Philosophy Prof. Doesn’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

For years, people have increasingly turned away from belief in God in the name of reason and rationality. But on Thursday, Peter Kreeft, long-time Boston College philosophy professor and author of over 75 books, explained why he believes it is theism, not atheism, that is rational. He held a talk entitled “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist: Why I Believe God Exists,” sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society, where he refuted seven ways in which atheists believe theists are “traitors.”

First, he said, atheists believe theists are traitors to reason because every religion relies on faith, which goes beyond reason, they believe.

“What reason do you have for trusting reason?” Kreeft asked. “The human brain and body apparently evolved by natural selection, from a universe that had no reason in it at all … Why do you, atheists, have so much faith you trust this computer [the human brain] that has been programmed by chance?”

Atheists, he said, believe theists are traitors to science. Kreeft’s response was that there are things that science cannot explain yet, like miracles. Kreeft also argued that despite what some atheists may assert,theists are not traitors to nature either.

“How can I appreciate nature, unless it is in contrast with something else?” he said. “Everything in nature exists because something else exists … something other than the universe had to cause the universe.”

Kreeft said that atheists also argue that theists are traitors to man. Since man has free choice, it is he who must create his happiness, and to pass that responsibility off to God is a copout, they believe. To this argument, Kreeft pointed out that no man has ever been able to create his own perfect happiness.

“If you look at every other live organism that we know of, every single one of its desires can be satisfied by something real,” he said. “If human beings have a desire for a perfect being called God … isn’t it extremely probable that that’s not an exception to the rule?”

Kreeft also argued that theists are not traitors to history, which has shown great progress in science and a regress in religion.

“Do you really want to turn back the clock?” he said atheists might ask.

“Yes, I want to turn back the clock on something like happiness,” he said. “It looks like the more civilization we have, the more discontent we have … When you get to get away from all the things you don’t like—when you take a vacation—you go to places like beaches, forests, deserts, campgrounds. You try to turn back the clock.”

Kreeft made the case for the rationality of Jesus’ being “God incarnate,” a seemingly impossible contradiction.

”If Jesus isn’t God, he’s either the most insane man who ever lived, or the biggest liar that ever lived,” he said.

But not even atheists think that Jesus is certifiably insane, nor do they think that he is a conniving liar, Kreeft argued. He said liars are egotists, which Jesus was not. And insane people with a divinity complex are incredibly boring, which Jesus was not.

Kreeft’s final refutation was of the claim that theists are traitors against themselves, since they rest all their trust on another being. We human beings shouldn’t trust ourselves, Kreeft said, because it is inevitable that each of us will fail—physically, logically, and morally.

“Socrates said there are two kinds of people in the world: The wise who know they’re fools, and the fools who think they’re wise. I think atheists fit into the latter category: They call themselves the ‘smarts,’ and I think that makes them stupid,” Kreeft said. “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.”

Once Kreeft finished making his case against these atheistic arguments, he opened the floor up to answer questions from BC students. Among a wide range of questions, students asked Kreeft about his beliefs on the effectiveness of prayer, his opinion on people today who express themselves to be “spiritual but not religious,” and finally how his definition of success has changed over the years.

“I don’t think we should ask ourselves the question: How much progress have I made? We should ask ourselves: What are my eyes on?,” Kreeft said in closing. “And if your eyes are on Jesus Christ you’re going to live in the light, and you’re going to be happy. And it’s very simple, but I think it’s probably the profoundest thing I’ve said all night.”

Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Staff

  • Peter Kreeft? LOL!

    Does he have any evidence for a god? Of course not!

  • John Eckhart

    Does he have enough faith not to believe in fairies and goblins? Because that’s exactly how much faith you need to be an atheist.

    It’s lovely that you’ve found one philosophy professor at a Catholic college who believes in god. However, surveys show that 75% of philosophy professors do not.

  • Brian Westley

    ”If Jesus isn’t God, he’s either the most insane man who ever lived, or the biggest liar that ever lived,” he said.

    Ah, the false trichotomy again.

    If there are stories about Jesus that other people made up, that’s not within your arbitrary 3 choices. And considering that Islam and Mormonism have additional Jesus stories would be evidence that this happens.

    • Peter Kreeft’s argument “works” for other people who have been regarded as gods too:

      ”If Alexander the Great isn’t the living embodiment of the true god Zeus Ammon, he’s either the most insane man who ever lived, or the biggest liar that ever lived.”

