Why Atheists sometimes lose effectiveness in Theistic discussions

Observed truth or truth we discover, is ultimately inadequate to affect absolute certainty within man. Having no deeper foundation other than our own fallible faculties, our beliefs must deliver a standing invitation to all competing ideas until all possibilities are exhausted. If, then, our beliefs stand, they can only hold certainty in the sense of having withstood all other ideas our current day and age can muster and for which we are able to understand. Thus, our beliefs can only hold a current temporary certainty while holding a respect for such a time in the future that mankind is able to obtain a greater understanding of those beliefs. Thus, absolute certainty can never be reached by mankind. It has the effect of silencing the free exchange of ideas and creating a tyranny upon other men who hold differing beliefs.

Truth, as a Being with person-hood, is entirely in the position to produce a greater degree of certainty within man than he could reach alone. For Truth, having personality, could relate with man, instruct, and cleanse man of error he could not have eliminated on his own. That is not to say that man would then have an infallible understanding of the truth. The best he could do is present to others a representation of this Truth-Being or a representation of some external truth the Being has communicated. The representation would still be subject to the fallible faculties of man and therefore must deliver the same standing invitation to other representations. Otherwise, tyranny will result. Furthermore, whatever refined beliefs man contains inside himself must be held in a progressive truth-seeking manner with a respect for some newer revelation communicated by this Truth-Being in the future. For it is absurd to believe that man has perfect understanding of truth the first time it is communicated to him.

Therefore, the only difference realized by man, either in truth discovered solely by man or truth received from this Truth-Being, is the deeper ground on which he stands when receiving communication from this Being. Those who criticize representations of this Being without standing in deeper ground themselves will compete with any self-authenticating witness this Being has produced inside the man standing on the deeper ground and will, thus, be only marginally effectual in an argument. Effectiveness can be obtained either by developing a greater understanding of the representations or moving onto deeper ground.

Advertisements

The Nature of Men


Humanity has no real experience in pure evil, that is, evil for the sake of evil. If humanity commits evil acts it’s in pursuit of something good, they just get the good the wrong way. Evil is the perversion, or the corruption, of good. Evil cannot exist without good existing first. In fact, there is no definitive way to judge whether something is good or evil without having an infinitely good reference point. If no “absolute good” exists, then there are no moral absolutes by which one has the right to judge something or someone as being evil. Evil requires the existence of good.

Humanity’s experience in evil is found throughout history in criminal acts. The thief, the murderer, the drug addict, and the rapist; they are all trying to fulfill a want or a need, whether it be power, sexual gratification, material things, pleasure, an adrenaline rush, satisfaction, or any number of reasons not listed here. These things in of themselves are good. However, the pleasure, or release experienced in attaining them the wrong way is mixed with pain. What you have done stays with you, causing whatever good you may experience to be tainted, and you may have to change your morals to justify your actions. Self may be redefined in the process. This type of behavior can lead to one’s own destruction.

So we understand the evil nature of men, but they cannot be totally evil. However, we can only judge the murderer as evil if we have moral absolutes; otherwise it falls to each man’s definition, and each man’s definition is different. Whose definition, then, should we use? Using men as our yardstick isn’t useful, especially since evil is within every man.

Where do morals fall into human nature? Choice is the main ingredient in morality. Without it there are no morals, just behavior we emit. You can’t judge a man who has no ability to choose what he does. You cannot say his morals are bad. On the outside it may look that way, but if there was no choice on the inside then there is no morality. Without choice we are no better than animals driven by instincts.

Choice may not exist for two reasons: either the man is constrained by an outside force or his psychological makeup is abnormal. When I say psychological makeup, I mean the raw materials in the mind that men use to make a choice. This raw material is composed of feelings and impulses that at once present themselves in any given situation. If the raw materials of the mind are bent or twisted in some way, free choice is hindered.

