Dialogue with an atheist - Part 6 - Evil
Dialogue with an atheist - Part 6 - Evil - by P.K.Odendaal - December 2012.
Atheist: Last time you talked about evil, and I wish to take you up on that. Why do you say Dawkins and company are evil and the Israelites are not? I thought the latter were indeed the worst - if one can believe the Bible.
GLC: Sorry for the ambiguity. I meant that I regard Dawkins and company as evil, but they cannot be described as evil to an atheist, because there is no concept of evil for an atheist. Evil, Satan, Hell, Perdition and the Last Judgement are words defined and created in the Bible - by God and the writers of Scripture. Of course, if you do not believe in God, then Evil, Satan, Hell and the Devil are also non-existent concepts.
Atheist: That is an insult to me - of course I know what evil is and means. I see it around me every day.
GLC: And how would you know what evil means?
Atheist: Our whole society is based on moral principles, law and justice, right and wrong - and what evil is. Our whole society knows what it means. We do not have to believe in hell to know what evil is.
GLC: And where did you get those laws and an understanding of evil from?
Atheist: Our ancestors collected it over many years and have incorporated it into our English and Roman Dutch law systems, as well as in our collection of unwritten common law.
GLC: That is not correct. Most of those laws are based on Mosaic Law as contained in the first five books of Genesis called the Pentateuch. Mosaic Law even included delict - a major part of our law today. Apart from that there is little else in the way of legal principles which was inherited from our ancestry.
What bothers me is the way that you cling to Mosaic Law which was given by God to Moses, whilst you deny the existence of God. That is hypocritical, if you ask me.
Atheist: I would rather believe Hutcheson, the Scottish moral philosopher who argued that moral principles are not based upon the Bible, as Christianity says, nor are they based upon reason, as Plato and Socrates said, but rest only on our feelings and our sentiments of approval or disapproval.
GLC: You are now really on dangerous ground. If you would excuse yourself on Doomsday with the story that you had feelings of moral obligation, and you still acted against those on occasion, then you would be guilty and in real trouble. It would be better, I think, to argue that our society is based on Mosaic Law, and that you do not believe in Moses or in God. The latter will spare you a lot of tears - and maybe fire and brimstone as well.
Atheist: But we have accepted those principles, even though, as you said, we deny the existence of God, and we deny any punishment due to that, or for any other reason.
GLC: But what use are your morals to you, except to use it to justify war or punishment for other people and to maim them for life, for such trivial things as murder and what not, which, as you profess, should carry no redress or punishment - I mean, whose morals are you chasing and why?
Atheist: We are a very morally based society. We atheists especially are people of high moral values.
GLC: My question is, why? What does it do for you and why is it important to you? What are you getting paid for that? What interest do you have in it?
Atheist: The world would be a chaotic mess if there was no law and order.
GLC: I find it more chaotic now, than it was under the theocracy of Israel, who did not have law and order.
Atheist: No, I think we have now become much more human than ever before, due to human rights and Humanism.
GLC: Is that why people like Ghaddafy of Libya and Assad of Syria kill their own people like it is going out of fashion. If you ask me, the Israelites were saints in comparison. They at least spared the women and children, which the world do not do today!
Atheist: Yes, but the civilised and democratic countries are human.
GLC: You mean those countries which kill women and children under the auspices of collateral damage for wars due to vested interests in money, power and resources? Not that I say it is wrong. There are a lot of thugs in this world who thrive on the goodwill of unsuspecting law abiding citizens, like you and me - many of them statesmen, because it has become fashion not to kill them outright as the Bible said, but only for some economical reason.
Atheist: I see you are no mood for reasoning today.
GLC: Remember you threw me a straight ball, which you thought was a curved one, with lots of spin, and, not being a spin doctor, I had to counter the spin with anti-spin to tarnish your idea of the world with the reality of today. As I said, the so-called viciousness of God in the scripture you quoted, makes the Israelites look like a Sunday School picnic against today's world.
But to return to your moralistic views. I am not into morality - for me it smells like a rat. In fact, because you only believe in determinism I cannot even talk to you about free will, which is the basis of goodwill.
Atheist: You are right. Our free will is just an illusion, and I will have to think about your statement that it is the basis of goodwill. Maybe you have a poiunt, or maybe goodwill is a misnomer. I can understand that the will to do good is absent if there is no free will.
GLC: Obviously you are not an existentialist, as existentialism is not in vogue anymore, having been swindled of its romantic aspects by people like Paul Sartre, who gave that up for Marxism. You may say he moved from absolutely free will to absolute domination - almost in the same breath.
In fact, it was Sartre who coined the beautiful phrase: 'We are condemned to be free', with its concomitant lack of moral guidelines - a morally corrupt philosophy having no precedent principles to guide them.
And I think that this is where you atheists go wrong. You have exchanged the dialectic form of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis as proposed by Hegel into the absolutism of anti-thesis of Marxism. You will have to reconsider the possibilities of a synthesis between your belief and those of religious people, even though you hate them violently, as you do.
Atheist: You have lost me there, with your high-sounding phrases.
GLC: Are you referring to your lost condition or your mood?
Atheist: Very funny, Peter!
GLC: You have failed to supply me with any rational explanation of why you think it was wrong to kill the men and spare the women and children of the enemies of those Israelites of old - an example I wish many warmongers on earth will follow. And this is the moral dilemma your faith or unfaith has landed you in and why it has made you morally corrupt. You are very quick to spot the hypocrisy in others, especially Christians or religious people, but not those in your own life. Call an atheist a bigot and the war is on!
Atheist: I see you are in no mood for rational thought today, so I must go.
GLC: I wish to conclude with one final remark, if you will allow me. When I accepted God and Christianity I did it on a 95 to 99 percentile probability. When you accepted Atheism, you did that on a 5 percentile probability, because only 5 per cent of the world is atheists. Did you not know that any hypothesis who can claim only a 5 per cent probability as to its validity, is a dead give-away for being wrong.
I hope you have something more profound and stimulating next time. Bye for now.