Last edited on 9/Dec/2020
Before we answer this question, let us first define what “atheism”, “science”, and “scientific” mean. The Cambridge dictionary defines atheism as “the belief that God does not exist.” It defines science as “the careful study of the structure and behaviour of the physical world, especially by watching, measuring, and doing experiments, and the development of theories to describe the results of these activities.” It defines scientific as “relating to science, or using the organized methods of science.” From this information, we can conclude that atheism is not scientific.
The Scope of Science
Why is this the case? As we have seen above, science is the “study of the structure and behaviour of the physical world.” It develops theories based upon watching, measuring, and doing experiments on material things. It does not develop theories on the immaterial, spiritual world, which deals with things like God, angels, Heaven, etc. This is outside the scope of science and falls into the realm of philosophy and religion. For example, scientists cannot watch, measure, or experiment on God, as they would with chemicals in a test tube. God transcends everything in creation and is, therefore, in the spiritual, immaterial realm. The Bible says:
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! (1 Kings 8:27, ESVUK)
Because of this, science can neither prove nor disprove God’s existence, which means that any statement on God or the spiritual world is not a scientific statement—“using the organized methods of science”—but a philosophical or religious one. Therefore, atheism—“the belief that God does not exist”—is not scientific, but rather philosophical and religious. Atheism is, in fact, a belief system or a worldview, just like theism.
Atheism Is a Belief System or Worldview
In the same way that theists understand and make sense of the world around them based upon their belief that God created all things, atheists also understand and make sense of the world around them based upon their belief that there is no God (or gods) and that life came from something else. Both require faith in something you cannot see or experience firsthand (for no one was there when the world came into being).
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:1–3)
Although atheists claim that theists cannot prove God’s existence (since “proof” for an atheist is always either “seeing” or “hearing” God), atheists themselves cannot support their disbelief in God with proof. Because atheism is a “disbelief” in God’s existence—or, as some atheists would say, a “lack of belief” (American Atheists n.d.), which are just two sides of the same coin¹—this means that the most an atheist can do is criticise theists’ claims and arguments for God’s existence, but theists will always offer counter-arguments in response.
Notice that, as a religious/philosophical belief system, atheism is only capable of attempting to tear down theism and is incapable of building anything up in its place. Rather than offer anything of value, atheism attempts to replace God, the being of greatest value who gives every human value, with nothing. After all, “a lack of belief” in something (the “a” in “atheism”) is, quite literally, nothing—and, therefore, it is nothing of any significance, meaning, or worth.
The Core Question
At the end of the day, the whole theism–atheism debate comes down to this one point: did all things come from nothing or a creator? There is no third option in this equation: either all things had a cause or they did not. Atheists say all things came from nothing (the necessary conclusion for rejecting a creator); Christians say all things came from a creator whom they call Jesus Christ, who is God. Christians consider the atheistic belief that all things came from nothing to be irrational and not in agreement with the scientific principle of causality. Christians also believe that, without God, life itself would be unsustainable, for the Lord Jesus Christ, who created all things, also holds all things together:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16–17)
1. The claim that atheists merely “lack belief” in God, rather than disbelieve in him, is nothing more than an attempt at escaping from the inevitable choice we must all make: either God exists or he does not. There is no third option in this. If you do not believe God exists, then you disbelieve in him (unless you simply are not sure, in which case you are not an atheist). It is impossible for a functioning human being to “not have a belief” or a “thought” about everything the mind encounters; otherwise, you are quite literally an inanimate object or in a coma.
American Atheists n.d., What is Atheism?, viewed 7 December 2020, https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/about-atheism/