Monday, 30 May 2011

Listen carefully!

I just want to write briefly on two issues that I find so many atheists are unwilling or unable to understand.

The first has to do with the grounding of morality.  The argument is quite simple: if there is no God then there are no objective moral standards or obligatory moral duties, yet we know that there are moral standards and duties that are objective and obligatory, therefore, logically, God exists. 

It seems that so many atheists hear that argument through some kind of filter so that when it reaches their ears it says this: atheists don't believe that anything is evil, an atheist can't know good from evil, you have to be a Christian to be a good person, atheists support torturing children etc.  And they (obviously) get upset - they would have good reason to get upset if such assertions were being made. 

The argument is not that atheists don't believe anything is evil, rather the point is that atheists know certain things are evil, but their worldview can't provide a foundation for that knowledge.  The argument is that on atheism evil is just a label we have invented to describe behaviour we don't like - there is no transcendent standard that people are falling short of, and no transcendent law that people are breaking.  Someone who chooses to act in a way we describe as evil just doesn't buy in to our definition and doesn't feel bound by our tastes, but such a person, on an atheistic worldview, is not obligated to act in a certain way.  The righteous, personal God of Scripture is the only adequate grounding for objective moral standards and obligatory moral duties.

The second issue that many atheists get confused on is to do with the resurrection.  The argument is made that the disciples were willing to die for their belief that they had met the risen Christ, and this shows they were not lying - people don't die for what they know to be false.

Now when this argument reaches the ears of many atheists it has again been altered to say this: the disciples died for their belief in the resurrection, therefore the resurrection is a fact.  They then point to suicide bombers and all sorts of other people prepared to die for their beliefs, and they tell us that dying for your beliefs obviously doesn't mean your beliefs are true.  But of course the Christian never said it does.  The point was not that their martyrdom showed they were right, but rather that their martyrdom showed that they sincerely believed they were right.  The disciples weren't making this up - they weren't engaged in some conspiracy.  They truly believed they had seen the Lord risen from the dead.  Now the non-Christian has to come up with some explanation for this other that the one they gave, and the reality is there is none that can stand against the facts and common sense.  All the old alternative theories are dead, and there's not going to be a resurrection of them!

So this is an appeal to atheists, and to everyone - please listen to the argument of your opponent.  Nothing is to be gained from answering an argument no one is making, and the reality is much can be lost by not addressing the arguments - there are huge, eternal issues at stake.