Putting ourselves in the mind of an atheist is hard for most of us. Honestly, have many of us really tried to think how reality might be perceived from the opposite side of the theological spectrum? For me, I began thinking about what life would look like through the paradigm of a non-believer. My mind immediately gravitated towards the notion that the universe would be void of cosmic justice. The idea of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Lenin, and innumerable other evil dictators being morally blameless for their crimes gave me a sense of discomfort. Many atheists make the objection that the Christian God is evil because He called for the extermination of the Canaanites but dismiss the idea of cosmic justice to rectify mass evil when it comes to the evils perpetrated by the wicked dictators over the last century. Obviously, the ponderings about the existence of cosmic justice doesn’t provide us with a conclusion of whether a God truly exists or not. However, this dismissive attitude towards truly evil wrongdoers while being supercritical over their misperceived evil conducted by the Old Testament God is worth noting.
So, if you’re an atheist, you must find a way to reconcile the notion of ‘evil’ in order to live consistently with an atheist worldview. If you truly reject the existence of God, you would have to reject the existence of an objective moral standard that would serve to measure the morality of our actions. For instance, Hitler and Mother Teresa would be morally indifferent because there is no objective standard to measure their actions. If the atheist would develop a standard of morality, it would be a subjective standard that would not be authoritative among humanity. An atheist could judge the moral actions of someone else however they could not judge them on any moral foundation other than the one they’ve personally constructed for themselves. If I was an atheist that would really take the wind out of my sails. Maybe that is why you see a lot of atheists supporting pro-choice and same-sex marriage laws. In a world with no objective moral standard, why would these two behaviors (or any behavior for that matter) be considered immoral?
Humanity is purposeless. You have no value. You’re a meaningless product of a random evolutionary process that initially developed from the spawn of a single-celled organism. The relationships you derive are also meaningless. Everything that you do in this life has no objective value. You’re living day-to-day only to accomplish the goal of mere survival. The simple fact that you’re a human provides you with the advantage of being cognitively advanced, however that provides you with no additional worth than that of bacteria. Humanity and bacteria are equally worthless in the grand scheme of things in this universe. We live on a speck of cosmic dust among hundreds of billions of other galaxies.
Curiously enough, atheists don’t seem to live like they’re meaningless. When they speak, they perpetrate a sense of ‘equality’ when it comes to same-sex marriage and women’s ‘rights’ when it comes to pro-choice matters. The reality is that neither equality nor rights would exist under an atheist worldview. There is no transcendent Being to grant the existence of rights or equality, as these are qualities that are God-given. The illusion of rights and equality would have to be a product of humanity. In this case, since humanity creatively produced them out of nothing, we can logically assume that humanity could take them away just as fast as they brought them into existence. If equality and rights do not have a foundation in anything transcendent, then they are merely subjective.
Atheists would be miserable folks if they lived according to the logical and inescapable conclusions of their atheism. As Christians, we see that meaning, purpose, objective morality, equality, and rights are all products of Christian theism. Without theism, these are convenient delusions that help us live life with the illusion of meaning and purpose and all that goes along with it. In our current culture, it almost seems like being an atheist is cool or that you’re a ‘free-thinker’ if you subscribe to this ideology. Is that a good enough reason to disregard these atheistic implications? Or are atheists merely borrowing from God in order to live a pleasant life while simultaneously denying the existence of Him?
Obviously, these atheistic implications are not arguments for theism. It is merely playing out the logical conclusions of the atheistic worldview. For me, I believe in Christianity because of the cumulative case that can be made for it along with having a personal relationship with Christ that is completely outside of what any argument can provide. If you’re an atheist, the unintuitive nature of atheism should be the first sign on your path towards the inquisitive doubting of your worldview.
Cosmic justice… What a strange concept. Let’s have a look at justice. What would be “just” for Hitler? According to your bible, an eye for an eye, for example? It could probably called justice if Hitler had to live through every life he touched, directly or indirectly. Every jew he killed, every mother that lost her son, every wife that lost her husband, every soldier maimed, etc. – he would spend thousands, probably millions of years living through all of these lives. I think, that’s fair.
But that will come to an end, one day. Hell, on the other hand, is said not to end. It’s torture for eternity. Is this justice? As horrible as Hitlers crimes were, they were finite. It was a really big crime, but not an infinitely big one. You can count the victims. The number is huge, but not infinite. And this is why eternal punishment is not justice. It’s revenge. It’s raging hate, that demands that Hitler gets the worst punishment imaginable. It’s the same feeling that makes you want to bash Hitlers face in, again and again an again. It’s understandable. It’s human. But it’s not justice.
