Human morality makes no sense to me if atheism is true – and there is no God.
Some of my best and longest friends are atheists. And sometimes they will tell me what morality is all about. But my problem is…I just don’t think it holds together.
- Often I hear that we are genetically programmed to care for those most likely to be genetically similar to us. Morality is genetic programming.
- Then there is the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” theory. Society is really just all about supporting each other to achieve a good end.
- And thirdly – reputation. We want to be seen to be doing the right and good thing.
But who defines what the right and good thing is? Is it you? Is it me? Is it the one with the most control in society – might makes right?
There are so many problems with this Godless understanding of morality. Here are a few big ones.
PROBLEM ONE – it’s not much of a moral framework because it’s focussed squarely on ME. It is a theory that is happy to encourage selfishness. Yet I would suggest that human selfishness is at the root of our problem, it’s not supposed to be the best foundation of society at all.
Moral reformers from the past stood out amongst their peers for the precise reason that – they thought more of others than about themselves. A moral framework can’t be built on selfishness.
PROBLEM TWO – it’s a deterministic view of humanity. In other words – it completely denies human free will. We are nothing but genetic machines dancing to the tune written out in our cells. But this is a dangerous theory because it legitimises all sorts of behaviour that we know to be wrong.
We cannot prosecute the rapist anymore, because he is simply doing what he’s programmed to do.
The alcoholic or drug user has no hope because their addiction is predetermined.
To that, we should all say no. There is hope! A crucial part of being human is that we all intuitively know – that we have the ability to choose. Genetic factors do affect us – but at the core we are creatures that can and do make free will choices.
PROBLEM THREE – there is no absolute morality. No overall moral code. I know people who would cheer and say – that’s right, Stuart! Welcome to the party at last. But I don’t want to come to this party – it doesn’t sound much fun at all. Because if there’s no absolute morality, there are no standards to judge anything by. And so we are left with – anything goes. Whatever you want to do – have fun with that. As I said before – this leads to “might is right”. And we live at the whim of the most powerful people who, as we have already established, are self-centred and do not respect our free will. Sound familiar? Horrific regimes were run that way by powerful dictators in the 20th century and millions of people died as a result. Welcome to the party? No thanks!
PROBLEM FOUR – there is no good or evil. It doesn’t exist, according to a Godless materialistic view of morality. You know that notion inside of you about what the right and good thing to do? You know your conscience? You know all the stories that have been written down thru human history to help people grasp a transcendent moral code? It’s all nonsense. Just stick to personal preference. There is no absolute good or absolute evil. Just choose what you like and go with that.
As Richard Dawkins describes it –
“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”
And my atheist friends cheer. Now you are getting it, Stuart! And I reply – no I’m not. I am not getting it. Not because I don’t want to get it – but because from what I can see – no one lives this way! No-one is able to live as if these 4 tenants of atheistic morality were true! This is all simply a grim fantasy.
For example, take atheist Sam Harris. He like to take the opportunity to point of God’s abject failure to protect humanity. Why doesn’t God intervene and stop the rape, torture and murder of children? Where was God in 2005 when the city of New Orleans was destroyed by a hurricane? Didn’t God hear the prayers of its victims, hiding in their attics, trying to escape the rising water level? Many of these people died talking to an imaginary friend, according to Harris.
So as Sam Harris rails at God – what is he saying? Is he saying that such suffering is evil and should not be allowed by God? But I thought we had established that there is no good and evil?
Now I would understand it if Sam Harris is just expressing his feelings on the matter. I agree with him – the suffering he points to is truly horrible. But he doesn’t just tell us how he feels. He goes beyond that. And according to his atheistic worldview, he is making assumptions that he simply cannot make.
- He cannot assume the intrinsic value of every human life. From the perspective of matter…of chemistry and biology, he has no reason to do so.
- He cannot move on from expressing his feelings and climb upon a moral high ground. Because there isn’t any!
YET – and this is my point – this is EXACTLY what he and many like him do. Why? Because atheistic morality is a grim fantasy that no one can honestly live with. And so we naturally go with the moral framework we’ve been given….by the God that so many deny.
I agree with Ravi Zacharias who sums up what Sam Harris is doing like this:
“he is selectively borrowing from the biblical revelation of justice and retribution while ignoring the big story into which it fits and by which it gains its purpose. His moral argument distorts the Bible’s finer points while denying its big picture.”
I don’t understand the explanation for morality that my atheist friends give me. It just doesn’t hold together for me. What does make sense…is the possibility that God himself has written the moral law on each and every one of our hearts. After all…
- When I say there’s such a thing as evil, I assume there’s such a thing as good.
- When I say there’s such a thing as good, I assume there’s a moral law that helps me distinguish between good and evil.
- When I say there’s a moral law, I must posit a moral lawgiver who give us the moral law in the first place.
- And that moral lawgiver…sounds a lot like God. 
…who does not exist. According to my friends.
 David Robertson, The Dawkins Letters, quoting Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker.
 Ravi Zacharias, Why I am Not an Atheist, quoting Sam Harris Letter to a Christian Nation.
 Zacharias, Why I Am Not An Atheist.