- Religion and Philosophy»
- Atheism & Agnosticism
A Response to Top 10 Atheist Inconsistencies
War and Murder
Since there were so many points that I felt needed to be addressed, it seemed like the best way to respond would be by writing the response in Hub of its own allowing me to respond to each of his points, rather than wade through the comments and deal with some commenters that would feel a need to divert the argument into a realm of name calling. If the Hub is long it’s because I needed to address each of his points.
The author of the Hub; Mr. Greyknight, in naming the top 10 atheist inconsistencies begins with this: "One of the biggest lies told by atheists is that the majority of martial conflicts in the world have occurred as a result of people believing in God."
The very first thing that he says begs the question. Any form of argument in which the conclusion occurs as one of the premises is called Begging the Question. Still more generally, an argument begs the question when it assumes any controversial point not conceded by the other side. In this case in, the very opening when he says “one of the biggest lies told by atheists”… which is a point that the other side of this argument would not concede as true, let alone the fact that he ignores the historic violence from religious based wars cited in the very book he defends, which by simply looking at the Bible that describes the God he is talking about…that God destroyed an entire planet and every living thing in it, except for a family on a boat with some animals. Everything was annihilated. Men, women, children, innocent animals…everything. And that’s only one example. The Old Testament is filled with examples of murder and rape and violence against men, women and children.
Joshua, with God's approval, kills the Amalekites "with the edge of the sword." 17:13
"I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." 17:14
"The Lord has sworn [God swears!] that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." So God is still fighting Amalek. 17:14-16
A child who hits or curses his parents must be executed. 21:15, 17
It's okay to beat your slaves; even if they die you won't be punished, just as long as they survive a day or two after the beating (see verses 21:20-21). But avoid excessive damage to their eyes or teeth. Otherwise you may have to set them free. 21:26-27
If an ox gores someone, "then the ox shall surely be stoned." 21:28
If an ox gores someone due to the negligence of its owner, then "the ox shall be stoned, and his owner shall be put to death.". 21:29
If an ox gores a slave, the owner of the ox must pay the owner of the slave 30 shekels of silver, and "the ox shall be stoned." 21:32
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Thousands of innocent women have suffered excruciating deaths because of this verse. 22:18
God shows his hospitality with the admonition: "The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." 1:51, 3:10, 3:38
Two of Aaron's sons are killed by God for "offering strange fire before the Lord." 3:4
All firstborn Israelites, "both man and beast", belong to God. He got them the day that he killed every Egyptian firstborn child and animal. 8:17
"And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it.... and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them." God burned the complainers alive. That'll teach them! 11:1-2
God tells Moses that he is going to kill all of the Israelites -- every last whining one of the them, and then make a whole bunch of brand new Israelites. 14:12
I could go on. There’s a lot more. Grayknight says this: “Though a number of holy wars have occurred throughout the history of the world, the majority of martial conflicts have not occurred because one nation has deemed another to be a heathen.” I don’t understand what it is that he’s trying to say here. He’s saying (al)though a number of holy wars have occurred throughout the history of the world, the majority of “martial” conflicts have not occurred because one nation has deemed another to be a heathen”. He says, “In truth, the vast majority of such events have occurred simply because one tribe or nation had resources that another tribe or nation wanted.” But he leaves out something essential in that. He leaves out the moral justification for invading and taking those resources. And every country that ever invaded another country always had God on their side. They were morally justified Including the United States invasion of Iraq to get their oil.
But more importantly, he seems to be mostly caught up in fairly modern history because as shown above, the Bible is loaded with examples of God himself waging war, murder and overall mayhem on the human race, so all of that was already taking place because one nation has deemed another to be a heathen and that killing was sanctioned by God himself. I’m not a believer in the Bible but I think Greyknight is, and if so, he’d need to account for the vast amount of war and killing and genocide including the total destruction of the planet itself and every living thing in it before making any suggestion that a lie is being perpetrated by atheists. The information here comes directly from the Authority of the book that Greyknight uses as his source for his Hub. It’s his own authoritative source. Not mine.
