The main problem with atheism that I see is its shallowness and superficiality. This usually becomes evident in how atheism limits the extent to which we may use our human faculties.
By inherent nature, we as human beings have various faculties or abilities that we use to obtain knowledge. These faculties are of two kinds; one is physical and the other is non-physical. The physical abilities we have are the powers we find in our physical senses of sight, touch, hearing, and taste. The non-physical abilities we have are the powers we find in our mind. Our mental abilities include such things as insight, purposeful logical thinking or deliberation, and abstraction.
Through the use of our physical senses we can obtain what we may call “simple knowledge.” On the other hand, through the use of our mental powers we can obtain what we may call “abstract knowledge.”
Simple knowledge is also superficial knowledge since all it provides is what we see on the surface of things. Abstract knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge in depth, since this can only be obtained by going deeper or beyond what is seen merely on the surface.
An example of simple, superficial knowledge is the following: I may see a box lying on a table directly in front of me. If I am not interested in anything else beyond seeing this box on the table, then all I have obtained is the simple, superficial knowledge of having seen a box lying on top of a table.
On the other hand, an example of abstract, in-depth knowledge is the following: As a police investigator in a crime scene where someone has been stabbed to death, I have been trained to look carefully at every possible thing my eyes can see in a search for clues. My training has taught me never to take anything for granted simply because, superficially, it may look as ordinary or insignificant as a box lying on a table.
As a proper investigator on the scene, when I see a box in front of me, I find I cannot turn around and walk away without first looking to see what is inside. If I find a bloody knife inside the box, I immediately begin mentally deliberating that this could be the murder weapon.
One of the definitions of the word “abstract” is something thought of apart from what the physical senses have revealed superficially. When the crime investigator looked inside the box, all he saw superficially was a knife and blood on the knife. But when the investigator went into mental deliberation over the meaning of the physical object he saw, he had passed from the visible world of physical things to the invisible world of the non-physical; in this case, the invisible world was the abstract world of meaning.
The specific meaning entertained by the investigator was therefore the abstract knowledge that his mind had obtained. The bloody knife did not shout to the investigator and said, “Mister Sherlock, I am the murder weapon.” But given the circumstances surrounding the crime, the specific abstract meaning that emerged in the investigator’s mind of the knife possibly being the murder weapon, was not out of order.
It is difficult to understand how anyone could argue and say that the investigator’s jump from the simple world of the physical to the invisible world of the abstract is defective or unacceptable. After all, science itself and all investigative activities work this way. All investigative work begins with an idea or theory of what might be, followed by a search for clues and by abstract thinking of what the clues may suggest to determine the strength of the theory.
Having said all of the above, we can now specifically explain how it is that I see the main problem with atheism is its shallowness and superficiality. One major example that reveals the superficiality of atheism takes place when we consider the entire physical universe around us.
Atheists will look around and, in the visible universe, they will see physical things such as stars, planets, earth and sky and all other things that can be seen. This is the simple, superficial knowledge of the physical senses. It is here where atheism stops. While others may search for abstract meaning that may lie behind the simple, superficial knowledge of things, atheists will not follow there.
In their contentment with the superficiality of things, atheists will make evident how strictly “matter of fact” they are. It is as if they were asking, “What is the sense of looking for a meaning that is not obvious to the senses? Why look for something that is not there to see, hear, or touch? What is the sense of looking for invisible things, like a god, who cannot be seen to confirm empirically that he is there? Why can’t we simply accept that all there is “out there” are physical things? Why can’t we accept that everything that exists has always existed self-sufficiently without the need of a creator god to explain it?”
However, unlike atheists who seem to be unable to do anything else, or who prefer to be content with simple, superficial knowledge, those who have the ability or the inquisitive inclination to go deeper into abstract thinking, will easily go beyond the simple knowledge of the atheist.
Thus, in answer to the atheist’s question, “Why can’t we accept that everything that exists has always existed self-sufficiently without the need of a god to explain it?” The abstract thinker will respond and say, “But why does anything exist at all in the first place, and in the curious, purposeful, and mutually dependent relationships that they do? Why not just nothing, not even space itself in all of its infinite and imponderable reaches?”
Thus, in his inability or avoidance to do abstract thinking, and the contentment he shows with just simple, superficial knowledge, the atheist makes evident how limited, shallow, and superficial his existence is.