If Living, Then Not Both Rational and Honest

(Corey J. Mahler, Esq.) #1

The Central Logical Problem of Atheism and Hard Materialism

Anyone who claims to be an Atheist should immediately lose any and all credibility with rational men, for an Atheist can be at most two of the following things: alive, rational, and honest. Naturally, this means that a living Atheist must be irrational or dishonest. The logic behind these conclusions is as simple as it is compelling: If there is no soul, this life is, in the end analysis, wholly and totally devoid of meaning. In the face of a meaningless existence, the only logical action is not to act. However, avoiding personal pain and suffering is also rational, so suicide (in order to avoid the pain and suffering entailed by simply waiting to die) is the most rational choice.

Atheists, of course, will advance a number of arguments in an (entirely futile) attempt to rebut this undeniable and irrefutable logic. I have yet to see an even remotely convincing rebuttal. Further, virtually all of these attempts fall into one (or more) of the following four categories:

  1. Evolution Arguments
  2. Suicide Is Wrong Arguments
  3. Duty Arguments
  4. Hedonic Arguments

Evolution Argument

One of two primary arguments advanced by Atheists when attempting to rationalize their continued existence is the Evolution Argument (the second is the Hedonic Argument, discussed infra). In reality, this 'argument' is actually a family of related arguments. They all take essentially the same basic form: 'the whole point of evolution is the propagation of genes [A] and thus one should continue to live [B] or at least not kill oneself [C].

The Atheist who advances this argument manages to pack an almost impressive amount of nonsense into a fairly compact 'argument', and, consequently, I have broken the argument into three pieces (i.e., A, B, and C). We shall address these in turn.

A: Point of Evolution = Propagation of Genes

Evolution has no point. This will come as a shock to most New Atheists and most of the denizens of various Internet sites where these topics (particularly Atheism) are debated. However, this fact is as irrefutable as it is unavoidable. Evolution is a process, it knows neither points nor goals. It simply is.

Consequently, it is completely incoherent to argue that evolution has a point or a goal. Antecedent A is entirely incoherent. Of course, we shan't be making the central error of Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and concluding that B or C are false due to the falsity of A (i.e., we are not going to commit the elementary error of logic of denying the antecedent).

However, we have at least shown that the argument advanced by so many Atheists is, in fact, wrong. (n.b., this is not to say that it is poorly constructed [though it is also that], but merely that it loses any power to compel as the antecedent is incoherent and cannot be true.) We are not, however, going to content ourselves with showing that the argument is wrong due to the incoherence of A, we are going to move on and show that the entire argument is incoherent (i.e., that B and C are as logically invalid and incoherent as A).

B: One Should Continue to Live

Please welcome one of the oldest and most extensively employed fallacies in all of history: the is-ought fallacy. Here, in summarized form, the Atheist asserts: 'evolution is, therefore we ought'. This does not follow and is incoherent. Not all statements of fact necessarily entail any sort of prescriptive command. In fact, the majority of descriptive/positive statements entail no normative/prescriptive injunction.

In this argument, the Atheist argues (if we help him by correcting it to read: "Evolution is the process whereby certain genetic material is preserved and transmitted to future generations, typically via out-competing other genetic material.") that evolution does X, therefore we ought to do Y. This does not follow (non sequitur). Just because evolution does a thing does not mean we should aid it in doing so. In essence, what the Atheist is actually arguing in B (if, again, we help him by correcting his conclusion) is: "In order to continue one's genetic line and to increase the odds of one's genes being passed on to future generations, one should continue to live."

We have a number of problems here. First, this 'argument' employs circular reasoning, it is begging the question. The Atheist assumes his conclusion without any proof. He asserts that we should want to continue our genes. Why? No reasons are given.

C: One Should Not Commit Suicide

This 'argument'/conclusion is essentially a copy of the previous with "not commit suicide" replacing "continue to live". It would be too repetitive to run through the problems again. All that was wrong with the previous argument is also wrong here. While there is also a problem with shoehorning in the Moral Law, this aspect is discussed, infra, under "Suicide Is Wrong".

