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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Terrible Price of Freedom from God

C.S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, points out that whenever people quarrel with one another using arguments about what is right and what is wrong, they are, by this very fact, conceding the existence and reality of God. For without some ultimate authority, such categories simply have no meaning.


More recently, Professor Thomas Nagel, himself an atheist, candidly addressed the question: “why are atheists afraid of religion?”

I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God, and naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that." (Thomas Nagel, The Last Word, New York, Oxford University Press, 2001)
Reacting to this open admission, Mr. Peter Hitchens, observes that such absolute and utter freedom comes at a tremendous price.

If they [atheists] know, or are reasonably certain, that there is no ultimate authority and no judgement issuing from some unalterable law, they are instantly quite extraordinarily free. But this freedom is also as available to monsters and power-seekers as it is to advanced intellectuals dwelling in comfortable suburbs... If atheists or anti-theists have the good fortune to live in a society still governed by religious belief, or even its afterglow, they may feel free from absolute moral bonds, while those around them are not. This is a tremendous liberation for anyone who is even slightly selfish. And what clever person is not imaginatively and cunningly selfish?

Oddly enough, very few atheists are as delighted by this prospect as they ought to be. At least they are not delighted openly or in public. Could this be because they really do not grasp this astonishingly simple point, based as it is on their own insistence that the most plausible external source of law and morality does not exist? Why create such a difficulty for themselves at all? Might it be because they fear that, by admitting their delight at the non-existence of good and evil, they are revealing something of their motives for their belief? Could it be that the last thing on earth they wish to acknowledge is that they HAVE motives for their belief, since, by doing so they would open up their flanks to attack?" (Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2010)

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