Example:

Three men go to war. One of them suppresses the natural instinct for self preservation in pursuit of defending his country. The other two have an abnormal psychological makeup that presents itself in the form of abnormal fear. This fear prevents them from choosing freely which instincts to suppress and which to encourage. Both shrink from the fight and protect themselves.

Now let’s say that both of the men see a psychologist and have that twist in the mind corrected. With free choice in hand, one of the men chooses to suppress the instinct of self preservation and joins the fight accordingly. The other man decides that self preservation is still the best course of action and let’s other men go onward to the fight in front of him. We would say the latter man has bad morals. We could blame him now, but we could not blame him before.

Another example:

A necrophiliac is a man who has sex with dead bodies. Two men commit the act of necrophilia, but only one them has a bad psychological makeup. The normal man’s morals are violated and he feels bad about what he’s done. In an attempt to reconcile his actions with his morals, he may construct different morals that allow the action. If this continues, he may inflict psychological damage on himself and eventually become as bad off as the other man.

The man with bad psychological makeup feels his actions are normal and his morals are not violated, though we cannot say he has any morals with respect to his perverted act. Now let’s say that this man begins to understand that his actions are wrong. This is the moment that morality begins. In an effort to change, once he perceives a better morality, he may set an inward law within himself to never do it again. If he follows this correct morality, he may expend more moral energy than some people have done their entire lives. He is going against his nature. Change on the inside is harder on the mind, will, and emotions than just an outward change of action.

Which one is the greater moral work? Is it the psychologically normal man who stops looking at pornography because he is made to, or the psychologically abnormal necrophiliac who goes against his nature, and stops having sex with dead bodies because he has an understanding of better morals. Both men, over time, will not be 100% successful at either pursuit without help, but we would still say it’s important that they try. Notwithstanding, we are not qualified to judge whether a man’s actions matches his morals. We cannot see man on the inside. It would be nice, though, to have a referee to tell us when we are out of bounds.

To sum up, the nature of man has two aspects: men are basically evil (perverted goodness) and strive for good the wrong way; and man may or may not have a good psychological makeup that allows him to make choices on a matter. Man is going one of two directions in relation to his morals. Either he is heading towards inner peace in himself and others (actions being congruent with his inward morals), or he is at war with himself and others (actions not congruent with his inward morals), assuming his psyche is normal. Either he is becoming a hellish creature or a heavenly creature. Indeed, the end result of continually violating an inward morality is hell itself (figuratively). Humanity strives to follow the morals they have while experiencing success and failure depending upon the amount of one’s inner strength on a given day. Humanity must also do mental checks to make sure they have the right morals, and make sure their minds aren’t damaged in any way.

However, how did we end up in this continual inward war with one’s self? It’s quite obvious to parents that small children possess instincts, feelings, and impulses; but do not possess a conductor to set them to the right tune. Like a piece of music that indicates which notes should be played and for how long; a good morality that sets the “human machine” in the right working order regulates which instincts, feelings and impulses must be suppressed and which must be encouraged. We don’t have morality when we’re born, neither did our parents, or their parents before them. Yet, morality is taught as part of the nurturing process. Where did this inward war originate?

This is where I will give the atheist, evolutionist, philosopher, and religious man a chance to answer. I would be very interested in the evolutionists answer, though I doubt they have one. If they have no answer, I will continue with part two.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dear Moral Borrowing Atheist,

Do you believe in the higher value of humans over non-human animals? If so, you are borrowing some of your morality from Theistic philosophy. Evolution provides no foundation for this higher value. The philosophy that has its foundation in evolution equates man with animals. In this view, man does not deserve a higher value than animals. This morality is based on one’s ability to suffer.

