Monday, July 7, 2008

Logical Consistency.

I must admit, I love logical consistency. There is nothing I despise more than equivocation. So then, when I read the writings of atheist's such as Richard Dawkins - it drives my mind up the wall. Grand moral claims are made with absolutely no basis to draw from1. Dawkins and his cohorts would lead us to believe all kinds of moral truisms without giving us any substantiation to follow their particular views other than "ok children play nice."

In other words, if what Dawkins and company put forward as the moral law for humanity be true, and if their atheistic evolutionary paradigm be true as well, what is the grounds for their fastidious claims? In the final analysis there are no objective grounds. The best defenses that can be presented are ultimately subjective, esoteric, best guesses, moral hypothesis' and the like. Since there is no one ultimate eternal standard but temporal, relative, in a constant state of flux micro-standards, who says the rules can't be changed or bent?

Such is not the case with consistent (atheistic) thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche of yesterday and to a certain extant, William Provine today. For Nietzsche God was dead and thus led to his nihilistic philosophy2. No pretensions, no equivocation, Nietzsche was at least logically consistent and his logic led to it's rational conclusion, namely a dark, godless world where what dominated was the "super man" or the man with the will to take the bull by the horns and be the master of his own destiny. The super man can face this nihilistic reality with bravery. The weak, crushed by the futility of it all, are doomed to depression and suicide3.

Professor William Provine4 in stark contrast to Dawkins plays no word games. There is no God and we should not pretend to understand nor pontificate on moral absolutes. Here is a short video of Provine (part of a larger multi-series debate between Provine and Phil Johnson) in action and I will comment on some remarks he makes -

1. Provine claims the supposed God Designer is surely a fool since the extinction record is a dismal account of the majority of animal life dying out, the survival rate being low. This point fails on two counts, first it can be countered that this apparent dismal rate of death is actually God's intelligent design par excellence, giving us today critical fossil fuels and molding the world best suited for human life. Secondly, we say that the pinnacle of God's creation is mankind and thus claiming that the recurring cycle of animal extinction runs counter to an intelligent designer is void. The age of humanity is the ultimate reason for prior extinction.

2. Provine must be a gutsy gambling man. He states with tongue in full cheek that if he is right his opponent (Johnson) will be pleasantly surprised too see that there is nothing beyond the great beyond, but utter annihilation. But Provine remarks, if Johnson is right, at least he will be in hell "without those Sunday morning preachers grinning at him" (greeted by laughter and applause from some audience members). I can't really imagine what type of tortured soul can make comments such as these. The stakes are incredibly high, face temporal destruction or face an eternal torment such as has not entered the human mind or imagination? Why not "play it safe?" That is what I mean by being an incredible gambler if you (with all knowledge and consent) reject the possibility of an eternal consequence over a temporal one.

3. Provine then treats us with a little projector page entitled "Summary of implications of modern evolutionary biology." The points of our interest today being; "No ultimate foundation for ethics," and "No ultimate meaning of life." Points anticipated and explained by Neitzsche. Provine goes on to assure the crowd that the bad part of "Christian Humanism" is that one has too "suspend his rational mind." Apparently, Provine ignores two thousand years of the best and brightest minds of academia, logic, philosophy and theology as theistic and formidable indeed5.

4. Atheistic Humanism in contrast Provine asserts, is intellectually satisfying having given up the "fairy tales" of his Christian youth. The Christian idea of "free will" has been one of the most destructive ideas of history, "since it treats people like crap if they do something wrong in our society." This myth of free will gives the judicial powers that be a rational justification to exact vengeance on the offender. It takes little intelligence to detect the strawman's that are set up by Provine then viciously knocked to the ground.

On and on the parade of consistent nonsense goes on. "If you're an atheist" remarks Provine, "and you know you are going to die what matters most is friendship." Utter nonsense, but at least he's consistent.

[End Notes.]

1. Dawkins has been answered in a number of different ways. In literary form David Berlinski has been on the forefront refuting aggresive atheism most recently in his work, (The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and it's Scientific Pretensions, Crown Forum Pub. 2008). In audio debate Professor John Lennox has been one of the strongest devastations of Dawkins, - as well as giving able published responses to atheist's such as his (God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Lion UK. 2007).

2. Including a psychological attack on Christianity, (The Antichrist). Neitzsche tells the sarcastic story of the death of the gods; the pantheon of heathen gods died of laughter when hearing the exclusive worship claims of Yahweh. Later this god of the Jews died of pity.

3. Neitzsche died in an infirmary in a state of madness, signing autographs as it were as "The Crucified One," believing he was Jesus Christ. Some say it was due to syphilis, others, that Neitzsche was finally overcome by his own nihilistic worldview.

4. Distinguished professor at Cornell University.

5. The large majority of the best thinkers of human history being Catholic.


~Joseph the Worker said...

Maybe I fail to see the consistency, but what is so special about friendship if I'm an atheist? It could be a definitional problem, but friendship would only be "skin deep" so to say, and I would stab my friend to death if I had to in order to survive. I thought true friendship would be to die for another? :)

R. E. Aguirre. said...

The consistency in these type of atheists is that they at least admit there is no consistency. In contrast to Dawkins who set's up absurd "consistencies" (which have no basis in logical reality) these others (at least to a lesser degree)tone down the sophistry and try and "give it to you straight."

The example you pose Joseph, is a classical problem for atheist's of all stripes, for how can they say friendship is the highest good? What rational can there be (if atheism be true) to stop a person from stabbing to death his best friend if the situation called for it?

Joseph said...

Right, I always find myself in debates with the intellectual atheist type. It always starts with them speaking to me condescendingly, based on the assumption that I am operating under a system purely dependent on belief without evidence to support it. I patiently absorb their attacks, then turn and ask them to provide evidence and objectively prove to me that there is no God. We go through the "burden of proof" waltz for a spell until finally they admit that they cannot provide proof that God does not exist.

Well, then, isn't that a system that is purely dependent on a belief without any evidence to support it?

Like you said, it ultimately comes down to a huge gamble, Pascal's wager to be precise. Countless practicing Atheists end up saying something similar to your man, Provine, "If God doesn't exist, then who cares... I'll rot in the ground and become fossil fuel for generations to come; if God does exist then I'll see you in Hell", in a light-hearted fashion. It is troublesome that they end up ultimately taking the wrong side of Pascals wager, yet they spend so much time trying to refute it. It is very troubling to here such lighthearted speech about the total acceptance of eternal damnation, all for something that they cannot prove.

R. E. Aguirre. said...

Good points Joe, and yes like you said all current views on God ultimately are metaphysical assumptions.

And if one assumes there is no God it is an incredibly large wager.