He says this: “However, if you place any kind of ideological value in love and think that there is anything to it other than the synapses in the brain firing in a particular pattern, you are a religious person”
Well, that maybe true, because I surely don’t, and I don’t’ know of any atheists, that place any ideological value on love. There’s nothing ideological about love. That’s the sound of a conservative mind at work. So I suppose religious people see love as an ideology. I’ve never heard of anything as ridiculous as that, but maybe that’s how they think. Ideologies have doctrines. They’re a system of ideas and ideals, especially ones that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy. I’ve never heard of a Love Ideologue. What kind of ideological value does love have? That makes no sense to me.
He goes on to say this: “You cannot claim that your world views are purely scientific and then start throwing around the "L" word as if it actually means something.”
And…why not? By this he seems to suggest that love is feeling and emotion and atheists are devoid of feeling and emotion. They are all Mr. Spock from Star Trek. He’ll be disappointed to know that atheists feel pain just like other people. They can cry if they lose a child. They can feel that pain. They’re not immune to suffering. They just don’t believe that a God that works in mysterious ways, wanted that child more than they did or any other religious platitudes that “well meaning” theists might have to offer, even when unsolicited.
His next point is this
Fidelity and Procreation
Though atheists surely have their fair share of sots and adulterers, many atheists pride themselves on being able to live according to strict moral codes without needing a deity to tell them to do so.
Strict moral codes? I’m not sure what he means by this. There is no doubt the theist, especially the Christianists (I think that would be a more accurate term for them) live by a “strict moral code”. It’s called the 10 Commandments and it was supposedly written in stone by the hand of God himself. The code is there, and they speak about it but very few of them actually follow it.
Atheists have no such thing. Morality and truth were not decided for them. It’s something they have to determine every day of their lives for themselves.
He adds this: “Furthermore, having a moral code that is established solely on scientific fact, would not an understanding of the theories of evolution and speciation require one of such unrivaled intelligence as a freethinking atheist to fill the world with his seed?”
No. Greyknight it wouldn’t. The one thing does not logically follow from the other. I don’t think Grayknight is familiar with the concept of Critical Thinking. It’s clear to me by the way he constructs his argument, he doesn’t have any familiarity with the process. Using principles of critical thinking, we can reconstruct Greyknights argument.
The goal of argument-reconstruction is to produce a clear and completely explicit statement of the argument that the arguer had in mind. The desired clarity and explicitness is achieved by putting all of the argument, and nothing but the argument, into standard form: this displays the argument’s premises, intermediate conclusions and conclusion, and indicates the inferences between them.
The first step in analysing and reconstructing an argument is to identify its conclusion, then its premises.
Much of what people say or write, when advancing an argument, plays no argumentative role. Much is there for emphasis, or is rhetorical flourish or embellishment, or plays some other role than that of expressing the propositions that properly constitute the argument. For example, his injecting “require one of such unrivaled intelligence as a freethinking atheist” adds nothing to his argument and is used in a sarcastic emotional appeal which is a type of Red Herring. An appeal to emotion is a type of argument which attempts to arouse the emotions of its audience in order to gain acceptance of its conclusion. A sub-fallacy would be the Straw Man. This fallacy includes any lame attempt to "prove" an argument by overstating, exaggerating, or over-simplifying the arguments of the opposing side. Such an approach is building a straw man argument.
Deductive reasoning, links premises with conclusions. If all premises are true, the terms are clear, and the rules of deductive logic are followed, then the conclusion reached is necessarily true. Deductive reasoning (top-down logic) contrasts with inductive reasoning (bottom-up logic) in the following way: In deductive reasoning, a conclusion is reached reductively by applying general rules that hold over the entirety of a closed domain of discourse, narrowing the range under consideration until only the conclusion is left.
An example of a deductive argument:
1.All men are mortal.
2.Socrates is a man.
