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Sunday, June 16, 2024
The Observer

Furthering the argument for Atheism

I am hoping we can continue this debate about the credibility of atheism and religion. I was hoping to ask my question about what authority the Bible has today, considering that it is supposed to be the Word of God, yet is clearly written by men seeking to further their agenda of repressing women and telling false tales. Such an example is the story of Jesus kicking the merchants out of the temple, which was explained to me in my Fundamentals of Theology class as entirely impossible since he would have been murdered on the spot for such behavior. Some may argue that the Bible has to be reinterpreted for each generation and each group of people, yet doesn't this picking-and-choosing behavior disagree with the theory that it is the Word of God? How can we reconcile these concerns?
I also wanted to present my counter to Dr. D'Souza's assertion that morality cannot be a reasonable product of the evolution of humans. He described that altruistic behavior which does not directly benefit us does not make sense in light of what evolution would be more likely to produce. According to him, selfishness would be the best survival mechanism for humans. I disagree. Humans underwent a transition many years ago from small groups of hunter-gatherers to settle into agricultural societies. This creation of long-lasting societies necessitated the development of a moral code to ensure the society would prosper. An example is the members of society agreeing to not rob each other's houses. If each person took interest in theft, then the members of the society would have to invest resources and time into protecting themselves against crime. Rather than wasting a tremendous amount of resources protecting oneself, the members of the community agree to not commit crimes. Today this attitude persists, where only a small percentage of the population and are often punished for such behavior.
In addition, this altruistic behavior is most apparent in the existence and proliferation of people with genetic diseases, some of which are deadly or debilitating. Evolution on Darwin's terms argues that such people should not live long nor reproduce, yet clearly something about human nature and technology has allowed these people to do just the opposite. Therefore I argue that morality is a product of evolution because living in societies is the better way for humans to reproduce and expand our territory, and we do not require a divine provider of morals to explain this. I do recognize that when two different societies do battle, the victor is not determined by the strength of the moral code, but by the number of fighters and technology.
I want to extend my utmost gratitude to the coordinators of this event, as well as to Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza for an absolutely astounding debate. However, for anyone seeking the best answer to all of the questions one can have on this topic, I highly recommend Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." For anyone unwilling to read the book, the answer is 42.

Deborah Olmstead
April 7

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.