The Evil of Atheism: part II

Christina here…

Remember a few months ago when I did an analysis of a youtube video titled “The Evil of Atheism”?

Well, Rev. Daniel, “Man of Reason” is back again with another video. Interestingly, in the description he claims “Atheists want this Video Banned!” yet as I write this, only 196 people have seen it. Huh.

Let’s do a little analysis. Here it is:

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Atheists claim that they are good people and that there is no evil in simply rejecting god.

Yup. We also have data to back up that claim.

Let’s see what some atheists have to say about these claims. Richard Dawkins has written that “our universe has no purpose. It is pitiless and indifferent. There is no good or evil and without appealing to religion, it would be pretty hard to justify belief in absolute morality.” Pretty hard – more like impossible!

Actually, he said something more like this:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, 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 that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

I can’t find any quote by Dawkins saying anything about justifying belief in absolute morality. Regardless, I still agree with the quote. Moral absolutism is a philosophical stance that some actions are absolutely right or absolutely wrong, or the philosophical stance that there are principles which should never be violated. Moral objectivity, on the other hand, is the philosophical stance that moral actions do not depend solely on custom or individual acceptance, but can be reasoned.

Furthermore, atheists Michael Ruse and Edward Wilson have written that morality is just an “illusion” caused by our genes. So, an atheist morality is an illusion?

Michael Ruse and Edward Wilson did say something like that. Here is what they said:

We started with Hume’s own belief that morality rests ultimately on sentiments and feelings. But then we used the evolutionary argument to discount the possibility of an objective, external reference for morality. Moral codes are seen instead to be created by culture under the biasing influence of the epigenetic rules and legitimated by the illusion of objectivity. The more fully this process is understood, the sounder and more enduring can be the agreements.

Just because one atheist says something about morality doesn’t mean he speaks for all atheists, just like if one theist says something about morality does not mean he speaks for all theists. Besides which, they didn’t say morality is an illusion – they said objective morality in an illusion. But, they are using “objective morality” in a specific sense. Here it is:

Rather, human beings function better if they are deceived by their genes into thinking that there is a disinterested objective morality binding upon them, which all should obey.

When Ruse and Wilson talk about “objective morality” they really mean “universal morality”. Universal morality is a system of morality which applies universally to all persons, regardless of distinguishing features of the person(s) involved. Universal morality is a type of objective morality, but not the only kind of objective morality. Isn’t morality hard?

You know, I suspected that. Vindication is sweet.

You know what else is sweet? Confirmation bias. I can play your game too. Let’s pick a prominent Christian, quote him, and then claim  whatever thing he said is something not just all Christians, but all theists believe! Because that’s totally reasonable.

Not all atheists follow the same moral system, just like not all theists follow the same moral system.

Another atheist, John Paul Sartre, has written that atheists think that they can reject god, yet still justify belief in morality. He rejects that idea, saying without god, there is no objective source for morality. There is no one to give us a moral law. All we have is men and their opinions.

Sartre was an existentialist. Not all atheists are existentialists, just like not all theists are polytheists.

And as atheist Julian Baggini points out that if there is no god, then moral judgement cannot be true or false. No one can tell another that their actions are factual errors. See, atheists can be smart too at times.

I don’t remember Julian Baggini ever saying something like this. But he did say:

If we start to think about why a thing having bad consequences is a reason for not doing it we can soon see a puzzle. What kinds of reasons are they? Are they reasons that express simple facts? Is ‘pain is bad thing’ a kind of factual truth on a par with lead is heavier than water’? Many philosophers have thought not. ‘Lead is heavier than water’ is a simple, incontrovertible truth which is demonstrated by the physical sciences. In saying that it is true we are doing no more than describing the world. But when we say ‘pain is a bad thing’ it seems we are not just describing the world, we are evaluating it. If we were simply describing the world we could say things like ‘pain is found to be unpleasant’ or ‘pain is something living creatures seek to avoid’, but the moment we say it is bad we move beyond the facts to making value judgements

If this line of reasoning is correct, then any moral argument that is based on a claim that ‘pain is a bad thing’ is not just expressing truths about the world but is making a judgement about it. And that means that moral claims are not true or false in the same way as factual claims are. Because moral claims are judgements, it is always possible for someone to disagree with them without saving something that is factually false. So if I say pain is not bad, you may disagree with me but you cannot say I have made a factual error.

