What All Atheists Have to Believe

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One of CMI's lesser hacks, Calvin Smith, who professes to be an ex-atheist (for which he blames the Evil Public Schools) and brags about his lack of scientific credentials[1] — having got it into his head that his experience also qualifies him to determine how Christians become atheists — published an article entitled What All Atheists Have to Believe: Paving the Way for Apostasy.[2] We refute it, thusly!

Calvin SmithRationalWiki
Have you ever had friends, acquaintances or family members who were coming to your church/youth group/Bible study etc., who began to come less often, until finally they stopped coming at all? Perhaps they turned hostile or just became distant to any conversation concerning God/the Bible etc.? Maybe they even used to profess that they were a Christian, that Jesus was their Saviour, but now they say they are an atheist. What happened?The cynic would suggest that they ran out of LSD; but in truth the means and causes of deconversion vary so widely that formulating a single explanation can be counterproductive.

Although every person's story in every scenario like this will have certain differences, every instance of the journey from professing Christian to apostasy must include certain intellectual steps (unless the apostate just shuts down his/her thinking!):
  1. Belief that God's Word (the Bible) cannot be trusted as plainly written.
  2. Belief in millions of years of time having occurred in the past.
  3. Belief in biological evolution of some sort.
It would appear that where Mr. Smith says "professing Christian," he means "Biblical literalist", and where he says "apostate", he also includes the vast majority of Christians who not only do not hold to CMI's particular take on Biblical literalism, who not only believe in an old Earth, but who accept theistic evolution. Also, "unless the apostate just shuts down his/her thinking!" is fairly ironic.

Why? Since all atheists must have a way of explaining how they came into existence without God, evolution is a requirement for that belief system. Evolution (from pond scum to people) cannot have occurred quickly, so a belief in millions of years is also required for atheism.Pre-Darwinian atheists, and there were many, would take issue with this claim. Atheists in the old days were perfectly happy with not knowing the exact origins of humanity. Also, the term 'belief' in evolution suggests that you need to have faith in science for it to work, which is absurd.

And of course atheists cannot take the word of God as plainly written because it claims to be the revelation from God, who they profess doesn't exist!Actually, he's right. Historians accept that the so-called "word of God" was plainly written by human beings, and later translated/transliterated by humans as well. It's also tautological that an atheist does not believe anything to be the "word of God".

The slippery slope to unbelief[edit]

Creation Ministries (and other creationist groups) is often attacked by other Christians or Christian organizations who do not hold to the biblical account of creation in the same way that we do. These groups sometimes characterize creationists as 'alarmists', saying we should not make a big deal out of this issue, and that we should just concentrate on 'the gospel' etc.The Christians in question mostly use slightly stronger phraseology than "alarmist." The statement of the Clergy Letter Project is that creationists "deliberately embrace scientific ignorance." Others speak of denialism on creationists' part.

Some have even tried to paint creationists as 'anti-intellectual' (a surprise to the scholars and scientists that work for our ministry) and say that creationists create barriers and mental stumbling blocks to people getting saved/accepting the gospel.Hint, fellows: insisting on believing demonstrable falsehoods is anti-intellectual, almost by definition. And insisting that it's a precondition to "accepting the gospel" is going to put most reasonable persons off that course.

But let's think about this. Any other stance on origins other than biblical creation (such as theistic evolution, day age theory, gap theory, framework hypothesis, progressive creationists etc.) involves millions of years (MOY) and/or evolution.Scientific consensus holds on the basis of a vast array of consilient evidence that the earth is billions of years old, not millions. Smith (and the rest of CMI/AiG) don't even know the holdings of the ideas they dismiss. And accepting CMI's account of biblical creation also requires evolution, because otherwise one must believe that the Ark had room for literally millions of species despite God expressly prescribing its dimensions.

As soon as a Christian adopts the concept of MOY they have already fulfilled requirements 1 and 2 (above) for accepting atheism.It is very simple to make a bullshit statement and then point out how phenomena conform to that statement. This is a fallacy, called the straw man. This also means that Old Earth creationists are hosed.

