I think subjectivity is the main weak spot in atheist armor. Atheism works only with objective reality and as soon as personal biases come into play logic loses its power. Problem is, atheists never admit their own subjectivity and behave as if they are free from all imperfections. We can exploit this, I believe.
They might not admit their own weaknesses but they are very good at spotting them in others. All we have to do is extend this universal law of imperfections to the observer himself. We have to argue that they are not special and make them think of the implications of this.
It was Śrīla Prabhupāda’s trusty opener – human attempts at acquiring knowledge are always covered by four faults and therefore we must accept Kṛṣṇa, the Infallible, as the source of absolutely perfect wisdom. Our senses are imperfect, we tend to make mistakes in our logical chains, we tend to cheat, and what’s the forth one? I guess unreliable memory. This is obvious and there’s nothing to argue there so Śrīla Prabhupāda usually quickly moved forward but I don’t think this argument ever sinks with modern day atheists.
They are too arrogant to admit it refers to them and generally approach debates with atheists with the goal to prove it’s the religious people who are covered with faults. Freedom from faults leads to atheism, they’d argue, which is exactly opposite of what we intend to prove ourselves. We say people are flawed and therefore we need to accept God. They say people accept God precisely because they are flawed. God is not a solution, concept of God is proof of human weakness.
We need another approach here. We can either address the logical step towards accepting a perfect source of knowledge, who is Kṛṣṇa, or we can argue against the idea that flawless logic is ever possible. In their view it is but science needs more time to apply it. We can argue that “more time” is not the solution and for that we need to bring the picture of the universe and our place in it, even according to their understanding, not Bhāgavatam’s.
This big picture is the one I had in mind when I started on subjectivity. We are not objective observers, we are part and parcel of universe and we obey universal laws. We cannot claim freedom without awarding ourselves a transcendental status. We either obey natural laws or we transcend them, which should be impossible in an atheist universe.
In reality we are kind of both, because we are transcendental souls covered by material bodies, but science does not accept existence of the soul and with soul we lose our transcendence. They can’t award transcendence to the bodies or even to the brains. They can’t argue that consciousness is confined to brainwork and then speak of it as if it’s outside of physical laws – because that’s what they mean by objectivity – independence of thought from physical constraints.
What they do instead is to skirt around the issue altogether and speak of themselves, and of all humans, as beings far above material nature. Something happens with those chemical reactions between braincells and neurons that creates an object which is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Or have we?
In atheist speak consciousness is real and it’s a property of highly complex brains, monkeys need not apply. On the other hand science deconstructs consciousness and comes to the conclusion that key parts of it are present in the simplest life forms. We say consciousness is a symptom of life, science generally agrees, though they don’t put it like that, but atheists can’t have it, they need consciousness to be special, and at the same time they insist that humans are a species of animals.
They can’t even define what makes humans so special. What is it that we have but animals don’t, albeit in rudimentary forms. That’s why science assigns consciousness to all life, after all. Atheists themselves treat pets as family members and speak of dog intelligence, for example. They can also give examples of animals communicating through sounds and signals, just as humans, some animals even have enough discerning patterns to qualify as a kind of speech. Animals certainly feel pain and some of them show remarkable sense of responsibility, which they can’t dismiss as simply genes or training. Dogs and dolphins sometimes save total strangers, which is not just self-awareness but empathy with other living beings across totally different and even alien, in case of dolphins, species, too.
They can’t point the time when apes evolved into humans, and I don’t mean gaps in fossil records but evolution of consciousness. We can identify Homo Sapiens as a species but these identification doesn’t say anything about what matters here, it’s all about size of a scull, length of fingers, posture etc – these things don’t create consciousness, they are irrelevant to our discussion. Tools were used long before Homo Sapience, social life existed long before Homo Sapiens, consciousness, if we speak of it objectively, existed long before Homo Sapience, too.
This means that we are not special, that we can’t claim objectivity but have to accept our position in the universal hierarchy. So far we are the pinnacle but this still means that we must obey the laws. Darwinism rejects consciousness driven evolution, natural selection does not leave space for consciousness, all the traits are results or chemical mutations, and this means that the universe is always in control, not us.
Atheists do not see the universe as a conscious entity, of course, they see it as an impersonal collection of cold, impossible to break laws, but it doesn’t matter. We can still allow for cold impersonal universe controlling our actions and our destiny and it will still strip us of objectivity. At best universal laws grant us randomness, but not independence and freedom.
Without freedom and purpose our thoughts and theories are no different from an arrangement of rocks on mountain slopes, could be random, could be the only possible combination if we had all the data about their composition, initial location, and acting forces of gravity, wind, rain etc.
Our “objectivity” is similarly controlled by our biology, exposure to the environment, exposure to the society, food intake, blood pressure, dopamine levels etc etc. Some of these factors might be random, most have solid causes and do not allow for any variations. There’s no objectivity in that. Slightly less caffeine in their morning drinks could affect their thought processes all through the day. Tweets would go our differently, blogs would be typed up differently, newspaper articles would have different focus. All these things potentially affect millions and millions of people. Where is objectivity in that? It’s all imaginary.
Atheists could say that they know they can’t maintain their mental concentration indefinitely but they can always pick up the next day, and if not, others can continue advancing their arguments long after they are gone. But can they, really? What control do they have over thought processes of the future generations? How many brilliant thoughts people keep discovering in old books that could have changed the course of history had they been widely disseminated? What stops the societies from disseminating good ideas right now, like the ones about global warming or income inequality?
Politics, they’d answer, and politics is the enemy of objectivity, but then politics always wins, or at least wins often enough to take the sting out of otherwise solid science. Objectivity always loses, and it has nothing to do with religion, people have only short moments of it, and only because they do not acknowledge that conditions for being objective are provided by politicians in the first place.
The cause of their apparent objectivity is someone’s subjective decision to allow and pay for this limited freedom, and as a tool of attaining knowledge it’s laughable.
And what is knowledge anyway? What are these insights into the nature of the universe for? Is it a property of some complex chemicals, too? If that’s the case, what’s its value? That’s an interesting topic because pursuit of knowledge is supposed to transcend our base desires and bodily necessities, but I’ll leave it for some other time.