Discussion

The evolution argument, as typically advanced, is a jumble of bad ideas and, at its best, sophistry. The Atheist who employs it can hope only that his audience will not notice his errors, fallacies, obfuscation, and conflation. The 'argument' has power neither to persuade not to compel; it should be dismissed wholesale.

Additionally, while this does not provide formal, logical grounds upon which to dismiss the evolution argument, I have noticed that most Atheists who advance it are hypocrites in some way. Quite often, they have no children or very few children. Clearly, this is not in keeping with their professed belief in the purpose of life (and the twin believe that we should aid or pursue that purpose). While, again, this does not constitute actual proof or refutation, a bit of sophistry can go a long way in an informal argument or even a formal debate.

Suicide Is Wrong

Similar to the evolution argument in many ways, this argument commits at least one unique error: It attempts to shoehorn in the Moral Law for an argument under a framework that explicitly denies the existence of the Moral Law. This argument rests on at least one of two pillars: 1) suicide defeats the purpose of life (i.e., propagation) or 2) suicide, in and of itself, is a wrongful act. As the first pillar was discussed, supra, under "Evolution Argument", it is not rehashed here. The second pillar, however, warrants further examination.

Under a Materialist framework (Atheists almost necessarily are Materialists), terms such as "right" and "wrong" have no actual meaning (the same for "good" and "evil"/"bad" when used in the moral sense). However, Atheists who advance this argument use the term "wrong" (or some related, and largely equivalent, term) in a non-Materialist sense (i.e., in a moral sense). This is an admission of defeat advanced as an argument.

If suicide is "wrong", then there is a Moral Law. If there is a Moral Law, then there is more than the material world. If there is more than a material world, Atheism (at the very least when advanced alongside Hard Materialism) is wrong. If only Atheists understood what they were arguing when advancing this position they would never advance it.

Naturally, an Atheist advancing this argument will deny, vehemently, that he is shoehorning in the Moral Law. However, the logic is undeniable and irrefutable. If we are to proclaim anything "wrong", there must be a standard, and that standard is the Moral Law.

Duty

Related to the "Suicide Is Wrong" argument, discussed supra, the Duty Argument commits similar errors, although with an emphasis that is not as common in a straight suicide-is-wrong argument. Here, the Atheist attempts to shoehorn in the Moral Law and disguise his sophistry with emotional imagery. Most frequently, the Atheist will point out a duty to family, to friends, or to Society, claiming that continued existence is an affirmative duty to avoid causing harm to others. Again, we are forced to ask: Why?

Any response offered by the Atheist will invariably rely upon shoehorning in the Moral Law or upon the incoherent is-ought evolution argument. Wherefrom does this duty to family, to friends, or to Society flow? The Atheist can offer no satisfactory response. While emotional imagery may render the argument appealing to some (and, ironically, those who do believe in the Moral Law may be particularly susceptible to such sophistry), it is ultimately incoherent. Be prepared for ad hominem if and when you reveal this sophistry.

Hedonic Argument

While the evolution argument enjoys a certain degree of popularity (and virtually every Atheist will resort to it at some point), perhaps nothing is more popular (and common among modern/New Atheists) than the Hedonic Argument. In short, the hedonic argument boils down to the following: 'I continue to exist because I enjoy life/it brings me pleasure.' For those who have read the rest of this article up to this point, at least some of the problems with the argument are almost certainly immediately apparent.

First, and foremost, pleasure is not a valid reason to continue existing. Pleasure may be an arguably valid reason to do some things (or not to refrain from doing some things), but pleasure is not a sufficient reason to continue to live. If, in the end analysis, Hard Materialism is correct and, consequently, all of life is utterly devoid of meaning, then momentary pleasure is also, necessarily, meaningless. Some Atheists will initially have trouble with this (n.b., not because the logic is unsound or complicated, but rather because they do not like the implications). Nevertheless, the premises are sound and the conclusion flows necessarily.

