Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Atheists and Honesty

“Tell me why i should believe something that makes no sense to me, has no evidence,”

“Why would I believe in God when there is no evidence for His existence.”

These are pretty typical comments from atheists. In fact I had a fine, respectful person ask just a couple days ago, “If it is someday proven that life actually CAN arise from non life, and if it is someday proven that everything actually CAN come from nothing, by nothing, would that be enough for you to quit believing in God?”
I thought about it (not long enough obviously), and said something like, “Yes, that would pretty well wrap it up for me. Although there are a number of issues regarding Jesus that would also need to be cleared up.”

I say now that I didn’t think about it long enough because I would also need to have someone help me believe that ~ seven billion people including myself are mentally ill in the truest meaning of the term. AND I would need to explain away the objective moral standard that we all know exists. I would also need to understand why it is that only Christianity has a workable explanation for the objective moral standard we all recognise. Of course atheists HAVE an explanation for our sense of morality, but it’s as incoherent and convoluted as all the rest of their explanations. I’ll talk about the atheist’s understanding of morality in a bit, but first, here is the Christian argument for the existence of Creator God via the proofs of objective morality.

. If God does not exist, then objective morals, values and obligations do not exist

. We know from our interactions with other people that objective morals, values and obligations DO exist. We know, and we know absolutely when someone does “wrong” to us.

. Because the above premises are true and coherent, the following conclusion is also true: Creator God exists.

Before you get all excited, roll your eyes and wave your arms in the air, just listen. We know at a fundamental level that objective morality exists. Just as physical laws are fully realised in the physical world, objective moral laws are fully realised in Jesus and Father God. As I stated above, our daily interactions with others shows we BELIEVE WITHOUT DOUBT that objective moral order is as real and independent of our recognition as is the natural order of things. Our perceptions of natural and moral laws are givens of our experience.

When confronting Christianity’s arguments for objective morality: Atheists claim that God acts in a capricious and arbitrary manner. That is not true.

. Objective moral Goodness and Obligation are based on God’s character. Therefore, God’s commands are not ARBITRARY, for they are simply the inescapable expression of His Just and Loving nature.

When confronting Christianity’s arguments for objective morality: Atheists claim that objective morality exists independent of God. That is not true.

. There has never been a law without a Law Giver. And since our moral obligations are grounded in the Divine commands, moral values and duties do not exist INDEPENDENT of God.

. What God commands is good.

. What God forbids is wrong, bad, evil, self-destructive.

This is what it means for morality to be objective versus subjective, selective or relative to the situation. Objective Morality is not based on the individual’s character or personality or level of empathy, or that person’s likes or dislikes, sanity or insanity.

- If they want to be honest with themselves, atheists must ask:
. If only the material and the natural exists, what are we to make of the laws of logic and mathematics? Those laws clearly exist regardless of whether we know about them or understand them. However, the Laws of Logic and Mathematics:

Can’t be measured.

Can’t be weighed.

Can’t be observed.

Yet, we are so certain of their existence that we fly to other planets with them. We solve mysteries of the universe with them. We develop an understanding of ourselves with them. These laws are transcendent to us so obviously they did not evolve with us. Yet they exist. How can that be? Unless, those laws were created by a Law Giver, they would not exist. It is no different for the Objective Moral Law. As with the Laws of Logic and Mathematics, Objective Moral Laws are not created, they are discovered.

- If they want to be honest with themselves, another question atheists must ask is, how can objective morality be an evolved instinct when it’s something other than instinct that causes us to choose one of two conflicting “moral” choices, or instincts?

Picture this. You’re walking down the sidewalk and up ahead you observe a young man who has just knocked down an elderly woman. He’s attempting to tear the purse from her arm but she’s hanging on tightly. You have the option to engage one of two instincts or moral choices. You can get out of the road and pretend you didn’t see anything (self-preservation), or you can help the woman by driving off her attacker hopefully before he wrests loose her purse. (altruism).

Neither of these instincts or choices ARE the moral law / obligation. Rather, the thing that helps you to choose which action to take IS the moral law / obligation. C. S. Lewis speaks to this when he says, “You will find inside you, in addition to these two impulses, a third thing which tells you that you ought to follow the impulse to help, and suppress the impulse to run away. Now this THING that judges between two choices, that decides which should be encouraged, cannot itself be EITHER of the instincts [choices]. You might as well say the sheet of music which tells you, at a given moment, to play one note on the piano and not another, is itself one of the notes on the keyboard. The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys.”

