Is Philosophy Dead?


It’s currently fashionable for scientists to dismiss philosophy as a viable activity – some have even pronounced its death!  One branch of philosophy, which particularly gets singled out, is metaphysics.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term please note that I’m not referring to the occult or astrology; but, rather, to the branch of philosophical inquiry concerned with the nature of reality.  A metaphysicist will ask (and attempt to answer) questions like: What is truly real? What is personal identity?  What is the nature of the mind?  How do things persist over time?  What is a cause?  What is time?  Etc..

Unlike a scientist, a metaphysicist approaches these questions, primarily, through rational discourse.  They are more concerned with abstract generalizations than with explaining concrete particulars–with the theory underlying our scientific presuppositions than with specific details regarding particular things.  As Stephen Mumford explains:

“When we consider what exists, the philosopher’s answer will be at the highest levels of generality.  They may say there are particulars that fall into natural kinds, there are properties, changes, causes, laws of nature, and so on.  The job of science, however, is to say what specific things exist under each of those categories.  There are electrons, for instance, or tigers, or chemical elements.  There are properties of spin, charge, and mass, there are processes such as dissolution, there are laws of nature such as the law of gravitational attraction.  Metaphysics seeks to organize and systematize all these specific truths that science discovers and to describe their general features.”

A good example of a metaphysical problem would be the laws of nature.  Scientists, largely through observation and testing, attempt to detect and record regularities in nature in order to explain particular events (e.g. the falling of an apple).  These regularities, over time, become laws of nature (i.e. the law of gravity or the law of thermodynamics).  Metaphysicist’s, in contrast, are less concerned with explaining particular events, and more concerned with explaining the nature of the laws themselves.  Hence, a philosopher will ask: What are the laws of physics?  Are they objective realities that we discover about nature or merely a construct of the mind?

Both questions are extremely important, but the methods we use to arrive at a proper answer are very different.  One must primarily rely upon empirical methods (i.e. observation and testing) in order to explain particular events; but to answer metaphysical questions, one must primarily rely upon reason.

Because philosophy focuses on the abstract, and utilizes slightly different methods than science, many scientists are suspicious of, and even antagonistic towards it.  Without realizing, they slip into a form of anti-intellectualism known as scientism.  Scientism, to put it crudely, is a stunted or incomplete theory of knowledge.  It is roughly the belief that science is the only viable source of knowledge and that all other disciplines are either useless (e.g philosophy or theology) or incomplete.  Scientism’s adherents will typically claim that empirical methods, alone, are capable of giving us genuine knowledge about reality.  Thus, they proclaim the death of philosophy!

Immediately, however, one should be suspicious of this point of view: namely, because scientism, itself, is a philosophical position.  It is not possible to prove the claims of scientism through purely empirical means.  From the outset, therefore, it refutes itself and demonstrates why we need philosophy.

Fr. W. Norris Clarke brings up another important point, with regard to empiricist limitations on knowledge:

“One central flaw in all such theories of knowing is that they are in principle unable to do justice to the very subject or self that is asking the questions, since this is at the root of every conscious sense experience and quest for understanding, but not out in front of our senses as an external object to be sensed by them.  In a word, the inner world vanishes in its very attempt to understand the outer world.  The empiricist way of thinking also cripples the age-old natural longing of the human mind to understand, make sense of, its direct experience in terms of deeper causes not directly accessible to us.  The human mind cannot be satisfied to operate only within this straightjacket of an arbitrarily restrictive epistemology.”

Inherently, we all desire to find answers to the questions philosophers ask.  We all want to know the nature of ultimate reality and the value of our existence; we all want to understand how it is that we can know anything about the world; or what knowledge is to begin with.  Scientific research is incredibly important, and empirical methods provide us with a vast number of interesting facts about particular things in the universe.  Science, however, does not give us the deeper meaning behind these amazing discoveries.

