Sunday, April 6, 2014

As we Think, so too Do we Live: The Case of Atheism

The way we think determines how we feel and respond to the world. A woman was convinced that the man at her door was a thief until she found out that he was the postman delivering a long-awaited package. When her thinking about him changed, so too did her feelings and her behaviors, and she happily greeted him.

This principle also pertains to our philosophical worldview thinking. If we believe that humans are just another animal, it is inevitable that this will color how we feel and treat the members of our species. Regarding the connection between our ideas and our behavior, evolutionist Karl Giberson, in Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, wrote:

  • [Evolutionist] Ernst Haeckel nudged the racism of the Third Reich along its malignant road by suggesting that the various human races were like stages in the embryonic development of the fetus…”You must draw [a line] between the most highly developed civilized people on the one hand and the crudest primitive people on the other and unite the latter with animals.” (76)
  • How shocking it is today to acknowledge that virtually every educated person in the Western culture at the time …shared Haeckel’s ideas. Countless atrocities around the globe were rationalized by the belief that superior races were improving the planet by exterminating defective elements…there can be little doubt that such viewpoints muted voices that would otherwise have been raised in protest.

Meanwhile, many are singing the laurels of secularism, claiming that its denial of all transcendent moral truth has created a better world. I try to remind them of the unmitigated horrors of the secular-atheistic-communistic experiments. Characteristically, they respond:

  • Secular atheism is merely the denial of any sky-daddy. It therefore has no impact on morality.

However, this denial has had broad philosophical implications, especially in the area of morality and the one hundred million exterminated under atheism. In fact, there isn’t even one example of a communist state which didn’t have an appalling human rights record. Why? Perhaps these communistic states where merely acting out their philosophical baggage. Here are some examples of philosophies that are almost inseparable from atheism and their moral failures:

Atheists are almost invariably evolutionists, and they require a creationism substitute  - the one that evolution provides. Rather than positing a sharp distinction between the human and animal world, the evolutionist sees a continuum which denies any meaningful man-animal distinction. Historically, blurring this distinction has had a profound effect on our treatment of humanity. Those who have been considered more evolved have received better treatment. Those considered less evolved have been treated more like the rest of the animal kingdom. Besides, if we are all animals, there no longer exists a rationale to oppose treating us as animals.

Atheists are invariably secular humanists. Consequently, there is nothing higher than human cognition, and so there is no higher transcendent truth to which to defer. Morality, therefore, is strictly a matter of human creation. As such, it changes and is relative to our culture. Because of this, it is hard to take our moral determinations very seriously. After all, they will simply change tomorrow. Why not get ahead of the changing fashions and create our own personal morality according to our own desires! This was exactly the tact of serial killer Ted Bundy:

  • Then I learned that all moral judgments are “value judgments,” that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’…I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable value judgment that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these ‘others?’ Other human beings with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more to you than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as ‘moral’ or ‘good’ and others as ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me – after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self. (Christian Research Journal, Vol 33, No 2, 2010, 32)

Although, the Maos, Stalins, and Pol Pots didn’t justify their moral innovations in terms of their personal pleasures, the absence of any higher moral truth similarly gave them the freedom to morally innovate.

Without any transcendent and absolute moral law, moral relativism becomes the default. Since moral law doesn’t exist, we create our own pragmatic set of morals. Consequently, the supposed ends will always justify the means – the most horrible human atrocities. Lenin had been asked, “What is the good and the bad under atheistic communism?” His answer reflected the thinking of other communists:

  • Whatever promotes the Revolution is what is good; whatever interferes with it, that is what is bad.

Such pragmatic, non-moral-law thinking can be used to justify any moral atrocity and was routinely used in this way.

Atheists are materialists and deny the existence of anything outside of matter and energy. Consequently, humans are no more than complex bio-chemical machines. What then do we do with machines that don’t behave in ways we regard as useful? We either change them or destroy them, perhaps for their parts. Humans then become expendable in favor of the “higher good.”

In addition to this problem, materialists can find no basis for freewill if everything occurs according to physical laws. Consequently, our thinking and choosing is merely the product of prior bio-chemical reactions. This means that we are not morally accountable. One atheist friend confessed to me that he found this understanding very liberating, freeing him from feelings of guilt. However, we have been equipped with such feelings because they are socially necessary. Once dulled, we are free to act in immoral ways.

Atheists are also naturalists. This means that we are the product of chance and natural processes rather than of purpose and design. Consequently, the naturalist is not accountable to a Creator. He owes no allegiance to anyone, just to his own welfare.

Of course, the naturalist will protest:

  • I feel grateful for my family and for my fellow human beings. I therefore feel that I am accountable to them. I don’t need God to be moral.

While many atheists might be sincere about their feelings, feelings and intuitions are not enough as the communist experiments have proven. We also have very negative feelings and even our wholesome feelings are subject to change. In light of this, we also require a mental rationale – a transcendent moral-law rationale – to decide among our competing feelings.

Atheism has big pockets, and these contain its many philosophical children, all of which undermine morality in any objective sense. However, most atheists distance themselves from communism in favor of some form of socialism, pointing approvingly to the successful secular Northern European nations.

There are a number of problems with these examples. Besides the fact that their fruits are beginning to sour, they certainly don’t reflect anything like the full-blown secularism of the communist nations where secularism has been militantly enforced, where pastors and priests had either been exterminated or sent away for “re-education.” Therefore, Northern Europe retains many vestiges of their Christian culture – the culture that had once made the West great.

No comments:

Post a Comment