01 April 2010

The Good Who Wasn't There: Meaning, Morality, & Atheist Metaphysics

"You would not get out of your chair and walk across the room, if Nature had not her bag of illusions."
—Yeats

Under atheist metaphysics, there was no Creator, Designer, or even pantheistic personality such as Mother Nature to give the universe any kind of overarching purpose, design, direction, intent, or outcome.

Is there anything under atheist metaphysics that could have designed or directed the universe—any universe, its properties, its very existence—one way and not another?

If no, is there anything making said universe more than a matter of blind, random, mindless, purposeless chance?

If no, in such a universe, can anything have intrinsic value?

If no, then what are the moral and meaningful experiences, feelings, ideas, and habits fashioned in humans through natural selection about?

"Now, it is worthy of remark that [Thomism] is the only working philosophy. Of nearly all other philosophies it is strictly true that their followers work in spite of them, or do not work at all. No sceptics work sceptically; no fatalists work fatalistically; all without exception work on the principle that it is possible to assume what it is not possible to believe. No materialist who thinks his mind was made up for him, by mud and blood and heredity, has any hesitation in making up his mind. No sceptic who believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation about treating it as objective."
G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox

Related:

27 March 2010

Who Caused God?

In a recent debate between atheist Dan Barker and Cardinal George Pell, Barker asserted that the retort, "Who caused God?" is a sufficient refutation of the cosmological argument. Does this even address the cosmological argument? The cosmological argument says that everything within the universe (and consequently the universe itself) is a receiver of existence; it comes into being and, as such, has a cause. Even if the "chain" of cause and effect goes back infinitely, nothing along that chain would ever have come into existence if there wasn't something which first had existence to give--the Uncaused Cause of all things. A pertinent challenge to this argument might be that an Uncaused Cause is not necessary to explain the chain of cause and effect, or that if any being is uncaused, why not the universe? But to simply retort, "Who caused the Uncaused Cause?" seems to me to miss the matter entirely.

Related:

22 January 2010

Charles Krauthammer on Peace


"Pacifism is a serious subject for sweet adolescents, or a way of life for certain eccentric sects; who, it must be noted, survive because they live among non-eccentric sects who reject pacifism and fight to keep those little sects alive and free. "
. . .

"The international community is a state of nature--a Hobbesian state of nature--with no universally recognized norms. Anarchy is kept in check not by a bureaucracy on the East River, not by some inchoate expression of world opinion, not by parchment promises adorned with disingenuous signatures--but by the will and the power of the great powers and, most importantly, in our time, by the one super power, namely, the United States.

"One highly revealing analysis of Obama foreign policy, relying on leaks from inside the White House, spoke about how Obama's approach to foreign policy owed much to his experience as a community organizer: the idea of listening, of understanding, or working cooperatively, and seeking common ends. This is all well and good, but a community organizer in Chicago operates within the rubric and under the protection of a very elaborate, very secure, highly regulated, and consensual domestic civil society. What holds civil society together is a supreme central authority, the sanctity of contracts, and the good will, civility, and decency of its individual members. The international arena lacks all of these things. What keeps it from degenerating into a war of all against all is not central authority, not the phony security of treaties, not the best good will among the more civilized nations--what stability we do have is owed to the overwhelming power and deterrent threat of a super power like the United States that defines international stability as a national interest. "

--Charles Krauthammer, The Age of Obama, Anno Domini 2 (The Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture) January 19, 2010.