Baggini is saying that moral judgement aren’t the same as factual claims. 2+2 =4, and this is a factual claim. “It’s not nice to steal” is a moral claim, and the two are different. This is true whether you get your morals from gods or from reasoning or somewhere else.

Furthermore, atheist Paul Kurtz points out that the central question of morality is it’s ontological foundation. This deals with justifying how we believe in morality in the first place. Atheists have a devilishly hard time understanding ontology, probably because it reveals that an atheist’s supposed belief in morality is a fantasy built upon mere assertions.

Ontology is a philosophical branch of study dealing with the nature of being or existence. Kurtz is saying that the central question of morality is the nature and existence of morality.

Any study of ontology is based on assertions and assumptions. For example, before we talk about the existence of morality, we have to assume the existence of the universe. the study of theology has the same limitations. I’m pretty sure most atheists understand this just fine, but you go ahead and keep making blanket statements about large groups of people, because that’s way more “reasonable”.

They say charity is “good” and shooting someone is “bad” – let’s see them prove it. Well, you can obviously see that charity brings pleasure and shooting someone causes pain – in other words – their proof is, pleasure:good-pain:bad – sounds like something an infant would come up with.

Hello, strawman. I can play this game too, watch: In other words, your proof is: God:good-satan:bad. Sounds like something an infant would come up with! Except that while I’ve never heard an atheist say this, Christians say it all the time.

The serial killer Ted Bundy has actually revealed the atheist’s true moral nature.In an interview he plainly stated that before killing and raping one of his female victims, he actually told her that he was able to do it because he had rejected god and realized that morality was purely subjective, therefore right and wrong don’t actually exist. So his selfish desire to kill her was more important than her right to live.

Good for Bundy. Serial killer David Berkowitz said: “”I was searching the bible and soul searching and I decided God wanted me to do that.” See, the problem with theism is that anybody can use their god to justify becoming a serial killer. In fact, the Bible makes it a lot easier:

Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)

“Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children. (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)

Jesus said, But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence. (Luke 19:27 NRS)

There aren’t any atheist holy texts justifying this kind of atrocity. But maybe I should find some more psychopaths, quote them talking about how they used the bible or religion for their justification, and pretend this is the “true moral nature” of theists. Totes reasonable, right?

Atheists know that there is no evidence for the belief in morality, and what does an atheist do with beliefs that have no evidence? They reject them.

There is plenty of evidence for objective morality, or even relativistic morality. There is plenty of evidence for belief in morality, too. So I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Atheists know there is no such thing as “doing the right thing” so they just do what’s most pleasurable for them. If they can impress others and feel prideful by giving to charity, they will give to you. But if they derive more pleasure from killing you, then they will kill you.

No, we don’t just do what’s most pleasurable. How big of a bigot can you be?

Atheists reject god so that they can give themselves license to be totally selfish, free from guilt, free from good, and free to be totally evil.

And you can just ask Jesus to forgive you for all of your evils, so maybe you just believe in him so you can be totally selfish and then just ask Jesus to forgive you and wipe your slate clean.

Atheists are always debating us, trying to convince us that they’re good people – why?

Because of assholes like you who tell the world how totally evil we are. Because we’re tired of being told that we’re evil and can do no good, and that all of our good actions are motivated purely out of evil selfishness. When you believe a group of people are evil and can do no good, you can easily justify doing horrible things to them. We don’t want horrible things done to us, so we want to convince people that we’re not so bad after all.

It’s because they want to fool us into believing that they are good. They crave our approval because it is the source of their selfish pleasure. They need that pleasure, and will fight “fang and claw” to convince us of their false goodness.

I determine whether someone is good or bad based on evidence. You, however, are so convinced that atheists are evil that even when they do good things, it must be for evil reasons. This is not reasonable at all, Daniel, “Man of Reason”. This is pure hatred and blind faith.

Also, it’s “tooth and claw”, dude. “Tooth and Claw”.

I don’t wish to promote hate of atheists.

Really. Well, you’re doing it wrong.

