Monday, 11 April 2011

The bluster of the angry atheist

I want to tell you about another couple of things from my encounter with the not very tolerant atheist.

The angry atheist's mum was also in on the conversation. She would also be worthy of the name, "angry atheist" but compared to her son she was a delight to deal with. She said she was against abortion, but believed people should have the right to choose. I told her I was delighted she was against abortion, but why? She told me she didn't think it was right to take human life. I tried to show her what she was saying, she wouldn't take human life but she believes others should be free to do it if they want! I asked her what was the difference between saying that and saying, "I wouldn't kill my toddler but I think others should be free to do that if they want!" or, "I wouldn't own a slave but I think others should be free to own one if they want!" Her answer? None!  I asked her, as an atheist, what is wrong with taking life?  She said, "That would be against the law!" I told her that laws are just an expression of power and can be changed at will, but we recognise that there are actions that are wrong no matter what the law says. How can this be if there is no transcendent standard?

At this stage the angry atheist asserted that morality is a product of our brains and this has been scientifically proven!  I told him that this assertion was not and could not be true.  He shouted at me that he was not asserting it, it had been scientifically proven!  He didn't tell me where or how - I suppose he wanted me to take it on faith!!!  The fact is he was making it up!  There are no cells, chemicals, physical sensations, or genes that are marked "Good" or "Evil".  Good and Evil are immaterial concepts that we assign to certain behaviours.  There is no science that can say we should not do this and we should do that.  Science tells us what is, not what ought to be.

I asked why actions like rape and murder are evil.  I was told it wasn't helpful for the progress of humanity.  I tried to point out a couple of things here: first, how could and why should molecules have a goal towards which they progress, and why is that morally good?  Why should anyone want to contribute to the progress of a collection of molecules that are doomed for oblivion?  Second, I pointed out that this is the poverty of atheism's "morality", the rape and murder of a child is only wrong because it isn't helpful for the rest of us!  It's nothing to do with the intrinsic value of a human being, it's just not helpful!  I said that this is not being honest with our deepest moral intuitions.  We know such actions are moral abominations, but only the Christian can adequately ground and account for such knowledge.

The angry atheist then repeated Dawkins' line - "So you're saying if there was no God you would go out and rape and murder?"  I told him that, like Dawkins, he was completely missing the point.  I was not saying if there was no God I would rape and murder, the point is, if there's no God then there's nothing wrong with rape and murder, in fact there's nothing wrong!  We are all here in this globe with no one above us, nothing beyond us, no one to answer to, no laws to keep except ones we make up - we can do what we like.  If we don't want to murder and rape, fair enough, but if some do then it's not right or wrong, it just is!  If the atheist tells the rapist or murderer that his behaviour is evil he can respond with the classic playground retort, "Oh yeah?  Says who?!"

God has written the demands of His law on our hearts so that we know such things are wrong, and what's more, we know that we have done wrong.  Thank God for the Gospel, thank God for the cross - there is salvation available in Christ.