Letter To A Common Naturalistic Atheist Part 2

I recently found this response to an “atheist” man I was having a discussion with long ago. It is unedited, and therefore may not make sense in some places. Hopefully it will be useful to you in some way none the less.

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I agree that lying is wrong, but I do not think that we have a reason in common at all as to why we both think that lying is wrong. I believe that lying is wrong because God, who is Truth, is offended by lying. He commands us to be truthful as He is; lying goes against His moral will. We know this from His Word. Now you ask me if I really need an explanation from you as to why you think that lying is wrong. My answer is that yes, I do. This is what I am trying to explain; even something as seemingly simplistic as saying that “lying is wrong” cannot be justified by any other presupposition than that of the Christian God. I do not find your reason for thinking that lying is wrong to be very persuasive. Given your presuppositions, I can think of any number of situations where lying would in fact be in an individual’s best interest, contrary to what you say. The reason given for why it is in our best interest to not lie is that we must have respect for each other. This just pushes the problem back though, because now you are saying that it is wrong to disrespect others. Why is it wrong to disrespect others? Now from here you do move into a more complex explanation of morality which seems to rest upon the assumption that morality stems from a desire to have the greatest number of people as happy as they can be. Correct me if I am wrong, because again I do not want to create a straw man and knock it down.

Assuming that I am right though, your ethical theory appeals to the idea that whatever action or rule brings about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people is right, and whatever does not is wrong. There are numerous problems with this theory. The idea that happiness is the best consequence of a moral action may neglect consideration of other good consequences. Also, happiness may not be the greatest good. You differentiate between right and wrong actions based upon the idea that happiness for the greatest number is supremely good as far as consequences go, but the theory fails to account for this governing assumption. There is also no way to calculate all of the effects a certain action will have. So you are in some epistemological trouble. To answer this by saying that all effects need not be calculated to ascertain the pleasantness of the results of an action does not solve the problem, for one is left wondering if there are any unknown effects that would cause an action to be wrong rather than right (or the opposite). There also appears to be no way to draw a line between which effects should be considered and which should not, other than arbitrary opinions. Your theory also relies heavily upon the idea that the future will resemble the past, even so much as to provide us with a basis for making correct moral decisions. This assumption appears to be difficult, if not impossible to justify. What is disturbing in a different way is that happiness might come through a series of morally disturbing events, or at the expense of the happiness of a great number of people. Thus actions that many (perhaps including even you) would at the least intuitively consider to be wrong are considered necessary and ethically right actions to be performed in order to bring about the desired result of happiness for the greatest number of people. So honesty, compassion, understanding and tolerance sound like beautiful positive moral values, but I still see no reason to accept them as such within your own worldview. However, I have a reason to love and cherish and strive to live my life by these values within my own worldview, which is Christian. Now I am not saying that you do not love, cherish, or strive to live by these. It is obvious that you try to be a good person. What I am saying is that I do not really see a motivation from within your own worldview to do so, nor do I see any way you can justify the assumption that these are right and that something like lying would be wrong. I have justifiable reasons to be concerned with what is going on in the Middle East. I do not see where you at all do, if you stick with following through on your own worldview.

The Bible is inerrant since God, who cannot lie, moved men by His Holy Spirit to record what we have in what is now known as the Holy Bible. So then, the Bible does support inerrancy. I am not sure what “The Christian Apologetics Handbook” says about inerrancy. It could be that this book does not give good arguments for inerrancy, I do not know. I know several of the philosophy, theology, and apologetics professors over at Liberty on a personal level (though I must make it clear that I do not attend there) and I have not heard of this book being required for one of the classes. However, I have no reason to doubt your claim, because Intro to Philosophy is now required there as a Gen. Ed. course and there are a large number of philosophy professors. Are you perhaps referring to the book written by Kreeft and Tacelli? Of course I have read Matthew 1 and Luke 3 many times before and I am not sure what you are taking issue with there. You will have to be more specific as to what these passages have to do with arguments for or against inerrancy.

You can feel free to recommend whatever books you would like to me and I will read them if time and interest permit. I must warn you that I am not especially interested in politics. I hope you will not assume that I do not read any literature that is from a different worldview than my own. I just recently finished reading the Bhagavad-Gita and Violence and Compassion which is the transcript of an interview with the Dalai Lama. I am currently about half way through Ishmael. As far as what I would recommend that you read…well I feel a bit strange recommending that you read anything, but obviously Christian Scripture would be most important. Read the New Testament.


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