      ”If Haile Selassie isn’t God, he’s either the most insane man who ever lived, or the biggest liar that ever lived.”

      ”If David Koresh isn’t God, he’s either the most insane man who ever lived, or the biggest liar that ever lived.”

      By Peter Kreeft’s twisted logic, at least one of the above would have to actually be a god. How a person who believes such nonsense can become a professor of philosophy just shows how flawed academia can be.

      • Hagop Toghramadjian

        Kreeft’s argument about Jesus’ claim to divinity does not apply to Haile Sellasie (who denied that he was any sort of messiah). It does apply to David Koresh (who IS one of the most insane people in recent memory) and Alexander the Great (who WAS a liar).

  • DoorknobHead

    “Why I believe in god” –> bad reasoning and common fallacies –> bad conclusions.
    > That was extremely sad argumentation. Poor old fart. (decades of this? no poor world)
    > 80 years old and 75 books?! and this was the best he had?! Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how terrible the arguments are of people who have put many years and so much effort into their unsound beliefs. Unsound arguments like this at best are only forms of putting lipstick on a pig (no lipstick seen here), no matter how smart or how much they have studied garbage.
    > There is a low upper-limit for god-exists arguments that don’t rise much above child-like arguments imo. Arguments that ostensibly more convincing are just filled with new fluff made to confuse or obfuscate old basic childish arguments imo. At least in this article we were spared much of the fluff — maybe at 80 years old the ‘proff.’ has little fluff-time left in him?

  • rationalobservations?

    It is belief in any one god, or one collection of the gods among so many millions of gods, goddesses and god-men that appears the riskiest leap of blind and unquestioning faith. The chances of really pissing-off a “real god” are overwhelming high and the rational acknowledgment of the many millions of undetected and undetectable gods while dismissing all of them appears to require the least faith of all.

  • David Ashton

    After a rather tenuous logical leap that there is a god we then get an even more tenuous leap that Jesus is that god, not Zeus or Ra or any of the thousands of options, how did this guy make it to prof.?

  • Wayne Conner

    You would think a university professor could come up with better arguments than god of the gaps and strawman attacks. That every religion relies on faith ought to tell you something about your own beliefs Mr. Kreeft.

  • Stupid Atheist

    The “I know you are but what am I?” defense might prove effective on the playground, but it falls woefully short for most adults. Or should.

    “…there are things that science cannot explain yet…”

    As was the case when ancient Greeks were perplexed by lightning. That’s hardly a rational justification for believing that Zeus was hurling thunderbolts…

  • “Philosophy Prof. Doesn’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” – but then when we read the article, what the article describes gives details that clearly show that the philosophy professor employs elementary errors in basic logic to believe in a god (and not just believe in the existence of some god generally, but believe that he has specifically identified some corporeal god!), demonstrating that in fact this man doesn’t have enough rational thinking to comprehend the elementary errors of his beliefs – and thus the real headline should be: “Religious Believer Doesn’t Understand Philosophical Reasoning Enough to Be an Atheist” – which, additionally and oh-by-the-way, disproves his transcendental argument.

  • Hagop Toghramadjian

    It’s very easy for atheists to argue against a quick, imperfect summary of Professor Kreeft’s arguments–especially when he’s not there to respond. It’s like beating Muhammad Ali in a boxing video game (with the difficulty set to “easy”) and then saying “I can’t believe such a bad boxer ever was the world champion.” Before you get too convinced of your own superior intellects, read Kreeft’s books themselves, and then debate him in person.

    • Kreeft can respond if he wants, and there are plenty of other believers who can defend his positions if they want. The problem is not that Kreeft can’t respond – it’s that his arguments are completely without merit and based on all kinds of sophistry.

      • Hagop Toghramadjian

        I suspect the primary reason no believer has responded is that they have better things to do. God knows none of you will be convinced by anything we say.

      • Hagop Toghramadjian

        I suspect the primary reason no believer has responded is that they have better things to do. Almost none of the “objections” presented in these comments are arguments at all; they are either ad-hominem attacks or tired old atheistic talking points.
        Your comment does not respond to the fact that this article, far from being a transcript of Kreeft’s lecture or an excerpt from one of his books, is a summary written by a third party. “Beating” this summary in an argument is no more impressive than beating video-game Ali.