3.Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
The first premise states that all objects classified as "men" have the attribute "mortal". The second premise states that "Socrates" is classified as a "man" – a member of the set "men". The conclusion then states that "Socrates" must be "mortal" because he inherits this attribute from his classification as a "man".
If the premises are true, then the conclusion must follow and be necessarily true.
Now, in applying this to Greyknights argument:
Put into a logical form ( Modus Tollens) that even he should understand, his statement can be re-written as a conditional; If/Then.
1.IF it is raining, THEN there are clouds in the sky
2.There are no clouds in the sky
3.Therefore it is not raining.
This is called the Law of the Contrapositive. The law of contrapositive states that, in a conditional, if the conclusion is false, then the hypothesis must be false also. The general form is the following:
1.P → Q. (IF p, THEN q)
2.~Q. ( NOT q )
3.Therefore we can conclude ~P. (Not p)
To put Greyknights assumption into this conditional form it would look like this:
1.IF an atheist has a moral code that is established solely on scientific fact, THEN an understanding of the theories of evolution and speciation require an atheist to go out and populate that world?”
2. An understanding of the theories of evolution and speciation, does not require an atheist to go out and populate the world (fill the world with his seed) There is no way to demonstrate that understanding a concept requires a person to promote that concept.
3. Therefore an atheist does not have a moral code that is established solely on scientific fact.
Greyknight suggests that an atheist has a moral code established by scientific fact; (which he hasn’t demonstrated to be true, he just says it’s a fact). He then concludes that this necessarily requires an atheist to populate the world as much as he physically can. How he makes this leap of logic isn’t explained.
He makes a bizarre logical claim.
P1. Atheists have a moral code based on scientific fact
P2. Atheists understand the theories of evolution
C: Therefore Atheists are required to go out and populate the world.
If the premises of a deductive syllogism are true then the conclusion must be true.
P1. Is false. Atheists have many different philosophies. Atheist derive their morality from what they can determine as the truth. Facts certainly help in getting to the truth. But facts alone are not truth. Atheists derive their morality from the truth. Not from facts.
P2. Is true, but it does not lead to the conclusion that he makes.
C: the conclusion is false. The syllogism falsifies Grayknights claim. …bullshit. Understanding a concept doesn’t require one to promote it or practice it. I understand Conservatism, that doesn’t require me to become a conservative. I understand the concept of Christianity, that doesn’t make me want to be one. I understand Nazism, but I sure don’t want to become a Nazi. I understand the theory of evolution, that doesn’t require me to run out and populate the world with a bunch of people that somebody else thinks would think like me.
I’m always amazed at people that want to tell other people how they think. As if they would possibly know.
He goes on to say this: “Would not well-educated atheists be obliged to have even more children than the ever-multiplying theist masses whom they so detest? Short of violence or forced sterilization, that would be the only way to ensure a more enlightened future for the human race. Instead, though, the very atheists who think themselves to have such lofty levels of cognition seem to believe that the human genome does not need their superior genes.” The answer to this question is NO. No to each of his assertions. His snarky accusations, and characterizations notwithstanding. His confusion on this topic has been demonstrated above.
He moves on to Altruism
He points to Ayn Rand and Nietzsche: “Folks like Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche have made it quite clear that theist principles like humility, charity, and altruism are absolutely irreconcilable with a universe in which there is no God. However, many atheists still cling to these concepts of virtue - not because they can actually make any arguments against the "great" atheist minds like Rand and Nietzsche, but because they cannot bring themselves to let go of these last vestiges of theist irrationality. So why do most atheists today still advocate at least some level of altruism?”
The question that he should answer is what makes him think that atheists all believe what Ayn Rand has to say or Nietzsche for that matter, and what makes him think that they are regarded as “great” atheist minds? He seems to think that all atheists think monolithically. If you’re going to use Ayn Rand as an example of an atheist that all atheists must admire, you’ve just torpedoed your own Hub. Do you really think that all atheists think the same? You’re writing about a subject that you know nothing about. You aren’t an atheist, so what would you know about it? Most atheists were involved in religion at some time in their lives so they already know where you’re coming from.
