The wave of political correctness, which has affected universities at every level, has also infected religious and philosophical thought. Whereas Western universities once existed to train clergymen and educate others in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, modern centers of higher learning are much more secular and skeptical toward anything remotely religious. Faith is a taboo subject among many of the educated elite; indeed, persons with strong religious convictions are often viewed with scorn and disapproval. Equating all religious beliefs with the seemingly intolerant attitude of Fundamentalists, the more ardent critics of religion are so bold as to equate faith with ignorance and disparage any attempt to support faith with reason as naive.
The trendy alternative to organized religion is a proud belief in the absolute supremacy of humanity. Modern rationalists, who make the individual and not God the center of attention, make the mistake of asserting that the lack of definite evidence for God's existence and the coincidence of religious belief with psychological needs prove that God does not exist, as if God must be constrained by man's limited knowledge and would create beings contrary to his nature. Of course God does not overwhelm the unwilling with his presence or force his creation to be in self-conflict when worshiping him.
It is not enough to show a coincidence of phenomena (psychological needs and God) to assert a causal relation. Atheists must also show that man's need for a higher being preceded God's existence if they are to assert that the needs created God and not vice versa. Atheists must show why their belief in the non-existence of God is any more credible than the theists' belief in God. The rationalist assertion that God only exists if he is perceived by the subject is surely not how we approach the world. It would be ridiculous to claim that the existence of DNA depends on whether I am convinced of its reality. Though we routinely believe in many things we cannot see or fully understand, atheists have chosen not to believe in God.
Though most proponents of modern rationalism stop short of the radical implications of secular humanism, which truly deifies the individual, many do embrace the belief that the natural and social sciences will eventually explain away God. While certain biologists and physicists explore the mysteries of the origin of matter and life, some political scientists and sociologists formulate theories of social interaction without reference to objective morality.
The honest scientist, whether investigating nature or politics, should acknowledge that circumstantial evidence certainly favors the existence of a supernatural and transcendent being. My intention is not to prove any particular conception of God, but to show that atheism, which is often combined with moral relativism or a blind faith in science, is not the most probable explanation of the human condition. Rather, the most fundamental.aspects of God, supernaturalness and transcendentalism, are supported by all available evidence.
God is creative and thus supernatural. This is obvious from the basic physics principles concerning the creation of energy, matter, and order. The thermodynamic laws state that the sum total of matter and energy stays constant. It is impossible to create matter without expending energy or matter; it is similarly impossible to create energy without expending either matter or energy. The second law of thermodynamics states that total entropy is inevitably increasing; the universe must move from order toward disorder.
These principles lead to the conclusion that some uncreated being, particle, entity, or force is responsible for creating all matter and energy and for giving an initial order to the universe. Whether this process occurred through the Big Bang or through a literalist's interpretation of Genesis is irrelevant. What is crucial is that there must exist some uncreated being with the ability to create and give order. A b eing which defies the natural laws of physics concerning energy, matter, and order is necessitated by the very laws of nature.
Oxford biologist Richard Daw-kins, author of The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker, recently engaged in a debate entitled "Science versus Religion." Dawkins asserted that unassisted evolution explains the development of human beings from inorganic chemicals and thus does away with the necessity of God to explain the origin of life. It is important to note that Dawkins's argument is a specialized form of the general discussion about the creation of matter, energy, and order; though he is concerned primarily with the origin of life and specifically human life, the same basic physics principles still necessitate a supernatural being. Even if we grant Dawkin's assumption that human beings are the product of unassisted evolution, which is quite a generous gesture since there is much controversy over the fossil evidence for evolution, Dawkin's argument misses two crucial points. Like all others who attempt to use science to disprove God, Dawkins gives science too much credit and the mystery of creation too little.