Because the Bible does not support MOY and actively teaches against it,This is an argument by assertion, and a false statement with no evidence to back it up; nowhere in the Bible is there a verse that tells specifically how old the universe is, nor is there anything about "And he spoke to Moses, 'When I had created everything in 7 days, I literally meant 7 days, not anything else ye humans may suppose,'" and the literal interpretation of Genesis contains some irreconcilable inconsistencies - which, in the eyes of more reasonable Christians as well as theological titans like Augustine of Hippo, falsifies it, and indicates that a different interpretation is correct. Never mind the problem of how God could've created the universe in 7 days when a day is the measurement of the amount of time it takes for Earth to rotate around its own axis once in relationship to the Sun in the solar system as it exists currently, post-creation. See our article on problems with biblical inerrancy.

a Christian who accepts that paradigm cannot claim to believe in God's word as plainly written and believes that 'science' should tell Christians what the Bible means ('science' dictates their exegesis of scripture).Even with the strictest form of Biblical exegesis, the historical-grammatical method, there is a role for extra-biblical sources, such as history, in the interpretation. St. Augustine, specifically, did not hold it unthinkable that the science of his day could be used as a guide for interpretation. Also, it is hypocritical, coming from one who no longer follows laws against eating shellfish, which are plainly written in the Bible. And due to the rampant paradoxes and internal inconsistencies of the bible, it is arguably impossible to actually follow every single rule in the Bible anyway.

As soon as a Christian accepts the first two requirements for atheism they are now intellectually 'open' to accepting the third requirement—evolution. After all, if they accept the secular interpretations of scientific data in one area (MOY), there is no logical reason not to accept such interpretations in other areas (evolution).Translation: "Our bullshit is very delicately constructed; one modicum of truth can bring it down like a house of cards."

Now these 3 requirements do not automatically result in apostasy, as there are many saved Christians who are evolutionists (therefore satisfying all the intellectual requirements for atheism).This rather obvious attempt at ass-coveringWikipedia betrays itself as such, in light of Mr. Smith's earlier statement that to go from "professing Christian" to "atheist" one must go through the three steps listed, excluding the possibility that a "professing Christian" might never have accepted Biblical literalism in the first place.

But they are much further down the slope leading to unbelief than their creationist brethren (who would have to skip ahead three steps if they were to turn from Christ to atheism).This is quite a dubious statement. Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, both of which accept all three statements, have historically enjoyed much higher rates of retention than the sort of fundamentalist Protestantism that rejects all three. Each new wave of evangelical enthusiasm has petered out quickly, leaving burned-over districtsWikipedia. It's also irrelevant - if a person isn't an apostate, they aren't an apostate.

And of course many professing Christians who have already taken these three steps eventually become consistent thinkers and realize that if they already have a way to explain all of existence without God (evolution), then why bother believing in God?Wait, what's wrong with being 'consistent thinkers'? And that Christians who believe in biblical literalism are not? Oh, wait. That's right.
Also, one may have many reasons to ignore/reject YEC and still be Christian; if you don't, you're going to hell.[citation NOT needed]

But, in any event, Mr. Smith is giving us yet another straw man by claiming that a "consistent thinker" would go through the following pattern of reasoning:

  • There are several plausible theories explaining the existence of the universe.
  • One of these theories is a fully naturalistic one with no role for God.
  • Therefore, that theory is the correct one and God does not exist.

Far from being "consistent," this is a fallacy, a non sequitur, in addition to presenting a false dilemma.

An additional straw man is provided when Smith, like AiG, CMI, Kent Hovind and all the other YEC hacks, lumps in all science that disagrees with him—geology, cosmology, astronomy, and indeed nearly everything else—as "evolution".

Intellectual barriers?[edit]

Christians who do not accept Genesis as plainly written sometimes express embarrassment at us 'unsophisticated' Christians who do.That is as it should be; creationists have demonstrated a nearly incomprehensible degree of ignorance in almost every field of scholarship, from evolutionary biology to information theory to logic to theology. Additionally, the doctrine of a "plainly written" Bible is a 19th century innovation, invented by Nonconformists who, for political reasons, wished the Bible to be equally accessible to everyone. Besides, Genesis, as plainly written, gives two mutually contradictory accounts of Creation. So which is it: was man created first, then the animals, then woman (Gen.2) or were man and woman created together, then the animals (Gen.1)? Both are written plainly.

It's as if they think, in our modern scientific age, a belief in a plain reading of Genesis 1–11 (young earth, dinosaurs and man co-existing, a global flood, a talking serpent) is just too fantastic to believe,Pardon me, Mr. Smith, but the phrase you're looking for is "thoroughly falsified by every line of scientific evidence."

and so us biblical creationists insisting that the Bible is describing these things as reality brings shame on the gospel and impedes our witness to non-believers.Funny, but St. Augustine said the same thing about 1500 years ago in his De Genesi ad literam, writing against the ignorant science-denying evangelists of his age.

