David Smalley, atheist blogger of “The Dogma Debate” has put up a list of the top ten reasons why he is an atheist (though there are actually eleven reasons listed). While these are of varied quality, It struck me as intelligent enough to warrant a response.
As such, I’ll start with the first:
“1. If we truly had one creator speaking to prophets, it would do so consistently, not contradictory as thousands of different religions have proven.”
This is the classic argument from many beliefs, and is an important question for people to ask, though it is hardly a reason to embrace atheism. In fact, this statement assumes that one creator founded different religions. That is to say, it is an argument against Unitarianism (and not a very good one, even then); it says nothing about religions which don’t claim that God founded every religion.
Really, that anyone would think that this is a good reason to accept atheism as true strikes me as very strange.
But, let’s help Smalley out a bit. Let’s change this to “God would have made sure that all religions were correct, and therefore the same as one another”. That would apply to Christianity.
Or, rather, it would apply to Christianity if there were any good reason to think it was true. The idea that God allows us our free will, and allows us to believe what we choose, has always been a key part of Christian belief. So, a version of God that would prevent people from believing other things wouldn’t be the free will respecting God of Christianity.
Thus, this argument doesn’t work, either.
The fundamental mistake here is assuming that different people won’t see things differently. Any experience with life will tell us that this happens in all areas; to insist that religion should be the one exception to this is to insist that humanity shouldn’t be a factor in religion. When it is connecting humanity to God that is the purpose of religion, this seems dubious at best.
But, if history is any indicator, someone will object in the comments section that this is no reason to select a particular religion out as true. This is true, but only by being beside the point. There are far too many answers to that tangent to list them here, but the main point is that wouldn’t defend atheism. For now, Smalley’s objection was based in the idea that theism inherently contradicts the existence of multiple religions, and this is an idea that no one has been able to support, let alone justify.