pt.3 A Condensed History of Atheism
Evolution did not begin with Aristotle who lived in the 300s bc, referred to a "ladder of nature”—a progression of life forms from lower to higher—but his ladder was a static hierarchy of levels of perfection, not an evolutionary concept. ” ( Encarta Encyclopedia)
"The Greek philosopher Anaximander, who lived in the 500s bc, is generally credited as the earliest evolutionist. Anaximander believed that the Earth first existed in a liquid state. Further, he believed that humans evolved from fishlike aquatic beings who left the water once they had developed sufficiently to survive on land. Greek scientist Empedocles speculated in the 400s bc that plant life arose first on Earth, followed by animals. Empedocles proposed that humans and animals arose not as complete individuals but as various body parts that joined together randomly to form strange, fantastic creatures” (Encarta Encyclopedia)
Early Greek philosophers, particularly the school of Miletus, were evolutionary. Aristotle, the most famous of Greek philosophers, taught of a Prime Mover, or first cause, pure intellect, perfect in unity, immutable, “the thought of thought,” as responsible for nature. The Greek idea of logos was being developed. The Stoics spoke of The Logos as Reason, through which all things came to be, by which all things were ordered. The Stoics borrowed the idea of logos from Heraclitus (neither Plato nor Aristotle gave the term prominence) and used it for the immanent ordering principle of the universe. Nature and logos were often treated as one and the same. The logos philosophy in the minds of later Greek philosophers such as Plato (429-347 B.C.), and Aristotle (384-322) used the word logos in a more complex manner in their writings.
Aristotle, Plato and Socrates all believed that the universe was eternal. In their view it never had a beginning. It was never created. Aristotle believed in spontaneous generation of non-life into life. The Epicurean philosophers were evolutionary atheists, believing in no kind of God. The Stoics were evolutionary pantheists, believing in pantheism, that everything is God. They did not hold to a transcendent creator. This thought dominated the Greek and Roman philosophy.
To the chagrin of an atheist, Christians were considered atheists in Jesus’ day because they did not believe in the Roman deities or bow to Caesar as a god. Ancient Greek ideas gave way to Creationism as Christianity became known.
Atheism, a term describing whether God (or gods) not existing comes from the late sixteenth century. Niccolo Machiavelli gave his solution to the church-state debate going on by promoting a social ethic which was not dependent on the existence of a supreme being- God. Machiavelli was one of the first to champion the idea that “the end justifies the means.” Machiavelli was not a staunch atheist as we have today, but invented an alternate system to govern that was not to be dependent on divine instruction.
In the enlightenment era of the eighteenth century philosophers shaped the atheistic philosophy of what we see today. Men like Fredrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Comte, Nietzsche, Feuerbach, and Sartre along with Ideas from philosophers Bayle, Spinoza, and Hume were all active in developing modem atheistic thought. Hume was more agnostic as he held the probability goes beyond our immediate experience.
Hegel (1770-1831) was the man whose writings became an inspiration for the modem atheistic movement. He was one of the first prominent philosophers to advance the idea that God' was dependent upon the world as much as the world was dependent upon God. He said that without the world God is not God. In some way, God needed his creation. This was the first step in saying that, since God was not sufficient in Himself, he was unnecessary and ultimately imaginary. “Hegel's aim was to set forth a philosophical system so comprehensive that it would encompass the ideas of his predecessors and create a conceptual framework in terms of which both the past and future could be philosophically understood. Such an aim would require nothing short of a full account of reality itself. Thus, Hegel conceived the subject matter of philosophy to be reality as a whole. This reality, or the total developmental process of everything that is, he referred to as the Absolute, or Absolute Spirit” (Encarta Encyclopedia).
He published in summary form a systematic statement of his entire philosophy entitled Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline (1817) and more known for the Hegelian dialectic. “Hegel, following the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, argued that “what is rational is real and what is real is rational.” This must be understood in terms of Hegel's further claim that the Absolute must ultimately be regarded as pure Thought, or Spirit, or Mind, in the process of self-development (see Idealism). The logic that governs this developmental process is dialectic. The dialectical method involves the notion that movement, or process, or progress, is the result of the conflict of opposites. Traditionally, this dimension of Hegel's thought has been analyzed in terms of the categories of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.” (Encarta Encyclopedia).
Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) was a German philosopher, an early prominent atheistic philosopher. He substituted religious psychology for orthodox religion and developed one of the first German materialistic philosophies. He denied all supernaturalism and attributed all talk about God to talk about nature. Man, he said, is dependent not on God, but on nature. Feuerbach promoted what is sometimes referred to as the wish fulfillment idea of God. He postulated that the idea of God arose as a result of men desiring to have some sort of supernatural being as an explanation for their own existence and the events they observed around them. This wish, or desire, is the seed from which the God-myth grew. “A person's essential preoccupation is with the self, and the worship of God is actually worship of an idealized self” (Encarta Encyclopedia)
Both Hegel and Feuerbach strongly influenced Karl Marx (1818-1883) and his English collaborator, Frederich Engels (1820-1895). They formulated the theory of historical materialism, which had the emphasis on people and human needs introducing a materialistic interpretation of society.
Marx went to Paris to further his studies in philosophy, history, and political science, and adopted communist beliefs. Marx, an avowed atheist, preached that religion is the opiate of the people and the enemy of all progress. Part of the task of the great proletariat revolution is the destruction of all religion. In 1845 Marx was ordered to leave Paris because of his revolutionary activities.
He went to Brussels and began organizing revolutionary groups, called Communist Correspondence Committees. In 1847 these committees were consolidated to form the Communist League, and Marx and Engels were commissioned to formulate a statement of principles known as the Communist Manifesto (which has hundreds of millions of copies).
Marx had a materialist view of history (known as scientific socialism). He saw society as a history of struggles between exploiting and being exploited, the ruling and oppressed, social classes. Marx drew the conclusion in the Manifesto that the capitalist class would be overthrown and eliminated by a worldwide working-class revolution and replaced by a classless society. His idealism blinded him.
His teachings were revised by most socialists after his death and revived in the 20th century by Vladimir Ilich Lenin, who developed and applied them, these became the core of Bolshevism.
Linnaeus Carolus (1707-1778), devised a system of classification of organisms Systema Naturae (The System of Nature), first published in 1735 that is still in use today. This system places living things within increasingly specific categories based on common attributes—from a general grouping (kingdom) down to the specific individual (species Linnaeus named nearly 10,000 plant and animal species in his lifetime. Linnaeus believed that each species was created by God and was incapable of change but his system of groupings provided a basis for later theorists.
Scottish geologist Charles Lyell, wrote Principles of Geology (1830), presenting the Earth was millions of years old rather than only a few thousand years old, as the biblical story of divine creation records (the Bible does not mention any specific date).
Atheism really got its boost to prominence by resting its facts on Charles Darwin. In 1831 Charles Darwin prepared to become a minister sailed on a five-year, around the world mapmaking voyage on the HMS Beagle. The ship anchored off South America and other areas, Darwin traveled inland and make observations of the natural world. In the Galápagos Islands, he noted how species on the various islands were similar but distinct from one another. Darwin observed and collected thousands of wildlife specimens he had never before encountered. The observations Darwin made on that voyage was the impetus for his theory of evolution.
Returning to England in 1837 Darwin began a notebook of his observations and thoughts on evolution. An unpublished paper his theory of evolution by natural selection was distributed in 1842 among his friends, he waited over 20 more years before his theory of evolution was ready. Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection on November 24, 1859. All 1,250 copies of the first printing were sold on that day.
H. Huxley, a friend of Charles Darwin, used the word agnostic to describe his own view. Bertrand Russell was an agnostic that became more sure of himself as an atheist. “As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the homeric gods. (Bertrand Russell, Collected Papers, vol. 11, p. 91)
“About two years later, I became convinced that there is no life after death, but I still believed in God, because the "First Cause" argument appeared to be irrefutable. At the age of eighteen, however, shortly before I went to Cambridge, I read Mill's Autobiography, where I found a sentence to the effect that his father taught him the question "Who made me?" cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question "Who made God?" This led me to abandon the "First Cause" argument, and to become an atheist. (Bertrand Russell, Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, p. 36)
If he did understand the first cause argument then he would know that an all powerful being does not have the necessity to be created as his creation.
In our modern time Madalyn Murray O’Hair popularized atheism and stated “Atheism is based upon a materialist philosophy, which holds that nothing exists but natural phenomena. There are no supernatural forces or entities, nor can there be any. Nature simply exists.” She was instrumental in removing prayer from the schools in America.
