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.
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)
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.
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 :
Other Closer to Truth episodes / interview series which serve as a preamble to faith:
- If God Knows the Future, what is free will?
- Why a Body in a resurrection?
- Why is Sin?
- Philosophy of the Bible
- Can the Bible Address Philosophical Questions?
- What is God's judgment?
- Theological Anthropology: What is Human Mind?
- #1606 - Religious Faith: Rational or Rationalization
- #1702 - How Does Faith Work?
- #1908 - Epistemology: How Can We Know God?
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.
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.
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 🙂.
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.
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.
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.)
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."
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.