Home » Intelligent Design » Vanity, Vanity, All Is Vanity!

Vanity, Vanity, All Is Vanity!

In this UD thread, Mentok brought up something that, it seems to me, is quintessentially behind the ID versus materialism controversy: Is there, ultimately, any purpose or meaning behind anything, especially our lives?

With thanks to William Lane Craig, the author of Ecclesiastes, and Carl Sagan, I offer the following:

In an address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, Dr. L.D. Rue advocated that we deceive ourselves by means of some “noble lie” into thinking that we and the universe actually have value and purpose. He commented, “The lesson of the past two centuries is that intellectual and moral relativism is profoundly the case.” However, Rue recognized that a society underpinned by such a philosophy cannot function. If we are to avoid the “madhouse option,” as he put it, we must fool ourselves with a “noble lie” so that we will be driven beyond self-interest. He recognized, “Without such lies, we cannot live.”

But there is a big problem. The noble lie will only work for those who genuinely believe it. Those who are aware of the predicament presented by the meaninglessness of life cannot possibly believe the noble lie because they know from the outset that it’s a lie. We are thus in a terrible fix when it comes to “inventing” meaning and purpose for our lives.

To quote William Lane Craig from his book, Reasonable Faith:

If each individual person passes out of existence when he dies, then what ultimate meaning can be given to his life? Does it really matter whether he ever existed at all? It might be said that his life was important because it influenced others, or affected the course of history, but this only shows a relative significance to his life, not an ultimate significance. His life may be important relative to certain other events, but what is the ultimate significance of any of those events? If all events are meaningless, what can be the ultimate meaning of influencing any of them?”

Our sun will one day become a red giant and then collapse into a white dwarf. During the red-giant phase its corona will expand beyond the orbit of the earth. The earth’s atmosphere will be stripped away and the seas will boil away. The sands will fuse into glass. Our planet and all life will be incinerated. The earth will be sterilized of all life — forever. The stars will eventually all burn out. The universe will then be cold, dark and dead — forever.

There will be no record of anything that anyone has ever thought, done, created, or said.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

55 Responses to Vanity, Vanity, All Is Vanity!

  1. Just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t mean it’s false.

    mentok’s argument was horrible.

    “When a child’s mother dies and the father tells them that ‘don’t worry because she is heaven’ the Weinbergs and Dawkins of the world want to crush that belief and faith in eternal life for us all into dust, all in the name of ‘science’.”

    And your point is? Why must our happiness and feeling of fulfillment rely on faith in eternal life? What if there really is no ultimate purpose in the universe? Does that mean we can’t live happy, fulfilled lives? Why?

  2. Isn’t a noble lie a contradiction in terms?

  3. So what’s the evolutionary explanation for the noble lie I wonder. It seems to me that a society that lives according to this lie which promotes altruism and charity, is in some sense irreducibly complex, because of the interdependence created between people. One person living according to the lie on their own in a world of self-interest stands no chance of getting anywhere.

  4. idnet.com.au:
    “Isn’t a noble lie a contradiction in terms? ”

    Yes. It’s an oxymoron.

    About Dr Rue – I think it is interesting that he felt compelled to write a book to advocate something he considers a ‘noble lie’ – in order to ensure a societty was functioning properly. But how does he measure whether a society is functioning properly? and why does he care?

    Talks like a duck, but walks like a chicken.

  5. Oh yes, the evolutionary psychologist can give you plenty of reasons for this noble lie. Sure, it helps the tribe bond, and provides a code of conduct. Not that this goal cannot be achieved in plenty of other ways.

    Maybe psychology does have something to do with it after all. The definition of esoteric is “knowledge that is specialised or advanced in nature, available only to a narrow circle of “enlightened”, “initiated”, or highly educated people.”

    You see, our Materialist intellectuals “know” that all this superstitious religious nonsense is false, but is necessary for the weak, the ignorant, and the uneducated. But they, the elite and enlightened, know better, so they talk about the “fundies” with condescension.

    This is why God is pleased to reveal himself to the child, the simple, the humble, anyone who genuinely seeks him. But to the “wise” of the world he remains shrouded and elusive. It only requires recognizing our true nature, and realizing we need help.

  6. “Just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t mean it’s false.” Yet mentok’s agrument seems to suggest even if it’s true what’s the point? It funny that people like Dawkins finds meaning in life by going away telling others there isn’t any meaning in life. If you really believe this is all there is then why should you care what anyone believes. For the wise dies as a fool.

  7. CDF–Just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t mean it’s false.

    That kind of works both ways, doesn’t it?

    Anyway, you seem to be missing Mentok’s point.

    Why would a true atheist get upset over someone believing in God to the point where he wants to convert or marginalize the believer?

  8. Re: the main thread:
    Isn’t it really a “big lie” to invoke the will of God, as if we knew it, to give life meaning? Aren’t we really just afraid of receiving a lump of coal in our Christmas stockings? And doesn’t our DNA create a continuous thread through our lives for billions of years? As the most intelligent life forms, at least in our part of the universe, are we not clearly charged with being sufficiently intelligent to outlive our home star and planet? Won”t that effort require us to transcend narrow self-interest?

