Resolving Doubts

The Bible clearly affirm that God loves us, even when we are struggling with doubts.

For instance, in John 20, despite the unanimous witness of his closest friends that Jesus had bodily risen from the dead, the apostle Thomas refused to believe this was true. With time-honored skepticism he insisted, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25, ESV).

In my context, one of the most credible alternatives to Christianity is known as atheism or naturalism. Therefore, I often contrast a naturalistic picture of the world, where everything is composed of matter, energy, and space-time, with a theistic perspective, which includes everything in the naturalistic picture, but adds in the idea of a loving God who created the universe and graced it with beauty, order, and love.

I hope you enjoy them. To continue the conversation, please join the Reasons for God Facebook Page or use our Contact Form. For a more in-depth look at these topics, we have a number of book recommendations as well.

Resolving Doubts:

Are Christians Evil?

One of the most notable and repeated ways that atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have attacked religion is by attacking religious people. Quotes abound, but here are a few particularly juicy ones. No matter what you think of the content, you have to admire the punchy, clever style of their writing. Richard…

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Atheism and Hope

There is a tension within atheism (Please notice how I define atheism): 1.  On a personal level, many if not most atheists are generally hopeful people. 2. On a philosophical level, atheism as a worldview cannot sustain hope. Together, these two ideas lead to the conclusion that: 3. Atheists who choose to be hopeful are making a leap of…

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Atheism and Intellectual Courage

One of the important qualities that religious dialogue often lacks is respect. We need to be deliberate in considering the strengths of the positions with which we disagree. I have noticed that looking for the good points of different worldviews is often correlated with the ability to respect the people who believe differently than…

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Atheism and Moral Accountability

Many atheists, dedicated to doing what is good, are offended by arguments that the atheistic worldview has problems with morality. It is frustrating for an atheist who genuinely loves doing kind actions to be told that, philosophically speaking, their lifestyle doesn’t fit with their worldview. After all, for that person, it does fit…

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Atheism and Purpose

It seems the atheistic universe has no room for purpose. (Please notice how I define atheism). Its important to remember that I cheerfully acknowledge that many atheists take themselves to be living purposeful lives. (Not that the consistent atheist, who finds no purpose to their life, is likely to object! What would be the point?). We…

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Atheism and Science

In a desire to foster a great respect and appreciation between atheists and Christians, and for other religious people, I want to celebrate the high esteem that we often share for science: for the scientific method, for scientific experiments, for scientists, for scientific results, and so on. To begin, many atheists have made…

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Atheism and Selfishness

Let's look at the relationship between atheism and selfishness. Let’s be clear: I am not discussing atheists and accusing them of selfishness. Many of my secular friends are generous, kind, hospitable, friendly folks. I don’t think, in general, that they view the world strictly through the prism of evolutionary logic. But what I do…

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Atheism and the Denial of Freedom

Many (but not all) atheists argue for and accept that “free will” in an illusion. Why? Because this conclusion follows logically from the basic principles of atheism. I want to clarify why all atheists should deny the existence of free will or, by contrast, why all who believe that they have free will should reject atheism. In other…

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Atheism and the Denial of Love

As I have argued earlier, atheism leads to determinism. (Please notice how I define atheism). The most important reason that atheism leads to determinism is that atheism requires that everything be subject to naturalistic, scientific explanation. From an atheistic perspective, there can be no thing, event, or action which cannot be given…

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Atheism and the Denial of Reason

I want to clarify the problems with determinism under atheism. (Please notice how I define atheism). Thankfully, Sam Harris has already identified one of the problems for us: What most people overlook is that free will does not even correspond to any subjective fact about us. Consequently, even rigorous introspection soon grows as…

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Atheism and the Naturalistic Fallacy

Atheism – the worldview, not the people group – has a problem with evil. (Please notice how I define atheism). The problem is sometimes called “the naturalistic fallacy,” which states that “you cannot derive an ought from an is.” In ordinary language, that means you cannot go from a description of how things are to a…

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Atheism, Determinism and Social Problems

My goal is to clarify the logical connections between atheism, determinism, and negative social outcomes. (Please notice how I define atheism). It is very important to note that I am not saying that atheists (the people) are responsible for more negative social outcomes compared to people with other belief systems. There are a wide range…

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Atheism, Evil and Despair

Have you ever felt wretched, just sick to your stomach, over how you’ve hurt someone else? I want to talk about how atheism deals with these experiences. (Please notice how I define atheism). At a time in my life when I should have known better, I put myself in this position. I decided to start dating someone because I was insecure…

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Atheism, Humans and Robots

The standard disclaimer: I am not speaking about or attacking atheists. Instead, my goal is to rationally work through the logical implications of the atheistic worldview. (Please notice how I define atheism). My conclusion is that, if atheism is true, then we need to re-imagine how we understand human beings. Atheism requires us to…

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Atheism, Morality, and Nature

As a response to an earlier discussion of atheism and morality, one person wrote, writing, “Atheists have morals and act morally because morality isn't related to existence of gods.” I think this raises a very interesting question: if atheism is true, what is morality related to? Granted, it wouldn’t be related to the existence of…

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Atheists and Doubt

Another great quality of many atheists, which is too often unappreciated by Christians and other religious people, is an openness to doubt, a flexibility to look at the world from different angles, and an interest in the rational critique of established positions. Of course there are atheists, who as much as some Christians, seem to…

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Can Atheists Find Meaning in Life?