Instead, I want them to realize their mistake and change for the better. They are my brothers and sisters and I love them. Please share this video with anyone you feel will benefit from understanding these most important issues.

You can call a turd a bouquet of flowers, but it still smells like shit.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.


About christinastephens
  • InvincibleIronyMan

    What’s he trying to describe here, how atheists are, or how atheists ought to be (according to him)? He seems to be trying to say atheists cannot have morality, but he is ignoring the fact the most of us think we can and act accordingly. When he says for an atheist it’s only a matter of opinion, it suggests that atheist morality is so free-floating it could literally be anything. In reality atheists have the same common factors attributable to all humans, such as having brains, feeling pain, love and compassion, and living in societies with other human beings. Humans, atheist or not, tend towards a common ground of basic morailty – we recognize it is wrong to kill, to steal, or to harm others. Since we do not all have one religion in common but we do have that, isn’t it more reasonable to think that morality is something we get from being human rather than from the commandments of a particular god?

    When I am asked where I get my morality from as an atheist I am reluctant to go straight to moral philosophy. That’s what I use for the hard moral questions. More often, and I think this probably goes for all of us (including theists, whatever they say), my morality is founded in basic human compassion and empathy for my fellow creatures. If I see a child crying because she has lost her mummy, I do not need to resort to philosophy to work out that helping her find a policeman is the right thing to do and kicking her in the teeth and stealing her teddy bear is the wrong thing to do. Neither do I require a commandment from God – and I think it’s pretty shameful for anyone who does!

  • iknklast

    I’ve never understood the argument that we just reject God so we can sin without feeling guilty. Many theists appear to think that we believe in god(s), but choose to say we don’t so we can feel good about ourselves in our sinful lives. This makes no sense. If we believe in god(s), it makes no difference if we say we don’t. We would still feel guilty and scared if we annoyed the commands of a being we believed existed, but pretended didn’t. We would be totally miserable, guilt-ridden people. Of course, since most theists appear to believe we are totally miserable (but not guilt-ridden), maybe it works. We try to reject their god, but because we know deep down inside he really exists, we’re just playing the fool’s game.

    • RuQu

      I think this might be due to a vagueness in the language, especially in the religious usage.

      Christians refer to “rejecting God” and “turning your back on God” or “denying God” fairly often, but they do this coming from a place of belief and use it to mean failure to obey. When they say “someone turned their back on God,” they mean a religious person who fell into a life of sin.

      They then see atheists who openly reject the existence of God, and they equate the two experiences. They are so thoroughly indoctrinated into the belief in God that it is hard to imagine someone who truly doesn’t think God is real. So they think we are all just openly choosing to live a sinful life, in full knowledge that God is real but hoping to rationalize that guilt away.

      It is a remarkable case of inability to think outside of their habitual patterns or to succeed at even basic empathy.

      • smrnda

        You make a good point, and I think it’s also the case that these people are totally uninterested in actually engaging atheists in real discussions; they’d rather prop up straw men and caricatures and beat up on those. I mean, how would these people explain that atheists can and do feel guilty at times? If abandoning god is what you do to just avoid moral accountability, how would they account for an atheist who feels shame or guilt over participating in a religious ceremony to make their family happy? You’d have to have zero imagination to think that doesn’t come up.

  • smrnda

    It’s totally arrogant to presume to understand the motivations of a group of people you aren’t a part of, and to pretend that they’re all a uniform, factory product.

    The other mistake he makes is assuming that atheists juts do what they do for social approval. If that’s true, why would so many atheists advocate for unpopular positions?

    On morality, I can’t *prove* “pain is bad” any more that I can prove that building a bridge out of metal is better than building one out of stone – we look at the pros and cons of each side and do a cost-benefit analysis. Actually, perhaps I should have said ‘we can’t prove pain is bad any more than I can prove that a bridge ought to allow traffic to go across rather than collapse, but the idea of building bridges that collapse is clearly not productive in any way, if a bridge isn’t going to work, then why build it at all?”

    He seems to be completely unable to imagine that atheists actually care about people, and that’s the source of our ethics. The god of the Bible clearly regards human beings as disposable trash who exist only to feed his divine narcissism. The god of the Bible doesn’t care about rape victims, thinks killing kids is okay, and that human sacrifice is only bad when you’re sacrificing to Baal instead of him. The god of the Bible thinks slavery is okay and that women are more or less property. Of course I’m going to reject a moral philosophy that places no value on human beings or human life.

