I often peruse atheist blogs and webpages in an attempt to stay on top of what's current in the anti-God scene in America and to remind myself of the grave challenge confronting American Christians who are facing an onslaught of secular thought from a small but vocal minority in our country.
In reading material from the so-called "new atheists" and other related secularists, I have been puzzled, to say the least, at what appears to be the abject inability on the part of these atheists to consistently live out the philosophical and logical consequences of their world view when it comes to the issue of morality.
Namely, the "new atheists" and their cohorts are constantly pontificating about the moral ills caused by religion and the need for social justice (of a secular variety, I assume), despite the complete inability of the the atheist world view to ground the objective moral values and duties the Christian theist and the "new atheist" both affirm.
While much can (and will) be said about this, before I go on I want to define a key term and lay the foundation for why the God of theism provides a sufficient foundation or ground for objective moral values and duties.
First a terminology clarification:
~ objectivity ~ wholly binding apart from human opinion/will ( ie: if all humanity thought elective abortion was morally permissible, abortion would still be morally impermissible).
Objective moral values and duties are binding regardless of what people believe, don't believe, or want to believe about them or anything else.
Because God, by definition, is the greatest conceivable being and therefore the greatest good, the Christian theist has an eternal and objective standard for moral values.
In addition, because of God's absolute and innate goodness His commands are therefore a necessary reflection of His goodness, meaning we have an objective standard for moral duties as well.
These two facts are true whether the God of our faith exists or not (p.s: He does exist).
Now let's go back to atheism, which by definition precludes the existence of God.
From where do the "new atheists" derive their ground for objective moral values and duties in the absence of God?
On atheism, we are accidental organisms on a tiny planet in an unfathomably huge universe who have evolved to our present state recently through undirected random processes.
With this in mind, our sense of moral values and duties is simply the leftovers of purposeless socio-biological conditioning that has resulted in a "herd morality" natural selection has deemed advantageous for our survival.
On this view, our "moral" sense is no more objective than our sense of taste or smell.
The point of this post is not to argue that this naturalistic view of man is wrong (though it is), but that on this view moral values and duties are in no way objective.
(In)Famous Atheists such as Soren Kirekegaard and Friedrich Neitzsche and others understood this.
However, people like Hemant Mehta, atheist activist and chair of the "Foundation Beyond Belief", when writing on his blog calls the Boy Scouts of America "bigots" and says that they do not "deserve [his reader's] support" and encourages people not to support a "discriminatory organization".
All of this following the the BSA decision to affirm it's policy barring openly homosexual Scouts and Scoutmasters from their private organization.
I would ask Hemant why a "bigoted" and "discriminatory" anything is not deserving of support?
Certainly not because bigotry and discrimination are wrong, right?
If so, on what basis should we conclude that such things and are wrong and even if they are wrong, who or what compels us to not support or engage in them?
Surely, Hemant does not think that "is" implies "ought".
How many times have you as a Christian been confronted with or heard from un-believing skeptics that certain biblical commands and positions are "immoral", "evil", "homophobic", misogynistic", "hateful", "bigoted", and on and on it goes.
When atheists make statements like these they are saying implicitly that there are actually good things (tolerance, inclusiveness) and actually evil things (homophobia, bigotry) and that we should do the good things and that we should not do the bad things.
These moral assumptions made in complete denial fact that the atheistic worldview can give absolutely no basis for the very existence of objective good and evil, much less an imperative to do or not do such good and evil acts.
The atheist really wants to have his cake and eat it too.
To show that this inherent contradiction is present in even the highest ranks of the "new atheist" movement, look no further than biologist, secular provacateur, and leading spokeman for the "new atheist" movement Richard Dawkins:
'We are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA...This is exactly what we are for. We are machines for propagating DNA and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object's sole reason for living'.
I (Eric) like Dawkin's use of the term "machine" because on atheism there is no free-will, but our actions are completely determined by natural processes.
Like a leaf floating down a river.
On this view there can be no objective moral values and duties because ought implies can and a person who commits an "immoral" act, on atheism cannot do any different because nature determined that he do the act.
However, Dr. Dawkins does not allow himself to be deterred by logic and philosophy and continues to make statements like:
"It would be deeply depressing if the only way children could get moral values was from religion.
Either from scripture, and God knows we don't want them to get it from scripture, I mean, just look at scripture.
Or, from being afraid of God, being intimidated by God. Anybody who is good for only those two reasons is not really being good at all.
Why not teach children things like the Golden Rule, do as you would be done by, how would you like it if other children did that to you, so why do you do it to them... I think it's depressing that anybody should suggest that you actually need God in order to be moral.
I would hope that our morals come from a better source than that, and therefore they are genuinely moral rather than based on outmoded scripture, or based on fear". (2009, BBC interview)
This statement is bursting at the seams with moral judgements, admonishments, assumptions, and criticisms.
Excuse me, but what does a "self-propagating DNA machine" care about any of this?
Let's face facts: in order to be a consistent atheist in the realm of morality, one must be a moral nihilist.
No moral values.
No moral duties.
Just random activity determined by nature.
Besides good old fashioned intellectual dishonesty, why do the "new atheists" refuse the moral nihilism bestowed to them on account of their world view?
I believe there is one reason the "new atheists" refuse to accept the logical connotations of atheism: the moral law that God has written on their hearts.
In other words, these atheists know in their heart of hearts that to rape and murder a little girl for the heck of it is truly evil and that to give of yourself and to love others and treat them with dignity and respect is truly good, because God has revealed it to them.
And they will continue to believe this even though it refutes atheism.
So they are caught between their rejection of God and their insistence on affirming objective moral values and duties.
"(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)" Romans 2:14-15
With their words the "new atheists" emphatically say 'No God!', but with their actions they say the exact opposite, and Christians ought to confront our atheist friends and family members gently and lovingly with this truth, showing them that the God they refuse to acknowledge is the One who gives life and meaning to their view of morality.
More thoughts on this to come.