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Thursday, March 12, 2015

'So what?'

Michael, at the 'Shadow to Light' blog, has a recent post discussing Sean Carroll's argument (ahem!) that 'Science!' and "religion" are "incompatible". Michael and the commenter TFBW note that "So what?" may be an appropriate response to the claims or arguments (ahem!) of the God-haters.

In fact, the "So what?" response is appropriate to *any* normative assertion made by those who deny that moral duties and expectations are real (or "objective" as people like to say), transcendent and universally binding.

I've discussed the "So what?" response at various times and places; here I'll try to present my ideas on this in an easy-to-follow way.

Consider the following hypothetical exchange, wherein the hypothetical Christian is, for the sake of argument, adopting the hypothetical atheist’s presumptions and the logical entailments thereof -- which include (but is not limited to) the statements that:
1) there are no real, universal, binding, transcendent moral obligations or duties;
2) we cease to exist - as though we had never been - when we die;
3) ultimately, *all* things will cease to exist;
n) ergo, nothing really matters.

Atheist (or Moral Relativist): "Christianity is false."

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "Well, Christianity presents a false view about "God", and about man, and about the universe, and about man's place in the universe."

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "Well, people shouldn't believe -- and certainly shouldn't teach others to believe -- things that are false!"

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "But, it's *wrong* to try to covince people to believe things one knows to be false."

Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "Well, it's not good, for the individual nor for society, when people believe things that are false."

(pseudo-)Christian: "So what? ... Still, you have convinced me -- with your mere assertion -- that Christianity is false. But, you know what? I'm going to keep trying to convince people that it's true."

Atheist (or M.R): "But, but, but ... that woud be lying!"

(pseudo-)Christian: "So what?"

Atheist (or M.R): "But, it's *wrong* to lie. It's *wrong* to try to covince people to believe things one knows to be false."

(pseudo-)Christian: "You've already asserted that, and again I respond: So what?"

I expect that Gentle Reader is experienced enough, and a clear enough thinker, to be able to extend this hypothetical exchange indefinitely and in other directions, such that I need not belabor it.

But, notice this: atheism (or even merely moral relativism) is a curious worldview -- whether it is the truth about the nature of reality, and of God, and of ourselves matters *only* if it is not the truth about the nature of reality, and of God, and of ourselves. Is that *any* other worldview that matters only if it doesn't matter?

Notice another very important thing, not just from my hypothetical exchange (which, of course, I scripted), but also from your own experiences with so-called 'atheists' -- atheists' arguments against Judeo-Christianity, to the limited extent that they ever actually attempt to present an argument, *always* implicitly assume the very thing they (and the logic of their position) are adamant to deny (*): that there are real, universal, binding, transcendent moral obligations or duties, including, but not limited to:
1) it is *wrong* to lie;
2) it is *wrong* to reason or argue on the basis of what one knows, or at least believes, to be false;
3) it is *wrong* to decline or refuse to investigate, to the best of one's abilities, whether one's premises are sound;
3a) it is *wrong* to decline or refuse to learn, to the best of one's abilities, and adopt, a true view of the nature of reality;
4) it really does *matter*, not just now, but also after one has died and lo longer even exists, whether one lives one's life in accordance with what is true about the nature of reality;

(*) especially when these claims are deployed against their position of denial of God and of morality.


K T Cat said...

Sorry, I'm still hung up on the Christianity and Science are incompatible.


Ilíon said...

The point here is that even if it were true that Christianity and 'Science!' are incompatible, so what?

That is, if the 'Science!' fetishist really did believe that his worldview/metaphysics really were the truth about the nature of reality, then he'd know that it doesn't matter in the least that Christians believe something contrary to it -- for, according to what he says is the truth about the nature of reality, *everything* comes out the same in the end, for *everything* ceases to exist.

That he wants (or needs!) to convert us to his atheistic worldview/metaphysics -- that the very existence of our contrary worldview threatens him in some manner -- is evidence that he doesn't *really* understand or doesn't *really* believe his own professed metaphysics.

*We* want to convert the so-called atheist to Christianity because, following the model of our God, we don't wish anyone to die.

But, what's the rationale for the' atheist' wanting to convert the Christian to atheism? That he wishes us to die along with him, instead of having the unending Life that our God promises? (*) That would be an utterly wicked thing to want to do, wouldn't it?

According to his own proclaimed metaphysics, there is no God, and there is no unending Life promised by that not-existing God to have or not not to have. According to his own proclaimed metaphysics, in the end, it's all the same -- whether one recognizes and acknowledges the (purported) truth that there is no God and no Life, or whether one adamantly clings to the (according to him) delusion that God is and offers Life, in the end it's all the same: both the God-denier and the Christian, and all their hope and fears, and even the memory of them, cease to exist.

To put it another way -- according to atheism, there are no "winners" or "losers": there is no Cosmic Scorekeeper who judges the (non-deluded) 'atheist' as being more worthy than the (deluded) Christian. Yet, all his *actions* vis-a-vis "religion" are inconsistent with, and indeed contrary to, that purported truth about the nature of reality.

(*) Yes, that's *exactly* his rationale; but he can't admit that, even to himself.

Ilíon said...

What I'm trying to get people to understand is that quite apart from any critical evaluation of the claims (and assumptions) of the two contradictory and mutually exclusive metaphysics and worldviews:

1) On the one hand, if Christianity is true, then it matters very much that Christianity is true and that atheism is false;

2) On the other hand, if atheism is true, then it matters not in the least that atheism is true and that Christianity is false;

K T Cat said...

Well put!