But, when people are 1) good-hearted, 2) philosophical, and 3) atheistic, they have no choice but to try. And the rationales tend to become a bit…complicated. To use as neutral a descriptor as I can.
Via Instapundit, the “Memorandum from the Devil“. It’s new to me, but danged if it’s not better than “The Screwtape Letters“. Lewis’s book was great, but it seemed to run long for the style and format and was tiring. “Memorandum” seems the perfect length.
The piece is ostensibly by Satan (actually Arthur Leff) to a moral but non-believing law professor who’s made a huge scholarly effort to address, well…
How does one tell, and tell about, the difference between right and wrong?
Prof. Unger wasn’t the first, of course, and of course he won’t be the last. And?
…it is not much to your discredit that your efforts to deal with it so spectacularly abort, for no one else has come up with a satisfactory solution, from the beginning of the world to the date hereof.
Where this 1970’s Unger differed from today’s Dawkins and Harrisses is that his mind was not totally closed. So much so that Mr. Unger ended his book with an honest invitation to “Speak, Lord.” For which he endured much mockey from the ivory tower crowd.
You make no vulgar enthusiast’s easy leap to conversation with the Almighty; to the contrary, it is the scratching of your clawing fingers as you try to keep from being dragged to that final pass…
Heh. I know that feeling.
Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” is where this ultimate trap was sprung on me. “How can human beings have good and bad, right and wrong, without a superhuman reference?”
Answer? We don’t. We can’t. How can my idea of right and wrong trump yours, if we’re both equally human?
You were trapped in…a Godel problem: how to validate the premises of a system from within itself.
Or: once you open a can of worms, you can’t put them back without a bigger can.
Don’t want to belabor stuff you’ve heard me spout before. Prof. Reynolds calls “MFTD” one of the best things he’s ever read, and it is an amazing work.