The Irrationality of Unbelief
A Catalogue of Contradictions

by Mitch Cervinka

"Claiming to be wise, they became fools,"
Romans 1:22

Our generation has seen an explosion of new[1] non-Christian philosophies that claim to provide a more enlightened view of reality than other beliefs—and especially more so than the Bible. Yet, each of these philosophies self-destructs almost instantly in self-refuting contradictions and inconsistencies. No non-Biblical philosophy can stand up under scrutiny, but the philosophies of our time that are eager to criticize the Bible are especially prone to commit the very evils of which they are so critical. In this short essay, I wish to provide a list of the self-refuting contradictions of some contemporary anti-Christian philosophies.

Agnosticism - Asserts (with absolute knowledge) that no one has absolute knowledge, or that it is impossible to have absolute knowledge[2].

Anti-Authoritarian - Claims that no one has the right to impose rules on anyone else—and they sometimes seek to pass laws to silence anyone who says otherwise.

Anti-Dogma - There are those who assert that it is wrong to be dogmatic, and they make this assertion dogmatically.  People who voice their opposition to dogma often hold many other dogmas that they insist upon dogmatically.

Anti-Language - Jacque Derrida, a Postmodern philosopher, denies that language can possess a fixed meaning or that it can convey a definite truth.  If language did have such meaning, it would cause people to search for the "transcendent signified"—an ultimate object or being, which, he argues, does not exist.[3] The obvious fallacy in Derrida's reasoning is that he is using language to communicate his views to us, which shows that, despite his claims to the contrary, he does believe it is possible for language to convey fixed meaning.

Anti-Metanarrative - Postmodernism asserts "Any transcendent story that claims to explain all things is necessarily false and exists only as a tool to dominate others."  However, this assertion claims universal explanatory transcendence for itself by pretending to transcend and explain all religious or philosophical stories.  The Postmodernist's assertion is therefore self-refuting—judging itself to be necessarily false and to exist only as a tool to dominate others.

Anti-Reality - There are those who claim that "In reality, there is no ultimate reality."  Since this is both a claim concerning what is ultimately true, as well as a rejection that anything can be said to be ultimately true, it is self-refuting.

Anti-Truth - There are some who assert that man's quest for knowledge is merely an attempt to gain power over others—that people seek "truth" so that they can impose this "truth" on others in order to control them.  The problem is that this assertion claims to be "truth", and it therefore describes itself as having no real validity and being merely an attempt to control others.

Atheism - Claims to know for a fact that an omniscient being does not exist. However, it would require omniscience to know this as a fact.[4]

Empiricism - The thesis of Empiricism is summarized by W. K. Clifford: "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."[5]  However, this thesis is not based on evidence at all, much less on "sufficient evidence" (whatever that means). Hence, if Empricism is true, then it is "wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone" to believe it.[6]

Irrationality - Asserts that a statement and its negation can both be true at the same time and in the same sense, and that it is therefore wrong for anyone to assert that he is right and others are wrong. Those who make this assertion claim that they are right, and that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

Materialism - Atheistic Darwinism claims that our brains evolved by means of random mutations and natural selection, directed solely by the need for physical survival. Yet, proponents of this view trust the reasoning skills of their brains to draw conclusions about origins and metaphysics—concepts that are not required for physical survival. How can they be confident their brains evolved "correctly"—i.e. in such a way that reason tells us anything valid about things in the real world beyond what is required for physical survival?

Moral Relativism - Those who deny that there are any absolute moral standards insist that it is morally wrong for anyone to impose their moral standards on others.  They consider this to be an absolute moral standard that applies to everyone.[7]

Pluralism - Pluralists claim to be tolerant of all religions, but are intolerant of anyone who does not acknowledge the validity of all religions. It apparently never occurs to them that exclusivity might be essential to many of the religions toward which we ought to be tolerant.[8]

Secularism - Contrasts facts with values, claiming that facts are objectively true for everyone, but that values are subjective and that each person must choose their own value system.  The problem is that this secularist claim is itself a subjective value judgment, yet secularists seek to impose it on everyone as though it were an objective fact.

Skepticism - Asserts (with absolute certainty) that no one can be absolutely certain of anything.

