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God gives me reason. I use that reason to analyze the world around me and draw my own conclusions. How can I be guilty if my reason, given to me by God, let me conclude that God doesn't exist? Isn't it His fault for not creating me more intelligent or not showing me evidences strong enough to convince my limited intellect? I'm only using the tools that He gave me.

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    @Rajesh "atheists are people who simply don't believe in God, which is different from believing there is no God". I think this is the agnostic. The atheist, in my conception, actually affirms there is no God, someone that has the "inverse faith". Maybe I'm wrong in this semantic discussion, but the question remains the same. Don't believing in God's existence or believing in God's inexistence are both derivations of someone's discernment. If my discernment is part of me and I was created by God, doesn't it implies that was He which gave me it?
    – Eduardo M
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 20:22
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    Well, one's brain doesn't come preloaded with a specific method of reasoning. I propose that God does not make each individual person adopt a specific method of reasoning, but that each individual can reason in their own way, however they want. Some people think it's reasonable to hurt others for their personal gain, others don't. I don't think God went one way for one person and another way for another person.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 20:32
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    That anything exists at all is given as all we need to know that God exists and is divinely powerful and also as all that is needed for us to be without excuse - Romans 1:18-21 Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 20:42
  • There is something curious in the phraseology of your question. If an atheist wants to go to hell, who will stop him ? On the contrary, if he decides to go to heaven, he will not be comfortable there, either. Of course, if he opts for heaven, but is thrown' or pushed'to hell, he has the space for grudge. Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 9:56
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    The idea of invincible ignorance may be of interest. Keep in mind that they more you learn about it, the less of a case you have for it.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 14:39

9 Answers 9

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It is illogical for an atheist to think they would go to hell.

Given they have arrived at the conclusion God does not exist, then they must also disbelieve in any place of eternal torment after death.

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'" C. S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

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  • This is true, but this question is addressing the situation where the atheist is wrong, and presumably discovers this after death. This doesn't actually answer the question
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 3:54
  • Rob, I didn't think that the OP was asking how the atheist would feel after death when he discovered his "error". If he was, then his question needs to be reworded to make that clear.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 9:15
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The illogic is in the question itself.

You say: “God gives me reason. … God doesn't exist”.

Asking a question based on two mutually exclusive facts doesn't make logical sense.
One can't believe both facts at the same time.

Pick one to believe and the other goes away.
Problem solved.

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  • It's so simple it's a wonder that we missed it!
    – Rajesh
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 18:13
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    This is an incorrect reading of the question. They're coming to the conclusion that god doesn't exist - this is not stating a fact that God doesn't exist. There is no logical fallacy here. We can rephrase the question as: "Why am I punished for the fact that God didn't make me smart enough to deduce that he exists?"
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 0:42
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    @Rob. Yes, the question really should have been asked objectively (e.g. more like "If it's God that gives people intelligence, why does he punish them for …?"). This question uses "I", "me", and "my" 13 times, and in doing so introduced the contradiction. The best .SE questions never use those words. Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 1:05
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    @Rob, as worded, the question is self-contradictory and so can't be answered. It's not possible for anyone to both "give" and "not exist" at the same time. Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 4:01
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    @Rob, yes, but as worded now, in a 1st person point of view, it is self-contradictory. If it were reworded from a 3rd person point of view, my answer would no longer apply, and it would then be deleted. Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 13:10
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In Christianity we believe that reason is NOT the only tool that God gave us. He also revealed Himself in his miraculous and covenantal dealings with his chosen people Israel starting with Abraham (around 2,000 BC), which He renewed with Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Hezekiah, etc. The record of these dealings was providentially preserved accurately in the Old Testament that we still have today in the 21st century.

The story of God's dealings was resumed in the New Testament era (around 4 BC) with the coming of Jesus as the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity (Son of God) who added on a human nature, to appeal to us out of His "unfailing love and faithfulness" (an expression so prevalent in the Psalms) so that we can finally SEE God in person and in human form with our own eyes. By dying and forgiving us from the cross in tortured nakedness and shame, Jesus wanted us to overcome our own guilt, shame and fear, to approach God creator of the universe, so we can be healed from our tendency of doing evil (something only God can do).

