Tactics and Tools

Is Religion Illogical?

Author Brett Kunkle Published on 03/05/2013

Learn to spot the non-sequiturs atheists sometimes use to argue against Christianity.

“Religion is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness.” So says Richard Dawkins, author of the God Delusion and godfather to the New Atheists. This recent breed of atheist is no longer satisfied to pronounce religion as mistaken. “Believers aren’t merely wrong, they’re irrational. And to such a degree that they very likely suffer psychological disorders.”

But is it the believer who is irrational? I don’t think so.

Recently, I took a group of high schoolers from a local church in Southern California on their first Berkeley mission trip. For students and staff, it was a rational test of Christianity’s truth claims. It was also an occasion to humbly yet confidently demonstrate the utter irrationality of atheism.

The laws of logic govern human thought and communication. We haven’t created them, we’ve discovered them. Logic is part of the furniture of the universe. These laws of thought assist us in evaluating the rationality of various truth claims. And we employed them in Berkeley with atheists we met with. Here’s an example.

A non-sequitur is a common logical fallacy we find in atheistic arguments. When a conclusion or statement does not logically follow from a previous argument or statement, one commits this fallacy. Thus, a non-sequitur is an irrational conclusion. Here are two we encountered in Berkeley:

#1—“The Bible is completely unreliable, and therefore we should doubt Jesus even existed.”

Atheists like to point to the alleged errors in the Bible to cast doubt on Jesus’ very existence. The atheist is mistaken in his claim the Bible is unreliable but let’s give it to him for the sake of argument. Here’s the question we taught students to ask: “So, what follows?” The atheist concludes Jesus does not exist. But that doesn’t follow.

Imagine a book recounting the life of George Washington. Upon close inspection, we discover errors and contradictions. It claims he was a general in the Civil War and was the third president of the United States. Does it follow from these errors that George Washington never existed? Of course not. In the same way, alleged Bible errors do not disprove Jesus’ existence.

#2—“There can’t be a Designer when there is so much imperfect design in the natural world.”

Atheists point to flaws in the natural world as evidence against a Designer. Deficiencies in the human eye are a favorite example. But here’s our question: “So, what follows?” Does imperfect design mean a Designer doesn’t exist? Of course not. Have you ever owned a car? Talk about imperfect design. Cars break down all the time. But it doesn’t follow they weren’t designed.

So we employed the tools of logic to show it was actually the atheist’s arguments that were irrational.