I’ve claimed several times (on Victor Reppert’s “Dangerous Idea” blog, as Ilion can attest to, and most recently on John C. Wright’s blog) that an intellectually honest atheism implies belief in a meaningless universe. Mr. Wright challenged me on this point.
This is an interesting one because I think, for once, a lot of people there may actually agree with me, though they’ll probably be quiet about it.
In any case, Wright’s initial argument:
I moreover submit it is as easy to deduce the existence of an objective moral code, even absent the supernatural, as it is to deduce the existence of logic itself.
The argument in both cases is the same. In order to deduce whether or not logic is useful, one must use logic. Hence, it is inescapable, part of the human condition outside of which no human can step, not even for the brief moment it takes to ask a hypothetical question. Likewise, in order to deduce whether or not morality is objective, one must face the question with the honesty, humility, and perfect integrity of a philosopher, that is, one must adhere to at least these moral imperatives. Again, it is inescapable.
Nothing in the above argument presupposes the existence of a god or gods. Hence I submit that it is possible to deduce the existence of rules of logic and rule of morality that govern all men, all life. And if rules of morality exist, virtue and vice exist, are meaningful terms, and apply to real objects and events.
A meaningful life is one lived according to virtue. Hence, if virtue exists, life can be meaningful, even for an atheist.
I appreciate that Mr. Wright has enough respect for me to take the statement seriously. Here is my response:
I’m not sure why a meaningful life is one lived according to virtue. I decide I want to live my life as a career criminal, the dramatic Flambeau from the Fr. Brown stories (which I started reading yesterday, and for those who don’t know he is a world class criminal on the run for many years). I know there is a right and wrong, I just don’t care. Why should I?
I’m just not getting how the existence of objective morality means it matters in any meaningful way in an atheistic universe. Ultimately we’re all going to stop existing anyway, right? So I kill a few men on the way there. I’m not caught, so who cares?