by guest blogger, BroKen
The last two letters sparked an interesting discussion, so I thought I would lay out some more questions that came to my mind.
You remember that the first letter was a response to a video, “Dear Believer”, which asked believers like me to think deeply about what we believe. I still think that is a very good plan. My response, after answering some questions from the video, was to ask atheists like you to think deeply about your position. I asked you to consider why there are so few atheist organizations that do good works. I suggested the reason is that atheism has no unifying principle to bring diverse peoples together for good works. Am I wrong?
The second letter asked a similar question spurred by a song from Steve Martin. That is, where is the atheist art? I did not mean to imply that there are no artists who are atheists. That would be silly. I meant to ask where is the atheist art that expresses atheism like Handel's Messiah expresses Christianity. I asked, Why is the best art made by people who are trying to express the beauty and wonder of things much, much greater than themselves? I think the question answers itself. Am I wrong?
In a discussion of these letters an atheist, or perhaps an agnostic, said, “I personally do not believe in a moral compass...” That, I think, gets to the heart of the matter. My friend, please do not think that I think you live as if there is no moral compass. It is unlikely that you would be my friend if that were so. You see, people who live as if there is no moral compass are sociopaths. Not many atheists are sociopaths. Yet the statement that there is no moral compass flows out of atheism. So, how does an atheist maintain morality (and again, I believe you do, my friend) without a moral compass or something like a star, an objective reference, to give bearings and headings?
Consider how in the last century alone, overtly atheist regimes have directly and indirectly killed tens of millions of people. Atrocities committed in the name of religion over millennia are amateurish in comparison. The atheist leaders of these regimes died, so far as we can tell, still believing they had done well. The problem is that without a moral compass you cannot say that Stalin was wrong. Without an objective reference you can only say that from your perspective you don't like what he did. Now, you probably DO say that Stalin was wrong. But atheism doesn't, because to do so it has to refer to a moral compass. Where does an atheist find a pole star, the objective reference? Isn't a system of thought which cannot declare that Stalin was wrong, isn't that system itself morally suspect?
Good works, good art, and good morals all point to something outside human nature. Please, think deeply about what that something might be.