Science has especially failed to provide us with any meaningful answers to the questions of personal identity and self consciousness—the “subject or self that is asking the questions” as Fr. Clarke just put it.  It gives us innumerable, and important, facts about our biology and brain chemistry, but it fails to explain the value or purpose of the observer.  More pointedly, it fails to provide a viable explanation for the self’s existence at all.  These questions, along with a host of others, are primarily the subject of philosophy and theology.

Philosophy is not dead–and as long as subjective knowers (i.e. human beings) exist it shall never be.  For Philosophy – the love of wisdom and the desire to understand the deeper, underlying, questions about the nature of our world – is rooted in and flows out of our very nature as beings made in the image of God.

Re-Posted from: Truth is a Man.

The Triumph of Philosophy or, Why Lawrence Krauss is Just Wrong


 

In the above video, Lawrence Krauss speaks about the importance of students learning science and the greater importance of teachers feeling comfortable with what they are teaching. Certainly, Krauss is correct that our students are undereducated in American schools (overall, the United States is ranked 13th in the world in education, though that number is skewed by our appreciation for the liberal arts). Our teachers, likewise, are severely underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts. Why is it an engineer at a car company makes more money than the person who trained the engineer?

Moving away from where Krauss is right, let’s focus on the two points where he is just completely wrong.

1) Science is not the motivator behind the big questions of existence – those questions have been asked, and answers have been sought, long before the scientific method found its way into the world. In fact, the scientific method itself was born from the womb of epistemology. In asking “how can we know the physical world,” the scientific method came about. Thus, science is a child to philosophy, it is a tool of philosophy; the tool can never overcome the user.

Now, Krauss has a history of making philosophical statements and claiming they are scientific statements. In fact, when it comes to philosophy, Krauss is simply ignorant. For instance, he argues the following;

Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then “natural philosophy” became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered away to themselves, and so then you have this natural resentment on the part of philosophers.

Now, no philosopher would ever discount scientific discoveries, we would only claim that science is a tool of philosophy to test claims about the physical universe. Even some of Aristotle’s (and later philosophers) most erroneous claims about our world – such as the earth being the center of the universe – came from observations, not theoretical conjuring. That the ancients lacked the technology needed to gain a better understanding of the universe is quite irrelevant; the fact that they still based their ideas off observations shows the first use of science, albeit in a primitive manner, as a tool of philosophy.

Philosophy, not science, asks the big questions, mostly because science in its proper definition is incapable of asking questions. Asking “how does this work” is inherently a philosophical question. The scientific method cannot cause you to ask a question, it can only supply an answer to a question. While more questions will undoubtedly arise in the search for this one answer, each one is based on the curiosity of humans, which is by nature philosophical.

The problem with what Krauss is promoting is that it leads to scientism, or the idea that science counts as the basis of all knowledge. It also betrays an absolute ignorance of the importance of philosophy not only within scientific research, but as the controller of scientific research. Sure, it’s easy to discount philosophy when one is pursuing physics and see no consequences (at least no immediate consequences), but what about biology, specifically human biology? The study of human biology without the guide of ethics and philosophy (namely a basis in metaphysics) can and has led to eugenics. Even in this day there are numerous scientists who promote the abortion and even infanticide of “less than desirable” humans (of course, such an idea is promoted under the guise of compassion).

The point being that scientific advancement needs philosophy, just as a child needs a parent. In both situations, there is a need of a moral voice. Science cannot tell us why it is wrong to kill someone because of his or her deformities. Science cannot produce a value statement on life. Science cannot even tell us why survival is something we ought to strive after, and therein lies the problem with science: in terms of ethics, science can never supply us with an ought, but without an ought there can be no science. That is, if philosophy did not take its primary place in the ancient, medieval, and renaissance world, science would have never been born.

Thus, while science is important, it does not ask the big questions, nor can it answer the big questions. It can provide us tidbits of information and be used as a tool in searching out the answers, but it is not the end-all of knowledge and is eternally subservient to philosophy. One can use a hammer to build a house or to bash in the skull of an opponent, both of which hold scientific equations. Only philosophy can tell you why one is better than the other.

