Once Again: Atheism is Wrong


A lot of Atheists are, frankly, unintelligent. They simply don’t understand what atheism means nor its implications. Some Atheists are a bit smarter, and understand some kind of logical argument for their beliefs.

I challenge all Atheists to think critically about the problem of morality: What, exactly, is good, and what, exactly, is wrong?

We certainly are programmed to think of some behavior as good and others as bad. We look at murder and universally condemn it, and we condemn other actions in specific circumstances. Certainly it is wrong to intentionally deceive someone to their harm. Certainly it is wrong to withhold your substance from the poor. Certainly it is wrong to sexually abuse children!

But why? What makes those things wrong? If we can understand that, then we can start to live our lives to maximize good. But what is good? A natural definition is “that which is not wrong.” But isn’t wrong “that which is not good?” We have a problem.

We need some way to determine whether behavior is good or bad, so we can make a moral decision to choose the good and avoid the bad.

Philosophers have struggled with this problem throughout history. All, without exception, have failed to build a foundation for morality from nothing.

Modern Atheists think, in their ignorance, they know what is right and wrong. They condemn war, or condemn child molestation, and they think they are doing good. Are they?

If they define morality in a way that allows the preference of the individual to influence it, they have defined no morality at all. Certainly, the murderer thinks it is a good thing to murder at the time, and a child rapist thinks it is a good thing to rape the child at the time. We cannot allow human preference or emotion to enter into the equation at all.

That means we must have a universal definition of morality, a morality that applies to all sentient beings, everywhere, at all times, without change.

When I say “Atheists have no morality”, or “Atheism is amoral”, this is what I mean. They have no basis for morality, since they do not admit to anything but human reason and logic.

All religions carry in them an assumption of what is right and wrong. Judeo-Christian traditions define morality based solely on God’s preference. God is good, good is God. Whatever God wants, that is good. Whatever he doesn’t want, that is evil.

The problem then becomes: How can we obtain the will of God in our day-to-day lives? My Christian religion, the LDS religion teaches that all people, when they are born, are given a conscience, the “Light of Christ.” They are told, in no uncertain terms, what is right and wrong with emotional promptings before they embark upon a decision.

We are also taught that ignoring these promptings weaken their influence. The first lie is hard; the hundredth is not even considered. The first murder is difficult; the hundredth not even a thought is given. That’s why we strongly encourage people to not commit sin at all. Those people who violate the grosser sins lose their moral compass, almost completely. Adulterers and fornicators (hetero or homosexual) are among those who have the most badly damaged moral compasses. They are so damaged that when they are faced with spiritual impressions, they demand an outward, physical sign to confirm it.

We may also temporarily or permanently injure our moral compass in the way we treat our bodies. Alcohol and other substances leave their stain in our consciences. Hard drugs may even irreparably damage them. Members of the LDS church abstain from coffee, tea and tobacco for this reason. We simply don’t want to risk it.

Those who pay attention to their moral compass are inevitably lead, when they are prepared, to face the Holy Ghost, which will demand positive action such as prayer, scripture study, and baptism into the church. Those who have made a conscience decision to heed these promptings will inevitably end up within the church.

You can see how the belief that there is no God, or even that God’s will is not known among mankind, present us with a moral system without any morality. You can see also how a just God would ensure that every person be told what is right and wrong so that they can make their own choices.

If you’re the type of person that rejects the good promptings in their heart, the promptings that say to speak kindly, to serve one another, to avoid behaviors that hurt yourself and others, then I would not be surprised if you turn to Atheism. It’s the only hope for your shattered conscience to have any consistency at all.

However, if you try to justify your morality, or rather, the lack of morality, as the superior one, just know how stupid you sound.


47 Responses to “Once Again: Atheism is Wrong”

  1. Tensor Says:

    Theism is the belief in the existence of one (or more) god(s); atheism is the lack of such belief. Therefore, for the title of this post to be correct, the author of it must demonstrate the existence of at least one god. Absent that, Okham’s Razor leaves atheism as the default correct value.

    I challenge all Atheists to think critically about the problem of morality: What, exactly, is good, and what, exactly, is wrong?

    We’re way ahead of you. Sam Harris’ book, The Moral Landscape, addresses these questions. (If that’s a bit long, you may read his essays, at SamHarris.org)

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      My point wasn’t to demonstrate that Atheism is incorrect (demonstrating that is a simple experiment anyone can perform), just that you can’t have Atheism be true and morality. Morality must be defined in terms of something not human and beyond logic and reason. Morality is something we do not create nor can we modify.

      Sam Harris is a fool who doesn’t realize the massive error he has made. http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2011/11/sam-harris-is-wrong-about-science-and-morality/

      Rather than refer me to a book, why don’t you try to give me the logical statements he makes? Surely, morality cannot be that confusing of a logical topic! Religion has boiled it down to “morality is the preference of the deity”.

    • ?????????? Says:

      You ever notice how you can’t prove god nonexistent?

      And you say we only rely on faith!

      How did we get this sense of morality? From the monkeys we “evolved” from? The natural human brain? I don’t think so.

      You see, whenever a Cristian/Catholic like me throws evidence of his existence out there, you atheists ignore it and say our religion is blind. If you say there is no evidence, look it up! There is plenty. You just can’t accept the facts that because you were raised blinded. You don’t see what others can.

  2. Tensor Says:

    Religion has boiled it down to “morality is the preference of the deity”.

    Until and unless existence of a deity has been demonstrated, this morality has no basis. Without the existence of a deity, the morality so described becomes nothing other than human invention, and if any of your claims against human-based morality are true, then they would also apply to the now-baseless religious morality.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      That has no bearing whatseover with my arguments. Atheism is the assumption like you said, there is no deity to give moral direction. Morality must, necessarily, come from man. My argument is that any morality that depends on men is no morality at all, and so morality does not exist unless it comes from a deity. Proving whether a deity exists, or doesn’t exist, or has your best interests in mind is simply irrelevant to that argument.

  3. Alex Says:

    You don’t need to be a Christian to have good values. I have been exposed to both Chrisians and atheists (my family consists of both) and have found them to have equal morality. Just acting good because God says so and you fear the punishment is a much less rational way of thinking when compared to doing what is right because of humans’ instinctive moral code.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      So, Christians define good as God’s preference.