    Re: tribune7′s question:
    A true atheist gets upset over someone believing in God mainly because of the frequency with which such people want to kill the infidels. This seems eminently understandable on the part of the infidels, to me, and more than sufficient justification for wanting to “convert or marginalize” such believers. Similar arguments would clearly apply to atheists intent upon killing believers. Atheists and believers share the ideal that life is sacred, albeit for different reasons, perhaps, and with varying degrees of conviction.

  9. cdf: “Does that mean we can’t live happy, fulfilled lives? Why?”

    Go ahead and try to live a happy and fulfilled life in a world of others trying to do the same. When the limiting factor of a real morality based on a real value of human life is gone, what will society become? Will those in power be interested in your happiness? Will they seek to preserve the liberties you enjoy now? Sure, you’re probably doing OK living in a place that is still permeated with a certain level of Christian morality and laws founded on it. What will the world be like when the Dawkins of the world have their way and all vestiges of the basis of this morality is wiped clean?

    History gives us plenty of clues.

    And it isn’t pretty.

  10. “When the limiting factor of a real morality based on a real value of human life is gone…”

    Why must some eternal life be what gives human life value? Do animals such as pets have eternal life? If not, then what gives them their value? We treat them well and try to make them “happy”… why? You can appreciate the beauty of the universe and find joy in life outside of God. If we knew that there was no ultimate purpose to life or no hope of an eternal life, we wouldn’t immediately fall into a society of mass murderers and rapists.

    “Why would a true atheist get upset over someone believing in God to the point where he wants to convert or marginalize the believer?”

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that they get upset over someone believing in God… it’s that they get upset with the influence religion has on society, particularly politics.

    “History gives us plenty of clues.”

    This is the old “horrible atheist communist” argument, right? That argument is weak. We could go back in forth all day arguing about the crusades and nazis and communists… an ideology is not defined by individuals who subscribe to that ideology.

  11. A true atheist gets upset over someone believing in God mainly because of the frequency with which such people want to kill the infidels.

    And what person, who objectively embodies Christian values, has called for the death of Richard Dawkins or PZ Meyers or any prominent atheist?

  12. Ekstasis:
    “You see, our Materialist intellectuals “know” that all this superstitious religious nonsense is false, but is necessary for the weak, the ignorant, and the uneducated. But they, the elite and enlightened, know better, so they talk about the “fundies” with condescension.

    This is why God is pleased to reveal himself to the child, the simple, the humble, anyone who genuinely seeks him. But to the “wise” of the world he remains shrouded and elusive.”

    Reminds me of the scripture:

    ” O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. “

  13. “And what person, who objectively embodies Christian values, has called for the death of Richard Dawkins or PZ Meyers or any prominent atheist?”

    Sometimes is it just the “conversion or marginalization” that is called for publicly. As one of Christian upbringing, I accept that Christians are at least on average more polite about their hatreds than those of many other faiths. I don’t believe you would question whether Muslims have called for death to atheists. And the history of Christianity is hardly free of killing in the name of God. We don’t even need to leave the British Isles to illustrate that. Believers (or atheists for that matter) readily redefine the hated target as not merely subhuman but demonic, so that the taking of life is not only excusable but obligatory. Human intelligence can be put to so many uses! And out the window goes the “value of human life.” Why only human life, one wonders? Now we know…

    Full disclosure: I count myself a Christian agnostic, more skeptical of ID than evolution. But who said it had to be “Darwinian”? That is only the prevailing paradigm, destined for the scrapheap of science history like all others.

  14. And the religious fear atheists because atheists will indiscriminantly slaughter anyone including other atheists. When moral imperatives are derived from survival of the fittest then it’s every man for himself. It’s a jungle out there baby and by tooth and by claw must you survive.

  15. cdf

    Do animals such as pets have eternal life?

    I sure hope so.

    We treat them well and try to make them “happy”… why?

    Because they love us unconditionally. Your dog doesn’t care if you are fat or thin, young or old, rich or poor. He or she will stick by your side, defend you with all of their power, no matter what, until death do you part. It’s hard finding that kind of unconditional love with human companions.

  16. Here’s what you said: A true atheist gets upset over someone believing in God mainly because of the frequency with which such people want to kill the infidels.

    Here’s what I asked: And what person, who objectively embodies Christian values, has called for the death of Richard Dawkins or PZ Meyers or any prominent atheist?

    Here’s what you answered: Sometimes is it just the “conversion or marginalization” that is called for publicly.

    So can we agree that you were just writing without thinking when you implied the lives of atheists were endangered by widespread Christianity?

    Quick quiz: Why is hating atheists bad?

  17. Dave:

    Rainbow Bridge

    I can buy it.

  18. tribune7, If we could agree on anything, it might be on the notion that believers have as much cause as atheists to be alarmed by the behavior of the extreme elements in each other’s camps. But in view of your question about hating atheists, I can think well enough to resist holding my breath.

  19. We know that materialists don’t think life has no meaning by the simple fact that they spend millions of tax payers’ money trying to convince others that life has ultimately no meaning. What’s the point in trying to teach people that ID is “not science but creationism in a cheap tux”? So what? Who cares anyway?
    Why does Darwinian fundamentalist Richard Dawkins spends time and money telling others that belief in God is a “delusion”? Again, so what?