If we are merely matter that is, more or less, self-aware and the Universe is doomed to end, regardless of how that end comes about, then nothing we do has any ultimate meaning. Murdering children for sport is just as meaningful (and just as meaningless) as devoting one's life to relieving the suffering of the poor and curing disease (i.e., these actions are all equally meaningless). While this clearly leads to abhorrent results, the consequences of an argument are evidence neither for nor against its validity. However, the fact that all is meaningless in the end does prove the hedonic argument incoherent. Seeking pleasure/avoiding pain is, in the end analysis, wholly and totally meaningless.

Of course, this raises the question: Why is suicide more logical than continuing to live? In the end, this is somewhat a judgement call. For my part, I find decades of meaningless work and effort (even if enjoyable, which undoubtedly is not always the case) to be less compelling than no meaningless work and effort. It seems clear to me that a rational person would choose suicide.

Conclusion

In the end analysis, then, the only rational choice for the Atheist is suicide. He can make an irrational choice or lie to himself (and to others) about his decision (i.e., be dishonest), but the logic is inescapable. For the Atheist, the following simple proposition shakes his worldview to its core and unseats his beliefs from what he believed was a foundation:

Atheist, [(alive)⊻(died of natural causes)]→[(rational)⊼(honest)]

Given an Atheist who is alive (or who died of natural causes), he cannot be (nor can he have been) both rational and honest. The Atheist must abandon reason or lie to himself and to others. Of course, he can also 'opt out'. The Atheist who yet draws breath betrays his irrationality or his dishonesty with each and every breath. For the rest of us, we can remain secure in our belief that an Atheist should never be taken seriously.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://blog.coreyjmahler.com/2017/11/if-living-then-not-both-rational-and-honest/
(Corey J. Mahler, Esq.) #2

(n.b., this post was transferred from an earlier version of this thread when my site was moved from WordPress to Ghost, which is to say that the original lag time in responding was a couple weeks, not nearly two years.)

n.b., quoted sections are from a Facebook message received after posting the article.

  1. “Hey Corey, although you and I don’t have a personal relationship, I distinctly remember sharing a beer with you and {snip} on campus a few years back. Regardless, I have thoroughly enjoyed the [F]acebook discussions between you and our former schoolmates. I find that I generally disagree with the religious and political views that you publicly express, which has led me to read more of what you publish. I’ve read a number of your articles and, in the absence of sobriety, I was motivated to respond to your article about atheists being incapable of being alive, rational, and honest. I do not expect that you read or reply to this response. Honestly, I don’t know that I am interested in a lengthy exchange. However, after taking the time to write this reaction, I figured I might as well send it to you…”

  2. I apologize for my delay in responding to this. I had every intention of responding quickly, but copied your text from Facebook, pasted it into BBEdit, and then promptly forgot I had done so. However, I would like to take this opportunity to state the following: Any question about philosophy (whether theology or otherwise) asked of me in earnest will eventually receive a response. In the general case, this is simply dispositional[1]: I do not shy away from arguments (I should suspect that the fact that we met in law school would make that unsurprising); in the specific case (of theology), this is deontological: As a Christian, I am commanded to provide a defense of my Faith[2] when called to do so (though there are limitations[3]).

  3. “Alive, rational, and honest. In the context of your article, these adjectives describe me… and I am an atheist. Does that make me a coward for not killing myself? {****} no.”

  4. “Your conclusions, stated as facts, are devoid of rationality and do not reflect any demonstrable reality.”

  5. At the outset, I would like to address the clear indicators of emotion in your diction. Ask yourself why the article elicits an emotional response. If you truly believe that you are correct in your views, then my assessment, as a theist, should mean very little to you. If you have read my article as an insult to Atheists, know that I do not intend it as such. I consider what I have argued to be the equivalent of telling a blonde woman that she has blonde hair; if she believes that I have insulted her, then that interpretation rests with her and is foreign to me.

