In the last “Internet People” post, I talked about Christians. I myself am a millennial and therefore I use the internet quite often. I was raised with the internet. On top of that, I am a Christian, making me a Christian internet person. I talked about how Christians often make the church look uninformed and often give off a perception of ignorance.
It’s simply too easy for a person to post online before actually thinking through what they are going to write.
The atheist internet person is really no different. Unbelievers are all over the internet, especially on Facebook. The interesting thing about internet atheists is that they behave, more or less, like internet Christians. Internet atheists are relatively uninformed about what they believe.
For example, many internet atheist I have talked to do not even have rational categories for the most fundamental truths of reality. The law of non-contradiction is often thrown out the window when discussing cause and effect. Like the internet Christian, the internet atheist will say almost anything in order to save face during an argument and this includes denying fundamental requisites for reason in general.
If the typical internet atheist is asked, “Does every effect have a cause?” their response is threefold. They will either grant this fact, deny it completely, or automatically jump to a straw man reply saying, “if everything needs a cause, then what caused God?”
I would like to briefly respond to these three possible answers given by many atheists online.
1. Yes! Every Effect Has a Cause
If the atheist grants that every effect has a cause, then the apologetic work is rather simple. If every effect requires a cause, then the universe as a whole requires a cause since the universe is an effect. In other words, since the universe is mutable and thus contingent, it is an effect; since it is an effect, it requires a cause.
The cause of the universe cannot be the universe itself. Otherwise we would have to deny a fundamental principle necessary for reason, that is, the law of non-contradiction. If one were to say, “Aha! The universe is self-caused!” then it follows that the universe had to both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense. That is a blatant rejection of the law of non-contradiction. But if someone rejects the law of non-contradiction (as some atheists do in order to save face), then any sort of discussion is futile and a total waste of time. No productive conversation can happen if the law of non-contradiction is denied.
2. Every Effect Does Not Have a Cause!
If the internet atheist completely denies that every effect must have a cause, they reject the law of non-contradiction as well. This is because the very definition of effect is that which requires a cause or that which has an antecedent cause. While the definition of cause is that which produces an effect. So, to deny that every effect must have a cause is to say that an effect is an effect and is also not an effect at the same time and in the same sense. This is a violation of the law of identity, and thus, is irrational.
3. What Caused God?
This is not really an objection to cause and effect as it is a granting of cause and effect, and then the misapplication of cause and effect to everything that exists. However, the law of causality states that all effects must have a cause, not that everything must have a cause. If God were an effect, then sure, He would require a cause. But God is necessary Being which means He is just pure existence itself.
“How do you know that?” the atheist may reply. But this question quite misses the point. It’s an epistemological question about an ontological necessity. In other words, it doesn’t matter if God has revealed Himself to me in the Scriptures and it doesn’t matter if I know a particular biblical proposition (e.g. God is love, etc.). It simply follows from the law of cause and effect. If all effects require a cause, then that cause must be necessary rather than contingent. And if necessary, that cause is purus actus or pure actuality.
The three above possible responses from the internet atheist and their counter-responses are simple enough to memorize. Once the fundamentals are apprehended, much everything else follows. These are tools you can use in conversation with internet atheists in order to graciously show them the absurdity of their position and their desperate need for Jesus Christ.