  20. “What if there really is no ultimate purpose in the universe? Does that mean we can’t live happy, fulfilled lives? Why? ”

    I hope most of us can see how absurd that statement is on its face. If your life has no purpose or point whatsoever (aka- you’re no more important than a pair of old shoes)- who sais you can’t be happy knowing that? No one who truly believes their life is this worthless is really truly happy.

  21. cdf: “If we knew that there was no ultimate purpose to life or no hope of an eternal life, we wouldn’t immediately fall into a society of mass murderers and rapists.”

    No, it takes time. But it comes, slowly but surely.

    As now with rape being passed off as an “evolutionary adaptation for spreading ones genes into the pool”, rape will get easier and easier on the rapists. They won’t be viewed as “bad men” but poor malfuntioning units, as has already been stated by Dawkins, Provine and cie.

    Gotta wake up and smell the stench there.

  22. I think if we’re being honest with people like Dawkins, they probably think the truth is more important than happiness, as well as more productive. This is why they try so much to fight organised religion – they genuinely believe religion is false and that it can divert people from the truth and reason.

    Of course, the problem is that we do not know if there is a God, afterlife or eternal soul. There is evidence pointing both ways. I don’t think Dawkins’ intentions are bad, and his efforts are both helpful and harmful to Society in different ways. However, certainly a lot of damage can be caused by being persuaded there is no afterlife. Without hope, life for many of us is a real struggle and if I was certain of no afterlife, I would have very little inclination to continue with this one.

    On the really big and important issues, unfortunately, the jury’s still out, but we shouldn’t stop searching and ID is helpful in this regard as well as research into certain types of phenomenen – NDEs, reincarnation, paranormal etc. Better to keep an open mind and hopefully there will be sufficient proof one day for us to know the answers to the big questions.

  23. dacook

    The “O the vainness” quote from “scripture” was unfamiliar to my personal design detection filter. It does not have the flavour of any book of the Bible.

    It seems to me inappropriate to refer to this quote as “scripture” when it is from the book of Mormon.

  24. test

  25. Part One

    One point I was trying to bring up was the hypocrisy of the crusading atheist. They are always telling us about the violence and repression spawned by religious belief (ignoring the underlying socio-political causes which are usually garbed in religious rhetoric in order to justify those actions) yet downplay repression and violence by those who were inspired by materialistic belief systems (eugenics, communism) even though when we compare the two we find that the atheist agenda was far more repressive and murderous in a shorter time then any other ideology in history. In the 20th century alone we see that close to 100 million people died due to atheistic agendas. If you take all the religious wars and deaths caused by a religious agenda throughout human history combined you will not get even close to 100 million people.

    But besides that hypocrisy is another, and that is that they fancy themselves (ad nauseam) and their atheist evangelizing as something which will help people. I’ve heard them say that religious beliefs do injustice to the grandeur and magnificance which “science” is constantly revealing to us about the universe, as if “science” is some kind of deity and the universe is it’s creation. Then in the next breath they try to convince us we have nothing but death awaiting us all as our final destination. In fact it is religious belief which gives true awe and reverence of the maginficence and grandeur of the universe. If you see the universe as a place that came from dust and will end up as dust and that your few years of your current life is all you have, then you are more likely to see your life similar to how a prisoner on death row sees his life in relation to the universe. You may not even realize it because you are conditioned to accept your view of your ontological position in the universe as normal. If someone is born and lives his entire life in some kind of prison knowing he will be killed at some point, then he won’t understand any type of existence beyond that. Even if he hears about life outside of the prison and how people are living a life free from confinement and fear of death, and who are enjoying the world and all it has to offer, still the prisoner will not understand what the experience of those people outside the prison is like. It will be beyond his conceptual frame of reference.

  26. Part Two

    I know from personal experience how belief in a higher power can radically alter your ontological frame of reference. I was born into a family of atheists and was raised without any religious exposure beyond what was seen in popular media. I was a convinced atheist and I “knew” that life was meaningless and that I was destined to die. I viewed my life as something which could at anytime be crushed into dust. I didn’t see any reason not to believe that and I accepted that as the fate of everyone and everything. In my 18th year I had my entire view of reality tossed upside down. I went from seeing death and living in a cruel dark universe of meaninglessness as my ontological worldview, into seeing my life as eternal, seeing myself as an eternal being destined to never die in a universe ruled over by an unstoppable invincible power of love which will give everything it has to everyone. It came as such a powerful reality shift because I had no conceptual ability to understand that someone could see themselves living in eternity rather then living on death row.