  6. I fully recognize that this is not the way to begin a response that is intended to be persuasive. I find many (perhaps most) take an accusation of emotionality as an insult[4]. If that elicits a defensiveness or an increased criticalness of what follows, good. I want you to fight me every step of the way and challenge every proposition I put forth and critique every conclusion. Conclusions should be accepted only when accompanied by sufficient warrant(s). If I fail to provide such warrant, my conclusions should be disregarded.

  7. “How is the existence of a soul a prerequisite to life having meaning? Why should anyone even care if life has meaning? Your article fails to connect these dots. Further, define “meaning.” Your stated position is that, absent some transcendental reality, life on earth is pointless. That is a baseless assertion for which you must provide some support. Regardless, whether human life has “meaning,” under any justifiable definition, is irrelevant to one’s capacity to be atheist, alive, rational, and honest. You state that, in the face of a meaningless existence, the only rational choice is to not act. Says who? You provide no evidence or argument for this assertion. You assume the validity of this conclusion without any justification. Upon reflection, and in the absence of any explanation in your article, I can find no rational basis for your conclusion. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that human life has any “ultimate” meaning. We are here. Now what?”

  8. I shall start by addressing your second question. We should care if life has a meaning for the same reason we should care if a test has a subject. I would class the question of whether or not life has a meaning with questions such as “Does this cup contain water or cyanide?”. This may seem flippant, but I do not intend it so. Whether or not life has a meaning is very likely the most important question in human existence[5]. We constantly ask ourselves questions about the nature of reality or entities contained within reality (e.g., the aforementioned cup). I believe the question of whether or not life has meaning is this same sort of classification question; it is simply a very important classification question.

  9. Your assessment of my position that “absent some transcendental reality, life on earth is pointless” is an accurate assessment of my stance. I firmly believe that meaning is impossible within a Materialist paradigm. I do not believe this to be baseless; rather, I believe it to be self-evident. If I am faced with a decision, to choose between two paths or courses of action and the outcome of the two is exactly the same, then the decision is irrelevant.[6] If death is the ultimate end of all life, then the decisions we make within life are, ultimately, irrelevant.

  10. I disagree with your assessment that being a living, rational, honest Atheist is possible in the absence of meaning. How can there be warrant (let alone sufficient warrant) to act if there is no difference between or among any of the presented options? I am not, here, speaking of things like thirst or hunger, which are perfectly sufficient warrant for deciding to, for example, order a coffee or some tacos (preferably not together). I am speaking of a warrant that is different in kind, not degree. “Because I am hungry.” is an insufficient (and incoherent) warrant for running a marathon. ‘Because I enjoy X.’ is an equally insufficient warrant for continuing to live.

  11. Warrants must match the decisions or the actions for which they are supplied. I do not believe there exists a valid or even a coherent warrant for continuing to live in the absence of ultimate meaning. For the Materialist, there can be only fleeting, ephemeral warrants tied to human biology. If there is nothing beyond the flesh, then there can be no warrants other than those that relate to the fleshly appetites. The flesh can hunger, thirst, or lust, but it cannot seek enlightenment or truth. Even to propose that such endeavors can be undertaken by man is to admit there exists something beyond the material.[7]

  12. “I was taught, and believed for many years, that a god exists. In the interest of expediency, I subscribed to the basic tenets of the Christian faith as it is commonly adhered to in the U.S. e.g., John 3:16, the bible is divinely inspired, etc., believing them wholeheartedly. However, my rational mind, when faced with the observable truths of this world and lack of evidence for a god, forced me to be honest with myself and abandon my belief in god(s). Reaching the point of calling myself an atheist was delayed for years by my fear of hell. Of course, my question was: what if I am wrong? In retrospect, my lingering “faith” was merely the result of distrust in my rational mind and lack of courage. My liberation from unfounded beliefs was hard fought and only came to fruition as a result of being painfully honest with myself and trusting my capacity as a rational being. Overthrowing the burden of belief in the supernatural was further complicated by the anticipated, and actual, overt expressions of disapproval from those closest to me.”

