the vanity of atheism
1/16/2007 09:15:00 AM
One does not have to read about atheism for very long to find something written about how religion is superstitious. Atheism thinks that religion is based on ignorant beliefs in a deity and that are the results of irrational people trying to explain things in nature, when they could not. Superstition is an irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear, or a "set of behaviors that are related to magical thinking, whereby the practitioner believes that the future, or the outcome of certain events, can be influenced by certain specified behaviors". Superstition is often associated with good luck charms, black cats crossing one's path, opening an umbrella indoors, and things like that. Atheists reject these things saying that such practices do not fundamentally future events, and they liken religion to the same thing, particularly prayer and worship.

The point of this essay is not to defend prayer, but to show that atheism is even more futile than religion even if faith is false. If you are interested in looking at the arguments for this, read or watch the video at, and you will quickly see how misinformed the author of the site and many others who think like him are about prayer.

As mentioned above, what atheism often critiques related is worship, and the vanity thereof. Worship as they see it is pointless because what one worship does not exist. Worship however is not confined strictly to religion, although it is generally associated with religion. One can worship God, while another can worship the Beatles. The object of worship is different, but the fundamental principles are the same: adoration and devotion to something. Atheists will probably say that they worship nothing at all, but the reality of it is that anyone who adores something or someone in the highest regard is worshiping that thing. For an atheist, it is not supernatural, but something else. It is that “something else” that lies the problem.

Anything that is not supernatural is part of the natural order of things. Such things are bound to the universe: its laws and substance. Everything in the universe is made from the same fundamental building blocks of matter and energy, so whatever it is that an atheist holds in high esteem is made from the same elements as a block of wood. Whether an atheist adores intellect, reason, humanity, or science, ultimately these things can all be tied back to the same material that comprises a block of wood, so there really is no difference in adoring science than worshipping a totem pole. It all the same if it is part of the natural world.

The Bible also shows the absurdity of this in Isaiah 44:

16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
over it he prepares his meal,
he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
"Ah! I am warm; I see the fire."
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
"Save me; you are my god."
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
and their minds closed so they cannot understand. (NIV)

It tells how a man takes a block of wood, carves a god out of it, then bows down to worship it. He then takes the other half of the block of wood and cooks his dinner with it. The same thing that the man cooks his dinner with is the same thing he worships. The reality of the matter is that it doesn't matter what he makes his god out of. One may as well be worshiping a sculpture made from bellybutton lint. One may object, saying that they don't hold a thing in high regard, but an idea, such as humanism, love, science, or reason. These things though are also part of the natural order of things, and without something to give them intrinsic value outside of the natural order; they are merely chemical processes in the brain, and nothing more. It would seem even more absurd to worship chemical-electric process than to worship a block of wood.

Where theism differs is that it doesn't worship the natural order of things, but worships that which created the natural order. One cannot reduce creator worship to the absurdity of worshiping the created because the creator is fundamentally different from the natural order.

But what if atheists are right and theists are wrong? One could grant hypothetically that atheism is right and theism is wrong. In this hypothetical world, all the religion of man would be in vain and all that has been done in the same of religion is futile. In this hypothetical world, nothing religion does changes the outcome of events in the future, nor does anything in the past matter. Even if these are true, it still doesn't fundamentally change the vanity of atheism. In the video on, the analysis shows how prayer does not fundamentally alter random events. They conclude saying,

And think about this. What if a minister says, "God tells you to tithe money to the church. If you do, God will answer your prayers." This is fraud. The minister is lying to you in order to get your money. The belief in prayer is pure superstition.

One then has to ask, is atheism any better? Most atheists have in one way or another some form of optimism. As they see it, opening the worlds eyes to what they call the truth will usher in a new era for mankind that will ultimately better the race, however hope in the this optimism is nearsighted. On the same principle applied to prayer, the optimism cannot alter random events in natural world. Such events may be natural disasters, disease, accidents, and things of that nature. Likewise, this optimism can't cheat death. Ultimately, the universe will decay into heat. The stars will all burn out, the earth will be absorbed into the sun, and the places for refuge will grow fewer and fewer, ultimately leading to the extinction of the human race. So any hope outside the hope for life after death is in vain, and such is the vanity of atheistic optimism.

One then has to compare the eschatological implications of religion and atheism. Atheism will lead nowhere. Theism leads to life beyond the grave. Even if theism is wrong, the hope it offers is so much better, and not nearly as delusional or nearsighted as atheistic optimism, so it seems more reasonable to be a theist than it does to be an atheist in that sense. It would seem that if atheism was really better, it might have caught on, but it hasn’t. The idea of atheism is nothing new, and has existed for thousands of years, but it has yet to become main stream. That may due to the fact that after seeing the vanity of atheism, that the presumably primitive and superstitious people saw the vanity of it and abandoned it for something better: theism.

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