Here’s a little fun fact for him;
Conservative Republican Paul Ryan claims to have rejected Ayn Rand’s atheism. He claims that when he found out later in life that her philosophy was an "atheist philosophy" he rejected her in favor of St. Thomas Aquinas. Of course Ryan claims that he began reading Rand as a young boy, and stated publically that Rand helped to shape his political thinking more than any other writer. In fact, he required his interns in DC to read Atlas Shrugged or the Fountainhead. So…when exactly did he reject Ayn Rand? How long did it take for him to figure out she was an atheist? Her atheism is clear to anyone that has ever read her work. It leaps out of almost every page and she wrote very long books. It seems that he makes the claim to have rejected Rand after Catholic Bishops and Nuns criticized his budget proposals for being anti-Christian. At that point he stated that he’d rejected Rand a long time ago. “Long time” in Ryan’s view would mean about a week.
Ayn Rand's philosophy is rooted in the concept of strident individualism. She wrote a book titled The Virtue of Selfishness in which she claims that any thought of self-sacrifice was abhorrent and should be purged from our being. Self-Interest was at the core of everything she was about. She addressed it in every page of dialogue in her books. "If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism men have to reject." ~ Ayn Rand.
Ryan claims to be a Catholic, and as a solid Catholic I'm sure he accepts the fact of the canonization of Aquinas. He certainly claims to follow his teachings. He named Aquinas specifically as his inspiration. Catholics pray to Saints. Aquinas is high on Ryan’s list of all-time great Saints.
In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, "Man should not consider his material possessions his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need." ~ Thomas Aquinas
That’s not even socialist. That’s communist. I would like for Paul Ryan to square this position with the Tea Party and the conservatives that have every right to think that this is contrary to what they've been led to believe about him. It appears that he's literally hosing them for political gain. To go from Ayn Rand to St. Thomas Aquinas is quite a shift in position. So...Mr. Ryan, I don't think you can cherry pick what you like about a Saint and what you don't and still claim to be a Catholic. You claim to accept the teachings of a designated Saint of your own church. You either accept the teachings of Aquinas as you claim, including the quote above....OR you don't. If you don’t, then obviously you are rejecting the teachings of the Saint you claim to draw your inspiration from. If you do, then you are accepting the teachings of altruism that is poison to Rand’s philosophy and is likely to upset the Tea Party conservatives that support that view. So where exactly do you stand, with Rand or with Aquinas? If it's Rand, it's unbridled Self-interest she calls, “A Virtue of Selfishness”. If it's Aquinas, it’s Self-sacrificing altruism as taught by your faith. We just want to know where you stand...today?
The bottom line is that citing Rand or any other atheist should never be taken as that person being a model or spokesman for atheists. If a person writes a book on the subject and makes a powerful case then a lot of people read him and he becomes known for his expertise on the subject. I guess that makes him a spokesman on atheism, but not necessarily on any other topic. They don’t all think alike and assuming that we all read Ayn Rand is absurd and a poor example.
This is a strange comment:
“The more noble atheists deal with the problem of death by focusing on the fact that, though they will die, their memories and the effects of their lives will live on. However, they fail to see that, being composed of mortal beings, the human race is still essentially mortal. Sooner or later, in some way, the human race as we know it will cease existing. Whether it takes a hundred years, a thousand years, or a million years, it will happen. Even if we use spacefaring technology to colonize other worlds, every single sun in the universe will eventually wink out of existence, and everything will inevitably fall victim to entropy. Noble atheists must realize that their memories and their legacies are as doomed as they are.”
Where does he come up with this assertion? “the more Noble atheists”??? What does he mean by this? And where does he draw this conclusion that they are pre-occupied with how they will be remembered after they’re gone? If anybody is concerned with an afterlife it’s the theist. The entire Christian faith is based on the Resurrection. Life after death. “He who believeth in me shall shall live forever” So a bargain is made. Believe in me, and you’ll live forever. And rather than accept the altruistic self-sacrifice of Jesus, they instead opt for the self-serving interests of the atheist Rand. They believe in Jesus because of what he has to offer them. They act out of self-interest, which is Rand rather than Jesus.
