Atheism, Christianity, epistemology, Godless in Dixie, meta-ethics., morality, relativism, Shaefer-Landau
I generally spend more time reading and commenting on atheist blogs than I do posting my own blogs. Since a lack of a satisfactory morality is, to my mind, a real problem for the atheistic belief system, I frequently ask atheists what they make of morality.
On one atheist’s blog, the author was comparing being Christian to be being like John Nash as portrayed in the movie A Beautiful Mind. Just like John Nash believed in people who weren’t real, he argued that Christians believed in an unreal God. He also compared Christianity to Buzz Light Year’s belief that he was really on a mission from mission control. The author thought he could relate to Buzz Lightyear because, when he was a Christian, he thought he was on a mission from mission control and had to face the hard realization he really was not. The blogger was hoping that he could disabuse Christians of their “make believe” ideas.
As it turns out this blogger replaced the idea of mission control, with the idea that when it comes to morality we create our own meaning. I found this interesting. He was trying to help people stop believing “make believe” but he thinks he “creates” his own meaning when it comes to morality, and presumably lives his life based on these creations. It became clear to me that this author and perhaps a few people who follow his blog did not see the irony. So I explained the difference between moral realism and relativism. He clearly indicated he is a subjectivist. That is, he is some who thinks right and wrong is dependent on our own view of what is right or wrong. In other words morality is a creation of our mind – just like those imaginary people John Nash believed in.
I am aware meta-ethical views and their implications are really not all that well known outside of philosophers interested in the field. I did a brief introductory blog on it here https://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/20/what-do-you-mean-im-wrong/ So I am not trying to be critical of the blogger, or any of the other commentators, defending him. They were all pretty intelligent and reasonable people. I think this is an important illustration of why gaining an understanding of these issues is critical if you want to discuss the reasonableness of believing in Christianity. Here the blogger assumed we shouldn’t live our lives based on make believe. Yet this person admitted he lives by a morality he made up.
Russ Shaefer-Landau said it best:
“Nihilists believe that there are no moral truths. Subjectivists believe that moral truth is created by each individual. Relativists believe that moral truth is a social construct. These three theories share the view that, in ethics, we make it all up. ” Page 11 Whatever Happened to Good and Evil.
But don’t take his, or my word for it, think it through yourself. If your morality is based on creating your own meaning you are indeed “making it up.” Now there are several reasons people might not believe in God. But if you reject belief in God because you fear God might be “made up”, it seems you would be contradicting this principle, to then accept some sort of relativist theory of morality. Because there you know you are living your life based on make believe.
In the end if a rational person really wants to keep close contact with reality then rejecting a view that might be made up for one that you know is made up seems a poor approach.