First, Dawkins merely has explained the development, not the origin, of life. He is left with an unexplained starting point. It makes no difference if this starting point is carbon or the first spark of energy associated with the Big Bang. This starting point must be created, as must the order that allows inorganic molecules to combine randomly and form intelligent selective forces--the ability to bind into meaningful genetic structures.
Dawkins' theory does not reduce the complexity of the initial assumption. Facing the mystery of the origin of life, he claims that life is in continuity with inorganic material, and he does not bother to explain the origin of the inorganic building blocks or the selective forces which combine to form life. The infinite amount of complexity in any theory of the origin of life is in the supernatural creation of something from nothing and order from disorder. No evolutionary biologist has produced or ever will produce a conclusion with any relevance to the necessity of God. At best he can push the location of the supernatural assumption from the origin of life to the origin of matter, energy, and order.
This is not an indictment of science, but a realization of the limits of scientific inquiry. While scientists long ago abandoned the principle of spontaneous generation--that life arose directly from non-living matter--theists believe that such a creation event occurred through God's intervention.
Dawkins' assertion of a self-created starting point with spontaneous order involves the same supernatural assumption as a theist's belief in a creative God. If I were to assert that I had seen a spaceship with five Martians descend into New York City, I would be labeled crazy. If another man were to assert that he had seen a spaceship with ten Martians, no one would declare him to be twice as crazy. What is relevant is that nobody believes in Martians; whether we claim to see five or ten makes no difference.
Similarly, Dawkins' supernatural starting point is not substantially different from God. He has no reason to claim that scientific evidence favors atheism over theism. Scientists and theists have nothing to fear from each other and should realize they are studying different.aspects of the same reality, one focusing on creation and another on the Creator. Many of the most accomplished scientists, including Francis Bacon, the inventor of the scientific method, Albert Einstein, and Charles Darwin, who first proposed the theory of evolution, were avowed theists.
Second, Dawkins reduces human beings to the moral equivalent of other animals and does not even consider their unique attributes. Evolution cannot explain the development of free will, morality, or conscience. There is no evidence for the gradual development of these human characteristics--there is no partial morality in chimpanzees. Hum ans are obviously greater than the sum of whatever evolutionary forces and raw materials are said to have combined to create them.
It is significant to note that Dawkins's fellow panelist and biologist, Professor John Maynard-Smith, argued on the side of science, but disagreed with Dawkins and conceded that biology and other sciences had nothing to say about the presence of conscience, morality, and free will. Maynard-Smith was honest and humble enough to admit that the circumstantial evidence pointed to the work of a "divine architect." Science can explain the how's, but not the why's, of nature's wonders. Scientists should be content with this awesome power and should not reduce all creation to mechanistic phenomena without higher purposes.
Science points the honest investigator toward belief in a creative and thus supernatural being. There are critics who will insist that science will one day resolve the issue of the origin of matter, energy, and order. Just as science has progressed over the centuries to explain phenomena such as shooting stars, locust plagues, and microscopic parasites, some hardened atheists believe science will explain away creation and the need for God.
Yet there is a fundamental difference between such localized concepts and the natural laws dictating entropy and the conservation of matter and energy. The latter form the basis of all modern scientific research and the principles of logic. Spontaneous order or creation would nullify all scientific observations and conclusive theories relying on causation. The world would be a chaotic and unintelligible place without the basic laws of nature.
The very methods used to "disprove" natural laws would be rendered useless. It is impossible for humans to g.asp a being which defies the natural laws which govern the way we perceive and understand reality. Science can tell us much about the origin of creation, but will never be able to explain it in natural terms.
Atheists who suggest otherwise place an irrational faith in science, the same type of behavior they condemn in religious individuals, and are ignoring the fundamental laws of physics. Such atheists must specify what evidence would be enough to prove the existence of God; even genuine miracles would not be accepted according to such standards. Indeed, it is not clear how the atheist would prove his own existence without reference to his own claims or the testimony of others.
