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Why We Shouldn't Give Up On Writing Unabashedly Fantastic Works

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J.R.R. Tolkien maintains that he never intended Lord of the Rings to be allegory but his complete and utter joy in his work provided a vehicle where his faith was an overflowing cup that couldn't help but infuse his fantasy. He never set about preaching but his love for God and nature was (literally) infectious. So much so that people of all sorts have been impacted by his faith and his love for story.

 

https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/i-was-an-atheist-until-i-read-the-lord-of-the-rings/5351/

 

"Deep down, though, I knew this was specious. Even if it could fully account for our moral sense, which I questioned, it did not explain genuine moral obligations. Supposing the classic evolutionary theory of morality is true, it only explains why we perceive moral obligations; not whether (or why) there are moral obligations. Instead of explaining morality, it explains it away. The thorough-going immoralist could always object on the basis that he has been freed from the restrictive, outdated biological hardwiring of merely perceived moral obligations. My atheist friends and family would inevitably respond with something like, “Well, the immoralist’s position has never been fully successful, while there is historical evidence that generally being a ‘good person’ leads to a better ability to succeed, pass on ‘good person’ genes, etc.” Only sort of true. Much of history teaches that violence, greed, and domination pay off handsomely in the worldly sense.

 

But, the responses miss the point. Just because being a thorough-going immoralist hasn’t seemed to work to date doesn’t mean it wouldn’t later. After all, the hallmark of natural selection is random genetic change granting certain creatures a better ability to survive in a given environment. In the end, all the atheist can say to the immoralist is, “I disagree that your course of action will help the human race succeed.” That kind of statement, which is merely an opinion, is simply not what we mean when we say an action is immoral. Furthermore, who pronounced from on high that the success of the human race was the ultimate good? That itself is an assumption that cannot be empirically proven. Going back to the original problem, does “good” even exist? I realized that within the purely naturalistic worldview, all morality is finally a matter of opinion. All the moralist can say to the immoralist is, “My opinion is different than yours.” No more productive than arguing whether red is better than blue. I should clarify here that I never doubted the theory of human evolution. Nothing about it contradicts God’s order of creation. I’m also not saying that atheists are immoral. They just can’t account for the existence of genuine moral obligations. They are, like I was, living in great tension.

 

At some point the tension was too much: either morality is a farce, everything is random with no meaning, and the human mind is mired in inescapable confusion or atheism is false. I chose the latter. That was the logical side. On the emotional side, so many joys in this world have nothing to do with self-preservation or successful reproduction: art, music, a beautiful sunset, etc. I think deep down we all recognize that those kinds of aesthetic experiences may be the most joyful in this life, and these joys serve no productive purpose. The richness of life, which is on full poetic display in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, made me recognize that supposedly rational atheism did not reveal the truth of things; instead, it removed their intrinsic wonder and worth."

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Pheew! Deep stuff. I am reminded of the apologist who reached over and took the wallet from the relativist's purse.

"Who says I can't do that?"

She didn't have an answer in the end, though she blustered extensively.

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