Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What would it take for me to be an atheist

There are a few answers I would give to the question, but one stands out to the most and that is I would need a sufficient reason to not subscribe to the moral argument for God's existence. I have read rebuttals to the moral argument, listened to debates over it, and I haven't read or heard one sufficient defeater for the argument. Have there been times I've heard a rebuttal that seemed like a good defeater? Of course. Utilitarianism is probably the closest to providing a non-theist answer for morality and it's still lacking in substance. For example, we should praise good motives and seek good character because of their intrinsic value, not because such acts would maximize utility as utilitarianism explains. Utilitarianism does not give a sufficient reason for good being good and for bad being bad. 

What about evolution? I'm sure evolution can explain the seemingly objectivity to morality, right? Wrong. At first, the naturalist's answer for morality can seem to be a defeater for the moral argument for God. One might say that it even crushes the moral argument, but it doesn't. Kin selection and reciprocal altruism can only give examples of low-end morality as I point out here, here, and here, but they cannot explain high-end morality, which is objective. What's interesting is, given naturalism, all of our beliefs (not just moral beliefs) are the result of evolution and social conditioning. So, following the evolutionary account honestly would lead you to be skeptical about knowledge in general. This is self-defeating. 

There are other theories such as social contract theories. I've only heard one debater go that route, Shelly Kagan, in a debate with William Lane Craig. I find the social contract theory wanting as well because, like utilitarianism, it reduces to morality as, I understand, what's best for the general public (the "general will" for Rousseau), but that does not explain why rape is wrong except that it's unfashionable or why helping a man whose vehicle is broke down on the side of the highway is good. Why are those actions bad and good? The social contract theory reduces morality to arbitrary decisions thus not answering what makes good good and bad bad. 

We all know objective moral values and duties exist. We encounter them everyday. No, I don't mean you see 'justice' hanging on the back of a car or 'love' walking down the street; what I mean is we act out objective moral values and duties everyday. When you say, "He shouldn't have done that," or "She ought to have done this," you are making objective moral statements. We do this everyday. Declaring actions good and bad is a part of us; we cannot escape this. God as described by Christianity is the best explanation for objective moral values and duties.Why do I think this? There is sufficient reason for thinking so. 

Morality flows from God's nature. God wills something because He is good. God's own nature is the standard of goodness. His commandments for us are expressions of his nature. As William Lane Craig said, "Our moral duties are determined by the commands of a just and loving God." There is no dilemma as stated by the Euthyphro Dilemma.

So, in order for me to give up Christianity, I would need a sufficient reason to believe that objective moral values and duties are not grounded in Jehovah God. I did not argue for the following reasons because I'm not familiar enough to do so, but I would need sufficient reason to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was not resurrected by God and that our universe is not eternal. I'm not comfortable with arguing the evidence for the resurrection and a finite universe, however I do know where to point you to others who have argued the points quite well. 

I've been a Christian for three years. I grew up not caring about "ultimate" issues in life, regarded objective meaning as pointless, and really liked nihilistic philosophy (obviously). What's interesting about my conversion story is I can say I converted to Christianity while I was in college. Why that is interesting is because most people say they were de-converted in college. I was converted because of my college experience. I couldn't get away from the moral argument for God. I considered other views, but my questions were not satisfied. I had to yield to the evidence given to me.

Read answers others gave to the question here

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