Atheism: A Worldview Sustained on Borrowed Capital

At the root of atheism is the understanding that every created thing came into existence through a process of evolution. At one time there was nothing, then there was something, and then through random-chance processes over billions of years, organic life came into existence and through mutation eventually evolved into the human species. Now, this is just a cursory description of the atheistic worldview, but it captures the essence of it. There is no ‘Creator’ or ‘Architect’ or any kind of supernatural being that brought all of these elements together to form the cosmos and life, as we know it. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to why we are here at all.

What is a worldview? Well, a worldview is how one views the world. Pretty simple. We all have one. Everyone looks at the world through a particular lens that has been cut and shaped through one’s upbringing, experiences, education, etc., in which one arrives to a set of beliefs and operates by them. However, if we believe that absolute truth exists, which the Christian position in fact asserts (John 14:6), then there can only be one correct worldview. Ultimately, all arguments revolving around anything of difference is all about worldviews. However, the sensical worldview is the one that is coherent and consistent, having the ability to support itself without the need for outside help. It can stand firmly by itself.

I think Ravi Zacharias’ four-fold test for a coherent worldview rightly establishes the foundation for any proposed worldview: Origin, Meaning, Morality, and Destiny. Where did we come from? (origins) Why are we here? (meaning) What’s right and what’s wrong? (morality) Where are we going? (destiny).[1] Now, because he is a Christian, the atheist or any other non-Christian might object because a Christian is setting the standard for coherency and consistency—it sounds circular. Granted, a non-Christian could make that argument; however, I have to ask what other points of reference in understanding humanity and its existence is there to frame one’s perspective of the world ? I have yet to see other criteria that matter more than these when it comes to defining the human existence.

Because I firmly believe the Christian position to be the most coherent and consistent, any other worldview that has to borrow from the Christian worldview in order to support itself fails. If the atheistic worldview is stable, we should not see any borrowing from the Christian foundation. However, my position is that all non-Christian worldviews have to borrow because they realize their views are bankrupt as they stand and need capital from the Christian bank account to survive.

So, to demonstrate this, I am going to use one of the four-fold points—morality—as my test-point as I review a recent blog post from an atheist blogger (godlessmom.com). In this post, she reviews and attempts to refute an article from James Anderson, Christian professor at Reformed Theological Seminary who made an analogy between software and human behavior to make a case against atheism. I am not going to go through all of her talking points in her demonstration of why the analogy was flawed; rather, I want to look at her presuppositions as she makes some of her arguments, demonstrating her need to borrow capital from the Christian worldview in order to support her view.[2] I see this as one who is sitting on God’s lap trying to slap him in the face.

The beginning of her blog response is attributed to clearing up misunderstandings that theists have of atheism. On the positive end, I think that is good and helpful. The last thing I would want is someone to misrepresent me, stating perspectives that I don’t hold to. So her doing that is helpful for the sake of respectful and healthy dialogue between the atheist and Christian communities.

Her first point I want look at where she is clearly borrowing capital from a Christian worldview is in her response regarding homosexuality. The Christian professor stated,

Both religion and homosexuality are common traits in human society (although the   first is vastly more common than the second, and, it must be said, the prevalence of homosexuality is often overstated). Yet atheists typically view religion as a bad thing and homosexuality as a good thing—or, at least, as not a bad thing.[3]

Her response affirms the point regarding homosexuality, but it is her statements against religion that show her thievery. She writes,

Most atheists see nothing wrong with homosexuality. This is true in my experience. However, the reason for that is not because homosexuality is “common”. It’s because there is no harm done by it, so disliking same-sex love in any fashion is a waste of time and energy. Yes, religion is common, perhaps more so than homosexuality (I would have to see numbers on that), but the consequences of religion now and throughout history have been immense, unending and abhorrent (italics mine).

In the italicized portion, she makes an objective statement positing what is abhorrent. My question is, how does she even have a foundation to stand on to make such claims? Before working through her statement, lets look at all of her comments regarding morality. And what you will see is how bankrupt her position is, which can only be supported by borrowing from the Christian worldview.

In the beginning of her post she stated, “Atheists don’t believe in a supreme programmer [she is responding to a computer software analogy]. . . . Atheists do not believe we have an author-given purpose to fulfill. . . . Human behaviour is, however, consequential and inconsequential in relation to our survival and the well-being of others in our species.” After her remark about abhorrent consequences of religion, she goes on to say, “Atheists judge what human behaviours are good and bad by their consequences, not by how common the behaviour is.”

