Atheists

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The Barrister has recently had an exchange with Andy of the World Wide Rant. Seems Andy professes to be an Atheist because religious folks are a bunch of hypocrites (I for one am guilty as charged), and, he asks, if God is good, why does he allow suffering in the world. In other words, Andy is an atheist for the usual, rather poor, reasons. The other day Andy put up a post that he intended to use to show how religious faith of any kind leads folks to do all sorts of evil deeds, even murder. I'm afraid, however, that his post proves just the opposite.

Andy's post tells the story of a Hindu man who murdered an Australian missionary and his young son because the missionary was encouraging people to each hamburgers, a grave offense to Hindu's who hold cows to be sacred creatures. Andy concludes his post with the statement

" It's a sad tragedy that religious fervor claimed the life of someone who was working for a greater good in India. It's even sadder that it was basically because of a hamburger.

Moo."

It is evident from this post that there are several underlying assumptions that Andy relies upon to show that religious faith is evil. First, that is wrong to take an innocent life, and second that a human life is infinitely more valuable than a hamburger. Behind both of these is assumptions is the assumption that the reader will recognize the first two assumptions are true, in other words, that there are certain things that are eternally, objectively and unchangeably true. Without these assumptions his post makes no sense as a case either for right or wrong.

You see, if there is no eternal, universal, objective Good, if there is no God, then anything is permissible, good or evil becomes no more than a matter of personal opinion or preference. The idea that a human life is more valuable than anything on earth is nothing if not a distinctly Christian belief. Andy, in his attempt to ridicule religious faith, relies, as he must, on the Christian understanding of the human person. If there is no God, there is no human law that can be eternally and objectively valid. At any time laws against murder, rape, incest, etc could be changed, they would simply be subject to the prevailing view of the society at any particular time. There would be no reason to assume that it is wrong to kill a missionary and his son over the eating of a hamburger.

It might be well to remember that while it is true that people do evil things in the name of religion, people do far greater evils in the name of irreligion. The really world class killers of the 20th century, for example, were people who were explicitly anti-religious, i.e. Stalin, Hitler, etc. Even today, the greatest holocaust of our time, the abortion horror, is done by people who hate any idea of religious value. And for every Christian who, violating the tenants of his faith, commits a sinful act, there is a Mother Teresa attempting to bring Christ to the next person she meets.

The point is, we all sin. Christianity teaches that as a fundamental truth. It also teaches that when we act sinfully we are acting to separate ourselves from God, not to further His cause. Arguing that religious faith is false because God allows evil is spurious. Using that argument, no one could involve themselves with any human activity under the sun; even sports fans, for example, would have to shun teams they follow because athletes at every level openly commit sinful acts. We would have to quit our jobs because our bosses allow sinful people to work side by side with us. The only source of good we have must come from outside of ourselves, it certainly doesn’t come from anything any of us do.

5 Comments

It's bedazzling how much one can write based upon a complete misunderstanding of the motivations of others.

I am atheist (and no longer Roman Catholic) because the universe shows no signs of needing a creator (and there's no reason to assume if there's an uncaused cause, that it's your god or anyone else's - it's much simpler to assume the universe has always "been" in one form or another). It's got nothing to do with thinking religious faith is "evil" - I think it's irrational, but I think the same thing of the people who kept Full House on the air for so many years.

As for the "without God there can be no morality" argument, I agree that there can be no objective morality. And the world bears that out - one need only look across world religions, across centuries of time, across all of mankind, and you'll find that morals bend and sway and change and revert and on and on. Only a fool would be too blind to see such a thing.

If there is an objective morality, define it for me - I have the distinct feeling it's going to be based on your interpretation of the words you think your god gave you. I have the distinct feeling others of your faith will have their own interpretations. I have the distinct feeling that if such an objective morality exists, you can't know what it is, or that you are more correct, anymore than the person next to you.

Finally, if objective morality exists outside of God - is he bound by it? Must he always do good? If so, then there is a power greater than God. Or if morality is simply what God says it is, then it change on a whim, and he can just as easily be the Great Deceiver, who actually rewards liars while telling YOU that lying is bad (when, in reality, it's "good" - which is why he did it). So, argue that your religion gives you some sort of objective morality to obey, and you end up blathering nonsense.

Have a nice day!

Isn't it amazing how someone can objectify God and then will Him out of existence because He does not fit the mold into which that someone tries to shove Him?

Mr. Andy puts on the blinders and then wonders why everyone else around him can't see what he sees. While we look and see the beauty and the truth, to Andy all we can see is exactly what he sees - darkness.

We say: "Atheist Stalin killed 20,000,000 people in the name of State." Andy responds that "Yeah, well, the Inquisition killed... um... thousands." You see, that makes a difference to the relativism that Andy preaches (and I might add that he preaches with more gusto than a street-corner Bible thumper).

Ronald, it is for people like Andy that we should pray the hardest - for those who have been shown the true path and reject it, either through willfulness or ignorance borne of willfulness. Andy, you'll be in my prayers.

Um, when I did I ever say "But yeah, the Inquisition killed thousands!" - do you folks do anything other than put words in the mouths of those with whom you disagree? I will happily admit that Christianity has done some good in the world, and that is has also done some bad, and that by and large Christians themselves are just typical people, just like me or you.

As for my preaching, I only do it on the website, where nary a person is forced to visit if they desire otherwise. In person, I'm just as friendly as can be to those who are friendly to me, and I love a vigorous debate over beers.

So, bottom line, if you're willing to let your faith override logic, we won't have much of a debate, and you're left with no more ground to argue than a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, or a Heaven's Gater.

Ever heard of the Objectivists? Ayn Rand provided an objective morality based on a Godless universe almost 50 years ago.

Get with it, God freaks.

Oh, and my atheism isn't based at all on the fact that some believers are hypocrites. Although some are.

No Andy, you trolled over at Mark Shea's site with an anti-Catholic or anti-Christian stab or two. To Matt Moore: is "God freaks" the best you can do? I'd rather be a God freak than just a simple non-God freak, such as yourself. Perhaps it's 'cause of folks like you that Ayn Rand is so doggone popular today.

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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on September 25, 2003 12:34 PM.

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