Often Christianity will be characterized unfairly as being a system of beliefs that the Christian is brainwashed by from a young age. In a recent viral video of a young child shoveling snow in the cold, he becomes clearly frustrated, looks towards the heavens and exclaims, “Jesus make it warm!” What could be seen as a humorous, if not adorable video of a child exasperated by the conditions is instead transformed into an example by the atheist of the “child abuse” that occurs in the homes of those who are religious through indoctrination. This video and the comments below it illustrate almost perfectly the killjoy that is the atheistic outlook.
The outcry from the atheist front over this and many other examples calls into question their true motives. Are the atheists being consistent in their attack on faith, or are they merely attacking the joy derived from a child’s seeming frustration? I contend that the atheist is not truly attacking the child’s faith, but are misdirecting their anger at the pleasure that most people take in watching a humorous video. Had the child exclaimed, “Mother Nature make it warm!” I seriously doubt that there would be any controversy involved in the candid moment. While the comments do not reflect every atheist’s view on the indoctrination of children, they may reflect something else more generalized, and that is the inability of the atheist to account for the good, or that which we derive pleasure from.
The most common objection to Christianity, or Theism in general, is that of the Problem of Evil. No argument against God has more clout and emotional appeal than that question which even lingers in the back of my mind, “Why God did you allow this to happen?” But I do not wish to answer this question here, maybe another day. Instead, it is my desire to raise the problem of the good for the atheist. If evil exists in the world and is recognized by all men, then there must also exist the converse, and that is goodness. While the Christian has no problem accounting for goodness, as we maintain that God is the source of all goodness, and is infinitely good Himself, the atheist has no such source of goodness except for him or herself. The pinnacle of human happiness for the atheists is the existence of their own matter.
Atheists must submit to a material reductionism. That is in the words of Carl Sagan, “We are all just star-stuff”. And yet, where are the odes to mankind written by the stars? When has the heavenly spheres composed treatises and reasoned about humanity? If we are indeed just a composite of materials, reduced to material beings then that I’m afraid is a frivolous existence. Is it good that we should exist? The atheist cannot think so, nor can they say that it is a dreary existence. If they acknowledge that existence is good, then goodness must exist outside of their own existence. However, if they say that existence is a dreary experience, damn the luck that they should be born, then they must have something to compare it to, which is good.
Part of the dilemma for the atheist with these questions set before him is the lack of an objective standard that he can rely upon for judgments. If we are indeed just “star stuff” then everything becomes nominal, relativism rules until relented. The inability to judge anything as beautiful, wise, progressive, or otherwise, without an objective standard or a transcendent source puts the atheist in a weary position.It has been said before that if the Christian is responsible for explaining evil, then an atheist must be responsible likewise for explaining the good. Undoubtedly, he will say it is completely subjective based on a wiring of the brain, some chemical process, or some cultural standard, but if this is the case, can it not be challenged? If it is the wiring of the brain or a chemical process, then it appears to me it is strictly deterministic, and nobody should be held responsible for his or her actions.
Moral agency disappears with material reductionism. If the culture sets the standard, how can a culture ever improve, and how can one culture be superior to another? This sort of judgment would require an objective standard outside of any culture that exists. Take for example the Holocaust: If cultural relativism rules the mind, then it cannot be that the Nazi’s were doing anything truly repulsive or evil in their massacre of the Jews, as that is what the culture dictated. If we judge their culture, from our own cultural perspective, then surely we are using some standard outside of either, to show that ours is closer to the ideal.
For the atheist, the good, the true, and the beautiful are figments merely of the imagination. An homage to older times when people were brainwashed from childhood into believing that they had value outside of their collection of atoms. The good becomes an unattainable converse of the most common opposition to Christianity, and as much a dilemma to ponder as what is meant by evil for the atheist. The child in the video posted above does not show us a brainwashed collection of atoms incapable of independent thought. No, the child in the video begging for warmer weather from God can teach us a few things.
- First, that he knows who is sovereign and all-powerful, that even if God doesn’t control the weather, he knows that God could.
- Second, he shows us that we can derive delight and pleasure from even the most frustrating of circumstances. The child probably thought that his shoveling would never end – and summer must seem so far away. He longs for days when he can play with his friends without ten layers on, and that is real good for him.
- Third, the child recognizes his preference through comparison to his other experiences, something the atheist worldview cannot do, and makes abundantly evident through their malicious comments in the video.
If atheism is to be honest with itself, it must recognize its metaphysical limitations, its inability to access judgments of any kind, and it must question its own existence as a set of beliefs. It cannot simply rely upon posing questions to the theists but must also regard itself as suspect until proven. The problem of evil and suffering is not justification for atheism until the question of the origin of good is reconciled as well.
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.