Next, she responds to Professor Anderson’s comment, “atheists treat religion as a ‘bug’ but homosexuality as a ‘feature’.”

She says,

No, Professor, we do not! We don’t treat any human behaviour as a ‘bug’ nor any human traits as a “feature” because we don’t believe we have been written to have an ultimate purpose by some bearded celestial programmer.

We do, on the other hand, see some human behaviours as harmful and others with little to no negative consequence. If something hurts people more often than not, either physically or by stripping them of human rights, it’s pretty obvious that thing is not so great (italics mine).

Professor Anderson says, “But the oddity is this: for the atheist both traits are understood to be products, or at least byproducts, of evolution. If the two traits are equally the result of undirected natural evolutionary processes, why treat one as a bad result and the other as a good result?”

She responds, saying “Because one causes harm, while the other does not. Once again, most atheists base what they believe to be good and what they believe to be bad, on the consequences, not how ‘natural’ it is (italics mine).”

Later on she restates this point: “Once again, good behaviours can be spotted by their good consequences. Bad behaviours can be identified by their bad consequences.”

And then her second-to-last response truly shows the folly and absurdity of her worldview. Professor Anderson says, “For the serious atheist nothing in the universe—and therefore nothing in human society—can be literally ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ There are neither bugs nor features in an evolutionary naturalist universe, since both concepts presuppose an underlying design or intention behind the universe.”

She responds with,

Yay! Now you have it! Now you understand that in the grand scheme of things (including all the billions of light years of space out there) what we do means nothing. It is neither good nor bad. However, that doesn’t change the fact that to our species, our planet and the other life we share it with, there is necessity to see things as good and bad. While the Universe does not care what we do each day, our neighbours certainly do. Assessing the consequences of our actions prior to committing them, is a mechanism of survival and makes living here on Earth a helluva lot more pleasant. That’s why judging what behaviours are good and which are bad is best done by considering the consequences.

Keeping this last comment from above in mind, “. . . what we do means nothing. It is neither good nor bad,” let’s look back at the first comment, regarding the abhorrence of religion. Again, she said, “. . . but the consequences of religion now and throughout history have been immense, unending and abhorrent.” So, what foundation can she stand on to make such claims? After all, according to her worldview, what religion does in this world means nothing. It is neither good nor bad, right? But she wants to impose a standard of morality classifying the consequences of religion to be abhorrent. First, she needs to back up her claim historically to adjudicate her position, not just assertions with emotional adjectives attached to it. And in looking at some of her later statements, she ultimately sets up a straw man, mixing in religious atrocities of the past made by non-Christian religions.

She states, “Human behaviour is, however, consequential and inconsequential in relation to our survival and the well-being of others in our species.” Ok, so she wants to discuss terms of effect, but either effect from one’s actions have no objective bearing. Instead, she imposes her standard as it pertains to well-being and survival. Well, whose well-being are you talking about? Whose survival? I think the argument could be made that if we as a society eradicate all non-tax payers who leach off the government of which we tax payers put money into, it would benefit our survival and our well-being, would it not? If she is going to be consistent, she should have no objection if I put together a militia to seek and wipe out all non-taxpayers. If she objects, then she is not being consistent. If she wants to say religion is abhorrent for its consequences, which usually means those of a religion killing or ostracizing those who don’t hold to that view, then she would have to look at any other movement that does the same, in this case a movement to slaughter non-taxpayers because they don’t conform to the laws of the society, as being abhorrent.

I don’t want to put words in her mouth; however, most of the objections regarding religion usually revolve around the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition (She does mention slavery toward the end of her post; however, her ignorance is obvious, for she has no understanding of what orthodox Christianity is, mixing in Roman Catholic teaching and errors and Mormon doctrine and errors). Ultimately, the objections arise from ignorance of Scripture and history.[4] Which is at fault, those who abuse and twist Scripture to support their actions or the Scripture? Scripture hasn’t changed; man is the one who perverts the meaning, so address those who fail to interpret Scripture as the author(s)’ of the Bible intended to communicate.