  • ewok_wrangler

    I suggest you use a different blockquote format for the thing you’re quoting to refute, and the things you are quoting in your support. Sometimes above it was hard to know when you were quoting Rev. Dan and when somebody else.

    • christinastephens

      Okay! Done.

  • smrnda

    I had to add this – ‘pain is bad’ may not be objective in the sense that hydrogen and helium are not the same element, but I think about every sensible person wants to avoid excessive levels of suffering. True, it’s consensus, but it’s at least a reasonable thing to base morality on, not doing things that increase the suffering of others. The problem with god as the source of morality is that you end up with completely subjective moral standards anyway- it’s bad to do X, unless god tells you to do it, in which case it suddenly becomes good. I’d rather stick with a ‘do no harm’ ethics any day.

    • John Horstman

      I challenge the idea that “helium and hydrogen are not the same” is an “objective” fact. It’s dependent upon certain subjective configurations, like how we define the boundaries of objects or conceptualize elements. For example, I might posit that helium and hydrogen are simply two configurations of the same thing (protons, electrons, neutrons, which are also different configurations of the same thing, and turtles all the way down) and not distinct ‘elements’. Of course, within our established models of matter, they are objectively different elements, as in our established models of human cognition, pain is bad. “Pain is bad” is exactly as objective (or subjective) as is “hydrogen and helium are different elements”.

      • RuQu

        Your argument is “hydrogen and helium are only different elements if we use the word ‘element’ to mean what it means in chemistry and physics.”

        By the same logic, elephants and fish are different animals only if we define animals to mean what everyone knows I mean when I say “animals.” If we instead defined ‘animals’ to mean “creatures with 4 limbs and bilateral symmetry” then a fish might not be an animal at all!

        If we hold to the reasonable convention of using the English language as a language to communicate ideas and not just sound groupings with arbitrary meaning we make up personally, then helium and hydrogen are, objectively, different elements.

  • Baal

    I continue to fail to see why, “abstract rule promulgated from a holy book” is a better morality than “let’s be compassionate” or “let’s minimize harm.” I’m also not sure the the infant’s perspective, “avoid pain, seek pleasure” is all that bad either. For most of us, even as adults, that’s not a bad default – we are social animals and much of of instinctive pleasure / harm system makes sense in a pro-social context.

    To style and form: weird misuse of quotes aside, he’s conflated atheism with counter apologetics with skepticism. The three somewhat overlap but you can’t imply that all three are 100% the same thing like he does. Also, his presentation style (smirking and smarmy while telling me what my side thinks (badly)) makes me want to resort to physical violence.

  • Baal

    I continue to fail to see why, “abstract rule promulgated from a holy book” is a better morality than “let’s be compassionate” or “let’s minimize harm.” I’m also not sure the the infant’s perspective, “avoid pain, seek pleasure” is all that bad either. For most of us, even as adults, it is a decent default – we are social animals and much of our instinctive pleasure / harm system makes sense in a pro-social context.

    To style and form: weird misuse of quotes aside, he’s conflated atheism with counter apologetics with skepticism. The three somewhat overlap but you can’t imply that all three are 100% the same thing like he does. Also, his presentation style (smirking and smarmy while telling me what my side thinks (badly)) makes me want to resort to physical violence.

  • John Horstman

    Ugh, the presupposition that morality must be ‘natural’ or ‘objective’ in order to exist or be useful drives me nuts. I’m getting sick of smacking down the same terrible arguments.

  • Amyc

    Even if I became a theist, my belief in god would still not be a basis for objective or absolute morality. Just look at all the theists who follow different moral codes because they follow different gods. It’s clear that being a theist does not give one the basis for their morality, since there are many different gods to believe in that all have many different teachings on morality. I have had Christians, Hindus and Muslims all tell me that their faith makes more sense because their faith is more moral. Well, which morality did you use to make that assessment? Of course, if you start from an Islamic moral code, you’re going to find that Islam is more moral. The same with all the others. So unless they are presuppositionalists, proud in their circular reasoning, they must have some other basis for their morality besides a god.