What about guilt? The last and parting letter in Mary Eberstadt’s new book, The Loser Letters , examines this question. Why do we feel guilty?
The story of her satire about A.F. Christian (A Former Christian who converts to atheism) comes to this question because her mother died and her boyfriend walked on her and she had an abortion, and she felt incredibly guilty. Where did that come from?
The suggestion, often given by Atheists and which she rebuts as lacking logical potency, is that it is some residue from a former condition out of which we have now evolved … she says that begs the question. Guilt is disadvantageous to the selfish gene.
Just a hangover from A.F. Christian’s former superstitions? She says she had been so far out of Christianity for so long that those superstitions were gone. Her question: “shouldn’t Nature have designed me to be happy about getting rid of something that was going to interrupt my life?” (133). She tried to commit suicide, not because she wanted to die but because she wanted the remorse and guilt to go away.
No one, she advises the new atheists, talks about the uselessness of guilt, the survivability of guilt, within the scheme of evolution that suggests there’s no place for it.
What do we do with guilt?, she is asking her atheist guides. The Dulls have this one on the Brights; they emphasize this universal inner mentor and reprover. It’s “Evolutionarily preposterous” but so common. Why? Where does it come from? She knows not all atheists are thumpers like Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris, but even the milder ones don’t discuss this natural sense of shame (natural law).
She worries the Dulls’ doctrine of natural law explains reality better than does the Atheist Natural Selection theory.
She then tells a story of her reconversion. Read it.