Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Age Of Empathy

That's the name of a new book. It’s taken many, many thousands of years, but little by little atheists are coming to agree with not only what the Bible says but also with the teachings of Jesus. Two relatively recent concessions come to mind.

First, is the decision that being good to others might not be such a bad idea after all. There are still frequent examples of the more infamous thinking on atheist blogs. Nevertheless, some modern atheists have almost overridden the atheist thought of old that helping the poor and helpless just weakens the gene pool. Although it causes me to shake my head while contemplating how long it’s taken, it’s good to know that finally in the 21st century, atheists have figured out, “If I’m good to others, it’s almost like being good to myself. Cool!”

Second, is the realisation that atheists seem to be taking to the idea that we live in an amazingly beautiful, awe inspiring universe. Again one is reminded of a pattern of atheist thought that has plagued irreligious humans down through the ages. This thinking goes, “You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm washed up on an empty beach three and a half billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance, and natural forces. You are a mere grab-bag of atomic particles, and conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an empty corner of a meaningless universe. You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus, or amoeba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. In short, you came from nothing and are going to nowhere” Randy Alcorn.

All atheists must of necessity still hold to this “truth.” Either hypocritically or in a delusional or dream-like state atheists in the 21st century have decided that it’s ok to be thrilled by the environment in which they live and breath and have their existence. In fact, the attitude of the more radical atheist is bordering on the spiritual when contemplating the wonders of the universe. There appears to be almost a reverence for the grandeur of, dare I say it, the Creation in which we live.

Of course, atheists must be careful here. Observing, appreciating and contemplating the sheer wonder of finding ourselves in such a perfect spot in such a hostile universe might raise disturbing questions. Questions like -
. Why is there a universe?

. Why is it this universe and not another that is incapable of supporting life?

. Why is there mathematical predictability to this universe?

. How is it that out of all the species living on earth, only we have a mind that is able to understand the mathematical precision of the universe?

. Is it really possible to accidentally have a universe that is based on order and design, a universe that is intelligible, a universe that is so perfectly favourable to our existence? Doesn't the nature of odds and probabilities enter into the equation at all? Don’t these things demand an ultimate explanation?

Atheists can’t allow themselves to ask those kind of questions because the answer is obvious. No, it isn’t possible that this happened by accident, sans direction and purpose.


His Lordship said...

I read something about the origin human empathy recently. Basically, humans need each other's help in order to survive. It is very difficult for us to survive on our own in the wild. So we evolved a tendency towards empathy and social cooperation, because working together towards a common goal allows us to survive as a group. In the end, groups that cooperate survive and pass on their 'cooperative genes', and there you go, a natural selection perspective on why it pays to have empathy towards one another. Humans have a built-in tendency to help one another, but at the same time, survival instincts that can lead one to selfishness at times. Being human is sometimes a balancing act between these two innate tendencies.

Makarios said...

"Being human is sometimes a balancing act between these two innate tendencies."

Isn't it ever?

Paul P. Mealing said...

Hi Makarios,

Yes, I know I was going to boycott your blog, but I can't stand this level of ignorance.

You think Jesus was the first to introduce empathy into philosophy. Do you know that Confucius said: 'Don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to yourself', 500 years before Christ?

What you are discussing here are known as 'the big questions' and I've devoted a good part of my blog to them. But let me tell you something you obviously don't know: the answers to these questions can't be found in mythology, which therefore precludes large parts of the Bible, especially the parts dealing with creation.

Regards, Paul.