  13. We’ll assume, arguendo, that we agree on the tenets of the Christian faith (as doing otherwise is well beyond the scope of this discussion).

  14. If you believe that your “rational mind” “faced with the observable truths of this world” leads, inevitably, to the conclusion that there is a “lack of evidence for” God, then I am forced to conclude that you did not search very far or very wide. I could, of course, simply resort to Psalms 19:1 (NKJV), but I believe in meeting on (for lack of a better term) ‘enemy’ soil. So we’ll cast aside, arguendo, my firm belief that belief in God is properly basic and that God’s existence is overwhelmingly self-evident. (If you are so inclined, I would be glad to respond to specific arguments concerning a lack of evidence, but I’ll also address a few general items.)

  15. In the absence of God, how do you explain morality? Yes, there have been some recent (I would say “abortive”) attempts to explain morality within an evolutionary framework. Of course, these all suffer from one fatal (and rather simple) logical flaw: Genes are carried by specific members of a species. The first member of a species to develop altruistic or ‘moral’ tendencies will fail to reproduce as effectively as other members who do not develop such tendencies. Ask yourself, which is more likely to reproduce: The baboon that believes the most effective way to spread his genes is the killing of rivals and the rape of every female he encounters or the one that believes the most effective way to spread his genes is to have a single mate and avoid conflict? The answer is sufficiently obvious to go without bothering to state it.

  16. A population cannot evolve simultaneously; that is not how evolution works. Yes, there is the argument concerning so-called ‘punctuated equilibria’, but even that theory cannot aid those who would argue in favor of an evolutionary basis for morality. You are faced with two options: Conclude that you cannot answer this question (and, very likely, cannot even hope to answer it) or conclude that there is a Moral Law Giver. I am inclined toward the latter.

  17. In the absence of God, how do you explain that the Universe had a clear beginning? The evidence of our best science and our best theories[8] points to a definite time in the past whereat the Universe began. This is incredibly problematic for those who would posit Atheism/Materialism. If there was a beginning, then something caused the Universe to begin. Stated another way: The Universe is an effect and an effect must have a cause. You are faced with two options: Conclude that you cannot answer this question (and, very likely, cannot even hope to answer it) or conclude that there is an Uncaused Cause. I am inclined toward the latter.

  18. In the absence of God, upon what do you base your assessment that you possess a “rational mind”? There is no compelling reason to believe that evolution would produce accurate senses. Evolution ‘rewards’[9] competitiveness, insofar as such competitiveness results in increased reproductive ‘success’. You assume your senses are accurate and you assume that your mind is reasonable, but you have no warrant to do so. You may argue, as many have done, that an accurate assessment of the world is more conducive to survival and, therefore, evolution is likely to favor accurate senses. However, this argument is not compelling.

  19. Let us take a famous (perhaps an infamous, from the point of view of some Atheists) example from the philosophy literature: If you are presented with a lion and you have a desire to pet it but believe the best way to accomplish this is to run away from the lion, then your odds of survival are neither better nor worse than the odds of survival of another entity that runs away from the lion because he correctly believes it to be dangerous. Your assessment is inaccurate, but it is just as evolutionarily fit. You are faced with two options: Conclude that you cannot trust your senses or your reason because there is insufficient warrant for doing so[10] or conclude that your senses and your reason were created by a Rational Creator. I am inclined toward the latter.

