The Bible says that the fool is one who denies God's existence: "the fool says in his heart, 'there is no God'." (Psalm 14:1). At first glance this statement on its own does not allow us to declare with certainty that all Unbelievers are therefore fools. To draw that conclusion would entail us falling into the fourth form logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. The subsequent declarations in Psalm 14, however, put the matter beyond dispute: all Unbelievers are indeed fools.
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”On the other hand, Unbelief confronts us with an array of arguments to the opposite: it is the Believer who is foolish and ignorant. Is Belief and Unbelief destined, then, to pass like ships in the night. Not really. Unbelief at its most honest candidly acknowledges its own foolishness.
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one. (Psalm 14: 1-3)
Take, for example, the knowledge which comes to us from our senses. Can we have any knowledge apart from our senses? Many rationalists would say not. Yet knowledge and truth from our senses can never be verified by Unbelief, because "proving up" such empirical knowledge relies upon--you guessed it--the senses. The circle is vicious. The Unbeliever can never step outside his sense perception to prove the truth of what he is sensing. We simply cannot step outside our senses to compare the visual images behind our eyes with the objects "out there". As Mitch Stokes puts it, "We can't even check to see whether there is and 'out there' out there, to see whether there's an external world." We cannot provide "evidence" for the existence of the external world without employing the very senses we are supposedly attempting to authenticate. The circle is very tight and incredibly vicious. Many Unbelievers prefer not to think about it. It becomes a guilty secret, locked away in the family cupboard, that nobody talks about in polite society lest Unbelief has to face up to how foolish it really is.
Stokes goes on to cite the enfant terrible of Unbelief:
David Hume--one of the towering inspirations of contemporary atheism--conceded that we really have no good reason to believe that the world outside of us resembles the perceptual images inside us. Perhaps there isn't an "external" world; it's hard to say. This, he said, is the "whimsical condition of mankind". [Believers might rather, more accurately say "the foolish condition of mankind".] And the twentieth-century American philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine said that the Humean condition is simply the human condition. Our senses--like us--are destined to remain within the boundary of our skin. Their limitations are ours.These limitations are the condition of being a finite creature. Unbelief means these limitations operate as a vicious circle. Jean Paul Sartre once observed that unless a fact or point of data or a value has an infinite reference point, it has no meaning. Hume had already proven that it also has no verification. Unbelief is foolishness itself. Or, as Paul puts it, Unbelief professes to be wise, but becomes progressively foolish. Paul knew his Psalms.
This goes for all the ways we form beliefs, for all our cognitive faculties, whether memory, introspection, or even reason itself. We can never step outside these belief-forming mechanisms to independently verify (sic) their reliability. [Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith to the Head (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012), p. 21.]
But Hume was even more destructive of his own. Stokes goes on:
Speaking of reason itself, Hume has a magnificent argument for what he considers, because of his evidentialism, the flimsiness of inferences we might attempt to make about the surrounding world. It's one of the best arguments in all of philosophy.Can anyone actually live like this? No. Herein, then, is the foolishness of Unbelief: it cannot deal with the world as it really is; it cannot known for certain what the world is like; its irrationalisms constantly bubble up like Rotorua mud pools. But Unbelief ignores its irrationality because it has to. "Our instincts are just too strong for philosophy to overcome. We're irrational, but it keeps us alive. A world of whimsy." (Ibid., p. 23).
Hume recognized that we all expect, for example, the sun to rise tomorrow. he then asked what only a philsopher or child could ask: Why do we expect this? The answer is, because the sun has always risen. But Hume notices that this would only count as a good reason if we knew that the future will resemble the past. . . . (T)he argument or reason for believing that the sun will rise tomorrow must be something like this: the sun has always risen in the past, and because the future will resemble the past, the sun will rise tomorrow. . . .
Hume followed his evidentialism where it inevitably led: he concluded that we're irrational in believing that the future will resemble the past. After all, we have no non-circular argument for it; there's no evidence to support it. And once this belief goes, so must our belief that the sun will rise tomorrow--and for any other belief about things in the world we have yet to see. (Ibid., p. 21f)
Now Hume attempted to escape this dilemma by agreeing that senses lead one into a vicious irrational circle from which there is no escape. But reason, not human experience, that's another matter. Not at all. It's just that every bolt hole that Unbelief scurries into has the same dilemmas, the same paradoxes, the same irrationality. How does one verify one's reasoning? By reason. The Humean paradox remains. Unbelief is riddled, shot out of the skies with the scepticism that always attends the finite creature basing all upon the foundation of himself.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1)