5. Morals and Values – Do Followers of Jesus do Good?
We are still talking about Morals and Values, and who is the law giver - but also; do Christians do good?
It brings us back to the question, “Who is the law giver?” If there is no ultimate lawgiver, or God, then morals become irrelevant. We are left with anarchy. If we can get away with it, then why not? If there is no law giver -whatever morality is - right and wrong are just words without meaning or significance. What is right for you might be wrong for me, but so what!
Dr. Bahnsen says that, “If the God of the bible does not exist, all principled or moral complaint about what Hitler did to the Jews is irrelevant. In a godless universe, what one “animal” does to other “animals” is ethically irrelevant. . What happens, happens. Period. We are left with others’ feelings and desires versus the feelings and desires of Hitler – with neither having any more “right” than the other.”
If we support liberal freedom then, in a true atheist worldview, we should defend Hitler’s freedom to do as he desired!
Dr. Bahnsen sets forth a rational, objective case for the existence of the Christian God. A case which fully takes into account the crucial function of one’s worldview in his reasoning. He is quoted in the tabloid for the Tabash debate as saying: “Pursued to their consistent end, the pre-suppositions of unbelief render man’s reasoning vacuous and his experience unintelligible. In short, they lead to the destruction of knowledge, the dead end of epistemological futility, and to utter foolishness.” http://www.tabash.com/
I question here the argument that atheists and humanists do as much good in the world as the likes of Robert Raikes, Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Cadburys, Fry’s, Rowntree. The reality is that the Christian ethic, the moral bias of serving a living God gives us great reason to care for His world and the people created in his image. Interestingly Dinesh D'Souza took Richard Dawkins to task for engaging in historical revisionism when it comes to the atrocities of atheist regimes and declared that Dawkins, "reveals a complete ignorance of history".
In a recent interview D'Souza declared:
“Richard Dawkins argues that at least the atheist regimes didn't kill people in the name of atheism. Isn't it time for this biologist to get out of the lab and read a little history? Marxism and Communism were atheist ideologies. Stalin and Mao weren't dictators who happened to be atheist; atheism was part and parcel of their official doctrine.
It was no “accident”, as the Marxists liked to say, that they shut down the churches and persecuted the clergy...]
Dinesh D'Souza stated in another interview:
“As one writer put it, “Leaders such as Stalin and Mao persecuted religious groups, not in a bid to expand atheism, but as a way of focusing people’s hatred on those groups to consolidate their own power.” Of course I agree that murderous regimes, whether Christian or atheist, are generally seeking to strengthen their position. But if Christian regimes are held responsible for their crimes committed in the name of Christianity, then atheist regimes should be held accountable for their crimes committed in the name of atheism. And who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? Who can dispute that they committed their bloody deeds by claiming to be establishing a “new man” and a “religion-free utopia?” These were mass murders performed with atheism as a central part of their ideological inspiration. They were not mass murders done by people who simply happened to be atheist.” Joseph Stalin's atheistic regime killed tens of millions of people the vast majority of which were his own people.
The thing that I noted most as I looked through Wikipedia and other web sites and their arguments against my moral perspective, was that no one seemed to talk about “conscience”. Conscience is that strange inner-voice with which we are all born. No one asked, “Where does that come from?” The Bible says in John chapter 1 that there is, “…a light that lights every man.” John is talking about Jesus in his Gospel when he makes that statement. However, there is also that light of “conscience” that every person has. And why would that be a surprise? If, as I believe, we are made in the image of God, why would it be strange that there is a part of us that is God-like, telling us about good and bad, right and wrong? Conscience is a strange thing, it tells us these things but does not make us do the right thing or stop us from doing wrong. Dinesh D’ Souza says it much better than me:
The Surprising Fact of Morality Evolutionists have some ingenious explanations for morality. But do they work? Morality is both a universal and a surprising fact about human nature. When I say that morality is universal I am not referring to this or that moral code. In fact, I am not referring to an external moral code at all. Rather, I am referring to morality as the voice within, the interior source that Adam Smith called the “impartial spectator.” Morality in this sense is an uncoercive but authoritative judge. It has no power to compel us, but it speaks with unquestioned authority. Of course we can and frequently do reject what morality commands, but when we do so we cannot avoid guilt or regret. It is because of our capacity for self-impeachment and remorse that Aristotle famously called man “the beast with the red cheeks.” Aristotle’s description holds up very well more than 2,000 years later. Even people who most flagrantly repudiate morality — say, a chronic liar or a rapacious thief — nearly always respond to detection with excuses and rationalisations. They say, “Yes, I lied, but I had no alternative under the circumstances,” or “Yes, I stole, but I did so to support my family.” Hardly anyone says, “Of course I am a liar and a thief, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.” What this means is that morality supplies a universal criterion or standard even though this standard is almost universally violated.
Morality is a surprising feature of humanity because it seems to defy the laws of evolution. Evolution is descriptive: It says how we do behave. Morality is prescriptive: It says how we should behave. And beyond this, evolutionary behaviour appears to run in the opposite direction from moral behaviour. Evolution implies that we are selfish creatures who seek to survive and reproduce in the world. Indeed we are, but we are also unselfish creatures who seek the welfare of others, sometimes in preference to our own. We are participants in the game of life, understandably partial to our own welfare, while morality stands aloof, taking the impartial, or, “God’s eye view”, directing us to act in a manner conducive to the good of others. In sum, while evolution provides a descriptive account of human self-interest, morality provides a standard of human behaviour that frequently operates against self-interest.
So if we are mere evolutionary primates, how do we account for morality as a central and universal feature of our nature? Why would morality develop among creatures obsessively bent on survival and reproduction? Darwin himself recognized the problem. In “The Descent of Man”, Darwin argued that “although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe, yet . . . an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another.” Darwin’s point is that a tribe of virtuous patriots, with each of its members willing to make sacrifices for the group, would prove more successful and thus be favoured by natural selection over a tribe of self-serving individuals. This is the group-selection argument, and for many decades it was considered an acceptable way to reconcile evolution with morality.
But as biologists now recognize, the argument has a fatal flaw. The question we have to ask is how a tribe of individuals would become self-sacrificing in the first place. Imagine a tribe where, for instance, many people shared their food with others or volunteered to defend the tribe from external attack. Now what would be the fate of individual cheaters who benefited from this arrangement but hoarded their own food and themselves refused to volunteer to fight? Clearly these scoundrels would have the best deal of all. In other words, cheaters could easily become free riders, benefiting from the sacrifices of others but making no sacrifices themselves, and they would be more likely to survive than their more altruistic fellow tribesmen.
So do I still think morality or conscience is something that comes from the ‘God who is there,’ after reading all that is said about my opinions in the various discussions, Wikipedia and otherwise? Even more so!
For UCB 3 Minute talk