The Grand Irony of Atheistic Moral Denunciations
I can’t believe God would sanction war in the Old Testament because war is immoral. I can’t believe God would send people to hell because hell is immoral. I can’t believe God would punish people because punishing people is immoral. These are the types of moral statements I hear often from atheists who make grand moral denunciations of whom they perceive to be the God of Christianity—unfortunately, it is often only a distorted picture of God and not actually what the Bible teaches or what Christians believe. Usually, I hear great emotional fervor, saying that such a view is not fair or that such an aspect of God is immoral. But there is a grand irony here that I can’t help but notice. The grand irony is this: the atheist who embraces the logical end of his/her worldview—believing that because there is no God, there then is no objective standard by which to judge anything by—has lost the ability to make any kind of moral judgements which are not merely his/her opinions. All moral judgements are relativized by their own worldview!
How is this so? It is done by a removal of the removal of a moral foundation. A consistent atheist insists that there is no God and no objective standard of morality or values that we as humans are obligated to obey: all we have is subjective values shaped by our own perceptions and culture. One generation believes something to wrong, the next believes it to be right, but neither are right or wrong in an objective sense outside of their time and culture. All we are left with is opinions and preferences. While this seems to have some appeal to it, it does not work in practice. This because we all end up making moral judgements and all appeal to some hidden standard of morality that we expect others to follow. But if an atheist is consistent with the logical end of their worldview, there is nothing right or wrong morally, only opinions, lusts, and cravings of an amoral animal.
This means that all of their moral denunciations must be written off as opinions and preferences of one person shaped by their culture and place in life. So when an atheist says, “I can’t believe in a God who would punish people,” (smuggling with them in this statement the belief that punishment is morally offensive), we might simply reply, “If there is no God, why is punishment of anyone (good or evil) wrong? Since there is no standard by which we can decry any moral action, any action or trait we don’t like is just our opinion, and your opinion is just as valid as the opposite side.” All denunciations end up being opinions.
I find it ironic when atheists claim there is no such thing as objective morality, but then have moral crusades against those who believe in the God of the Bible. If there is no God, there is no right or wrong way to live or believe or form your view of reality—the most radical skeptic who denies any trace of the supernatural and the most wild superstitious astrologist are just as moral in their approach to life and how they shape their worldview and interact with others. If there is no right way to live, how can an atheist be critical of another person’s morality? Would not that just be opinion?
We need some kind of objective standard by which to make moral judgments. Deep down we all know some things are morally right or wrong regardless of anyone one’s opinion, and it is this knowledge that we possess that points to a truth that is testified by the Bible. We, as humans, are all moral beings who are made in God’s image. As moral beings we form our morality by the standard of God who is good and has revealed to us what is good through the Bible and through Jesus. Here have a true foundation we can rest upon. The Russian writer Dostevesky was right, “Without God, anything is permissible.” None of us what a world like this and all of us know deep down that this is not how thing ought to be.