I just finished watching The Problem with Atheism by one of today’s premier philosophers – Jordan Peterson. While not a Christian per se, he is not an atheist either, and is friendly to much of our Western Christian heritage – make what you will of that. If you are philosophically minded, Peterson has a popular YouTube channel that is worth listening to. While the Apostle Paul warns us against philosophy, it can sometimes be useful as a tool to understand the mindset of today’s world, and be better armed to confront the errors in today’s society.
Coming back to the video, Peterson hits the nail on the head. While the Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias makes the same argument, Peterson’s is much more understandable by us with lesser minds than the great philosophers. His argument is thus: atheists think they can have to the same higher ethics and morality that have been passed down to us from the teachings of Christ, yet reject their origin as fantasy.
To understand what I just said, you must first understand what modern philosophers and atheists have been reaching for in the last couple of hundred years. Their reasoning and goal have been to reason out an ethical framework from nothing; that is the notion that man is an animal and thus no different than other any animal and thus subject to the same law of the jungle – kill or be killed; eat or be eaten.
Having grown up and benefited from a culture with Christian roots with its attendant morality, they find the law of the jungle, if extended to the realm of human affairs, to be repugnant. They know that much of our modern morality is good and needful, yet reject its basis. Their goal has therefore been to create the same standard of ethics while rejecting its foundation.
Nietzsche called this “overman“, and the Nazis attempted to implement it. We all know how that turned out. As a result of the complete failure of atheists to create a moral framework apart from the teachings of Christ, most are now in retreat of the notion. That is the reason we are in a post-modern period in our history. The modern period was the period ushered in by Nietzsche’s ideas. The Nazis having crushed the atheist fantasy, left man’s philosophy in shambles – as would be expected by any follower of Christ and the bible.
Coming back to the crux of Peterson’s argument, the fundamental error made by atheists was that they took Western society’s Christian heritage for granted. That is they thought they could build a rational framework of acceptable morality without acknowledging its origins. What they found was that without God’s law as a foundation, they could rise no higher than man eat man. Having benefited by the knowledge of ‘thou shalt not kill’, they realized that man eat man was repugnant. They could not have done so without having the benefit of God’s law first.
Amazingly, Nietzsche understood this truth. Perhaps his insanity was the result of not being able to produce anything better than the law of the animal kingdom. His hoped-for overman concept was just wishful thinking. Put another way, having glimpsed the glories of heaven, how can a man face the realities of hell?
Please expand on this idea in the comments.