- If they want to be honest with themselves, atheists must ask, “How can we say that morals have evolved into cooperative needs, when that implies survival as an end and cooperation as a means? Darwinism by definition has no end because it is a non intelligent process. And even if survival of our genes is an end, how then do we explain things like the killing of our offspring by the millions, suicide and other high risk behaviours like unprotected sex? Even if we don’t choose the “right” thing to do, even if we convince ourselves - to the degree that we are able to do that - that right and wrong don’t exist, we do “know” right from wrong behaviours and we know them at a fundamental level of awareness. We know that right and wrong exist external to ourselves, i.e., they did not evolve.

- If they want to be honest with themselves, atheists must acknowledge that in order to adhere to things like utilitarian ethical systems they have to abduct meaning from Objective Morality to say that this or that action is “good” or “better” and therefore worth working towards. For without Objective Morality upon which to judge “good” or “better” no such choice can be made.

From the atheist perspective, defining a moral good is the prerogative of the individual. Hitler was working toward a good that he believed in (no I’m not saying Hitler was an atheist - He was a Darwinist). Missionaries are also working toward a perceived good when they set up schools and hospitals. No atheist, naturalist, materialist, Darwinist can logically make any judgements as to the right or wrongness of what other people do. They can only judge whether their own actions are helpful to that individual phenotype.

- If they want to be honest with themselves, atheists must admit that even if we come to know our moral ideas because of genetic or social factors, that doesn’t mean that the Objective Moral Law doesn’t exist outside of and transcendent to ourselves just like the Laws of Logic and Mathematics.

- Finally, if they want to be honest with themselves, atheist need to ask, “Can I think of even one behaviour that is objectively, absolutely wrong or right for all people, in all places and at all times?” If I can, then I must also admit that there is a Moral Law Giver and if I admit that, then I am no longer an atheist.

To be an atheist, you must believe:

That everything came from nothing by nothing

That life can arise spontaneously from non life

That Real Objective Moral Principles arose from nothing.

Our “knowing” moral laws is not at all the same as “inventing” moral laws.

Our knowing moral laws does not create the “existence” of moral laws.

Objective Morality exists independently of how we come to know morality.

The existence of Objective Morality is evidence for the existence of an Objective Moral Law Giver.


PersonalFailure said...

First of all saying that what God commands is good puts one in the unenviable position of saying that you find the killing of Midianite infants good. If you do find smashing babies to death good, we need to have a long talk about what "good" is, and then I need to find out your address, so I can avoid it.

I don't think, and most atheists agree with me, that theistic belief is mental illness. At one point, many people believed the sun revolved around the earth. Those people were certainly deluded, but they weren't mentally ill. I don't find you to be any more mentally ill than them.

(Btw, I have family with true mental illness, and having seen and experienced the heartache and suffering mental illness causes, I find these arguments annoying.)

As for this How can we say that morals have evolved into cooperative needs, when that implies survival as an end and cooperation as a means? Darwinism by definition has no end because it is a non intelligent process. And even if survival of our genes is an end, how then do we explain things like the killing of our offspring by the millions, suicide and other high risk behaviours like unprotected sex? I don't think you really understand evolution, which is an occupational hazard for creationists.

Yes, evolution is a nonintelligent process, however it does have what could be called an "end" or a "purpose". That "end" is the passing on of genes. Nothing more. Any mutation that allows one to more effectively pass on genes is carried forward and spread around, any mutation that makes it more difficult is not.

The thing about evolution is this: humans are bit outside of it due to the fact that we can, due to our intelligence and facility with tools, move beyond the simple processes of our own bodies. The average life span of a person without modern medicine is about 27 years. Without modern medicine, 1 in 7 pregnancies ends in death for the mother or the child. By lengthening life spans, and helping children and women survive who otherwise wouldn't, we're no longer engaging in the sort of "pure" evolution animals in the wild engage in.

Makarios said...

Midianites -
No, I don't find it "good" to kill infants. However, we live in a world where the dominant species has found that sometimes, in order to save MANY deaths, it requires the deaths of SOME people, even children. I'm thinking of Japan in the second world war but I'm sure there are other examples. Another would be, in order to kill the Taliban, many innocent children have lost their lives. Is there a better way? Maybe but the powers that protect us from them seem to think this is what it takes.

The issue with the Midianites and their neighbours becomes a lot cloudier if you think that people should be able to fry their kids on alters without interference from their neighbours. Or if you don't see anything wrong with societies that subjugate thousands of women to work as prostitutes in their temples, then it might seem pretty harsh. If you have a high tolerance for the kind of society that promotes that kind of thing then killing them does seem cruel.

Just a couple points:
. One of the rules of engagement for the Israelites was, anyone who wanted to leave the city before being attacked, could leave. And if you read the accounts, people WERE allowed to leave. We don't know how many children were saved this way, but it's safe to say that those parents (probably mothers) who wished to save their children could do exactly that. Those who wihsed to perish with their children did exactly that. In that case it's more the fault of the parents than the Israelites.

