Friday, September 19, 2014

Theistic Ethics and Mind-Dependence | Reasonable Faith

Theistic Ethics and Mind-Dependence | Reasonable Faith

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Atheism: Matter, Reality and the Existence of God.

Is Matter the only Reality  or  does the  Spiritual and Mental exist too?

             This is the fundamental and crucial distinction deciding  between  any  belief in God and the  atheistic attitude. The importance of this question  cannot be overemphasized  because it underlines all materialistic, agnostic, and skeptical attitudes  possible within the context  of the problem of the  existence of God.
           The basic arguments  for the existence of God  are  already discussed in earlier chapters. They are  philosophical in  nature  ( the argument  from the First Cause , the contingency of all finite entities , the  purposiveness and rationality  inherent in the universe, and also the moral argument and the nature of man).

 Atheism develops not only  on the philosophical level.  There are many  sources  of atheism on the personal level.   depending on the experiences of the individuals. Many people have  false concept of  the nature of God, His purposes for humans.  Personal  tragedies and disappointments in their lives    destroy in them their  belief and  general religious outlook. The most common  reason that people  lose their  original faith  in God comes from the oldest objection against religion that is the existence of suffering,  the apparently  chaotic way  suffering is distributed in life,  the necessity of aging and dying. Not the least reason for losing one’s faith is simply ignorance, passivity, shallowness  of one’s life and  following  the attractions of pleasure material possessions,  popularity power over the others,  which are all  man-created idols . About those we shall not  talk here. They  we will be considered later on. 

   At present one has to realize on the philosophical level  the nature of atheism  as  some form  of disguised materialism , that is  the belief that only matter exists in some form or other,  and no other reality especially spiritual and immaterial  or personal,  is acknowledged.  Atheism  replaces  the personal infinite Omnipotent Creator with some form of matter in process  although this basic  switch  is not  proved in any way , but it is accepted from the beginning as unquestionable  and obvious fact.

 After   David Hume and Immanuel Kant  many philosophers and scientists  insist,  that the only true knowledge comes from scientific methods  in which  experiment, sense data  and  repetition of experiments  verified by  some  human senses  or instruments  used  as prolongation of human senses are decisive.  Whether one talks about data reached  by  telescopes or microscopes,  it all  must according to atheists, be reducible to sense perceptions of some kind and expressible  in a mathematical formula. This attitude   is accepted as beyond any doubt . Talk about spirit, consciousness, mind, and the human self   as spiritual center of a human being is immediately excluded and so is also God,  because God is also understood by believers as immaterial , infinite, Omnipotent  Spirit. An atheist must  and always will  attempt  to reduce all spiritual phenomena  to  some form of matter in process.

What is man in this context? 

For the atheist man is simply  one of the many appearances of matter in movement. The atheist would say that man is electrons , plus amino acids , plus time , plus evolution and plus chance.  The commitment of atheism  to naturalism and materialism  is  wide-spread in contemporary thought and therefore many  scientists believe  that anything  considered  to be immaterial or supernatural is  incompatible with the main tenets  of contemporary science. The God affirmed to exist in traditional Judaism and also Christianity is both spiritual being and  also a supernatural being and his existence transcends  the whole natural order . Again    if nothing exists or can  exist which is metaphysical or  somehow not subject to natural laws , then ,  the supernatural does not exist. Only the acceptance of the immaterial and supernatural as existing  makes intelligible and credible  a divine personal, spiritual, and  transcendent, supernatural being. At the same time if accepted  it also says something  analogically divine and transcendent  about man who by virtue of an immaterial  element in his/her nature  is also an natural person, that is  the image of God , who is a super natural Person.

            Experience  shows the following about man:

(1)               Only human beings use their minds  to become  scientists,  historians, philosophers, lawyers or  inventors.
(2)               Only human beings distinguish  different kinds of  ethical behavior. Some people are called criminals , villains, and some  philanthropists and saintly.
(3)                Only among humans  exists  the distinction between those who are mentally healthy and  those who suffer mental disease  and mental disabilities of some kind.
(4)               Only within the context of human life  there exist libraries, hospitals, churches and temples, theaters and museums and so  on. 

Observation shows  the following activities of man  revealing  the immaterial nature of the human spirit or soul:

(a)                Abstract thinking.
(b)               Symbolic language.
(c)                Universal concepts  in thinking and 
(d)        capability  of  giving  willingly and freely  his/her own life for his/her belief and  convictions especially for a religious  ones.
(e)                 Awareness   of eternity and  possibility of  existence after death.
(f)          Awareness of his/her knowledge of existence. Actions for purposes and goals and search for the ultimate purpose of life.

