The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 2/2

Related Post: The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 1/2

Excerpts from R.C. Sproul, If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists: Why Atheists Believe in Unbelief (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1989),

The Failure of the Atheistic Psychological Critique of Religion
If these men – Freud, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche – we have some examples of great thinkers who have located the “whence” of religion in one aspect of man’s psychological makeup or the other. Fear of nature, wish-projection, relief from guilt and anxiety, fear of economic revolution, and fear of nothingness are all labels for various psychological states that make religion appealing. To be left alone and unprotected in a hostile or indifferent universe is a terrifying thought. The proverbial maxim “necessity is the mother of invention” is applied to religion as well as to myriad drugs or television sets. [p. 48]

It is also very important to note that what Freud and others offer are plausible alternate explanations to the origin of religion other than those offered by theists. It is one thing to demonstrate that man can fabricate religious experiences; it is another thing to demonstrate that he actually does so. It is one thing to argue that men can invent religion out of psychological necessity; it is another to argue that he does. The former involves questions of psychological and intellectual ability; the latter involves questions of history. When Freud spoke of origins, he was writing as a historian, not as a psychologist. We know his competence as a psychologist; his competence as a historian is certainly not so well attested.
[pp. 50-51] Continue reading “The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 2/2”

The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 1/2

A tribute to R.C. Sproul who has just gone to glory.

The popular idea of God as an invention of weak-minded people desperately looking for an emotional crutch to help them cope with wretched reality was developed with erudition and sophistication by the three patron-gods of modern atheism, Friedrich Nietzsche Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. For example, Freud regarded religious ideas as “illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. . . .As we already know, the terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection — for protection through love — which was provided by the father…. Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the danger of life. [Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion (Norton, 1927, 1961), p. 30]

Freud theorized that religion must have evolved from animism to monotheism. The impersonal forces of nature are remote and unpredictable. Hence, nature must be conceived as animated by divine powers who resemble human beings. These powers may be malevolent, but since they behave like humans, we at least know how to deal with them. Religion then progressed from simple animism to complex monotheism which culminates with God as a benevolent Father figure.

R.C. Sproul sets out to refute this popular critique of Christianity. First, Freud is mistaken when he argues that the personal is more comforting than the impersonal, which is the reason why humans ‘populate’ nature with many deities. Continue reading “The Psychology of Atheism: From Gaze to Glory. Part 1/2”

The Moral Argument for the Existence of God – Reasonable Christianity

The moral argument for the existence of God is often given a simple deductive form:

1) If there are objective moral values, then God exists.

2) There are objective moral values.

3) Therefore, God exists.

Logicians agree the logical form of this argument is valid. However, this does not guarantee the argument is sound. An argument is sound only when its logical form is valid and when all its premises are true. The crucial step would be to demonstrate premises 1 and 2 are true. Otherwise, the argument fails.


C.S. Lewis therefore does not simply rely on a deductive argument that moves from universal/general to particular. He begins from concrete particulars related to premise 2. Continue reading “The Moral Argument for the Existence of God – Reasonable Christianity”

The Argument from Reason for the Existence of God – Reasonable Christianity

Scientific inquiry proceeds with the presupposition that nature is an orderly structure which is intelligible to the human mind. How is this coherent interaction between the human mind and the natural order possible? What is the origin and nature of human reason? For simplicity, I shall just focus on two dominant paradigms addressing these questions:

1) Naturalism and reductive materialism: the universe of space-time and all its interlocking processes exists as a causally closed continuum and nothing else exist. This being the case, reason and mental processes are merely some aspect of physical processes or neural activity.

2) Theism –The observable space-time is a contingent order produced and sustained by a necessary being called God. Indeed, this space-time framework may not even be the only order of reality created by God. Reason is derived from some form of supernatural or divine intervention.

C.S. Lewis’ Argument from Reason sets out to out to demonstrate why naturalism fails to account for the origin and reliability of reason. On the other hand, reason is better accounted for within a theistic framework. Continue reading “The Argument from Reason for the Existence of God – Reasonable Christianity”