      How do you define good without God? Many philosophers have tried, but apparently, you have some definition of good that does not rely on the Christian God.

      But from what I see, your definition is the same as the Christians. You equate good with what Christ actually did.

      See, we teach freely that people who must be compelled to do good are slothful and unwise in my church. Those who act good for fear of punishment are very, very far from Christ’s example, who did good simply because he loved God more than himself. I do not disagree with you here.

      If you are one of those Atheists who define good as what Christians should do and what Christ actually did, you should call yourself a Christian, not an Atheist.

  4. Austin Says:

    Here’s my problem with your argument. There are many different religions with different moral codes. Now, you say that morality stems from what god deems to be good, but whose god are you talking about. Let’s assume your god is the true god, that means that all the other religions are false, and therefore their moral code is nothing more than how the authors of their religious texts wanted them to behave. So, we have billions of people on the planet who, instead of deciding for themselves what right and wrong, are basing their morals on the what other men say is moral. But why should these men be trusted? As you said “the murderer thinks it is a good thing to murder at the time, and a child rapist thinks it is a good thing to rape the child at the time”, kind of like how the author of Leviticus thought slavery was a good thing. However, using logic and reason, it is fairly obvious why slavery is wrong.
    As an atheist, my goal in life is to die knowing the world was a better place with me than without me. I want my friends and family to miss me when I’m gone. That’s where my moral code comes from.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      The logical traps you’ve fallen into do not exist if you assume that at least one of all the world’s religions is correct, or rather, that a correct religion can exist, because it’s unlikely that anyone has gotten ALL of the details right. True, the world’s religions disagree on just about everything imaginable, but there is a lot of agreement as well, suggesting there is something “there”.

      Your idea of what’s good, the fact that you’d be missed when you are gone, is something I would not consider good. Have you built up a sort of dependency in the people around you, where your absence injures them? How can you consider what is “good” or “bad” for them anyway? I illustrate this not to belittle you, but to show you why your trivial definition is meaningless.

      I don’t know where you get the idea that slavery was a good thing according to Leviticus. I encourage you to read the Bible for yourself rather than trust people who are obviously biased about the whole affair, and cherry-pick quotes out of context to advance their agenda at the expense of others. Enough said on that.

      I don’t think you can use logic and reason to explain why slavery is “obviously” a bad or wrong thing. You simply cannot prove something “good” or “evil” without an absolute definition of good. The entire basis of your arguments, I imagine, will be founded in the Judeo-Christian value system, namely, that life is sacred, we are created as a little below God, and we have dominion over the earth, but not each other. So you will have to assume that religion is true to even begin the discussion. Using a different set of assumptions, say those that guided the Romans, you would arrive at a contradictory conclusion.

  5. Jamie Says:

    I think the mistake you’re making is that you’re narrowly defining morality. You’re saying, “Morality has to be this!” I might say, “No, morality can also be this!”

    You perceive right and wrong as necessarily objective and I don’t. What is “right” in one situation may be “wrong” in another situation. I see what is “right and wrong” as dynamic. What benefit is it to us as a society to murder and rape and steal? There’s not really one. A society that did not have rules (i.e. morality) would collapse. And seeing as how society helps individuals, it’s a good idea for us to help society.

    Now, you said atheists only “admit” to reason and logic, well, I have another thing that we admit to and that’s biology. Us humans? We’re biologically inclined to be empathetic. Evolution wants (for lack of a better word) for us to succeed as a species. What better way to ensure our own continuity than to make us care about each other?

    Would it be “wrong” in some universal sense for me to murder you? I don’t think so. BUT! Thanks to evolution, I’m wired to not want to do that sort of thing. That’s a good thing too, because if we all were then our species wouldn’t survive. Notice too this applies to the rest of the animal kingdom. That is to say, for example, murders of crows don’t, well, murder each other! Every normal (relatively speaking) individual in a species wants to propagate its own kind, not destroy it.

    My point is that while you might not find it comforting to not exist in a Universe where a cosmic battle rages between good and evil all around us, it doesn’t make it not true that you still do. The consequences of the truth have no bearing on the truth, er, of the truth.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Do people like you actually think about things, or do you just say whatever you feel like saying?

      I’m trying to parse your argument, but honestly, it makes no sense whatsoever.

      Could you try being more definite and clear?

      (1) Does morality exist at all? If so, what is it? I it is something, it cannot be another thing, at least, if we are dealing with logic and reason.

      (2) Your lame attempt to make morality non-objective is not an argument at all for what you think it is. In one situation, a thing is not the same as it is in another situation. This is not a hard concept, and doesn’t preclude objective, universal measures. For instance, you cannot argue that electrodynamics does not work since a positive charge in one electric field experiences a different force in a different field. That is exactly what electrodynamics explains. The same is with morality: Morality explains what is good in all situations, just like ED explains what forces charged particles experience in ALL situations.

      “Objective” means it doesn’t rely on what an individual thinks. “Subjective”, on the other hand, means that it is dependent on the person describing it.

      (3) Your lame appeal to evolution is truly lame. I don’t know where to begin. If you say that evolution wires us to think something is good and something is bad, then we have a subjective definition of morality, and the definition is “whatever you feel like doing.” This is obviously wrong, since we condemn people who murder as “bad” even though it’s what evolution programmed them to do. Of course, I don’t subscribe to the ideas of evolution because they are plainly silly and lead to this very problem.

      (4) I have no idea what you are talking about. Why are you talking about battles when that is completely unrelated?

  6. Dr Peter Kalve Says:

    No atheist disputes that religions exist. The claim that one or other religion is “true” requires definition. If by saying this you mean religion is based on some metaphysical origin which can be “proved” is simply unevidenced speculation of the worst kind – a bit like claiming belief in a moon of cheese.

