A waste of tears!

Posted: May 21, 2007 in Theo/Philo

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Sam Harris author of ‘Letter to a Christian nation’ wants the world to know that atheists love life and have good reason to do so.

In his little book he says:

Atheists believe life is meaningless…atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived’

Of course Harris doesn’t define what really fully lived means, it seems a weak premise upon which to base the value of life, especially if in the long run it is all meaningless.

For Harris what makes life precious is the quality of a life lived. How do you define what aspects of life go into to making a life really fully lived?

My experience of working with people with learning difficulties/disabilities (those often deemed to have lives of low quality) has been that in some cases (not all) their lives were and are very joyful, full and active, full of love, and in anyone’s definition, could be described as leading meaningful lives. The point albeit anecdotally, is it’s not obvious or easy to define what a meaningful,precious life is, let alone who should be qualified to define it.

Whenever someone has sought to define what a meaningful life is and isn’t, it has lead to a loss of the value of life practically. If the definition comes from the extreme right or left it makes no difference, the result is the same.

When the Judeo Christian consensus is lost, such as has happened in the west, what fills the vacuum always places a lower value on humanity than the aforementioned consensus would.

The most obvious example is to be found in Nazi Germany, using the pretext of war; Hitler began to flesh out his definition of a meaningful life in specific terms and images,at the same time as these positive images he also defined in images and terms those who were deemed subhuman.

From a beginning of forced sterilization there followed for the handicapped and mentally ill the final experience of being gassed. In all, between 200,000 and 250,000 mentally and physically handicapped persons were murdered from 1939 to 1945 under the T-4 and other “euthanasia” programs.

Anyway here’s what a few other atheists think about life’s precious quality (notice how all these opinions cannot be lived out practically):

Wiliam Provine:

No purposive principles exist in nature…No inherent moral or ethical laws exist, nor are there absolute guiding principles for human society. The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life’.

Richard Dawkins:

‘The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is ,at bottom,no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

E.O.Wilson:

Human behaviour-like the deepest capacities for emotional response which drive and guide it-is the circuitous technique by which human genetic material has been and will be kept intact. Morality has no other demonstrable ultimate function”

Michael Ruse:

Our belief in morality is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends…Ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to co-operate (so that human genes survive)…Furthermore,the way our biology enforces its ends is by making us think that there is an objective higher code to which we are all subject”

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Comments
  1. Jason Failes says:

    Hitler was a Catholic and had close ties to the church. He thought he was doing God’s work, and much of his rhetoric cited Biblical scripture against “the Jew”. The Christian nation of Germany had no problem going along with this because they were doing the Lord’s work.

    Stop calling Hitler an Atheist. You’ll only embarrass yourselves.

  2. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Jason,
    thanks for posting,and thanks for your concern, but I’m not worried if I embarrass myself,although I don’t think I have.
    Regarding Hitler and his actions and beliefs:
    Firstly was Hitler truthful in his statements?
    Here is a statement he made regarding his intentions towards France:
    “I think I can assure you that there is no one in Germany who will not with all his heart approve any honest attempt at an improvement of relations between Germany and France. My own feelings force me to take the same attitude… The German people has the solemn intention of living in peace and friendship with all civilized nations and powers… And I regard the maintenance of peace in Europe as especially desirable and at the same time secured, if France and Germany, on the basis of equal sharing of natural human rights, arrive at a real inner understanding… The young Germany, that is led by me and that finds its expression in the National Socialist Movement, has only the most heartfelt desire for an understanding with other European nations.”

    Of course he latter invaded France. So professing to be a Christian was opportune like professing to be friendly towards France
    Here are some statements he made regarding Hitler’s so called Christianity:

    “So it’s not opportune to hurl ourselves now into a struggle with the Churches. The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death,” Adolf Hitler, 14 October 1941.

    “Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.”

    “The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.”
    “There is something very unhealthy about Christianity.”

    “It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors– but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie.”

    “Our epoch in the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity…. My regret will have been that I couldn’t… behold .”
    There are plenty more quotes if you need them,can you point me to where I said he was a atheist?
    thanks,
    Mike

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Mike, take a look at that last statement — was he referring to Christianity as a disease, or was he referring to something else as a disease on Christianity? Do you have a full context? The ellipses lead me to believe there is too much left out to make a judgment of what was said.

  4. Mike Godfrey says:

    Ed,
    he was refering to Christianity ss the disease:
    heres the quote :
    7th February, 1942, midday:

    It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors– but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch in the next 200 yearse will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity…. My regret will have been that I couldn’t… behold .”

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Do you have a citation for that? I can’t find it. I still wonder what was cut out, what the context was, what the point of the speech was.

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