Is it more moral to kill a pig that can feel pain or a fetus that can’t feel pain? Atheists would save the pig. Is it less moral to eat bacon, seeing as how the pig can suffer and humans killed it, or practice cannibalism as long as the human died accidentally and the relatives say it’s OK? Atheists would enjoy a good batch of John Smith stew. Is it more moral to kill a deformed or mentally retarded infant so they won’t have to suffer all of their lives, or let them live (although this “suffering” is debatable)? Atheists choose to end the suffering. Some atheists would still let the child and the fetus live and also eat bacon, but if they do they betray the fact that their philosophy does not totally align itself with atheistic philosophy. They borrow from Theistic philosophy.

Would you be more disgusted at a picture of a dead fetus? Your answer will tell you what philosophy you live by.

Dear Selfless Atheist,

You can do the same selfless acts that a Theist can do and even more if you determine to, but can you really be selfless? You may say as another Atheist said,

Can you explain why my disabled, unemployed friend, who is a Christian, can’t find anyone to help him move his belongings from his storage unit to his house, so I, an atheist, am going to borrow a truck and spend a second day, (a day that I desperately need to be working) moving stuff for him?

There’s a bit of pride and selfishness in this oddly self-serving statement. Notice how this man’s “I” is better than the “I” of the man who’s not helping to move the man’s things. Self is magnified here when it should be diminished. Selflessness actually takes more than most of us are willing to give. A man may serve another man and be selfless in his acts, but selflessness goes beyond acts. It means that your “self” is abandoned in order to promote the “self” of another. Your “Self” or “Identity” is lost in the process. Who you are means nothing compared to the person you are serving.

But, why would you give up your “self” for another human being that is just as flawed you? Each man is just as capable of lying, cheating, stealing, murder, rape, and abuse as every other man. None of us are prefect. Why would you, as a flawed man, lose who you are in lifting up another flawed man? Certainly, it is good for mankind to serve one another, but the only selflessness that is worth practicing is toward a perfect individual. Therefore, I conclude that losing my “self” to the “self” of God, who is perfect, is the only worthwhile selflessness worth practicing.

The Robot and the Doll

Value, meaning, importance, or significance are not things which can be imposed upon us; they can only come from us based upon what we care about. They are not discovered, but rather created through our interaction with the world around us. Thus the very act of caring about something creates meaning, value, and in the end morality.

This excerpt was taken from here.

This is a statement of philosophy, not a statement of fact. We can, indeed, place our own meaning on things. This is true. However, whether the meaning and purpose that we place on objects and ourselves is accurate or not we are not sure of. The validity of subjective meaning would be plausible if not for one thing. This world is not our property. We do not own it. We did not make it. We cannot attest to its origin or its future. We were not here when it came into existence. Sure, we can create, as it were, “out of nothing” our own meaning, but when we do we take the place of authority over it. In this act, we become impostors. Consider the following:

A man builds a robot, then he leaves never to return. Another man finds it and decides that it would make a nice doll for his daughter. He rejects any notion that the robot, now a doll, had any purpose or meaning other than what he gives it. He makes himself the final authority on the issue, and since he does not see any “maker” of the doll around to refute the claim, he rests his case.

Does he not take the place of the maker in this analogy? Does he not then become an impostor, a fake? Bringing this back to reality, we did not even make ourselves! Can we attest to our meaning without taking the place of something if not someone?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Dear Morally Average Atheist,

An atheist said the following:
“Do you find it at all questionable that, since you can’t offer any evidence that Christians who claim a higher moral standard, actually live to a higher moral standard, and that if anything, the evidence shows that they, Christians, actually live a moral standard that is lower than the moral standard of non believers?
Why is it that you pretty much shrug off actual evidence? I am guessing that if you could show that Christians actually lived to a higher moral standard, you wouldn’t hesitate, but since you can’t, you just ignore the fact that the evidence shows that proclaiming to have a higher moral standard is futile and meaningless, since it (the higher moral standard) has no affect on how believers (Christians) behave.”

