Why Most People Intuitively Reject Atheism

They believe that they have real minds and real free will—and that these are not illusions—and they can’t be reasonably reduced to physics and chemistry. In other words, there are three real things in the universe—minds, free will, and matter—and not, ultimately, just one thing (matter).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Why Most People Intuitively Reject Atheism

  1. Excellent video!!!

    Another way of looking at this is that the atheistic conception of “dead matter” is itself counter to human intuition. It is quite common to find examples of consciousness being ascribed to clouds, mountains, rivers, even rocks. This in fact was the view of the ancient Stoics who held that only “physical” “stuff” exists – but they nevertheless believed in the existence of Gods and souls – and they even coined the term “World Soul”.

  2. Heuristics says:

    Nice post.

    Other non-material things that people tend to have a realist stance to independent from minds: Values, Logic, Mathematics, Time, Space and Beauty.

    Beauty and value might be seen as the two weakest in the list but they are for example used to intuitively get to new mathematics since mathematics is Valued according to it’s Beauty so they are in fact quite often used.

  3. santitafarella says:


    You probably already know Hans Jonas’s idea that the classical world could be characterized as “panvitalist” and that contemporary naturalism, by contrast, is characterized by a belief that matter is blind and dead. Pan-thanatos? (That’s me making up a term, not Jonas.)

    Tillich called material reductionism the “ontology of death.”

    A good book on this whole subject that you might like is by the theologian John Haught: “Is Nature Enough?”

    You probably already know Haught’s stuff too, but just in case you don’t, I mention it.


  4. santitafarella says:


    I agree with you that the list of ontologically non-reducible things that may be in the universe could be added to (though the list must surely be relatively short and finite). But for sheer force, I think it comes down to three really super weird things in the universe: physical laws “undergirding” blind matter, minds that influence quantum experiments (thereby making them more than mere epiphenomena of matter), and free will. It seems to me that these three raw existencies make it difficult to glibly reduce them, ultimately, to blind matter. Something more is going on.

    I would liken the atheist to Michio Kaku’s goldfish in a shallow pond with left, right, backwards, and forwards taken as the ultimate and irreducible reality. And then somebody lifts the fish out of the water and says, “How do you account for up?”

    Up must be contended with.


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