Re: [asa] Expelled

From: Merv <>
Date: Sun Apr 27 2008 - 20:33:01 EDT

PvM wrote:
> And what does this gain us? Knowing that there is something we may
> never know during our lifetimes? One may turn around and argue that
> atheists are not constrained by a quest for searching for this elusive
> standard of morality and therefor can apply more appropriate standards
> when outlining standards for morality.
> What is so problematic about atheists not having access to a 'standard
> of morality' when Christians lack a similar clarity? In both cases it
> comes down to us defining our standards of morality. In the end we all
> work from subjective standards, whether or not we believe there is a
> Higher Being who has His own set of standards.
For the Christian, the Scriptural basis is everything, even if we don't
(or maybe refuse) to always see it clearly. Here is what I find to be
the more puzzling question: Why DO atheists adhere to the morality
that they do have? Obviously they don't just (as a class, anyway) throw
all social mores to the wind. They do accept societal conditioning and
restraints on their behavior, if only for self-interest. I blush,
from shame, if I'm caught doing or saying something shameful. Does an
atheist feel shame. I'm going to bet many of them do. Probably
because they were socialized to (they would say). The difference is,
for them shame is a pathology that links them to a prudish religious
past they are trying to lose. To the Christian, shame is a (usually
helpful) motivator to make right choices in the first place.

I wonder: If it were somehow discovered in some impossible "knock
everybody down" revelation that no supreme being exists (or the supreme
being that does exist appears one day to announce He is tired of us, he
is leaving forever, and we should just do as we will...) then I wonder
who would become the more dangerous class of people to be around on this
planet? Atheists (who never believed or cared about God anyway, but
just adopted whatever social mores they thought appropriate?) or
Christians (who very much see the only legitimate grounding for morality
as being in God). Of course, a good reason why Christians would "fall
apart" without God is that we tend to be among those who most realize
our need for him. "...not many of you were wise according to the
world..." The pridefully self-sufficient do have the hardest time go
through the eye of the needle. So it may go without saying that without
God, the weakest collapse first. So I don't think it too far off to
suggest that the Christians, along with all the theistic religions as a
class would possibly become the nastiest in a hurry. Dawkins suggests
something like this (one of the few things of interest in God Delusion),
and this argument would be a good one except for its one glaring
flaw: It's blissfully hypothetical. (thank God above.)

But it does leave us with the non-hypothetical question: Whose
morality is superior? Those who know God is watching and derive their
guilt from that? Or those who simply adopt their morality from the
society around them? (& Christians can legitimately belong to both
sets). I'm pretty sure, though, that even the Dawkins' of the world
"adopt" some sense of morality from somewhere, despite denying any
absolute basis for it. He virtually says as much. The Christian who
over-elevates morality to a central status of differentiation between
believer and atheist does, I think, find his argument severely weakened.


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Received on Sun Apr 27 20:35:41 2008

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