    Your spurious comment that we are born “programmed” by some fantasy morality originating from “God” is equally unevidenced and just as ridiculous. Indeed were we to go back in history, we will find many dominant cultures that considered action to be morally “right” yet of which we today would thoroughly disagree – e.g. early Christians condemning mental illness as devil possession, Roman ampitheaters, betrothal and marriage from the cot in the Middle Ages, or executing people with IQs of 61 in Texas this year. The point is that in reality there is no such thing as “true morality”: all that has ever existed is the constantly changing social consciousness of any given society. As the dialectic of history changes the mores of society over time, so our expressions of tolerance and intolerance change. And that is what all your precious reified “morality” amounts to.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      What are you trying to say? Why try to be good, if good doesn’t exist? Let’s just do what we like, and ignore morality altogether.

      I would hope that isn’t what you believe.

      It sounds like, based on your words, that you have some hope that there is a universal morality, but you are trying to argue against it. I cannot help you until you at least resolve the conflict in your mind.

      Does good exist or does it not? If so, then what is good? If not, then why constrain our actions?

      • Dr Peter Kalve Says:

        I imply a universal morality?! What nonsense! If you actually read (or perhaps understood) my second paragraph, I say no such thing. The point I make is that “morality” is simply an example whatever our social consciousness at a given time. In reality there is no such thing as “morality” as a thing in itself. “Morality” is merely social consciousness – in the dialectical materialist sense, and, as a result, involving some metaphysical “God” in all this is equally nonsense.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        If you imply that anything is good irrespective of the person, then you imply a universal morality. For instance, if you say people “should” eat their vegetables, or the Bible is “wrong”, or this-and-that is “immoral”, or any other statement of judgment of goodness or badness, than you are talking about a universal morality.

        Let me compare with something like gravity. I can state the law that dictates the force that applies between any two masses. No, it is not the same for different objects in different positions with different masses, but it is a universal law. So when I talk about whether a body experiences a force due to gravity, I am referencing that universal law.

        You, on the other hand, are like a scientist who refuses to talk about the Law of Gravity, even denying its existence, and yet you continue to talk about the force of gravity in those words.

        You can’t have it both ways. Either you have a moral system, or you don’t. If you don’t, then nothing is good and nothing is evil, nothing is right or wrong, correct or incorrect, nobody “should” or “should not” do anything, etc…

      • Dr Peter Kalve Says:

        Jonathan, you still do not understand – “morality” is a social construct which changes as social consciousness has changed over time. There is no “universal good” which stands in time and space. All “morality” is a mutable social expression. I hold that no God exists, and that claims to link “morality” to “God” is as deluded as the incipient racism that showed its very ugly head at Mr Romney’s jamboree. Prove you fantastic magical-mystery-tour of a God exists, and I might take your views to be more sane than they currently seem to me.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        You cannot PROVE that no God exists, you assert it without evidence or logic or reason. There is no logic to that statement. You are showing your inherent illogic and unreasonableness by declaring it.

        Why do you claim morality is a social construct? Morality hasn’t changed over time. It is constant. Are we not allowed to judge people from different times and places? What rule dictates that murder in one age and place is not murder in another? How big must a society be before it gets its own morality? Can we have a morality of one person? Would that not then declare that whatever one person decides to do, is just and right? Well then, I could just as easily declare killing you is moral as you could of me. What do we have then? Nothing at all.

        Is it “good” to be correct? If so, then your definition of morality allows “correctness” to be as arbitrary as birds flying from tree to tree. In one society, Pythagorean’s theorem holds, while in another, it does not? What an absurd contradiction. Truth is truth. Good is good.

        Now I’m an incipient Racist! And insane! Yes, the ad hominem attack. That is sure to win any logical debate. Your prefix of Dr, tell me, did you earn that? From which school? What degree? Why do you think it is logical and reasonable to use logical fallacies such as the ad hominem to justify your reasoning?

        I have proven my God exists, to my satisfaction. If you want to see my proof, allow the missionaries to teach you, read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know for yourself. Just like the proof of Pythagorean’s Theorem, if you are not willing to follow the steps, you cannot see it for yourself. If you refuse to see the steps, then you remain an ignoramus, no different than what you claim Christians to be.

      • Dr Peter Kalve Says:

        You clearly do not understand what an “ad hominem” argument requires. At no point do I call you a racist – and, at no point do I claim you are insane. Your attempt to belittle me is silly.

        I said – very clearly – that your so-called “arguments” are “deluded” in the same sense or category of delusion as the delusion of (for example) those most appalling racists at Mit Romney’s convention – i.e. both are based on prejudicial views regarding reality. In your case, you presuppose God exists and that it is up to atheists to prove God does not exist (science, of course works the other way round). In the case of those racists, they presupposed that blacks are inferior to whites, and that – presumably – it is up to anti-racists to prove them wrong.

        However, you make a simple Kantian category mistake to assume that by saying this I suggest you are a racist. I am more than happy to state publicly that I have no evidence whatsoever to even postulate that you are a racist! At no point have I said this, and it is disingenuous of you to suggest I do.

        What I DO suggest is that the basis of your claim that God exists is not simply bad philosophy, but a deluded presupposition, AS DELUDED as the presuppositions that underpin the views of those racists at the Republican convention in other words – the delusion of unscientific presupposition.

        As for your claim (with no substantiation) that “morality” is a constant, I challenge you to prove that “morality” exists as a “thing” in itself. My argument, which, unlike your speculation, is backed up by socio-historical analysis, demonstrates that as social consciousness changes,so our sense of “right and wrong” also changes. Examples of this include the acceptance of slavery (now opposed), the acceptance of child-labour (now generally opposed), the right to marry at the age of 12 (now generally opposed), etc.

        “Morality” is merely the dominant social consciousness of a particular people at a particular time and place; no more, no less.

        Finally you ask some silly questions about my background, attempting (poorly) to insult me. For the record – I live in the UK and, if you need my degree history,(why?!), I am Peter Kalve, BD Hons (Lond.) – theology, MA (Lambeth Palace) – theology by research, MEd (Hull) – philosophy of education, PhD (Hull) – philosophy of education, PGCE (Oxon.), FRSA. Will that help?!?

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        I do not presuppose God to exist, anymore than I presuppose g to be 9.8 m/s^2. I have proof of my own. Yes, I believed someone when they told me God exists, and g is 9.8 m/s^2, and I tried the recommended experiments, and analyzed them using logic and reason, and found both to be true, but in no case did I presuppose anything. If my reasoning is wrong, I’d appreciate you to explain to me why it is wrong. But so far, everything I have observed seems to agree with my observation that g is 9.8 m/s^2 and God lives.

