Answering Ecualegacy, Pt. 4
Readers should also note that Ecualegacy has erected a new blog. It can be found here:
What kind of proof do you want?
If the apologist wants to pursue the question – “what kind of proof do you want?” – I would say that a demonstration of the power Christians claim their god possesses would be a good place to start. Something concrete is needed to elevate the content of what they want others to believe from the level of a mere claim – such as “God created the earth and the heaven” – to a demonstration which we can witness firsthand and which unequivocally points to their god as opposed to a rival deity, an as-of-yet unexplained scientific phenomenon, or simply a misidentification of reality. This is essentially what I pointed out to Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry when I interacted with his essay I don’t see any convincing evidence for the existence of God. In my response to Slick, I wrote:
What the theist will then want to say is that this being which he calls god, possesses a consciousness powerful enough to create planets, enable men to walk on unfrozen water, turn water into wine, and make A into non-A (i.e., make contradictions exist) at will. In other words, the theist is claiming that there exists a being with the power to make reality conform to its will. "Then what kind of evidence would be acceptable?" Well, obviously, given the nature of such a claim, the only evidence for such a claim which could at all be acceptable would be a demonstration of such power.
Ecualegacy then listed some options and gave a reason for shooting them down:
Pillars of fire? Parting seas? Manna from heaven? Booming voices? The Israelites had all that and more AND THEY STILL DIDN'T BELIEVE!
Ecualegacy then admitted that evidence and proof have nothing to do with it. He wrote:
Your problem isn't a sufficiency of proof. It's pride!
Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man's values, it has to be earned-that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character-that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotions are the products of the premises held by your mind-that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining-that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul-that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born able to create, but must create by choice-that the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself-and that the proof of an achieved self-esteem is your soul's shudder of contempt and rebellion against the role of a sacrificial animal, against the vile impertinence of any creed that proposes to immolate the irreplaceable value which is your consciousness and the incomparable glory which is your existence to the blind evasions and the stagnant decay of others. (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged)
How hard is it to get down on one knee, say to God, "Okay, I've got your book and I'm going to commit my life to following it?"
Consider: if I were to do what Ecualegacy suggests, who would benefit? He has already pointed out that, to commit my life to his god, I would have to surrender my pride, the virtue which makes benefit possible for me in the first place. Does he think his god would somehow benefit? His god is already perfect and lacks nothing; it is an indestructible, immortal and eternal being according to what Christianity teaches. Nothing could harm it, and nothing could improve it. It needs nothing to exist, certainly not my worship. I on the other hand am neither indestructible, immortal nor eternal, and my existence depends on my choices and actions. I do need things to exist – namely values. And virtues like my pride – virtues which Ecualegacy’s god requires us to surrender – are what I need in order to be capable of achieving and protecting those values which my life requires, for they make my life worth the effort required to live. It is my life, mind and morality which Christianity seeks to undermine. Most believers do not recognize this because they compartmentalize their beliefs, living a double mental life, with one foot in their religion, and the other foot in the real world. Also, they typically do not have a very intellectual understanding of moral values in the first place. They get their morality from a storybook. Indeed, where does Jesus speak of values anyway? They are taken completely for granted in the speeches which the bible attributes to him.
First, Ecualegacy should identify what he thinks his god has gotten right when it comes to moral guidance. Most likely he rests on the presupposition that every statement attributed to his god in regard to morality is perfectly right because, as he claims, his god is “an all-knowing, all-powerful being in authority telling you what to do.” Ecualegacy is certainly free to believe such things. And I am free to point out that they are delusional premises informed by an imagination which rejects the fundamental principles which are necessary to keep a mind grounded in reality.
Exactly what has God gotten wrong in his moral guidance I'd like to know?
But let’s explore this a little more clinically. Here are a few questions for Ecualegacy and other believers to consider before we can work our way towards an informed understanding about morality. Since Ecualegacy advocates the Christian bible as the authoritative source for his views on morality, I would expect him to cite the bible to support his responses to these questions:
These questions will get the conversation started by clarifying from the beginning some basics of each side’s position. I have answers to these questions, but I would like to find any Christian who will be willing to answer these questions in a straightforward manner and stick to his answers. So far I have found none who are willing to do this.
a) What is your working definition of ‘morality’?
b) What is the purpose of morality?
c) Does man need morality? Yes or no?
d) If you think man does need morality, why do you think he needs it?
e) By what means does man come into awareness of moral knowledge?
f) Who or what should be the primary beneficiary of moral action? The one who takes the moral action, or someone else?
For one, the Christian religion demands – as Ecualegacy’s own statements indicate – that I as a human being surrender my pride, one of my cardinal virtues. Another cardinal virtue which it demands that I sacrifice on the altar of god-belief is my honesty. But as I have explained elsewhere, I am too honest to be a Christian.
Where is he asking something impossible or even harmful from Christians?
by Dawson Bethrick