[Note: I am reposting this as I have to move it from whence it was originally posted long ago]
As per usual, I will juxtapose Atheism and theism: in this case Atheism meaning that God does not exist and theism meaning Judeo-Christian theology.
Also as per usual, Christopher Hitchens makes great strides as a clever chap who certainly has a knack for witty repartee. Yet, as his appeal strides forwards he takes huge leaps backwards when we stop to consider the fact that as clever as his statements may be they are fallacious.
This is when a demarcation must be draw between elbow your buddy in the ribs based entertainment, on the one hand, and analytical thought, on the other. Sadly, the elbow your buddy in the ribs approach has taken the New Atheist movement a long ways as it is virtually all they have with which to work.
In his book The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky notes that “Without God all things are permissible.” Christopher Hitchens has rephrased this and employed it towards his polemical advantage in stating, “With God all things are permissible.”
Before we even begin, just in case, let us quickly do away with those who will think back to Sunday School and uncontextually quote the biblical statement “with God all things are possible” and somehow attempt to come to Hitchens’ rescue in this regard. Jesus’ statement “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) had to do with the seeming impossibility of some being saved.
Now, I may agree that “with gods all things are permissible” if we mean that anyone can concoct whatever false gods they please and thereby make excuses for what they wish to excuse. Yet, this would amount to “with human beings who invent gods all things are permissible.” And of course, on the view that God does not exist this is the only option: that human beings make excuses for doing that which they please whether it is excused by appealing to a god, to one race evolving beyond another, or merely to authority such as was demonstrated in the 1971 AD Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford University psychological prison experiments.
Yet, such is not the case with the God of the Bible. For example, it required but one mere four word quotation from the Bible to topple Hitchens’ quip, “Thou shall not murder.” Thus, with God murder is not permissible and thus, the assertion that “With God all things are permissible” has been defeated (this implies a distinction between “killing” and “murder”).
In my essay Michael Shermer – Moral Argument from Embarrassment I quote Shermer’s supposed “no-win question” which is “If there is no God, what would you do morally? Would you kill me?” I certainly do not know where personages such as Shermer get their ideas of what is and is not clever but I will simply refer the interested reader to that essay for my answer.
Indeed, Dostoevsky was quite correct that “without God all things are permissible.” This is because in a godless universe there is no moral imperative. The most we could state is that 1) a moral sense has been hardwired into us via evolution and or 2) humans have mused upon morality and have come to certain conclusions.
Yet, 1) amounts to urges which are survival and DNA reproducing based and 2) may be perfectly logical, benevolent and appealing conclusions but amount to mere byproducts of bio-chemical reactions in a bio-organism’s brain.
Moreover, 1) may end in the bio-organism’s death or non-reproduction but certainly does not amount to a moral imperative and 2) may end in temporal punishment or death via terrestrial judicious systems, assuming that enough bio-organism’s agree.
Yet, overall both of these are ultimately impotent and lack transcendent justice. This is because an urge or manmade law amount to recommendations or urges which the bio-organism may choose to heed or deny and if the offending bio-organism is not caught by those bio-organisms who arbitrarily condemn their action they simply got to enjoy their wrongdoing and get away with it.
With God there is a moral imperative, absolute truth and thus, all things are not permissible.
Without God there is no moral imperative, there is no ultimate justice, ethics and truth are relative as they are based on our whims and thus; all things are permissible.
Why is this? Because in a god-free universe the only thing that matters, the only imperative as it were, is survival (no one seems to know why). While there may be certain advantages in taking certain actions and avoiding others, as for instance when we seek to live in groups, the fact is that ultimately even if all species go extinct, as all surely will when the Sun explodes, it is irrelevant since we are merely spinning on a pale blue dot in the universe’s backwaters.
In a god-free universe, since all that matters is survival, I may choose to survive by feeding the poor or by eating the poor. I may pursue benevolence or malevolence.
In fact, I may survive by inventing the idea of the existence of God and have other in-group bio-organisms do the same so as to build a community. In such as case just who are the atheists to declare that they disapprove of my way of surviving and seek to squelch it? They ought to leave me alone and allow me to survive.
Oh, wait, yes, indeed; they too are finding ways to survive by besmirching and condemning me based on their personal survival preferences and we are merely back to struggling to survive as the fittest—the fittest is whoever survives and whoever survive is the fittest; my fitness can beat up your fitness and this is what existence in a god-free universe is all about.
According to a biblical worldview all humans are created in God’s image and I have no right to violate you in any way.
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