Response to Shagbark (2 of 4)
|April 4, 2012||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
In response to my question “Doesn’t considering people to be nothing but matter with no immortal souls make it easier to justify killing them?” Shagbark answered:
No; it makes it harder to justify killing them. If someone is immortal, why not kill them? What’s the difference between living 70 years on Earth and 70 trillion years in Heaven, vs. 30 years on Earth and 69,999,999,999,960 years in Heaven? Believing in immortality makes it easier to justify killing people, like the Spanish conquistadors who baptized native infants and then bashed their brains out, to save their immortal souls.
Christians (I am not talking about all kinds of theists here, and Harris did specifically mention Christians) who believe that God created the human race according to the Bible also believe in a day of judgment in which murderers, liars, and other evildoers will go to hell. There has never at any time been a sincere follower of Jesus who said “Someone is going to live forever so I am free to kill him.” This sort of logic has nothing at all to do with Christianity as it is practiced by any sincere person. It is a purely abstract argument that is very far removed from the real world and from the way Bible-believing Christians. But, atheists have killed people freely in Communist countries as they believed there was no God, no heaven, no hell, and they were free to do as they like without any regard for higher law. This is much more serious, and much more relevant to us today, than some isolated example from centuries ago.
As to the conquistadors, infant baptism has no biblical validity. The bible says “Believe, and be baptized.” Baptizing babies and then killing them to keep them from falling away has nothing to do with any of the teachings of Christ or the apostles, and has never been practiced or even thought of by countless millions of Christians in many different times, places, and cultures. Those conquistadors had nothing to do with Christ, and were in fact enemies of Christ, and will certainly spend an eternity burning in the lake of fire, unless they repented of their wickedness and demonstrated the sincerity of their repentance.
That sort of behavior is totally contrary to many biblical teachings. The atheist massacres of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao in no way contradict any essential teachings of atheism and are perfectly consistent with atheist secular logic – eliminating obstacles to the good of society and the future happiness of mankind.
He says materialism makes it harder to justify killing people, but gives no evidence or logic to support this remarkable claim – a claim that is totally refuted by recent historical experience and by common sense as well. If people are only matter, who cares? “When you chop wood, chips must fly.”
But, there is another question:
The comment about \nothing but matter\ is strange. Do you think that atheists don’t believe in love, joy, or friendship? Do you think that atheists believe in the spiritual? To us, there is nothing but matter, and matter encompasses all these things.
Atheists need and recognize love, joy, and friendship. This is part of your essential humanity, created by God, which you must recognize – unless, like Stalin, you have become so totally brutalized that the last spark of humanity is extinguished (this doesn’t usually happen and I concede that Stalin is not representative of most atheists). But, the human impulses which atheists necessarily cherish are completely at odds with the world view you came to hold. Matter does not love, need or share friendship, or experience joy. These are unique qualities of the human soul which continue up to this very day to defy conventional scientific analysis.
The world is just as wonderful to us as it is to you; and all these wonderful things take place with matter. \Matter\ for us is just the same as \matter plus spirit\ is to you. So using the phrase \nothing but matter\ shows a gross, basic misunderstanding of atheism.
A world that just happened by accident, in which we live and die with no higher purpose, is just as wonderful as a world created by God, a place in which we are prepared for eternal life? Not to me and to many others it isn’t.
Nothing but matter shows a gross misunderstanding of atheism? So would you like to tell me what sort of spiritual reality it is that atheists believe in? Human thoughts and feelings that are nothing more than chemical reactions or neurological responses are very removed from thoughts and feelings that are the result of a higher divine origin unknown to and denied by atheists.
Criticizing Harris, I stated “Life would be so much easier in a “unified” community where everyone marched to the beat of the same drum – but is that what life is all about?” Shagbark answered:
It is the religious who want to have a unified community, not the atheists. Atheists don’t have anything in common with each other, except the absence of a few beliefs. Adherents to a religion do.
This was a surprising response. Christians (not to speak of all religions) do want to have a unified community of believers, but it is a voluntary one, based on shared beliefs.
Moreover, we recognize that true believers in Christ will be in a minority. We do not expect a world in which everyone will be like us, but await for that in heaven, in the next life. I quoted some of Harris’ own words, however, which made it fairly clear that his goal is a unified mankind where differences in thought and belief will exist only up to a limited point, within parameters agreeable to him.