Monday, November 05, 2018

God and good

I watched a recent debate between Peter Singer and Andy Bannister. 

A few general observations:

1. The debate was somewhat frustrating inasmuch as the underlying issue is the difference between atheism and Christianity. The difference between Christian bioethics and secular bioethics is parasitic on that underlying division. In a way it would be more useful to debate atheism directly. However, exposing the serrated austerity of secular bioethics is useful. When the consequences of atheism are spotlighted, that's a reason to reevaluate atheism itself.

2. Singer has certain cards in his deck. He's an atheist. This life is all you get. Life has no ultimate purpose. Humans monkeys with big brains. (He didn't say that in the debate, but that's his Darwinian viewpoint.) The brain produces the mind. Although human intelligence overtakes animal intelligence, human babies are less intelligent than adult chimpanzees. 

Given the hand he dealt himself, there are only so many ways he can play it. I expect he regards complaints about the harshness of his position as childish and irrelevant. No point complaining about the barbed consequences of his position if that's the reality of the situation. If God doesn't exist, then that takes best options off the table. Raising idealistic objections to his position ignores the bleak, unyielding facts of our evanescent existence in a Godless universe. As with captives in a concentration camp, the razor wire is a fixture of our existence, whether we like it or not. 

3. Up to a point, Singer is right–if atheism is right. But even on his own grounds, Singer's own position is an ad hoc compromise between idealism and nihilism. It's more consistent for an atheist to be a hedonistic nihilist. If there's no God, no afterlife, then it boils down to naked power and ruthless self-interest. 

Singer never provided an adequate explanation for his claim that he's not a naturalist when it comes to ethics. And his philanthropy is a sugar-coated cyanide capsulate to make the toxic philosophy more palatable and go down smoother. 

One can't help noticing that Singer is now an old man. By his own standards, he's siphoning off scarce medical resources that could better be spent on the younger generation who have so much more to live for.

4. Singer repeats the same blunder as Hitchens regarding the atonement. The purpose of the atonement is not to eradicate evil or suffering but to make it possible for God to justly forgive sin. The eradication of evil and suffering awaits the Parousia. 

5. Regarding the Euthyphro dilemma, That's is a challenge to divine command theory. Of course, divine command theorists have responses.

However, a Christian can sidestep that objection by shifting to natural law theory. Human duties are grounded in how God made us. The same rules don't apply to lions, not because the rules are arbitrary, but because lions are different kinds of creatures. 

Human duties correspond to human nature. And a human nature that's designed. The notion that some actions are contrary to how things are supposed to be is a teleological principle. But atheism banishes teleological explanations from nature. The Blind Watchmaker and all that. No ultimate purpose for anything.

1 comment:

  1. I think the issue with the Euthyphro dilemma is not really about God but is more an argument about moral realism vs moral Anti-realism. It seems you could just always ask the same question for anything that you think is the exemplar of goodness. For example, Koons just redirects the dilemma:

    I wasn't very convinced by Dr. Craig's response.