  20. As for your comments regarding a fear of Hell, you are in the company of not a few great minds, not the least of them Blaise Pascal. You are undoubtedly aware of his famous ‘wager’ (a simple game theory dominance argument), but I’ll reproduce it here nonetheless:

  21. Pascal’s Wager

God Exists God Does Not Exist
Wager for God Gain All Status Quo
Wager against God Lose All Status Quo
  1. “Whether my life has any meaning is a non-issue in how I approach living, and certainly does not have any bearing on my will to live. You profess to think that, if I was rational, I would (or should) off myself. Your view is spectacularly morbid. Your stated view is that suicide is the most rational choice for me in order that I avoid the pain and suffering associated with “simply waiting to die.” I pity you if you that’s what you think we, as humans, are doing on this earth. I choose to live each day because this one life that I have is beautiful and full of opportunity to experience, among other things, love, pleasure, and fellowship with my mortal brothers and sisters (point #4 of your article). With only one brief life to live, what rational (and healthy/capable/non-distressed) being would waste this incredible opportunity? Perhaps it is my selfishness that drives my desire to extend my life on earth as long as possible. My refrain from suicide is not influenced by any dogma as, I’m sure, yours must be. After all, under your (presumed) view, absent a divine prohibition, perhaps the most rational choice would be to expedite death in order to hasten your eternity of bliss.”

  2. The morbidness of a view is not an argument against it. Only the logic matters, here. For what it is worth, I would agree with your assessment: This view is morbid. However, I do not believe it any more morbid than Atheism. Atheism posits that we are merely self-aware monkeys[11] floating through space on a giant rock, hurtling from nothing toward nothing and doomed to die without understanding even a scintilla of reality. That is what I would call a depressing view of things.[12]

  3. If you are simply meat, then you are simply waiting to die. You may amuse yourself with frivolities (which is actually a charitable assessment of what everything is within a Materialist framework) while you wait to die; you may even distract yourself from the fact that you are waiting to die, but the fact remains: If you are simply meat, you are simply waiting to die. I agree with your assessment that there is much to be enjoyed in this life, and we should enjoy this life[13]; however, the fact that you may enjoy these things in the moment does not mean that they give your life ultimate purpose. My article addresses only ultimate purpose. There is a clear reason for this: If my assessment is correct (i.e., that there can be no ultimate purpose within a Materialism/Atheist framework), then all else is necessarily pointless due that lack of ultimate meaning.

  4. You raise rationality again, but I believe I addressed it sufficiently, supra. I’ll refrain from readdressing it here. As for the rationality of suicide for the Christian (I’ll refrain from speaking for members of other religions), I’ll have to disagree with your assessment. For the Christian, this life has purpose and meaning, it would be nonsensical and irrational to abandon this life early[14]. Further, my personal belief is that the foundation of morality is duty. I believe we have a duty to live our lives and not to end them prematurely. It is for God alone to decide how long we live and I’ll not presume to know better than He when I should shuffle off this mortal coil.

  5. For the record: If I believed there were no God, no afterlife, no ultimate meaning to all of this, I would spend an appropriate amount of time assessing the validity of my beliefs and then, assuming I conclude my beliefs to be sound, kill myself without hesitation.

  6. “Each of your four primary arguments are predicated on your opinion (stated as fact) that without a soul/meaning, the honest and rational human should not continue to live. I wholeheartedly disagree with this foundational point and therefore find no value in your derivative arguments. Regardless, to address your four straw-men:”

  7. I would have to staunchly disagree with your assessment that my counterarguments are straw men. I have, in fact, presented the strongest (if, admittedly, not the most lengthy or the most detailed) versions of the arguments I am here refuting. I prefer to employ the so-called “iron man” tactic. I do not believe you have presented, infra, versions of these arguments that are any stronger than the ones I originally presented.

  8. “1. Evolution arguments. What the hell does diversification over time have to do with theism? I agree, evolution does not have a point or a goal. It is an explanation for what is. My desire to live is not an “ought” position.”

  9. It seems we agree. My point was simply that evolution cannot provide a reason to continue living.

  10. “2. Suicide is wrong arguments. I selfishly desire to live.”

  11. Your desire to live is irrelevent to this particular counterargument. I am addressing the argument that suicide is wrong, not that you may wish to continue living (a separate argument [the Hedonic Argument, infra]).