2) Krauss then argues that science and math teachers should be paid more than their humanities counterparts, mostly because of the field of competition out there. Yet, this ignores the fact that humanities degrees actually end up making just as much, if not more, than their hard science counterparts.

A person with a degree in the humanities, specifically philosophy, can turn around and get a job in human resources (which typically comes with a six figure average), marketing, speech writer, communications manager, content manager, legal analyst, and the list really does go on. Thus, if we base our teacher’s pay scales simply on monetary worth in the private sector, there is little to no difference between what a scientist is worth and what an English major is worth. If anything, those with degrees in the humanities have tended to show themselves more versatile in the jobs they can accomplish, which is why they tend to see more success outside the university.

If we want better qualified people teaching, then we need to increase the salary for everyone across the board. Of course, where the school is located will determine what field is more competitive. For instance, a computer engineer will face a more competitive field in Silicon Valley than in Fargo, ND. The school in Fargo would have to pay far less for the teacher than the school in California. Yet, the same remains true for the humanities. While I agree we need to pay our teachers more, the logic of paying a science teacher more because he could make more by not being a teacher is just absurd; every qualified teacher could make more by not being a teacher, regardless of one’s choice in degrees.

Many teachers in the soft sciences, in fact, face a far more competitive field than scientific research. Companies will shell out quite a bit of money right now for people who have a background in ethics. Due to the increase of the internet over the past two decades, content managers and proof-readers are needed now more than ever for websites. That sociology teacher or english teacher could make far more money in the private sector, even more than her scientific counterpart.

In the end, Krauss betrays his bias, that he thinks science to be the only thing we really need in this world. He gives lip service to English teachers, saying, “Well, at least they teach us how to write and communication is important,” but he views science as the queen of all learning. Yet, one can easily prove that science is not the queen of the sciences, nor is it even primary. It is a tool, one that we must learn and use, but never forget that it is nothing more than a tool to be used by the philosopher.

Debating Atheism: Five Common Mistakes


The point of this post is to promote meaningful dialogue between Theists and Atheists.  I’m neither attempting to prove the existence of God nor trying to disprove good arguments in favor of Atheism.  Rather, my aim is to examine several statements Atheists have made to me, on several occasions, which demonstrate they do not fully understand where I’m coming from.

I’ve labeled them “common” because, not only have I had these statements said to me, but I have read or heard them repeated by many Atheists (even several academics can be found making these assertions).  I call them “mistakes”, not to belittle the people who make them or to say that Atheism is false, but to point out that these assertions do not actually respond to what Theists are trying to communicate.  They are “mistaken” primarily because they are shots fired at straw men—they are, essentially, irrelevant to the discussion—they make unwarranted assumptions, or, because they prevent meaningful dialogue about the actual issues at stake.

Furthermore, I’ve presented each mistake in the form of a statement rather than trying to classify them with some cool designation.  I’ve done this partly because I couldn’t be bothered trying to come up with a fancy label for each mistake; but, primarily, because these statements, I think, simply reflect how many Atheists respond to Theists in every day conversation.

So, without further introduction, here are the five common mistakes or, misguided statements, Atheists make when debating Theists:

I.  “Atheist’s are not inherently immoral people; you don’t need God to do good things.” 

To my surprise, several books (see: Epstein and Armstrong) have recently been published by noted Atheists which focus almost entirely on this point—a point which virtually every Theist would agree with.  Hardly any Theist would deny that Atheists can do good things or can be morally responsible without believing in God.  This is especially true of Christians, who believe that all men are made in the image of God (whether they believe it or not) and are, thus, capable of having knowledge about moral truths and making good decisions, that is, of doing something morally right.  Furthermore, Christians believe in the concept of Natural Law—they believe morality is objective and woven into the very fabric of reality—and that all men are capable of comprehending moral truths regardless of whether they’ve read the Bible or believe in the Holy Trinity.