And to say that every sun in the universe will eventually wink out of existence and everything will inevitably fall victim to entropy is sheer nonsense. There is no evidence that shows that the universe will cease to exist. The visible universe has existed for 14.6 Billion years, and that’s just the visible universe. There is no end in sight for the existence of the universe. For our purposes here in our lifetime, the universe is eternal.
“Some atheists like Ray Kurzweil advocate transhumanist doctrines that prophesy of a near future - in as few as 20 years, according to him - in which a singularity event will occur. With the singularity event, humans will be able to use science to achieve immortality. Kurzweil speaks of this singularity event with the same fervor in which the proverbial Southern Baptist minister raves about the Rapture. Fantasizing about post-singularity humanity, Kurzweil proclaims that, being able to live for eternity, we will eventually be able to know everything that can possibly be known. But does he believe it's possible that there just might be another being in this vast universe who has achieved all knowledge before he has? No, that is ludicrous.”
Yeah…it’s ludicrous. There is no evidence of that being. There is however tangible evidence of the growth of technology which has grown exponentially at a rate that is truly mindboggling. We can see it swing upward since the industrial revolution. We can measure it. Kurzweil speaks of the “Age of the Spiritual Machine”. It’s not at all difficult to conceive of a time in the near future where our body parts can and will be replaced by technology. Today we see people without legs running in the Olympics. We see people getting Lazik surgery and seeing like they’d never seen in their lives. Dental implants that are finished in a day replacing all your teeth. And there is evidence to support the idea that in the course of computer development we are constantly improving the speed in which our computers function. No matter how fast a computer is, it will always be subject to the speed that a human can input the data through a keyboard. Obviously if we could eliminate the use of the Keyboard and get direct access with our brain, perhaps through a micro-chip implant, we would be able to access all the information that is available on the internet. Instant access to information would change us as a human species. Instead of a keyboard and a screen, the images and pages could be seen in our heads or projected onto a screen and managed with our brain. With that kind of knowledge instantly available to us, we would change as a species. It’s a certainty that science is already working on this.
Kurzweil speaks of the fact that the Big Bang yielded physics, which begat chemistry, which begat biology, which begat technology and all of it is part of the evolution of our species. Evolution never stops. We’re at the top of the evolutionary scale, but evolution doesn’t stop and technology doesn’t go backwards. It’s inevitable that the human race continues to evolve in ways that we couldn’t imagine and technology will lead the way.
“Many atheists proudly say that they do not need dogma to tell them what is or is not right. They do not lie, cheat, kill, or insult because they "just know" that such things are wrong, and not because some old book tells them so.”
“However, ask an atheist to provide logical and scientific proof that such actions are unacceptable, and all of their arguments will boil down to the fact that it "just feels right."”
Unacceptable by whom? Do they need to be acceptable by you? If so, why?
I don’t lie, cheat, kill, steal (I do insult people at times if that’s the only way to get through to them or get their attention) but I can “just know” that such things are wrong by applying the Catagorical Imperative. If you act out of Duty then your motive has moral worth to it. In a hypothetical imperative, I’m not acting out of duty, but using somebody as a means to an end. The motive is self-serving. There is no moral worth to that action. A boy comes into your store to buy some bread and he’s too young to know about change. Do you short change him knowing that he wouldn’t know? Or do you give him back the right change because if it gets around you cheated a kid, you could lose customers? Neither. You give the boy the right change because it’s the right thing to do. Not because of how it makes you look to your other customers. The boy is not a means to some end you want to achieve. He’s a rational being worthy of respect. Do the right thing for the right reason. Why does that seem so hard to do? Seriously, did you really have to think about what was the right thing to do? You didn't simply know it intuitively?
“I have heard it many times: "No, I don't believe in God or final judgment, but I have still found meaning in life." However, when your friend says this, ask him what great meaning he or she has found, and the response is sure to disappoint you profoundly. The truth is that those who say this have found no such meaning - they have simply found a way to keep living in the hope that they will one day find real meaning in life.”
