Love Your Atheist Neighbor Part 9: Secular Common Sense 2

Rick Mattson Apologetics, Atheism Leave a Comment



What I call “secular common sense” is the view held by many atheists that says God and creation and miracles and worship and heaven and hell (and the like) are all just dumb.

Empty concepts.

(See my prior post for a fuller explanation.)

Secular common sense agrees with the Mark Twain character who said: Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.

“Common sense” atheists insist that gods and spirits, faith and holy books were the invention of pre-scientific man, who needed an explanation for things he didn’t understand. But now with the advent of science, we must grow up and put aside primitive superstitions.

Two responses I usually give to all this:

1. Secular common sense assumes naturalism — wrongfully so.

Think about it. Secular common sense only “makes sense” if its underlying worldview of naturalism (roughly, a synonym for atheism) is true.

But we’re not given naturalism. No worldview — not naturalism or theism or any other kind of “ism” — can claim to be the default philosophy for everyone.

The big question, then, is which worldview provides the best overall explanation for reality as we know it. And that is far from a settled question among philosophers.

Let’s say for the moment that theism is true. In that case secular common sense loses its punch and is simply nonsense.

2. Secular common sense is more rhetorical than substantive.

It comes to us in assertions and putdowns, but usually not in the form of real arguments.

So when an atheist says “I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Santa Clause,” or, “I believe in science and reason, not superstition,” (etc.), don’t be guilted or shamed into playing along.

Nothing of real substance is happening.

But believers often begin to feel insecure when a confident atheist lays down a series of “common sense” denials about Christianity.

But I ask, which common sense is more sensible — that of theism or naturalism?

Specifically, is the world created or self-existent? Designed by God or random? Endowed with meaning or pointless, personal or mechanistic, moral or unprincipled?

Are human beings composed of body and soul (made in the image of God), or are they mere machines?

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“Common sense” can be theistic or secular, depending on which worldview is actually true.

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