Thinking About Thinking

I had a very enjoyable conversation recently with a man who told me he didn’t believe in God. The reason he gave for his view was that he didn’t think there was any reason to believe in God.

Thinking About Thinking

Now, we could have launched into a discussion giving reasons why he should think God existed (and we did talk about that eventually), but I wanted to start with something else.

He said he didn’t think there was any reason to believe in God. This obviously implies we can think and reason. The point I raised with him was that thinking and reasoning are impossible if there is no God.

If there is no God then everything is physical and merely acts according to the laws of physics and chemistry, which means that we have absolutely no control over our thoughts – they are just the by-product of non-rational physical processes going on in the brain. And that brain is the result of blind forces acting on mindless matter which is subject to random mutations.

That means that, although atheists like to style themselves as free thinkers, there is no such thing as free thinking if atheism is true. The only way we can be free thinkers is if the biblical view is correct – the brain is designed by God for the mind to use to think.

After explaining this to him, I said, “So, do you see that if atheism is true, there is no such thing as rationality? You believe what you believe for the exact same reason I believe what I believe – mindless matter in motion.” He told me he agreed with that. So I went over it again and asked him if he really was agreeing with me that atheism eliminates rationality. He said yes!

He saw the inconsistency between atheism and rational thought, but rather than give up his atheism, he was prepared to relinquish his belief in rational thought! And yet, he did this as a result of a reasoned argument. We are rational beings; in fact, that is the meaning of the expression homo sapien – wise man. You can’t deny it without affirming it; you can’t reject it without using it. Anyone who says that we have no control over our thoughts has just sawn off the branch he was sitting on – he wants you to think about what he said and come to the same conclusion, and yet he has left you with no reason to believe what he says, because he has just said his thought was the result of non-rational processes – it is a view that can’t be rationally affirmed.

We know that our thoughts aren’t the deterministic result of mindless processes over which we have no control. That tells us that we didn’t come from a mindless source but from a mind.

It is sometimes said that a mind capable of forming an argument against God’s existence constitutes evidence for His existence. That is, a conscious being with the ability to reason, weigh evidence, and argue logically must come from a source that has at least the same level of cognitive ability. “He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed they eye, does He not see?” Psalm 94:9 (ESV). The cause must be capable of producing the effect. Water does not rise above its source.1

You can come up with all the arguments you like against God, because every single one of them actually prove His existence. Think about it.


  1. Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth, 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, p. 31.