    I thought that I was trapped on a sinking ship and that there was no help coming, I thought that was normal, that was what I was taught in school and through pop culture. That was the gift to me by the likes of the Dawkins and Dennets of the world who want atheism to be preached as ontological absolute truth in public schools and in pop culture. I had no reason to doubt my atheism because it was reinforced by “scientists” who assured me that belief in god or the “supernatural” was simply fairy tales. They had such big brains, they had spaceships and televison on their side, of course they should be trusted as knowers of everything there is to be known, they have lab coats. They knew everything or are just about to figure everything out was their mantra. Religious beliefs were for gullible silly people or was something which was cruelly forced on children when they should be enlightened about the healing power of “science” and atheism. That was what was instilled to me through school and pop culture. My parents were atheists but they never talked about religion as good or bad, They never mentioned religion. So I didn’t imbibe my anti-god attitude from them. The “scientists” and professional “educators” of course were doing this for my own good in fear of some resurgence of the spanish inquisition or whatnot.

    My reality shift started to become possible because I started to read books that were not mentioned in public high school. Books on philosophy and world religious beliefs. It was shortly after that when I was directly shown the true nature of our world and our existence by the person who controls it all and who exists everywhere. God pulled back the curtain and showed me how “he” controls everything and everyone. I didn’t realize that I had been living life like a prisoner on death row until I was freed from the prison of disbelief.

    Now I know that many if not most people who have faith in god have not directly experienced god. Their faith is oftentimes shaky at best. And there are many people who have no faith in god at all. The evangelical atheists want to crush their only hope for release from the prison of their fears, the prison of their despair. They want to put everyone on existential ontological death row because they fear a rise of witch hunts or medieval inquistions?

    They see ID as a trojan horse which will lead to a scientific imprimatur for faith. That is their big argument agaisnt ID in schools. ID promotes the plausibility of god. For the good of everyone that must not be allowed. Everyone must live their lives in an existential prison on death row so as to save them from living their lives in eternity with the expectation of eternal joy and love.

    Their utter hypocrisy is astounding. The sheer callousness and even glee with which they perform their odious task of shameful lies and deceits and misrepresentations of ID, while all the while claiming to be on a noble quest to stamp out faith, is indicative of people who are in serious need of some deep and profound soul searching. The mental walls of incredulity that keep their minds imprisoned need to be broken down. Their own self deceptions which they cannot seem to see when it comes to simple scientific exposes of the sheer lunacy of their beliefs, as well as their mockery of those who are free from the shackles of their ignorance, will come to an end if they can free themselves from their conditioned thought process. If they can see the harm they do, then the healing has begun.

  27. cdf,

    Again I say, you labor in the wake over a philosophy which is contrary to your own, and yet you bask in it’s benefits and can’t see where those benefits are coming from.

    When all absolutely morals are gone, what will be left? Why shouldn’t someone just kill you if he feels like it? There is no reason, except that you may not like it. The killer may not care what you think. You’re a gazelle and he’s a lion. Too bad.

    At any rate, if we’re going to abandon the Golden Rule (because there really is no rule giver), who is going to end up making the rules? Will they have your best interests at heart. I really doubt it.

    Face it, you’re sponging off a moral trust fund and denying the dad who left it to you. I doubt the morality of Christianity will last very long without the Christ of Christianity.

  28. “Because they love us unconditionally. Your dog doesn’t care if you are fat or thin, young or old, rich or poor. He or she will stick by your side, defend you with all of their power, no matter what, until death do you part. It’s hard finding that kind of unconditional love with human companions.”

    Thank you for taking the bait, Dave.

    You say these pets love unconditionally… do you really believe they do this because they have hope of an eternal life, or because they want to please God? I think not.
    We are capable of “love” outside of God, it’s in our nature.

  29. mike,
    Honestly truly now, the main reason you don’t “just kill someone” is because you believe you have been instructed not to by a deity? It doesn’t primarily come from inside you? That is really terrifying. “There is no reason”? Without being rude this is close to psychopathy. Again, repeat, the question – your not-killing-people has little to do with them as people, little to do with your own worked-out moral code, it is primarily (even solely) handed down from “on high”? I really hope there’s no-one out there convinced their “rule-giver” changes their mind…

  30. littlejon

    Having moral constraints is a rational response to a theistic worldview. Impulses to harm others either through physical, psychological, financial or sexual means, are common to all people. How we deal with those impulses results from our rational response to what we believe. For Christians it is not a matter of a bunch of rules that are imposed from on high. It is rather a fleshing out of the do unto others what you would have them do to you.

    An atheist may chose to follow the same philosophy as a Christian, but it can not be claimed that the philosophy is rationally derived from atheism.

  31. I think what Mike is saying is that rules are given by a rule giver. A law comes from a lawmaker. Without a lawmaker, there can hardly be any solid objective laws. It’s all relative without an overriding lawgiver.

    I think people don’t kill others because they have a moral sense built into them that says killing others is wrong. The very idea of killing someone should make you sick. If we throw out objective morality- one day killing MIGHT be considered okay, then what? In a relative morality worldview, anything can change and can do so whenever. Objective morality, which surely comes from an ultimate lawgiver, is something different- it does not change. Killing innocents has, is, and will always be wrong. Relative worldviews might say that killing innocents (innocent children born handicapped for example) is ethical if the parents feel the deasire not to raise that child. Objective morality says no if’s and’s or but’s about it- it’s wrong yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

    In the end tho- harming others is often easier for most people than being good to them. Objective morality, whether it be Christian based, Jewish-based, whatever…says that humans have a harder time doing good for the most part but that a loving God gives us the power to overcome our weak natures in wanting to do the easy thing and do what’s not so easy- love our enemies. Treat ALL with love and respect no matter how horrible they are to us.

