Can You Be good Without God? 

Can You Be Good Without God?

Can you be good without God? Of the various questions raised in the theist/atheist debate, this question has, I believe, occasioned more witless commentary than any other. That witlessness is again on display in an essay for the Daily Beast, “Can you be good without God?” by Brandon Withrow of the University of Findlay. Withrow interviews a bunch of ticked-off atheists, who get the answer wrong.

He discusses a study titled, “Global evidence of extreme intuitive moral prejudice against atheists”:

“If God did not exist, then we would have to invent him,” said the French philosopher Voltaire. His point: that without a divine being to check right and wrong, any number of atrocities are possible and could go unpunished.

A recent study (of more than 3,000 people in 13 countries) published in the journal Nature Human Behavior echoes Voltaire’s maxim. Looking at intuitive thinking — presumptions drawn by individuals through unconscious biases — researchers led by Will M. Gervais, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, discovered that most individuals intuitively conclude that a serial killer is more likely to be an atheist (approximately 60 percent) than religious (approximately 30 percent).

From the study’s Abstract:

Preliminary work in the United States suggests that anti-atheist prejudice stems, in part, from deeply rooted intuitions about religion’s putatively necessary role in morality. However, the cross-cultural prevalence and magnitude — as well as intracultural demographic stability — of such intuitions, as manifested in intuitive associations of immorality with atheists, remain unclear. Here, we quantify moral distrust of atheists by applying well-tested measures in a large global sample (N = 3,256; 13 diverse countries). Consistent with cultural evolutionary theories of religion and morality, people in most — but not all — of these countries viewed extreme moral violations as representative of atheists. Notably, anti-atheist prejudice was even evident among atheist participants around the world. [Emphasis added.]

The issue is simple, though. The answer to the question we started with hinges on what you mean by “without God.” Let’s take a look.

  1. If God does not exist, you cannot be good. You cannot be evil. You can’t conform or fail to conform to anytranscendental standard, because if there is no God, there are no transcendental standards. There is no Moral Law if there is no Moral Lawgiver. If there is no God, there are merely opinions and consequences of acting on opinions. We may label certain opinions “good,” but that’s just our opinion. What we really mean by calling something “good” is that we like it. Which is fine, as long as we understand that “good without God” is just a metaphor for “something I (or we) like.” If there is no God, all of our “moral” decisions are just opinions — perhaps opinions we like, or opinions we don’t like — but neither good nor bad.
  2. If God does exist, but you don’t believe in Him, then of course you can be “good without God”, in the sense that you can be good without believingin God. It is central to the moral theology of all the great faiths that non-believers may act in accordance with Moral Law without belief in God and even without knowing Moral Law in any formal sense. The Moral Law is written in our hearts, theists universally agree, and we feel the weight of morality whether we believe in God or not.

Now of course an additional question can be asked: Do theists actually behave better than atheists? I think this is the question that ticked off the atheists in the essay. If theists do, on the average, behave better than atheists, there are certainly many exceptions on both sides, and arguments can be made that particular groups of theists/atheists behave better/worse than other groups of atheists/theists. Mankind is a confusing mess.

Atheists, however, are on quicksand when they argue about “goodness” and “evil,” given that their metaphysics, if taken seriously, utterly rules out the existence of either. Also, it would seem to me that atheists could be a bit more contrite in light of the fact that whenever they have assumed state power — from the Reign of Terror to the gang currently launching missiles from North Korea — atheism has brought hell to earth.

The godless would garner more respect if they took their own metaphysics seriously, and if they showed at bit of contrition for what real atheists have done when in power. Author unknown.

The Great Atheist Illusion

 The Great Atheist Illusion

The greatest illusion embraced by the atheist is not that there’s no God but rather that they are free from illusions.  The belief that you are free of all illusions is the most dangerous illusion of all for it opens the floodgates to the acceptance of unreality in a multitude of forms.