In a recent opinion piece for The Washington Post, Paula Kirby writes about how she and other atheists find meaning and purpose for their lives. As she sees it, their appreciation of life’s meaning comes from a number of sources, including the inherent satisfaction of doing good work and the built-in empathy that is explainable by…

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Comparing Christianity and Secularism

In an chapter in Passionate Conviction, which is a superb collection of essays, Craig Hazen argues that, among all the great religious traditions in the world, Christianity is the best place to start a search for truth.  He offers four reasons: 1.    Christianity is testable.  In particular, Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15 that…

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Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden – A Book Review

Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden and Shin In Geun, is a powerful expose of the ongoing horror story that is North Korea. As you read, consider the question: is evil real? Is the North Korean prison system evil - or is that just a word we use to describe our personal feelings about it?By retelling the story of Shin, a North Korean…

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Genes and Morality

Has science replaced religion as a guide to morality? Are our genes a better guide to right and wrong than revelation from a divine being? Can science lead us to a new morality? A recent study, by Abigail Marsh and her team at Georgetown, might imply that science is replacing religion when it comes to our moral beliefs. Their study…

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How Philosophy Can Help Atheists and Christians Understand Each Other

One of the most common misunderstandings, in even the most gracious and empathetic conversations between Christians and atheists, occurs because of the difference between ontology and epistemology. But with a little philosophical reflection, we can clear up this confusion and help atheists and Christians understand one…

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Is Atheism a Religion?

At The Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science you can find a witty and urbane video of TV host and comedian Bill Maher. In the video Maher is primarily arguing that “atheism is not a religion." Maher contrasts the difference between atheism and religion like this: When it comes to religion, we’re not two sides of the same…

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Is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Responsible?

Now that Boston is secured, Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in custody, people are starting to ask: what is the best punishment for Dzhokhar? Many want to hold him responsible for his actions. But did you know that leading atheist thinkers would disagree? For instance, as Richard Dawkins has argued, As scientists,…

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Is Reason Better Than Religion?

What's better? To be fully reasonable or to have faith in God? Many atheists think it is better to be fully reasonable and scientific than cling to the false comfort of religious stories. A leading example of this perspective is Dr. Alex Rosenberg, a professor of philosophy at Duke University. In his book The Atheist's Guide to…

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Joel Marks and the Meaning of Life


Is human life absurd, meaningless, and empty? Or do our lives have purpose and significance? One way to find an answer to these big questions is to ask another question: if we never existed or ceased to exist, would it matter? For instance, if there was one less piece of dust in a lifeless galaxy five billion light years away, this…

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Joel Marks, Atheism and Amoralism

The New York Times recently published online a piece entitled “Confessions of an Ex-Moralist” by Dr. Joel Marks, a scholar at the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University. His post offers an opportunity to discuss some arguments for and against amoralism, which will highlight the problem that atheists have in…

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Logical Fallacies and the RDFRS Community

This week the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science decided to link to my post “Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins,” which resulted in a vigorous discussion on their website. Two kinds of responses seem appropriate. The first is to provide a robust defense of the position I staked out in the original post, which offered…

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Michael Shermer Calls Me A Skeptic!

In a recent article for The Huffington Post, Michael Shermer, the founder of The Skeptics Society, called me a skeptic! Admittedly, he didn't use my name, but he did define my position. Here's how he defines skepticism: In principle, skeptics are neither closed-minded nor cynical. We are curious but cautious. Or, I often hear, "Oh,…

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Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins

Moral confusion is a common problem. When a conversation begins about the difference between right and wrong, everyone can feel the tension, because admitting you're wrong isn't just about saying you have bad reasons, but can become about whether or not you are a bad person. Sometimes we argue past each other because we're using the same…

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Moral Clarity and the RDFRS Community

Earlier this week I posted “Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins,”which was then reposted and discussed at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science website. My first response to the comment thread pointed out the frequent logical fallacies (and incivility) in the comment thread. Today I want to continue an effort to raise…

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No Christian Children?

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins writes that “a Christian child” is nonexistent. As he puts it: Atheists need to raise their own consciousness of the anomaly: religious opinion is the one kid of parental opinion that – by almost universal consent – can be fastened upon children who are, in truth, too young to know what their…

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Paula Kirby: Are Humans Spiritual?

The word “spiritual” is a common, everyday word that many people use to describe a wide variety of apparently transcendent experiences. But should we be more careful? Has “spiritual” become a word that some people deliberately use in order to deceive others? Paula Kirby’s perspective A commentator for The Washington Post’s…

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Paula Kirby: Is Religion a Parasite?