She states, “Atheists judge what human behaviours are good and bad by their consequences, not by how common the behaviour is.” How can atheists determine such a thing? What is a good or bad consequence? If I steal millions of dollars, putting many folks in bankruptcy, so I can move to a remote island and have the house and living situation I always dreamed of, is the consequence of my actions good or bad? If there is no universal, governing standard, then how can she say it is bad or good? Again, if I felt it was right for my well-being, in order for her to be consistent, she could not say what I did was bad or immoral. Actually, she really could not say it was good or bad because according to atheism, nothing has meaning.

She states, “We do, on the other hand, see some human behaviours as harmful and others with little to no negative consequence. If something hurts people more often than not, either physically or by stripping them of human rights, it’s pretty obvious that thing is not so great.” This goes with my objection above. Why does it matter if something hurts people more often than not? Why do humans have rights? No, she can’t say it is pretty obvious that thing is not so great according to your worldview, its only obvious from a Christian worldview. Man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27-28), with a unique dignity, which is to be upheld and recognized in all generations by a universal law of morality. If I hold to an atheistic worldview, why should I let someone else’s rights infringe on my rights if it benefits my well-being or quality of life to take away those rights? She is speaking non-sense. She has no foundation other than her opinion to make such a claim.

And then looking at her second-to-last response to professor Anderson, we see that her arbitrary ethical stance is inconsistent, utterly bankrupting her entire position (I will re-post her portions in bold and interact with them in [ ] ):

Now you understand that in the grand scheme of things . . . what we do means nothing. It is neither good nor bad.

[What grand scheme is she referring to? When one uses the idiom in the grand scheme of things, one is appropriating purpose. So, while she is saying there is no purpose, she is claiming that the purpose is that there is no purpose. In looking at the phrase the scheme of things, which is the root of the idiom she used, the Cambridge dictionary online defines it to mean, “the way things are organized or happen in a particular situation, or the way someone wants them to be organized.”[5] Her argument fails because she is stating a purpose to a purposeless purpose, which is rooted in her arbitrariness. It’s circular.]

However, that doesn’t change the fact that to our species, our planet and the other life we share it with, there is necessity to see things as good and bad.

[All other animals besides humans don’t see it that way; survival of the fittest, natural selection, etc. Humans are part of that, right? What is this about sharing in a dog-eat-dog world? That is the harsh truth about an evolutionary worldview. Now she thinks she can throw in a however, when she has just claimed what we do means nothing. It is neither good nor bad. This is her inserting her own subjective standard, making it the objective, governing ethical standard. Again, she is making a determination based on some sort of necessity to a purposeless, non-moral existence to see things as good and bad all for a purpose that doesn’t exist. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But where does this baseless standard for seeing things as good or bad come from? Behaviors and consequences? Well, again, who is she to make a judgment call on my behavior calling it good or bad, if I do something that benefits me, but ends up being not so beneficial (she must define beneficial too) for others? She really can’t impose anything. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things, nothing matters! She can say what she wants, but in the end, if I have one shot at this life, then I am going to do what I darn well please. Do you see her thievery? She has no foundation to make a valid argument. She has no ground to make any sort of “ought-to” statements. If she does, according to her worldview, then it is just her opinion—I am not bound to her opinion. However, she is bound to the Christian moral position, the one that isn’t really there, but by necessity we must live by it. Her view must steal to survive.]

While the Universe does not care what we do each day, our neighbours certainly do.

[According to a Darwinian, naturalistic worldview—her worldview—there is only matter; humans are just bags of protoplasm, with neurons firing off in the brain and thousands of chemical reactions going on all throughout it. According to her worldview, the Universe and humanity are all in the same category. She wants to use the word care, but really there is no good or bad, so care is a word that cannot be rightfully applied in her worldview. If humans are just another element of the matter in the entire universe, then humans, like the universe really don’t care about what we do everyday. How can she say otherwise? She wants to operate with a system of morality that is not consistent in an atheistic worldview; she must steal from the Christian worldview to survive.]

Assessing the consequences of our actions prior to committing them, is a mechanism of survival and makes living here on Earth a helluva lot more pleasant. That’s why judging what behaviours are good and which are bad is best done by considering the consequences.

