Monday Musings for September 11, 2017

Good morning, Musers,

I absolutely loved the movie The Matrix. It tapped into our cognitive insecurities. For instance, have you ever had the experience where you feel you are watching yourself live your life rather than actually living it? Well, here’s the thing: we can’t prove that’s wrong… because there is no way to test alternate realities. As such, it is possible that we are just brains in a vat… and that we are being stimulated so that we have the illusion of self-awareness and the illusion of living a life… and that we are not living our lives in real-time as we suppose ourselves to be. Naturalist materialists tap into this idea, but is this a properly basic assumption for life? I have a way to test that.

When you pat yourself down in the morning mumbling, “phone, wallet, keys…” do you also take a moment to assess if you are living an actual life before you leave the house… and if you don’t, I’m not surprised… you probably don’t test to see that the strong nuclear force is working today either. You see, even though it is possible that we might be experiencing an illusory life rather than a real one, it is not a properly basic assumption. So, when we assume the obvious — that life is real… and we just go about our day — that speaks louder than any postulations to the contrary. Yet naturalist materialists like Dr. Robert Sapolsky insist that life is like the Matrix.

Materialists insist that our self-awareness is illusory. They say that undirected chemical processes are sufficient to explain every aspect of our experiences — including those feelings of self-awareness. Under this moist-machine paradigm, our self-awareness is a mere artifact of these chemical systems. But if this is true, then our behavior is chemically or atomically determined… and therefore, free will does not exist. But if free will does not exist, then neither does morality.

But people sense that morality exists… and people sense that they have an essential-self beyond the body-self… and we call that self “the soul.” The soul is the seat of the human conscience, and this is where an individual’s morality lives… but there’s more. Not only are we collectively moral as a people, but morality itself also transcends the universe in the person of God — the one who breathed this soulishness into our bodies in the first place… and mind/body dualism has been the properly basic assumption about the nature of our existence ever since Adam.

I take heart that the materialists will not likely convince a majority of the world’s population that self-awareness and morality are illusions. That’s so counter-intuitive. But let me be clear about the potential for harm. In the absence of God, people will still justify their actions through morality. It just won’t be the good kind; it will be the subjective kind.

Before the Soviet era, Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov, which explored the possibility that even patricide might be justified. The basis for this idea is often quoted as “… without God, everything is permitted” … and this is true. In a world without God, anyone can invent a “good reason” for killing people and present that idea as moral… and there are no limits save the limits of human depravity.

In the 20th century, communist regimes killed between 21 and 70 million people (depending on who and how you are counting), and these killings were done for “the greater good.” You see, since these killings weren’t arbitrary, they were purposeful… and therefore moral. It’s just that they were not moral in the way most of us would like — and that’s the problem. Any morality that is not God-based will be subjective, and... well… you’ve met people.

That’s the world naturalism offers us — one where people call good bad and bad good with impunity… and that’s the world I’ll explore today. There is no lack of ideas on this topic — and many equally credentialed people hold mutually exclusive ideas. So the issue is, to whom should we listen… and why? But I adjure you to do our own thinking on this… and today’s musing highlights some of the issues. Enjoy.

To read the article referenced above, visit the link below.

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