    Look- if humans are just some meat with a brain with no soul, no free will, no mind outside of some blind chemical reactions…then why not chaos? I just read that Dawkins this past week came out and said that maybe the nazi eugenics program wasn’t so bad after all- other atheists who see life and all within in as a pointless struggle ending in oblivion agreed with him- why not try to genetically engineer to get better kids and kill the weak? One scientist in the article (the UK independent I think it was) said that it’s okay to kill off a child born handicapped. If morals are nothing but a chemical reaction evolved and fobbed on us to get us to cooperate better to make evolution go more smoothly (simple explanation, but it pretty much fits overall)- then why not kill off innocent children with handicaps? They’re only destined to a life being disabled, leading to death and oblivion.

    I don’t think ANYONE on earth wakes up and says “my life is all in vain…I will cease to exist in a few decades and stay that way forever. Nthing I do makes any sense or any difference. I am just as useful as a pair of old shoes (which, in the long run are, completely meaningless and useless)…but I love life and the world is beautiful and majestic!”

    They’re living a lie. If your life is a short span of mundane events that have no meaning and purpose and it ends and you’re oblivion for all eternity- NOTHING should matter to you. Nothing should bring you joy, as that joy is nothing but a chemical reaction tricking you into thinking you’re feeling something called “joy.” No atheist lives their life totally atheistically- they’d all go crazy if they did.

  32. cdf- by the way, as I said earlier- your comment, I think, makes no real sense. If you see your life as having no meaning, no point, and no purpose, how COULD you POSSIBLY bring joy out of that? Well, I should ask- how could you possibly have a chemical reaction in your brain that gives you the phantom feeling of being full of “joy” if this is all true?

    You’re no more important than a dead roach on the ground. You feel joy from that? I don’t see how that’s possible. Would you tell a child this? Son, you’re worthless to the world. You serve no purpose, you have no point…your’re a complete cosmic accident that happened to come into life. You will soon die and never know a thing again. Everyone will soon forget you ever lived at all. But, don’t worry son, you have still be full of joy after believing that! I don’t see this happening without living a lie.

  33. idnet.com.au
    Congratulations on recognizing the source. I deliberately left off the reference so the words could be appreciated for what they say, and not reflexively rejected for their origin without giving them any consideration. I anticipated that someone would bring it up. The exact reference is 2 Nephi 9:28.

    One of the major, and very justified, complaints of IDers and others who criticize Darwinists is that their arguments are ruled out of bounds without being addressed, on the basis of their source: ID is just “creationism in disguise,” therefore the serious student need not pay any attention to what it actually says but can dismiss it out of hand.

    It is just as close-minded, as you have demonstrated, to rule out truth and “scripture” just because it is not in your limited canon.

    Here’s another for you:
    “Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
    Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
    Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? …
    … And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
    (2 Nephi 29:6-7,9, Book of Mormon)

    “Scripture” is not confined just to the bible. The bible itself makes no such claim.
    If you want to address the message and meaning, I’m happy to hear what you have to say. If you just want to “poison the well,” I have no time to waste on you.

  34. Tom — But in view of your question about hating atheists

    LOL. You couldn’t/wouldn’t answer.

  35. dacook

    I am sorry that you felt offended. I mean no such hurt.

    It is the principle of intrinsic authority that is attached to the cultural use of the formal term “scripture” that I was addressing. If we are not claiming particular authority, and if the words themselves are what we are wanting to convey, then we need not attach the label “scripture”, and the words speak their own truth.

  36. idnet:

    No worries.

    dacook

  37. Thank you for your posts Mentok. God bless you.

  38. 38

    I’m new here, and would like to ask for some forgiveness in advance of my ignorance.

    I have recently started my journey for a greater understanding and I was wondering if Dawkins or any other promoter of atheism has addressed the following. If they have I would be grateful if someone could point me to it.

    It is my understanding that the atheistic view of religion is that of a naturally evolved and purely human creation (how could it be anything else?).

    My question then is that of atheism, do they also not see atheism as naturally evolved from the human creation that is science?

    If so then relativism rules the day and they should just go home.

    Please don’t get me wrong here, I am a great believer in science and also believe that we as creatures of God are designed for discovery and exploration, without the complexity surrounding us we would soon become bored and intellectually lazy.

  39. cdf

    I believe they do it because they’re innocent. They have no knowledge of right and wrong.

    Sure love is in our nature but so is hate. No other mammal I know of kills its own kind like humans do. Humans are not innocent. The bible says at one time we too were innocents but we acquired knowledge of right and wrong and were no longer innocent. That sounds pretty accurate to me even on an evolutionary basis as there too we were once innocent animals until we evolved brains capable of abstract concepts like right and wrong.

  40. Could you remove post #24? That is a duplicate post (almost) that was held up by the anti spam filter. I posted the same post a handful of times (with minor edits) with each time the spam filter stopping it from appearing until I figured out which word was causing the post to be seen as spam. That was then posted in 2 parts. Since then post #24 has appeared which is a duplicate.