Once we come to faith, in union with Christ who indwell within us, we can then perform what God created us to be doing in Genesis: be fruitful, multiply, act morally, taking charge of earth without destroying it, etc. with love and gratitude for God and love for our neighbors, although overcoming sinful desires 100% cannot happen overnight.

What more do you expect? Christianity says that all we need is to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and the Trinitarian God will indwell in our heart. As long as we don't kick him out but instead willingly journey with God by walking in the Spirit until we die while receiving His grace daily, we have "all the tools" we need in order to go to heaven.

Further resources

  1. To explain the reasonability of central Christian doctrines, see first rate 21st century Christian scholars answering pointed questions from Robert Lawrence Kuhn using the method of Analytic Theology in PBS Closer To Truth episodes #1909 to #1913 :

  2. Other Closer to Truth episodes / interview series which serve as a preamble to faith:

  3. Books that cover the theme of how the natural world feels incomplete without the Christian answer: how reason itself feels that a puzzle piece is missing (such as argument from desire), that only a religion can provide, to which the Christian religion (according to Christian apologists) gives the most satisfactory explanation. These books are Christian answers to the problem of meaning that 20th century philosophers such as Sartre, Nietzsche, and Camus felt most acutely.

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  • Good answer. +1 :)
    – Rajesh
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 20:44
  • "He also revealed Himself in his miraculous". That's what people say. I didn't witnessed it, but even if I did how I could be sure it wasn't an illusionist trick? Even today I can't explain some of David Copperfield tricks, how could someone distinguish an actual miracle from a sophisticated trick? I mean, even the empirical experience isn't enough to convince about God's existence. When I say "reason", I don't mean every conclusion has to be proven logically. It is also reasonable to believe that there's something beyond the logic that explains metaphysical "things" like God.
    – Eduardo M
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 20:59
  • @EduardoM Are you then faulting God for not believing 3000-4000 year report of miracles? That is an entirely different question. The faculty of reason we are given is perfectly capable to integrate Christian apologists explanation, which has been updated every decade or so. In other words, we don't have to suspend / sacrifice the integrity of our reason. Once you have at least entertain the possibility of this, then God also gives you the grace to trust Him as the God He claimed to be (i.e. his unlimited love and faithfulness to us despite wars, disease, suffering, etc). Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 21:06
  • @EduardoM In other words, the Christian God, just how He was speaking through the Psalmist and the prophets in the OT, asked us to TRUST His word and promises given some past miraculous "evidence" he did primarily in bringing Israel out of Egypt and for them to settle in Canaan, etc. The grand finale of the fulfillment of his promise was in coming in person to the world by sending His Son Jesus. That is supposed to prove his character. Given reasonable acceptance of the historical record, we are then asked to entrust our lives to this God. Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 21:14
  • @GratefulDisciple Probably here is not the best place to ask my question, because it's more philosophical than a Christian subject. I'm not even an atheist and understand the faith, but I also understand the ausence of faith and I believe both beliefs have the same origin and essence, so I can't accept how can these have different judgments. You can be wrong about what you believe but you're not wrong for believing it, since it's an honest conclusion. Taking into account the tools you had and the honesty you used them, you can't be considered guilty for the work you did.
    – Eduardo M
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 21:43
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God gave reason to more than yourself. Though it seems illogical for an atheist to credit God with giving you such a sublime faculty. Leaving that aside, consider the following logical points. The first three are not directly about atheistic reasoning but I put them first, in order to build up to the main one, which is about atheistic reasoning. If you stop to think about all four, you might then understand why your powers of reasoning are not to be trusted when it comes to non-belief in God.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another.

Anais Nin We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.

Darren McGarvey Whether it be the left blaming the rich or the right blaming the poor, we tend only to be interested in whichever half of the story absolves us of responsibility for the problem. ‘Poverty Safari’ p125 (2017)

Michael Horton “From Ludwig Feuerbach, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud to Richard Dawkins, modern atheism is largely neo-Epicureanism.” Pilgrim Theology, p27 (Zondervan, 2011) An Epicurean is a person devoted to pleasure, especially refined, sensuous enjoyment that enables them to maintain a calm mind. They delight in believing themselves to be superior in thinking and reasoning. Nothing seems to upset their desired equilibrium more than Christians pointing out that all our thoughts, desires and endeavours are corrupted by our selfish, ignorant sin. Even though Christians include themselves in that damning description, it's when they say belief in God's way of dealing with that sin and obedience to God's requirements gives us peace, that atheists are inclined to blow a fuse."

