Tuesday, February 02, 2010
A basic implication of atheism is that man has no soul and therefore no free will. After all, logically how could a soul evolve from microbes?
The atheistic perspective seems to be that man is a robot, no different basically than an electronic robot, which works automatically, based on a computer program (in this case, DNA) and environmental input.
The only thing unusual about the human robot is that it has self-awareness. I don’t think that the computer on my desk is aware of itself, however the human robot is aware of itself. Also, the human robot for some strange reason imagines that it is not behaving based on a pre-written program; rather it imagines that it is spontaneously, from moment to moment, deciding what to do. This, however, is a fantasy. According to atheists, everything which happens is predetermined by other causes; there is no causeless effect.
This would seemingly make the entire issue of morality irrelevant. Good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral is only relevant in regards to a being that can choose freely between different options. Regardless of what a robot does, it is not immoral because it does not choose anything. Perhaps the builder or programmer is immoral, however it makes no sense to put a robot in prison. And according to atheists, in the case of man, there is no intelligent builder. The mindless process of evolution created us. Hitler had to do what he did just like a volcano has to explode when it does. No matter what crime a person commits he can explain “my genes and environment made me do it”. Morality, like free will, is a fantasy.
A little while ago I exchanged email with Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker on this issue:
Question: If someone has committed a crime, is there any rational reason for him to feel guilt?
His answer: Guilt prompts one to repair harm caused to a person and not to repeat it, so if he has any ties to people and a community, then yes.
Question: Can he not console himself with the thought that he had no choice and he was under the control of his brain chemistry, environment, childhood experiences, etc.?
Answer: No, because his brain chemistry, environment, and so on can also lead him to inhibit the urge to commit a crime.
I’m not sure I fully understand him, however Professor Pinker's busy schedule doesn’t allow him to elaborate.
Professor Pinker argues in “The Blank Slate” chapter 10 that the criminal justice system should continue to function as usual, not for the reason that people usually understand, to bring criminals to justice, but rather to serve as a deterrent to other potential criminals. In other words, if a human robot goes haywire and damages other robots, we should kidnap him and lock him in a cage, not because he is evil, but because doing so will influence other human robots to behave more peacefully.
The fact is, that if we are merely dealing with poorly programmed robots that need to be controlled, the most obvious method would be eugenics. It is probably not that difficult to predict in advance which people have a higher likelihood of producing criminal children and simply sterilize them. This might prevent the vast majority of all crime while also controlling over population – two birds with one stone. This makes much more sense than to wait for a human robot to malfunction and do damage and then lock it up hoping that this will somehow influence other robots. Dell, for example, recalled all computers which had a defective battery, not only ones that actually caught on fire. Professor Pinker (The Blind Slate page 153) rejects eugenics because “The costs of freedom to the individuals and in possible abuse by authorities are unacceptable.” Why would it be more unacceptable than our present criminal justice system, which leaves many criminals free, some innocent people behind bars and many neighborhoods dangerous? I think we don’t accept eugenics because we believe that the criminal is responsible for his freely chosen behavior and he must be punished and the government has no right to sterilize people.
I think this demonstrates how atheism is fundamentally, deeply anti-humanistic. Once we remove “the ghost from the machine”, man’s soul, the divine spark, the image of God, whatever you want to call it, man is reduced to being not merely an ape, but to being an iPhone with limbs. This helps us understand why many atheists live alone and have few friends. Their lack of respect for others makes it difficult for them to form families and communities.
Seemingly, this denial of a spiritual component within man would deny the validity of egalitarianism, which is the basis of liberal democracy, and it would promote elitism. People’s inherent value should logically depend on their material attributes such as intellect, strength, beauty, wealth, etc. since only the material actually exists and has value.
In my humble opinion, the atheistic denial of free will is one of the clearest indications that atheism is illogical nonsense. I think we all know that we are not living in a real life version of The Stepford Wives.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:29 AM