The Problem With Atheism

At the risk of being accused of being binary in my thinking, let me explain why I think there are only two ways to approach the topic of Atheism, and why I believe that most atheists don't really believe what they say they believe.

Let us assume, for the moment, that the premise of atheism is correct: that there is no God. And let us assume that by "God" the atheist conceives of a "Creator" who created the universe. If everything that exists owes that existence ultimately to nothing more than the natural laws existing in the universe, then one cannot assume any absolute moral position. There is no right or wrong, good or evil, because such things assume a standard against which things can be measured. But what action can you measure against, say, the law of gravity? But their very definition, natural laws cannot be broken - they are simply the way things are. Even when things appear to be contrary to gravity, such as heavier than air vehicles, they still operate according to the fundamental physical laws of the universe. Since you cannot violate these laws, there is no action which would not be in accord with them. Thus, morality must come from something other than such immutable and fundamental forces.

If there is no God, whence come morals? Are they not arbitrary? All people adhere to some form of morality. The question is, in the face of differences of opinion, whose morals are correct? If you examine history, you will see that morals run the gamut in all areas. Each society, or sub-culture, has its own framework of morality. But if there is no supreme authority, why are the morals of the slaver any better or worse than that of the abolitionist? Even if you could achieve the unicorn of a supreme moral authority handed down by men for all men to follow, what inherent worth would that moral code hold?

Let me put it another way. If we are merely the accident of billions of years of celestial events operating solely on natural laws, then we are nothing more than animated self-replicating chemical reactions (ASRCRs). If you mix pure sodium and water, it explodes. There is no morality to it. That is the way that the substances react, given the laws of chemistry. Thus, if one ASRCR happens to terminate the chemical reactions of another ASRCR, that is merely what happens when they are brought together under the right circumstances. You might say, "but intention was involved". Granted. But why should that matter in the atheist framework? One ASRCR consumes another to survive and no one complains unless the Deoxyribonucleic acids in both are sufficiently close between the two. If a man eats a grain to survive then it is moral. But if a man eats another man then it isn't?

If you find an atheist who is honest enough to discuss this topic, what you will discover is that the reason for their morality is nothing more than their own preference. Whatever concurs with their preferences is moral, and everything else is not. This is subjective in the extreme. You cannot have an absolute morality within atheism. We find that, as anarchists can only thrive in a society with laws, atheists can only thrive in a society that holds to some absolute morality. Some would argue that some set of moral imperatives is necessary for the good of society. But that presupposes that there is inherent value in society. But we already know that societies are merely combinations of ASRCRs, so wherein lays the value other than that of personal preference? Perhaps it is the fact that the majority in society hold to a particular moral view that makes it have value? Again I ask why?

I once did an informal survey of friends to see how they define good and evil (ie a moral standard). The consensus, with a couple exceptions, essentially argued that the majority defines what is moral. But, that means that once slavery was moral, because it was widely accepted by most people in the world. Now that slavery is considered "wrong" does that mean that morality changed? If you say yes, then if the majority decided to accept some form of slavery in the future, would it become moral once again? You might argue that such a thing would never happen, but that is simply ignoring the question and its implications. If morality can shift and change over time, it is not an absolute, by definition. If you say no: the majority doesn't define morality - it must derive from some higher authority. But in the atheist's view, there can be no such thing.

Thus, there cannot be any absolute morality in atheism. And if there is no absolute morality, why is your moral stance any better or worse than mine? They are both matters of personal preference. And to what standard do you appeal in order to decide which of our stances is better? There is none. Thus, it is just as "moral" to shoot you in the head (if such were my inclination) as to feed you when you're hungry.

Some unclear-thinking people argue that we can derive morality from a sort of "nature's law", that we can somehow derive morals from the world around us. But if you believe that we ourselves derive from natural processes, are we not also part of nature? So how could anything we do be immoral? So what if we operate different than some other animal species? Nature illustrates many differences: snakes don't sting and trees don't bite. So, wherein is the value of comparing us to some example of something different in nature? We are neither moral nor immoral based on how other life behaves any more than we can base morality on the way rocks form.

There is only one logical conclusion to atheism: there is no inherent value in anything. There is no good or bad. There is simply what is. It is essentially a hopeless and pointless viewpoint. This is why I don't press my atheist friends, because if they truly believed in atheism they would probably kill themselves.

The only alternative is to believe that there is some being that defines the moral standard. And not any old supreme being will do. It must be the one that created us for a purpose. Fulfilling that purpose, whatever it is, is the only moral course. Some might argue that, yes, there is a Creator, but that this Being has left us to our own devices as if he built a house and then went to live elsewhere. But I see no reason to accept this as being any different from an atheistic viewpoint. If said Creator didn't tell us the standards or hold us to them, how is that any different from a practical standpoint? Any such argument of His intentions are quite pointless if we know nothing of them or are not held to account for whether or not we follow them.

But, you argue, with all of the various religions and beliefs in the world, how can we decide which one is the correct (or, at least, the least corrupted) view of said Creator? Giving up upon this point is simple laziness: it is hard to discern what is true so you won't bother. It seems that it should be straight-forward to analyze the various beliefs and find one that is obviously superior to the others. However, that is far beyond the scope of this article.

Atheism is an untenable position and almost no one who is an atheist can truly believe it or they would behave quite differently. Agnosticism is a far more believable position for people to hold as they are not denying the existence of a Creator or of an absolute moral standard. They may not know exactly what that moral standard is, or even care to follow it if they do. But there is far more sense to be made of it than of atheism.