Tuesday, June 16, 2015

An open and honest answer to Mr. Awa’s post

I received this post in a Facebook group from a certain Mr. Reynaldo Awa.

Is Atheism a spiritual dilemma or a moral dilemma? The answer is simply no.

As an atheist myself, I find atheism a liberation in the aspect of Mr. Awa's shallow definition of spirituality. It is more about embracing reality as what it really offers.  It is accepting the fact that there is no icing on the cake, that there are no invisible fairies and no genies to grant three wishes. Yes, for most people like Mr. Awa, spirituality is a means to escape the doldrums’ of reality – an escape to a wonderful, make believe land of gods, angels and saints – I understand. Not all people can take the blunt punches reality has to offer. So the best way is for Mr. Awa to replace real people with non-physical entities, real situations with so-called “a priori philosophy.”

But the question is how effective Mr. Awa’s wonderful world? 

Reality bites, and even Christian apologists knows that. Thomas Aquinas created his 5 ways to prove the existence of God because he finds St. Anselm’s a priori argument lacking. Modern Christian apologists now use science to prove God. Why? Because proving God just by using faith is not effective anymore. More people are thinking critically nowadays.

So what’s the dilemma?

Dilemma is to choose between two unfavorable alternatives.  So I asked myself, what is unfavorable between reality and fantasy?  Reality is there, whether you like it or not – it doesn’t care whether you want to believe it or not. How about fantasy? We only go to the world of fantasy for temporary relief – we watch TV, movies, we read books about magic to be inspired by its moral stories, to get inspiration for arts – but for some people like Mr. Awa, fantasy is to get away from it all. 

How about moral dilemma?

As an atheist, I don’t have any problem with morality. For one thing, I am a human being. As what Albert Einstein has said, “I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.”

Defining what is good and what is bad doesn’t need any supernatural agent. We make our laws, we create our rules… When I was once a Christian, I also believed that God is the author or morality, very much like Mr. Awa.  I once believed that I need a God to be good, which is until I read the Judeo/Christian’s Holy Book: The Bible.

Inside the so-called “Good Book” we can read some stories about how this “All-Good God” ordered the massacre of entire civilization – men, women, old folks and children. Children?  Ok, so why it that I find such act revolting? Surely, if God is the author of morality, then it is OK for me to slit a child’s throat, as long as God commanded it, right? But deep inside, I find it barbaric, an uncivilized act. Then morality (the distinction between right and wrong) is beyond a Sky Daddy.  Now, can you stab a crying baby in the heart? Well, maybe if you're a psychopath - and you believe that God is commanding you to do it, it's OK - a typical reason why some serial killers kill -  God commanded me to do it. However, if you have a sound mind, it's a different story.  Rational minds disagree to such an act. Morality is sound reasoning, not blind obedience.

It had been demonstrated long ago that morality doesn’t require Mr. Awa’s god. We find some societies to flourish without it. I once heard a story about a certain American Christian missionary who went to Japan and was amazed that stealing in Japanese society is almost non-existence. Now, these Japanese never read the Bible and have never heard about the 10 Commandments, yet they don’t steal. Certain islands in the Pacific are almost crime-free yet again, these societies never heard of Jesus.

So again, where’s the dilemma? What two unfavorable alternatives does an atheist need to choose before he steals or kill someone?

As an atheist myself, there is nothing to choose when it comes to morality.  A reasonable mind prevents me to kill without any reason. Support from family and friends prevents me to cheat and still, and mind you Mr. Awa, I don’t need non-physical entities to be good.

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