  41. JasontheGreek: you said,

    I don’t think ANYONE on earth wakes up and says “my life is all in vain…I will cease to exist in a few decades and stay that way forever. Nthing I do makes any sense or any difference. I am just as useful as a pair of old shoes (which, in the long run are, completely meaningless and useless)…but I love life and the world is beautiful and majestic!”

    Well, I might not think that when I wake up, as such – more likely later on in the day – but otherwise, sure. That’s about right. And why not?

  42. dacook,

    “‘Scripture’ is not confined just to the bible. The bible itself makes no such claim.”

    The New Testament does, indeed, confirm what is now called the “Old Testament” as “Scripture”. The New Testament counts as “Scripture” because every one of its books was written by one of the twelve Apostles, Paul, or an immediate associate of one of the Apostles or Paul, and the twelve Apostles had direct, long-term, contact with Jesus, and Paul was directly called to be an Apostle by Jesus Himself.

    So, for Christianity, these works (the Old Testament, and the New Testament) exhaust all possible “Scripture”. Neither the Koran, nor the Book of Mormon, qualifies, for a number of reasons, but primarily for the reason I hinted at above. Likewise, all other so-called “scriptures” (the Bhagavad-Gita, the Upanishads, or whatever), could not and do not qualify as God-ordained or inspired “scripture”, since it is accepted as a given that God does not, would not, contradict Himself, and the latter so-called “scriptures” DO

  43. littlejon, “Honestly truly now, the main reason you don’t “just kill someone” is because you believe you have been instructed not to by a deity? It doesn’t primarily come from inside you?”

    I’ve had all kinds of impulses “come from inside” me. It’s my learned moral compass that judges between them and allows me to “see” the “right course.” Why? Because I’ve been taught that God wants me to, and that there’s a very good chance I am resposible to a higher power for my actions, and will have to answer for them.

    “That is really terrifying.”

    You’re damn right it is. That’s the whole point, grasshopper.

    ““There is no reason”? Without being rude this is close to psychopathy.”

    No kidding. And you’re no better than the rest of us. But we recognize that we have inherited a morality that came from Jesus, and Moses, and they claimed to have gotten their morality directly from Yahweh. Get it?

    I find it interesting that the father of one of the Columbine murderers recently stated publicly that the reason given by the boys for their killing spree was, you guessed it, “evolution”. The atheistic, darwinian kind. There is a video tape with them explicitly saying this. The dad went on to say, “This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has NO INHERENT VALUE.” (Emphesis mine.)

    I think he said he it all.

  44. “I find it interesting that the father of one of the Columbine murderers recently stated publicly that the reason given by the boys for their killing spree was, you guessed it, “evolution”. The atheistic, darwinian kind.”

    I know a woman (who happens to hold a biology degree) who justifies all immoral/unethical acts she commits with Darwinian evolution. Her answer to everything is “survival of the fittest” Ironically she was raised Catholic, but abandoned it once she went to college, and was brainwashed by a few atheist professors. I watched as she slowly began to think nothing of lying or stealing, and in fact believed that nature itself was her mandate for this behavior. Inevitably, this thinking translated to extreme racism; i.e. her believing that different races of humans were “lower” on the evolutionary scale than another. What became her view of the Bible? It was a “book written by old men to control women” Supposedly, that came from one of her “enlightened” female professors. Because I have been a first hand witness to her 8-year transformation, I think it’s very possible that “blind watchmaker” fairy tales influenced those Columbine murders.

  45. mentok: “Could you remove post #24?”

    Done.

    By the way, since there has been discussion about moral relativism in this thread I have a book recommendation: Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, by Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl. On purely rational and logical grounds, moral relativism self-destructs.

  46. I don’t think there’s any real basis for moral values unless you believe in a God. Honestly, I’ve not heard of an Atheist justify his morality on grounds other than “feelings”, “whatever is benificial in the long run”, or “whatever causes the least pain”.

    Without God, there is firm basis for morality, which leads to such moral dilemmas such as “should old people be put out of their misery?”, “should we kill the mentally disabled and brain dead to free resources for society?”, “should we burn down kfc for inhuman treatment of chickens?”, “should we kill of babies with genetic defects after birth instead of before?”, “should we breed babies for their organs?” and “should we sterilize geneticlly inferior people for the sake of human evolution?”

    Honestly, I don’t want to live in a world where morality is determined solely by people in power. Call me dogmatic – but I like the Bible’s standard of morality just the way it is.

  47. Original :

    “He commented, “The lesson of the past two centuries is that intellectual and moral relativism is profoundly the case.” However, Rue recognized that a society underpinned by such a philosophy cannot function. If we are to avoid the “madhouse option,” as he put it, we must fool ourselves with a “noble lie” so that we will be driven beyond self-interest. ”

    I think this is Nancy Pearcey’s Fact/ Value split at its greatest. If the truth is really this way and we know it is this way, then why do we live as if it is not true? I know because were all so stupid that we just can’t figure out that living a life that has no value is really valuable!

    Why is suicide illegal again?????

