Genetics, Determinism, and Free Will

By Gary Meredith

The objective reality of a universal moral code, binding on all people at all times and in all places, is an axiomatic, self-evident truth — that is, an accepted premise used to construct logical arguments for and against specific philosophical positions and human actions. Yet today there is widespread denial that such a moral code even exists, making moral arguments virtually impossible to construct while fueling the breakdown of societies which deny that premise. For convenience we'll refer to this denial as the atheist position or view.

The atheist argument is based on several false philosophical assumptions, including reductionism (all physical objects, including human beings, are nothing more than the sum of their physical parts), determinism (people have no free will, their choices are predetermined and inevitable), and naturalism (all events, including human thought and action, are the unavoidable result of, and completely controlled by, physical processes). To the atheist, genetics and chemical processes alone make our moral choices for us. Free will and individual moral responsibility are illusions.

As we'll see here, the atheist position is not logically defensible because it is self-refuting. It has been soundly demolished by brilliant theists and philosophers, especially CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Arthur Balfour and Mortimer Adler in the previous century, and continuously today by William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias and many others. They have proven the atheist argument to be self-refuting because atheists are forced to appeal to the "non-existent" moral code to build their case — a situation CS Lewis summed as a "rebellion of the branches against the trees." Those who hold the atheist view have the impossible task of defending other self-contradicting positions, including the following:

If genetics and chemical processes "make our choices for us," then I as a Christian cannot help believing in the moral code, nor can the atheist help disbelieving in it. Both views are determined by random chemical processes, not objective external standards to which we can both appeal in constructing a logical argument. Neither view can be true or false, valid or invalid, since both opposing views are the result of the same random processes. The atheist cannot claim he is "right" or the Christian "wrong" because, by his own premises, those terms have no meaning. No reasoned debate is possible, no issue has been joined, and no logical conclusion can be drawn since it would be the unavoidable result of random, mindless chemical processes in our own brains. The atheist position is so mistaken that, to again quote CS Lewis, it "does not rise to the dignity of error."

Even more fundamental, if the atheist is correct, then why do others' opinions about morals even matter? Why does anything matter to an atheist? His philosophy denies from the start the possibility of choices that are good or bad, better or worse, and therefore they can have no claim on our obedience to "ought" or "ought not." Everything is merely the random interaction of matter and energy which, according to the atheist, is neither good nor bad (contrary to Scripture, which calls everything God created "good," Genesis 1:31). Then on what possible grounds does the atheist find it preferable or desirable for Christians to admit they are wrong and he is right? Since atheists believe everything is without purpose or end, why do they then claim that there is any better or worse outcome of such a debate? From his Darwinian point of view, the debate isn't between two spiritual beings made in God's image for his glory (Genesis 1:26-27; 1 Peter 2:12; Daniel 12:3). Rather, it's an ultimately meaningless interaction between two accidentally assembled carbon-based life forms. So the atheist again falls into an absurd, self-contradicting trap, because his belief that people "ought" to accept what is true and reject what is false is based solely on an appeal to an objective moral standard that he denies exists.

Finally, the atheist position does not pass even the first test of truth: That which conforms to reason, common sense, and everyday experience, and which its opposite is impossible to accept. While not infallible, the test is a generally reliable starting point. Applying that test to the moral code, we see that (until recently) all human beings who are not monsters accepted certain standards of behavior as binding on our obedience, the principles or building blocks of moral philosophy, that we ought to do good rather than evil to ourselves and to others (Matthew 7:12). Tragically, modern education has helped create a morally disabled generation which often responds to questions of right or wrong with "Who's to say?" Yet a person who can't just "see" intuitively that, for example, it is always evil for a man to rape and murder a child is not a wise intellectual, but a moral idiot. We can hope our atheist opponent is better than his philosophy, but he can have no rational grounds for being so.

This debate is no mere intellectual exercise. The practical application of the atheist's philosophy is marked by the 20th Century's exponential increase in state-directed mass murder and wholesale human extermination. Whether or not the atheist participates, he cannot offer one rational argument against Nazi death camps, Soviet Gulags, Mao's slaughter of 60 million people, nor ISIS beheadings of Christians.

In our pluralistic Western society we may tolerate the morally disabled to hold their irrational views, but it is suicide to allow them to hold positions of influence and power in education, politics or culture. Such power makes the moral decline and breakdown of our civilization not only possible, but inevitable.

This should not be unexpected from a worldview that has no room for souls, virtue, love, noble deeds, good, evil, or any of the other values which actually drive nearly all human behavior. Everything can be explained, and explained away, enabling the atheist to "see through" all our delusions, right down to the cold hard reality of no God, no morals, no purpose — not in life, not in all the universe, not now or ever.

We may reasonably conclude that atheism is an irrational, soul-deadening philosophy leading to extreme intellectual, spiritual and moral poverty of the individual, and the suicide of the society which accepts it. Scripture reveals the inner state of the atheist leading to its outward display:

The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (Psalm 14:1) God answers, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:19, 25)

Image Credit: Lynn; "Butterfly Blue"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | False-Teaching

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Published 8-1-17