Continuing on with my rebuttal to the Introduction to I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist:
The whole point of the Introduction chapter is to tell us that God is the box-top to the puzzle of life. The analogy they are trying to convey is two-fold:
1) When you are trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle, you refer to the picture on top of the box that the jigsaw puzzle came in to see what the completed puzzle looks like, thus you have an overall idea of what you are trying to do.
2) The puzzle box-top is what keeps the packaging all together - one box with a lid keeps all the little pieces together (which follows on from the 'unity in diversity' tripe from the page before).
The implications I think the authors are trying to draw here are that a) non-Christian religions have the wrong box top, thus getting an incorrect overall picture, and b) atheism has no box top, thus atheists are aimless.
This, combined with their imagined culture war against moral relativists (whoever and wherever they are), sets up a very big and convenient strawman - make atheists out to be people who don't believe in truth, imply they have no clue about life because they have faith in something nebulous and irrational, attack that atheism as if you have referenced and covered all atheists, then declare victory - "See, atheism doesn't make sense - but our God does!".
This is flawed reasoning, for a couple of reasons (aside from the complete mischaracterisation of atheism):
1. Let universities teach and let the philosophers waste paper.
The box-top analogy follows on from the assertion that 'unity in diversity' is what universities should actually be teaching (not this scholarly research and experimention crap) i.e. that when you go to university, what you learn there should be part of a wider field of unified scholarship that gives the answers to life itself (the box-top to life, you see).
Um, no (#1). When I went to university, I just wanted to know as much as I could handle about my chosen field. Why should I, studying mathematics, be forced to know how mathematics also ties in with what the physics, the economics or the liberal arts departments are teaching with regards to the philosophy of life.
If I want philosophy, I'll study philosophy, dammit.
Um, no (#2). Maybe in Christian universities, it is acceptable to railroad the students in to unifying their studies towards a greater political purpose, but ideally you want your studies to be as applicable as possible to the real world where not everyone will share your biases.
Wishful thinking at best. Hopelessly out of touch at worst.
2) Why does there have to be a box-top to life?
I don't quite get why Geisler & Turek think life needs an overarching picture, and why it is God of all things that gives the overarching picture.
This all reminds me of a theistic argument I once heard that God exists because there must be some sort of cosmic justice in the universe - the good guys must always win and the bad guys must always lose (even if this has to happen in the afterlife), only the Christian God is big enough to provide that cosmis justice - therefore God!
I'm sorry, but you don't just get to make stuff up just because you want it to be true. Your beliefs should be concordant with the best objective evidence available.
And the best evidence available shows that life is not some long-running episode of The Twighlight Zone where, no matter how bad and strange things get, there is an imaginary scriptwriter who ends the story with justice being served every time.
Any rational look at the genocides of the 20th and 21st century, or at the torture that Christians have inflicted on heretics during the last two millennia should put paid to this idea.
But it is this kind of wishful thinking that Geisler and Turek have delved in to - "There has to be a God tying all things together! Otherwise, life makes no sense!".
To Dr. Geisler and Mr. Turek, I say this - life has no scriptwriter - you have to write your own.
As a famous man once said, "The truth will set you free - but it may slap you in the face first".
3. The opposite of God is not nihilism.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, theists of all kinds (but particularly Christians) have it in their belief system that the moment you reject their theistic worldview, you automatically subscribe to a worldview that is nihilistic.
And what I mean by nihilistic is that:
a) Without moral absolutes you have no morals, therefore all the nasty things like rape, murder and torture are acceptable.
b) Life has no meaning, therefore you may as well die.
This, I find completely absurd, as well as factually incorrect. In response:
a) People of all walks of life have found reason to hurt and do harm to one another. Do I need to mention that the Catholic Church has been running a paedophile protection racket for decades? Do I need to mention the Puritans of the 1600's who were torturing people for thought crimes? Do I need to mention the human right violations that took place during the 1800's in the American South?
b) Life is what you make it. If you can't find a meaning to life, then you need to see a mental health professional.
From my personal experience, being an atheist has been liberating, not detrimental.
Until my next post, be good to each other and to yourself.