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Can Ontological Discrimination Be Justified?

Vjack of Atheist Revolution asked his Twitter followers whether they thought atheism was a choice. Most responded that it wasn’t; rather, it was a conclusion reached after the analysis of the available data. They didn’t consciously choose atheism; they arrived at it naturally.

So atheism is part of their ontology. To that, Vjack says:

Suppose we decide that one’s initial discarding of theism and one’s continued lack of belief in gods are not conscious decisions and instead reflect one’s appraisal of the available data. This has a number of important implications. For starters, it would make anti-atheist bigotry even less tenable. If atheism was not something one chose, bigotry directed at atheists would indeed resemble anti-gay bigotry or even racism and would be equally difficult to justify. (source)

This presupposes that ontology is inherently good, and that something considered a part of one’s basic nature can’t be bad or harmful by definition. That’s faulty reasoning.

Addictive patterns of behavior are known to be inherent to one’s ontology. Heart disease is often caused internally. Certain folks are predisposed to types of cancer. These things are all hardwired into DNA; i.e., they are inherent to the nature of the person. Is anyone going to try to argue that those things are good, despite their origins?

Of course not. So why would we just automatically assume that homosexuality or atheism is good just because it is in the person’s nature to be that way? No one would try to argue that alcoholism, compulsive gambling, cancer, or heart disease are good things even though they are also part of a person’s nature.

Why, then, is atheism good just because it is in someone’s nature?

As an aside, my previous post took a look at the errors of Mike from Finding Bliss in regard to Calvinism. Experential evidence, though typically disregarded by atheists as proof of God, can be helpful in worldview debates. What we see here is an example of predestination at work: the unbelievers have convinced themselves that there is no evidence for God, and are therefore justifying their lack of belief by crying, “It’s my nature!”

Of course it is! First and foremost, humans are bonded to sin. It’s inescapable, and Vjack has perfectly illustrated it right there. Though this blog post points it out, it will not be regarded as evidence validating my Reformed worldview by any atheist.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on July 19, 2010, in Sin and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. “First and foremost, humans are bonded to sin.”

    That, in a nut-shell, is the problem right there. Because in the atheist universe this simply isn’t so. However, “sin”, as the rudimentary concept of something being wrong, still exists there, but are defined by different sets of ontological ethical arguments (for example desirism that focus on the harm of actions based on desires). Atheists don’t base their ethical foundations on cultural baggage or ancient writings in books or dogmatic rules or doctrine, they adopt to what’s causing actual harm to their context (society), not imagined harm (sin).

    Oh, and I’m not sure you use the word ontology right. Ontology in itself can’t be good or bad, it’s just a defined semantic platform from which meaning can be derived by humans. Just like what’s in our DNA in itself can’t be good or bad, the result from them can be.

    Also, your definition of “evidence” seems dodgy; “the unbelievers have convinced themselves that there is no evidence for God.” In common language, evidence is something you can show others to prove your point (and the scientific version is a bit more rigid than that). You cannot show anyone experiential stuff as evidence for anything, all you can do is make an anecdotal claim which may or may not be tested for authenticity. In fact, you should yourself be careful of experiential stuff; the distance between truth and your experience of that truth can often be surprisingly long.

    “Why, then, is atheism good just because it is in someone’s nature?”

    When we speak of what’s natural we specifically talk about stuff that are driven by natural forces as opposed to subjective or higher forces. Just like gravity – the ebb and flow between the strong and weak atomic force – create perfect ellipses and create planetary systems (and we understand these forces very well), if homosexuality is natural it simply can’t be a sin which is driven by other forces. And if we look to the animal kingdom homosexuality seems to be flourishing. Same with sex for recreation and social binding. The more we learn about nature, unaffected by sin (unless you want to jump through a couple of exegesis hoops), the more it looks that homosexuality simply isn’t a sin. Maybe homosexuality defined as sin in the bible is on par with the bible’s endorsement of slavery, the devaluation of women, and the smallest of seeds; humans writing the bible (or, for Christians, corrupting Gods words with their own) and err on the side of not having enough knowledge at the time, putting their bigotry into the text to justify being arseholes.

    • I think you’re hitting the reason that most of our dialogue is talking past each other. The atheist denies the existence of sin. See, sin affects everything, all of creation. I’m not jumping through “exegesis hoops” to claim such a thing. What we see of nature is not nature as God intended it, but is nature corrupted by sin.