Surely, you are not saying it’s useless to try to follow a better standard because no one else does. Your observation does not diminish your responsibility in this area. For instance, if no one in the world got their math completely right and everyone averaged about the same amount of mistakes, striving toward perfect arithmetic would still be good. If, however, a group of people were told the right way of doing math, and chose to ignore the instruction, and still averaged the same amount of mistakes as everyone else, should a math enthusiast be content to be average just because it’s average? No, he should find out what is the correct way, and continue to do what is correct to do. That’s when real progress is made. The ones who know what is right and willingly do wrong should be counted as rebellious, deceived in some way, possessing a hindered mental ability, or persuaded the opposite way to the point of exhaustion.

It is the same with morality. A higher morality of the mind exists as instruction for the “human machine” to be run smoothly. If we are only concerned with others, we will do just enough to get by, and no progress will be made. Also, if the human machine isn’t run in proper order, men will hinder society eventually. The man who does right because his mind is right is in better working order than a man who does right because he is made to. The latter will eventually collide with other men and do harm.

In response to the statement that Christians do not follow their own higher moral standards, I initially did not know what to say. I could cite my own experience and show how I have progressed but that would be lifting myself up. I could have cited other men whom I know have followed this higher moral standard, but again that would be lifting up other men. Pride would be noticed in either statement, and my efforts would be useless because this pride would indicate the opposite of what I was trying to say.

Christians (who follow a higher morality of the mind), of all people, count themselves the vilest of men. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. This is common sense, really. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. The man who strives for right knows where he has gone wrong. The man who is completely wrong in the mind, knows neither right nor wrong, but views all he does as acceptable until someone says otherwise. If men know to do right, they should do it, regardless of what others around them are doing.

(This post is a continuation of the post “Dear Moral Atheist”)

Dear Moral Atheist,

I wonder if your morality is the better morality. Morality for the atheist is undefined much like atheism has no real definition. Each atheist goes about living the way he sees fit. There is no atheistic code of ethics. Your morality starts from a sort of “ground up” scenario. All presupposed morality is dismissed as fabrication, and the morality that emerges is chosen by you to either benefit you or society. If it so happens to wrong someone in any way, then you consider dropping that particular moral standard or altering it so as to avoid contention. But, you can also reason that particular standard to be fair no matter what the consequences to the other person if it benefits society. Let us examine one such moral standard.

Society today decides when a proper amount of value for a human life is given to that life. The fetus has less value at a certain point than later when it has developed well enough to have obtained some human value. However, isn’t it more advantageous for the fetus to have the attribute of human worth at the moment of conception so it is less likely to be aborted? Don’t misunderstand me here. This conversation is not about abortion. It’s about morality.

Generally speaking, a higher moral standard is better than a lower moral standard. If we say there is no higher or lower standard, just a particular set of standards that I choose, then there was no real reason for World War II. Surely Hitler and the ethnic cleansing he was doing was considered wrong during that time period. And surely the way the Jews were treated could only have happened if a different set of morals were adopted by the Germans. By the same token, the married man who sleeps around with other women is considered to have lower moral standards. Be that as it may, even though we set moral standards for ourselves, we don’t keep them 100% of the time. No matter how low or high one’s morals may be, they aren’t always kept. However, keeping a higher standard is a preventative measure so that our margin of error won’t destroy us.

But, what are we really doing when we evaluate someone else’s moral standing? Is there not some imagined morality that is the best we could adopt? Are we not heading somewhere toward a better and better morality till we eventually get it right? If no perfect morality exists, then the whole idea of the evolutionary process is has lost its ground, for by it we should be continually improving and maturing. If not, what’s the point? And, what about the evolutionary imperative? It’s supposed to cause us to keep the traits that are good for reproduction and societal living. It seems, though, that we are not following the evolutionary imperative or the natural selection process when we continue the act of abortion. We don’t let the “natural” take its course. If you justify the act by saying that we are controlling overpopulation or honoring the rights of the woman, are we not overstepping our bounds here? Are we not taking on the role of evolution itself, and in a sense become impatient with it? It seems humans aren’t just content to be their own gods, but they want to control the evolutionary process as well.

