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Thursday, July 23, 2009

There are no Living Atheists

Like all discussions we will begin with the heart since it is there that much, if not most, of our thinking begins and ends. The following is an introduction to the absurdity of secularism and an emotional argument for belief in G-d.

“The pure saints do not complain about heresy, but increase faith”
– Rav Kook

We are all familiar with the proverbial “there are no atheists in a foxhole.” However, what I want to suggest is that there simply are no atheists. In order to understand this we must recognize that philosophical positions, such as Atheism, do not occur in a vacuum, nor are they free from consequences. If someone professes to believe a certain philosophy without accepting all of its necessary assumptions and consequences, can they really be said to be “believers” in the true sense? My position is that by definition it is impossible to be a coherent atheist and still be alive for long.
Atheism preaches that there is no G-d. As such, it is very difficult to conceive of an atheist who nevertheless professes a belief in a non-material spirit or spiritual world. How does the material “create” the spiritual? How does mindless, blind matter evolve into the conscious mind? For this reason there is a strong materialistic bias in the field of neuroscience; once one admits to the existence of the soul, it does not take long until one recognizes the “Soul of souls,” and the “Mind of minds.” In other words, Atheism is really an offshoot of materialistic Monism (the belief that reality is made up only of physical matter). There is no soul, no self, no mind. Your brain is mud and no more. You don’t “make up your mind” - your brain makes up your illusory experience of consciousness. There is no free-will; you are merely a predetermined animal. It can rightly be said that the “rise of materialism” translates into the “death of Man.” [1]

This materialistic Monism, labeled Atheism, preaches that there is no G-d. In other words, there is nothing ‘above’ and ‘outside’ the physical world. As such, it is impossible to find any ultimate meaning in this game called life. Let us look at basketball: we see a group of half-dressed and oversized men, running back and forth trying to place a big brown ball into a hoop. This is a trivial presentation of a multi-billion dollar industry. Who would have guessed? Why is it, however, that cricket is not a multi-billion dollar in America? Is it any less a showing of kinesthetic intelligence? Most certainly not, and this brings us to our point. A game is only as important as the amount of importance given to it by the game’s fans. For this reason the perceptive sports fan will notice that once in a while – when the fans begin to get bored - the rules of the game change. In other words, meaning comes from outside the system. This is reminiscent of Godel’s “incompleteness theorem” which proves that a system of equations can never explain itself; there will always be an assumed axiom in any set of equations. For the theist, G-d is that assumed axiom that makes sense of our universe, the rational Creator who stands outside the system and thus grants it ultimate meaning.

So you ask an atheist: what is the meaning of life? What justifies our existence? Perhaps they will say “to love my family and friends,” but we dare to ask: why is the act of loving your family and friends important? Now, perhaps they will say “to be a good person,” and again we inquire: who cares if you are good or bad? Who stands outside your system, your world, your game, that grants it meaning? Victor Frankl taught us that there is an “unheard cry for meaning,” but he forgot that Man cannot be satisfied with social and relative meaning; we need ultimate and objective meaning.

Furthermore, according to materialistic doctrine, who cares if a blind lump of matter is moral and ethical? Furthermore, if you do not have free will, you cannot be held accountable in the first place for your love and goodness (contrary to what some philosophers have mistakenly argued). So what’s the point of being a robot?

The quintessential atheist then, the highest ideal that Man can aspire to, is to be an animal. To put it bluntly: Atheism has no ideals. Atheism has no moral basis. Atheism has no ultimate meaning. It is quite ironic how vigorously the atheists try and convince the rest of the world of the truth of their philosophy. Animals are trying to convince humans that they should become animals! The atheists preach their religion, their ideal, of Atheism, the religion without any ideals; the doctrine of meaningless existence finds its meaning in preaching meaninglessness.

Let us now ponder the age-old question “does this world consist of more good or more bad?” It cannot be denied that there is a great amount of evil in this world of ours; in fact, this is the strongest argument that the atheist’s have against Theism! According to the atheist, then, we are left with a world in which we experience a tremendous amount of brute and meaninglessness evil. Let us continue to ponder: If there is no meaning in Man’s existence, and he is just a conscious and rational ape, what existential pain will men experience? Man is the only known being in the universe that is aware of his own meaninglessness. So if we want to be honest with ourselves and not get caught up in the trivialities of ordinary life, we are left with meaningless and terrifying evil and a deep existential angst. One must wonder at the attempt of atheists to convince the world that they are correct - are atheists sadistic? It is no wonder that psychologists are busy trying to cure the modern Man of his existential emptiness. It is no wonder that sense-numbing drugs abound in our enlightened Western culture. If I were fond of conspiracy theories I would theorize that the atheists have a secret pact with the psychologists and the drug lords. Who knows…?

There is only one question that remains: under such conditions wouldn’t you kill yourself? Is life really worth hanging onto for those few moments of physical pleasure? Even hedonists burn out eventually. As the Alter of Novoradok once said, “Even the richest man only has one mouth and one stomach.” In our more vulgar times, I might add that even the best looking man only has one sexual organ. How many hangovers can one endure throughout a lifetime?

However, even the father of hedonism, Epicurus, recognized this failing of physical pleasure. Instead of unbridled hedonism, he advised a refined and mitigated search for pleasure. The refined materialist will not be a sensual primitive; rather he will search for social love and a cultured hedonism. However, we must ask: For how many years can one live the boring existence of being a refined and cultured hedonist? Moreso, is life really worth living for the emotional attachment called love (which is an illusion) with another “animal-robot”?

The correct conclusion, the best solution to the “human condition,” is suicide. However, from the fact that living atheists fail to draw the appropriate conclusions, we must conclude either one of two options. Either atheists are not all that bright and they do not know how to draw the proper conclusions, or they don’t really believe their own philosophy. In their heart of hearts the self-proclaimed atheistic philosopher is waiting for things to turn around. He is hanging onto this existence in the hope that he will eventually find justification for this existence.

This new view of the atheist has dramatic implications for how we deal with him or her. The wise approach to the “denier” is not to deny or reject, but rather to show them that they are believers! To the one who preaches Atheism, we must ask: do you also believe that you are meaningless animal with no justification for your existence? Do you act as if you have no free will? Do you speak like a materialistic neuroscientist? Would you be willing to sign off on your share in the next world? Somehow the holy atheists are always preaching morality and ethics, human rights and dignity. Perhaps it is time that we point out to them that they are not the real deal; they are half-baked atheists. Just like the way to ignite goodness within a man is to point out the good already manifest within his soul, the way to ignite faith within the denier is to point out that they are far from being faithless.


[1] Perhaps some spiritually concerned atheists will counter: the soul has always existed perhaps along with some sort of a spiritual reality. In other words, perhaps the atheist could maintain a physical/spiritual duality or a spiritual monism as found in Buddhism (although most atheists certainly don’t choose this option). However this approach is fatally flawed. How does a disembodied soul enter into my dumb body? What is the nature of this spiritual reality (eternal or created) and does it interact with the physical?…. We are left to conclude that the only option left for atheism is materialistic Monism. See Plato, Apology, 26A.

1 comment:

avakesh said...

The wicked are called dead, even during their lifetime (Brachot 18b)