  12. “3. Duty arguments. Again, your arguments are entirely based on the presupposition that, without the transcendent, rational beings should wish death. I cannot disagree more. Setting aside your unfounded premise, “duty” to self or others, as a motivation for living, does not factor into the equation. For me, whether life has any ultimate meaning, whether there is a god, whether there is anything after death, etc. has no bearing on my desire to live, my ability to be moral, or how I live my life. And no, I do not see any nexus between morality and theism, other than that theism has, in many ways, crippled the morality of many societies.”

  13. My point is that your desire to live is ultimately irrational. I do not for a second doubt that you desire to live; I am not attacking that proposition. I am attacking the argument that it is rational to continue living in the face of an ultimately meaningless life. Again, within a Materialist framework, there can be neither ultimate meaning nor ultimate purpose. Given this, all actions are ultimately meaningless. My argument is not about your desires, but the rationality of your actions.

  14. I’ll (largely) ignore the drive-by comment about theism and morality. If you wish to be more specific, I’ll happily respond. If you are genuinely interested in this issue, I might recommend the following book: How the West Won, which is just one of many excellent books on the subject. I would also recommend this short video from PragerU: Where Do Good and Evil Come From?

  15. “4. Hedonic argument. This is what I have, more or less, presented above. You state that pleasure is not a sufficient reason to continue to live. You further state that pleasure is, necessarily, meaningless. Again, I don’t know what your definition of “meaning” is, but I don’t need my gratification to have any ultimate meaning. I can desire to continue to exist so that I can experience the things that bring me (and others) joy, especially knowing that this is my only opportunity. This does not make me irrational, or dishonest. You allude to some questions of morality in this section e.g., murdering children for sport and curing disease, and conclude that if there is no god, these actions do not have any ultimate meaning. I don’t know that I disagree. I certainly don’t find the impact of these actions comparable and by no means consider those actions equal. I simply don’t accept that anything has ultimate meaning (as I understand your usage of “ultimate meaning”). I don’t need a god to distinguish between the two examples above and/or to judge those actions as moral or immoral. We can observe the impact that most actions have on the well-being of the actor and those affected, which is motivation enough to either do, or refrain from doing, a given thing. All I can say is, thank god that morality, as I understand the concept, is not derived from any holy books or divine command.”

  16. I am unsurprised that you find this particular argument the most compelling of the set. It is the most common argument advanced by Atheists in the last few decades (and it has been popular much longer than that). If you are willing to concede that you are living, irrational, and honest, then I believe we can agree. You have resolutely refused to require or even to seek sufficient warrant for your actions; this is irrational. (To be clear: I believe you are actually behing dishonest with yourself, not that you are irrational.)

  17. I could attack your argument regarding “impact” as an argumentum ad consequentiam, but that, while entirely valid and fair, seems somewhat ‘cheap’ to me. Instead, I’ll attack the core of your argument: You’ve shoehorned in the Moral Law. You have exchanged “right” and “wrong” for “impact”, but you have not fundamentally changed the analysis. You rely on a Moral Law that you deny exists to make your assessment (I assume) that murdering children is wrong and curing diseases is good. Impact is utterly irrelevant and completely meaningless in the absence of an objective morality. All you can assert is that you prefer not to murder children, not that it is wrong.

  18. I would, again, recommend watching the aforementioned PragerU video regarding the basis of morality. And, again, I invite any specific questions about Christian morality that you may have. Naturally, I’ll decline any invitation to defend the tenets of other religions.

  19. “Ultimately, I find the perspective on life expressed in your article to be pathetically despondent. Perhaps if I was administered a strong dose of depression and despair, I would desire death, as you suggest I should. However, my disbelief in god(s) is an issue that has no bearing on my desire to live, my rationality, or my honesty. Again, you provided nothing of value to the reader to connect life, rationality, and honesty to theism, and certainly nothing to support your ultimate conclusion.”