Why does that see so strange? I’ve spent my entire adult life studying philosophy and yet I’ve never looked for “meaning” in life. I’m just interested in how people think or reason. I’m here, and I have no alternative to compare that to. I don’t know what non-existence is. So I’ve looked to navigate the waters in the most productive and interesting way for me without hurting others in the process. Sometimes that hasn’t worked out the way I’d hoped but I recognize my own fallibility and I’m aware of others sharing that very same fallible quality. Perhaps debunking Hubs like this one gives me “meaning”. I don’t think so. It does give me a sense of satisfaction that falsehoods are exposed for the sake of the truth. But there are many things that make life enjoyable for me. I haven’t needed a relationship with a make believe deity to make me feel better about myself. I’m not looking for “real meaning in life” as you put it. My life has been and still is very full. It seems that’s an urgent issue for you, because you can’t accept who you are and where you are. Therefore you need something else to live for. And that’s recruiting one more person to the faith that will help you to justify your own. I find that sad.
In order to have meaning, a word must also have an audience that lives on after it and is forever changed by it. Though a word takes only a moment to be spoken and heard, it is meaningful because it lives on both in the speaker and in the hearer
That’s like asking, “if a tree falls in the woods, and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound? What is the point you’re trying to make?
” However, if human life ends with death, and if there is no God, then our existence is nothing more than wind blowing through trees that somehow frames a word for no one to hear”
That’s very poetic. And…what if that’s’ true? Then what? What does that do to change anything? Is it your ego that requires you to live on and have your words be meaningful long after you’ve gone? What are you writing for? Are you writing to be remembered when you’re gone? Or are you writing for the sake of writing? I think your motive for writing is wrong. You use writing as a means to an end. I see writing as an end in itself. I write for the sake of writing. I obviously place writing on a higher level than you. I don’t do this to see what I’ll get out of it. I just don’t like seeing lies and falsehoods being spread without being challenged.
“"I suffer. Therefore, there is no God." It's the common mantra of the bitter atheist.”
Notice how it must be the “bitter” atheist. Aren’t they all “bitter”? This is called Loaded Language. He’s used it before this. Loaded language is a subfallacy of Begging the Question, because to use loaded language fallaciously is to assume an evaluation that has not been proved, thereby failing to fulfill the burden of proof. For this reason, Jeremy Bentham dubbed this fallacy "Question-Begging Epithets". It’s not just the atheist. Nope. It’s now the “bitter” atheist.
“The idea that an omnipotent and benevolent God would never let us suffer at all is ludicrous - especially when even He, being perfect, suffers still.”
God suffers? You know this? How? You don’t even know that a God exists, but you know that he suffers. If God Suffers then how could paradise by without pain? Isn’t the idea of paradise, to be with God? If God is suffering then paradise would suck, because everyone would suffer along with him. And this would be better than Hell?
You claim that God is Omnipotent. Ok. Can God change natural law? If he can, then natural law isn’t a law because it’s able to be changed. If he can’t, then God is not omnipotent.
This brings to mind Plato's challenge concerning the nature of goodness which is still being heard today: Is an act right because God says it's so, or does God say it's so because it's right? It’s the Euthyphro Dilemma. The dilemma Euthyphro faced is this: Is a thing good simply because the gods say it is? Or do the gods say a thing is good because of some other quality it has? If so, what is that quality? The problem stumped Euthyphro.
In more recent times, Plato's approach has been used as an assault on the coherence of Christianity. 20th century British philosopher and atheist, Bertrand Russell, formulated the problem this way in his polemic against the faith, Why I Am Not a Christian:
“If you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, you are then in this situation: Is that difference due to God's fiat or is it not? If it is due to God's fiat, then for God Himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God's fiat, because God's fiats are good and not good independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God.”