The Christian’s morality is built with a “top down” scenario. We examine the morality found in the Bible, and perceive these standards are high. We may choose not to follow them, or even alter them in some way (indeed, some Christians support abortion), but the standards are always there. They are unchanging and unrelenting in their call for us to follow them. In regards to the fetus, value is attributed at the moment of conception, making the destruction of the fetus at any point inhumane. It would seem that the Christian standard of morality does a better job of supporting the human race than the morality brought about by the evolutionary process. In fact, I challenge you to find a morality better than ones found in Biblical principles. (I’m not talking about the actions of individuals or groups recorded in the Bible, or orders from God confined to one point in time.) If, however, you can’t then you must logically conclude that the evolutionary process will eventually lead your morality to the become the same as the Christian standard. And should you not jump the evolutionary ship to join a more advanced one?

Have a look at atheistic morality in this video:

The Meaning of Life – A Look at the Life of Mark Sherrell

What is the Meaning of Life?

Earthly Meaning:

For the Christian, meaning is found when we give up the right to ourselves. Our meaning is insignificant compared to the worth of God. He is the only self-sustaining one. Meaning to us is found when we stop trying to find ourselves and seek after the person of God. His meaning is the greatest there is, and we can glory in him. I must decrease so that God may increase. Yet, when we try to put this meaning into words, words escape us, and all we can do is praise the God who is everything to us.

Eternal Meaning:

As humans, by naming something, we ascribe meaning to it. For those who are in his family, God has chosen a new name for each of us. (Rev 2:17, Rev. 3:12) We won’t know that name until we get to heaven. Although we try to look for our own meaning, it is actually ascribed by God and rooted in our new name. And though others may tell you what you mean to them, if God is increasing in your life, it is really God that they are finding any worth in. And what’s better, our new name is linked to God’s name, just like when you know a person better by knowing their first and last name. You then realize what family they belong to. Perhaps we will know our true meaning after God calls us by the family name.

My Uncle Mark recently died. Although, he was a drug addict for thirty years, he found victory over addiction the last years of his life. How do you measure a life lived? Most of his life would seem a waste to us as he lived in bondage as a slave to his own addictions. Yet, for those who have chosen to make God their God, he has made them a new person, and regardless of what Mark did, God made him a new person. He was still subject to the lusts and sins everyone else was subject to, but he had this treasure (his new person) in his flawed body so that the power of a changed life might be shown to be of God and not of him. The best we can do in this life puts us on our knees begging for forgiveness because we are not good enough. As the Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

I think it’s appropriate now to let Mark explain to you himself what happened to him:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Pain

The human experience is pain. It’s the affirmation of life. If you wake up in the morning and feel a headache, there is no question that you’re alive. In fact, you may wish you were otherwise. Funny how something we don’t want affirms something we desperately want… life. Pain from a parent’s divorce, from a cheating girlfriend, from a lying father, from a pointless job, from a physical problem, from the death of loved one, from your own failures, or from a devaluing of who you are gives evidence that your time is not yet over. But we can’t stuff it away. We can’t bury it. No one is exempt. We must endure it. For pain is the true test of a person’s character. Under torture, some have stood their ground and some have fallen. What you do under pain speaks volumes to fellow humans and to God himself. What will you do? It’s your life.

The Downfall of Understanding


“If God would do something supernatural that I could see and that cannot be explained by nature, then I would believe in him.”

Proof is a fickle thing. What is counted as proof today can be dismissed once it is understood. The human heart is so defiant that every generation will find new ways to challenge the existence of God. Whatever proof is offered at any time in history, we will always demand something else. Remember, at one point in time, the world could not be explained. It’s existence was proof that God existed. Once we understand a thing, we lose the wonder we held for it.

I am sure that if God were to come down and send us a sign of his existence that the world would once again explain it away once they understood it.