The organic inconsistencies of these views demonstrate the necessity of the Biblical worldview. Everyone assumes the Biblical standards of rationality, knowledge, certainty, absolute morality and justice at some point in their argument—even when they are attempting to argue against a Biblical framework. The problem is threefold:

First, our human brains are wired[9] to think logically and to comprehend such concepts as truth, justice, beauty, morality, love, kindness and absolute deity. Even when attempting to deny these concepts, the unbeliever must assume them in order to build his argument. However, by assuming the very thing he is trying to tear down, his argument collapses at the very start. Without realizing it, he must assume Biblical concepts in order to attack those concepts—his thinking is built on "borrowed capital"—i.e. concepts and categories that originate from outside his unbiblical worldview.

Second, all men are by nature rebels against the God they instinctively know exists.  Their opposition to the Bible is not driven by logical necessity, but by prejudice and personal opinion.  They often rule out any consideration of Biblical claims from the start, and will not grant them a fair hearing.  In their zeal to suppress the knowledge of God, they concoct alternative theories and philosophies, but seem blind to the foundational contradictions inherent in those theories.  Like the fox who is caught in a trap and chews off his foot to escape, they invent self-refuting philosophies to escape the truth of God.  However, any self-refuting theory is clearly false, and will provide no refuge from the wrath of God on the day of judgment.  Indeed, every attempt to evade the truth only increases the guilt of those who adopt such philosophies.

Third, non-Biblical worldviews are based on arbitrary assumptions that cannot be proven or justified. For a worldview to be valid, any statement in the system must either be self-justifying or else based on a more foundational principle. Ultimately, there must be a first principle (or a set of such principles) that forms the foundation of the entire system, for otherwise, there would simply be an infinite regress of statements having no justifiable foundation.  The first principle (or principles) must be self-justifying or else the entire system is without justification.  Ultimately, then, any logical system must be based on incontrovertible, self-justifying principles from which the entire system can be deduced logically.  But non-Biblical worldviews do not have self-validating principles from which to even begin to justify the assertions they make[10].

Without an ultimate self-validating principle from which to begin, nothing can be proven as an incontrovertible fact. This is evident in every non-Biblical philosophy. The Pluralist's claim that all religions are equally valid is a statement of opinion, not of proven fact. The Atheist's claim that there is no transcendent God is incapable of proof, and is merely a statement of opinion. The Materialist's claim that nothing exists beyond time, chance and matter is a dogmatic statement of opinion rather than a statement deducible from known facts. The Postmodernist's prejudice against metanarrative is also wholly without merit or justification.[11]  The presuppositions of non-Biblical systems are arbitrary and contradictory.  Only the Christian worldview provides a presupposition (i.e. that the Bible is God's inerrant revelation to man) that is self-justifying and fully explanatory of the universe in which we live.

The Biblical worldview fulfills the necessary conditions of 1) being internally consistent, 2) affirming every human's instinctive concepts (i.e. truth, reason, justice, beauty, reality, eternity, deity, etc.) and 3) providing a consistent, comprehensive interpretation of the world we observe and experience.  The Bible provides a sufficient explanatory cause for all things—namely a sovereign, holy, eternal, relational, all-knowing and all-powerful God; and, because it is the message of our Creator to us, revealing what is required to fulfill His perfect design for our happiness and fulfillment, the Bible gives enduring significance, purpose, satisfaction and hope to those who embrace its teaching in true faith.  In contrast, non-biblical philosophies are ultimately nihilistic—eventually resulting in insatiable lust, unfeeling cruelty or suicidal despair.  Their track record is undeniable.

The Bible often asserts its epistemological basis in such phrases as "Thus says the Lord ..." or "And God said ...", and sums it up with the apostle's declaration that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable ...". Our Lord and His apostles clearly regarded the Bible as being of absolute and final authority, settling all controversies with such phrases as "It is written ...", "Have you not read ..." or "What does Scripture say?"  In other words, the Bible claims to be God's authoritative revelation to mankind and it was confidently regarded as such by our Lord and by all those who sincerely followed Him. Of course, such a claim must never be accepted uncritically—other writings claim divine origin, such as the Qur'an or the Book of Mormon. But neither should a claim like this be summarily rejected without first examining it to see if it is credible. The Bible alone fully lives up to its claim to divine inspiration.

It has been rightly said that the Bible is a book that no one could have written if he would, nor would have written if he could. The Bible is a library of 66 books written by more than 30 human authors from diverse backgrounds over a span of some 1500 years, yet it gives a remarkably consistent witness to the sovereignty, power, wisdom, holiness, justice, mercy and faithfulness of God, and to the sinfulness and failings of man. Unlike all other human literature, it honestly records the faults and misdeeds of its heros. It never engages in triviality, but is constantly focused on God and His glory and on issues of eternal consequence.  The Bible addresses the entire scope of history, describing the origin of the universe and of evil, and declaring its ultimate outcome when evil is ultimately defeated in judgment for God's enemies and redemption for His people.

