Yet more awesome on the “Atheists can’t have morals” front. Here is a post by Silence of Mind using a classical argument to explain why Atheists can’t claim any morality. Yes, it’s the argument from Hitler/Communism, for those too lazy to click or those already familiar with SOM’s arguing antics.
The argument presented.
1. Hitler and communist leaders were Atheists.
2. Hitler had a lot of people kill 6 million Jews, along with kicking off a war that killed millions more, and Stalin and Mao had a higher body count.
3. These people thought it was okay because Atheists don’t have morals.
4. Therefore, Atheists lack morality/are immoral/eat babies/stole my bike/talk in the movie theater during movies.
I added the ridicule in there because this argument really says nothing while implying some sort of moral superiority on the part of Christians. Indeed, even in the comments there were examples of people relating to the above reasoning to illustrate why Christianity has a superior morality.
Let’s be honest here.
No, I’m not talking about the classic “not all whatevers” rebuttal or even the whole “Atheists make up less of the prison population” rebuttal. What I’m getting at here is the complete lunacy of parading about examples of people at their worst in a sophomoric attempt to promote guilt by association. There’s no point to any of this except to try to make people feel bad about being an Atheist or to make Christians feel like less of jerks for treating people like dirt.
While I’m on this honesty kick, let me just get this out of the way. Yes SOM’s position is based in a valid kernel of truth. Atheism has no standard of morality; it is just a rejection of belief in deities. Because of that, atheism is amoral, that is, atheism itself doesn’t say anything about morality. However, any further conclusions based on that is stretching the fact too far. Simply because one belief of one person is silent on morality does not make that person’s entire belief structure amoral.
Let’s put this another way so I can be really super clear. Suppose someone believes that he or she doesn’t like ketchup. That belief contains no concepts of morality. Supposing that this person is immoral because of a belief in not liking a condiment is ludicrous. If you also recognize that it’s silly, congratulations, you’ve figured out why it’s silly to say Atheists are immoral. It involves a conclusion that doesn’t follow from its premises.
Another example of conclusions that don’t follow from their premises can be found here:
Hint: it involves catching the train.
On a related note, saying that Atheists are immoral means that Atheists act outside of moral confines. This is based off either a religious assumption or categorically ignoring an Atheist’s other beliefs. While some Christians might argue that rejecting God is in itself immoral, anything outside that belief doesn’t justify such a claim of Atheist immorality. And, well, even if a Christian believes that rejecting God is immoral, that Christian has to define what rejecting God is. So there, Christians are going to hit a bunch of fellow Christians with that broad brushstroke.
And the purpose of all of this is to take emotional hostages. Get people angry about being equated with Hitler’s Holocaust and Stalin’s Purges, and they’ll mouth off at the first opportunity. People in support of the infallibility of Christian morality will happily agree with and parrot such sentiments.
There is a bigger question here.
Why is there a need to engage in emotional hostage taking?
Christians, by their own beliefs, are going to Heaven as a reward for suffering through this life and doing right by God. They get an eternity of happy existence, while those that reject Jesus and God get an eternity of torment. Why isn’t that enough? Why must Christians show their love for God and their compassion for fellow human beings by erroneously concluding that all atheism is the kind that spawns evil despots and mass killings?
Ultimately, what justifies Christians to make someone’s life miserable before they go to Hell? This is being done for many reasons: love, duty, even morality. They’re all such lofty goals, all intended to get sinners’ butts into pews on Sunday. Shaming people and lying about them is okay if it is done to get them “saved.”
That would be fine, if that’s where the emotional hostage taking ended.
De-converts of Christianity know what I’m talking about.
Once in the pew, different emotional flagellation ensues. Christians are reminded that they’re worthless sinners, who despite that sin still got a deific “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Nobody can earn his or her salvation; everyone is doomed. Sure, the “blood of the Lamb” will transform you, but when you invariably fail, it’s your fault, not God’s.
This message, of constant worthlessness, gets reinforced every Sunday at the least. It’s not surprising, then, to see it seep out into other messages of conversion. In fact, it’s the message of conversion. We’re all worthless and only God can make it go away. Whether it’s direct or hidden in emotional pot-shots, it’s all good to save souls.
I think recognizing these false claims for what they are might help other people calm down when they see stuff like this. For people who make these arguments, their view literally is that of nobody being good enough on their own. Therefore, tripe saying atheism is responsible for holocausts and genocide should be expected from this point of view. Getting angry will only reinforce that person’s selective view that people are no bueno without God. So it makes it more imperative to recognize that these things are said out of institutional inadequacy rather than malice.
While it doesn’t excuse the dishonesty of such statements, I think it does provide insight as to why it’s frustrating to deal with statements of this nature. Sadly, sometimes insight is all we can get from people.
Writing this post has given me enough fodder for another post, but I’ll wait to publish that one tomorrow. I can only deal with so much negativity in one day.