Only Real Questions Deserve Real Answers – Pt. 3

Categories: Atheism, Don Veinot, General
by on July 30th, 2009

But I find it amusing to ask Veinot where he thinks his morality comes from. Did God speak to him? If so, when? (And was Veinot murdering, raping and killing before his god spoke to him, and then he suddenly changed?) Was that the same god who spoke to Son of Sam? bin Laden? the Pope? George Bush? Or, if Veinot’s god did NOT speak to him then did Veinot get his moral code from the Bible? (And was Veinot murdering, raping and killing before he read the Bible, and then he suddenly changed?) And if his moral code comes from the Bible, then of course, we’re into all the genocide, and killing of homosexuals etc. And by the way, why the Bible? What authority figure told him the Bible was the correct moral guide? And how does Veinot know that the authority figure was correct? Did Veinot employ some independent verifying entity to confirm that choice? But if the Bible is not the source of Veinot’s moral position, what is? (Maybe it’s Darwin after all!)

In this final installment this group of questions hang together in a general category of the basis of morality. Rather than simply asserting my personal opinion I thought it might be interesting to look at it from the perspective of the founding of this nation and how this question informed the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, etc. Mark Levin, who is not a Christian and to my knowledge has not professed a particular specific belief in God, points out in his excellent book Liberty and Tyranny:

The Declaration of Independence appeals to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” (p. 26)

For the Founding Fathers the question of morals (how we ought to behave) was very closely linked to our rights. The Founding Fathers viewed our rights as “unalienable.” They did so predicated on the belief that our rights are given to us by God not other human beings. The Founding Fathers were of a variety of denominations as well as at least two deists (Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin). But could it be that they were wrong and man simply makes them up. Levin again responds:

Is it possible that there is no Natural Law and man can know moral order and unalienable rights from his own reasoning, unaided by the supernatural God? There are, of course, those who argue this case – including the Atheist and others who attempt to distinguish Natural Law from Divine Providence. It is not the view adopted by the Founders. This position would, it seems, lead man to arbitrarily create his own morality and rights, or create his own arbitrary morality and rights – right and wrong, just and unjust, good and bad, would be relative concepts susceptible to circumstantial applications. Moreover, by what justification would “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” be “unalienable Rights” if there is no Natural Law, since reason alone cannot make them inviolable? Where then is Natural Law, since reason alone cannot make them inviolable? What then is Natural Law if its origin is unknown or rejected? It is nothing more than a human construct. An individual may benefit from the moral order and unalienable rights around which society functions while rejecting their Divine origin. But the civil society cannot organize itself that way. It would become unstable and vulnerable to anarchy and tyranny, imperiling all within it, especially the individual. The abandonment of Natural Law is the adoption of tyranny in one form or another, because there is no humane or benevolent alternative to Natural Law.

So how did I come to my views? No I didn’t hear a voice speaking to me from heaven nor did I have some mystical experience. I was a fairly consistent atheist and used many of the same arguments which this writer has employed. When I was challenged on my atheism I realized that it was insufficient to assert that God does not exist. If I was going to be honest I would have to make a case that atheism is true and demonstrate that God doesn’t exist. If I could prove Christianity is false but that wouldn’t mean that atheism is true by default. Something else could be true and on the surface at least there seems to be a plethora of choices. Although early on I didn’t perhaps understand or articulate my thinking as clearly as former atheist Antony Flew outlines in his book There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (as quoted in Mark Levin’s book Liberty and Tyranny on page 24) I came to essentially the same conclusions:

Reason cannot, by itself, explain why there is reason. Science cannot, by itself, explain why there is science. Man’s discovery and application of science are products of reason.

