Most of those reading my site probably noticed my post on “Materialism and the Reality of God” (written over half a year ago). Upon meeting a fellow blogger who happened to be an Atheist named Michael “Dorkman” Scott, I directed him to that as a “counter” to one of his religion posts. This is intended to be a response to a response, so to speak.
Here’s another SS post that I began back at the beginning of the year and which subsequently lay fallow until now. A young man named Ethan posted this comment on my post about the YouTube apologist murder-suicide:
Hello, Mr. Dorkman. I recently happened upon the RvD videos on Youtube and they are very nicely done. Through a chain of events, I found your blog.
I am a Christian, and as such disagree with this. I think you might be interested in my blog post on Materialism. Feel free to check it out and any other parts of the blog if you so desire. Nice to have met you. The link is below:
As you’ll see, I commented on his post at the time and intended to post a response here…and then didn’t. I started writing one but never got the chance to finish.
So here’s me finishing. We have to grant that the original post is over seven months old at this point, and written by quite a young man. It may no longer represent his level of rhetorical skill or, in fact, his actual opinions. But I promised a response and here it is.
I’ve seen too many talented, intelligent, and graced individuals who deny the existence of God to pass up the opportunity to write a refutation to their materialistic viewpoints in hopes of helping them come to the knowledge of God.
Okay then. Let’s hear it.
If Materialism (or any other set of beliefs that claims the nonexistence of the supernatural) is correct and fully able to be proven, then there is no true Right or Wrong in this world, there is no meaning to life, and the entire human race is worthless. How can this be true?
Whoo, that’s a heck of an opener. It’s also complete nonsense. Let’s take it piece by piece.
So first, the issue of right and wrong. Tell me something: hypothetically speaking, if you found out for a fact that God did not exist, would you really abandon your entire sense of right and wrong? Is the belief in a supernatural carrot/stick really the only thing keeping you from raping babies and murdering random strangers?
My point there, while expressed sloppily, is to propose the question, “Where do you get your moral ideas?” Without a God or supernatural being of some sort, you can say “It’s wrong to kill” as much as you like, and yet you don’t have any reason to believe it.
If you genuinely need to believe that there’s a God to keep you from going on a psychotic rampage, then you go right on believing. In fact, I want you to believe twice as much, just so the people around you are safe. But you should know that you’re not actually a good or moral person. A good and moral person does what’s right because it’s right, not because he’s afraid of what will happen if he does wrong.
Also, tell me this: do you really think you get your sense of right and wrong from the Bible? Do you believe that genocide is acceptable? Plagues and famine? Do you condone the enslavement of human beings? Because the Bible says all of those things are hunky-dory with God.
I know that you don’t think these things are okay. In another blog post about the Haiti earthquake, which was happening at the same time that you wrote this initial post, you wrote:
It is worth mentioning that God did not do this. God is not the God of destruction or confusion of any kind.
As you self-identify as a Christian, I can only assume that you believe in the Bible, and this statement flatly contradicts many, many occasions in the Bible, including but not limited to:
- The destruction of the entire world by the Flood
- The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
- The twelve plagues of Egypt
- The destruction of Jericho
- Confusing the languages of the builders of the Tower of Babel
I could go on (I’m not even out of the Pentateuch, here) but I think you get the point. Even within your own mythology, the argument you’re making doesn’t hold up.
And yet you made it, because the idea that your God should be a God of destruction or confusion makes you uncomfortable. The idea that God should be responsible for death and suffering is unacceptable to you, even though it’s acceptable to God. This means that youdo not derive your sense of right and wrong from the decrees of a deity, but from another source: yourself. You are far more moral than the god you claim to follow.
Right and wrong are moving targets — the Aztecs thought human sacrifice was right, even though we know today it is wrong. Hitler thought what he was doing was right but there’s no argument that it was wrong. Right and wrong are subjective and they change over time, but maintain themselves generally within the notion of reciprocity, sometimes called the Golden Rule — I won’t do anything to someone else I wouldn’t want to happen to me.
If there are no gods, then there have never been any gods, and yet we know for a fact that humans do have a sense of right and wrong. In the absence of gods, the only explanation is that we must have come upon it ourselves. The non-existence of Yahweh would not make human morality disappear any more than the non-existence of Zeus made lightning disappear. All that changed was our perception of where it came from.
