John [UpChurch’s] latest article, Tragedy in a Godless Universe, shows that he is no better than those who write hate mail to people like Richard Dawkins—he just uses longer words. He claims that atheists (and, by extension, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims—in fact most of the world’s population) should rejoice at the deaths of others, that they are hypocritical to feel compassion, and that evolution devalues human life. I would also point out that evolution is not a philosophy, it is a fact. I accept the validity of evolution because I am prepared to believe the evidence of my eyes over someone else’s interpretation of the Bible. It has no bearing whatever on my philosophy or morality. This article shows the true nature of creationism—a movement based on hate.
First of all, I thank you for your thoughtful feedback. Reasoned responses are always welcome. However, you have attributed intent to me that is beyond the scope of that particular article.
Whether I’m “no better” is academic, as I am inclined to think that I am not better than anyone else. That is, we all—equally—fall far short of the measure God set for us (Romans 5:12, 3:23). I will say that there is no excuse for anyone who follows Christ to send “hate mail” to Richard Dawkins or anyone else. I suspect, however, that many of those who write him are not motivated by hate at all, and I’ll touch on the “hate” aspect later.
The article was not intended to address those of other faith traditions beyond atheism and the implications of naturalism. In fact, some Muslims are young-earth creationists, and some Christians are effectively atheists. We have dealt with both topics on our site, and that was not the focus of this particular article.
I stand by my claim that atheists are inconsistent when it comes to compassion. Naturalism strips life and death of moral value. Humans may ascribe moral value to other humans (or animals or inanimate objects), but according to the evolution story, we are here because of time and death. When looking back to the supposed history of the universe, atheists have no problem claiming that asteroids and famines and earthquakes killed off individuals and entire species so that other species could emerge and dominate the earth (including us), but many also act as if current extinctions and deaths are more important, more valuable. Fossil Neanderthals (i.e., bones of the dead) are often “evolutionary dead-ends,” but modern graveyards are sad reminders of loss.
This doublespeak reveals an underlying flaw in the philosophy. Whether there’s an evolutionary “reason” for compassion, the core problem remains unchanged. If atheism is correct, then death is meaningless: humans have simply evolved a coping mechanism to deal with or temporarily prevent loss. But that mechanism goes against the flow of a purposeless history. Death, according to evolution, frees other members of the species (or another species) to flourish. In that worldview, humans have no more worth than dodos or dinosaurs or any other extinct species. We survive for now—they don’t. Whether we live or die out from here is immaterial.
In comparison to human life that was created by a loving God and is the focus of His attention and blessed by an offer of salvation, atheistic naturalism does, in fact, devalue humanity as simply a bag of water and carbon on a tiny space rock in an insignificant disk of dust and gases. We can “find” value or a reason for existence, but we have just as much incentive not to find value or reason.
As I’ve documented before,1 beliefs lend themselves to actions or inactions. Otherwise, for example, the abortion lobby would not have a problem with mandatory ultrasounds prior to an abortion procedure.
Now, if you have observed evolution with your eyes, I must take that to mean you are billions of years old. Perhaps you meant that you have observed change, natural selection, and the effects of mutations. None of which I would deny or want to deny, as they’re aspects of a biblical worldview. What you have not observed, nor could you, is life deriving from a single ancestor (or a few ancestors). Even fossils, which are often touted as “evidence,” are simply snapshots of the past and not observations, since direct observation of the past is impossible for humans.
I prefer to trust what God, who was the only One who could be there, said He did. Notice I did not say I prefer someone else’s interpretation of what the Bible says. While commentaries are useful, they are not more useful than the clear meaning of Scripture.
As for your claim that hate has motivated me or anyone else, you are correct—in a sense. I do hate the thought of even one person dying in sin and spending an eternity separated from the Creator. I point out the inconsistencies and fallacies of believing there is no God because I do not wish that fate on anyone. Since I take the Bible in a straightforward manner, I would be truly hate-filled to keep silent and let others die.
After all, compassion is just another word for love, and God Himself is love (1 John 4:16). Without God, love would not exist—there’d be nothing more than neuro-chemical responses and an illusion of feeling.