See, in the post Matt examined a creationist argument on another blog and argued against it on a point by point basis. Here’s the part that specifically got me thinking:
Another reason that we know that there is a God is the existence of morality.
This argument is so incredibly old and been shot down so many times, that it is simply tiresome to even deal with it. Morality is subjective, it changes over time and from culture to culture. There are certain fundamentals that run through nearly all cultures but those are perfectly explained by a little field of study called evolutionary ethics and morality. Basically it boils down to the fact that to survive certain species (including humans) needed each other to survive. To maintain group cohesion, they quickly had to invent/learn certain social norms (like not killing each other) since the alternative would be to have the group dissolve and get killed by nearby physically superior animals intent on eating their collective livers.
To me, this viewpoint, which is essentially that morality does not exist, represents a sad outlook on life. How depressing would it be to see love as nothing more than a means for reproduction, happiness, joy, and excitement as nothing more than an exploitation of some chemicals designed to keep us alive. Friendship would be seen as a bond created for a better chance at survival. Slavery, theft, torture, murder. That curling in our gut when we think about such things—that would just be our survival instincts kicking in. According to this perspective, there’s no difference between an innocent person and a guilty person who gets away with his or her crimes. If murder was made legal there would no longer be anything wrong with it. That misery that we feel when a cherished person dies, so intense that at first it feels like it can’t possibly be real, that would just be a reinforcement of our survival instincts, our body’s way of reminding us not to let our clan die off.
How can someone who has experienced these emotions, felt the struggle that it sometimes is to do the right thing, and witnessed the wondrousness and inexplicableness of life, strip it down to such a pointless existence? Because, really, what’s the motivation for living when the only goal is survival, an aspiration that, in the end, is both pointless and impossible. The argument could be made that all we can do is enjoy the time we have, but without the existence of love, joy, friendship etc. making the most of life is reduced to manipulating our bodies to release the most high-inducing chemicals that we can with the time we’re given. The way I see it, without the existence of God life is a barren wasteland. Wouldn’t that then mean that, since life is more than a barren wasteland, God does exist? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. How do you define those things that some atheists would call survival instincts? And I’d love to hear from some atheist readers. What’s your outlook on life? How do you explain morality?
(Images by: sbhland)