[I don’t want to waste space saying the same thing over and over, but do you see the inconsistency? What is the standard to judge the consequences of one’s behaviors? If a husband and wife made the assessment that executing their three children would make their life a helluva lot more pleasant, would their actions be considered an example of bad or good behavior? She can’t make an objective statement because nothing is objectively moral or immoral in an atheistic worldview. All she has is her opinion; why should we listen to her? ]

 

Conclusion

In her closing remarks, she says, “The Biblical worldview offers no consistency on any topic.” I think she needs to take a closer look at her worldview; it is the biblical worldview that she lives in but fails to recognize the One who created it.

In my introduction, I spoke of the four-fold test (origin, meaning, morality, destiny) to gauge the consistency and coherency of a proposed worldview. I used one point, morality, to apply to the atheistic worldview, in the efforts to see if atheism can be consistent, holding a view of morality that is consistent with its foundational presuppositions. I contended that atheism couldn’t stand on its own; rather, it must borrow capital from the Christian worldview to survive. I believe my representation of her comments and contexts were accurate, which ultimately reveals the folly of her worldview.

It is clear that atheism is a thief; it takes without even realizing that it does. It’s the blind survival mechanism of atheism (pun intended). The apostle Paul spoke of those who live in such a way. He writes, “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Atheists, like the rest of mankind, suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness, rejecting what God has plainly showed them in creation. They claim to be wise but are fools, for they failed to honor God, becoming “futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” They are without excuse (Romans 1:18-23).

The Bible says, “the fool in his heart says there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). One cannot truly become wise unless one recognizes who the only Wise one is (Proverbs 1:7). And this understanding and knowledge is available to those who are humble and have a contrite spirit, who see their sinful condition, and recognize their need for a Savior. If a person believes that Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave, and confesses it with his mouth, he shall be saved (Romans 10:8-9).
—-Romans 11:36

_________________________________

[1] “ASK Group Leader Introduction | RZIM.”

[2] I hesitantly put the link to her blog, with the warning that there are some crude and inappropriate terms on her site. But I want to ensure that I am not misrepresenting her. http://godlessmom.com/an-analogy-so-bad-youll-feel-like-youre-taking-crazy-pills/

[3] “http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/bugs-features-and-atheism”

[4] She commits the fallacy of hasty generalization, which in this case, she is making a conclusion by lumping all religions together and making a judgment call against Christianity.

[5] http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/the-scheme-of-things

Why Don’t We Eat Humans?

I know that may sound like a no-brainer, but, seriously. . . Why don’t we eat humans?

When I try to imagine eating human flesh, I start to get this gag-reflex-thing going on in my throat—It’s awful.

I remember seeing this movie in the 90s called Alive, which was a story about a South American soccer team whose plane crashed into the Andes mountains in 1972. Well, to survive they ended up eating the flesh of some of their dead soccer mates. I know—sick. But they had to do it to survive.

What does the name Hannibal Lector make you think about? Do you want some fava beans with that?

Anyway. In a recent pod-cast episode of Unbelievable, the host had a Christian apologist and an atheist in the studio to discuss the existence of God. The Christian is a lawyer from Texas, and I think the atheist was an Aussie or a Brit . . . I don’t recall. At one point, the topic of morality came up. Now, I don’t remember exactly what was being said. I just remember the part when the Christian lobbed a grenade-shaped question on the atheist in mid-speech, saying, “So, why don’t we eat humans?”

It stopped the atheist dead in his tracks. It was not a long stop, but it threw him off. “What do you mean, ‘why don’t we eat humans?'” he said. And then he continued, saying we don’t need to because we have pigs and cattle and what not. He said a few other things, but you could tell he was not ready for that one.

The Christian responded and said (paraphrasing), “With all those people who are hungry all over the world, why are they not eating the dead? What a waste of good protein. We donate our organs to science, why not donate our bodies to feed the hungry.”

It was really funny listening to this atheist trying to recover. He just said a few words and tried to brush it under the rug and proceed on with his other arguments.

But, the Christian’s point was in regards to our human dignity. He asked the atheist what makes us more dignified than other creatures, and the atheist said it was our intelligence. I don’t think he had fully recovered from the grenade yet because his knee-jerk response just opened the door to a litany of objections that quickly buried him.

I am sure you can think of a few yourself.

So, this is where I will end with their debate.

The answer, however, still needs more ‘flesh’ on it (pun intended :)).

Where do we get our dignity?

