Does internet atheism assume too much? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Do enough internet debates and you will soon come across what I call atheistic presuppositionalism. Now I am very much not a presuppositionalist, but if you disagree with my stance, I ask that you still consider the view I am making. In a presuppositionalist position, it is a starting grounds that without Christianity, the world comes to irrationality. Christianity becomes the starting point. I am contending here that with what I am writing about, it is assumed right at the start that atheism is the default and in fact the rational worldview.
Let’s consider a question like miracles for instance. The atheist presuppositionalist will say things like “We know today that resurrections don’t happen and virgins don’t give birth.” Never mind that it was known back then, but this constant we is trotted out. Even for claims other than these like “We know miracles don’t occur.” Who is this we? It certainly isn’t the majority of the population of Earth. It’s the atheist community and people that think like them. It’s just saying “People that think like us agree with us.” This should be no more convincing than saying “People who hold to Christianity with me agree that Jesus rose from the dead.”
Of course, it could be that miracles have never happened, but if someone is going to say that miracles have never happened, they need to make an argument for it. Even if they want to trot out Hume’s failed argument, they should at least make an argument. Instead, it too often happens that the person claims miracles have never happened and then leave it on you to disprove their claim and if you cannot, then their claim stands. Well, let’s suppose I am an agnostic on this question and I hear it. I respond “That’s interesting. Can you back that claim?” “Try and find one miracle that is true.” My inability to do so in that case would not mean that the claim is right. It just means I don’t know of such a case.
This is also the case when we are told that atheism is the rational position. Well not necessarily. It could be a rational position, though some Christian apologists I know could argue otherwise, but it does not follow that because you are an atheist, you are a rational thinker. I know many atheists who are highly irrational. Consider for instance the Jesus mythicists. These are people who take a position that is not held by any Ph.D. or classical scholar in the field teaching at an accredited university and then say that this position is the obvious right one. If you are going to get after young-earth creationists for disagreeing with every biologist on evolution, you have no grounds for holding to Jesus mythicism. Yet so many atheists think they are among the intellectual elite for seeing the truth about the person of Jesus. Jesus mythicism is ultimately a conspiracy theory for atheists.
Many who hold to this position and often a position of scientism often think that they are rational in whatever they say simply because they are an atheist. I am an advocate of the position that if you do not study something seriously, you should not speak on it. Should a Christian make an argument against evolution? Only if they seriously study evolution from a scientific approach and are reading both sides. In that case, by all means critique, but if all you are doing is just quoting the Bible and not paying attention to what the experts in the field are saying, then you are wasting your breath and frankly, embarrassing us as much as Jesus mythicists should be seen as an embarrassment to atheism. To get to what was just said though, because you study science and/or are a scientist, this does not mean you are an expert on philosophy, history, theology, biblical interpretation, etc. Believe it or not, you might just have to study those fields.
Unfortunately, the presuppositional atheist won’t do this. Why? Because “we” know that those fields are nonsense and why should I study them? That would be like studying fairy tales or Greek mythology. (Which are in fact valid areas of study) Again, ironically, these same atheists will complain when Christians show up and start talking about scientific theories without studying them.
Ultimately, I find that you cannot really reason with presuppositional atheists. (I like to say they honor reason with their lips, but their heads are far from it.) If a man is convinced that he cannot be wrong in what he thinks, then nothing you say could ever convince him. The most I try to do is just refute what they say in public and often try to apply a bit of shaming as well because even if they don’t see how inconsistent they’re being, I want everyone else to see it.
One place this also shows up at is memes. Several times I see a meme show up that is absolutely ridiculous and a total caricature of what Christians believe. When you see these, do not take them seriously. I instead put up my own meme in reply that is meant to show how ridiculous this meme is. Consider the following:
Now I’m not at all saying that you shouldn’t be able to answer these claims and if you want to treat the other side like they have no clue, you had better be able to show that, but if a retort is not a serious critique, do not treat it seriously. Not every meme deserves to be answered. In fact, biblically speaking, silence is a great shamer. Many times when Jesus stood silent before opposition, it was not fear. It was just saying “You’re not worth answering.” (Consider what that means when He’s silent before Pilate.)
Try to save your dialogue for atheists who will actually take your ideas seriously. The internet atheists are the ones that follow the sort of Boghossian strategies using all the code words like deepity and such. To follow another Boghossian line then, let them eat at the kids’ table. The adults will discuss the evidence. There are better usages of time.