“God: The Failed Hypothesis” Review: Living In The Godless Universe

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to go through the final chapter of Victor Stenger’s book “God: The Failed Hypothesis” looking at the chapter on living in a godless universe. Don’t expect blogs tomorrow or Saturday night. I’ll be at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics. When I return I plan on a final summary.

How is an atheist like Stenger to live? (I find this interesting. If this is the way we all naturally are, why not just go with the song and just “act naturally”) Well, Stenger thinks apparently that he has to explain how to live. In a sense, he does, since life ultimately will have no meaning. However, let’s see what he says in this chapter.

He early on tells of theories about a God module in the brain or a God gene. My problem with this is that even if such was the case, that says nothing about the truthfulness or falsity of the belief. This also gets into Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism. If evolution gave us the belief in religion to help us survive, then why should we not believe the same now? It is not about true beliefs then. It would be evolution is helping atheists like Stenger survive now, but we have no way of knowing if that belief is true. The only way is to look beyond the brain. Could we have a God module? Sure. I’m open to it. It doesn’t affect God’s existence either way.

He also says that if religion is a naturally evolved trait, we have an argument against God. How? No reason is given. Could it be that if God used evolution, he arranged it so that our brains would work in such a way that we would come to believe in him? If that is the case, could it be the atheists are the ones then with the faulty brains? Evolutionary belief in God could then be an argument against God. Of course, the atheist could counter that our brains are meant to give us true beliefs, but then he is bringing teleology into the picture and where does he get that from?

He goes on to condemn Justice Scalia for the belief that government gets its authority from God saying that Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence was a deist and not a Christian.

And the point is?

Even deists believed that God was a necessary foundation for morality. Jefferson would have agreed with Scalia on that point.

Stenger also says most Americans believe the constitution is a living document that evolves as society evolves and tells us Scalia sees that as a fallacy. He says “For him, the text is fixed in meaning what it always meant.”

Well geez. You know what? That kind of makes sense. Maybe Stenger I should just say the Bible doesn’t mean what you say it means and call it a living document, or could it be you think the meaning of the text is in the text? Maybe a few years from now, I can call your book a living book and say it was written as an argument for theism in that it was a mock atheist apologist work.

Stenger even goes on to say that if slavery which was not forbidden in the Constitution still existed today, Scalia would probably vote against its abolition. This is simply an ad hominem that is entirely tasteless for someone wanting to produce a serious argument.

He finally says that Scalia believes that God rules over a society that must remain unchanged because change implies perfection in the original creation.

I have no idea where he gets this stuff…..

When asking about charitable giving, Stenger says that perhaps religious people who give would just give anyway. “Perhaps.” In other words, “Let’s just hope that that’s true because it fits in with our conceptions of the world even if there is no evidence for it.” When a Christian does that, it’s blind faith. When an atheist does it, it’s good science.

As for meaning, Stenger says that what happens now is what matters. Okay. Why? Why should this block of time be more important than the next? Why should tomorrow matter less than today and why should yesterday also matter yes. This present moment matters. For what? For what purpose?

We are told that Aristotle believed that the life of contemplation was the best because that matches those of the gods. Stenger says he supposes that he wasn’t thinking of the gods in the Iliad.

Well, no. All you have to do is read Aristotle to find he was a monotheist and he got darn close to the Judeo-Christian idea of God. You know Stenger? The one you’ve been railing against?

Stenger also tells us of the advice of Peter Singer of “We can live a meaningful life by working towards goals that are objectively worthwhile.” Who says they are? Why should I believe any goal is objectively worthwhile?

Overall, there really isn’t much that Stenger offers that isn’t simply self-help that could be true for anyone. I as a Christian could agree with much of it. I do think it’s more difficult for an atheist who accepts that as “good” without any basis.

We shall conclude Sunday.

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