"Richard Dawkins is arguably the most famous living atheist, now that Anthony Flew doubted his doubts and backslid as an atheist," said Comfort. "Flew said that he simply followed the evidence. I would like to see Richard Dawkins follow his example" (“Atheist guru Dawkins snubs $10,000 debate” “Demands $100,000 for hour-long event, rights to release DVD” February 24, 2009 By Bob Unruh WorldNetDaily)
For the most part these men tried to invent and put into practice a system that would basically better society and have us co-exist without any belief or instruction from God and the Bible. No doubt there are those all through history who have disbelieved in god. They may have named themselves such honorable terms as "Rationalist," "Humanist," or "Freethinkers" but God has told man he exists and proved it by prophecy. They say he does not exist and willfully refuses to believe, this is God who does exist calls them fools.
The moral argument of allowing evil
Atheist’s main argument against God is the existence of evil. If God is good why does he allow evil to exist?
Since god is good how can allow the suffering of innocents? There are murder
and rape victims, natural calamities to affect people, why would a good God
allow babies to suffer and die?
But what if God has a greater purpose and is allowing evil temporarily, and one day will remove it? A God who has all power but refrains judgment does mean he is not all powerful or good, it only means he is not exercising this power in a judicial manner- yet. Just because God has not yet done anything to remove the evil in the world it does not mean He never will. The answer can be found in his omniscience, knowing the future, as well as the past (how evil came into mankind's existence). A loving God gave mankind from its beginning free choice. There is no coercing people against their will to achieve (by his power) what is good for all. Yet he is involved in history moving us toward the final outcome of evil being removed permanently. (see our article on the subject of Evil why is there Evil?)
Suffering is not useless, it has purpose. The fact that even atheists realize
there is a more optimum life, without evil (which is caused by sin), shows that
there is a standard they instinctively know. The Bible explains this by man
being made in the image of God.
The God who created and loves mankind made it simple: there's 1 God, who gave 1 book, and made l way, He did this so even a child can understand and come to know Him, and yes even an atheist can change if he allows the evidence and God’s spirit to work on his heart.
Let me end on a hopeful note.
There have been debates by William Lane Craig (I attended one here in Hawaii several years ago) and Dinesh D’souza who wrote the book “What's So Great About Christianity?” (see debate Christopher Hitchens: http://www.isi.org/lectures/flvplayer/lectureplayer.aspx?file=v000187_cicero_102207.flv
Whose book demonstrates Why Christianity explains the universe, and our origins, better than atheism does and Why atheism is a demonstrably dangerous creed—and a cowardly one
Ray Comfort released a new book discrediting atheism, "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can't Make Him Think," on Amazon.com rankings its first day of release, moved from No. 69,572 to No. 38 in 24 hours. The book was No. 1 in both atheism and apologetics categories under religion. It ranked No. 2 in spirituality and No. 6 in Christianity.
The book, released on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, contends atheists hate God because he does exist.
Recently Comfort has challenged the atheist establishment by challenging Richard Dawkins for an hour-long debate. Dawkins rejected an offer of $10,000.
A spokeswoman for Dawkins' website earlier told WND Dawkins doesn't debate people from "the flat-earth society."
"Ten thousand dollars is less than the typical fee that I am ordinarily offered for lecturing to a serious audience (I often don't accept it, especially in the case of a student audience, because I am a dedicated teacher)," he wrote in response to a WND question about the challenge.
"It is not, therefore, a worthwhile inducement for me to travel all the way across the Atlantic to debate with an ignorant fool," he wrote. "You can tell him that if he donates $100,000 to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (it's a charitable donation, tax deductible) I'll do it." (“Atheist guru Dawkins snubs $10,000 debate” “Demands $100,000 for hour-long event, rights to release DVD” February 24, 2009 By Bob Unruh WorldNetDaily) http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=89825
I guess courage was not distributed equally to all through the evolutionary process and money is needed to sweeten the pot for such an important topic to be publicly discussed.
Numerous articles by scientists have appeared in the last 10 to 30 years challenging various key aspects of the Darwinian theory.
700 scientists who dissent from neo-Darwinian evolution and have signed a statement of dissent “There Is Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. It deserves to be heard.” The list is growing and includes scientists from the US National Academy of Sciences, Russian, Hungarian and Czech National Academies, as well as from universities such as Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and others. (DissentFromDarwin.org) “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/links.php
The evolutionists know once creationism is acceptable and taught alongside evolution theories their house of cards crumbles. So they are fighting with all they have to prevent this.
The god that atheists don't believe in, does not exist, as many have noted they are arguing not against Christianity but their wrong view of it. It would be advantageous for atheists actually took the time to know the Christian worldview and what the Bible actually means, not just what it says before they leap into arguments against it. But if they did this they may risk conversion.