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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Failure of Atheism: How the "New Atheists" Stink At Being Atheists On the Issue of Morality

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.

No evil.

No good.

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.


  1. ...the abject inability on the part of these atheists to consistently live out the philosophical and logical consequences of (my strawman version of) their world view when it comes to the issue of morality.

    Fixed it for you!

    1. It might be helpful, Anonymous, if you would indulge us all in how my argument is a strawman?

      Do you indeed have an objective ground for your moral values and duties?

      Since I'll assume you are not a supernaturalist, such a ground or foundation MUST come from nature, right? (since there is no other option on a naturalistic worldview)

      Well, then if the moral ground is from nature, aren't your moral values subjective and therefore not binding, since nature changes and the evolution of human beings could have produced a different set of creatures with a different moral intuition?

      If so, isn't it true that nothing is really good or evil, on atheism, just as I put forth in my blog post?

      If the ground for obj. moral values/duties is not from nature, your own moral code would contradict atheism, since, on atheism, there is nothing beyond matter and energy.

      Some things to think about.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. How about knowing that behaving responsibly and nicely to others is a reward unto itself--not given by any deity, but by your own heart. It just *feels* good to be nice to people. It takes energy to ignore that or push it away.

    That doesn't need to be "revealed" by anyone. It needs to be felt, purely and simply. Nobody needs any guidance from some kind of heaven, they need to listen to their own reactions towards their peers.

    I do not require someone to give me permission to exist; or to give me a goal in life; or to show me a way. I have my own way, discovered on my own. Perhaps, in your own delusion, you will attribute this to a divinity. But the divine is within you, isn't it? Not outside, not in the sky. It's you who has power over your own life.

    Perhaps you will one day have the courage to take it in your hands instead of relinquishing it to an external force of some kind.

    Nobody will make you rise from your bed in the morning, if it isn't you.

    1. Here's the problem Anonymous:

      People have different ideas of what "behaving responsibly and nicely" looks like. The Nazi's thought it was responsible and even a necessary good to rid Germany, nay Europe, of the Jews, for the sakes of their family and the future of the human race.

      On your view they didn't do anything wrong, which obviously means that your view is flawed.

      You cite that it "feels good" as a compulsion to be good to people. But, the rapist and the pedophile think it "feels good" to rape and molest. The arsonist thinks it "feels good" to set things ablaze. It's certainly would take "energy" to deny those primal urges.

      I agree with first part of your second paragraph. I never claimed that one needs 'special revelation' to know good (as a believer, I believe that God has given us a kind of innate moral intuition, as it were).

      However, you fall back into the nasty trap of moral relativism when you say that people need to "listen to their own reactions towards their peers" to judge what is good, because that easily allows for any and every kind of horrible and abominable vice depending on who the peers are.

      You say "I have my own way, discovered on my own [way]". I think what you mean is that you have made up your own way.

      What makes the God you don't believe in less real than the imaginary purpose you've created for yourself?

      You also say, "perhaps, in your own delusion, you will attribute this to a divinity".

      Assume that God didn't exist, you would be just as delusional as me for believing in an imaginary god and acting as if he existed, because you believe in your imaginary purpose and value and act as if it actually existed.

      It takes a lot of courage to admit that you cannot do this thing called life on your own, but need help. I did this when I gave my life to Christ in Christian baptism 6 years ago.
      I pray the same for you.

      Thanks for your comment!

    2. Please, read some history. The Nazis knew damn well that what they were doing was morally wrong. At the very least, they knew it would have been perceived as morally wrong by that vast majority of german public opinion as well as the international one.
      For that very reason they kept their programs secret and even at the height of their propaganda they used code words when speaking of it in public.
      Most germans were as stupefied as the rest of the world when the truth of the nazi programs came out.
      Bad analogy.

    3. Hey thanks for stopping by, Marco!

      Use whatever analogy you feel comfortable with, but a great many SS officers and generals and certainly Hitler himself along with many Germans thought that by exterminating the Jews they were doing a public good. I'd recommend the excellent book "Hitler's Willing Executioners" by Daniel Goldhagen for more information. Again, any number of analogies could be used to prove my point, so this is really immaterial to the larger issue.

      Thanks again!


    This video gives a great scientific reason for morality. Don't need god. You are trolling blogs of people with many backgrounds who vent their feelings online. I know you, so I would say that you need to get more hobbies! :)

    1. I don't make it a habit to respond to links posted.

      Thank you for your understanding.

  4. Mesopotamia- 1790 BCE, Hammurabi's code outlaws murder, theft, and rape. Hittie Empire-1650 BCE, The Code of Nesilim outlaws murder, assault, sets punishments for rape. Assyrian Empire-1075BCE, Code of Assura provides punishment for certain caess of rape, assault, and murder. Roman Empire-451 BCE, The Twelve Tables outlaws theft, vandalism, tax evasion, assault, and sets basic property laws. China-1000BCE, law prevents murder, rape, and dishonorable assault. And then the New Testament in 150 AD. Pretty sure these places did not use a christian god. Also.. question for you. If the flood really happened, then why did Egypt not say anything about it? They were still here and kicking at the time of the imaginary flood. Also. Talking donkeys, snakes, flying horses, talking bushes.. do you really believe that? Also. I have read your other posts. Not a fan of gay marriage I see. I would like to know why christains compare beastiality to homosexuality- do you not understand the concept of consent?? Or is that why churches are one of the number one spot for child molestation/rape. Not understanding the concept of consent is a serious issue.

    1. Let me first say that your "word salad" has absolutely nothing to do with the post above. However for the sake of those who read these comments, I'll address it:

      1. Your point that the empires and kingdoms mentioned had some kind of a moral code and yet did not "use a Christian God" does not matter for three reasons:

      a. There is nothing in Christian doctrine that says man needs to know or believe in God to do good. As a matter of fact,the Bible teaches that God has written his moral law on all of our hearts.

      b. The God of Israel is the God of Christianity and God has always had a people.

      c. No Christian has claimed that God's moral law was unknown until the completion of the NT (your date is skewed, by the way.)

      Furthermore, the Bible gives no date for the flood.

      Lastly, your question about bestiality and homosexuality is ambiguous at best. I'm not sure what you're asking.