        The Atheist assertion that God does not exist is an absurd assertion. It can not be verified, not with any evidence, or any amount of time.

        You are implying racism and insanity quite obviously, and you can’t even see yourself doing it, apparently. Well, fine. Stick to logical statements, and leave the flourishes out of it.

        Morality exists as a thing as much as truth and math exist.

        Yes, society’s view of morality do change. However, we feel perfectly content to judge other societies by a larger universal frame of mind, just as we judge our own society’s moral view. Societies can no more determine what is good and evil than they can determine what is true or what is math.

        To show you the absurdity of your definition of morality being relative to society, why do you dare think of what is right and wrong on your own, and challenge our society’s way of thinking, rather than simply asking a poll for what the moral correctness of any matter is?

        I asked your background because you seem to have a hard time dealing with logic and reason. Yes, the list of your degrees do help. Having no background in the “hard” sciences, you really don’t know how to reason about complicated things like reality. I had hoped a doctor would be more able to engage in intelligent conversation.

  7. Kingofthenet Says:

    Let me ask you a question Jon, IF one lived 100% Faithful to the SEVEN commandments that apply to Human/Human interaction, and disregarded the first three that apply to Human/God interactions would you consider this person to be an OUTSTANDING Human Being? Now the question isn’t what would your SkyGod think, I am asking YOU to think about the answer. We are talking about someone who NEVER Murders,Steals, commits Adultery etc. Is this a GREAT Human or not?
    Atheists live by the rule of RECIPROCITY, AKA: The Golden Rule. Why is that not enough? Does EVERYTHING you do need to be measured against some ultimate standard or it doesn’t matter?
    Why do YOU think ‘Fornication’ is wrong? Again not what your God says, you explain it to me on purely Human terms? Tell me why two people who love each other cannot have sex?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Your attempts at being offensive (SkyGod, etc…) are being ignored, just so I can respond to your question.

      You begin with the assumption that the 7 commandments having to do with human-human interactions are good. Well, here’s your problem. You can’t define good. The only definition of good that works is “what God wants.” Any other attempts are lame and lead to logical contradictions that label clearly evil acts as being good.

      Assuming you want to work with this definition of good, then the answer is already before your eyes. If you disobey 1 commandment from God, then you are, by definition, not good. This is the sad truth that all humans must face: we are not good. We are the opposite of good.

      On fornication, it is wrong, simply put, because God said so. There is nothing more to discuss.

      We can track the evil effects of fornication, and then see why God might say such a thing. There are, in my mind, several effects, but the worst of which is the corruption of one’s heart and mind. When you share a sexual relationship, and then sever that relationship, or in other words, when you have relationships outside of a firm covenant between you, your spouse, God and the state, then you will suffer severe and permanent emotional damage. All other consequences pale in comparison to this. After all, we can suffer disease, unwanted children, the lack or excess of pleasure, as long as our conscience is clear and we know that the person we pledged to live the rest of our lives with pledges the same to us.

      Adulterers and fornicators have abused their consciences and their emotional and mental well-being. They are so badly damaged they lie to themselves and convince themselves that they are not damaged, or rather, that everyone else is damaged in the same way. They think that everyone feels the way they do all the time. It is not true. Those who have kept their sexual relationships within the confines of marriage have a peace of mind and a confidence that adulterers and fornicators can never have, unless they completely repent of their sins and are healed by the Savior.

      Unfortunately, explaining this is like trying to explain light to someone who has lived their lives in darkness. It is a foreign concept. The only way you can explain light is to show them light, to show them what it is like to live in the light.

      • Dr Peter Kalve Says:

        John, you are mistaken when you say the the good can only have reference to “God”. In doing this, you make an elementary category mistake. You have not proved that “the good” exists, in just the same way that you have not shown that God exists. My reasoning for this is posted above, and you are by now familiar with this.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        It’s not up to me to prove good exists. If you call yourself an Atheist, and you reject God, then if you want to use the word “good” or related words “should” or “must” and such, then YOU have to come up with a moral and ethical system.

        My ethical system is already encoded inherent in my belief system. God exists, and he dictates what good is. Our choice is to listen or to ignore him.

  8. Dustin Says:

    So what I am getting from this you are only “good” because of God? So you are saying that God made the rules and that’s why follow them or is it because God only picked the right rules to follow? This is confusing to me because having morality without God or even if you believe in God but make your own morals in life (and if they are good morals) seem to me that you are a better person then someone who has to have a God to have morals at all. Atheist have morals and to say they don’t (which some don’t you are probably referring to nihilists) is just ignorant in itself. Some people need a God to have morals and others don’t. I, myself, was brought up in a Christian family found through rational thought that it was not what I wanted to believe and found that atheism was the best choice for me. There is nothing wrong with being Christian or Atheist and the reason they argue so much is beyond me, because Christianity is not science (even though it attempts to be) it is just faith. I have seen poor arguments such as this. So are you saying that Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc all have no morals is completely unintelligent (referring to what you say about Atheists in the beginning about Atheist). Just because Atheist go by strong evidence, almost irrefutable evidence, to support their claim does not make them unintelligent it makes them rational, logical people. Please reply because Christianity does not equal morality there is no argument here.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      No, I am not “good” because of God. Quite the contrary! God has laid down what good is, and comparing myself with it, I am found wanting! We all are out of sync with God’s definition of good, by quite a lot, when you look into the details of it.

      Whether God picked the rules or God merely understood the rules is wholly irrelevant to the question at hand. Is it possible that God is the rule—they are one and the same? It doesn’t matter, anyway. It’s like saying “Does Pythagorean’s Theorem say the sum of the square of the legs is the square of the hypotenuse, or is the square of the hypotenuse the sum of the square of the legs?” If God’s will is morality, then what does is matter if morality is his will or his will is morality?

      How would you judge a morality to be good or bad without a morality to judge it by? This is a strange idea when you think about it. What would make one morality “good” and another “bad”?

