Saturday, April 25, 2009

What's Up With Atheistic Evangelism? Part 1

According to atheism life, man, and the universe have no purpose, and no meaning. "Who cares about anything!?" "Nobody should!"

Then, why do they so passionately argue with me to believe that there is no god? Why do they spend the time to convince people of this? If nothing has meaning or purpose, then what they are saying also has no meaning or purpose. Why aren't they just enjoying their short lives to the fullest without trying to "make a difference" that won't matter anyway? Are they not causing themselves needless stress, pain, and suffering by wasting their time to convince people of something that, in itself, is useless and purposeless?

This behavior is highly inconsistent with their worldview (atheism). By continuing to attempt to convince people of their position, they impugn on their position meaning. So, they must believe that some things (at least one) have meaning. But, what inherently gives their position meaning and what is that meaning?

Keep in mind that this is not an ad hominem attack on the person who holds this view. It is an attack on the core of the foundation of their worldview. I'm basically attempting to show that as soon as atheist opens his mouth and speaks about his atheism, he has proven that he doesn't believe it at the core. Because he speaks believing that his worldview (which states that nothing has meaning) is itself meaningful.

My question now becomes, "If you don't ultimately believe your worldview, why do you expect me to?" I await an answer.

This is a very powerful, yet extremely dangerous argument to use against the atheist. Because, they can turn this argument against me. "You claim your God is omnipresent (everywhere); He sees everything that you do; yet you sin. That must mean that you don't believe your worldview at its core either. If you don't ultimately believe your worldview, why do you expect me to?"

I will tackle that challenge next week.

17 comments:

  1. Atheist don't believe there is no purpose in the world. They merely believe that purpose is not absolutely objective.... rather, it is a subjective matter. I think most people would agree though, that it's universal that all people want to be happy.

    And they probably argue against God because religion, on the surface at least, seems to be responsible for a lot of suffering and conflict.

    Atheists want to be happy, and religion causes a lot of unhappiness.... therefore, they see it as something that should be done away with. I don't think they are all that extreme about it, but fundamentalist religion is definitely a threat to democracy and a free society.

    How does fundamentalist religion threaten democracy and the good life? Look at Oklahoma. Our state legislature is trying to ban embryonic stem cell research based on religious beliefs; whereas ECSR could help a lot of people who are suffering.

    A less morally controversial issue; religious zealots want creationism taught in science classrooms. It's a threat to our society because it undermines science and the scientific method in favor of superstition.

    Shall I go on?

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  2. I will address those off-topic concerns in future posts. For now, let's get back to the topic at hand.

    "Atheists want to be happy, and religion causes a lot of unhappiness"

    You are making a large jump here. From "them" to "everybody".
    Their worldview does not impugn any absolute purpose or absolute value to human beings, therefore there exists no reason they should actually care about anyone else. So, they are left with just caring for their own happiness.

    Here's my question, why don't they:
    A. Just ignore religion and its zealots
    or
    B. Just move someplace that is not influenced by religious legislation?

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  3. "Their worldview does not impugn any absolute purpose or absolute value to human beings, therefore there exists no reason they should actually care about anyone else."

    Non sequitur. Just because humans don't have any absolute purpose or value, doesn't mean they shouldn't care about anyone else - or at least, you have not demonstrated why that is so.

    I'm not going to go into the various non-theistic philosophies, but you really need to back up your assertions. Making a statement, then making a conclusion that has no connection to the statement is not an argument.

    A. Because those religious zealots are everywhere.... they spread like cockroaches.
    and also because they are in POWER. George Bush thought God wanted him to invade Iraq. He's the leader of the United States and he is using theism to help justify the invasion of a country that caused thousands if not tens of thousands of civilian deaths. How can you ignore religious zealots when they have access to cruise missiles and stealth bombers?
    I won't even start on Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (sp?).

    B. Like where?

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  4. I'm not saying that they can't or won't care for others, I'm just saying that they have no obligation to care (no foundation for "should").

    If humans don't have any absolute purpose or value, what is the "should" dependent upon? Is it relative to your culture?

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  5. Please demonstrate why they do not have an obligation to others before making the claim that it is so.

    In answering that question, your second question may make more sense. The third question seems to be irrelevant to the discussion.

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  6. I did demonstrate this. No absolute value or purpose (value, specifically) means no absolute obligation (thus, no responsibility).

    You are making the claim that they do have an obligation and responsibility, and I am asking you to show me what the obligation is founded in.