If they are, that means that morality, what is good and what is bad is outside of the realm of God and informs God of what is good and what is evil. If that’s true then God is not Omnipotent. There is something else that informs him of right and wrong. If they aren’t, that means that there is nothing to inform God of what is good and what is evil, and morality is arbitrary. God could say that drowning babies is morally good because there is nothing to suggest that it isn’t. And as God is Omnipotent, there is nobody to challenge that concept. If God told you to drown your child, would you do it? If God ordered it, how could it be morally abhorrent? He told Abraham to sacrifice his son because he wanted a blood sacrifice, and there was no goat to kill to satisfy Gods need for blood. And Abe would have done it to please God. God stopped him and provided a goat to kill instead. Lovely. How nice of him. In Texas, a woman drowns her children in the bathtub because she thinks they’re all possessed by demons.
This shows an internal flaw in the Christian's notion of God and goodness. Is a thing right simply because God declares it so, or does God say it is good because He recognizes a moral code superior even to Him?
This problem presents a dilemma because one is forced to choose between two options, both ultimately hostile to Christian theism. The believer is caught between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, God reigns and His Law is supreme. As the ultimate Sovereign, He establishes the moral rules of the universe. His commands are absolute. We must obey.
Ethicist Scott Rae describes the view: "A divine command theory” of ethics is one in which the ultimate foundation for morality is the revealed will of God, or the commands of God found in Scripture." This view is known as ethical voluntarism.
The content of morality would be arbitrary, dependent on God's whim. Though God has declared murder, theft, and debauchery wrong, it could have been otherwise had God willed it so. Any "immoral" act could suddenly become "moral" by simple fiat.
Further, it reduces God's goodness to His power. To say that God is good simply means that He is capable of enforcing His commands. As Russell put it, "For God Himself there is no difference between right and wrong." There is no outside agency to tell him otherwise. If there were, then God would be subservient to that agency and not Omnipotent. But if there isn’t, then morality is arbitrary. Anything God says is moral, would be moral. He could say that stealing from your neighbor is moral and who could say otherwise?
I find this sentence really strange: “The idea that an omnipotent and benevolent God would never let us suffer at all is ludicrous - especially when even He, being perfect, suffers still.” Greyknight claims that God suffers. How? In what way does God suffer? Certainly not physically. God is not of the Physical universe. Not mentally? God isn’t plagued with doubt or uncertainty. He’s God and he’s Omnipotent. What could possibly torture God so that he suffers? How does he suffer? How does Greyknight know that God suffers? Can he tell us what he suffers from? A bad back? Sciatica really sucks. I don’t think that’s it. Dementia? He’s pretty old. Does he forget things now? I give up Greyknight. What does God suffer from and how does he actually suffer. He’s God. What kind of earthly problem could cause him to suffer? An all knowing, and all powerful God? Do you have evidence of this suffering? Probably not, because first you’d have to have evidence that God even exists.
Greyknight goes on with this: “We have the answer in the Holy Scriptures.” Of course. And here they come to the rescue.
“Lazarus was dead and gone. Not even modern medicine could have brought him back. And yet, Christ raised him from the dead, healing his body as if he had never died and setting everything right with him.”
According to who? Who is saying that this took place? I didn’t see this. And, nobody that I know saw it. In fact, YOU Greyknight, you didn’t see it. Assuming that a miracle is a favorable change in the natural order, then a miracle is a disturbance or interruption in the expected and established course of things. This could be the sun rising in the west, to a dog playing a violin concerto. OK…free will also involves decision. If you seem to witness such a thing, there are two possibilities. The first is that the laws of nature have been suspended (in your favor). The second is that you are under a misapprehension, or suffering from a delusion or a hallucination. So, the likelihood of the second MUST be weighed against the likelihood of the first.
