Existence of God and the Rise of Atheism #7 (Last Commentary): Beyond Mere Physical Reality – Love, Self-Awareness, Free Will, Conscience, Morality

“Sunday Afternoon Sermon”

For atheists, everything is physical. Nothing else exists beyond the physical universe.

This materialist belief places on atheists the burden of explaining non-physical reality, like, the existence of:

  • love,
  • self-awareness,
  • empathy,
  • compassion,
  • sacrifice,
  • free will,
  • morality,
  • good and evil.
  • How can physical matter create consciousness and self-awareness?  
  • How can the random accidental collision of molecules create in empathy, compassion, and love? 
  • What is the physical molecular source of our universal yearning for God?
  • What is the physical molecular cause of our widespread beliefs in right and wrong?

Universal Yearning for God

Another layer of “proof” for the existence of God is mankind’s universal yearning for Deity. “We hold these truths to be self-evidence, that all men are endowed by their Creator…”

Philosopher Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804) recognized “the remarkable predisposition of every human being to never be satisfied by what is temporal.” (“Critique of Pure Reason”)

We all feel a deep-seated “homesickness” for our eternal home and family. We all yearn for something above and beyond mere matter.

The belief in God is universal.  It includes all peoples, even those who separated by time, both ancient and modern.  It includes even those who are separated geographically.

Atheists struggle to find a “rational” explanation for this widespread yearning for, and belief in, God .  They are desperately searching for a “God gene.”  Even if they discover a genetic predisposition for faith, where did that gene come from, if not from God?

I consist of a formal element [spirit] and a material [body].  Neither of these can ever pass away into nothing, any more than either of them came into being from nothing.” (Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.), Meditations p 83)

Where does this inherent deep yearning for God come from, if not from God himself?

Universal Conscience, Morality, and Belief in Right and Wrong

Another layer of “proof” of the existence of God is universal morality.  Everyone has a conscience.  There is widespread belief in right and wrong.

When I took a course in “Legal Anthropology,” I was surprised to learn that completely independent tribes and cultures had similar views of right and wrong. My term paper, “Capital Crimes and Punishment Among Primitive Cultures,” confirmed this.

This universal conscience and morality, transcends time. It includes both ancient and modern populations.  It encompasses people separated geographically, even those who were completely isolated.

Where do these widespread concepts of right and wrong come from?

Latter-day Saints believe the source of each person’s conscience, and mankind’s widespread belief in right and wrong, is the “Light of Christ.”  The Light of Christ “is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.” (Moroni 7: 16,18)  The Light of Christ “proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.” It is “the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed” (D&C 88:6-13) This is power is an influence for good in the lives of all people (John 1:9; D&C 93:2)  Conscience is a manifestation of the Light of Christ, enabling us to judge good from evil.

Without God, there is no objective morality. There is no absolute right or wrong.  Without God there are no inherent inalienable human rights

Dennis Prager observed:
“If there is no God, there are no rights and wrong that transcend personal preference.” “Good and evil possess no objective reality.  Moral judgments then become purely subjective.”
“This is why in secular societies morality is generally considered to be a matter of opinion.  Moral relativism is the only possible consequence of the denial of God’s existence; morality becomes a euphemism for personal opinion.”
“Amorality is inherent to atheism.” “Since reason is amoral, it cannot be the source of morality.  That source must be something higher than reason.”  (Dennis Prager, Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism p. 21- 25)

Martin Luther King declared: “In contrast to ethical relativism, Christianity sets up for a system of absolute moral values and affirms that God has placed with the very structure of this universe certain moral principles that are fixed and immutable.”

Existence and Complexity of Human Intelligence

One of the greatest challenges for atheists is to define and understand human intelligence and emotions.  Humans can:

  • learn
  • remember
  • form concepts
  • understand
  • apply logic
  • reason
  • recognize patters
  • comprehend ideas
  • plan
  • solve problems
  • make decisions
  • retain information
  • use language to write and communicate
  • create ideas
  • create art, music, literature, poetry
  • love, compassion, empathy, joy

Human intelligence is so complex and magnificent that it is unreasonable to believe that it comes from the random accidental collision of molecules in our brain.

“The Thinker”

C. S. Lewis explained:
“If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of man was an accident too.  If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents–the accidental by-products of the movement of atoms.  And this holds for thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s.  But if their thoughts are merely accidental by-products, why would we believe them to be true?  I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.  It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.” (God in the Dock, p. 52-53)
“The materialist who debunks everyone else’s ideas as the sub rational products of their brain chemistry or environment cannot avoid being debunked himself. If he is honest, the materialist will have to admit that his own ideas are merely the “epiphenomenon which accompanies chemical or electrical events in a cortex which is itself the by-product of a blind evolutionary process.” If all thoughts are merely the products of non-rational causes, this includes the materialist’s own thoughts. In other words, there is no reason according to materialism for materialism itself to be regarded as true.” (God in the Dock, p. 52-53)

Existence of Self-Awareness

Unlike many other animals, we humans are more than just conscious, we are also “self-aware.”

