Atheists and Atheism

Atheists will often argue the burden of proof is on the person who believes in God. From a logical perspective, no, atheists are not correct in saying that believers must first prove God’s existence. Here’s why:

  • Burden of Proof: Atheism is not merely a lack of belief in God, but a positive assertion that God does not exist. As such, it carries a burden of proof just like any other claim about reality.
  • Impossibility of the Contrary: Proving the non-existence of something requires exhaustive knowledge of all of reality, which is impossible. Atheists cannot definitively prove that God doesn’t exist somewhere in the universe or beyond our current understanding.
  • Starting Point of Knowledge: Everyone begins with certain presuppositions about the world. For Christians, the existence of God is a foundational belief that provides a framework for understanding reality. It is not something that needs to be proven before other knowledge can be acquired.
  • Nature of Faith: Faith is not blind belief but a reasonable response to evidence. Christians believe that God’s existence is evident in the created order, the moral law within us, and the historical evidence for Jesus Christ. While not everyone finds this evidence convincing, it is sufficient for those who have faith.
  • Historical Argument: Throughout history, the majority of people have believed in some form of deity. This widespread belief suggests that the concept of God is not irrational or unfounded.
  • Therefore, it is not solely the responsibility of believers to prove God’s existence. Atheists also bear the burden of proving their claim that God does not exist. The question of God’s existence is ultimately a matter of faith, and the evidence can be interpreted in different ways depending on one’s presuppositions.

Impossibility of the Contrary

From a philosophical perspective, the most compelling argument against atheism is the impossibility of the contrary. Atheism asserts that there is no God, but this claim cannot be proven. To prove the nonexistence of something, one would need to have exhaustive knowledge of all of reality, which is impossible for finite beings.

Details: The “impossibility of the contrary” is a concept often used in presuppositional apologetics, particularly associated with the work of Cornelius Van Til and Greg Bahnsen. In the context of atheism, it argues that the very act of denying God’s existence actually presupposes certain aspects of a biblical worldview.

Here’s how the argument generally goes:

  1. Presuppositions: Everyone, including atheists, holds certain presuppositions about reality. These are fundamental beliefs about the nature of the universe, knowledge, logic, and morality that we assume to be true.
  2. Borrowing from the Christian Worldview: The “impossibility of the contrary” argument suggests that atheists, in order to make sense of the world and argue coherently, must borrow from the Christian worldview’s presuppositions.
  3. Examples: Some examples of these borrowed presuppositions include:
  4. Laws of Logic: Atheists use logic to argue against God, but the laws of logic themselves cannot be explained without a transcendent, unchanging source like the God of the Bible.
  5. Uniformity of Nature: Science relies on the assumption that the laws of nature are consistent, which is best explained by a God who created and sustains the universe.
  6. Objective Morality: Many atheists hold to objective moral values (e.g., murder is wrong), but these values cannot be grounded in a purely materialistic worldview.
  7. Self-Refuting: The argument concludes that atheism is ultimately self-refuting because it cannot account for the very presuppositions it relies on to argue against God’s existence.

Criticisms of the Argument:

  • Circular Reasoning: Some critics argue that the “impossibility of the contrary” is circular reasoning, as it assumes the truth of the Christian worldview to prove the Christian worldview.
  • Alternative Explanations: Others argue that alternative explanations exist for the presuppositions mentioned, such as the laws of logic arising from evolutionary processes or moral values being social constructs.

Answer to the Criticisms

The “impossibility of the contrary” argument, while often accused of circular reasoning, does not necessarily fall into this logical fallacy. Here’s how proponents of the argument might respond to the criticism:

  1. Transcendental Argument: The argument is not a simple circular argument where the conclusion is merely a restatement of the premise. Instead, it’s a transcendental argument, which seeks to demonstrate that certain presuppositions (e.g., the existence of God) are necessary for other beliefs or practices to be intelligible or meaningful.
  2. Not Assuming, but Demonstrating: The argument does not simply assume the truth of the Christian worldview. Rather, it attempts to demonstrate that the Christian worldview provides the best explanation for the existence of certain fundamental realities, such as logic, morality, and the uniformity of nature. It argues that these realities cannot be adequately accounted for within an atheistic or non-Christian worldview.
  3. Burden of Proof: The argument shifts the burden of proof onto the atheist. It challenges them to provide a coherent explanation for the existence of these fundamental realities without appealing to the very presuppositions that the Christian worldview provides.
  4. Reductio ad Absurdum: The argument can also be seen as a form of reductio ad absurdum, where the consequences of denying the Christian worldview are shown to be absurd or incoherent. For example, if the laws of logic are merely human constructs, then why should we trust them in our reasoning?
  5. Worldview Comparison: Ultimately, the “impossibility of the contrary” argument is not about proving the Christian worldview in isolation. It’s about comparing the explanatory power of different worldviews and showing how the Christian worldview provides a more comprehensive and coherent understanding of reality.

In conclusion, the “impossibility of the contrary” argument, while often criticized as circular, can be defended as a legitimate form of argumentation. It seeks to demonstrate that certain presuppositions are necessary for our knowledge and experience to make sense, and it challenges alternative worldviews to provide a coherent explanation for these presuppositions.

In Summary:

The “impossibility of the contrary” argument is a complex and controversial apologetic approach. Whether or not one finds it persuasive, it does raise important questions about the foundations of our knowledge and beliefs. It challenges atheists to examine the underlying assumptions of their worldview and consider whether they can be adequately explained without reference to God.

The Limits of Man

There are two examples that clarifies this problem. If you drew a dot and put a circle around it and the dot represented you and the circle all of human knowledge, what percentage would the most intelligent individual possess? Not even .001%. That represents the finite mind of man. The second example is how faith really works. I have never been to Argentina. However, I believe Argentina exists. Why? Faith. You may have been there but there are places you have not been and you believe they exist. So, how do you know God does not live in Argentina or elsewhere?

Furthermore, atheism fails to provide a satisfactory explanation for the existence of the universe, the origin of life, and the existence of objective moral values. These phenomena point to a Creator who is beyond the natural world.

Finally, atheism offers no ultimate hope or meaning in life. It leaves us with a cold, meaningless universe where our existence is ultimately futile. In contrast, Christianity offers the hope of eternal life and a relationship with a loving God who gives purpose and meaning to our lives. While this is not a scientific argument for the existence of God it is morally compelling.


Atheist and Atheism