If you only hear a report of the miracle from a second or third source, the odds must be adjusted accordingly before you can decide to credit a witness who claims to have seen something that you did not see. And if you are separated from the “sighting” by many generations, and have no independent corroboration, the odds must be adjusted still more drastically. At that point we might consider Ockham warning us not to multiply unnecessary contingencies. There is nothing to corroborate the Miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead. It’s in the Bible. And what supports that story or any story in the Bible for that matter? What proves the Bible, because it is saying that it is the inspired word of God. According to who? What is that claim based on? Does God say this? Where in the Bible does God say that the Bible is his word? Obviously nowhere because the Bible hadn’t been written yet. So we have a collection of scriptures that claim that they are from God himself. Why should I believe them? Why should I invest my entire life into this claim coming from ancients that have no way of corroborating anything that they are saying? I’m not convinced by this. I’m not convinced that the God of the Bible has demonstrated anything besides his absolute craving for blood. He demands a blood sacrifice throughout the Old Testament. Today we have laws against animal sacrifice in the name of religion, and rightly call it animal cruelty. We have laws against human sacrifice in the name of religion, and rightly call It murder.
But when God wants it done….it’s ok. It’s God and that makes it morally good.
Greyknight says this: “Just as the Lord caused Lazarus to rise from the dead, that girl who is raped will be made whole in the Lord, who will not only treat her wounds, but remove her scars as well.”
Maybe he should tell that to the girl. And if she’s not only raped but murdered, maybe he’ll raise her from the dead. And of course this would be the justification of making a woman that was raped and made pregnant to carry that child of the rapist. Because it’s not enough that she be violated in this way….no she must now have the rapist baby because Greyknight and a whole lot of others believe that its morally just to make her have this baby instead of aborting it. She must carry the burden of the crime that victimized her…because these people’s religious views might otherwise be offended. They were not the ones raped and carrying the product of that crime against her person. Their religious views be damned. They have no authority here.
He offers more of the same: “For all of their conjecture and argument, the atheists of the world cannot bring such salvation for those who have suffered unjustly - just as they cannot construct any ideology sufficient to keep humans from committing such wrongs against each other in the future.”
Atheists do not make the claim of bringing about salvation for those who have suffered unjustly. Most of them work toward improving justice because they prefer truth to dogma. They don’t make false claims about salvation. That’s done by Christians like yourself. They aren’t attempting to construct an ideology to keep humans from committing wrongs against each other, primarily because they don’t believe in Ideologies or hadn’t you noticed? Religions are ideologies, and atheists do not subscribe to them. They reject dogmatism. And IF Christians believe that they have constructed an ideology sufficient to keep humans from committing such wrongs against each other in the future, it seems that they have failed on that front. So far in over 2.000 years they haven’t succeeded in that goal. If that’s the intent, it hasn’t worked.
And finally: “No atheist ideology is sufficient to make men moral or help them to achieve any higher purpose - just as no atheist ideology is sufficient to save us from our sins or our circumstances.”
On that front you are correct, because there is no “atheist ideology”. There is no such thing. Which is fitting that it’s the last thing on your Hub, since the final stroke is the one that undermines the entire essay. There is no atheist ideology. It isn’t an ideology to begin with. There is no doctrine. No Canon. It’s a non-belief in Gods. They have the same view on Santa Clause and the tooth fairy. The non-belief in Santa or the Tooth Fairy does not produce an ideology. There is no doctrine to follow. No dogma. No meetings of fellow non-believers plotting to undermine the influence of Santa or the Tooth Fairy.
What you’ve managed to demonstrate with your Hub is how very little you know or understand about atheism. Because you aren’t experienced with atheism you only have your theism as a reference point. You can’t understand what it is to NOT believe in this stuff. Whereas most atheists come from religious backgrounds which they left behind a long time ago. They’re very familiar with religion, and the Bible and can point to verse when needed. But what I find really obnoxious, and odious is anybody telling people what they believe. It’s easy to tell somebody like this what he believes because it’s all written down a book that he defends. There is no book of atheism. Therefore telling an atheist what he believes when belief is not part of the atheist way of seeing things shows very little understanding of the thing you criticize.
So…I feel, fulfilled in knowing that I have met my purpose in life and have now found meaning to my existence. I’ve debunked another essay filled with misinformation and ignorance.
Have a “blessed” day.