The atheist persists in demanding that God reveal himself while denying all possible forms of communication as invalid. Miracles are dismissed as unexplained events, theists are engaged in self-deception, even personal spiritual inclinations are nothing more than psychological phenomena. In Jesus' parable, Abraham said, "If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead." Science will always hint at, but will never conclusively prove, the existence of God. All experiential and objective evidence can be dismissed as incomplete by those who choose not to believe.
Objective evidence, such as the existence of order and matter, is dismissed as natural phenomena to be explained in the future. Subjective evidence, such as personal testimonies and modern miracles, is dismissed as hallucination. Atheists demand that God reveal himself in a way that allows no choice or free will. Such skeptics should stop claiming a detached objectivity missing in theists and admit their bias against the existence of God.
Whether one appeals to justice, love, or value of human life, one is appealing to a common belief in some abstract principle of good. Even the nihilist must acknowledge some higher good, even if only the truth of his perspective. The fact that all societies and individuals live according to ethical codes, which often override utility considerations, proves that some transcendental force or being, God, exists.
John Rawls, author of A Theory of Justice and a respected political philosopher, has single-handedly done more to retard honest discussion of issues like justice and equality than any recent writer. He has done this through his adoption of normative principles without acknowledging the necessity of underlying justification.
Multiculturalism, with its taboos against positing universally applicable principles; post-Enlightenment rationality, which claims objective transparency for itself; and other popular academic trends have found their ultimate expression in the "liberal neutrality" pioneered by Rawls and evidenced by Ronald Dworkin and other liberals. Rawls answers complicated questions of political obligation and morality with the maxim that society must maximize the advantage of its least attractive position, assessed against his list of "primary social goods."
More dangerous than Rawls's conclusion, which requires individuals to set aside their religious and other interests in the public arena, is his methodology. He refuses to admit that his initial principles are transcendental and objective truths, but instead claims to be presenting a self-evident "neutral" position from which all others must justify their departure. Unwilling to claim, and thus defend, the veracity of his position, Rawls limits his theoretical speculation to liberal Western democracies that have supposedly already accepted his premises.
He posits his principles only insofar as members of society, abstracted from their particular interests, would choose his plan. The cardinal virtue of the liberal project proves to be its shortcoming. Reducing morality to a social construct, devoid of any transcendental content, makes liberalism impossible to attack exactly because it accomplishes nothing.
The first problem with a relativist approach to morality is that it does not allow for intersocietal comparisons. Even the most adamant multiculturalist reserves the right to condemn Nazi Germany and the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
Harder for the subjective position is the situation of slavery in which the oppressed individual has been trained to expect and accept subordination. In contrast with the first example, in which the relativist can appeal to the interests of the Jewish people, the relativist must choose between paternalism and allowing slavery. It is irrational to condemn the injustices of slavery or genocide and justify paternalistic intervention without basing one's arguments on universal human rights, the inherent value of human life, and the natural preference for freedom.
The nature of subjective morality, regardless of whether it is based on the individual or on a particular society, is that it is entirely dependent on one's experience and thus cannot be transmitted to others. A relativist can never intervene in or condemn another individual's or society's actions. Though the relativist's concern for tolerance is noteworthy, one should not sacrifice the right to condemn any injustice in the name of "diversity." Objective morality, by its definition, is meant to be a common code that is applicable to all.
Relativists do not understand the fundamental purpose and function of morality. The claim that morality is an artificial construct perpetuated to advance society's interests contains two fundamental flaws. The first is that such a weakened form of morality never motivates the individual to act against his own interests. Morality would always lose when conflicting with expediency.
Any rational individual, enlightened enough to realize that morality is simply a social construct, would be free to act as a "free rider." There is no incentive for any individual to refrain from stealing or other selfish acts. The argument that society cannot function if everyone steals makes no sense at the margin; the individual knows he can steal without causing the entire system to self-destruct. Only the risk of getting caught prevents the truly consistent relativist from stealing, killing, or acting in any other selfi sh or destructive manner. There is no reason to care for others, including loved ones and future generations, except for the feeling of self-satisfaction generated by such feelings.