When Christians argue that moral values do not exist if God does not exist they are speaking about objective moral values—that is, moral values which exist and are true independently from observers.  Stated more precisely, moral values which exist and are true whether you, or I, or society believes in them or not.  This is significantly different from arguing that Atheists are inherently immoral people or are incapable of doing anything good.  It is also different from arguing that you must believe God exists in order to be ethical.

The Christian argument might start off like this: “so, you (the Atheist) and I both believe it is evil to rape and murder a ten year old child–surely, we can stand in solidarity on this point.  However, I as a Christian have solid philosophical reasons for believing this is objectively evil and you do not . . .”

II.  “Atheists believe many things in this world have value—people, in general, find the world to be full of value—hence, you don’t need God to believe that values exist.” 

Once again, we must distinguish between objective values verses subjective values.  Objective values are ontologically grounded outside of the human mind—they are real in the sense that they are said to exist whether individuals acknowledge their existence or not.  Objective values may be discovered through our subjective experience of reality but are not ontologically grounded in subjective experiences.   Understanding values objectively, one could make the following statements consistently:  “human beings have intrinsic value, dignity, and worth”, “men and women have inalienable rights,” or “one ought not rape and murder a ten year old child.”

Subjective values have no existence apart from the human mind—they are rooted in and relative to the observer or the community.  They are merely accidental properties.  In this sense values are not said to truly exist in an ontological sense—they are simply social conventions, or feelings, or mindless products of evolution.  Understanding values subjectively, one could never make the value statements we made in the preceding paragraph.  We certainly couldn’t make the statements, “X is valuable” or “one ought not do X”.  We could only say things like, “X has value to me”, or “society considers X taboo”.

The reason I’ve gone through such great lengths to explain these terms is because they so easily get muddled in conversation.  When a Theist argues that values do not exist if God does not exist, she means that objective values do not exist.  So, when an Atheist responds to such an argument with the statement, “people, in general, find the world to be full of value—hence, you don’t need God to believe that values exist” he is completely missing the point.  The Theist would agree that values become subjective if God does not exist, in fact, this is the very thing the Theist has a problem with.

III.  “I don’t believe in God because I believe in science.”

I’ve heard this line more times than I care to remember.  This assertion is usually thrown out as a conversation stopper—that is, it is usually intended to show that religious belief is outdated, simplistic, mythical, irrational, opposed to scientific discovery, and hence not worth talking about.  However, the statement carries with it many underlying assumptions which are typically never supported by anything like coherent argumentation.

First of all, it creates a false dichotomy—it suggests that one must choose between “belief” in God and “belief” in science.  It assumes, without supporting argumentation, that the acceptance of one belief necessarily excludes belief in the other.  Furthermore, those who make this statement often fail to explain what they mean by “I believe in science.”  If this statement means “science provides the only valid path to knowledge” then one must provide good reasons for holding this epistemological view (which, by the way, is self refuting).

The Theist, on the other hand, often holds science in high regard and, in fact, many Theists are scientists.  Historically speaking, modern science grew out of a culture which primarily accepted the Christian worldview—in point of fact many of the greatest scientists were Christians or at least Theists of some sort.  Don’t simply throw out this statement and call it a day—open up the doors for a deeper, more nuanced . . . more rational discussion.

IV.  “I don’t need any arguments to justify my lack of belief in God; it’s up to you to prove that God exists.”

Sure, you don’t need arguments . . . if you’re not interested in holding your beliefs rationally.  Consider this example:

If I came up to you and forcefully asserted that the past is not real and that history is just an illusion you’d respond by saying, “prove it, and give me a reason why I should believe you”.  Would you take me seriously if I simply replied, with a smug look on my face, “I don’t have to prove anything; it is up to you to prove me wrong”?  I must have reasons why I believe history is an illusion (even if they are bad reasons) and I should share them with others if I want them to agree with me or, at least, take me seriously.  If, however, I have no reason to accept this outlandish premise, why should anybody give me the time of day?

