Arguing God’s Existence Even When There are No Atheists
by Lenny Esposito
Today, Christians can run into many people who doubt God’s existence. While books by the New Atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are the most well-known, many “Internet atheists” will comment about the lack of evidence for God’s existence or the supposed incredulity of a Supreme Being.
Most Christians who defend God’s existence have quite a few different arguments from which to draw upon. Apologists can recount arguments based on the fact that something exists rather than nothing (cosmological arguments), the design evident in creation (teleological arguments), the existence of moral values and duties (axiological arguments), as well as the argument from contingency, the argument from reason, the argument from consciousness, and even arguing that the greatest possible being must exist (ontological arguments).
The amazing thing isn’t that as veritable smorgasbord of arguments for God’s existence exist within Christianity, it’s that arguments for God’s existence have existed for millennia, while atheism as we know it is a relatively new phenomenon. In his book, Atheists: The Origin of the Species, Nick Spenser writes that while some of the seeds of atheism had developed through the Renaissance, it really wasn’t until ‘the end of the eighteenth century, in which a handful of pioneers, most prominent in France, put forth the first openly and unapologetically atheist arguments since the classical period.” 1 Yet, 1200 or so years before Hume and Hébert, Augustine was offering arguments for God’s existence in his On Free Choice of the Will. In the 11th century, Anselm came up with his famous Ontological argument, and during the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his Summa Theologica which included the famous Five Ways arguments for the existence of God.
There were no atheists in Christianized Europe during the Middle Ages. There may have been people branded as heretics and there were definitely many different faith traditions, but no one was actively pushing the non-existence of God. So why would some of the most famous collections of arguments for God’s existence be written then?
The answer is simply that Christianity has always been a faith based on evidence…
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