. These people, the Midianites and Cellulites :-) and so on were bent on wiping out the Israelites. Why was that a bad idea? Because God's plan for the salvation for the whole world was to come through the Israelites. We don't know why God chose them. He seems to pick the least of the least as His favourites and we would be hard pressed to pick a group of people less tolerated than the Jews. At any rate -

. Choosing to block God's plan by killing His chosen people is a really big mistake. Choosing to be your Creator's enemy is a big mistake.

. You don't need to worry about moving into my neighbourhood becauase those kinds of instructions were for that specific time and place. God would never ask anyone to do that again. Although the prophecies regarding modern Israel makes it look rather grim for any nation(s) wanting to wipe it off the map.
"Those people were certainly deluded,"

I think there's a fairly large difference between being deluded and mistaken. We still call it sun-rise and sun-set for a good reason. Without the knowledge we have now, that is exactly how it looks.
"we're no longer engaging in the sort of "pure" evolution animals in the wild engage in."

No, we're certainly not.
I'm sorry about the struggles your family has. Mental illness in any form is a load. I think I said a few days ago that I've worked with thousands of people with addictions. I don't have statistics on it but my guess is that about a third of the people I've worked with who had alcoholism were attempting to treat a depression with alcohol. Get the depression treated and recovery is so much easier.

Makarios said...


Jack Grey said...

I was actually going to remark on the same thing: I don't think religious beliefs are a sign of mental illness. (And, yes, I recognize that you were engaging in a bit of poetic exaggeration there.)

Even if it were possible to conclusively prove that they were all wrong, and that nothing "supernatural" exists, the worst that could be said is that people make the best assertions they can, given the information that they have and some of the ways that the human brain tends to look for patterns.

I've said before that I believe the tendency towards religious belief is "wired in" to our species. Find a human society, anywhere in the world, and it will have tools, art, and some sort of reliious belief. If there are exceptions, I'd love to know about them; I'm not aware of any.

Michael Mock

Jack Grey said...

Correction: "religious", not "reliious".

Baconeater said...

If the secular explanation for morals is incoherent to you, you just aren't very bright. Sorry.
Watch Potholer54's series on Youtube and educate yourself.

Baconeater said...

Objective moral laws? What is the objective moral law for killing someone? Does that include in battle? What is the moral law if a boat is sinking and there are 25 people who would be saved if you drown to stop the boat from sinking? What is the moral law when it comes to accepting homosexuality? What about abortion?
How come Christians can't agree on all these issues 100% if objective moral laws exist?

Makarios said...

“If the secular explanation for morals is incoherent to you, you just aren't very bright.”

Well, I’m certainly not the brightest guy in the world but at least I’m smart enough to not be an atheist.
“Watch Potholer54's series on Youtube and educate yourself.”

Ah, yes. Youtube, the atheist's favourite source for “factual” material.
“Objective moral laws? What is the objective moral law for killing someone? Does that include in battle?”

I think that you’re confusing objective and absolute.
“What is the moral law if a boat is sinking and there are 25 people who would be saved if you drown to stop the boat from sinking?”

Again I think you confused. You see, this type of dilemma actually proves my point. There would be no dilemma if morality were relative. If morality were relative to the situation and there was no absolute right to life, you’d say, “It doesn’t matter what happens! Throw everyone overboard! Who cares?” the very reason we struggle with the dilemma is because we know that life is valuable.
“What is the moral law when it comes to accepting homosexuality? What about abortion? How come Christians can't agree on all these issues 100% if objective moral laws exist?”

Again, you seem confused. While people may get morality wrong in complicated situations, they don’t get it wrong on the basics. For example, everyone knows murder is wrong. Hitler knew it. That’s why he had to dehumanize the Jews in order to rationalise killing them. Darwinism allowed him to do this.

I believe your mistake is that you believe:
. We have trouble knowing the answer in a few difficult situations,

. Therefore objective morality does not exist.

Most people will recognise that the conclusion simply does not follow from the premise.

There are easy and hard problems in morality just as there are in science. Answering a simple scientific problem such as Why do objects fall to the ground?, proves that at least one natural law or force exists - gravity.

Likewise, truthfully answering a simple moral question such as Is killing innocent people justified?, proves that at least one law of morality exists. If just one moral obligation exists (such as don’t murder, don’t rape, don’t hit your wife) then the Moral Law exists. If the Moral Law exists, then so does the Moral Law Giver.

Neither does it matter if people don’t agree with a moral law. I’ve worked with many hundreds of women who tried to justify to me their husbands abusive behaviours,
“Well, I was drunk and he doesn’t like that.”

“I was flirting and my husband doesn’t like that.”

“I spent too much money and he told me not to.”

Regardless of what she believes, there is still a moral law against physically hurting one’s spouse.

Baconeater said...