Just for fun, I’ll also point out that God is not the source of right and wrong even within the Bible. Adam and Eve had to steal the knowledge of right and wrong, and were punished for it. God didn’t give us the knowledge and he got ticked when we attained it.
So that’s right and wrong. I’ll actually address your other two points together — “life is meaningless and the human race is worthless.”
What “meaning” and “worth” is conferred upon life and/or the human race by the existence of a deity? It seems to me that the notion that there’s another, better, longer life after this one only serves to demean this one, causing people to sacrifice their happiness and precious time trying to make sure they’ve reserved their seat.
The notion of an all-powerful being who creates everyone as part of an intricate and incomprehensible “plan” resembles nothing so much as a big game of chess. I notice that you play chess yourself — how much meaning and worth do you give the pieces on the board, outside of their part in the game? Do you “love” the chess pieces? Do you desire a “relationship with” your chess pieces?
It seems to me that life is more meaningful and worth more when we can make our own decisions of what we value, rather than being told what to think, say, and do (“or else!”).
That’s just in general, theism vs. atheism. Let’s talk about Christianity in particular. Christianity devalues human life by saying that no one is worthy of God’s grace. The entire point of Christianity is that human beings are worthless and sinful creatures who God has kindly deigned to love anyway. All the notions of hell and salvation and all of that are predicated on demeaning and devaluing humanity and leaching out all its inherent worth. We are better off without it.
Last point: even if we grant for the sake of argument that these three assertions are correct — there is no right and wrong, life is meaningless and humanity is worthless — that doesn’t make them untrue. “Fact” is not defined as “whatever makes you happiest.” You could just as easily say “If I have not won the lottery, then I am not a millionaire, and I will have to get a job to support myself. How can this be true?”
The truth can be and often is unpleasant. So the notion that the nonexistence of god would be unpleasant — aside from being untrue, as I’ve pointed out here — is not in itself an argument for the existence of god.
This is a huge chunk of information, but I’ll try to cover everything. The first thing you talk about here “the safety of the people around me”. But this begs the question, why is safety important? What is the point in living if there is no God to live for? If what you’re saying is true, then we may as well all commit suicide since nothing we do in this life will be of any use, anyway.
In regards to the Haiti earthquake, you mention a variety of “destructions” in the Bible that seem to say that God caused them, which He did not. In all of the cases you list, the receiver of the destruction has disobeyed God in some form or another (the Flood was a result of everyone living at the time except for Noah having turned from God, Sodom and Gomorrah are well-known for being one of the most wicked cities of the day, Egypt was holding God’s people captive and refusing to heed Moses, who, by God’s command, warned them of coming plagues, Jericho was a city in Cannan, which was also a very godless country, and the Tower of Babel was made as a desire of human power to reach the Heavens and become as great as God). However, that aside, God is never the one who personally destroys human beings; He releases His protection from them and allows Satan to destroy. It is against His nature to stop it because God is just, and, according to the Bible, the wages of sin is death. As for why it was specifically Haiti that got that earthquake, I’m not in a place to say.
How can you really say what’s right and what’s not? Morality and lightning are apples and oranges; scientists have actually discovered the true source of lightning, something we haven’t done with the moral sense we as people are raised with.
The chess comparison: actually your point here, while untrue, is interesting; the difference is that we aren’t chess pieces. If we were all love robots who God controlled and forced to do what He wanted, what would the point in that be? Man was created specially above animals because they can understand and obey their creator at will.
Humans were never originally worthless, sinful creatures. God created them as his sons who were to dominate the earth. Man fell through Adam’s sin and thus we are all born into that bloodline with a nature that wants to sin, which is what the Bible commonly refers to as “the flesh”. Jesus came to earth to die and rise again so we didn’t have to be worthless; that’s the real point of Christianity. There is no such thing as a “sinner saved by grace” because anyone who has been saved by grace is not deemed a sinner any more. This, however, shouldn’t be translated into humanism, which makes a deity out of a person, but it certainly isn’t meant to lower the worth of a human.
I’ll respond to your other comments in another post.