      What morals do Atheists have? Where did they come from? Or are you borrowing from other religions? I know for a fact that you cannot prove anything good or bad without using God in the equation. And I know for a fact that the morality Atheists tend to use is roughly the Christian one, with odd logical inconsistencies introduced to justify their failings. See, the Atheists tend to use good as a tool to justify themselves, and condemn their enemies. They do not see morality as a tool to condemn one’s self, and justify others, which is how the Christians see it. (If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, you need to read more of what Christ taught people. He clearly never used morality to justify himself, and he asked people to compare themselves with morality, rather than imposing it upon them.)

      If you believe you do not need God to have morality, tell me, how do you know what is good or bad?

      Christianity IS science. They are one and the same. This is not the principle point of my argument, but when you understand what Christianity is (and not what Atheist say it is) you will see it is true for yourself.

      I am not saying other religions do not have morality. Why do you think I would say that? Every religion shares some ideas about how they see God and what his preferences are. For all the disagreement between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the differences, although significant, are few.

      If Atheists go by strong evidence, then tell me, what evidence do you have to refute the existence of God? If you have none, then you are irrational. You think you are doing something you are not.

      If there is no argument here, then why do you bother? Why bother discussing anything if you have already decided you are right? Please, I invite you, do not interact with any other intelligent minds. You might actually see how you are wrong! That would mean the universe would turn upside down for you, because you are always right and never wrong!

  9. Rose Hathaway Says:

    Jonathan Gardner you completely annihilated… good on you! The substance of your arguments easily outweigh the atheist introspect.

  10. Peter Says:

    What amuses me the most is that this whole piece starts off with an assumed premise: that everyone’s idea of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are the same, and are ‘programmed’ into us. FALSE PREMISE. What people consider ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is decided, most commonly, by the societal norms of the region they live in (nurture, not nature). Plain as that.

    “All religions carry in them an assumption of what is right and wrong. Judeo-Christian traditions define morality based solely on God’s preference. God is good, good is God. Whatever God wants, that is good. Whatever he doesn’t want, that is evil”

    The above may be true, but shouldn’t one question authority every now and agin? Relying on a book that came from a time when women were property for your moral guidance is NOT, in my humble opinion, a good plan.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Your definition of morality is lacking. I never asserted that everyone’s idea of right and wrong is the same. Obviously, it’s not. (You’re building a strawman here.)

      Your definition means that if we, as a society, decided that murder was A-OK, then murder would be A-OK. But that simply isn’t the case. Your definition would also imply that whatever society does is right. So you can’t argue against slavery, treating women like property, etc… because that’s what society thought was OK at the time, so according to your definition, that was the good thing to do. In those times, according to your definition, it would be wrong to think no one was a slave, or that treating women like property was wrong.

      So your definition of right and wrong is not only stupid, but it shows how what you think to be right (not taking morals from a book written by a people who thought women were property) is really, according to your definition, a wrong, since the people got to define their own morality, and they said you were wrong.

      Think about that for a moment.

  11. eli Says:

    Its actually pretty simple. A moral choice is one that will result in the least amount of suffering overall. An immoral choice is one that will cause more suffering than another possible choice.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      No, it’s not simple at all.

      Now you’ve defined morality as “lack of suffering”. In that case, not going to the gym is moral, and wasting your youth struggling in school is immoral.

      Or, rather, you’re going to have to define “suffer” without using good in your definition.

      Good luck!

  12. FCP Says:

    Thanks for this true condescending intro to perfect christian thought arrogance – I have sent copies to others.

    In Summary you basically state that your “God” is THE basis for moral, nothing else can be. All of your pseudo-logic then goes backwards to proof the already given result. For example that you presuppose “We certainly are programmed to think of some behavior …” without any (hard !) scientific foundation or background. But most of you pseudo-logic has already been critized before – interesting that so far no one followed your way of thinking.

    And as I also do not follow your logic – I am unintelligent, I don’t understand, my thoughts are lame, I sound stupid … etc.

    Now maybe one comment on your statements that has not been discussed before :”Philosophers have struggled with this problem throughout history. All, without exception, have failed to build a foundation for morality from nothing.”
    I know a lot of exceptions – let me give you one : Immanual Kant and his “critique of pure reason”. Read it as he is clearly a pioneer to take the discussion about moral out of the common religious corner and gets it onto a neutral basis. I am afraid though that your biased logic will struggle to understand Kant.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      You think you may have logically proven something, but your argument is completely devoid of it.

      You start by insulting my intelligence and writing, and then you try to humiliate me to a larger audience. Is that a logical or rational thing to do?

      You dare not attack any of my logical points with logic. Instead, you merely assert they are wrong and I am wrong.

      You cite Emmanuel Kant. I’m proud of you. You have done some reading. You will note, however, that Emmanual Kant does nothing of what you claim he does in his writing. If he has, perhaps you can enlighten me by restating his logical arguments to show that morality can be defined without resorting to a higher power who has already defined it.

      On the wikipedia articlae about Critique of Pure Reason, there is this little gem that seemingly contradicts what you claim it represents:

      “According to Kant, only practical reason, the faculty of moral consciousness, the moral law of which everyone is immediately aware, makes it possible to know things as they are.[7]”

      That is my argument. There is already something in existence above and beyond logic that makes some things moral and other things not.

      And so Atheists run around, telling people, “There is no God” which they know they cannot possibly know. Or, perhaps they are more truthful and declare, “I believe in no God” which is an entirely different statement. And then, at the very moment when they have abandoned the very basis of morality, they proscribe morality derived from such an assumption, and they use it to show the immorality of those who do believe in God.

      It’s like a pacifist who denies the existence of weapons, and finding a soldier with one, takes the weapon, shoots the soldier, and returns it to the dead body, and declares, “See? There are no weapons.”

  13. FCP Says:

    (1) If divine command theory is true then either (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, or (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God.
    (2) If (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, then they are morally good independent of God’s will.
    (3) It is not the case that morally good acts are morally good independent of God’s will.
    (4) It is not the case that (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good.
    (5) If (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God, then there is no reason either to care about God’s moral goodness or to worship him.
    (6) There are reasons both to care about God’s moral goodness and to worship him.
    (7) It is not the case that (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God.
    (8) Divine command theory is false.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      If we take the slope between two points on an arbitrary curve, and find the limit as the separation between the points approaches zero, then that is defined as the derivative of the curve at the point.