Paula Kirby, a “consultant to secular organizations,” recently wrote in an article for The Washington Post that, “Religion is a parasite that feeds on all that is good in humanity as a whole and then proclaims it as its own gift to the world.” That's a very strong, unqualified, and unconditional statement. If true, religious…

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Physicalism and Reason

Dr. Matt Dickerson, a professor of computer science at Middlebury College, recently gave a lecture at MIT on the relationship between physicalism and reason. The lecture was based on the fourth chapter of his book The Mind and the Machine. After developing an account of human identity on physicalism, and developing an account of what a…

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Reality Has Consequences

Reality has consequences. This is a more important truth than the very popular (and important) saying "Ideas have consequences." And it is far, far more important than the saying "Elections have consequences." But, nevertheless, it is a truth often ignored. For instance, there is a common conceit that 'all people are basically good.'…

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Richard Dawkins Helps Answer Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, in his Introduction to the Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, has a witty counter to those who claim that religious people are especially good: My own response has been to issue a challenge: name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or…

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Sam Harris and 9/11

In a post reflecting on the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Dr. Sam Harris speaks about religious practice in sharply negative terms. For instance: Parents teaching religious doctrine to their children is “nothing less than the emotional and intellectual abuse of a child,” is oppressive, and represents “terrifying ignorance and…

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Sam Harris and Determinism

On his blog earlier this week, Sam Harris argues for “Morality Without ‘Free Will.’” Sam Harris has become an influential public intellectual through his three New York Times bestsellers, his articles in many leading journals and magazines, and in his capacity as the CEO of Project Reason. In this response, I will summarize his…

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The Argument From Failure

In this post, I'd like to consider the following argument with you: Humans love success and winners. One common critique of Christianity is that it is a man-made religion. If Christianity is a man-made religion, it should promote success and winners. But the Christian God repeatedly seems to fail and value failures. …

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The Atheistic Leap of Faith

In the course of having thousands of conversations about the ultimate issues of life, I’ve encountered many skeptics who, out of a deep respect for their religious friends, are reluctant to explain their objections to faith. These skeptics have noticed that, for their friends, the practice of religion is fundamental to filling their…

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The Atheistic Reliability Problem

In preparing for the upcoming launch of True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism (March 1), I've been reading and re-reading the work of many New Atheists. It is a bit tiresome, after a while, to only read attacks against religion instead of a positive, evidence-based case for atheism. So I've shifted gears and…

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The Circular Reasoning of Atheists

A common idea is that Christians are particularly prone to circular reasoning. For instance, Winston Wu pulls no punches at DebunkingSkeptics.com, saying, "Christian beliefs are based on 100 percent circular reasoning that lack any valid initial basis or foundation, which Christians do not see due to brainwashing and mind-control."…

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The Euthyphro Dilemma and the Triune God of Love

The Euthyphro Dilemma, a Socratic dialogue found in Plato's writings, famously challenges the ideas that 'the gods' are a legitimate source of morality. In the dialogue, Socrates asks his friend Euthyphro, "The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy…

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There Are No “Nones”

As part of one of the biggest religion stories of the past few years, Time Magazine said in March 2012, in an entry titled "The Rise Of The Nones," that, "The fastest-growing religious group in the U.S. is the category of people who say they have no religious affiliation." In October 2012, the Pew Research Center indicated that…

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What If Atheism Really Is Just A “Lack of Belief in God”?

Many atheists claim that the proper definition of atheism is, as Austin Cline of the Atheism channel on About.com states, "simply the absence of belief in gods." But if atheism is a lack of belief and not a positive affirmation of what is real, good, and true, then the atheist immediately runs into serious problems. This post is…

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What Should Jesus Do? A Response to Richard Carrier

Why didn't Jesus teach His disciples the basics of public health? That's one of the questions that Dr. Richard Carrier raised in a debate with Dr. David Marshall on February 9, 2013. Carrier raised this point as part of his argument against the debate's topic, namely, "Is the Christian Faith Reasonable?" Why is this important? Because…

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Why Care About Human Well-Being? A Response to Sam Harris

Do you want other people to be happy? If you had a choice between making the world either happier or more miserable, which would you choose? Which choice would be the moral one? These are questions that Dr. Sam Harris, a best-selling author and neuroscientist, has been discussing for many years now. His most prominent book on the…

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Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?

Have you ever prayed for something important and good, but the opposite happened? Do you remember how that felt? One member of the Reasons for God community shared what this experience feels like for her. With her permission, I want to share this part of her email so that you can hear the weightiness of what she had to…

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Why Naturalism Is False (or Irrational)

"Why Naturalism Is False (or Irrational)" is a talk given to student organizations at both Harvard University and Boston College Law School in April 2013. The following notes reflect the substance of my talk after introductory comments: Our first task tonight is to define naturalism. What idea is it that I believe is false or…

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