It is evident that atheists have not experienced God but how in the world can they deny that others have not experienced Him.  Seeing that experiencing God is a personal matter that cannot be judged empirically by outsiders, as no one can get into another man’s mind or body to know how or what he is, or has experienced.  However, this is the very thing that an atheist must claim.  This claim springs from an illusion of omniscience and an assumption that the only true knowledge must be objective knowledge.

We know that human beings experience pain to various degrees, and that it is impossible for one to experience another man’s pain exactly and to the same degree.  The same thing is true of our experience of God.  People experience God in different ways and to distinct degrees.  Therefore, the atheist claim that there is no God is totally unreasonable and contrary to the experiences of billions of people. Have they tested empirically everyone’s experience of God?  The only real claim that they can reasonably make is that they have not personally experienced God.  Even so, in their arrogance they go one step further and say that no one has, or can experience God and if they claim they have, they are delusional.

The most that atheists can honestly claim is that they have not experienced God. However, that might be saying too much for they could have encountered God and not recognized it as a God experience.  This could be a very likely theorem seeing that their preconceived biases could keep them from recognizing a God experience if they had one.  The most that an atheist can say is that they have not had an understandable experience of God.  Of course, many atheists will say, if they have not experienced God, that he cannot exist or that God in some way is obligated to reveal to them himself in such a way that he would be undeniable.  They seldom blame themselves for accepting an ideology or world view that will not allow them to experience God.  It could be that they’re like a blind man who denies the existence of color because he cannot see it or has not experienced it and then blames color for their inability to see it.

In the end, the old saying that a man with an argument will never convince the man with an experience is true.  The only person in whom the atheists experience will stick and will move to their unbelief are those who have never experienced God and are already in a sense in the atheist camp. The atheist will never be able to argue that God does not exist, with a man who has experienced Him.  That would be like telling a man who was rescued from the sea, by an other man in a lifeboat, that the other man did not exist.

Humans come to know things through many ways.  We learn through our mind, but we also learn through our other senses.  In actuality, our mind processes the information that we get through our other senses.  However, if some sense has been crippled or damaged, we may become dead to that sense and no longer be able to experience it or the things that it was created to sense.  It could be also that some knowledge requires more than one sense and channel.  I think this is the case with the knowledge of God.  The knowledge of God requires the whole man.  If any part of the man has been damaged or disabled it becomes increasingly hard for that man to experience God in any meaningful way.

Therefore, talking to a hardened atheist is like talking with a handicap man who doesn’t know that he’s handicapped.  I once talked to a young atheist who I knew growing up, who had grown  up in a very dysfunctional family where there was a great deal of brokenness.  His parents claimed to be Christians and for whatever reason they could not work through their dysfunction.  This environment caused him to be bitter towards his father and somewhat towards his mother.  The bitterness not only hardened him from having a relationship with his father but it also hardened him to having faith in God.  Being an intelligent person he had to come up with a rational explanation for his lack of faith.  His self-justifying mechanism is the source of his unbelief and not his intellect.

Does the Earth’s Size Matter?

Does the Earth’s Size Matter?

I often hear people say that people in Biblical time believed that the earth was the center of the universe. This is truly a miraculous statement seeing that people in biblical times in general did not even know there was a universe. The truth is, it was early scientist’s who believed that the earth was the center of the universe, not biblical writers.

Furthermore, it was not until the 20th century that the idea of an expanding universe was set forth by Hubble. The consequence of that discovery was that the earth became relegated by pseudoscience to an insignificant place within the universe. This dogma of insignificance was totally based on its size and place of the earth in the universe. This thinking could be akin to saying that a man’s importance is based on how big he is and where he lived at a particular time and place. I guess these folks believe that if God created the world that he would’ve created it as the biggest planet in the universe for man to inhabit. Of course, this thinking comes from the childish idea that big is better or that God is just a big man. Therefore, he must create a big place for the beings created in his likeness.