So, unless the thought “God doesn’t exist” irrationally popped into your head one day and you just decided, without reason, to adopt it as a fundamental truth, you have reasons to justify your lack of belief in God.  Please don’t be afraid to share them—open them up to critique or reevaluation.  Give the Theist a reason to accept that God is dead.  The burden is on you as well; don’t be intellectually irresponsible.

V.  “I’m not having a discussion with you about God; people who believe in God are delusional and probably psychopathic.  It is impossible to have a rational discussion with someone who is delusional.” 

Frankly, statements of this sort are just an excuse to avoid critical thinking and indicate that you are a narrow minded bigot.  If this isn’t a mistake I don’t know what is?

What Problem of Evil?


The problem of evil is only a problem if God exists.  More specifically, it is only a problem if the God of Classical Theism exists.  The moment we deny the existence of God we dissolve the problem of evil entirely.  Why?  Because without God there are no moral absolutes, no objective values, and hence, no evil to “cause a problem.”  Ironically, by removing God from the equation, we also remove any grounds we might have had for holding real moral indignation (by “real” I mean something more than our personal dislike for a given set of circumstances but, rather,  a true moral outrage in the face of true evil).

This is what I find so fascinating about the current arguments against Theism.  Those who hold that “God is dead” claim to be the most horrified and the most incensed by the existence of  evil in the world, yet, oddly enough, they adhere to a worldview which teaches that evil is merely a feeling, an evolutionary accident, or a social convention and not an objective reality.  For example, I recently entered into a dialogue about creaturely pain and suffering with the popular Atheist blogger John W. Loftus.  He seems truly dismayed by the overwhelming number of people who have suffered excruciating deaths at the hand of various pandemics throughout history.  In his eyes the amount of pain that, for example, the millions of people who contracted the bubonic plague endured was a tremendous evil.  The implicit assumptions standing underneath his moral outrage are clear: (1) that human beings are inherently valuable and deserve to live a good life, free from horrendous amounts of pain, suffering and loss and (2) that death is a bad thing.

Now this is a very curious state of affairs.  From a worldview perspective, Atheism doesn’t allow for the existence of objective evil or objective goodness.  According to Atheisms grand metaphysical story, human beings are meaningless, temporary, bits of matter with absolutely no intrinsic value or purpose.  If this is true, however, then the pain and suffering regularly experienced by humans is normal and valueless. The subjective meaning that individual human beings ascribe to life is merely an automatic, predestined, physical event (because all mental phenomena are ultimately explainable in terms of the laws of physics). Furthermore, there is no hope of ever escaping death–for there is no afterlife and no escaping the reality that we shall forever be finite, limited, dissoluble beings.  Death, therefore, is a normal physical process—in fact, death, is a crucial aspect of evolution.

Thus, in a strange turn of events, Mr. Loftus, and those like him, find themselves emotionally at odds with their own metaphysics.  They feel sorrow and even outrage at the idea of human suffering, while simultaneously advocating a worldview which denies the implicit assumptions underlying their indignation.  Namely, they feel upset about evil but maintain, philosophically, that human beings are not inherently valuable (and do not deserve to live a good life) and that death is fundamentally not a bad thing.

This, however, brings us right back to the original problem.  For, it is only when we posit the existence of the God of Classical Theism that we have grounds for believing human life is intrinsically valuable and that death is a horrendous evil.  It is only then that a “problem of evil” arises because it is only then that evil is said to actually exist.

This, of course, forces us to make a choice (that is, if we do not wish to live in a state of internal conflict or inconsistency):  we can embrace Atheism, deny the existence of evil or any objective value—thus eradicating the so called problem of evil—or we can embrace Classical Theism.  If we embrace the former, we must be prepared to accept the fact that life is utterly futile and that pain and suffering are ultimately vain physical happenings.  In the words of Pavel  Florensky, “all of reality becomes an absolutely meaningless and insane nightmare.”

