Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Are you true to your beliefs?

Most Americans say they believe in God. But most Americans also lie regularly (even though they know God doesn't like lying). There is a disconnect between our talk and our walk.

If atheism is true, if there is no God, then three other things are also true: there are no absolutes, there is no heaven or hell, and there’s no such thing as a “soul”. It’s my observation that most Americans behave as if they believe these three things are true. We act like atheists. Let’s look at each.

If God doesn’t exist, there are no moral absolutes. Without specific direction from a Creator, how could we ever know right from wrong?

You might say “We all have consciences”. True – but good atheists don’t believe that we are born with preprogrammed consciences. If disregarded enough or trained wrongly, the conscience can be warped or seared, too. A serial killer could argue, “Since my conscience didn’t bother me, it must not have been wrong.” So conscience alone is not enough to show us what’s right and wrong.

You might also argue, as atheists sincerely believe, that it is wrong to hurt others. But they have no authority in and of themselves to back up that law. Why is it wrong to hurt others? Also, they don’t have a way to specifically define “hurt” and “others”. Is it hurting someone to abort a baby? How about euthanasia for the old or disabled? If it is wrong to kill humans, is it also wrong to kill monkeys? Cows? Mice? Flies? Trees? Does it hurt a millionaire to steal $10 from him?

So in the end, the only authority an atheist is left with for making moral decisions is himself. There is no other law than doing what he chooses to do.

Second, if God isn’t there, your soul isn’t either. By “soul”, I mean an immaterial part of you that will go on living after you die. If you have a soul, it must have been created. There is no logical explanation for how a soul could have evolved. If there is no God, the emotions you feel such as fear, anger, and guilt are merely chemical secretions in your brain. The awe you feel standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon is all in your head. You could just as easily have been programmed by evolution to get the same thrill out of staring at concrete.

To have a soul is to have a great responsibility. Because it means that the choices I make today will affect who I am. And I will have to live with my soul forever! There is nothing I can do to cause my soul to die when my body dies. It will go on living.

Lastly, if there is no God, there is no heaven or hell. This makes sense, because if there is no right or wrong, there can be no judgment for our behavior after we die. And if we have no soul, there wouldn’t be a part of us alive after death to go to a heaven or a hell anyways. The only heaven we could attain to would be whatever degree of pleasure we were able to experience on earth. If you do stupid things or just have an unlucky life, your life might be more like hell. So, if you’re living like an atheist, better grab all the pleasure you can as fast as you can.

In summary, you are living like an atheist if:

• You are the final authority for your own decisions about what is right and wrong.
• You don’t prepare your soul for a life after death.
• Your ultimate goal is to have as happy a life as possible.

The 9/11 hijackers were unquestionably evil men. But they did have one positive quality: they were not hypocrites. The beliefs they professed matched their behavior. Do yours?