Wednesday 14 November 2018

Atheist objections to divine morality - reasons to reject the reality of creation

If morality as presented as God's will, then this tends to strike a modern atheist as His opinion against mine. Why should God's morality be right and mine wrong; why should God get to set the rules for everybody?

The reason is that true morality is not detachable from reality, but interwoven inextricably - God is creator, and what we call morality is just one aspect of reality that we have picked-out and called morality.

So God's rules apply to us because God created us and everything in our world... but the moderately-sophisticated atheist will soon pick up the inconsistency in this argument... If God created everything including myself, how and why is there a conflict between what I want to do and what God wants me to do?

The answer is 'free will' - but where does freedom come-from if God has created everything? It doesn't make sense.

And - more profoundly - why did God make Men with free will? What is the intention of this - if not to sin, then how are Men supposed to use their free will? If the answer is merely to choose to obey God, then this choice is pointless - God might as well have made Men to obey in the first place!

My different understanding is that God created our reality, our 'universe'; but God did not create our free will: free will comes from our-selves.

And further that God is not primarily aiming at obedience; but instead at Men becoming gods.

My understanding is that God could not make men as already-gods - because being a god entails free will; so the intention is that individual Men will choose to grow and develop towards divinity

So... God has created the reality in-which we dwell; and morality is part-of living in alliance with the nature and purpose of God's creation; living aligned-with reality. But free will comes from that part of our reality which God did not create; hence the conflict intrinsic to this life. 

If we choose Not to live in alignment with creation-reality (to reject God's virtue, truth, beauty in unity), this is a rational choice; but ultimately that negative choice-to-reject condemns the rejector to life outside creation.

What is outside creation? In essence nothing; that is chaos, lack of meaning, no purpose, zero relationships.

But modern Man does not believe-in the reality of meaning, purpose, or permanent personal relationships... indeed modern Man regards all of these as tyranny, and would actively reject them.

So be it: if modern Man does not want them, then he is free to reject them.

What would he get instead? He would get his own way - complete freedom in a context of total isolation. If modern Man really does not want to be a part of creation, if modern man wants his own personal autonomy above everything; he will presumably choose to reject creation - including God's morality. 

From this you can see why love is the key for Christians; love is the positive reason why you or I or anybody else would actively-want to embrace the reality of God's creation; and eschew the absolute isolation that total autonomy would entail.


Chiu ChunLing said...

The choice to reject God (and Creation) can be logical, but it cannot be rational or reasonable. To be rational or reasonable, the logic of a decision must be oriented towards getting something you want.

Aversion to God can be logical, but it is fundamentally irrational because there is nothing to desire about the alternative. It can be logical because logic only requires the application of rules to lead to a conclusion, it doesn't matter whether you like the conclusion or not. Reason has to be concerned with discovering a conclusion you want to reach. That's why the phrase "quod erat demonstrandum" is an important signifier of successful reasoning.

Reason also has to conform to the rules of logic in reaching the conclusion, violating logic to reach a fixed conclusion is a sign of bad reasoning. But applying logic to reach a conclusion without regard to whether it has any value is also unreasonable, it is what we term an irrational process. Irrational processes often have a logic to them, but reflect no meaningful intention.

For example, Darwinian evolution should be an irrational process, it follows rules to reach some conclusion, but there is no intention behind it. Not even "survival of the fittest", since evolution could in principle produce a result of ecological collapse leading to the non-survival of pretty much all complex 'highly-evolved' life (such ecological collapses occur locally quite often in nature).

The commonplace motive to reject God is Pride, the desire for preeminence which is impossible if one acknowledges God. But rejection of God and Creation doesn't lead to preeminence but to utter effacement, pretty much the opposite of what was desired. It is a logical outcome of pride, but wholly irrational.

Love is necessary to overcome pride. But both love and pride seem to be present in degrees rather than as boolean values in each person's will. Further, it seems that each is not a fundamental value but is rather the expression through the spirit of more fundamental decisive elements of the will, which may not be easily expressible in common language, possibly being idiosyncratic at the individual level. That is to say, the underlying characteristic of the will may be immutable, but the expression of love or pride may be increased or decreased by some underlying act of will, but not the same act of will in every person.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - I disagree, for the reasons in the post. For some people - being able to defy God, and reject creation, gives more satisfaction than anything else. Of course, it very seldom stops there - probably because of what motivates the defiance/ rejection.

Bruce B. said...

Don’t know if this is heretical but is it possible that our will is uncreated i.e. eternal? That the imago dei means that at least this small aspect of our being is part of God, begotten not created. Maybe our intellect and memory (along with our physical reality) is created but our will is uncreated.

Chiu ChunLing said...

If by "satisfaction" we include resolution of the most temporally proximate motivation by acting upon it, then I suppose that is correct. That is all the satisfaction they can ever have. But this is nothing more than what every volitional being with any agency experiences by virtue of every decisive response, it desires something and does something in an attempt to get what it desires.

The satisfaction of "doing something". But no being with agency can ever avoid "doing something" (even by doing 'nothing').

But in the sense of bringing about a desired consequence, satisfaction is eternally beyond the prideful.

Bruce Charlton said...

BB - It solves one problem - but doesn't make us genuinely independent of God.