I could now invest much time taking apart the rest of your posting, as many things could be said against it. But I will simply let reality speak for me. Christians commit more crimes. Secular countries and states have less crimes than very religious ones. There are more Christians in prison than atheists (more than their percentage in the population would suggest). Reality shows us, that Christians are no better people than atheists, which leads us to one simple fact: Christian values are as chosen as others and not inherently better than them. Christians only like to claim that they are absolute (and thus implying, that they are better).
And no, you conclusion has nothing to do with logic. It only gives us insight into your soul, let’s us see how YOU would behave and feel if you stopped believing. You have obviously never listened to atheists, because many of them could tell you a quite different story. But, unfortunately, you will probably continue not to listen.
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your criticisms. However, I feel that most of your criticisms are misplaced and unrelated to the topic at hand. A majority of your criticisms are concerning the Christian doctrine of hell, which I’m not expounding within this post. Nor am I making the claim within this article that Christians are better behaved than atheists. Regardless of whether or not you intended to do so or not, these criticisms are red-herrings that are distracting from the content of the article.
You make the claim that my article ‘has nothing to do with logic’ and infer that my article is a reflection upon my own soul. Clearly, this isn’t a serious criticism. Simply because you disagree with the Christian doctrine of hell doesn’t negate the philosophical implications of atheism.
I don’t infer that atheists are bad people. Many of my friends are atheists actually. However, they live with a sense of value and meaning that cannot be grounded on the basis of their atheistic worldview.
And that is wrong. I would agree, that there is no absolute sense of value and meaning (but even here, other atheists tend to disagree, but I am not convinced of that, yet) – but as the “absolute” part is only something Christians demand (but do not provide evidence for themselves), I can live without it. There is value – individual, social, etc. – and there is meaning – mine – what else do I need? Why should I care what same imaginary figure thinks as value or meaning? Why should I need such external values? Even ethical systems can be created that have a much better basis than “some guy, 2000 years ago, claimed that god wants it” (which is as far from “absolute” as you can get).
In the Christian lingo, “absolute” is just another word for “from god”, nothing else and thus, it’s pretty meaningless.
Keep in mind; I’m not writing about the philosophical implications of the existence of God, so we don’t need to expound upon the role of objective values and meaning. As you rightly say, a worldview without a God necessitates an existence without ultimate meaning or value. This fact requires that you ground all meaning and value from a merely subjective standpoint. Meaning, what you find valuable and meaningful is not objective but derived from your own psyche.
In the end, everything a human does (including religion) is “derived from your own psyche”. So it’s not really an argument, is it? Ethical values may come from people’s mind, but that doesn’t mind that they have to be random. Basic human rights, for example, are not religious, not random but, in the end, derived from the psyche of people.
I’m not making an argument but merely establishing a philosophical conclusion. You’d be correct that “everything a human does (including religion) is derived from your own psyche” if atheism is correct. On a side note, being ‘random’ has nothing to do with the establishment of objective moral values and duties.
“If atheism is correct”? No, look around. Can religious people agree upon ethic values? Can Christians agree upon ethic values? Not in the slightest. If there ARE absolute ethical values, then there seems to be no known way to find them, thus you – again – have to choose, in other words, derive them from your own psyche. So, not “if atheism is correct”, but in any case. If there is a god, then obviously he didn’t want to make absolute ethical values that everyone can recognize easily.
Again, this is not an epistemological issue. It’s an ontological issue. How do we derive the objectivity of moral values and duties if there isn’t a basis for which to ground them? You are still fiddling around with how we know what is right from wrong rather than dealing the nature of the values and duties themselves. As we’ve already established, subjectivity reigns in a world with no God. However, objectivity is present if the Christian God exists.
I am glad you admitted to misunderstanding the atheist mindset in your opening; had you not, you would have made a fool of yourself through the blind guesswork you continued to propose.
There is a ton I could respond to in my comment…a ton, but I will hit a few main points as viewed through my atheistic mindset. I actually lost my faith this past summer. I was a Christian from age 14-26 and was in everything from Pentecostal to nondenominational churches. I was truly seeking the Truth. However, I never actually found it. I thought I had a few times, but I realized that the next watered-down version of Christianity I hitched to was just giving me a little slack until I realized that I truly did not believe in the Bible.
