Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Secular terrorists

Nine years ago, Jordan Howard Stobel published what is widely deemed to be the most philosophically rigorous attack on the existence of God. His book was a book by a philosopher for fellow philosophers. A highly technical, logically stringent treatment of various theistic proofs.

However, in the very first chapter, he makes a striking admission:

John Mackie says that there are no objective values (Mackie, 1977, Chapter 1). He says that there are no objective goods or values of universal validity that everyone ought to cherish, whether or not they would be so moved in the end, on fully informed reflection. He holds that there are only subjective values, this or that person’s values, where a particular person’s goods are the things he would in the end be moved to value.

For what my opinion on recent difficult matters is worth, I think that the ordinary God-talk of both believers and disbelievers does presuppose the possibility of a being objectively worthy of worship and the rest of an objective god. And I think, for Mackiean reasons, that there cannot be an objective god, a being such that there would be a prescription, valid and authoritative for all, that those who believe in its existence must worship this being. I do not believe in the possibility of such prescriptions. Logic and Theism: Arguments for and Against Beliefs in God (Cambridge University Press 2004), 25.

This is what he seems to be saying: He doesn’t believe in God because he doesn’t believe in objective values. He agrees with Mackie’s contention that there are no objective values, and he regards the metaphysical status of God as a special case of that general proposition.

If my interpretation is correct, then his subsequent behavior is irrational. For having made that preliminary admission, he acts as if it doesn’t make any difference. He continues for another 650+ pages of dense text, chock-full of long dry logical syllogisms. He even has a chapter on the problem of evil.

But if he doesn’t believe in objective values, then what’s the value of disproving God’s existence? Why does he pour so much intellectual effort into that project? Why does he dedicate the only life he has to that project? Why continue playing the game after you lose?

The only motivation I can think of is intellectual pride. Atheists like Sobel take pride in their mental acuity. Argumentation for the sake of argumentation. Intellectual pride becomes a snare for clever atheists. They spend all their time attacking the only thing that lends life objective significance.

But sin is paradoxical in that respect. Notice how self-destructive atheism is becoming. Our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to children–not to mention the elderly and the disabled. Take antinatalism. Take radical environmentalism, which regards humans as a parasite.

And this isn’t just ivory-tower theorizing. This is becoming public policy.

Atheism is evolving into a form of mass suicide. Humans turning against humanity. Turning on ourselves.

What would motivate such spiteful behavior? In this case, I think atheists are on a power trip. They love to control their own destiny and the destiny of others, even if that means murdering everyone on board. Power becomes a snare for some atheists. Intoxicated by power, even to their own demise.


  1. 1 Cor. 1:19 For it is written,
    "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."

    20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

  2. The fallacy in Stobel's logic is that instead of starting with a neutral argument and analyzing both sides of the argument, he presupposes that there is no God and automatically discounts a believers arguments because they made the 'error' of presupposing that there is a God.

    In the end most arguments of atheists come down to selfishness, lack of self control (or a lack of desire to attempt self control) and the inability to comprehend a power greater than their own pitiful being. All Jordan Howard Stobel's diatribe did for me was confirm the wisdom of 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

  3. Very nicely put, Steve.

  4. Sobel has several arguments for God's nonexistence. The "no objective values" argument is just one. He is saying that if that one doesn't succeed, then then there are these others to consider. As for atheists being environmentalists, no, even if most of them happen to fall into that class, there is certainly no logical connection between atheism and environmentalism or any of the other social/political views you mention. Atheism is simply the view that God does not exist, usually supported by arguments, nothing more.

  5. Steve, you ask "his subsequent behavior is irrational...if he doesn’t believe in objective values, then what’s the value of disproving God’s existence?" The obvious answer is that he had reasons, preferences and personal values of his own which explain his behavior and which do not involve the idea of OBJECTIVE values.

    Analogously, if he preferred coffee to tea then the fact he chose coffee over tea may be rational and yet not involve the idea that coffee if objectively more valuable than tea. Your claim of irrationality, therefore, misses the mark.