. Even if other humans around me notice and discuss this same inclement weather, I cannot know if these humans and their observations are real or simply the result of random neural activity. Consequently, certainty is lost.
Therefore, we must conclude that the atheist’s directionless and purposeless assertion that God does not exist is utter nonsense, the ramblings of an aimless creature. Thus, the only way for the atheist’s assertion to have any merit, albeit a merely dialectic one, is if God exists.
In other words, the atheist needs God to exist for his argument against God’s existence to have even a merely dialectic relevance. So, atheists promote their worldview as if they have purpose in doing so. But their worldview must be dismissed as arbitrary and, therefore, completely devoid of purpose.
Although this argument does not directly prove God’s existence, it certainly proves the insanity of atheism. And if atheism is insane, then theism, being the only other alternative, is sane.
A Couple of Counterarguments
Counterargument 1: Here, however, we run into a problem, namely, that two types of theism exist, polytheism (two or more gods) and monotheism (the one God).
Polytheism is not viable because if two or more gods exist, they necessarily impose restrictions and allowances on each other and are, therefore, beings subject to change, time, and each other’s whims.
Thus, these gods would be finite (lacking omnipotence) and temporal (lacking eternal perfection) beings by nature, needing a cause outside of themselves to bring them into existence. They would not be gods at all. Rather, they would be material or spiritual beings lacking purpose and direction because, according to the atheist, God does not exist. The series of causes could not go on forever. Therefore, one eternal, infinite, changeless God must exist. And monotheism wins again.
Now, some atheists may agree that direction and purpose do not really exist but exist in the mind as figments rather than reality. Yet, these people function as if these things are real and, therefore, behave in a way that contradicts their poorly formed philosophy. Also, their denial that things, including truth, exist is also a denial that their truth exists. And they end up denying their own conclusions. See denialism, materialistic atomism, and casualism for more information about these types of atheism.
Counterargument 2: I should also point out that the atheist would probably argue that constituent parts making up the whole do not have the same qualities as the whole (a true statement). Therefore, according to atheists, the whole will behave differently than its parts. For example, sperm and ova are non-rational substances that join to create a being capable of rational thought.
The problem with this argument is that it presupposes that the rational being is ordered toward (has a purpose for) rational thought. But this being is not ordered toward anything if it is made up of aimless matter. It simply exists randomly and without purpose. It may give “purpose” to itself, but this is nothing more than the aimless movement of matter. So, again, the atheist’s argument here lacks purpose and must be brushed aside as mere gibberish.
Since the one, immutable God exists and is existence, we must conclude that everything He creates, down to the smallest of particles, has direction and purpose because nothing that comes into existence does so without His express or permissive will.
God, who creates from nothing and gives everything purpose and order, gives purpose and order to even the smallest particles. This matter has design and purpose and is not aimless and random as atheists would have us believe.
Matter is the instrument God creates and uses to produce intelligent beings capable of introspection and understanding, judging and governing, caring and loving. These beings can know, love, and serve our Father. God gives these beings a share in His life and work via grace, love, and truth. Atheism be damned!