What atheism gets you
Every now and then I like to take a look at what things are like on the other side of the worldview fence. It helps keep one sharp to know what one’s opponents are saying, and one of the ways I try to do this is by reading the literature coming out of the “New Atheist” camp.
Recently, I picked up Alex Rosenberg’s “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality.” I will say two things for Rosenberg’s “Guide:” First, it is fairly easy to read. Rosenberg writes at a popular level, and even someone as untrained in the sciences as I am is able to follow his argument. Second, Rosenberg’s conclusions are remarkably silly. ((Edit: Please note that I do not say that his arguments are poorly reasoned, or that his conclusions do not follow logically given his worldview presuppositions.)) Over the course of the book, Rosenberg informs his readers that it is an undeniable conclusion that if God does not exist, then morality does not exist, thought (at least as we perceive thought) does not exist, language cannot convey statements that are “about” anything (when asked why he wrote a book if language is meaningless, Rosenberg replies: “Well, I have to use the only tools available to me.”), and to top it all off, you (at least as you perceive yourself) do not exist.
Now, rather than take a look at what he just wrote and say to himself, “My goodness…these ideas seem a bit absurd and would render my position self-contradictory on multiple levels…” Rosenberg presses forward and assures us that even if these conclusions seem impossible, they are unquestionably true given atheism, and since atheism is true, we must do our best to accept them. Rosenberg is remarkably candid about where atheism leads, and it was interesting to note that his conclusions on the matter mirror those of many Christian apologists. This is why I recently tweeted out:
“Alex Rosenberg’s new book is the best book for Christian apologists so far this year.”
I’m very thankful for atheists like Rosenberg. There aren’t too many people out there who are willing to hold fast and carry their presuppositions out to the logical conclusions, especially once they see the cliff of absurdity looming dead ahead. But Rosenberg not only jumped headlong over the edge, he believes everyone else must as well.
I thought I’d finish out today with a brief bit of Q&A from the beginning of the book. It lays out exactly where the book is going in just a few short paragraphs. Read it, and see if you think atheism provides a worldview worth believing.
Quoting from chapter 1:
Here is a list of questions and their short answers. The rest of this book explains the answers in more detail. Given what we know from the sciences, the answers are all pretty obvious. The interesting thing is to recognize how totally unavoidable they are, provided you place your confidence in science to provide the answers.
Is there a God? (No)
What is the nature of reality? (What physics says it is.)
What is the purpose of the universe? (There is none.)
What is the meaning of life? (Ditto.)
Why am I here? (Just dumb luck.)
Does prayer work? (Of course not.)
Is there a soul? Is it immortal? (Are you kidding?)
Is there free will? (Not a chance!)
What happens when we die? (Everything pretty much goes on as before, except us.)
What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? (There is no moral difference between them.)
Why should I be moral? (Because it makes you feel better than being immoral.)
Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible or sometimes obligatory? (Anything goes.)
What is love, and how can I find it? (Love is the solution to a strategic interaction problem. Don’t look for it; it will find you when you need it.)
Does history have any meaning or purpose? (It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing.)
Does the human past have any lessons for our future? (Fewer and fewer, if it ever had any to begin with.)