      Even if nature isn’t tainted by sin, nature still only describes things as they are, not as they ought to be (the good). What you seem to be doing is arbitrarily looking at nature for some clues to the good, while looking away from nature when you don’t like what you see.

      For example, you assert that homosexuality and sex for pleasure are rampant through nature. Therefore, you are concluding that these aren’t bad things. What you are ignoring is the complementarian design of the male-female anatomy, and the necessity of male-female copulation to propagate the species. The whole point of evolution is for the genes to pass themselves on, generation to generation to generation, so that the advantageous ones survive and become more prevalent within the population. Homosexuality doesn’t allow for this to happen, so it can’t be a worthy trait to endorse by natural selection.

      I’m all for sex for pleasure, but sex with a multitude of non-monogamous partners (which is what we see in the animal kingdom) opens the door for some very nasty diseases to infect the population and thin the herd considerably. Natural selection, therefore, wouldn’t want to favor this trait because of the dire consequences that it brings.

      However, what about the tendency of some animals to eat their young when threatened? What about instinctually leaving the weak, old, or injured to be eaten by the predators in order to protect the rest of the herd? If we look at the tendency of animals to practice homosexuality and unmitigated sexual intercourse for clues to the good, why don’t we also look at those other examples as clues to the good?

      Therefore, the Bronze Age barbarians who penned the evil text now called the Bible forbade both homosexuality and sex outside of marriage. Bigots. Have they no understanding of anything? No wonder you Bible critics think them ignorant, unwashed, and destructive to modern society.

      Of course, as the theist, I look solely to God for the good. God, who is outside of nature and untainted by sin, is the good. I don’t need to selectively look at the traits of God that I like while ignoring what I dislike, which is how you look at nature for the good.

      Conclusion: You may not believe in God, or in what I just said about God, but if you’re sincerely looking for the good, please don’t look to nature. Clearly, the good cannot be a part of nature since there is so much injustice within. The good must exist apart from nature; that is only logical.

  2. It’s not to non-believers to demonstrate that their stance is not wrong, it’s to believers to demonstrate that it is wrong…and you have a good point about natural tendencies, I think psychopaths (or sociopaths, not sure) are a good example of a inborn trait that is “not good”…

  3. The entire purpose of your blog, Cory, seems to be to pick apart the views of atheists. This is pointless, of course, but you seem to be unaware of that. Rather than finding fault with those who do not accept your religion and share your belief, why don’t you show us why you think accepting your religion and sharing your belief is a superior position? Because right now, it seems that you’re simply angry because there are people out there who don’t agree with you. That, in fact, is extremely common among Christians. Why is that? Why must EVERYONE embrace Christianity? Isn’t it enough that it works for YOU? If Christianity is such a positive, transformative belief, then what has it done for you? Because frankly, Cory, your blog seems to suggest that all it’s done is to make you angry that everyone doesn’t agree with you.

    • This is ironic for several reasons.

      One: The tone of this comment is angry. That impugns your credibility.

      Two: While it has been rare as of late, I do go after heresies within Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Pelagianism, the views expressed on the Human Jesus Theology blog, and the bad marriage of science and theology found on the Geocreationism blog (sorry Mike; no other way to describe it!). I also have interacted with Steve Hays of Triablogue on masturbation. I have a series of posts defining and defending Calvinism, and I have two e-books on the way on that issue; one an amalgam of my previous posts revised and updated, and the other essays from learned men other than me on the five points of Calvinism. Just prior to making this comment, I posted on worldview issues not related to atheism. On either side of the very post, in fact, I take a Christian to task for misunderstanding Calvinism. On July 15, the post entitled “Religious Bigotry” is a worldview post not specifically related to atheism. Very few articles under my Articles tab relate to atheism. Most are general apologetics or worldview issues. Making this point in your comment shows that you really haven’t looked at much of my writings, just what I’ve been posting as of late.

      Three: You run a blog called God is for Suckers. Why would I attempt to convert you to a belief in theism? You’ve made up your mind, quite obviously. No dialogue with you is imminent. I write for those on the fence, trying to show them that belief in God is reasonable, despite all of the invective from atheists out there.

      Four: “If Christianity is such a positive, transformative belief, then what has it done for you?” I used to try that tack when I was a green apologist and had never ventured into the shark-infested waters of atheism. When I tried it, I got blasted up one side and down the other with such scathing insights as, “Why would God do that for you, but not save any of the starving children in Africa?” I know better now. I offer personal testimony only for the edification of other believers, and I do not share the transformations God has enacted in my life with people like you (see Mt 7:6).