Since you made such an ignorant comment about Potholer, atheists and Youtube and predictably won't educate yourself as you are an obvious willfully ignorant yo yo, I stopped reading your long post after you made a hysterical comment about Darwin.

I won't even engage your pathetic lack of understanding. You are just sad.

Makarios said...

Hysterical? Oh, about Hitler and Darwinism. Ya, we'll,
"If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such cases all her efforts, throughout hundres of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.

But such a preservation goes hand-in-hand with the inexorable law that it is the strongest and the best who must triumph and that they have the right to endure. He who would live must fight. He who does not wish to fight in this world, where permanent struggle is ther law of life, has not the right to exist."
Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf - London: Hurst & Blacket, 1939, 239,240.

Now, you may not believe that this is what Darwin taught but Hitler sure did. Anything that is so unclear that someone could take it and use it as an excuse to kill 6,000,000 people, well, really, it should be banned.

Baconeater said...

Fool. Number one, the idea of racial superiority dated back way before Darwin. The ancient Egyptians believed in blue blood so to speak, and it was common throughout history as well. Inferior common folk were frowned upon to breed with royalty.

Secondly, you just showed you have no understanding of survival of the fittest. What it means simply is survival of the variation of the species that fits in best with the environment.

Get an education. You are pathetic.

Makarios said...

Mmm, and you have evidence that Hitler was reading Egyptian literature do you?

I thought you weren't coming back. Didn't you say you were out of this conversation? Ya, here it is,

"I won't even engage your pathetic lack of understanding. You are just sad."

Kind of ironic isn't it? An atheist liar on a post called atheists and honesty? Pfft!

Baconeater said...

I didn't say I wasn't coming back. I said I wouldn't engage you.
But since, you have lurkers who read your crap, I wanted to correct your ignorance and lies regarding Hitler and Darwin.
And again, you miss the point completely of my comment regarding Hitler and Darwin.
Sux big time to be you. Moron.

Makarios said...

“I said I wouldn't engage you.”

Yes, but here you are. Engaged up to the top of your head. Aren’t You?

Perhaps you can take some time to explain away not just Hitler’s love affair with Darwin’s thoughts but also his fascination with the Darwinian thoughts and practice of Margaret Sanger?

"Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need . We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock."

"Eugenics is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems.

"Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."

"The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." Margaret Sanger, founder and role model of Planned Parenthood - from Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers

Or how about these other wonderful Darwinist - you know, the one’s, much like yourself, who don’t need God in order to be nice people.

“To live for his own sake means that the achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose.” Rand, Ayn, The Virtue of Selfishness. New York: Signet Books, 1964, 27.

Ya, that’s what the world needs is more selfishness.

"The life growing in a woman is just a useless blob of cells." Fiery, Atheisthomeschooler.

“In 1940, Camus married his second wife Francine Faure,… Although never divorced, Francine suffered immensely from Albert’s persistent and public infidelities.”
“Camus…bought a handsome stone farm house for his family in Province. (Mr, Camus’ young Danish mistress often stayed at the farm house nearby.”

“Camus neither believed in God nor accepted the specific morality of Christianity. He liked to think of himself as instinctively pagan, a man in love with the tangible pleasures of this earth rather than the ethereal blessings of Heaven.”
Kamber, R., On Camus. Belmont, California: Wadworth Philosophers Series, 2001, 3, 5, 7

Just ask the children of adulterous parents how much fun it is to have a string of “uncles” come through the house.

“It is hard to conclude that the universe was created with a special, cosmic purpose for humanity.” Victor Stenger

“The human race has had to grow up a good deal in the last five hundred years to confront the fact that we just don’t count for much in the grand scheme of things.” Steven Weinberg.

“The ancient covenant is in pieces. Man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he has emerged only by chance.” Jacques Monod.

“We must challenge our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe." Carl Sagan

“The universe has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins.

“The universe is an accident.” Victor Stenger

“As far as we have been able to discover the laws of nature, they are impersonal, with no hint of a divine plan or any special status for human beings.” Steven Weinberg

“[humans] are survival machine - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the self molecules known as genes.” Richard Dawkins

“Modern science directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws, no absolute guiding principles for human society. . . We must conclude that when we die, we die, and that is the end of us.” William Provine

“The ultimate measure of evolutionary value is fitness - the capacity to replicate more successfully than the competition does.” Daniel Dennett

Baconeater said...

Blaming Darwin, or evolution for Hitler or abortion, is like blaming Newton for the way bullets travel.
What a moron.

Makarios said...

"What a moron."

I had another social Darwinist take me to task a while back for not condemning morons and for not seeing what load they were on society. He didn't say much more after I informed him that one of my son's is in fact in the moron category. I'm quite confident that that won't make any difference to you.

Baconeater said...

So now I'm a social Darwinist? What a moron.