    Ricardo

  48. WinglesS I think that people can use empathy as a moral basis without belief in god. In fact the laws of western countries are based on empathy which leads to their egalitarian premise. That has been the “enlightenment’” basis for morality for quite some time. Although their morality is still being guided by god unbeknownst to them.

    The firm basis you describe seems to be more about specific religious doctrine rather then general belief in god. Morality based on belief in god can take many conflicting forms . For example if someone believes in god and that the human soul lives on after the death of the body, then they could come up with a moral view that abortion is o.k. because no one is really being harmed by abortion, that the soul of the baby will be reborn somewhere else, or that the soul of the baby doesn’t reside in the body until right before birth. Conversely an atheist can empathically believe that abortion is a horrendous crime because it robs a person of it’s only chance for life for all of eternity.

    Religious doctrine usually teaches a specifically unique morality and that morality can change over time. For example in many ancient scriptures we find moral judgements which would be highly illegal in western countries today, but which may still be practiced in other cultures e.g. cutting off of limbs for minor crimes, stoning to death for even a hint of promiscuous behavior, etc.

    From an atheist standpoint they could claim that the secular laws of europe or america show a higher moral quality then the religious based laws of many islamic countries and therefore atheists can be more moral then theists. That doesn’t mean that religious belief cannot be a superior basis for moral standards, nor does it mean that atheist morality cannot be really bad e.g. eugenics, communism

    So in either case we have seen that morality isn’t necessarily going to be good if it is inspired by religious belief and not necessarily good or egalitarian if inspired by atheism. From my perspective all true and good morality does indeed come from god whether people believe in god or not, but not necessarily from religious doctrine. Everyone is given a conscience because god is within us, guiding us as conscience. It is those who listen to that guidance, who take heed of their conscience, it is they who have rejected the barbaric acts passing off as divinely sanctioned morality as written in ancient scriptures . There are many people who are overcome by egotism, hate, and selfishness, who are unable to follow god’s dictates as their conscience, whether they believe in god or not. Therefore even though an ancient scripture may condone all kinds of harsh punishments for seemingly minor offenses or even seemingly non offenses, god speaks through conscience to those who will listen and shows them the true and righteous path.

    What belief in god can alone give is a sense of freedom from existential anxiety and despair, an inner peace and joy, a life lived in eternity. Wasn’t it Jesus who said:

    “Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

    That doesn’t mean that if you don’t believe in Jesus that you will die. What it means is that if you believe in god then you will live in eternity, right here and now will seem from your angle of vision as moments of your eternal existence, as opposed to not believing in god, which will cause you to live moment to moment in the world of death and doom.

  49. Douglas:
    “The New Testament does, indeed, confirm what is now called the “Old Testament” as “Scripture”. The New Testament counts as “Scripture” because every one of its books was written by one of the twelve Apostles, Paul, or an immediate associate of one of the Apostles or Paul, and the twelve Apostles had direct, long-term, contact with Jesus, and Paul was directly called to be an Apostle by Jesus Himself.

    So, for Christianity, these works (the Old Testament, and the New Testament) exhaust all possible “Scripture”. …”

    You need to broaden your education on the bible and how it came to be.

    For the Old Testament I recommend:
    “The Great Angel; A Study of Israel’s Second God,” The Great High Priest; The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy” and “Temple Theology, an Introduction,” all by Margaret Barker, an independent biblical scholar and one of the world’s foremost authorities on the old testament, and a lay Methodist Preacher.

    For the New Testament see:

    “Misquoting Jesus; The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart D. Ehrman, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and
    “Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up” by David W. Bercot, an evangelical Christian author of many works on early Christianity.

    None of the above authors is Mormon. An excellent summary of the history of the bible as we have it today, if you can stand a Mormon author, is “How We Got the Bible,” by Lenet Hadley Read.

    What we now call the Old Testament did not exist as such during the days of Jesus. Exactly who wrote many of the books of the bible is not at all clear, but it is clear that it’s not always the person whose name is on them.

    Your statements show a naivete of biblical and Christian history unfortunately all too common among certain Christian groups.
    What do you make, for example, of the many books referred to in the bible as authoritative which are not currently in the bible?:
    Where is the letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians referred to in 1 Cor. 5:9? (must’ve been written before 1st Corinthians; wouldn’t it be nice to have it now?) Where are the many books referred to in the OT but not found there? These were scripture to the people who had them; when did they stop being scripture?

    Why are the so-called “apocryphal” books of the Greek Septuagint accepted as scripture for Catholics but not for Protestants? Are they not both Christian?
    What about the book of Enoch?: Accepted by some early Jews, rejected by later Pharisaic Judaism, then accepted by the first Christians , to be again rejected by later Christians ; scripture or not?

    The point is that what is and has been considered scripture in Christianity is not as cut and dried as you suppose.

    Order and read the books I suggest above; they will expand your understanding and appreciation of the bible marvelously. It has a wonderfully rich history which can be very enlightening for those not afraid to loosen their grip on certain preconceived ideas.
    dacook

  50. An appropriate film here is Fight Club. The myth of Tyler Durden is propelled to ensure the fitness and growth of fight club. The succes of the club is based on other sacrificing themselves in the name of a greater good which established by the rantings of Tyler.

