The more theists’ blogs I read attacking atheists, the more I realise that the truly fundamentalist ones have a worldview identical to that which Nietzsche satirised. In short, Nietzsche’s Mad Man grounded all meaning and purpose and morality in God and then “killed” God. Nietzsche concluded two things: there is no good reason to believe in God and one should assume God doesn’t exist; nothing means anything without God. This is what theists assume my worldview (as a nonbeliever) should be. Nietzsche was a Poe; a satirist. But I’ll go on like Nietzsche was sincere (because it’s easier than continually referring to Nietzsche’s Mad Man).
The only difference between Nietzsche and these theists is the belief in God.
To me at least, this is horrific! These theists actually think there is no value in being human. Everything has to be grounded in a God, and if they were to be convinced by any argument that God was indefensible then they would only have two choices:
- Lie to themselves, and continue pretending like God exists (i.e. feign psychosis) to not descend into hedonistic sociopathy.
- Descend into hedonistic sociopathy.
Why would you feign psychosis if you didn’t see value in life and morality, separate from God? There is that option, but it’s not an option left open my Nietzsche.
Perhaps more importantly though, God doesn’t ground purpose or value or morality. If God grounds morality, then morality is not ultimately about doing the right thing, it’s about getting your soul into Heaven. And that contradicts the idea of morality by making it foundationally selfish. If God grounds purpose, then purpose is simply about making God happy. That makes the basal note of purpose fit the subjective whims of some abstract disembodied mind; God.
Even if all discussion fails to give godless lives objective purpose, we share that platform with theists. They don’t have some sort of high ground on this. Theists have objective purpose like godless people worshipping their dictator have objective purpose (anybody for a discussion about Kin Jong-Il?).
BY rejecting an afterlife we accept we only get one shot at life. And that gives it value. I don’t think there’s a second chance or an extension or—as would really devalue the system—an infinity of my consciousness. The fact that life is finite gives it more purpose that the idea that is it infinite; it’s basic economics. My life is worth something because it is an opportunity, a privilege, that I wasn’t entitled to and this is my opportunity to use it. As a conscious being this is my opportunity to experience it.
I still maintain that morality is objective (insofar that it can be empirically measured, at least in principle, by proxy of its effect on wellbeing). I don’t accept moral relativism. One of the best objections I’ve had to objective morality is the idea that implementing objective morality now would lead to a type of historical revisionism, where good historical figures would have to be re-branded according to this objective framework. The thing is I’m okay with doing that. Take Hitler, no revisionism required; he caused more suffering than he did happiness: immoral. Che Guevara’s moral standing would rest on whether he made people happier than he made people sad. And that depends on whether he fought and killed for an idea that would make people happy (I’ve not done the research, but I think in general he did, despite killing more people than the regime he fought against).
This, obviously, is beside the point. Moral relativism means we have to talk and think about it (Heaven forbid) and objective morality means we can measure it. Objective morality becomes ultimately objective because it is basal in human nature (and can be a zeitgeist) and moral relativism becomes and ultimate expression of human nature. The theistic model offers us neither of these.
When it comes to purpose nonbelievers defeats the theist hands down. Theists’ purpose is to surrender to, and enter serfdom under, their God. That’s simply a purpose I don’t want.
I do not share from the theists’ worldview to avoid nihilism and to value morality. I do the complete opposite; I reject it in every detail. I base everything on what actually is.