Response to an Atheist Friend (3)

Recently we had 28 people from an atheist group visit our church, then I went to their atheist meeting. One of the guys has written a first draft of a book about atheism. He was trying to get other members of his group to read it and give him feedback, but they weren’t, so I offered to do it. He is intelligent and makes some valid points in his book, including some complaints against Christians. I thought it might be interesting to share a few things he wrote, along with my feedback to him. Here’s one:

My new friend spends a chapter explaining that Christians are foolish for believing in God because our brains are naturally biased and therefore our conclusions cannot be trusted. So we believe in God but it’s just because of the biases or “templates” that we start with, and then stubbornly hold onto. He writes, “People go to great lengths to protect the view they see from some template they are attached to.”

Here’s my response:

Here’s the major problem with this chapter that I would suggest you must admit, in the interest of intellectual honesty:
   You make the case that our minds cannot be trusted (that “truth” is only what we make it through the individual biases and templates of our brains) – but then why should I trust this conclusion that your mind comes to? Why should I believe in (or even be interested in) anything you have to say? In fact, why should you believe in your ability to come to a correct conclusion? Shouldn’t you throw your hands up in the air and admit that you can’t come to any unbiased conclusions and therefore will quit trying to convince yourself, or anyone else, of anything?
   And there’s another factor at play here that you’re not mentioning. If evolution is true, you can’t trust your mind at all (even if it wasn’t biased). Tim Keller writes, “Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it’s only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it. However, if we can’t trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about anything, including evolutionary science? If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not what is true, why trust them about anything at all?” (The Reason For God, 137-138). By the way, some honest atheists (like Thomas Nagel in “The Last Word”) admit to this.