If we embrace the latter, however, our distain for pain, suffering, and death, is valid.  For our distain becomes more than a predestined feeling or mindless automatic physical response to stimuli but becomes a proper reaction to real evil.  Beyond this, if we accept Christianity, we also have hope for a future free from pain, suffering and death and filled with Divine love and meaning.

Even More Evidence Christians Just Don’t Think . . .


The other day I posted a response to an article written by John W. Loftus, the author of several books on atheism and the incendiary blog Debunking Christianity.  To my surprise, he was very quick to reply to my post, leaving several comments, and eventually writing a full length response on his blog entitled More Evidence Christians Just Don’t Think.  The evidence, of course, being me.  It is not often that one has the opportunity to participate in a meaningful dialog with someone he disagrees with.  My hope is that, through this conversation, John and I (as well as our readers) might develop a better understanding of our respective positions.  So, with that in mind, the following is  my response . . .

To begin with, I noticed that Mr. Loftus, neither in his original comments nor his blog post, addressed my concluding paragraph which reads as follows:

The Atheist, however, does not have a foundation upon which he might build the argument that anything is intrinsically evil.  A physical event–such as the movement of atoms, or the falling of an apple from a tree, or bodily death–has no inherent value.  Physical events simply happen; they just “are.”  Any value judgment that an Atheist makes about a physical event is totally subjective—for, ultimately, values amount to nothing more than statements about one’s inner feelings (which, by the way, are merely physical events that he has no control of).  When Mr. Loftus laments over the death of millions of people—as if death were an objective evil—he is merely sharing his personal feelings.  He has no grounds to claim that death is “evil’ in any real sense at all.  Furthermore, the Atheist, unlike the Christian, has no ultimate hope.  No matter how much power man gains over nature through science, he will never be able to change the fact that he is corruptible, dissoluble, finite, limited, contingent, and mortal.”

I would be interested to hear why Mr. Loftus finds creaturely pain and suffering morally appalling.  More precisely, I’d like to know if he believes pain and suffering are intrinsic or objective evils?  If so, I’d like to understand how, on Atheism, he justifies this belief?  As of now, he has failed to comment on this rather important piece of the puzzle.

I argued that Christians, unlike Atheists, have a reason to believe death is a horrendous evil and hope for a new life and the restoration of all things.  I’d like to take a moment to expound upon this.  It is because Christians believe human beings are made in the image and likeness of God that we are justified in our belief that human life is intrinsically valuable.  It is because Christians believe everything which has being (or existence) is good, in virtue of the fact that God made it, that we have grounds for believing that movement towards non-existence or non-being (i.e. physical death) is a great evil.  It is precisely because Christians believe  in the resurrection of the dead and in the coming of the New Heaven and New Earth, that Christians have hope.  Sadly, none of this can be said for the Atheist.

If God is dead, then human beings are meaningless, temporary, bits of matter with absolutely no intrinsic value or purpose.  The pain and suffering we regularly experience is normal and amoral.  The subjective meaning that individual human beings ascribe to life is merely an automatic, predestined, physical event (that is because all mental phenomena are ultimately explainable in terms of the laws of physics).  Furthermore, there is no hope of ever escaping death–for there is no afterlife and no escaping the reality that we shall forever be finite, limited, dissoluble beings.

Do you get this?  Mr. Loftus claims I, and all Christians, “dismiss the pain and death of millions,” while touting a worldview which ultimately teaches us that the pain and death of millions is a normal, amoral, meaningless, physical event and that human life is not intrinsically valuable.

Mr. Loftus states that, “Christians just do not care that people die when their faith is at stake,” but I wonder why it is that he cares that people die?  I care because people are inherently valuable (being made in the image of God), and were made to exist and flourish.  Death, therefore, is a terrible evil.  He cares because . . . well, I’m hoping he’ll tell me why.