From a theological point of view and a rational point of view, the earth’s significance may have nothing to do with its size or place within the universe but rather with its function. Could it’s importance be found in the fact that God placed the creature created in his likeness on the earth to grow and mature into the sons of God? Could the whole thing be based on relationship and purpose and not on size? There are numerous schools throughout our nation, some big some small, some better than others. However, when my kids were in school, I was interested in their small school more than any other school in the land, you see sometime importance is based on relationships and not size. God has no little people and no little place He just has relationships. “God is love”.

 

Rejecting the God of the Child

Rejecting the God of the Child

I have had a number of people tell me that they rejected God when they were a child.  When someone says this in most cases what they rejected was not the true God but rather the wrappings of religion or a child’s view of God.  For a child, most of religion does not make sense, especially the so-called worship service where the seated child’s feet are hanging in midair, and someone is preaching a message above their heads about a subject they are not much interested in.

Some children as they grow into adolescence confuse or equate the rejection of religion with the rejection of belief in God.  However, it is quite doubtful that any child would have the intelligence and the experiences of life to reject a mature view of the deity which their young minds are incapable of conceptualizing.  In most cases, what they reject is an anthropomorphic or personal corporal view of God, i.e. God is a man sitting upon a throne in heaven.  Of course, this picture thinking of God as a man would’ve been rejected by many if they had matured in their faith anyway.  The adult mind understands that the spiritual (unseen), and the physical are linked by metaphors and symbols that cannot be taken literally.  This is not only true in religion but in science as well.  I am still astonished at the number of atheists who cannot or refuse to look at these concepts metaphorically.

It may be time to rethink your beliefs about the unseen with your adult mind.  Try to think of God as pure spirit or pure personality.  If you are into reason try super consciousness.  If you’re into morality try thinking of him as the highest good.  If you are into relationships try thinking of him as pure love.  The Apostle John did refer to Him as love.  “God is love”.  However, remember that anything that we compare God within our human experience will fall short of the reality.  God is greater than any mortal mind can imagine so at best we must use metaphors and similes to speak of him.  Otherwise, he would not be God. If you want to know more about the true God check out my blog lyleduell.me

The Atheistic Criticism of Religion


The Atheistic Criticism of Religion

When an atheist criticizes religion for the most part  they are simply criticizing the human condition; which is one of ignorance, sinfulness and hypocrisy.  These characteristics can be found in any society, culture and civilization and for that matter in every person.  They are found in religious cultures, secular cultures and atheistic cultures.  They are common to all men. Pointing these things out in any culture modern or ancient does not take a great deal of intelligence nor understanding.  It reflects a pretentious self-righteousness when criticizing others to exalt oneself.  Given the same circumstances and conditions most humans will react in  similar ways.  Much of the criticism of religion by atheism is nothing more than posing self righteous virtue at the best, and total moral egotism at its worst.  Their criticism proves nothing other than humanity is ignorant, sinful, hypocritical and poisons everything he touches.

The truth is that atheism as an ideology or as a foundational philosophy for a culture, has demonstrated itself to be totally inadequate to support a virtuous culture any more than religion.  In fact, all atheistic cultures have led to totalitarianism and even Europe as it embraces the secular is moving towards totalitarianism.  One should be careful in tearing down the poor man’s house unless he has something better to offer.

Moreover, the atheistic criticism of Christianity represents a shallow understanding of the message of Jesus.  A casual reading of the New Testament would demonstrate to any rational person that Jesus never intended his teachings to be the foundation of any large society, for his teachings are too demanding for the masses.  Yet, many atheists continue to attack the teachings of Western Christianity as though they were the pristine teachings of Jesus; in this they demonstrate their ignorance or their dishonesty.  In the majority of cases it is ignorance, at least from my experience most atheists are quite ignorant of Christian theology and often depend on a vulgar interpretation of Christianity to justify their criticism.

https://lyleduell.me/2015/12/18/the-making-of-an-fundamentalist-atheist/