“Self-awareness is “to realize that you are a thinking being and to think about your thoughts.” (Ferris Jabr, “Self-Awareness with a Simple Brain,” Scientific American, Nov. 1 2012)

“Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also of themselves.” “A self-conscious subject is aware of themselves, as themselves. We are conscious of what we call our ‘self.’” (“Self-Consciousness,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mar 12, 2020)

We are self-aware of our “selves,” our thoughts, our feelings, and our mortality. Socrates proclaimed that the highest achievement is to “Know Thyself.

Where did this self-awareness come from? 

Materialistic atheists cannot explain our conscious self-awareness.  Neuroscientists struggle to understand how the physical human brain creates a conscious sense of “self.”

Self-awareness did not come from the random collisions of molecules in our brain.

Self-awareness led philosopher Rene Descartes to postulate: “I think, therefore I am.” I add: “I think, therefore God is.”

Existence of Human Emotions: Love, Empathy, Self-sacrifice 

To the atheists only matter exists. Nothing exists beyond the material, physical, and temporal.

A lifetime of observation, study,  and experience has led me to the inescapable belief in the existence of a spiritual and a non-material reality. I have had countless encounters with the spiritual realm. And the physical universe does not adequately explain things like, love, inner peace, joy, empathy, compassion, charity, and self-sacrifice

.      

Dennis Prager explained:
“If there is no God, how do you account for the existence of all the good in the world?  For consciousness and conscience?  Intelligence?  Emotions?  Love?  The laws of nature?  For our sense of purpose to the world?  For all creation?  For the very notion of a universal good and evil?”  
“How does the atheist account for all these phenomena?  Generally, the atheist will explain that they have developed through coincidences such as the random couplings of gases and molecules.  In fact, everything, according to the atheist developed by chance.” “Design suggests to us a Designer, law a Lawgiver, creation a Creator, intelligence a Source of intelligence, conscience a God.” (Dennis Prager, Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism (p.27- 28)

Where does love come from in a totally physical material existence.  Is love just the accidental product of the random collision of molecules in our brains?

Where do empathy and compassion come from?  Why do we engage in charitable giving and humanitarian efforts at personal sacrifice?

What motivates a soldier to jump onto a live grenade to protect his colleagues, at the cost of his own life?  This is obviously contrary to our greatest natural instinct – self-preservation.

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “I believe in God, like in believe in the sun, not because I can see the sun, but because of the light of the sun, I can see everything else.”

Emotions exist. They are real. There is no valid rational explanation for the existence love, compassion, and self-sacrifice in a purely physical and material universe.

Existence of Free Will and Agency

Another problem atheists face is the existence of free will and agency.

Basically, atheists do not believe in free will. In a purely physical universe, our actions are the result of the random collision of molecules in our brains.  Our actions are the predictable response to stimuli.  If we could identify all the stimuli, then we could predict, with certainty, the outcome and response.

Atheists necessarily believe in “determinism.”All actions are part of a cause-and-effect sequence, down to the atomic level. We do not govern our actions; rather, they are the results of physical or other external forces over which we have no control.”

In other words, we are simply the puppets of stimuli. We have no choice.  We have no free will or agency

Therefore, we are not accountable. Hence, we are not entitled to any credit and not deserving of any blame. This is the philosophy of determinism. This is the inescapable paradigm of atheism.

What a depressing view of our existence! We do not “act.” We are only “acted upon.” We do not initiate anything; we merely respond.

“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” (Stephen Hawking)

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) , a renowned neurologist, psychiatrist, and Nazi death camp survivor explained in his classic book “Man’s Search for Meaning:”  
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They offer proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In the space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
( “Man’s Search for Meaning,”)

We are free to choose.  But we are not free from the consequences of our choices.  Whether we do what’s right, or whether we do what’s wrong, the consequence will follow. (I spent my career as a criminal prosecutor and judge imposing consequences.)

Even prisoners locked in solitary confinement have free will. “Two man looked out through the bar/One see the mud, the other the stars.”  Because of their choices and attitude Joseph Smith and Nelson Mandela actually grew emotionally and spiritually while imprisoned.

If free will does exist, where does it come from, if not God?

Gifts of the Spirit and Spiritual Reality

Most Latter-day Saint and faithful Christians have witnessed and experienced the gifts of the spirit. These gifts include: revelation, visions, healing, miracles, knowledge, and speaking and interpreting languages. . I have personally witnessed revelation, miracles, visions, healings, and the gifts of the spirit. Most people of faith that I know have a similar witness.