Now, there are a host of other interesting things in his article we could talk about.  For instance, Mr. Loftus seems to have a limited view of the atonement–assuming that Penal Substitutionary Atonement is the only valid interpretation.  Accordingly, he fails to understand why the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ are so important in this discussion.  At present, however, I think it best to focus on the above topic.  Before we can move any further in this conversation, we need to understand why, on Atheism, anyone should be concerned about the pain, suffering, and death of others?

“Christianity is a Pro-Death Faith”


ObjectorJohn W. Loftus

Objection:

“So Christian apologist, I put it to you. Why didn’t God do anything about the Black Death pandemic? Be reasonable here. Why? This is but one example. There were many other pandemics. I argue that Christianity is a faith that must dismiss the tragedy of death. It does not matter who dies, or how many, or what the circumstances are when people die. It could be the death of a mother whose baby depends upon her for milk. It could be a pandemic like cholera that decimated parts of the world in 1918, or the more than 23,000 children who die every single day from starvation. These deaths could be by suffocation, drowning, a drive-by shooting, or being burned to death. It doesn’t matter. God is good. Death doesn’t matter. People die all of the time. In order to justify God’s goodness Christianity minimizes the value of human life. It is a pro-death faith, plain and simple. I argue that Christians Just Do Not Give a Damn That People Die. Or, you can prove me wrong.”

On the contrary, it is written “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:54b-56)

I say that God did in fact do something about the Black Death pandemic—something which science could never do.  Namely, He took death upon Himself on the cross and defeated it once and for all.  Rather than dismissing the tragedy of death, Christianity faces death head on.  It teaches us that death is a great evil and entered the world through Original Sin which subjugated the world to corruption, dissolution, and ultimately bodily (physical) death.  Furthermore, it teaches that human beings perpetuate the cycle of death and dissolution by means of their own personal sin.  We see this played out in the environment through pollution and the overuse of natural resources, we see this on an international scale in the form of wars, acts of terrorism, human trafficking, and a host of other evils, and we see this played out in our communities in the form of substance abuse, sexual abuse, violence, divorce, theft, greed, abortion, gluttony, and many other evils.

However, the Word of God, by Whom and for Whom all things were made, would not sit back and watch as His beautiful creation destroyed itself but saw fit to humble Himself, taking on flesh, in order to redeem—to save, renew, heal, and restore—the Image and Likeness of God in man and to unite all of Creation to Himself: thus, bestowing upon all of Nature the gift of incorruptibility, eternality, and freedom from pain, suffering, loneliness, and death.  For, as St. Athanasius pointed out:  “it were unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption.  For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practiced on men by the devil.  Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.”  According to Christian Theology, it is unthinkable that God, in His goodness, would sit back and do nothing to save His creation.  It is because of God’s goodness and love that He sent His beloved Son into the world to save it.  As St. John states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life” (John 3:15).

The Atheist, however, does not have a foundation upon which he might build the argument that anything is intrinsically evil.  A physical event–such as the movement of atoms, or the falling of an apple from a tree, or bodily death–has no inherent value.  Physical events simply happen; they just “are.”  Any value judgment that an Atheist makes about a physical event is totally subjective—for, ultimately, values amount to nothing more than statements about one’s inner feelings (which, by the way, are merely physical events that he has no control of).  When Mr. Loftus laments over the death of millions of people—as if death were an objective evil—he is merely sharing his personal feelings.  He has no grounds to claim that death is “evil’ in any real sense at all.  Furthermore, the Atheist, unlike the Christian, has no ultimate hope.  No matter how much power man gains over nature through science, he will never be able to change the fact that he is corruptible, dissoluble, finite, limited, contingent, and mortal.

Conversely, in the face of death, Christians have metaphysical grounds to believe that death is a horrendous evil and hope for a new life and a restored world.