Lets define dignity. One dictionary says, dignity means, “Inherent nobility and worth.”(1) And specifically regarding human dignity, “a being has an innate right to be valued and receive ethical treatment.”(2)

Robert P. Kraynak , in his essay from the Presidents Council on Bioethics, says, “When we speak about ‘human dignity’ or ‘the dignity of man,’ we usually mean the special moral status of human beings in the natural universe as well as the respect due to individual humans because of their essential humanity.”(3)

In looking at the first definition, I have to ask what gives humans this inherent and innate right to such a status? Is it what society says? The government? Or, is it just on an individual basis?

Kraynak’s definition (I don’t mean to imply it is his) tries to mash aspects of two conflicting worldviews together—special moral status and natural universe. Morality cannot be accounted for in a naturalistic worldview (I don’t believe he is meaning naturalistic per se, but this fits the secular mold, which is that of a naturalistic worldview).

But, just read the definition again…. Why should humans get special respect because of their essential humanity? When it comes to a materialist, Darwinian worldview, the concept of innate self-worth or inherent value has no place in such a way of life. It can’t be accounted for. All the atheist can say, though he will try decorate it with big words, “it is because it is,” but that is arbitrary (see my pastor and good friend Stephen Feinstein’s blog post of such a conversation we had with an atheist). There is an elephant in the room that the naturalist doesn’t see.

Getting back to the definitions. What is obvious about these statements is that worth can only be placed on something by another. Regardless of using adjectives such as special, innate, or essential, humans have a value that supersedes any other material object. Furthermore, in understanding how worth and value are placed on something, we can deduce that there is something, rather someone that gives humans this value. Value and worth is something only persons understand and can give. One has to have a personal, relational, cognitive mind to recognize worth and to attribute it to something.

However, if humans give humans value, then humans can take away that value. That is what we are truly left with, if we are merely nothing more than mud and molecules.

And we have seen humans commit plenty of horrific and atrocious acts to other humans, devaluing and demoralizing them, treating them like animals (i.e., human trafficking, slavery, rape, etc.). We say like animals because there is a vast difference between humans and animals, and while there are those who on the surface think otherwise (like naturalists), they don’t truly live their life that way, holding moral convictions that reflect such an ideology.

So why do humans have inherent dignity?

Because God made man in his image after his likeness (Gen. 1:26).

The only way to account for a universal, intrinsic moral worth is because One who is eternally and infinitely moral, The Moral Lawgiver, made mankind to have such a value.

That is why we don’t eat humans.

(And no, its not because we can get the Kuru disease if we do. That is not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about it).

—Romans 11:36
_________________________
1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dignity (accessed, 1/2/2014)
2.http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/human+dignity (accessed, 1/2/2014)
3.https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/reports/human_dignity/chapter4.html (accessed, 1/2/2014).

Newsweek on the Bible — Only if the Straw Man Had a Brain

In the most recent edition of Newsweek, author Kurt Eichenwald in the cover story piece titled: ‘The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,’ demonstrates how much he truly misunderstands it.

NewsweekCover

His work is quite disparaging to orthodox Christianity. The author presents his positions on what he says to be sound scholarship, which is nothing more than lackluster assertions and conjecture with no real interaction with original sources—historical, systematic, or biblical—nor any other sound sources, truly representative of the faith. It’s nothing more than a Liberal fundamentalist presenting a ‘Straw-Man’ view of orthodox Christianity. And because it is on the cover of Newsweek, it will be read by many and taken as ‘Scripture,’ in what it reports regarding the Bible and historical Christianity.

What is ultimately frustrating is that due to the lack of biblical literacy and a well-rooted understanding of church history in ‘American’ Christianity, this piece will leave many at a loss for words, as the sound of crickets becomes too overwhelming for them to even think of a response. And even those who are strong believers will be needing to up their game in order to respond as well to these arguments and critiques against Christianity that have been buried long ago by godly men of the faith, only to be resurrected again by the power of ignorance and shoddy journalism.

With that said,  I encourage all of you who truly stand firm on the foundation of Scripture as your only authority and guide in all things pertaining to truth to listen to Dr. James R. White address, critique, refute, and correct this article, word-by-word, as well as challenging the author to call in and defend this garbage he calls journalism.

You can download the first segment of this series here:

The Dividing Line (December 23, 2014): http://www.aomin.org/podcasts/20141223.mp3

It will be a multi-segment webcast program, so be sure to sign up for the podcast or tune in on the internet to watch and/or stream live.

Romans 11:36