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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lines of Literature: What's So Great About Christianity? (Cont.)

A significant problem for the atheist is the existence of morality. It turns out that it is very difficult to get rid of morality, and for some atheists this whole problem is major motive in their atheism. Morality is confining and one wishes that it were possible to just philosophically invalidate the whole idea. If only it were that easy. (This makes me think of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, which explored this idea through the story of Raskolnikov.)

In response to the idea that all the evil and suffering in the world comes from religion or religious conflict, D'Souza examines the record of atheist regimes. It isn't pretty. Why?
"A second reason for the horrors of atheist regimes is that they operated without any of the moral restrains that are the product of religion and that, however slightly, held back the bloodthirsty tyrants of the past. Nietzsche saw this coming....The death of God, Nietzsche wrote, would result in the total eclipse of all values." (page 225)

How much have we adopted atheistic philosophies without recognizing it?
"We are accustomed to speaking of the scientific laws of nature. It's worth asking if there are moral laws of human nature. Many of us are unwitting heirs to a philosophy that denies objective morality. We hold that science is objective, but values are subjective. We believe we can know scientific things but morality is a matter of mere opinion."

Darwinism concludes that humans have evolved into moral creatures. But, it is a senseless evolution and the enlightened Darwinist would have us regress to the level of animals, for morality is a false construction.
"So the appeal of Darwinism for many is that it eliminates the concept of a "higher" human nature and places man on a continuum with the animals. The distinctive feature of animals, of course, is that they have no developed sense of morality...Consequently Darwinism becomes a way to break free of the confines of traditional morality. We can set aside the old restraints and simply act the way that comes naturally." (page 270)

"In a powerful essay, 'The Discreet Charm of Nihilism,' Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz argues that in order to escape form an eternal fate in which our sins are punished, man seeks to free himself from religion." (page 271)

"Bioethicist Peter Singer invokes Darwinism to make the point that there is a continuum, not a clear separation, between humans and animals. Therefore animals should be given some of the rights that are now given only to humans. Singer also argues that humans should be denied some of the protections they now have on the grounds that they are not fundamentally different from animals." (page 274-275)

"My conclusion is that, contrary to popular belief, atheism is not primarily an intellectual revolt; it is a moral revolt. Atheists don't find God invisible so much as objectionable. They aren't adjusting their desires to the truth, but rather the truth to fit their desires. This is something with which we can all identify. It is a temptation even for believers. We want to be saved, as long as we are not saved from our sins...The atheist seeks to get rid of moral judgment by getting rid of the judge." (page 276)

It isn't easy to pretend morality doesn't exist.
"Consider this: why do we experience suffering and evil as unjust? If we are purely material beings, then we should no more object to mass murder than a river objects to drying up in a drought. Nevertheless we are not like rivers. We know that evil is real, and we know that it is wrong. But if evil is real, then good must be real as well...there is a moral standard in the universe that provides the basis for this distinction. And what is the source of that moral standard if not God?" (p. 280-281)

As a Christian, I know that arguing point-for-point will never persuade a non-believer. Scripture is clear that it is God who draws us to Himself. So why bother with these arguments? We can all think of some who become obsessed with making these arguments and it ultimately isn't edifying. And yet, we cannot remain intellectually soft. While some are obsessed with the arguments, others are unwittingly co-opting anti-God philosophies because they are weak in their knowledge of Scripture and weak in understanding the foundational beliefs of trends that are seen in our culture, and unable to make the arguments.

Hopefully you've enjoyed this taste of D'Souza's book. It is certainly one to add to your reading list.

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