Here’s the second part of Dan Tsouloufis’ essay:
So how does an atheist define morality without an absolute standard that the human race can adhere to? As a Christian, I believe that notions of right and wrong are woven into the fabric of the universe because of God, the same way that we can know and understand the laws of nature. In other words, we all have a moral intuition and a moral conscience because of God, because we are created in His image. In the atheist worldview, they can talk about morality all day long, but they have no justification for doing so; they only have mere sentiment. If there is no God, and the world just evolved naturally on its own, then all you have is survival of the fittest, which leads to “might makes right”. But the truth is, the atheist worldview borrows from the moral and spiritual capital of the Judeo-Christian worldview, but changes the name to secularism. They are free to do that, of course, but they’re apparently unaware of their inconsistency. Pure atheism and pure secularism will always subscribe to an autonomy of ethics, but the reality is, no one really lives that way. Because we’ve been created in the image of God, and because notions of right and wrong provide a clue to the meaning of the universe, we are able to make moral judgments whenever we feel some ethical boundary has been crossed.
But how did we derive that boundary? And what if I don’t believe your boundary was crossed? In such a scenario, would you prefer that there be no objective moral standard and no objective truth? If so, then whomever has the most clout or the most power wins. Not surprisingly, this is how fascist and totalitarian governments operate. Once they abolish God, the government becomes the god.
Many atheists will assert that ethics and morality are not about absolute truth or absolute right and wrong, but about promoting one’s sense of freedom and happiness, as long as one doesn’t harm anyone else. But is that possible in all situations? Let’s take some examples. One, what if constant drug use gives one happiness? Or watching porn? Or using prostitutes? Thus, should one’s happiness be the highest standard? As I mentioned earlier, what if one’s happiness leads to hedonism?
Two, if we say that the porn industry is evil, we’d probably say it’s because of the human misery it creates. But misery for whom? For the men watching it? For the women who are being exploited? Or both? But why is misery a bad thing? And how do we determine what’s bad? In other words, “says who”? On the flipside, what about the men who enjoy watching porn, and the people who produce it and make money off of it? Aren’t they merely experiencing their happiness and exercising their freedom? To truly expose the utter incoherence of the secular views of morality, why does such a thing as the “porn industry” have to be tried and tested before one’s worldview would allow that it’s repulsive to even conceive of, let alone practice? To even conceive of it is demeaning to women, as well as contrary to God’s purpose for sexuality and marriage. But shouldn’t we know this already by our moral intuition rather than by our experience? And if by moral intuition, where does that come from?
Three, we can make the same arguments about slavery. We can say that the real proof that slavery is undesirable is that we can look at the historical results of what societies were like that owned slaves. Again, why would such a thing as slavery have to be tried and tested before one’s worldview would allow that it’s repulsive to even conceive of, let alone practice? People owning other people, buying them and selling them. Is it moral? Hmm, let’s try it for a while and see how desirable or undesirable it becomes, then we can assess it and modify our behavior accordingly. This is utter nonsense. Our intuition and our conscience already know the truth and we don’t need to assess it, unless one’s conscience has been seared by their wickedness and their rejection of God and His laws. But in the atheist worldview, what is a conscience? Does it truly exist? Which atoms and particles of brain matter make up one’s conscience? Does a purely material conscience know right from wrong? Does it contemplate its actions? Is it introspective? It seems absurd to even ask such questions.
Four, in the secular views of morality, to the extent that there is such a thing as morality, they even attempt to establish moral imperatives. But again, we can readily detect the utter incoherence if one’s view of morality is grounded in the individual (the subjective self), and detached from an objective reference point, a transcendent standard to ground our morality. For example, one person’s moral imperative is to steal another person’s stuff so he can sell it and buy something that makes himself happy. Another person’s moral imperative is to watch porn because it makes him happy. Another person’s moral imperative is to buy crack and get high because it makes him happy. Another person’s moral imperative is to sleep with his hot secretary even though he’s married, because at least for a few moments it makes him happy. We can come up with dozens of scenarios like this, where one’s impulses and urges will make them happy, no matter how unseemly. We can readily see how utterly incoherent the atheist worldview is, not because an atheist must act this way, but precisely because the atheist has no philosophical or moral ground to judge these behaviors to be truly wrong, since there is no absolute right and wrong and there is no absolute truth. Therein lies the problem. And this isn’t just a problem for atheists; it’s a problem for many people in our day who adhere to a postmodern philosophy which is characterized by subjectivism and relativism, and in its extreme form, a rejection of reason.
As I stated at the beginning of the essay, this is known as cognitive dissonance, where people essentially do not live out or practice what they believe, due to the fact that their actions often contradict their stated beliefs. Their worldview is incompatible with their actions. When this occurs, it should raise a red flag with regard to the veracity, and reliability, of their worldview. They are simply not being consistent, nor can they be. Though pure atheism and pure secularism will always subscribe to an autonomy of ethics, the reality is, most people don’t live that way. Rather, they live as though there’s an objective moral standard that they, and others, ought to adhere to, even when their stated beliefs suggest otherwise. Yet they have no rational justification for why they, and others, ought to adhere to such a standard. Let me provide a tangible example of this incoherence.
As we learn daily from the secular culture and secular academia, no one can claim to know absolute truth, and no one can claim that one culture is superior to another. All values are neutral, all cultures are equal, and each of us can determine right or wrong for ourselves. To suggest otherwise is to reveal a deep-seated bigotry, arrogance, nativism, and xenophobia. However, since the owners of Chick-fil-A are Christian, and since they dare voice their opinion about traditional marriage in a free country, a transcendent line is apparently crossed in the secular material universe, and this evil must be punished. In other words, truth is relative, all cultures are the same, but Chick-fil-A is evil. You get the idea.
Before I conclude, I want to emphasize the twin problems of morality and justice in the atheist worldview. If there is no God, and if there is no ultimate justice in the afterlife, then what is the basis for justice in this life? What is the rational foundation for justice and morality if there is no transcendent, moral reference point to undergird them? Yet what we know and observe is that humans do have a moral intuition and a moral conscience, that humans do have a strong sense of justice and purpose. But if we all evolved by blind, random chance forces, then how are we more valuable than a frog or an insect? Could it be that we’re created in the image of God, and therefore we appeal to an objective reality that transcends us? To be sure, without a transcendent Lawgiver, there’d be no basis for moral law in this life. Without a transcendent Judge, there’d be no basis for justice in this life. Yet if one holds that there is true justice in this life, but without God and without an afterlife, then what is the rational justification for it? The only coherent answer is silence.
In conclusion, either the Christian worldview is true or it is not. If it is true, then it’s understandable that the Christian worldview makes the most sense of reality; that it makes the most sense regarding man’s nature; and it offers the most compelling solution regarding man’s fundamental problem and man’s fundamental need. God does exist, and God is both perfect and perfectly holy. In keeping with His holy character, God had to punish sin. Yet He chose to punish sin in His only Son, who is also perfect. He loved us so much that He poured out His holy wrath on His Son so that we would believe in His Son. Thus, God demonstrated both love and justice in His redemptive work on our behalf. I firmly believe this truth, and I believe this truth corresponds to reality.
I will end with a helpful quote by C.S. Lewis on the importance of truth concerning the Christian worldview.
“One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion, they will at every moment try to escape from the issue ‘True – or False’ into stuff about a good society, or morals, or the incomes of Bishops, or the Spanish Inquisition – or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine their belief that a certain amount of religion is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”