It would seem that you have selected only a few tools in your mental tool-box, and it might be time for you to consider the logical thoughts of others who are more open to possibilities than you seem to be.

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Romans 1:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

I'm not sure what more needs to be said 🙂.

Well, okay:

How can I be guilty if my reason, given to me by God, let me conclude that God doesn't exist? Isn't it His fault for not creating me more intelligent or not showing me evidences strong enough to convince my limited intellect?

Your premise here, as clearly explained by Paul's letter to the Romans, is simply wrong. There is more than adequate evidence for God, such that reason alone does not, and cannot, conclude that God doesn't exist. That conclusion cannot be sustained by reason alone, but requires an active rejection of God. Therefore, the atheist is condemned by that rejection.

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    +1 Clever-sillies don't like to hear that their theories which explain the universe are, generally speaking, speculation heaped on speculation. But 'reason' can never stand alone - humans have a cognitive economy, and reason is just one part which is easily misled when improperly used, as any tool can't be expected to function well when improperly used. Only a fool would rely on it exclusively to come to conclusions like quoted. Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 16:50
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For the Gospel to be illogical, one or more of these would have to obtain:

  • It is internally inconsistent
  • It makes nonsensical statements that have no meaning
  • It is inconsistent with the laws of logic
  • It is inconsistent with the observed phenomena of nature

Inconsistency. This is the area where theologians and philosophers do battle. In science and mathematics, people make statements and then try to prove them using logic. They know what the statements mean, they just aren't sure if they are true. With the Bible, the problem is turned on its head. If God really spoke the words (or inspired them) then they are true, logical, consistent and have meaning. However, we may misunderstand that meaning and so introduce inconsistency. Thus the work of theology according to the faithful is to find the meaning that best fits all the statements in the Bible.

Nonsense.. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The Bible teaches some things that cannot be understood without having certain spiritual experiences. Such statements appear to be nonsense. I have had several of them in my life. Until such principles are understood experientially, it is difficult if not impossible to incorporate them in their proper sense into your logical arguments.

Illogical. As Mathematics has developed, we have proceeded from a world with one geometry (flat Euclidean) to many (geometries of curved spaces). We have moved from a science that could not grasp infinities and infinitesmals to one that relies upon them. We have embraced alternate systems of logic instead of just one. The logic of an infinite being must differ from the logic of finite beings such as ourselves. The Bible is awash in many seeming contradictions which can only be resolved by adopting a new form of logic.

Unscientific (miraculous). This is where scientists do battle. One book of the Bible tackles this question in detail: Ecclesiastes. The book is punctuated with the phrase "under the sun". It takes insights from religion (such as wise Proverbs on how to live a life of peace and security) and compares them to the reality of injustice, ill fortune and death. This scientific assessment of societal cause and effect shows that the prescribed way to live does not guarantee the desired outcome. Solomon is unable to even guarantee a place in heaven, as he is not sure such a place even exists such that animals go down (to oblivion) and people rise. Then in the last paragraoph, the Teacher calls on people to "fear God and keep his commands". This is a call to faith. It is a call to obey even without an empirical guarantee.

Solomon proved that one cannot deduce the proper way to believe and live from empirical observation and logic.

I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! (Ecclesiastes 1:13)

This does not make faith illogical, though. It makes it translogical. That is the heavy burden. The Bible does not dodge the question. The wisest man who ever lived (besides Jesus) came up short. He exposed the problem. Only Revelation - Christ rising from the dead - could answer the question. That is why we need the gospel.

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You are saying, "God would be irrational to send me to Hell for using a gift he gave me, namely the gift of reason."

The answer is quite simple. Gifts can be used badly, and it need not be the giver's fault that their gift was misused. The person who received the gift might be the one at fault.

I might gift you a hunting rifle, and you might use it to kill someone. In that case your misuse of my gift would be your fault, not mine. I simply gave you the gift with the hope that you would use it well. You are the one who is responsible for the misuse. In that case it would not be illogical to send you to jail rather than me. It would be eminently rational.


(This is an attempt to answer the question directly, without touching on the separate issue of Pelagianism.)

