Friday, 26 August 2011

Without a leg to stand on, part three

There was one other subject under discussion in my recent conversation with the man who described himself as a "total atheist".

He asked me how I explained God sitting back doing nothing while there's all this evil in the world, people being oppressed, babies being murdered, etc.  I told him that was a good question, and one that I have addressed, but not one he had a right to ask because on his worldview there is no such thing as objective evil.

He disputed this immediately, as atheists generally do.  This is because atheists cannot live consistently with their profession - they say there is no Judge, no law, no court, no transcendent standard, but they know that there are things that are really evil and nobody should do those things.  It's not that they don't know the difference between good and evil, and it's not that they can't live lives that are generally, relatively good (this is what he, and loads of atheists seem to think we are asserting), but rather they cannot account for the categories on their worldview. 

When you ask an atheist what evil is, they usually give you examples, but what they need to do is give a definition - the question isn't "Tell me something that's evil" but "Tell me what evil is".  The only way we can account for good and evil is if there is a good God who has made us in His image and put His moral demands within us (Romans 2 v 15).  Evil is a moral departure from the way we ought to live.  You can't look at morality in a test tube or hold it in your hand - it is an immaterial, but nevertheless real, thing, and as such it cannot be accounted for on a materialist worldview. 

I asked him why it is wrong to do the things he listed, and he began to tell me about the fact we are a social species, and it's not good for the group if we treat each other that way.  So I pointed out that he was saying the only thing that's wrong with killing children is that it's not helpful to our species!  On his view there's nothing wrong with the act of killing children, it's just that the effect that act has on our group isn't advantageous.  Notice that this is what atheists are left with, "If you want humanity to flourish, then you ought to behave a certain way".  It's like, "If you want to drive a nail into a bit of wood, then you ought to use a hammer."  There's no question of good or evil in either one, it's just a matter of picking a goal (human flourishing / driving a nail) and then seeing how best to accomplish it.

So I kept pushing and asked why the flourishing of humanity is something anyone should care about - after all, he was the one who told me that we are just matter, merely chemicals - we have no intrinsic worth, and according to him the human race is going to be extinct someday anyway.  Why is it objectively good to seek to prosper a particular species for a relatively short space of time, and why would it be evil not to?  If we are just matter, then we don't matter.

My friend then admitted that on his view of the world there is nothing evil, but there are things that are wrong, because evolution has made us a certain way and given us certain instincts, such as kindness and self-sacrifice.  I told him that we have other instincts - selfishness, hatred etc. and if all these instincts are innate, why do we call one set of behaviours right and another wrong, and why is anyone obligated to do what we call right?  What if someone else has a different definition?  Who are you to impose your view? 

He told me that we are obligated to behave in a certain way, and I asked him to whom are we obligated.  His answer?  "To evolution"!  Seriously!  Now I've heard it all!  You reject the God of the Bible, and replace Him with evolution!  I am reminded of the Israelites in the wilderness - they made the golden calf and said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32 v 4). 

How are we obligated to an impersonal process?  Why should I act on some instincts this process has allegedly produced but ignore others?  What about the obligation of the psychopath, paedophile or rapist to act in accord with how evolution has made them?

I really hope all reading this can see how bankrupt atheism and how incapable it is to account for what we know deep down - there is an objective standard, and obligatory law.  This is because there is a God by whom we have been created, to whom we are accountable, and before whom we will stand.  We've fallen short of His standard and broken His law, but He offers forgiveness and salvation through His Son (Romans 3 v 19-28). 

This man I spoke to was definitely more intelligent than me, he had read widely and spoke eloquently, yet it was obvious that when it came to the origin of the universe, the fulfilled prophecies of Scripture, our apprehension of objective moral values and obligations, atheism does not have a leg to stand on.