But what about the talking donkey in Numbers 22? What about the dead people that came back to life and the virgin that gave birth in the gospels? Secular 'science' doesn't support those either, so which other parts of the Bible should we be ashamed of?If Mr. Smith had bothered to study any theology beyond the sort needed for sucker-bait, he would have realized that there is a difference between these examples and the Genesis creation myth. Namely, the general creationist line is that there were no miracles involved in the six-day creation process; but all the examples here are classed as miracles, which are designated as being "beyond the laws of nature."[3]

Compromising Christians seem to forget that biblical Christianity requires far more than easy believing.On the contrary, Jesus says (Matthew 11:30) "For my yoke is easy and my burthen is light," and the apostles' rallying cry was (Acts 16:31) "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house".

Respected theologian and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr Albert Mohler (considered by Time.com as the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S”, and interviewed in Creation 33(1) 2010) made a great point in an article:
...when we are told that we have to accept and embrace the theory of evolution in order to escape being considered intellectually backward, remember the opposition to Francis Collins. It just doesn't work. When Collins' elevation to the NIH (National Institutes of Health) post was announced, evolutionary scientist P.Z. Myers lamented, 'I don't want American science to be represented by a clown.' This is the predicament of those who argue that evangelicals must accept some form of theistic evolution—the guardians of evolution still consider them clowns.

So despite all of Francis Collins' achievements, qualifications, experience and the fact that he promotes 'evolution as fact' as vigorously as the most ardent atheist, he is dismissed by his evolutionary colleagues simply because he believehs in God. (See also a review of his theistic evolutionary book The Language of God and a critique of the BioLogos organization he heads.)

As Dr Mohler states:

Thus, you might think that the scientific world would have celebrated the elevation of Dr. Collins to the NIH. Not so. Harvard's Steven Pinker declared that Collins is 'an advocate of profoundly anti-scientific beliefs.' Other leading scientists said far worse. Why?
As The New Yorker reports this week, Dr. Collins is "a believing Christian."
This section makes heavy use of quote mining to imply falsehoods. As Prof. Myers made clear in his blog post,[4] his objection to Dr. Collins was not that he was a Christian, but that he promoted the fallacious argument from fine tuning. Also, there is a large difference between Dr. Collins, who merely holds beliefs not verifiable by science, and a creationist, who holds beliefs that have been outright falsified by science.

Sin factor[edit]

Some Christians claim that intellectual barriers are not the major reason why people turn away from their faith and claim it is primarily a 'heart' issue. Atheists who were once connected with a church often point to certain hurtful events which they say caused them to turn away from God. Some have simply confessed that God's standards concerning sexual ethics, for example, conflicted with the way they wished to live, so they rejected the Christian faith. Many could not accept how God could allow a loved one to die tragically, and so concluded He doesn't exist.Many Christians, though, did claim that intellectual barriers were part of the reason why they turned away from Christianity. It is fairly true that hurtful events do turn people away from God—when bad things happen without justice, it is a common question to ask 'Where was this all-powerful God for me?' Note also the calumny that (presumably a significant number of) atheists have stated that they turned away from Christianity in order to live sinfully. Citation seriously needed.

All of these stories have a 'sin' component to them, whether it was the person who was hurtful, the sin of the person turning away or the tragedy of death caused by sin.Tragic deaths are caused by sin. Particularly the ones the victim(s) didn't commit. Right. Some people call this "blaming the victim." Jesus went specifically against the notion when he said (Luke 13:4-5) "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay."

However true these reasons may be (although many people have claimed it was simply intellectual barriers that caused them to drift), once a person is motivated to jettison their faith, they need a logical way to back up their atheistic beliefs and so must struggle to find a way to profess steps 1–3 to be able to embrace their new worldview intellectually. Those who are 'already there', so to speak, have a much easier time plunging headlong into apostasy.Which, being translated, means, "People should deny scientific facts because that makes apostasy difficult." This is, of course, absurd, rather like denying that there is a buffalo about to gore you in order that you should not panic.

Biblical creation (founded in an understanding of presuppositional apologetics) is one of the best immunizers against the atheistic worldview,See the above remarks about retention rates in non-literalist traditions.

and it helps Christians to be able to navigate around and through the hurts experienced in living in a sin-cursed world. And far from being a hindrance to the gospel, it is actually one of the ways the Lord uses to win people to the Himself, as many have testified.Let no man deceive himself.1 Corinthians 3:18.


  1. Calvin Smith
  2. What all atheists have to believe by Calvin Smith, 17 March, 2011, Creation Ministries International
  3. Old Catholic Encyclopedia, "Science and the Church"
  4. Monday must be Pick On Francis Collins Day! by PZ Myers July 2007, 2009, ScienceBlogs