Yet Another Post About Atheism and Morality30 March, 2009
How can atheists be moral without the word of god(s) telling them what to do? In 1724, Christian theologian Richard Bentley, wrote: “no atheists as such can be a true friend, an affectionate relation, or a loyal subject”. Or, as a chap pseudonymously named Gideon recently commented over at You Made Me Say It: “After all, in your Godless universe, anything goes, right?”
In a word (to Gideon), no. I must live with the results of my actions. If I decide to borrow massively against my home equity and blow the money on KC Royals merchandise, the debt is mine. If I decide to speed, the fine is mine. If I decide to be unfaithful, the destruction of my marriage would be my fault (ain’t gonna happen). If I decided to embezzle money, the loss of my job and the criminal punishment is all mine. All of these are real world consequences of real world behaviour.
Christians, however, have a different view. From Fill the Void’s (which I snarked about yesterday) online comic strip page:
Gun Slinger – A hired killer trusts Christ and, at death, goes to heaven. But the law-abiding marshal who hunted him rejects Christ and goes to hell. Clearly shows that salvation is through grace, not works.
(I’ll save you the clicking: it’s a Chick Tract. Unless you are well fortified with scotch or absinthe, don’t go there.)
So the hired killer find’s god(s), develops a ‘personal relationship with Christ’ (which sounds, er, creepy?) and, suddenly, all of his life has no lasting consequence. The guy who tries to make the world a better place, removing criminals from society, goes to hell.
I consider myself a moral person. I don’t cheat on my wife. I don’t abuse children. I work hard. I pay my taxes. I pay my debts. I am part of the fire militia. I volunteered for the US Army. I don’t drink to excess. I don’t deal drugs. In other words, I am incredibly boring (and, obviously, not a Republican).
If I added to that “I have been saved, I have a personal relationship with Jesus, and I belong to the Hyper-Fundamentalist Christinist Evangelical Church of the Living Word of our Loving Savior,” then, by the standards of a Christian, I would be a sinner who is going to heaven. And if I cheated on my wife, abused my children, slacked at work, avoided my taxes, renegged on my debts, avoided any kind of public service, and dealt drugs, I would be a bad person. But, I would still be a sinner going to heaven.
But, I’m an atheist. In my godless universe, anthing goes. In my godless universe, I cannot be a friend, an affectionate relation, or a loyal subject. My acts mean nothing.
So, according to a large number of Christians, I am going to hell. No matter what I do on earth, I am condemned because I do not believe the right things about the right things. Haggard? to heaven. W? to heaven. (((Billy)))? to hell.
And Christians claim that atheists cannot be moral? Bullshit! Christians are allowed any immorality with their ‘get out of hell free’ card. Earthly punishment? It happens, but their final reward is still safe. We atheists have to live with the effect of our behaviour in the real world. Could it be that atheists (on average (there are always exceptions)) are more law-abiding than believers because we have no magic friend who can wipe away any transgression?
Maybe I should just smoke some meth with a male prostitute and then find Jesus. Then all is forgiven, right?