The Bible is an extraordinary book that tells a unified story of redemption, uniformly affirming the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, man's need of a savior and God's promise of redemption. From Genesis to Revelation, the focus of the Bible is on the Savior whom God would provide, who is variously called "the Seed of the Woman", "the Prophet", "the Son of David", "the good Shepherd", etc. From the earliest chapters of Genesis, God ordained that a blood sacrifice was required in order for man to find acceptance with God, and this theme culminated in the death of the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world".

The Bible describes God, man, Christ and salvation as no man would ever have imagined ...

God.  Three persons, but one substance.  Absolutely sovereign; infinite in holiness, power and understanding.  Eternal and unchanging.  He purposed all that comes to pass, and even sovereignly uses man's sin to achieve His good and glorious purposes (e.g. the crucifixion of Christ or the treachery of Joseph's brothers—see Acts 2:23 and Genesis 50:20).

Man.  Created innocent, but fallen in sin.  Sinful in every part of his being, having no genuine love for God, and thoroughly deserving of eternal torment.  Stubbornly unwilling to choose what is good or to turn to God in humble faith (John 6:44; Psalm 14:2-3; Jeremiah 23:13).

Christ.  God clothed in human flesh—truly God and truly man, yet without sin (John 1:1,14; Matthew 1:23; Romans 9:5; Hebrew 4:15). He willingly, intentionally suffered and died a horrible death for sins He did not commit (John 10:11; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:18).  In sacrificial love, He bore the punishment we deserved in order to save rebellious, disobedient sinners from the Father's righteous wrath (2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:4-6).  He then rose from the dead, declaring the Father's acceptance of His sacrifice (Romans 4:25; 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:17).

Salvation.  By God's sovereign, electing, redeeming, regenerating grace alone (Romans 11:5-7; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).  By Christ's vicarious death and perfect righteousness alone, through faith in Christ alone, totally apart from personal merit (Romans 4:1-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:8-9).  Good works are the fruit, and not the basis of our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Thus, the Bible declares God's holiness and justice, as well as His undeserved mercy and grace toward rebellious sinners. It meets our deepest needs—providing forgiveness of our past, transformation of our present, and a confident hope for the future.  The Bible gives us numerous examples of God's constant watchful care over His people—delivering them from their sins and from their enemies, as He daily supplies their needs, charts their path, and prepares an eternal home for them.

In summary, the Bible explains life sufficiently, profoundly and satisfyingly, and gives us a worldview that makes sense of everything: logic and reason, good and evil, beauty and deformity, things tangible and intangible, life and death, pain and pleasure, origin and destiny, justice and mercy, sin and forgiveness. No other worldview can make this claim, indeed, every other worldview collapses into self-refuting contradictions.

For this reason, the Bible says that it is foolish to reject God (Psalm 14:1; 53:1), and that God has made foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthian 1:20).  Even though men claim themselves to be wise, God declares that they are fools (Romans 1:22) who knowingly suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

One of the extraordinary evidences of the Bible's divine origin is that, though written thousands of years ago, it accurately predicts the progress of the wickedness we see in the world today.  Romans 1:18-32, for example, declares that men suppress the truth because of their unrighteousness, and traces the progress of this suppression from its origins in refusing to give God the glory and gratitude He deserves, and worshipping created things instead of God.  In response, God gave them up to the dishonorable, unnatural passions of homosexuality, and further gave them up to a debased mind filled with all manner of evil and malice.  Romans 1 assures us that evil men know that God exists and that they deserve His condemnation, yet this only fuels their rebellion against Him.  The Bible says that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

The last book of the Bible, Revelation, tells that "sorcery" will be rampant in the last days (Revelation 9:21; 18:23).  In the Greek, this word is pharmakeia (farmakeia), from which our word "pharmacy" is derived.  It refers to sorcery or witchcraft, or to any kind of deception such as that induced by mind-altering substances.  Surely, our day has seen a rise both in the use of addictive and hallucinogenic drugs, as well as in the popularity of sorcery and witchcraft.

Psalm 2 describes our age quite accurately ...