Your main theme seemed to be the void of atheism. A lonely existence. An objectively purposeless life. No objective morality. Well, from a purely pessimistic and close-minded viewpoint, you nailed it! You imply that in order to combat this void, atheists “borrow” from your Christian values in order to have purpose.
Atheism is simply acknowledging that there is no proof of god. It is the absence of belief in a transcendental being or beings.
You stated, “However, this dismissive attitude towards truly evil wrongdoers while being supercritical over their misperceived evil conducted by the Old Testament God is worth noting.”- my only response to this is that it’s a lie. A lie and nothing more than a lie. We are not dismissive of evil people. And I am sure that I do not have to remind you that Hitler was a Christian, do I? Regardless, what you should have challenged during the “evil people of history” rant is, what is the atheist solution? Christian absolute solution or punishment is obviously hell. However, someone like Stalin or Mao need only to repent in his last few minutes in order for God to forgive their sins and spend eternity in blissful glory. That fact is precisely why Christianity is not a moral religion. An extreme example I know, but a child rapist and murderer need only repent on death row in order to spend eternity in heaven while an honest hard working Hindu in India die and spend eternity in hell for not being Christian. One thing should be crystal clear- morality cannot be found in Christianity.
Before I finish, I will quickly share the atheistic view of morality—it changes. Morality changes over time. Slaver, for example. The Bible condones and it, but thankfully our evolving modern morality got rid of it. Yes, many Christians were part of the anti and the pro-slavery moments. The point is that regardless of what the Bible stated, modern, common-sense morality always wins. Religion was man’s first attempt at many things: morality, purpose, school, and government. We now have something better to drive morality- secular humanism. In half a century barely anything in the Bible other than the do not kill or steal will even be relevant.
I did not fall from Christianity because I was hurt by church people or anything like that, I fell because when anyone reads the Bible as a skeptic, they will finish it as an atheist. And we should approach everything in life as a skeptic so as not to be spoon fed or have blind faith.
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the candor in which you wrote your response. Before I respond, I’d like to note that a majority of your criticisms are misplaced. Your criticisms of the doctrine of hell are merely red-herrings that are distracting from the actual content of the article. Simply because you disagree with the Christian doctrine of hell doesn’t negate the philosophical implications of your atheistic worldview.
Towards the end of the article, you state that morality is always changing over time due to societal factors. However, earlier in your response, you label my statement regarding the idea that atheism has no basis for objective morality as a ‘pessimistic and close-minded viewpoint’. On your part, you’re not remaining consistent in your criticism. If moral values are always changing based upon the behavior of the society, as you contend, you cannot simultaneously believe that morals are objective and binding. Your statement of me being ‘pessimistic and narrow-minded’ is illogical.
I’d welcome any further criticisms that are directly related to the post. I’m sorry to hear about your loss of faith. I’d encourage you to objectively and honestly search for the truth.
I want to respond to-my a ‘pessimistic and close-minded viewpoint’ and that my stating morality changes over time are inconsistent. I do not believe, nor did I mention that I believe morality is objective. That is ludicrous. Thankfully, they are not or we would still be stoning people for idiotic “crimes.” Thankfully Christians fought against slave-owning Christians in the USA. They could ONLY have done this because of an evolving morality. (If telling a lie is immoral all the time)……….we could run for ages with finishing that statement.
I was merely trying to show how incredibly foolish it is to believe in truly objective morality. It does not exist. It is not an easy thing to swallow, but look around……it is truly undeniable.
If atheism is true, you’re right in your observations. The existence of objective moral values and duties in an atheistic worldview is ‘ludicrous’, and you’re right, it is foolish to claim that they exist in a world with no God. However, the theistic worldview would set up a foundation for such moral objectivity. The objective of the article is to outline, as you just have, that objective moral values and duties are ontologically impossible under an atheistic worldview. That is one implication of the atheistic worldview.
Stillgatheringmythoughts – good reply, and very insightful. You indicate that you rejected the ‘watered down’ versions of Christianity that you had encountered – and that is the correct response to that kind of Christianity. How can one embrace a belief-system so obviously caught in conflicts and blind-alleys? You would have to check your mind at the door!
Authentic Christianity suffers from no such miscues. There is 2000 years of accumulated and refined thought waiting to be discovered by seekers who reject the ‘cartoon’ versions of Christianity. The real deal is tougher, leaner, deeper and far more compelling than the later, weaker, versions.
Maybe that no longer matters to you. But it once did, and maybe will again. Peace be with you – if you ever seek God again, look for Him where he said He would be. In His Church, in the Gifts, in Us.
