Most atheists in the West are captains of whatever endeavor they are involved in. For the most part they are great students, superb artisans, conscious medical professionals and passionate champions of what they think is right and just.
But what is right and just?
For the atheist’s endeavors as a student, right and just is excellent academic performance which yields an A.
For the atheist artisan (guitar maker in this case) an beautiful, sonorous musical instrument is right and just.
For the atheist brain surgeon what is right and just is the daily pyrotechnic display of technique, knowledge and artistry that lead to healing, healthy patients.
And who could not agree?
Universal agreement is possible in these cases because of a shared, common, objective standard of what is right and just.
But what about rightness and justice with regard to non-physical concepts like morality?
Witnessing the rightness and justice of great students, artisans and surgeons in action is easy compared to examining whether economic or political policies are effective (right and just).
This is because with the complex systems that make up civil society so much remains open to personal opinion with regard to what is right and just even with a shared, common, objective standard of what is right and just.
The purpose of this post is to demonstrate that with regard to the moral needs of civil society (what is right and just), atheism is futile. And for that we look back into Antiquity, a time long ago when philosophers worked out the basic moral foundations of civil society in Christian Western Civilization.
First up is Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher whose tour de force, “The Republic,” examines the nature of the soul using the Greek city-state as an analogy of the soul. Plato makes clear that man must reason his way toward the truth through dialog and prodigious contemplation.
During the dialog Socrates reasons is way to “the good” which is the form or idea which is the source of reality. Nearly a 1000 years later in late Antiquity, Christians would complete Plato’s contemplation of “the good” with the understanding that “the good” is actually God.
God, the source of reality became the universal standard of what is right and just during the first centuries of what became Christian Western Civilization.
Next up is Moses who lived about 1000 years before Plato.
The biblical literature attributed to Moses provides the foundation for Christianity. In the Bible book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, Moses transmits to mankind the universal moral standard given by God. This universal moral standard is called The Law and boils down to a list of rules which govern personal conduct.
Here we see that what is right and just begins with the individual and that The Law applies to everyone equally. What is right and just begins with the individual which is a thread common to both “The Republic” and the Bible.
In Deuteronomy Chapter 6, Moses exhorts the Jews to ponder or contemplate the meaning and implications of The Law. Moses’ exhortation to the contemplation of what is right and just is in common with Plato’s admonition to his readers to do the same.
In his letter to the Romans (5:13), Saint Paul issues forth with slam dunk Greco-Roman reasoning based on the teachings of Moses:
“Now, it is only where there is a law to transgress that guilt is imputed…”
That is, knowledge of what is right and just is only possible if there exists a common, universal, objective standard (The Law).
Clearly, the Christian understanding of what is right and just is not a product of religious dogma but of much thinking and reflection.
Finally, are the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Upon examining the Gospels in context with the rest of the Bible we come to understand that Jesus was steeped like strong tea in the teachings of Moses and the Wisdom books of the Bible. That means that Jesus was transmitting moral standards based on The Law given by God to Moses.
And keeping to Hebrew tradition, Jesus taught using the parable. And Jesus used the tool of sound reasoning when conversing with those around him.
The parable requires much thought and contemplation on the part of the listener. This method of teaching used by Jesus along with sound reasoning indicate that comprehension of what is right and just requires rational thought and contemplation.
Jesus also began each of his miracles with a short dialog with those people involved with the miracle. Also seen centuries later with Plato, the dialog produces literature that lives and breaths and meets the reader exactly where and when he is.
In conclusion, Western Civilization is the result of thousands of years of contemplation of a particular, universal, objective moral standard given to mankind by God, “the good” who is the source of reality.
Atheism is futile simply because it requires the rejection of the existence of God.
For only from God can come a universal, objective moral standard by which to understand what is right and just.
That means atheism requires the rejection of what is right and just.
Logically then, futile atheism hearkens back to a brutal, uncivilized world where justice was always the advantage of the strong.