Materialistic atheism is self-refuting

by Matt Slick

Materialism is the theory that matter is the only thing that exists in the universe, and that all phenomena can be explained in terms of it and its properties. This would mean that everything must operate within the bounds of physical laws, including the human brain. But this presents a problem for the materialistic atheist.

A materialist atheist has no intellectual justification whatsoever to trust his own thinking because his physical brain cannot exceed the limits of physics and chemistry. Therefore, there's no reason for him to conclude that his rationality is correct since his brain is acting "mechanically."

How does one chemical state that leads to another chemical state in the brain produce proper logical inference? There is no known mechanism that enables this. The human brain is indeed sophisticated; but if it is restricted to physical laws, then it will automatically respond in a predictable way based upon brain wiring and stimulus. This would mean that given the exact same circumstances, the exact same responses would always occur.

This would mean that the atheist has no real freedom of will and has no reason to trust his thoughts about reality, God, himself, others, or experiences. Therefore, materialistic atheism is self-refuting because it cannot rationally defend its own position as being true. Materialistic atheism could never be known to be the right position to hold if the brain is merely reacting according to the physical requirements that govern it.

All that the materialistic atheists would have would be necessary responses based upon the neurochemical pathways in the brain that are stimulated via the senses and forced to respond based on the physical laws of the material universe.

If you are a materialistic atheist and you disagree with what I'm saying here, then I respond by saying "That is what your brain programmed you to respond with." You see, it doesn't matter what objection you would raise. If materialistic atheism is true, then your brain is preprogrammed to respond in particular ways since you would have no free will and no way to provide a rational worldview with which you could explain experience.
Do you still think I'm wrong? Well, you have to say that. You are programmed to respond that way.