Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dostoevsky and his Atheists

"No more than five days ago...he solemnly announced in the discussion that there is decidedly nothing in the world that would make men love their fellow men; that there exists no law of nature that man should love mankind, and that if there is and has been any love on earth up to now, it has come not from natural law but solely from people's belief in their immortality...for every separate person...who believes neither in God nor in his own immortality, the moral law of nature ought to change immediately into the exact opposite of the former religious law..."
Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, p. 69

Russian authors have this annoying tendency to be revered as brilliant storytellers and writers.  The most obnoxious part is that they probably deserve it.

Now perhaps this is just the bitterness of being unfortunate enough to be born in a country that has almost no great literature to call its own.  But in any case, The Brothers Karamazov is a brilliant work, and other than a short section relating a rather bizarre story by, ironically, the same brother that is spoken of above, has not ceased to keep me interested.  I'm 287 pages into the work and I'm not even halfway.  Stupid Russian winters.  Kept Dostoevsky at his manuscript for too long.

But returning to the extended quotation above. Why is that so significant?  Well, because it brings up an important point, the connection between immortality and virtue.  The point being that there is no virtue if there is no belief in the human soul.

One may argue that virtue exists in atheists in spite of the fact they do not believe in the immortality of the soul.  Thus, even were the belief in God and immortality to become the minority opinion, virtue would still exist.  The reason for this (were such a hypothetical situation possible) would be that virtue would exist as a neurosis.  The bottom would have fallen out, so to speak, and we would be left with the surface action, virtue, but lose the reason for acting virtuous.  The other answer would require the belief in the Bible, and an understanding of Romans 1 as Dr. Horner of The Master's College would explain it. That virtue would exist because in spite of the fact that man would deny it, his act of denying it would bring to mind the truth that he knows, that there is a God and man is immortal.  This would cause him to act as though there were a just judge out there even if he were to deny the existence of such a being.

In short, evolution and the materialistic philosophy have nothing to say to explain why we shouldn't kill anyone who ticks us off, why rape is bad, and why a genocide isn't such a brilliant idea.

Good Lord, we need You.


Brian Westley said...

How tiresome; another theist explaining how anyone who doesn't believe in his special invisible friend can't explain morality.

max said...

Well then, would you mind explaining for us?

Mary Ellen said...

I like this post. It simply summed up what I've been pondering lately.