A Wall Street Journal columnist wrote a piece on Tuesday chastising atheistic scientists for being feeble in their defense of morality as he tried to intimate that they actually needed "god." Here's my letter in response to his article that I sent it today.
William McGurn is correct that God vs. science isn’t the real issue, but his misunderstanding of the rational nature of humans keeps him from identifying that the true issue alive today (and for millennia) is a more-fundamental irrationality vs. rationality, with the consequences being either subjectivism (personal-belief mantras divorced from the facts of reality) or objectivism (objective identification of facts) – and immorality or morality, respectively.
The subjectivists (those believing in “faith,” global warming, statist redistribution, altruism, multiculturalism, moral equivalence, relativism, etc.) never bother to investigate (via facts) the cultural and religious presuppositions they were reared on, thereby skeptically relegating humans to second-class citizens in the universe and in politics, as well as a perpetual ennui.
Though scientists don’t usually allow presumptions to get in the way of their science, they do allow their cultural presumptions against human efficacy to taint their generalizations about human rationality – and therefore morality. They implicitly agree with the subjectivists that there’s something wrong with humans or that humans have no ultimate control (because of alleged chemical reactions in the brain) over their lives. This makes Mr. McGurn’s apposition of the atheistic scientist and the God-ist a red herring because they are fundamentally in the same skeptical swamp.
The only alternative to these whimsical subjectivists is objectivity (or Objectivism, as Ayn Rand described her rational philosophy – and which Mr. McGrun must be quite familiar with). This is not the philosophy of commandments or cultural “consensus” or traditional presuppositions. It is a fact-based philosophy that explains and understands the nature of the universe (real, tangible, subject to laws), the nature of humans (rational, volitional), the nature of morality (objective conceptual laws guiding all human action toward rational goals aimed at human happiness), the nature of politics (rational laws proscribing all initiation of coercion against individuals and the establishment of a government whose sole duty is to ensure the protection of individual rights).
There is no ennui or existential dread or deathbed confession or whiny discomfort or oblique apology in the Objectivist. The morality is clear and exhilarating.
Mr. McGurn is right to hint at dementia in the modern village atheist, but both the irrational atheist and the irrational God-ist suffer from a form of insanity (being divorced from reality). Would that they would join the land of the rational living.