Saturday, February 7, 2015

Don't Overestimate Matter

Atheist Conor Faughnan responded to an article written by a Catholic which implied that British atheist Stephen Fry's recent outburst against his (Fry's) conception of God was misguided. You can read Faughnan's piece by clicking this link.

If there is one reason I have concluded in my own mind that God-belief is to be preferred over atheism it is this: the atheists are asking a whole lot of matter; more than seems reasonable to my way of thinking.

Fry's outburst (I provided a link to this in my last post) drew from the problem of suffering. His Catholic critic suggested (correctly in my opinion) that matter can't produce a moral law - which one would need in order to attempt to characterize God as immoral.

I'll get to Faughnan's response to that shortly, but first I want to look at an atheist cliche that always seems to get trotted out when morality is discussed between believers and nonbelievers.

Faughnan writes:

Atheism does imply that there is no supernatural policeman watching your life and listening to your thoughts.

Neither punishment nor reward awaits after death. For me, that says that an atheist acting in a moral manner actually has a purer motive in doing so than someone who expects a pay-off for it.

Do atheists not teach their children to respect the authority of the police and rule of law? Do they not warn their children that flaunting the law brings severe consequences, even prison? And if they do, are they then guilty of teaching their children a less pure motive for being a law abiding citizen?

Is avoiding fines, public censure and prison merely payoffs? For that matter, does not the atheist slogan "be good for goodness' sake" become a payoff if the act of doing good produces the warm fuzzies?

I'm just suggesting the atheist cliche about religious morality is a misrepresentation of theistic morality.

But more to my point, Faughan closes his piece with the following thought:

He should not underestimate matter; given that over 13.5 billion years it could form generations of stars, light and heavier elements, organic chemistry, simple and then complex life, and eventually sentient beings capable of morality, love and philosophy.

As I suggested, that's asking a lot of matter.

How does matter do all that? Atheism represents the view that the cosmos - amazing and unlikely as it is - is, when all is said and done, a colossal oddball coincidence.

The spiritual worldview inclines to belief that mind has primacy over matter. That is, morality, love and philosophy are not produced by matter, but rather objectively exist and then are discovered by sentient beings.

If the human mind is itself a coincidence, can it be said that morality and love even exist at all? That is, do they have an objective meaning or is it all semantics? Does truth exist or is a multitude of perceptions and opinions all there is?

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