  Human drive to know  extends towards the  Absolute , that is towards God.

         All this shows  the immateriality  of  the human  subject  and also the  possibility of  an immaterial personal Creator God. Atheism however  denies  both facts . For a materialist  here is nothing immaterial in human nature and everything that humans are is simply a prolongation of physical nature and all human aspirations and actions  must be explained  by the size  and complexity of the human’s brain . Personal immortality becomes impossible and God’s intervention of that nature becomes absurd.  De facto however human intelligence is the ground for free action, moral responsibility , human rights,   and person-hood.
 From the fact that man very often deliberates  what should be done  it is clear that  man’s action transcend  the inborn instinctual drives. Above all  man is a perpetual  searcher for meaning of his/her existence . Without some form or kind of meaning  no human being can really live because there would be no ground  of distinction between different values or  there would be no values at all . In that case however life  becomes impossible. It is important also  to notice  that the conviction  that contemporary science is incompatible  with belief in God  is not obvious. Contemporary science  with the theories  of the big bang,  the expending universe,  and the anthropic principle  is  reconcilable with the  belief in God. 

To the question whether science makes God obsolete , the answer is: definitely not.

Some basic findings of contemporary science  are not only compatible, with belief in God but become pointers towards the transcendent cause of all finite reality. One must consider  not only some isolated arguments,  but see  the totality of the whole picture of modern science,  and philosophical implications of it , plus the philosophical arguments already discussed in this part.  If one would superficially  only  take the  dogmatic statement of atheism then one would miss the vision of the whole. From all modern sciences  there is some evidence  pointing to the transcendent first cause:

(1)               In cosmology the argument begins with the obvious statement that whatever begins to exists as it cause . If one follows this reasoning one arrives at  the existence of the first cause.
(2)               The universe had a beginning  (the big bang theory) points to the necessity of  some  creative source of reality.
(3)               The evidence from physics and the anthropic principle point to the fine tuning of the Cosmos and it’s energies as if  planned  for the production  of life and   human beings.
(4)               The evidence from biochemistry points to  the  intrinsic  purposive  orientation of all entities  and  especially the living beings .
(5)               The evidence from biological information , the DNA inside everyone’s body  consists of trillions of cells each containing in four-letter  code  all information  necessary for the structure of the body.
(6)               The evidence of human consciousness , awareness of self , sensation, thoughts , emotions, desires, beliefs and free choices  make humans   self-conscious animated subjects .

The appearance of the universe, the development of life and the miracle of human consciousness all are stages in the designed development of  the known universe. If this is so,  then there must exists a timeless, personal immaterial being  with freedom of will and enormous power. Such being in religious language is called God, although  our knowledge of this being is analogical  and  in some respect transcends  the  ability of the human mind to understand.

If one rejects the above  one must accept  some  contradictory and illogical consequences :
(1)               nothing produces everything.
(2)               Chaos produces information,
(3)               Unconsciousness produces consciousness  and
(4)               Non-reason produces reason.

            Those reflections can be perhaps illustrated by a little story about a mouse and the grandfather clock.
          Once upon a time there was a very wise mouse.
          She had lot of respect from other mice  because
           they considered her very educated and              
           very professional mouse. She delivered             
          lectures  in  many institution of the mousy-world-of-learning.
          One day she   wondered into the apartment  of some people
          and was terribly scared when she     heard very heavy steps 
           approaching . In panic. looking for escape, she  hid herself 
           in the frame of the grandfather’s clock . She looked at the various  
          wheels and chains inside  and realized that each wheel moved 
           another wheel and this one still another and so on. The whole 
            thing was booming   producing even music  and regularly 
            ticking and ticking away. “Oh” said the mouse to  herself, 

         “I can see now  how this whole machinery works here , it is really very 
          simple ,   I will have to deliver a lecture about it to the others.”

        It never occurred to the mouse to ask the question : Why is there such a thing like a grandfather’s clock and  what is the purpose of the whole structure. Her  little mind was too small to ask such  extravagant and metaphysical questions.

   Recommended readings:

The Courage to Think for Yourself. The Search for                             Truth and the  Meaning of Human Life.
Finality and Intelligence. Is The Universe Designed?

Odwaga Krytycznego myślenia. W Poszukiwaniu                        sensu życia . ( In Polish Language) 

Find the best price and where to order the books  on   the website : 

Please post any question you may have   I will respond  promptly.