      My statement has as much to do with the topic as yours.

  14. Hello Says:

    I did not read all comments; there are a lot. But my definition of a good deed is doing an action that causes more people to be happy than it causes people to be unhappy. If you have equal numbers, count ypuself as one of the people recieving happiness

  15. Jason Gardner Says:

    Why not humble yourself and try to understand what everyone is saying?

    To do this you first must admit that there is a possibility that everything you believe is wrong. Most people simply cannot accept that statement. They hear “Everything you DO believe is wrong” and close their minds.

    Those that cannot accept that they could be wrong are destined for the intellectual dustbin. Human knowledge and experience is always advancing. If you believe you were magically born “right” you are destined to be left behind as these advances in the collective human knowledge overtake and eventually abandon you.

    As a corollary, to grow you must realize that two intelligent, wise and well intentioned individuals can be diametrically opposed on the same issue. No one is wrong, they might just have a good faith disagreement. That is absolutely fine.

    The key for you is to try to understand WHY they disagree with you. Do not try to convince them that you are right and they are wrong. Make it a goal to understand what they are saying and why they say it.

    Also, treat with suspicion that which you were told when you were young and impressionable. When you learned your religion and politics you were a child and did not have the experience or intellect of a grown man. Recognize that flaw and understand that you may have, in your youth, absorbed knowledge that, as it turns out, is wrong.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I do, and I have, accepted the fact that most of my beliefs are wrong. I am constantly questioning my beliefs, trying to figure out which ones are right and which are wrong, and when I find one that is wrong, I happily abandon it and replace it with a correct one.

      When people disagree, assuming that there is an absolute truth and thus right and wrong, then they are either both wrong or only one of them wrong. They can’t both be right, unless you measure right-ness by some subjective measure which depends on who you are talking about, which would be the opposite of impartiality and universal truth.

      What I learned when I was young was what I learned when I was young, nothing more. It is a fallacy to believe that adult believers in a particular thing only believe it because they believed it when they were young. If this were the case, there would be no converts, no new believers, and there would be no one who left a religion they were born into.

  16. Jason Says:

    “All religions carry in them an assumption of what is right and wrong. Judeo-Christian traditions define morality based solely on God’s preference. God is good, good is God. Whatever God wants, that is good. Whatever he doesn’t want, that is evil.”

    The problem of course is that you have no idea about the nature or existence of God. That is why this line of thinking is a dead end.

    For instance, you say drinking is forbidden while an Irish Catholic thinks God is all for it. (Didn’t Jesus turn water into wine?) no way to tell who is right.

    We simply know nothing about God. Jesus didn’t even write anything himself while he was on earth. (He authored nothing, which you have to admit is very strange for someone who wanted to get the word out.)

    What you have as gospel is at best a 710896th hand account of what some Iron Age Jews thought of the world. You have scarce evidence of the books utility and every reason to be suspicious of it?

    The second problem is that it opens up the question: Do we only worship God because we are weak? So our morals are based on fear? what if we disagree with God, can he be wrong? Do we have an obligation to oppose God when he does immoral things?

    There is plenty of people who think it’s perfectly moral to strap a bomb on their kid and send the kid on a bus. It’s what God tells them to do, after all…

    I assume you do disagree with strapping bombs to your kids. But that makes you a hypocrite disagreeing with the Muslim guys version of gods morals, no?

    He prayed about his books as well as you did, I would assume. So why does your morals differ? God giving two stories?

    Or do you assume you are the only religious God talks to? All the other religious people do not get affirmation of their faith from God? Or God talks to you best?

    How do you know your morals are right and Mohammed there is wrong? Why can’t God get his story straight?

    I think you probably think in some way that God talks to you best. Doesn’t that make you a prophet? I mean, you know exactly what God wants…

    Closer to home, other Protestants think coffee is ok. Why would God not get that story right? Or, why didn’t just not create the coffee bean?

    The fundamental problem is that man has precious little to go on when it comes to gods nature and existence. We either trust ourselves or trust others to find gods will.

    History has shown that those that are trusted to know gods will often the most immoral. And how do we know who actually knows gods will?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I don’t claim I have no idea about God. I certainly don’t know everything about God. Who can make that claim? But I don’t claim I know nothing about God.

      It is true we all disagree about God in one way or the other, probably every aspect of God we claim we can find someone who disagrees with it. But does that make everyone wrong? No, it says at best only one idea can be right. Maybe none of the ideas are right, that is true, but maybe one of them is right. Who can say? So you’re saying that we’re both wrong is just as wrong as me saying I’m right and the Irish catholic saying he is right. What makes your opinion better than ours? Why would it be preferable to mine or the Irishman’s?

      You’re misrepresenting the Bible horribly. No, Jesus didn’t write anything, at least anything that survives. However, the gospels were written by people who had first-hand knowledge, except Luke, which was written by someone who compiled several first-hand accounts. Paul didn’t witness Christ’s life, but he had has own vision, and he recorded it. He also spent a great deal of time verifying that the message he was conveying was accurate and true, and reported that he had confirmed it with hundreds who had first-hand accounts. The Bible is the most accurate historical book we have, using any measure of historical accuracy you can think of. We know more about Jesus than we know about any other historical figure. The accounts we have of Alexander the Great, for instance, weren’t written down for hundreds of years after he died.

      The question of morality is this. What is the source? Is it what we each think to be right? Then if I think I am right and you all are wrong, does that make me right? For this reason, relative morality is no morality at all. Morality must be absolute and universal. But where does its source come from? We can’t say logic, because logic starts with assumptions, and so by saying logic we merely shift morality to the assumptions behind the logic behind it.

      In the end, morality either exists or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then why does anyone bother to make any moral argument at all, using words like “should” or “bad”? If it does exist, which I believe you believe it does, then it must surpass logic. It must surpass everything. The only thing that could give us morality is the same thing which has no cause and no source, the only thing that exists in and of itself. Such a thing would be God. Such a thing would be worthy of worship. It would be the only thing we could call God.

