Re: [asa] Dawkins new book - objective

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Tue Oct 27 2009 - 10:48:18 EDT

Charles (is it Charles?)

You said:
But there are other problems: No matter what the man does, by
atheist-naturalism, it can't really endure anyway. Humanity is accidental,
unforeseen, without purpose, and hopeless. Achieving salvation for
ourselves, resurrecting the dead, bringing justice to all, defeating death,
etc, is not only a hopeless endeavor, it must be - or atheist-naturalism is
not true.

I think you have hit upon the crux of the matter. Materialists believe
certain things must be absolutely untrue and forbidden or else their entire
world view falls apart. Their belief is not so much what *is* but what
*isn't*. Its a very negative philosophy.

This contrasts with the human spirit which yearns for hope, love, truth,
justice, and seeing one's children after we have all left this earth. The
materialist claim is that is all fantasy,nonsense, and unreality - so just
get over it! Your 2 year old boy accidentally killed himself - just get
over it! (This actually happened to my next door neighbor so don't even
think I am using a hypothetical.) Of course you will never see him again
because he is just a bag of chemicals and his human-ness was just a fantasy
anyway. There is no soul. Its not like he ever really mattered even if he
did live - except that he made you feel good.

THIS is what leads materialists to nihilism. The lack of connection to any
kind of ultimate and imponderable source of human-ness. A person grows
weary and just gives up. They then become addicted to the thrill of sex,
drugs, money, power, killing people - whatever it takes - just to kill the
pain. It is the ultimate cynicism. So, if the materialists want to lead
the good life - first they are going to have to show us how materialists
promote humanness - human yearning for hope, love, truth, justice, and
seeing one's children after we have all left this earth, while
simultaneously denying those human values are real. Thye are going to have
to show us how humans are connected with John Paul Sartre's "ultimate
integration point". I don't think they can do that because it is self
contradictory. To say there is somebody out there to which to be connected
would itself be a denial of materialism. Therefore their idea of goodness
and the good life is something else other than what the rest of humanity is
even talking about.

And they think non-materialists are out of touch with reality and are
insane? Ha.

Consider this: There are materialists who go with the flow in life and get
along with all the people around them. They do their thing, and don't care
if anyone else is different. And then there are the other type: the
fundamentalist materialists who want to convert everyone. It galls them
that humans yearn for hope, love, truth, justice, and seeing one's children
after we have all left this earth. They say that is the source of all the
worlds ills.

An Irony: Materialism is appealing because it allows one to worship one's
self instead of a rule imposing God. The irony is it leads to nihilism and
there is no satisfaction. It is fool's gold. What I have difficulty with is
the assertion that fool's gold is real gold. That materialism is true. How
could that even be possible?

-Dave C

PS, I agree with you about forms of naturalism. Thats another posting
though. ;)

On Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 1:03 AM, Schwarzwald <> wrote:

> Heya David,
> You didn't ask me, and I'm in much agreement with your thrust of this. But
> I want to add something to this.
> I think one problem that often comes up in this situation is that
> materialists/naturalists tend to reply in a very mechanical sense. Such as,
> 'Oh, you think Mother Teresa did good works? Well, there's nothing about
> materialist-atheism that prohibits a person from devoting their lives to the
> poor just as she did (aside from, of course, the theistic parts)!' Or,
> 'Okay, so the Columbine murderers were nihilists. But not every atheist is
> running around slaughtering people!' Mechanical, adding up to 'That negative
> act X is not mandated! That positive act Y is not prohibited!' Which, then,
> leads to those monopoly rules - "Well, we can craft certain rules that
> formally encourage Y and discourage X! See, we can have all the values
> normally associated with theism/non-naturalism* without the actual
> theism/non-naturalism!"
> Your example of Doc helps indicate some of the problem there, but I'd like
> to draw that out further. Yes, there's absolutely the aspect where the man
> thinks he can just plain get away with what he's doing, sans repercussions.
> But there are other problems: No matter what the man does, by
> atheist-naturalism, it can't really endure anyway. Humanity is accidental,
> unforeseen, without purpose, and hopeless. Achieving salvation for
> ourselves, resurrecting the dead, bringing justice to all, defeating death,
> etc, is not only a hopeless endeavor, it must be - or atheist-naturalism is
> not true. The only possible victories are utterly transient ones - "what
> does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul", except it's not
> possible to keep your soul. If this is not true - if it's possible for him
> to 'keep his soul' - then a-n is incorrect. Indeed, if he even suspects a-n
> is not true, or may not be true, his commitment to a-n weakens in proportion
> to that suspicion. Which is why I sometimes wonder if there really are as
> many a-n's out there as is often suggested; I think the number is far fewer
> than most would suspect.
> On the flipside, if he really believes a-n is true.. then built into that
> belief is a recognition that all of his efforts will ultimately be in vain
> anyway. Strive to unite the world in peace, but that unity will inevitably
> disintegrate - permanently. Cure diseases if you wish - you'll never cure
> them all, and death is inevitable anyway. Actual progress is illusory, like
> shooting a pistol at the sun to combat global warming (Well, at least the
> bullets cast a shadow!) All that's within grasp is temporary personal
> satisfaction, accent on the temporary. Which helps to illustrate why talk of
> a-n ethos just isn't all that interesting. It's hard to take seriously,
> given the commitments.
> (* But naturalism is a ridiculously slippery term, I've found - it can now
> include panpsychism, dualism, making the "mental" fundamental to the
> universe, etc. And, as I said in another thread, I don't think the future
> holds much for Dawkins-style atheism, or the naturalism we associate with
> him. I do suspect that a 'naturalism' which commits to something other than
> materialism, possibly a very odd form of theism (or polytheism), is going to
> be the greater concern in years to come.)
>> I am reminded of 'doc', my friend who was walking along a road in Viet
>> Nam. He was arguing with a south viet regular army officer about philosophy
>> and life. Doc had asserted there is an objective moral law to which we will
>> be held accountable. The army man pulled his 45, pointed it at a villager
>> that was in a rice paddy at the side of the road. He killed him. He then
>> turns to my friend and says "no there isn't". "It doesn't matter that I
>> killed him, and nobody will ever punish me for doing so. In reality life is
>> dirt cheap, as I have just demonstrated."
>> I would submit that the vietnamese soldier was correct, except in one
>> case. There is an afterlife and a judge. Objectivity will be demonstrated
>> to all of us, and it doesn't really matter if we acknowledge it today. The
>> only thing acknowledgement could do is affect how we live today.
>> But materialists deny the afterlife and the judge. So by their definition
>> there is no objective moral law. What is it to which they are going point
>> to? Can they point to something that would have given pause to those kids
>> at Columbine? I don't think materialists can possibly believe in anything
>> that would have dissuaded those gunmen. Maybe I am wrong. Show me that
>> materialism and nihilism are not lovers (and the case where the materialists
>> are taking a lot of drugs doesn't count).
>> Cheers,
>> Dave C
>> On Sun, Oct 25, 2009 at 11:32 PM, Gregory Arago <>wrote:
>>> hi Tom,
>>> don't think we've met or dialogued before, so just want to first say:
>>> hello!)
>>> yes, i'd say you're missing something in your 'analysis'.
>>> first, maybe you could answer a question: is the reality of the Holy
>>> Spirit 'objective'? if so, then how do you 'know' it? (and please feel free
>>> to treat this as a rhetorical question and just to answer to what is written
>>> below)
>>> i think you've missed Schwarzwald's main point about
>>> materialism-naturalism, by focussing on some particular phrases. perhaps you
>>> could add what you mean by those 'ideologies' in order to meet the point
>>> more directly? do you accept the 'reality' of such ideologies in the
>>> minds/hearts/bodies of people today?
>>> what if we called such values, purposes, meanings, etc.
>>> as 'extra-natural' or 'extra-material,' 'supra-natural' or 'supra-material'
>>> instead?
>>> also, it seems the discussion of 'subjective/objective' by Georg Simmel
>>> might help here (e.g. "On Individuality and Social Forms"). this might offer
>>> new language for your view that 'objective' means 'public.' i'd suggest
>>> there is much more to speak about than to make such an equivocation. it is
>>> as a sociologist that i suggest this, noting with respect your background in
>>> history and philosophy given in your 'signature'.
>>> warm regards,
>>> Gregory
>>> ------------------------------
>>> *From:* Thomas Pearson <>
>>> *To:*
>>> *Sent:* Mon, October 26, 2009 6:58:35 AM
>>> *Subject:* RE: [asa] Dawkins new book
>>> On Saturday, Ocotber 24, 2209, "Schwarzwald" wrote:
>>> >>>For materialist-naturalism, objective moral values, purposes, and
>>> meanings are not available even potentially.<<<
>>> I don't see why not -- unless, of course, you have inflated the meaning
>>> of "objective" to include particulars that don't belong to a strict
>>> definition of "objective," such as (1) grounded in an unassailable source
>>> and/or (2) universal in scope and application. But neither of those are
>>> required in order to achieve objectivity. I'm assuming that "objective"
>>> means something like "public," or "not simply residing in, or justified by,
>>> the subjectivity of a particular individual."
>>> >>>And by this I mean, insofar as someone says "Well, perhaps there are
>>> objective and external/fundamental moral values, purposes, and meanings to
>>> life and reality", they are rejecting the materialist-naturalist worldview.
>>> To even search for these things is to question or reject the truth of the
>>> stated philosophy.<<<
>>> But why should anyone believe that anything such as "external/fundamental
>>> moral vlaues, purposes and meanings to life and reality" is necessary for
>>> something to be objective?
>>> For example: on our campus, as on most university campuses, we have a
>>> policy against plagiarism. It is a public, objective policy, justified by
>>> its connection to other university policies, and to roughly similar policies
>>> at many other schools. But its objectivity is not based on the fact that it
>>> has a universal application (it doesn't), nor on possession of any sort of
>>> "fundamental/external values, purposes and meanings to life and reality" (it
>>> certainly isn't). It is objective because it is a promulgated rubric that
>>> governs our common life together in this particular community.
>>> It's not at all clear to me why a "materialist-naturalist" cannot lay
>>> claim to objective moral values, purposes and meanings in approximately the
>>> same way. They may not be universal or grounded in an unassailable source,
>>> but that doesn't disqualify them from being objective.
>>> Am I missing something here?
>>> Tom Pearson
>>> ______________________________________________
>>> ______________________________________________
>>> Thomas D. Pearson
>>> Department of History & Philosophy
>>> The University of Texas-Pan American
>>> Edinburg, Texas
>>> e-mail:
>>> ------------------------------
>>> Looking for the perfect gift?* Give the gift of Flickr!*<>

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Oct 27 10:48:41 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Oct 27 2009 - 10:48:41 EDT