It might sound strange to say that atheism destroys science. Indeed, many will laugh merely upon reading the heading of this article. However, my interactions with sceptics and postmodernists have convinced me that while it may seem to many that atheism leads to science and moral progress, the truth is exactly the opposite. Rather than upholding science, atheism destroys the foundations that underlie science; and far from promoting human progress, atheism degrades humanity and inevitably leads to moral decay in society. Not only that, I am also deeply convinced that a postmodernist attitude is simply the result of centuries of atheist influence upon the West; a true atheist will, in my opinion, adopt a postmodern outlook sooner or later. In this article, I hope to show why I think this is the case.
Since I am a Christian, let’s talk about Christianity for a moment. As the Oxford mathematician and Christian thinker John Lennox has remarked multiple times, many of the scientists of the early Modern era were Christians because their faith in God led them to expect order and stability in the universe. Indeed, many of the very people who laid the foundations of science in the post-Reformation West were devoutly Christian people, believing that the study of the creation was a kind of worship to God. Indeed, that is my own opinion as well.
As a Christian, I believe that God gave us rationality so that we could use it to study and learn more about the world in which we live. My belief that my mind and my sense organs are a gift of God gives me sufficient ground to trust it as being reliable in giving me information about this wonderful universe which we are privileged to call home.
However, an atheist cannot say the same thing. For suppose that we live in a world that is merely a cosmic accident, and suppose – for the sake of argument – that the material reality is all that exists and there is no spiritual dimension whatsoever. Under this view, the mind is purely a material phenomenon and is directly equivalent to the brain. There is no aspect whatsoever to the mind that is immaterial under this view.
However, the brain is merely a conglomeration of nerves and chemicals. In a purely physical, materialistic world, what we perceive as emotions, thoughts and feelings are merely the result of chemicals firing around in our brain. Even our deepest moral sentiments are simply the products of how our brain has been evolved to think and perceive reality.
But if this is true, then how can the atheist say that his senses and rational powers are capable of giving him an accurate depiction of reality? If the mind is simply a physical organ that is determined to function and act in a particular way (because of the evolutionary path that it happened to take), then there are no rational grounds for trusting your perception or your ability to reason. After all, everything – in an atheistic worldview – is a cosmic accident and the way your brain thinks and perceives something to be ‘rational’ or ‘logical’ or ‘reasonable’ is merely an accident as well. If evolution had taken a different path, then your brain might not even have existed… or it would have existed, but it would be operating in a different manner, giving you a different perception of what you call ‘reality’. But in that situation, you would have had radically different beliefs and ways of perceiving the world. What you today call ‘reasonable’ might under that circumstance appear absurd or farcical.
It is here that the atheist falls into a bit of a quandary. One alternative is that he can admit the fact and say that he simply ‘trusts’ his ability to reason and operates with that as his basic epistemological presupposition. But if this is so, then he cannot in good conscience criticize religious faith, since that too is a kind of trust in things we might not be able to “prove” with mathematical accuracy. Another alternative is that he can admit the fact I have mentioned and collapse into a kind of postmodernism, looking at all things – science included! – with scepticism, since even scientific observations are dependant upon human perception, which cannot be ‘proven’ per se to be reliable!
After all, if we were living in the Matrix, chances are we wouldn’t know that we were!
The same thing holds true for morality. We all – atheists and Christians included – have basic moral instincts. From a Christian point of view, I believe that God is perfect and he gives us a basic knowledge of what is right and wrong. Thus, as a Christian, I can say with conviction that certain things are basically right and others are basically wrong.
But can the atheist say such a thing? Certainly, atheists have moral beliefs, but can they justify those beliefs? After all, if there is no God and if materialistic naturalism is true, then there are no objective moral principles. Whatever morality we might have is purely subjective. Our mind is conditioned to think in a particular way – morally speaking - because of external accidental circumstances. Morality, in an atheistic worldview, inevitably becomes either a psychological construct or a societal one. On the former view, it is primarily evolution that conforms us to have certain moral instincts – and, remember, there is no guarantee that evolution would have taken the path it ultimately took! On the latter view, morality is primarily the result of societal conditioning – we happen to live in a society that values liberty and freedom; therefore, we have learned to value them as well. Had we lived in a cannibalistic society we would have had different moral values. This is called the doctrine of Cultural Relativism, and in this philosophy, no particular moral code is intrinsically superior to another, since they are all cultural constructs and all cultures are equally true and equally false.
The problem is not that atheists don’t have a sense of morality – they certainly do. The problem, rather, is that their metaphysical worldview cripples them from having an objective foundation for their morality.
It is heart-breaking for me as a Christian to see prominent thinkers and philosophers encourage people to embrace a worldview in which everything is fundamentally meaningless and to “get used to it” (quoting Dr Susan Blackwood in her dialogue with Professor Jordan Peterson on the Unbelievable? radio podcast). It is just as upsetting to see the rise of postmodern thinking in our world. I am convinced that such a mode of looking at the world will inevitably give birth to a society of depression and despair. And this observation vindicates my deeply Christian belief that only God can give true meaning and value to our lives.
People might find it similarly shocking that I claim atheism degrades human beings. After all, don’t many atheists identify as ‘humanists’? Don’t so many atheists fight so vigorously for human rights and don’t humanists try and oppose oppression around the world? An atheist friend of mine once quipped to me that the modern West is proof that we can have morality without God.
I couldn’t disagree more. And here’s why.
To give one example: most atheists don’t, as far as I know, fight for the rights of the unborn. In fact, prominent atheists like Sam Harris complain that religious bigots such as myself still try to stop embryonic stem cell research. Similarly, I have never heard an atheist oppose the recent legislations that have effectively allowed the monstrosity of late-term abortions in New York.
But it’s not only the unborn who are being marginalized. Peter Singer, a prominent atheist ethicist, openly declares that – like unborn foetuses – new-born infants similarly lack what he calls the essential characteristics of personhood. The troubling implications of such a horrendous line of thinking are so alarming that words fail to convey the emotions that stir up in my heart as I write this article. And what is even more scandalous is that Singer is a vegan, although – as he would put it – a ‘flexible vegan’. In other words, he goes to great lengths to ensure that cows and buffaloes don’t suffer because of him… but that same privilege is not extended even to new-born babies.
But here’s the thing. I believe that deep down, everyone has a sense of right and wrong. And this sense has been given to them by God. If you want proof that a Divine Law does indeed exist, then turn to your own conscience. I believe that deep down, everyone knows that good and evil are real, but over time they manufacture philosophies and ideologies to rationalise away what they do not want to be true. Because if there is a Divine Law, you are not ‘free’ to enjoy things that are evil, however attractive or pleasurable that might be. And if there is a Divine Law, there must also be a Divine Law-giver before whom we are all accountable for our actions.
I am not saying that you can’t be good without fear of punishment. On the contrary, I believe that the good should be sought for its own sake, rather than merely out of servile fear. Rather, what I am saying is that if there is no God, then good and evil are both illusions and have no real existence. And if that is so, then everything is permitted, since all things are then morally equal.
These are the disastrous implications of the revolution that our world has initiated against God. And you will then forgive me when I say that atheism is not a boon. It is, in fact, poison.
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