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  • If the gift is not enough to achieve what the giver wants you to do, how can't it be the giver's fault if you fail? Note that you can't "misuse" your discernment. We do not choose what we believe or not. You can deny 1+1=2, but you can't disbelieve it, because you KNOW it's true, independent of your will. There's is no way to cheat your own discernment, then you're always using it correctly. All of our beliefs are honest and if someone concludes there's no God, it's not their fault. It's only their fault if they actually believe in something and still deny it, as Peter did.
    – Eduardo M
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 0:28
  • @EduardoM 1) The gift can be used well; 2) The gift can be used badly. Your suggestion that human discernment is infallible is false.
    – zippy2006
    Commented Apr 2, 2022 at 15:14
  • The gift can't be used badly. That's the entire point of my question and the reason that an atheist can't be guilted for being an atheist.
    – Eduardo M
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 3:23
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Consider the evidence for solving the most important existential problem that humanity faces - i.e. the problem of death.

In the New Testament documents, which were written by eyewitnesses or close associates of eyewitnesses, Jesus claims: "He who has seen me, has seen the Father." (John 14:9)

If it is probable that Jesus died and rose from the dead, then that gives an intellectual warrant for believing his truth claims.

If one is not does not find intellectual satisfaction in the arguments for the resurrection of Jesus, one might be suffering from the inherited spiritual effects of being intellectually blinded by the cascading effects of generational sin involving one's ancestral resistance to grace (Romans 1:20). If so, that's not God's fault. One needs to ask themselves this question: "Do I want to believe it is true?"

Does God create faith to believe that He exists in any person that hears the Gospel and has a receptive heart that does not quench the gift of faith that God imparts? If the answer is "no" than Calvinism is true and abiding skeptics who don't come to faith are simply not one of the elect. Again, that's not God's fault, its just a consequence of the curse of the fall and/or generational inherited sin.

1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

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It is not one’s beliefs upon which one is judged, but upon one’s actions.

Romans 2:6-16 [God] will repay each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life; 8 but to those who are self-serving and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, He will give wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress [g]for every soul of mankind who does evil, [h]for the Jew first and also [i]for the Greek, 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who does what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

12 For all who have sinned [j]without the Law will also perish [k]without the Law, and all who have sinned [l]under the Law will be judged [m]by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers [n]of the Law who are [o]righteous before God, but the doers [p]of the Law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have [q]the Law [r]instinctively perform the requirements of the Law, these, though not having [s]the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of mankind through Christ Jesus.

There is no favoritism with God; salvation is available to all if they seek to do what is right and love their fellowman.

James 2:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

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  • "It is not one’s beliefs upon which one is judged, but upon one’s actions." Sooo, one does not have to believe in Jesus to be saved, but only has to do right works?? -1
    – Rajesh
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 23:04
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    @Rajesh Faith without works is dead and cannot save you (James 2). Love is the greater than faith (1 Cor 13). God is love, and to love is to know and be known by God. Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 0:20
  • "Faith without works is dead" is NOT the same as "you don't need faith to be saved, only works". Righteous deeds are an inevitable outcome of genuine faith. You cannot have genuine faith and live a life of wickedness. That is what James is saying. There is no way to read that verse as "only works are needed to be saved." Genuine faith is ALWAYS necessary for salvation, and it will ALWAYS result in righteous deeds(that is the point James is making).
    – Rajesh
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 1:05
  • @Rajesh What James is saying - and which should be obvious even apart from scripture stating it - is that the whole point and merit of faith/belief is that it guides our actions. Any mere intellectual acknowledgment of the scriptures and Christ's teachings is in of itself without value. You must act for it to have any value - and it is one deeds that are judged and the basis upon which one receives eternal life. On the other hand, if one does what is right even without being taught what to do, then they demonstrate that they have God's Law written on their heart (Romans 2). Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 1:17
  • @RyanPierceWilliams says: “It is not one’s beliefs upon which one is judged, but upon one’s actions.” Under the Old Covenant with physical Israel, yes; but not under the New Covenant. In Judaism thoughts don't become sins until after one has acted upon them. Jesus taught that Christians sin merely by fantasizing about sinning. Refer to Matthew 5:28 “*whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”. Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 17:00

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