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed (or, Christ), saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." (Psalm 2:1-3)
This describes the sentiment of a great many in our day who oppose Jesus Christ and seek to organize nations and political parties together against Christians and Biblical values.  The Psalm describes God's response to their efforts—He laughs at the ridiculous idea that mortal men could succeed in a battle against the sovereign, almighty God (Psalm 2:4).  He then declares that He will terrify them in His wrath and fury, and that He has installed His Son as King over all the nations, who will break them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:5-9).  In mercy, He warns the kings of the earth to be wise and to "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled," concluding that "Blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Psalm 2:10-12).

Prophecies of this kind cannot be dismissed as having been written after the fact.  Nor can it be claimed that they were purposely fulfilled by those who sought to prove them true.  There are many in our day who suppose that the Bible is out of step with the technological and philosophical advances of our modern era.  Yet, the Bible reads like a history book of our own time—accurately predicting mankind's increasing rebellion against God, his pursual of godless, materialistic philosophies, his decline into homosexuality, sorcery, witchcraft and drug use, and his organized opposition against God and against the Savior, Jesus Christ.

With the Psalmist, I warn you to "Kiss the Son" while the opportunity is still open to you.  Each of us, by our rebellion against our blessed Creator, deserves God's dreadful wrath.  Yet, God gave His Son as a substitute for rebellious sinners, to bear the horrible wrath we deserve that we might receive mercy, and He invites you to embrace Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior that you might have eternal life.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:11-12)

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved ... (Acts 16:31)



[1] Actually, there are no truly "new" philosophies—merely old ones recycled.  George Santayana has wisely observed "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."  Our generation is one that is dismally ignorant of the failed philosophies of the past.  Failing to recognize some novel idea for what it is—namely a discredited theory from a bygone era—our contemporaries arrogantly suppose that it is the original brainchild of our modern "enlightened" age—a "new and improved" theory of the universe that supersedes the Biblical account.

[2] There are two common varieties of Agnosticism.  Theological Agnosticism states that it is impossible to know whether God exists.  Epistemological Agnosticism states that it is impossible to know anything with certainty.  The latter variety is broader than the former, and includes it.  While both forms superficially appear to be a humble confession of ignorance, the reality is that both forms arrogantly claim to know for certain that it is impossible to know for certain.  Moreover, either form is a tacit denial of God's omnipotence, for if an omnipotent God does exist, then He assuredly has the power to impart knowledge and certainty to humans.  Hence, agnosticism (of either variety) is actually a form of atheism.

[3] See Amy Orr-Ewing, "Postmodern Challenges to the Bible" in Beyond Opinion, pp. 7-8.

[4] Atheism typically involves the fallacy of denying the existence of anything we cannot see.  This fallacy could be called "The Blind Man and the Rainbow".  How would you prove to a man who was born blind that rainbows exist?  He cannot see them, hear them, feel them, taste them, smell them or perceive them in any other way.  He must trust the word of sighted people who affirm that they have seen rainbows.  Yet, rainbows do exist, and the blind man is not justified in rejecting the existence of rainbows simply because he has never personally detected evidence of them.

The point is that it is illogical and even arrogant to deny the existence of things that are beyond the range of our senses.  Only an omniscient being could be certain that nothing exists beyond the range of sensory perception (by which I  include aided sensory perception, such as provided by microscopes, telescopes and all other actual or possible scientific instruments)—and one thing that humans definitely are not is omniscient.

Some might claim that reality consists only in those things you can observe, and that if anything else does exist, it is not part of your reality (we might call this ontological relativism).  However, a blind man who is injured by a car he did not see cannot claim that the car was irrelevant to his personal reality.  Likewise, we are not justified in concluding that, because we cannot see God today, He therefore can be safely ignored.

Evidence does not consist merely in seeing or detecting the object itself.  Indirect evidence may be just as compelling.  A murderer's fingerprints can betray his presence at the scene of a crime even if no witnesses can be produced who actually saw him there at the time.  God's fingerprints are everywhere—His beauty in the sunsets, His wisdom in the complexity of the genetic code and the cellular machinery that decodes it, His love in a mother bear's protection of her young, His greatness and power in the immensity of the universe, His goodness in providing daily food for wildlife.

Reason cries out that a universe of continual cause-effect must have begun with an initial cause, or that the DNA of the first organism could not have programmed itself, or that the precise, mathematical laws that govern the motions of the galaxies did not arise from mere chance, or that a universe that is moving toward an eventual "heat death" must have its existence from an eternal source that is not subject to entropy or decay.

