God’s Not Dead, Chapter 3 – The Categorical Imperative (pt32)
THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE
Kant explained morality in terms of this axiom, possibly giving a hint of the type of language Harris attempts to employ: “Act only according to the maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”
In other words, judge the rightness of your actions by asking this question: What if everyone acted this way?
The author, above, is referencing Immanuel Kant’s evidence for god in the “starry sky above me and the moral law within me”. Just in case you aren’t following along with the blog, these quotes are referencing the last subsection (pt31) where the author quoted Sam Harris as saying:
Science can, in principle, help us understand what we should do and should want…to live the best lives possible.
Kant’s “categorical imperative“, Luke 6:31’s golden rule, and Harris’ shoulds are all the same idea. I am baffled that the author wants to use the first two to negate the third. The author says to ask yourself “what if everyone acted this way”, but that very question, in my opinion, negates his view of an objective morality apportioned to us by the almighty. If a god had given the moral law to us it matters not what we think about “if everyone acted this way” you would be bound to follow the law even if it were demonstrably adverse to the society’s well being.
It’s almost humorous how atheists both affirm this moral law taught by Jesus and simultaneously downplay its importance, referring to it as common sense. That’s because they are projecting the cultural backdrop of the twenty-first century on previous generations.
If the author wants to explain his moral position as having been gifted by the gods, that is fine, but you must continue with that position. The “projecting the cultural backdrop” of our generation on history directly states that the morals we have today are different than those of the past generations. How can the author not then be okay with the explanation provided by myself or Dawkins when he likened morality to ‘genetic predisposition’? The idea that morality now is different than it was in the past is ludicrous if you believe that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being declared morality into laws. Why would a being like that have changing views on what is moral?
The author then quotes Nietzsche, as if he is the atheist god whom every atheist must bow to and can never be wrong.
When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… By breaking one main concept out of [Christianity}, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.
Everyone can be wrong. Although I do agree with Nietzsche that after giving up the faith you don’t have the right to call your morality the “Christian morality”, where I disagree is that I believe morality came about naturally and needn’t be denominationalized. So, when I broke up with my faith I didn’t break “the whole” of my morality.
When the restraining force of God and His knowledge are removed, evil is free to fully express itself.
This is by far the most disturbing sentence or idea that comes out of this book and religion in general. The idea that without a god watching you, you would do bad things simply because you would no longer feel it would be bad is horrendous. I hope you, whoever is reading this lowly blog, don’t hold that view. Atheists don’t not believe in a god because we want to be able to do what ever we want. In fact, the morality from the Bible can be argued as being much worse than that of an atheist because the acts in the Bible were dictated by that god. Rape, murder, genocide, stealing, slavery, etc are all actions the god in the Bible either performed himself or had one or more of his followers perform (thereby making them moral actions).
Blindly following orders is not morality. Morality is deciding for yourself whether an action is right or wrong based on its perceived results. You may say ‘I’ve made the decision to follow the morality of my god’, but that is contradictory. How did you make the decision that the dictates of this god are moral? That is a moral decision in itself. If you are to say ‘I used my own morality’ then why not use your own morality on every decision and get rid of the middleman.