“The idea of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Lenin, and innumerable other evil dictators being morally blameless for their crimes gave me a sense of discomfort.”
It is discomforting to think they will go unpunished for such horrible crimes. But I find the Christian afterlife system much worse. The fact that there are only 2 options, eternal torture or eternal paradise, means that the truly horrible people (like the ones you mentioned) will be grouped with people who have committed significantly lesser crimes.
But it’s even worse than that, according to Christians, it’s not those horrible crimes that send those guys to hell. There is exactly one thing that matters, whether you accept Jesus. So I will get the same punishment as the list of people you have up there, but my crime is not believing in God. Furthermore, if any of those guys accepted Jesus at the last minute, they would be in heaven while I’m in hell. Doesn’t really sound like cosmic justice to me.
Thank you for your comment. However, you have misplaced your critique of my post. This post wasn’t oriented around the Christian doctrine of hell. This post was in regards to the philosophical implications of an atheistic worldview. These implications are completely independent of your opinion on the concept of hell and whether or not you think it is ultimately just or unjust. The doctrine of hell is completely separate from the philosophical implications of atheism. I’ve been receiving a lot of pushback about the concept of hell from this post; however I haven’t had anyone disagree with these observed philosophical implications outright. While their disagreement is noted, it still doesn’t address this issue that the article was written about.
You do realize that you are the one that started talking about hell right? You started your post with the idea that in atheism there is no cosmic justice, but by contrast in christianity there is because of hell. I think it is reasonable to respond with the idea that hell isn’t actually justice.
Admittedly so, I did mention cosmic justice as it is one philosophical implication (of many) that relates to the atheistic worldview. However, my post wasn’t oriented around the doctrine of Hell. Based on this fact, that is why I’m not advancing any observations of Hell in this article as that is not the topic of discussion specifically.
You made some valid points regarding inconsistencies when one considers an atheistic worldview: they are contradictory when carried to their logical conclusions.
If there was no moral concept that existed externally to the world then those terrible examples you mentioned are merely constructs of the present time, if we follow the logic of one of your commenters. But it is fascinating that whenever you bring up these points how quickly the concept of eternal punishment enters the fray, along with the concept of “escape-hatch” theology, which is not really borne out by the evidence (the instance of the their on the cross is often brought in, but is never really hashed out) when you think about it in the light of overall all revelation., which is an interesting topic in itself, and definitely worthy of consideration.
Anyway, great post that points out the problems that exist in atheism from a purely philosophical standpoint.
Thank you for your feedback. I truly appreciate it.
Great points about the contradictory elements that atheists have to entertain in their worldview. Always love how the issue of eternal punishment comes up and “escape-hatch” soteriology/theology, worthy of a post in itself. Great piece overall, in spite of the deliberate misunderstandings that pop up.
Thank you for your feedback! I completely agree!
From the perspective of an actual atheist, Dawkins agrees…”The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” ……..Well done, keep up the good work!
Mr. Top-Dog Atheist said it himself! Thanks for the feedback!!
Just for fun, I want to explore some of your points as an atheist who is not a moral realist. For the most part, it is my experience that atheists sincerely and truly believe that certain moral actions are inherently wrong and condemnable. How they are able to reconcile such a view with their atheism is neither my interest nor my concern. Rather, I take a different approach. For those atheists, such as myself, who deny moral realism, the ethical objections you raise are irrelevant. For example, “cosmic justice,” as a concept, does not exist on my worldview. It’s not a standard that has failed to be met. It is not a desire that has failed to be satisfied. It is not a state of conditions that has failed to obtain. It’s entirely irrelevant. There is no cosmic justice because there is no evil to counterbalanced by good. The vocabulary of morality hides the true content of such statements. Whenever someone condemns a particular action or thought as “evil” or “immoral” or “wrong,” they are not making an objective or even verifiable statement about reality. Rather, they are expressing their personal opinions about their own personal preferences. As a result, they have no more truth value than a command or an exclamation. And thus, by embracing emotivism and pragmatism, atheists such as myself can still comment on certain actions without living inconsistently.
Thank you for the substantive reply. I enjoyed reading your response! It appears we’re on the same philosophical page in regards to this issue.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s at least possible to construct a defense of objective moral values without God. However, I view the task as extremely difficult to coherently complete. It would have to rely on ancient philosophy such as that of Plato’s Forms. But it’s much easier to dissolve the problem by dipping it into the acid of emotivism or ethical non-cognitivism.
Cheers for a great post.
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