Even reason itself cries out to be explained.  Why do we ask "Why?"  Why is it that every human seems to require explanations, and that the explanation involves using reason—arguing from premises to conclusions?  What is the source of our inescapable need and ability to employ reason to make sense of our universe?  Mere animals do not have such needs—it is not required for mere physical survival, and therefore cannot be explained by natural selection.  So where did it come from, and why does man have this unique ability?

Atheism is powerless to answer such questions.  Its insistence that "That's just the way it is" is grossly inadequate and explains nothing.  On the other hand, the Bible gives answers to all of these questions, and not merely answers, but profoundly adequate and self-consistent answers.  Man is a rational being because God created man in His own image.  The laws of physics are not accidental, but reflect the wisdom and faithfulness of their Creator.

There are very compelling reasons to believe that God does exist and that He has spoken to us in the Bible.  The Bible declares that God will someday judge the world in righteousness, which assures us that we cannot safely ignore the revelation He has given us.

[5] W. K. Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief".  Available online at

[6] Vincent Cheung thoroughly demolishes Clifford's Empricism in pp. 5ff of his book Ultimate Questions, posted at

[7] Moral Relativists also insist on their own "rights" and on being treated "fairly". What do such terms mean if there is no absolute standard of morality and justice?

[8] Pluralists confuse tolerance with inclusiveness, and are intolerant toward anyone who does not share their committment to monism.  It is not "tolerance" to tolerate only those who agree with you.

[9] To clarify:  When I say that "our brains are wired to think logically and to comprehend the categories of truth, justice, beauty, love, etc.", I mean first, that it is obvious that humans normally do think logically, and do understand such non-material concepts as truth, justice, beauty, love, etc.  This is evident in the fact that, even when attempting to deny these concepts, they instinctively assume them to be true and end up contradicting themselves. Second, I mean that this is so because God has created man in His own image—with these concepts and faculties programmed in his mind.  Even small children recognize beauty and love, and can tell when you are being dishonest with them, or treating them unfairly.  Romans 1:18-21, for example, teaches that God has made His eternal power and divine nature known to all men and that they are without excuse and deserving of His wrath because they relentlessly suppress this truth in unrighteousness.

[10] It is a common misconception to suppose that empiricism constitutes a justifiable epistemological foundation for a philosophical system.  However, any appeal to observable evidence commits the logical fallacy of inductive reasoning, which generalizes from a finite collection of observations to a universal principle.  This is the same reasoning that sports fans employ when they suppose that their favorite team is invincible simply because they have not yet lost a game this season.  As Proverbs 16:18 states "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."  A billion experiments may appear to confirm a hypothesis, yet the billion-and-first experiment can prove it wrong.

Inductive reasoning also involves the fallacy of affirming the consequent.  This fallacy reasons: An action A is known to produce an effect B.  B was observed.  Therefore A must have caused it.  The fallacy is that there may be many different actions other than A that could produce B.  For example: "If it rains, my lawn will get wet.  My lawn is wet—therefore it must have rained."  This is fallacious, because my lawn could be wet due to a host of other reasons—heavy dew, melting snow, a broken water main, someone watering the lawn, someone washing the car on the lawn, etc.

Moreover, inductive reasoning is never a first principle, but depends on prior unproven assumptions such as the assumption of uniformity (i.e. that the universe always works in a regular, predictable way), of causality (i.e. knowing whether two events are causally related, and, if so, whether A caused B or B caused A, or a third event caused both), of rational thought (e.g. the law of non-contradiction) and of evidence (which requires a justifiable criterion of what constitutes valid evidence).  These prior assumptions would have to be infallibly established before inductive reasoning could even be claimed to determine infallible truth.  But even if these assumptions could be firmly established, it would not overcome the fallacy of arguing from a finite set of observations to a universal principle, or the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

The Bible tells us that the universe is designed and governed by an infinitely wise and powerful Creator, which explains why the universe should work in a predictably uniform way, and why our brains possess the innate ability to reason about the universe and to accurately predict its behavior.  In contrast, neither atheism nor materialism can explain why the universe follows precise, intricate mathematical laws nor why the human mind should be able to correctly reason about issues not related to physical survival.  The Biblical presuppositions lead to a coherent and comprehensive explanation of the universe whereas materialism cannot even begin to justify its use of empirical reasoning.

[11] While it is undoubtedly true that there are some who have invented false metanarratives to control others, it does not follow that all metanarratives are necessarily false.  Even a true metanarrative can be misused—this does not prove it to be a falsehood.  A pencil or a pillow can be used as a lethal weapon—does this mean we should outlaw pencils and pillows?

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