      So there are people who run around saying God said this or God said that. How do we sort them out, especially when they contradict each other? The truth is we can’t. Since morality doesn’t come from us, we can’t even tell what is right or wrong. Our logic and reason is insufficient to describe morality, so we cannot use logic and reason to say this is bad or this is good. We must instead rely on God telling us directly what is good and bad. Thankfully, I believe we all have implanted within us a moral compass. Mormons call it the light of Christ. Everyone else calls it our conscience. It is not something we created ourselves, but something planted within us from outside.

      I disagree with the muslim idea of blowing up kids because my conscience says so. That’s all there is to it. They are wrong, they are lying, and they need to be stopped, by force if necessary, because that feels right to me. If the muslim feels his conscience is telling him to strap bombs to a kid and blow him up, then we’re going to have to resolve it by force of will. This was why Europeans had trials by arms. If God wills it, I will live and he will die, or he will live and I will die.

      We are all prophets in that we all have that conscience inside of us. What we do with it is our choice, but we have it. The Ten Commandments included “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” We think this is referring to saying “J- C-” and such, but really, it is a warning against people that say God said something he didn’t say. God promised that he would take care of them.

      So man has plenty to go on. We can read the Bible and we can listen to our conscience and see if it is right. Or we can read the Koran and ask our conscience the same. We have moral agency to choose between good and evil because we all know what is good and evil when we make those choices.

      I guarantee you, the biggest threat to Islam is people like you and me saying, “God doesn’t want you to blow up little kids.”

  17. Jason Gardner Says:

    “The Bible is the most accurate historical book we have, using any measure of historical accuracy you can think of.”

    What is accurate in the bible? Do you believe that the Noah’s flood story is true? Is the story of Job literally true? Did Elisha really call to the lord, who responded by sending two bears to eat the kids that called him “bald head?” Where is the proof of this?

    Do you really believe the story of Ezekiel’s wheel? What independent proof do you have of the existence of the wheel?

    What about Methuselah? Did he really live some 900 years?

    I suspect that you believe the Bible is accurate because you haven’t read your history…

    “We know more about Jesus than we know about any other historical figure. The accounts we have of Alexander the Great, for instance, weren’t written down for hundreds of years after he died.”

    Alexander hired a historian to record his exploits. The dudes name was Callisthenes. We also have sources from the Persian side. Aside from that we know who is father was, Phillip. Who his mother was (Olympias). We even know that his tutor was (Aristotle).

    Manifestly untrue on the life of Jesus. I’ll give you a counter example. Julius Caesar.

    He authored several books ( Commentarii de Bello Gallico, Commentarii de Bello Civili, De Bello Africo, De Bello Alexandrino and De Bello Hispaniensis.) so we know his opinions on the current issues of his times and authorship style. We know what he looked like from multiple busts and physical descriptions. We know his father and mother (and lineage). We know many of his lovers. We know who his wife was. Who is father and mother in law were. His military campaigns, his political speeches and intrigues, etc. We also know the exact day of his birth and death.

    We even know that his father in law lost a country estate in Pompeii.

    In short, we know as much about him as we can possibly know.

    (If you want to know what a bad-ass he was read his encounter with the pirates. It’s a cool story.)

    As for sources of morality and useful philosophical knowledge… A relative contemporary of historical Jesus, Marcus Aurelius, wrote a book called Meditations that is an incredible source of morals and and excellent guide to living a just life. Epictetus, another ancient contemporary wrote an excellent guide to living a just and moral life.

    There are other ancient sources, far surpassing Jesus, of how to live a just and moral life. The New Testament, when you really read it, falls far short in comparison to other available sources. I honestly have no idea why it is so venerated.

  18. Jason Gardner Says:

    I’ve thought about it more and I have a thought.

    Aesop’s fable is a great illustration about truth. The fox wants the grapes, can’t get them and then says to himself that he didn’t want them anyways because they were probably sour.

    So, it this story true? No. Foxes don’t talk. They don’t eat grapes. Not true. No problems here.

    So why is this story known to me? How did it survive for so long if it isn’t true?

    Well, it is true. Metaphorically true. We know intuitively that the author isn’t talking about a real fox, but alluding to an all to real human condition.

    If I read this story literally then I am 100% correct to say that the story is false. If I read it metaphorically then I am correct to say that the story is true.

    The fact is that the bible is the most widely read book ever in our culture. So there has to be a reason. But we know the bible is manifestly not factually true. All sorts of errors and impossible tales. (Methuselah being 900 years old for example.)

    However, I believe it survives because it has a high degree of metaphorical truth that helps the average person live a better life.

    Similar for societies. There has to be a reason why western, protestant Europe did so well while Islam, Asia, etc stayed in the also ran category. Why is that?

    Some of it has to come from the interpretation of the bible the western, protestant Europeans used.

    So, in a sense, the bible was true in that it gave spectacularly good results to those that followed that Germanic, protestant interpretation.

    Sadly, Christians got lost fighting to prove the factual truth of the bible. This is a fool’s errand at it’s very core. Similar to proving the truth of Aesop’s fables.

    Never gunna happen.

    They should never have picked that fight. (Or responded when goaded by those who wanted to have the fight.)

    My theory is that by digging in their heels Christians have lost the war because they couldn’t examine their own beliefs. They couldn’t let go of the idea that the bible was factually true, even in the face of substantial evidence.

    What astonishes me is that many of the traditional Protestant Christian ideas are being proven correct by science but Christians can’t see this because they have either abandoned their faith or are still fighting the old Sisyphean war to prove the bible’s truth.

    Both sides get hung up like a couple of Autistic kids on silly and meaningless ideas like the earth being 5,000 or whatever years old. How does the age of the earth matter to you at all? What difference does it make?

    They then totally conceded ground on very important topics like family formation, the building of character, actual morals, etc.

    Bad generalship at the very least by Christians. Very sad.

    I think Christians have to abandon the idea that the Bible is the end all be all of their beliefs. It is, or should be, obvious that no book can fully contain everything you need to know on how to live a good life. All books are fallible and the Bible was not written by God himself but were best (perhaps inspired) guesses and interpretations by well meaning people.

    If there is a universal truth then all aspects of this universal truth should be apparent at all times and anywhere you look. Sort of the definition of universal. You should see God just as clearly in the beauty of a perfect sunset as you so while reading the Bible.