Benevolence, charity, and goodwill would have no ethical value in a relativist framework and would be dismissed as mere social constructs designed to force the individual to conform to society's expectations. Yet people do refrain from selfish behavior, for reasons more complex than the chance of being caught and punished. Not all of our guilty feelings are products of social training; men possess an innate sense of right and wrong. They also care for others and engage in true altruism, for reasons more noble than self-gratification. It is arrogant to assert that such individuals are not rational enough to discern that they are being duped by society. Without asserting that all men are consciously self-reflecting, one can still defend the notions of objective morality and free will.
The second fundamental flaw with the relativist's view that morality is constructed to advance the interests of society is that much of morality contradicts the material interests of society. The empirical evidence shows that morality often causes inefficiencies in the daily workings of society. Though one may explain the need for honesty and the Protestant work ethic in terms of economic production, it is not obvious what material justifications can be found for protection of the weak, the basic value of all human life, and other seemingly unproductive tenets of all mainstream religious faiths and most moral codes. The argument that preservation of life is necessary to give society stability does not explain why no moral code advocates eugenics, concentration of resources on the productive, and killing the disabled. Certainly, efficiency would dictate that one life be sacrificed to provide organs to save the lives of ten others, especially if one sacrifices an uneducated laborer to save a brain surgeon. But notions such as bodily integrity, human rights, and basic human dignity trump any such considerations of efficiency.
Moral relativism is often advanced by academics in the name of tolerance and diversity, but its lack of objective protection for the weak and dependence on society for all morality often leads to intolerant and monolithic conclusions. Even the most basic moral codes rely on some objective assumption. Objective morality, which must transcend the particulars of any given situation or society, allows the minority to criticize the atrocities committed in the name of efficiency and also coincides with the manner in which most people resolve moral conflicts.
Atheists insist on theoretical models of moral relativism, but then rely on the norms of objective morality in formulating their codes and resolving their moral conflicts. Whether one chooses to view objective transcendent morality as God or the creation of God, even the hardened atheist should admit his own dependence on such morality.
Atheists should realize the daunting task ahead of them if they are to continue in their faith. Unlike agnostics or adherents of dogmatic faiths, atheists must assert that anyone with a religious belief is misguided. While Catholics may allow room for partial revelation and different perspectives, the atheist must condemn the most exalted philosophers and the most devout servants, both the Augustines and the Mother Teresas.. The atheist may not stop at rejecting discredited televangelists, materialistic gurus, and other charlatans, but must declare all religious beliefs to be false and all prayers unanswerable. Not one exception is allowable. Though atheists prefer to single out hypocritical believers as a means to attack religion, their beliefs do not make such distinctions; they group together all who believe in some higher being or force.
My intention has not been to defend particular actors or notions of religion, but rather the very concept of religion. There may be hardened atheists who claim I have not achieved my g oal. They will remain unconvinced of the existence of God. I doubt if any of these individuals will be honest enough to admit an irreducible blind faith in autonomous creation and moral relativism, the spontaneous creation of something from nothing and the lack of right and wrong.
The atheist, unlike the agnostic, makes metaphysical assumptions as significant as those of theists. Not content with admitting uncertainty about the existence of God, the atheist claims that God does not exist and that creation can explain itself. My tactic has been to show the logical conclusions of atheism in an effort to illustrate its contradictions with scientific reason, humility, and the concept of morality. Anyone still choosing to adhere to atheism cannot be convinced otherwise because he has made a free-will decision based on faith alone. Atheism becomes a religion unto itself.
Once the honest investigator admits that evidence points to a supernatural and transcendental God, one must then ponder if this God is self-conscious and whether this God is interested in communicating with human beings. The next choice is between an impersonal, uncaring God and a God of love and hope.