  20. I believe I have more than adequately addressed the rationality point, and I believe in doing so I have negated any need to address dishonesty (at least beyond the admittedly cursory, parenthetical treatment it received, supra). We are addressing two very different points here: You are arguing, essentially, that you enjoy certain activities in the moment and so you desire to continue doing them (n.b., your desire to continue doing them does not render them rational); I am arguing that there is no ultimate purpose or meaning in a Materialist/Atheist framework and that, consequently, working backward, there can be no meaning or purpose in anything else. I hardly think you would advance the position that an individual ant’s life is meaningful or purposeful; if we are mere flesh, then we are less even than dust in the wind and our existence is as meaningless as that of the ant.

  21. At a very basic level, I am arguing about reason and warrant and you are arguing about preference and desire. These are two very different (sets of) things and should not be conflated. You have a preference for being alive and thus desire to keep living.[15] I believe I have warrant to believe in God and thus reason to live.

  22. “Lastly, there was not a single sentence in your article that could reasonably be construed as an argument for the existence of any god. Maybe you have addressed this preliminary question in earlier posts. However, until adequate evidence for the existence of a thing has been presented, I do not see how any living, rational, and honest person could believe in that thing and I certainly can’t see the point in criticizing non-belief in that thing. Absent any evidence or compelling reason to believe in anything supernatural, I find your article, in its entirety, to be completely asinine.”

  23. If you would like material on this point, I can make numerous, excellent reading recommendations (and I can summarize [or present in toto] the overwhelming majority of the arguments in this area). I touched on a few of the major arguments, supra, under paragraph 12. This article was not meant as an argument for the existence of God. I do not believe proving God exists is a necessary part of the (counter)arguments presented. The article was meant as an assault on Atheism, not a defense of theism.


  1. I adhere staunchly to a personal tenet that the unexamined or indefensible belief is unworthy of being held and the one who holds such a belief shames himself. ↩︎

  2. See, e.g., 1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV). ↩︎

  3. See, e.g., Matthew 7:6 (NKJV), Proverbs 9:7 (NKJV), Proverbs 16:22 (NKJV), Proverbs 23:9 (NKJV), Proverbs 26:4 (NKJV). ↩︎

  4. For the record: I would tend to disagree; I believe emotions are part of what makes us human. An accusation of a general inability to control one’s emotions would be something I would consider an insult, however. ↩︎

  5. I know many theists who would take issue with my assessment here; they would claim that “Does God exist?” (or similar) is the most important question, but I do not find these two questions to be fundamentally or even practically different. If there is a God, there is almost certainly a purpose; if there is no God, then there is almost certainly no purpose. To answer either of these questions is, to my mind, to answer both. ↩︎

  6. Yes, one could argue that the paths may be different while the outcomes are the same, but I am here stating that the two courses of action are perfectly equivalent. The ‘the journey is the destination’ argument is addressed later. ↩︎

  7. This is, I would argue, tantamount to an admission that there is a soul. ↩︎

  8. See, e.g., the predictive power of the Big Bang[16] theory regarding the cosmic microwave background. ↩︎

  9. Insofar as the concept of “reward” is even minimally coherent within an evolutionary framework. ↩︎

  10. Even this is problematic, as we’ve clearly relied upon logic and reason to arrive at the conclusion, and, within a Materialist framework, neither of those can be trusted. ↩︎

  11. More accurately: apes. ↩︎

  12. n.b., again, the unpleasantness of a view means nothing in regard to its accuracy. ↩︎

  13. Within both moderation and the bounds of what is proper, of course. ↩︎

  14. Also a sin (although not an unforgivable one). ↩︎

  15. n.b., I am not arguing that it is wrong to have such a preference and the consequent desire, merely that the preference does not provide logical warrant. ↩︎

  16. It may be worth noting that the progenitor of the Big Bang theory was a Roman Catholic priest. ↩︎