    Mormons, I have noticed, do a better job of it. They don’t sweat the details when confronted with the factual inaccuracies of their beliefs. They stay more with the positive outcomes that Mormonism brings to the members and the community. After all, isn’t that more important than some trivial detail about Mormon history or theology?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I love your example of Aesop’s Fables.

      Suppose the Bible were true in the sense that it is literal history, but false in the sense that the teachings are all wrong. What good would it be? Aside from scholars and academics who like to win games of trivial pursuit, it wouldn’t be worth the paper after a certain amount of time had passed.

      Suppose the Bible is false in the historical sense, but true in the teaching sense. Why would you not want to keep it on your bookshelf and refer to it constantly?

      You’re absolutely right that Christians lost their way fighting for the historical truth of the Bible. So what if it is true, historically? Does that change the fact that we know the message is powerful and can change men’s lives?

      I have yet to read Nietszche, but one thing he teaches is obviously true: You can’t accept morality simply because someone else (God, society, whatever) says so. You must know for yourself. That’s in the Bible.

      We mormons say the Bible is true, and the Bible points us to God. If you believe the Bible, then you should be talking to God, rather than stopping at reading the Bible.

      Mormons are comfortable being wrong. Like the stoics, we have already accepted the fact that perfection is an unattainable goal, and we have already accepted the fact that we can’t do anything (of ourselves) about that. So we live our lives, trusting the Lord will do something pretty awesome. Any obedience we do show to God is because we love him, not because it will earn us a spot in heaven. I know that many mormons missed this fundamental teaching, but it’s been taught consistently since the beginning, and is throughout our scriptures.

      Recently, Elder Holland spoke about how many mormons grow disaffected about our faith because they find out that Joseph Smith and his friends weren’t perfect, certainly not when you judge them by 21st Century standards. Well, so what? God has only ever had imperfect people to work with, including you.

  19. Jason Gardner Says:

    I think good Elder is right about that. If your beliefs are so weak that a set of conflicting testimony throws them out of the window then you probably didn’t have a good set of beliefs in the first place.

    I do believe that there is a “super” set of beliefs that have run through humanity since humans first became aware of morals. If you read enough you’ll see the same ideas come up over and over. In my reading I see that successful men and successful societies nearly always have the same sets of fundamental values. Poorly run societies and men without honor nearly always lack them.

    For instance, I believe that Tecumseh poem that I enjoy (http://wisesayingsandmyopinionsonthem.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-poem-by-tecumseh.html) would be very recognizable to Julius Caesar, Epictetus, King Leonidas, Thomas Jefferson or basically any other well educated and well reasoned man. It forms a “universal code” for manhood that is “discovered” over and over again throughout time.

    I do think that Christians have lost sight of it though. I’ve seen, at least with the “churchianity” form of Christianity we see in Texas, the code has been grossly deformed. What was a masculine journey of self discovery and self mastery has been reduced to: “Be totally passive, do nothing, offend no one and just wait for good things to happen. Don’t step out of line or advocate for yourself. Have no rules and allow anyone to do whatever they want.” This to me is simply a weak man’s code for it is no code at all.

    And I think the core reason is that Christians are now afraid of death. The first part of any reasonable moral code is “don’t be afraid to pay the ultimate price for your beliefs. You are already dead. You have nothing to fear but cowardice.”

    Or, more eloquently, “So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.”

    I saw a comical video of a man fighting a kangaroo to save his dog. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIRT7lf8byw)

    It’s funny but it also serves a great moral lesson. The man in the video is, to me, an amazing example of morals. He values the bond with his dog over his physical safety. To the point that he is willing to risk grievous bodily harm to “protect his own.”

    That is a man I would want around. I don’t know much about him but I know he is a man who lives by a code and is absolutely fearless in enforcing it.

    I admire that more than a million empty postures from some needy virtue signaler.

  20. Jason Gardner Says:

    Another thought. Consider the time and society where Christianity formed. It was one of the worst times to be an average guy in human history.

    In the Roman Empire you had a society made up of randoms from throughout a large area of the world. If you were a legionnaire in formation you might have a Celt to your right, a German to your left, a Semite to your rear and an Greek to your front.

    In other words, you were basically alone. You might have a family but you didn’t have a functional community in the way most humans need to have a rewarding life. (See all of human history for an example.)

    There were extreme differences between the wealthy and the poor, the government was terribly corrupt, oppressive and capricious.

    In other words, the average person must have felt very much alone and isolated, in an unforgiving world that didn’t care about them one whit. (Much like today in America.)

    Of course, after Rome fell things got manifestly worse. Now the violence was turned up to 11 and the fear of plunder and general insecurity abounded.

    You can see how the message of Christianity to “just endure, there is a heaven at the end of this” took root. Life was hard and un-rewarding. You probably didn’t have a community so the idea of a Christian community was probably better than nothing.

    This is in contrast to traditional pagan societies where you would be surrounded by family, extended family and your racial and ethnic brothers your entire life. You would all have a very well understood set of customs that everyone adhered to. Everyone knew how to act in accordance to the wishes of the Gods and everyone knew their place in the community.

    The pagan religions very much didn’t care about enduring life, they were more worried about getting good omens and favor from the Gods. They were very concerned with living according to the wishes of the gods and in harmony with the natural order. They didn’t sweat the forming a community part (they already had very functional communities). Eternal life was thought of as a reward for action that favored the general community. I.e. For vikings you got to Valhalla by dying in battle for the Viking people.

    One of the things that’s always bothered my about Christianity is the selfishness of it. The idea of the game is for me to get to heaven. So, I’ll just do whatever I need to do to get to heaven. I’ll do charity if that helps me get to my goal, not because I mean it, but because I want the afterlife.

    Mormons are better because at least the family structure is preserved in the afterlife but it still is very much an individual sport.

    No mention of serving your people or honoring your ancestors, which is a huge thing to pagans. In fact, Christianity actively discourages people’s natural instinct to form blood related communities (again, as all people have done since the beginning of time) and seems to me to encourages people to become a uniform, and generic, group of nothings.

    Whereas a pagan could hope for immortality by doing heroic deeds for his people the christian just needs to check off his boxes (and some checklists are pathetically short) and he can get to the afterlife.

    Always seemed a bit weak to me.

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