The Real Atheists Club
I don't think atheists are bad people. Not at all. This video is, I guess, making a point about what wonderful people atheists can be. They're "not so bad", it says -- they can be smart and generous and good spouses and all that.
Well, let's see: Duh.
(If you watch it, do look past the way it bungles the meaning of the word, "fool", which is kinda...foolish. We were all young, once.)
Of course, I've never thought atheists were bad people. I don't think atheists are necessarily hedonists, or can't have great marriages, or don't make good parents. I don't think that at all.
I just don't think atheists exist.
People who say there is no God? They exist. And some of them are some of the coolest people you'll ever meet. And moral, too. They think killing an innocent person for no reason is wrong, period. They think lying to friends just for personal gain is wrong, period. They can be very other-centered, compassionate, charitable, and merciful. You might even say some atheists are some of the most upstanding people you'll meet.
Shoot, it's almost like -- no, it's exactly like -- at some level, they believe in God.
Frequently, I'll mention on-air (as a challenge, really, to Christians) Dallas Willard's wisdom: What you believe isn't what you say you believe, what you really believe is what you do.
And sometimes, what you do gives you away, right?
I agree with J. Budziszewski of UTexas (who's really agreeing with C.S. Lewis, for starters) that there are some things we just can't not know. Take any freshman ethics course, and you'll be struck by the god-free attempts to find some basis for our in-common sense of what's right. They're "elegant contrivances", to be sure: systems developed to somehow, some way, explain this nagging sense that we all have, universally, for justification. It's inescapable, though, that none of these contrivances make any sense, or have any ultimate grounding, if we're here by happenstance. None. (Trust me, I've searched, asked, debated people who make their living arguing for their atheism. There's no binding response coming, becaause it doesn't exist.)
Am I saying atheists are lying about their atheism? Not really. Denial is a pretty well-established concept in psychology. I practice it in subtle ways, daily. (Another post.)
Just check the polls on morality. Pollsters will ask something like, "Do you agree that ultimately, what's 'right' or 'wrong' is up to the individual, that there's no absolute truth that transcends us?" And they'll find a large percentage will say "Yes, I agree with that." People will say that, but no one actually believes it. Thankfully, we know this from their behavior, and the way they'll properly consider wrong -- just plain wrong -- the actions of racists, or sexual predators.
They say something, they think they believe it! -- but they don't believe it. They're not lying to the pollster. It happens. Denial is complex.
Irony: The video's parade of "goodness" from atheists doesn't make the case for atheism, it makes the case for Goodness. If we're cosmic accidents, it simply makes no sense to make this appeal if we don't know what "good" means.
I already know the counter-arguments. "But we're only saying that society has determined these things are 'good', and we can do those things, too, and..." Yes, of course. But I'm actually giving you more credit than, "You just go with the societal flow, here..." I'm saying these are real, and deep, convictions, deeper than some contract with society we never signed, deeper than some utilitarian point-system someone came up with that binds no one, deeper than a majority vote.
These are things we can't not know. We've never stopped knowing them, we just lost our confidence that we can know them.
We all know. Every society in the history of man has acknowledged some transcendence. Sigmud Freud, who said belief in God was wish-fulfillment, nevertheless spent his life reacting, personally and professionally, to this God Who Did Not Exist. Uber-Krusty Richard Dawkins (handled nicely here) tries, vainly, to contrive meaning in a universe without God, even as he mocks believers for refusing to face the cold wind of truth.
Atheists don't exist. All of us are quite obviously desperate for a very deep justification. Desperate, and our consciences will stop at nothing to get it. That need for justification shouldn't be there. So why does Dawkins have it?
The cold wind of truth is this: Contrive away, but it's just your lonely contrivance. Without transcendence, meaning is up for grabs, which is another way of saying, there isn't any. There is matter and physical law, and that's it, no more. There's no binding reason to object to cruelty to humans or animals. We can contrive neat little stories, but ultimately, there's no point to hope, or love.
And really no one, including, very obviously, Richard Dawkins, believes that.
Because what you really believe is what you do, right?