Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: Merv <>
Date: Wed May 02 2007 - 20:50:12 EDT

I agree with everything you wrote below, Wayne -- & yet, the neat
packaging gives me pause. [no God means no meaning and nothing but
biochemical masses doing what chemicals do... delusions or "truth" all
in one big meaningless pot.] I'm sure atheists aren't taking this
sitting down. In fact, isn't Dennet (I've only read one of his books &
can't even remember which it was) working on resurrecting a notion of
atheism minus the despair? If Christian scientific thinkers can dabble
in kinds of naturalism and speak of "emergent" properties that defy
reductionist analysis, then can't atheists pursue this angle as well and
begin to postulate meaning and purpose in some purely Evolutionary
sense? I think Dennet may be attempting it. The only difference would
probably be that instead of God providing the meaning, it is supposed to
come from "us" -- perhaps at some community level. If they ever seem
successful in this, then it would be in defiance of our inclinations
you/we express below. And we can still insist (and unanswerably so) that
such "meaning" is still illusionary to the extent that it claims an
objective basis. Nevertheless their labor (if taken to be successful)
would begin to deflate the sting of this Christian argument. I still
think that the only final "argument" that we will rest on will be on our
faith in an objective Truth. And utility, such as what may be found at
times or missing at other times, will only be a secondary support built
on that prior foundation of objective truth recognized only by faith.
But we should anticipate how we, as a Christian community, would/will
respond to such "de-objectified" values construction.

--Merv wrote:
> What you are raising is why should the truth even
> matter? Indeed, if there is no objective truth, no
> purpose, an indiscriminate universe ("pitiless" implies
> will), and this material is all that is, we can start
> with the God Delusion, but soon we can see that all
> our desires are also "delusion". Our human desire
> for friendship, fellowship and love are no more
> significant than the Van der Waals interactions
> in graphite or covalent bonding between carbon and
> oxygen. The temptations I struggle to overcome or
> the truth I might desire are all just chemical
> reactions in my brain. As you suggest, we cannot even
> define "pragmatic" as more than a functional definition.
> Likewise for "will", "good", "evil", etc.
> It's not like we cannot go on. One can use some criteria
> such as market efficiency, equal access to information,
> maximizing the chance of survival of the species, etc.,
> if they wish. But these rules are in fact arbitrary. They
> are illusions. Why should I care about them?
> So all the shouting about truth assumes that there is an
> objective truth that actually matters after all. Yet that
> can only come from the hand of God. All others are just
> "delusion".
> In that sense, if objective truth does not matter, then
> in some respects, living in "delusion" also doesn't matter
> either. Like chemical reactions, you just do as you like.
> So coming back to your point, I agree, holding a position
> of a "pitiless universe of mere material" is a choice of
> course. It does not follow that one (who choses this way)
> has some preordained mission to inculcate a particular brand
> of poison (i.e., opinions, values) on anyone else. Coercion
> may be a consequence of chemicals in the brain, but "best result"
> is nothing more than a functional definition (under these
> assumed condition). I'm not sure under these conditions
> that I can ascribe any value to living under delusion,
> because "rational" and "choice" also become mere functional
> definitions, but neither is it wrong to live this way.
> That I believe the truth matters does require an act of faith,
> so I don't see I can escape the faith word. But the logical
> conclusion of the nihilistic strategy is that all will come
> down and that the truth (in fact) doesn't even matter in the
> end.
> By Grace we proceed,
> Wayne

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Received on Wed May 2 20:45:08 2007

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