    Can you think of anything that you are obligated to do that has no purpose and no value behind it?

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  7. Saying, "no absolute value means no absolute obligation" is not a demonstration or an argument. It is a statement.

    I haven't made positive or negative claims. I'm merely pointing out that you are begging the question. The onus isn't on me, sir. I'm not making claims. I'm just asking that you explain yours.

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  8. I am appealing to life experiences as my evidence that obligation is the result of something that has value or purpose.

    Can you think of anything that you are obligated to do that has no purpose and no value behind it?

    "Just because humans don't have any absolute purpose or value, doesn't mean they shouldn't care about anyone else..."

    How is this not a claim that requires substantiation? Is it just a statement?

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  9. you forgot the clause I added onto the end of it, "- or at least, you have not demonstrated why that is so."

    I can think of lots of things I am obligated to do that have no ABSOLUTE purpose or value to them. But we are talking about two different things if you add and subtract the word ABSOLUTE at whim.

    You are saying that something must have ABSOLUTE value to make an obligation. I am disagreeing with that statement. I am not making nor implying anything about whether value and obligation are related; only that ABSOLUTE value is not required for an obligation.

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  10. Okay, let's toss out "absolute" for now.
    If some action that will affect some thing has no value or purpose, why could someone be obligated to do it?

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  11. Again, there is a problem here because you keep changing what you are saying.

    You say, remove absolute value and replace it with no value. But this is obvisouly a strawman tactic because atheism isn't a carte blanche statement of nihilism.

    So I am not going to demonstrate how something with no value or purpose would cause obligation.

    What I will say is how something with [relative] value or purpose can bring an obligation.

    If I want to get paid, I must show up at work. Money has no absolute value but it is relatively valuable to me to get the things I want. In order to get that money (value X), I must go to work (Obligation X). The value and the obligations are not absolute, nor are they purely nihilstic. They are merely relative.

    You have not demonstrated why atheism must lead to carte blanche nihilism although you make claims implying such; and in order to make your argument you are completing ignoring any aspect of subjectivism by switching between "absolute value or no value".

    In summary:
    "According to atheism life, man, and the universe have no purpose, and no meaning." - is a patently false strawman construction. For heaven's sake, grab some Sartre.

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  12. If you wish to make the argument that obligations are relative- based on relative values, then you are making my case for me.

    You are saying that all values in atheism are determined by the person (relative) and therefore their obligations are relative.

    I am saying that in atheism no absolute values exist (they are determine by the person- relative) and therefore, no obligations are absolute- they are relative.

    I agree that the belief in atheism does not require that one be a nihilist. We have no dispute there either.

    What I am asking, though, is what encourages an atheist to not be a nihilist?

    Would you feel better if I clarified my quote that you have a problem with by adding "absolute" before "no purpose" and "no meaning"?

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  13. "According to atheism life, man, and the universe have no purpose, and no meaning."

    According to atheism (although atheism shouldn't be taken as a singular worldview, it is only one facet of many in one's worldview), it is up to oneself to determine one's purpose and meaning.

    “Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.” - Jean-Paul Sartre

    Just because values and obligations are subjective does not mean they do not exist.

    I would also challenge the theist to prove that some absolute values exist without referring ad hoc to a God or his faith system.

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  14. "Just because values and obligations are subjective does not mean they do not exist."

    I acknowledged that in my last post by asking, "Would you feel better if I clarified my quote that you have a problem with by adding 'absolute' before 'no purpose' and 'no meaning'?".

    My question still stands.

    "I would also challenge the theist to prove that some absolute values exist without referring ad hoc to a God or his faith system."

    Are you challenging a theist to prove, without referring to God, "that" absolute values exist or "why" absolute values exist?

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  15. Both. To answer "why", one must necessarily answer "that" they do exist; the caveat is that I don't know if the theist is capable of doing this if you remove their ability to build their argument upon that which they believe, rather than upon facts.

    I need to read more Kant because I think he's about as good as it gets in that direction....

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  16. Since you are removing God from the possible options of reference to show "that" absolute morals exist, would you have a problem with an atheist and a theist using the same argument to show "that" absolute morals exist?

    Which part ("that" and "why" or just "why") are you not sure a theist can explain without reference to God?

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  17. All of the above.

    It doesn't matter what the arguer believes, I just want to see an argument for absolute morals that is not contingent on God as a metaphysical axiom.

    So anyway, when you fire up a post showing 'that' and 'why' absolute morals exist, I'll give feedback.

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