Atheists, Christmas and Logical Implications

So we are past the Christmas season and the annual and ever-increasing efforts of some atheists to take religious practices out of the common square. Now, for someone coming from a fairly libertarian perspective, I support the ideals of free speech that allow atheists to make these attempts. And I certainly don’t want the government determining my religion for me. However, the great irony in all of this is that the atheists claim that their position is the more reasonable or rational one. While knocking Christians for their supposedly unscientific and childish adherence to a “myth” as a billboard in Times Square put it, and thus attempting to position themselves as the only truly reasonable people in the arguments, atheists refuse to own up to the logical implications of their own supposed assertions.

Therefore, I am not going to begin an argument here against atheism from the standpoint of the evidence for or against the existence of God, although I think believers have a strong case to be made. And others throughout history have done a great job with that including, in recent years, Tim Keller in The Reason For God. What I want to do is to lay out some of the rational consequences of the premises asserted by the position of atheism.

“Premises imply conclusions.” That axiom is a foundational truth in logic which I attempt to convey to my classes in ethics. “What you say you believe has some inescapable implications for your ethics.” Whatever you happen to assert to be true about the world and life will lead you inevitably to certain conclusions if you are logical. And if you refuse to see those logical and necessary implications, then there is no reason for further discussion because we have just entered into the realm of nonsense.

So what are some of the logical implications of atheism? What does it mean if there is no God/gods…nothing beyond the material world? (And notice I am not speaking here of just a Christian God. If you believe in a spiritual reality that is bigger than the world and has control/influence over life, then you are not really an atheist.) Here are just a few.

1. Life is without any ultimate, true purpose. It just is, and that’s it. Please don’t try to tell me that it is up to the individual to “choose their purpose.” Hogwash. That’s just campfire Kum Ba Yah touchy-feely nonsense. According to atheists, we are all products of random chance interactions and thus our existence is all there is. We aren’t here to do anything except to be. It’s not even so banal as to support a philosophy of “you only live once.” What difference does any of it make? None! Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you accomplish anything or if you don’t. In a few years we will all be dead and other organisms will be here (I almost said ‘take our place’ but then we don’t really have a place.). And it doesn’t matter if we have made their existence better or worse any more than it matters if we make our existence better or worse. We are all just animate and inanimate objects existing for a time through random events in the universe.

2. There is absolutely no reason to act in accord with conventional morality, and actually no way to assert anything is moral. One of the questions that is always raised in debates about the connection between ethics and religion is whether or not atheists can be moral. My reply is that of course they can, but I am not sure how they could possibly define morality from within their worldview, and further, why they would want to act morally (from a generally accepted definition), given their worldview. At least Nietzsche was coherent with his atheistic worldview. From his perspective, we are just more intelligent animals, survival of the fittest is the driving force in the universe, and we ought to adopt that ethic of the animal kingdom and take evolution to its logical conclusions. (Interesting here that in one sense Nietzsche did assert a guiding principle for the universe which has the position of giving the universe purpose and meaning. That diverges from the concept of pure random chance.)

That means that our modern atheists must either admit there is nothing that is either morally right or wrong, or go with something like Nietzsche’s principle of survival of the fittest. Either way, if at least they would own up to this logical necessity of their premises, I could respect their intellectual integrity, even while I disagree with them.

However, as it stands, most atheists want to assert that they are just as moral as religious people. They want to be good. They just have no rational basis to define that word. If you want to see what ethics looks like from the standpoint of atheistic evolution, go read Nietzsche. And if you take away even Nietzsche’s driving force of evolution which gives his universe some semblance of direction, then you are left with nothing but nihilism.

If you want to get this down to the nitty-gritty, from the standpoint of atheism, there is no logical reason that we can buy beef burgers at McDonald’s but we can’t buy people burgers, other than preference and taste. People have no more intrinsic value than cows, only a potentially higher extrinsic value, depending on the individual and his/her abilities. We have no reason to value the future or our children, other than irrational emotional attachment. We certainly have no reason to help the less fortunate, the mental and physically challenged, or the elderly. Put simply, we should either become the Third Reich because it makes sense, or we should all embrace the chaos as anarchists.

Does that mean that I think that all atheists are little Hitlers in waiting? No. But I think that if they were logically coherent and intellectually honest, they would be. What they cannot logically do is uphold any idea of inherent rights or morality.

3. By asserting their position of atheism, they are also destroying the foundation of their defense of their human rights.  From what basis can one argue for freedom of religion, or basic human rights of any kind with the worldview of atheism? At best you can argue that our constitution gives you some rights from a legal, governmental point of view, but there is nothing beyond that. Certainly there are no universal human rights. If the government decides to change the constitution, you have no higher law to which to appeal. In reality, atheists would be more coherent advocating only for the rights of the powerful over the weak, in essence, the law of the jungle. It is only from a worldview which includes inherent human rights given by a creator or otherwise resulting from an essential reality that a person can logically assert those irrevocable rights. This is a crucial difference in the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. As a Christian, I can logically claim that all people have certain inherent rights endowed by our Creator based on my premises. An atheist cannot logically maintain any such assertion based on her/his premises.

As I said at the top, I would like to see an atheist actually come out and own up to these (and other) logical implications of their beliefs. At that point, I would at least grant that he/she is being intellectually honest. Until that time, when an atheist asserts her/his “rights” or morality, she/he is just being parasitic on a belief system that she/he has supposedly rejected. That, my friends, is the epitome of nonsense.