In my recent post , I proposed a question to any atheists who cared to respond.
“Can you tell me what is intrinsically wrong with herding human beings into camps then systematically ending their lives? What is objectively wrong about it?
Do not tell me how it makes you feel or that everyone just knows.
Do not tell me what’s illegal about it. Tell me why it’s negative. Please explain how it is wrong in an absolute way.”
Given several days to ponder and discuss, they offered several.
One answer: morality is something societies slowly discover. Society gradually grows into an ever-progressing moral value system. We are more moral now than we were in the past.
I challenged: 1. Not intrinsic, not objective, not absolute. 2. Do you mean that there is an objective standard set apart from us that we are discovering? Then what is that and where did it come from? 3. Are we more moral than ever before? That’s hard to support.
Other answers cited: it’s illegal, it’s repugnant, everyone just knows…things ruled out in the question.
One blogger’s answer: Evolution. When asked to elaborate upon precisely what that might mean, he absolutely refused to explain just what species of evolution to which he referred, or to explain how that works. He doesn’t have to explain; for himself, he’s satisfied with that one word answer. He will not explain how a blind, mindless, impersonal process is able to impose an unchanging, objective set of morals upon sentient, conscience-bound persons, nor how we could be accountable to such a system. Nor any of the other questions which quickly come to mind.
My challenge came from this post, where I opined that my atheist friends may have been offended, and frankly confused, by my suggestion that death camps and abortion mills are morally equivalent because they don’t really know what’s wrong with the death camps. So I asked them to explain how they (as atheists) know the Holocaust was wrong.
I believe it’s fair to sum up their answer: No, we cannot. Even if you give us several days to think about it. None were able to explain why the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis was wrong. I am forced to conclude that they do not know.
To be fair, I understand that they do know it was wrong. It’s just that they cannot explain why it’s wrong while maintaining the integrity of their own worldviews.
Why is this important? Why is it important that human beings who live in societies filled with other human beings believe that some things are simply wrong, and other things are simply right? Why is it necessary for people to exercise self-control and to respect the limits of personal behavior? Why must there be a separate, objective measure of right and good which people deeply respect and honor?
On to the significance of behavior.
I did have a more thoughtful atheist commenter or two conversing more or less politely. Some made the effort to visit my place and reasonably discuss the question when they might have had better things to do. But these particular guys ought to think about what their worst representatives are perpetrating upon their brand, what kind of face the mocker gives to atheism.
Give this kind of atheist an anonymous avatar and access to social media, ask him a question he finds challenging, and he demonstrates that he has no reason not to act like an abusive ass, a sexist, a raging ten-year-old. There are no limits to his personal behavior, there are no consequences of which he is aware. It seems even the most basic of social skills are lost when one sincerely believes that there is ultimately no moral authority one is compelled to respect.
He becomes living proof that a person who recognizes no higher authority than himself…or even than a consensus of society composed of persons with no more ultimate authority than himself…has no compelling reason to police himself. Not only in a big sense, but even in the mundane interactions of everyday life with no undue pressure upon him.
However, a person who believes that there is a separate, objective, immutable source of morality, right and wrong, good and evil has a compelling reason for self-control and righteous behavior. Though any person may violate that motivator, he at least has such a motivator to rebel against.
One commenter calls Christianity the “Napkin Religion- See? It’s true because it’s written down on this napkin here!”
At least I have a napkin. What do you have?