The existence of the gifts of the Spirit prove the reality of the spiritual realm.  The existence of the spiritual reality is another layer of proof of the existence of God

Existence of Good

Philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that the existence of God can be deduced from the existence of good.

Significantly, the words “God” and “good” are inseparably connected in their origin and usage. The English word “God” is identical to the Anglo-Saxon word for “good.” “Good-bye” is a 16th century contraction for “God be with ye.” “God is good.” (Interestingly, if you remove the “d” from “devil” you get “evil.”  If you add an “o” to “God” and you get “good.”)

The theme of Genesis Chapter One is that the earth and cosmos were created by God, and that creation is good. “It is good.”

The Evil Consequences and Result of Atheism and Materialism

Jesus taught that the way to distinguish between true prophets from false prophets is by the consequences and results of their words and actions.  “By their fruits shall ye know them.”

 

According to materialistic atheists, creation and existence of our complex and ordered universe, earth, human bodies, genomes, DNA, and human intelligence and emotion are the product of random chance and pure accident.

Stalin’s Mass Graves

Atheists believe there is no creator, and that the creation is neither good nor evil. It just is.

Further, there is no free will and therefore no dignity.  Since there is no divinely endowed agency, there is no credit or blame. 

In short, the creation and our existence are without purpose. This philosophy leads to doubt, confusion, and great evil.

Hitler’s Holocaust Bones

Atheists fawn over John Lennon’s famous song, “Imagine.”  “Imagine there’s no heaven/ It’s easy if you try/ No hell below us/ Above us only sky/ Imagine all the people living for today./ Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/ Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too. . .” 

Unfortunately, for these “dreamers,” atheism and the absence of religion gave us the atheist materialists Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and countless other “monsters.”

The atheist Adolph Hitler is responsible for 20-30 million deaths.  The atheist Joseph Stalin is responsible for 60-80 million deaths. The atheist Chairman Mao is responsible for an estimated 80 million deaths.

Mao’s Mass Killings

Any alleged evil done in the name of religion, like the Crusades, pales in comparison with the genocide and atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and other maniacal atheists.

According to Jesus’ test (“by their fruits shall ye know them”), advocates of atheism are false prophets.

The Great Good the Comes from Religion

“La Peata,” Michelangelo

Religion has produced endless charity and humanitarian relief. Believers have sacrificed to create charities, adoption agencies, cemeteries, schools, and hospitals.  

Religion has produced the philosophies of equality, liberty, natural law, and inalienable human rights. Religion inspired and motivated the founding fathers and mothers. Religion has inspired the civil rights movements, and the champions of human rights, like Jesus, Mother Teressa, Mandela, King, and Gandhi.

“The Veiled Virgin,” Bernini

Western law is based upon religion. Moses gave us concepts of crimes and punishment, civil law, negligence, restitution, and the humane treatment of animals. Catholic Canon law inspired the English Common Law.   

Religion has inspired and produced unsurpassed art (Michelangelo, de Vinci, Raphael, Bernini); awesome architecture (Pyramids, the Vatican, cathedrals, churches, mosques); inspiring music (Handel, Bach, Beethoven).

What would the world be like without religion and people of faith, like John Lennon’s wish?  

Life has Purpose and Meaning

To the faithful our existence has purpose and our lives have meaning.

Victor Frankl declared: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”

Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman emperor-philosopher, concluded:
“Either the world is a mere hotch-potch of random cohesions and dispersions, or else it is a unity of order and providence.  If the former, why wish to survive in such a purposeless and chaotic confusion? Why care about anything, save the manner of the ultimate return to the dust? Why trouble my head at all, since do what I will, dispersion must overtake me sooner or later?   But if the contrary be true, then do I reverence,  sand firm, and put my trust in the directing Power.” (Meditations, p 92)
“Without an understanding of the universe, a man cannot know where he is. Without an understanding of its presence, he cannot know what he is, nor what the universe itself is.  Let either of these discoveries be hid from him, and he will not be able to give a reason for his own existence.” (Meditations, p 133)
“If not a wise Providence, then a mere jumble of atoms.” (Meditations, p. 64)

Conclusion

Physical objects are not all there is. They are not the sum total of reality. The divine transcends the temporal, and leads to self-awareness, noble self-sacrifice, charity, and love.

I, and the plethora of believers, have personally witnessed and personally received countless spiritual experiences. We have experienced spiritual reality and witnessed the hand of God.

I feel sorry for those who live in a world without miracles and blessings. I pity those who do not have a personal relationship with Deity.

God lives!

(www.londonedition.net)

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