      Finally, it is most certainly not enough that Christianity works for me. God has commanded all people to repent and turn to him, and has charged Christians with the mission of preaching his word to the unbelieving masses. I take that command seriously, and that is the point of this blog. If you believe for one second that I think that all will come to a saving faith in God, then you have no understanding of Calvinism. Or Christian theology in general, for that matter.

  4. Cory wrote: The tone of this comment is angry.

    I’m afraid you’re engaging in some Freudian projection, Cory. There is nothing about my comment — or me — that’s angry. If you see anger, then you are bringing it with you. I think it’s fair to point out, though, that your response, and your entire blog — every post — is angry. I will not say, however, that your credibility is impugned by your anger, because it’s impugned by so many other things.

    Cory wrote: You run a blog called God is for Suckers.

    No, I do not. That blog has been around for years. Earlier this year, I was asked to contribute to it. I have absolutely nothing to do with the administration of that blog. I agreed to contribute, although I did not care much for the name of the blog. I have been involved in the changing of that name. The blog has moved and is now ATHEIST OASIS: A REFUGE OF REASON. I strongly suggest, Cory, that you do a little research into the topic you’re discussing. Ultimately, it’s much less embarrassing.

    Cory wrote: I offer personal testimony only for the edification of other believers, and I do not share the transformations God has enacted in my life with people like you (see Mt 7:6).

    Ah, yes, there’s some of that Christian love to which I’ve become so accustomed. Naked arrogance is inherent in all religion, and Christianity is no exception. Use a phrase like “people like you” in conversation with a Christian and they go through the roof. But they feel perfectly comfortable talking to nonbelievers like that because they believe themselves to be imbued with a superiority that allows it.

    You’ll have to excuse me, but I don’t recognize the bible as any kind of authority on anything, so quoting it to me or referring me to it is yet another evasion. If you can’t have a discussion without doing that, then you can’t expect to be taken seriously by anyone who doesn’t recognize it. I have conversations with people, not a book.

    Cory wrote: I take that command seriously,

    That one, yes. Not so much all the others. The bible as smorgasboard. I’ve often thought the bible should be equipped with a sneeze guard, like the salad bar it is.

    Cory wrote: If you believe for one second that I think that all will come to a saving faith in God,

    Once again, you’re responding to something I didn’t say. It’s very annoying.

    Cory wrote: then you have no understanding of Calvinism. Or Christian theology in general, for that matter.

    Don’t make the mistake — as so many Christians do — of assuming I have no understanding of your beliefs. I’m very familiar with Calvinism and deeply, intimately familiar with Christianity. I also know the Holy Horror Novel better than the great majority of Christians I encounter. Just as I’m familiar with the slippery argument techniques they use — it’s like trying to play golf with a live eel as a club.

  5. SIN: is when someone breaks the rules/traditions/ laws of their social group. I remember when my own grandmother thought the rapture was surely going to come soon, and god would destroy this evil earth because…Sears catalog was actually showing drawing of bras.
    Obviously what was considered a sin generations ago is not considered so today. Cory has confused the definition with biblical laws. Although, I’m quite sure Cory does not believe all the long list of items in the bible classifies as sins, or should be dealt with through this book’s suggested punishments. I believe we have laws against most of the bible’s recommended tortures for those who disobey. Cory also denies any natural/divine purpose to same sex pairing. It is clearly obvious that nature’s most destructive problems are a direct result of overpopulation.If I was mother nature, I’d be churning out non breeders as fast as possible.
    I am also amazed how selective Cory’s understanding of human history is concerning sexually transmitted disease. Christian conquerors virtually wiped out the indigenous population of South America with syphilis. You are terribly misinformed, Cory if you believe AIDS has anything to do with being homosexual. It is the greatest killer of women and children in many parts of Africa- and the disease- I assure you- was not caused by gay sex, nor cares one whit about anyone’s idea of religion.

  6. Atheism is not hardwired into anyone’s DNA. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have so many religions. It is the result of learning and thinking. If you burn your hand on a hot stove, you learn something, and you tend not to put your hand on a hot stove again. Those of us who are born into a religion (which, by the way, makes up 85% of Christians according to the finding of two Christian researchers) have a choice — believe what we’re told and ask no questions, or ask those questions and seek out answers. When we choose the latter, we find that religion and its claims do not hold up. Atheism is nothing more than asking questions, seeking answers and rejecting myth and superstition in favor of facts.

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