Reason and science can explain the existence of matter, but they cannot explain why there is matter. They can explain the existence of the universe, but they cannot explain why there is a universe. They can explain the existence of nature and the law of physics. They can not explain the existence of nature and the law of physics. They can explain the existence of life, but they cannot explain why there is life. They can explain the existence of consciousness, but they cannot explain why there is a consciousness

There is nothing in reason or science which confirms the idea that everything that came to be created itself from nothing, by nothing and for no apparent reason. In fact, both drive us to the conclusion that something which is infinite and eternal brought into existence all that came to be. Why did is there consciousness? As Flew points out, reason and science cannot answer that question. The best argument, as Flew and I and other former atheists have come to is that God is the uncaused cause and brought everything that came to be into existence. Now, that does not prove Christianity is true. It could be that atheism is false and God exists from whom morals are given. It can also be that Christianity is false and another view of God is true. That takes another form of evidence.

Although I won’t go in to all of the details in a short post such as this, the competing worldviews self-destruct under scrutiny. I became a Christian because of evidence that the claims of Christianity were true. The Bible can be demonstrated to be fundamentally reliable. By that I mean that the text we have today is fundamentally the text as it was originally penned and any errors in the transmission of the text down through the centuries dos not impact any major or minor point of doctrine. Jesus Christ was a person in history who was crucified, buried and there is abundant evidence that He rose from the dead. Based on the evidence I did as Scripture lays out and confessed Jesus as Lord, that God raised Him from the dead and received the promised salvation. (Romans 10:9-10) For those who are interested I would highly recommend the book by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist which looks as the available worldviews and makes a strong case for the Christian faith.

Prior to coming to belief I was a fairly consistent atheist and Darwinist. Although I wasn’t any more moral or immoral than those around me I did recognize that there is no basis for morality within an atheist or Darwinian worldview. But, again, as I wrote in part 1:

That doesn’t mean that Gould or others who hold to Darwinism are more immoral than Christians, as far as I know he was very moral.

The late Stephen J. Gould himself asserted that Darwinism provides no basis for “oughts.” I derived my sense of moral rights and wrongs the same as everyone else. According to the Apostle Paul in Romans 2:14-15:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do (instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

Essentially God engrained them in us. We inherently know right from wrong even though we do not always act properly on that knowledge. It becomes more fleshed out when we become familiar with biblical teaching but it is there from the beginning. We also find that these morals transcend time and culture. We may work them out in different ways from culture to culture but the basic moral values seem to pervade and guide all cultures which would seem to confirm what Scripture states. Believer and unbelievers both benefit from these transcendent moral values. As Mark Levin noted:

An individual may benefit from the moral order and unalienable rights around which society functions while rejecting their Divine origin. But the civil society cannot organize itself that way. It would become unstable and vulnerable to anarchy and tyranny, imperiling all within it, especially the individual. The abandonment of Natural Law is the adoption of tyranny in one form or another, because there is no humane or benevolent alternative to Natural Law.

In other words, if Darwinism is true there is really no basis for morality and morals can ebb and flow and change depending on which mob is in control (mobacracy). The mob in control can make their personal preferences the moral compass for those they are ruling. If that is the case there really is nothing wrong with what Stalin, Hitler or others did since their mob was in power and making the moral rules for those they controlled at that time. Tyranny reigned because there is “no humane or benevolent alternative to Natural Law.”

It seems to me the evidence points to the existence of God. Moral values as well as unalienable rights are derived from God and unbelievers benefit in spite of their denial of the origin of morals and unalienable rights.

3 responses to “Only Real Questions Deserve Real Answers – Pt. 3 ”

  1. Mother Williams says:

    Actually, maybe taking a step farther back…only things that are real should be talked about. To that end, you might as well sit on here debating the size of pink unicorns or how large the pile of pasta is that pieces together the flying spaghetti monster.

    The book you read is no more reliable than any other “religious” book. Your book endorses slavery and a host of other immoral acts-but yet we should be thankful somehow it is a moral guidepost. Thankfully, it isn’t. Should I head over to stone my adulterous neighbor or would you guys like to come and do it? The slaves I own…are you sure it’s ok to keep them as long as I don’t beat them too severely? Just wanted to make sure I was beating them according to scripture. Do you think that human slavery is morally acceptable if done in accordance with the Bible? Also, my wife has been yapping in church a lot so I showed her the verses where she needs to keep quiet and obey me. Should we stone to death anyone who works on the Sabbath? The Bible’s answer is yes, we must. Do you think that is right? If by circumstance it fell upon you to actually carry out the stoning, would you be willing to go through with it? If not, why not?

    Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how god slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” including women, children, and trees! You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

    Sigh. We all hope that one day you all will wake up and join the rest of civilization.

  2. Mariano says:

    Mother Williams,
    You make some interesting points. However, how do you define “real”?
    For example: the laws of logic are not tangible and not observable; you cannot access them with your senses. Yet, denying their existence would rob you of the ability to claim that talking about unreal things is illogical.

    Moreover, the Invisible Pink Unicorns and Flying Spaghetti Monster are in no way related to the concept of a theistic God in that they fail the test of natural theology aka general revelation.
    This is evidenced at this URL:
    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/05/on-flying-spaghetti-monster-invisible.html

    Actually, “The book” (which is actually a set of books and epistles) reforms slavery. But upon what premise would you condemn slavery to begin with.

    I also perceived that you are also confused about the Bible’s contents, concepts and contexts:
    “Should I head over to stone my adulterous neighbor…”—why on Earth would you do that since you are not an Israelite living millennia ago in the Middle East under the theocratic government which agreed to abide by those laws?
    Please keep in mind something very, very basic; you are confusing the OLD testament with the NEW one.
    Jesus had occasion to approve of the stoning of an adulteress. Do you know what He did?

    Moreover, you are dealing with a very carefully regulated judicial system whereby, for example, you did not just stone people at a whim but would have to produce at least two eyewitnesses and would take it to the judges to consider, etc.

    If you so much as knocked one tooth from your slave’s (“servant” really) mouth you were to let them go with provisions enough to begin a new life.

    Your “wife has been yapping in church a lot so I showed her the verses where she needs to keep quiet”—again, you are misunderstanding and misapplying this text which actually denounces the call for women to be quite in church.
    This is evidenced at this URL:
    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/07/atheism-evilbiblecom-theists-suck-and_07.html

    “Should we stone to death anyone who works on the Sabbath?”—same answer as for your confusion about the adulterous neighbor.

    Thus, the Bible’s answer is no, we must not.

    May I also assume that you are pro-life? Also, and interestingly I did not notice you condemning the Egyptians for enslaving the Jews; or is slavery only occasion to condemn Jews and Christians but not Gentile Pagans?

    As for the age of the Earth I will let someone else take that up but be aware that opinion differs on this topic.

  3. Arpad says:

    There are many aspects to the concepts of good and evil.

    When we talk about morality, surely we’re talking about good (for humans) and evil (for humans). Certainly a society can come together and determine what that morality is and it certainly has in various ways in various societies throughout the millennia, well before there was a thought of a monotheistic, Judaic God. Hammurabi, as one example, did not look to a Judaic God or the Bible to cast his morality. Morality has never been an absolute ingrained in us by God but an ability to discern morality to our best possible ability to the maximum benefit of society (e.g. “don’t eat pork”). All of the atrocious acts committed in the name of God, justified by the Bible were not our best ability to set our morality, in hindsight, as presently discerned. Also in Hitler’s case, though with the amount of people subjected to evil (for humans) at the time, it would be hard to view that as moral by any perspective, even one from the inside looking out.

    You can also talk about good and evil in the context of material and spiritual. In that sense, perhaps we’re getting closer to a universal concept of good and evil. If you cling too closely to material things, you are likely to perform immoral acts and perhaps you will also cling too closely to the material world hindering your transition to the spiritual at the time of your death. If you believe in the spiritual. But even in this sense, it’s a human path to take.

    In a grander sense, the cosmos has order and disorder, constantly in flux and yes, like the concept of good and evil, at odds. But as for there being a cosmic morality absent human discernment? Doubtful.

    Any other view and we lead to the “battle between Good and Evil.” Now “battle,” in itself is evil by many definitions. A paradox? A sad one.

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