Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Unliveable Life

Back of the North Wind has a good post in response to a reader of his who says Atheists can and do live fine lives.
I note that Austin Cline, in his critique, while claiming that "You don't need a god to have a reason to live" does not actually provide a "reason to live". In fact, it is difficult to find a root basis for morality, rational thought (how does an electronic event come to represent an external objective reality?), or even just a "reason to live" in a purely materialistic world. We come from supernova dust, we end up as dissipated heat in the entropy death of the universe. What happens between is temporary and has no impact and no possible final consequence. There is nothing more unique about the organization of matter in a human or animal than in a star or snowflake -- no reason to treat one more carefully than the other. Wherefore, then should one care about what happens to neighbor, spouse or children? Perhaps we want to avoid pain, so we behave in a way which minimizes pain. But the ultimate escape from pain is suicide. Why not hasten the return to dust, the escape from pain, which is inevitable? After all, as the "dread pirate Roberts" once said, "Life is pain, Princess. Anyone who tells you different is selling something." No one tries to live this way -- I do not believe that anyone could live this way. But that was precisely the point of my original remark: a completely self-consistent atheist (read, "materialist") world-view is not livable. Atheists live good lives by avoiding the full implications of their own world-view. This shouldn't be surprising: the vast majority of atheists and theists never follow the implications of their own world views. One might argue that the theist's world-view implies an even more difficult -- more painful -- life than the atheists. But it will at least provide a basis for rational thought, for morality, and for the value of life itself.
Worth reading.

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