Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Christianity v. Atheism: Ethics of Thought (1)
What an Athiest Ought to Stand for
Biblical Authority and Cultural Relativism
The Loss of Truth
I recently read the article What an Atheist Ought to Stand for by Richard Carrier (first link). This writing came to my attention after reading the blog "Skeptic in Training" ( Memoirs of an Ex-Christian).
The following is an analysis of inherent flaws I find in the atheistic framework, self-defeating principles, which make the foundations Atheism intellectually unsound (even as carried into "secular humanism"). I have compared the beliefs in several points (based on the essay) : 1.The Ethics of Thought 2.The Ethics of Life 3.The Ethic of Ethics
(Initial discussion is based on the first premise)
The Ethics of Thought
The follower of Christ and the atheist alike believe that the human mind is easily decieved, and can easily be led to conclusions that are not rooted in reality.
For the Christian, the deception is avoided by knowledge of the absolute truth, the word of God. When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, He refuted all of Satan's half-truths with Scripture. He first told Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Jesus responds with what God told the Isrealites, Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word of God. Satan then told Jesus to throw himself down from a high place, because the Scripture says that angels with protect him. Christ responds, do not put the Lord your God to the test. And, having no success, Satan finally tells Jesus he will give him all the kingdoms of the world if he agrees to worship him. Jesus tells him to leave, quoting another command, worship the Lord your God and serve him only (Matt 4).
The conclusions Christ teaches here, consistent throughout the Bible, is to rely on word of God as the ultimate Truth. Thus, the Christian is provided with a clear measure of morality and truth that transcends time and culture, not rooted in our shifting mind.
“inquiry and doubt are essential checks against deception, self-deception, and error.”
Richard Carrier argues “…I cannot count the number of times I have heard Christians declare this value as a reason to read the Bible, yet blithely ignore it when I ask them to read the Tao Te Ching.”Carrier explains that conclusions and thought-processing for an atheist emphasize guarding against deception and human error. “Logic and proper empiracal method is the only way the whole world can arrive at an agreement on the truth about anything.” Generally, the atheist stands for “values of reason and freethought.”
First, the fundamental problem he has encountered is in overestimating the ability we have in our minds to empiracally measure the search for truth. How can we, in ourselves, measure deception, especially self-deception? Can not our own logic, with which we measure, be the workings of deception itself? “inquiry and doubt” with this logic, become the means and the end to a framework with no absolute foundation.
Second, he suggests that Christians exercise a particular bias in solely using the Bible as the absolute basis. Why not the Tao Te Ching? Why not the Qur’an? Why not the Upanishads? Because Truth by definition is exclusive. I know the Bible is true. This also means that I know all that contradicts the Bible is false. If I choose to study every belief in the world as objectively as possible, and then make a conclusion based on the study, it would not change the fact that the Bible alone is the word of God. If you are in a liabrary, looking for a particular book, when you finally find it, do you continue to search every book in the liabrary in order to conclude that you found the one for which you were looking?
Jesus Christ says in John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is the only way, so I do not need to continue to search for another way.
How does the atheist define logic? I agree that scientific methods and empiracal data have a role in determining factual evidence for the things we can comprehensively understand, but what of that which we cannot comprehensively understand? Creation? Our existance? Our purpose? the origin of morality?
I want to understand how the atheist establishes the principles of right or wrong. How he or she can even belief in a concept of truth. Carrier states “The honest atheist will regard willful ignorance and blind faith as the more dangerous of sins.” How does an atheist even conceive such a thing as sin?