Marvin Olasky has a brief review of Michael Ruse’s new book A Meaning to Life. Don’t be fooled by the title, since according to Ruse there is no meaning to life
Michael Ruse’s A Meaning to Life (Oxford, 2019) begins with atheistic honesty: “You are born. You live. Then you die. If you don’t think so, then you should! We come from an eternity of oblivion. We return to an eternity of oblivion.” … He quotes William James in 1902: “We are all such helpless failures in the last resort.” He jumps to Albert Camus, 1942: There “is but one truly serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.”
Ruse, even seeing the futility of writing about life’s meaning, quotes David Hume’s musings: “I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends. And when, after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.”
And yet, 100 pages later, Ruse is still at it, trying to see if “Darwinism as religion” will satisfy. He concludes “this is a bleak world indeed.”…
Atheism is a dark and bleak world. It offers no meaning or ultimate purpose. It is the dead-end of all dead ends.
R.C. Sproul has written, “the existence of God is the supreme proto-supposition for all theoretical thought. God’s existence is the chief element in constructing any worldview. To deny this chief premise is to set one’s sails for the island of nihilism. This is the darkest continent of the darkened mind—the ultimate paradise of the fool.”1.
Ruse is not alone.
Dr. Jerry Coyne is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology. His atheist beliefs are bizarre by even atheist standards. Consider the following if you have planned any New Year’s resolutions:
There’s not much downside to abandoning the notion of free will. It’s impossible, anyway, to act as though we don’t have it: you’ll pretend to choose your New Year’s resolutions, and the laws of physics will determine whether you keep them.
And there are two upsides. The first is realizing the great wonder and mystery of our evolved brains, and contemplating the notion that things like consciousness, free choice, and even the idea of “me” are but convincing illusions fashioned by natural selection.
Further, by losing free will we gain empathy, for we realize that in the end all of us, whether Bernie Madoffs or Nelson Mandelas, are victims of circumstance — of the genes we’re bequeathed and the environments we encounter. With that under our belts, we can go about building a kinder world.
Coyne is a critic of all anti-evolution belief systems, including creationism, theistic evolution, and intelligent design, which he calls “the latest pseudoscientific incarnation of religious creationism, cleverly crafted by a new group of enthusiasts to circumvent recent legal restrictions.” Coyne is an atheist.
In USA Today Coyne wrote the article “Why You Really Don’t Have Free Will”: “Our brains are simply meat computers that, like real computers, are programmed by our genes and experiences to convert an array of inputs into a predetermined output.”
Computers made of metal, plastic, silicon, and carbon have to be designed, built, and programmed. Coyne does believe in intelligent design when it comes to computers, but he does not believe in intelligent design when it comes to the brain (mind) that designed, built, and programmed the computer. Computers do not evolve on their own.
So the question is, How did our genes get programmed to do anything?
Coyne goes on to write:
[W]e are biological creatures, collections of molecules that must obey the laws of physics. All the success of science rests on the regularity of those laws, which determine the behavior of every molecule in the universe. Those molecules, of course, also make up your brain — the organ that does the “choosing.”
If I were the Cleveland kidnapper who held women (nothing but bags of meat and bones animated by electricity)2 as sex slaves for more than 10 years, I would call on Dr. Coyne to testify for me at my trial.
Computers don’t know anything about morality. So how does a meat computer of a brain know the difference between right and wrong? Actually, how does a “meat computer” conceptualize the categories of right and wrong? How does an atheist like Coyne account for morality given the fact that the only things (which aren’t really things) we must obey are the “laws of physics”?
Physics is not about morality. “Physics … involves the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force.” Physics has nothing to say about whether it’s right to steal material things or how we should use “energy and force” in an ethical way. Physics can study the restraints Ariel Castro used to bind his kidnapped victims, but it can’t say that what he did with those restraints was moral or immoral.
“Everything that you think, say, or do,” Coyne claims, “must come down to molecules and physics.”
This is a perfect lead-in to preparing a defense for the man being charged with kidnapping and sexual abuse. What laws of physics did he violate? Not one. Coyne again:
“Decisions’ . . . aren’t conscious ones. And if our choices are unconscious, with some determined well before the moment we think we’ve made them, then we don’t have free will in any meaningful sense.”
Castro was directed by his unconscious genetic mechanism. His meat machine of a brain had determined what was going to happen before the action took place. Castro’s body followed the instructions of the agitation of molecules in his brain.
Sometimes those molecules agitated to feed the female meat machines and sometimes they were agitated to rape them. Physics can’t say that either one of those actions is moral or immoral.
A physics or biology teacher could make the case that both feeding and raping are ways to perpetuate the human species. Keep the female receptacles alive so their reproduction chambers can reproduce offspring.
Were the aliens in the Alien film-trilogy really monsters that should have been exterminated? They were only doing what their genes had programmed them to do via evolutionary development that took a different course from human evolutionary development. Like Mr. Castro, the Aliens were using humans as receptacles for their offspring. Both species evolved according to the “laws of physics and biology.” Who’s to say that what they were doing with competing but inferior meat machines with meat computers for brains was morally wrong? Not only can’t anyone hear you scream in space, there’s no one anywhere in the cosmos to hear any question about morality.
Who’s really teaching pseudoscience? It’s Dr. Coyne. Who’s making it easier for people like Ariel Castro to justify his actions? It’s Dr. Coyne’s meat computer analogy.
The molecules in Ariel Castro’s brain made him kidnap, rape, and torture.
Here’s how Coyne concludes his article:
“[B]y losing free will we gain empathy, for we realize that in the end all of us, whether Bernie Madoffs or Nelson Mandelas, [or the Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro] are victims of circumstance — of the genes we’re bequeathed and the environments we encounter. With that under our belts, we can go about building a kinder world.”
Mindless molecules and the laws of physics don’t know a thing about “empathy” or kindness. Ariel Castro was just following his genetic makeup.
Dr. Leon Kass, the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the College and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, said the following:
We have paid some high prices for the technological conquest of nature, but none so high as the intellectual and spiritual costs of seeing nature as mere material for our manipulation, exploitation and transformation. With the powers of biological engineering gathering, there will be splendid new opportunities for similar degradation of our view of man…If we come to see ourselves as meat, then meat we shall become. (Leon Kass, “Making Babies — The New Biology and the ‘Old’ Morality,” Childbirth: Changing Ideas and Practices in Britain and America 1600 to the Present, ed. Phillip K. Wilson (Taylor & Francis Ltd., 1996), 147.)).
If we are meat machines and our brains are meat computers, then it’s not illogical to conclude according to partial-birth abortion “doctor” LeRoy Carhart that an unborn baby is like “meat in a Crock-Pot.” The long-term consequences of brains, bodies, and babies are that in the end that we are nothing more than meat machines that have no intrinsic value. If this is so, and science tells us as much, then in the future there will never be a valid moral argument against genocide.