    I wonder how Dawkins feels about fight club? Maybe he doesn’t even understand his own duality.

  51. dacook,

    Am I correct in assuming you are a Mormon? (Or one of the various off-shoots, or prior branches, of the same [such as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints"]?) I can see we are diverging too far from the topic of this thread, but I would be more than willing to engage you in a discussion of Scripture and/or Mormonism. But I assume it would not be at “Uncommon Descent”. What say the moderators? Any suggestions for a more suitable venue? Access Research Network, in the “Off-Topic” forum?

  52. Douglas:
    Yes, I am a Mormon. The preferred term is actually member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But I’m not picky; Mormon will do.
    I agree this forum/blog is not really the place for debate/discussion of inter-religious differences.
    The best place for debate about things Mormon is the message board at http://www.fairlds.org/
    I am an on-again off-again poster there, under the same username of dacook. I mostly involve myself in the evolution discussions that regularly arise because I have degrees in Biology and Medicine and have studied the issue a lot over the years and feel I have something to offer. I mostly try to refute the argument that disbelievers in Darwinism are uneducated and/or don’t really understand it. (Or are “ignorant, stupid, or insane”. Maybe I am “wicked” if you’re one who believes all Mormons are going to hell :))
    I also dabble a bit in historical issues of Christianity and scripture because I have an interest in those things and a pretty good library, and have done a lot of reading, but I am really only a dilettante in those areas; there are some very heavy hitters on that board. If you don’t know your stuff you can get handed your head pretty quick.
    I would be happy to contribute what I can to an appropriate forum around here somewhere if anyone is interested.

    To all:
    On an unrelated note; I just today in the bookstore ran across “Kicking the Sacred Cow” by James P. Hogan. In the front is a nice review by William A. Dembski. Of course I bought the book. The section on Darwinism is a brief but well done summary of its problems.
    Having read some of Hogan’s earlier books in which he militantly defends Darwinism I was pleasantly surprised to read that he had gone through a conversion process away from Darwinism similar to mine. I haven’t read the other sections of the book yet so can’t comment on them, but I think that one at least is worth the purchase price.
    Hogan does make one point that I hadn’t considered in quite that way before: Gould and other Darwinists who try to reconcile the nearly complete non-correspondence of the fossil record with Darwinism are making “a defense against the evidence.” I just like the way he puts that.

  53. As far as I know, a type of stellar explosions several orders of magnitude more powerful than a typical supernova emits gamma radiation capable of eradicating all life over galactic distances. If such a burst were to hit Earth, most life on land would come to an end; I don’t know about the oceans or microbiological life.

    Such a burst could happen this very moment, so I better submit this before it is too late.

    How the world – and eventually the universe will end, nobody knows. We know however with certainty that our sun someday will make sure that whatever life is left on the Earth then will fry.

    In the meantime, we will have to find meaning in life just the way that it is: Eat, drink and be merry. Life is fun, life is interesting as long as it lasts. We may all die happy with a smile on our face – if we know we did our best and would gladly do it all over again.

    But if someone fears death, he might be better of if he believed in a hereafter, even if the hereafter might be an illusion.

  54. Robin

    We know however with certainty that our sun someday will make sure that whatever life is left on the Earth then will fry.

    Correct. If we presume that the basic goal of life is continuance (and this appears to be what all forms of life we know of does) then in order to continue beyond the hospitable lifetime of any single planet life must be able to transport itself from old planets to young planets. To accomplish this requires that life create and utilize technology capable of locating suitable new planets and transporting the seeds of life to them.

    Thus I believe that phylogenesis is a goal oriented process that terminates in species capable of transporting the seeds of life to new worlds. Since young planets need some work to make them capable of supporting technology part of the phylogenetic process is terraforming – oxgenating the atmosphere, stabilizing the climate, and laying down vast reserves of chemically stored energy to power an eventual industrial civilization.

    Our purpose thus becomes that of making sure that life doesn’t end when the earth is no longer able to support it. Therefore you’ll be hard put to find a more enthusiatic supporter than me of science and technology that makes it possible to get life off this third rock from the sun to a place where it can continue anew.

  55. Jason et al

    Having no purpose prescribed to you is not the same as having no purpose. The lack of a God given purpose is not the lack of a purpose.

    I am not an atheist, but to argue that an atheist can have no purpose in life seems more then a bit absurd. Is the notion of soemone deciding on their own purpose a no-no for some reason that I am not aware of? Do emotions cease to exist or affect us if we believe they are the result of physical processes in our immensely complex brains? Do the cooperative instincts engrained in our being over millions of years disappear the day we stop believing in God?

    Morality and the notion of self are universal for humanity and transcend religion. Different religions give different accounts as to why we should be moral or just what our self is, but they do not cause those traits.

    To think that humanity will slide into a state where rape and murder are commonplace implies that at some point on a personal level the value of human relationships will diminish to next to nothing, and on the societal scale the benefits of cooperation will be largely diminished as well. It is hard for me to imagine how or why either of those condinitons would ever come to pass. More cooperative societies will continue to be more productive and out last less productive contemporaries, and ceasing to care for loving human contact is tantamount to loosing our ability to feel emotion.

Leave a Reply