Darel Rex Finley in 888

Permitted By Whom?

2009.04.25   prev     next

A  recent UD installment by Barry Arrington argues as follows:

If [atheist naturalism is] true, nothing exists from which we can infer any moral principle. If moral principles cannot be inferred, nothing is prohibited by any moral principle and therefore all things are permitted. This leads to the conclusion that the Holocaust was permitted.

...

The nearly 300 comments [I received from materialists on this argument] boil down to indignation mixed with the childhood rejoinder — “Oh, yeah, same to ya.”

No one, not a single person, has attempted to rebut the conclusion. Therefore we must conclude that there is no rebuttal.

There isn’t? Let’s see:

If someone asks me, “Is activity X permitted?” I would have to ask them the followup question, “Permitted by whom?”

Let’s say their answer is, “the Christian God.” OK, well, assuming the Christian God does exist, and is the creator of this universe and of human life, then yes, that God permitted the Holocaust. Our best evidence says it did happen. (No Holocaust deniers here, right?) So whoever created this universe did permit the Holocaust to happen. And while we’re at it, let’s also notice that those same creator(s) permitted the Allies to force an end to the Holocaust, and to get rid of the Nazi regime. That was permitted too, apparently.

Oh wait, Arrington didn’t mean that? Then what did he mean by “permitted?” Oh yeah, God will send us to a million billion trillion centuries of unimaginably brutal tortures, if we do something like the Holocaust. In fact, Hitler’s suffering that fate right now — prove he’s not! Well, there isn’t much of a way to argue with that logic, other than to note that Arrington has a funny idea of what constitutes a childish, oh-yeah-so-there argument and what doesn’t.

But wait. Maybe Arrington wasn’t referring to fire and brimstone. He actually said, “nothing is prohibited by any moral principle.” OK, well if it isn’t the Christian God smiting us to hell, then what exactly is this “moral principle?” It’s our own convictions about what’s right and wrong.

Well guess what: My conviction that the Holocaust should be stopped is based on my own strongly held desire to not be killed and/or ruled by the Nazis. What’s wrong with that? If it’s legitimate for Arrington to want people to disbelieve materialist atheism, then how much more legitimate is it for me to want people not to murder me!

And if Arrington and those like him think that our common human desire not to be murdered is too small or petty a basis for a gravitous “moral principle?” Well, he certainly doesn’t have any qualms about appealing to that common desire when it suits his purposes: Our revulsion and horror at the Holocaust is based on our common desire not to be murdered. If we didn’t care when or how we died (or to what other brutalities we might be subjected), then atheism-justifies-Holocaust arguments would have no teeth at all against atheism.

And, as far as I, Arrington, or anyone else really knows, our creators purposely gave us the desire not to be murdered, so we would fight off, and then proactively inhibit, Nazi-like regimes and other agents of wanton destruction. It’s not rocket science, nor do we need to meditate for millennia in ornate cathedrals to figure it out. All we need to do with the perpetrators of mass murder is stop them. Because we want to, and we can. We don’t need to be metaphysically superior to them, better in the eyes of our creators, or anything like that. Our way of life — i.e. doing creative, constructive things instead of running around killing at random — is superior to that of the Nazis, and we know this empirically because we defeated them, and because the most successful, powerful nations on the planet today are not those engaging in holocausts or other arbitrary oppressions.

OK, Barry. Consider me commenter #301, and there’s your rebuttal. But don’t bother responding to it — stick to the oh-yeah-same-to-ya’s. That’ll be a lot more fun.

 

See also:
“Reduced To” Absurdum
&
Darwin + Hitler = Baloney

 

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