Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why Not Kill, Rape & Steal If There Is No God? A Christian Fallacy

Why is it commonly assumed by some theists that unless everyone operates with the belief that there is an all-seeing skygod above them, we will all just give into every desire and steal, rape and kill? This is was the "fundys" (fundamentalists) insist what will happen if we remove god from society. Other more progressive theists only argue that without god there is no objective morality. I can understand how one could make that argument (even though I think it's wrong), but not the irrational notion that we'd all be bloodthirsty killers in need of a next victim without god. Where does this irrational belief stem from? 

I think it stems from the Christian notion that we have rebelled against god and that our true nature is one that is only out to gratify our carnal lust and that the only restraint against this will be in the form of the punishment of hell. Christianity in other words, has a very negative view of humanity. It can't fathom the idea that humans can exercise restraint on their own reconnaissance. Under Christianity, we are basically savages who are only tamed with god's commandments. This is an old Iron Age piece of "wisdom" that has been handed down through the generations and has survived perhaps because it was created at a time when we were more or less savages, at least to others outside our tribe.

Iron Age man knew nothing of course of evolution, and how it explains the origin of morality. His brutal nature towards others and lack of empathy towards others in different tribes made him project this state of existence onto all of mankind. It is amazing how Judaism and Christianity were obsessed with chastity and sexual purity. Christianity goes even further and takes it to sexual purity of the mind. What mankind did with religion, is set aside all the natural desires we have (some of which are necessary for our procreation and survival) and cast them as the product of evil and demons so as to believe a mind free of any desire is a mind in touch with god.

This helps associate desire with evil and lack of desire with good and god. So fundis think without god, we are only beings with desire. And since there is no hell without god, why not just give into every desire? They lack knowing how irrational that would be and how evolution shaped us to behave towards a moral system that benefited the group, not the individual, since after all we are social primates.

As I try to explain the practicality and necessity of behaving morally to a Christian fundi, they falsely assume that atheism will necessarily lead to irrational ideas and behavior. When it comes to the practicality of the golden rule I had the following exchange with a Christian:

Christian: [Under atheism] Why shouldn’t we harm others if it means being able to propagate our superior genes? 
Me: Well we compete with others to show off when it comes to finding mates all the time. But truly harming another over sex violates the common sense golden rule: you wouldn't want to be killed so another man can have your wife/girl friend. 
Christian: I don’t think that [the golden rule] can be defended on a purely logical or pragmatic basis. In its defense you wrote, “you wouldn't want to be killed so another man can have your wife/girl friend.” Although this is true, there is no logic or pragmatic consideration that would prevent me from thinking, “I’m going to get him before he gets me,” or “There is nothing that compels me to live like those others with their cattle mentality,” or “There’s no higher law that requires me to reciprocate. I am free!” In other words, there is no logical and necessary connection between the way that I want others to treat me and the way I should treat others. 
Me: Under the Protestant interpretation of Christianity that you subscribe to, god judges us not by whether we lived a good and moral life, or whether we were evil. Going to heaven or hell is determined by one thing and one thing only, that is whether we accept Jesus as our personal savior. So that means I can kill and steal and rape all I want, and if I sincerely repent and trust in Jesus, I go to heaven. What is to stop a Christian from reasoning this way? Why can't they just say "well Jesus died for my sins, therefore if I don't sin, he will have died in vain. Therefore, I should sin as much as possible so that Jesus' sacrifice is more important!!" Now you might say "oh no rational Christian would behave that way." Well perhaps, but no rational atheists would say "There is no god, so I can kill and steal all I want!! Hooray!!" 
My point being, that under atheism one has to behave irrational in order to violate the golden rule and just think he can kill and steal whatever he wants. Irrational people will always do irrational things. And if I grant that, then the Christian has to grant that it is possible for a Christian to act irrational within the rules of Protestantism, and think he can rape, kill and steal, and still get into heaven, which is technically possible. So the Christian's argument gets him no where: Both the atheist and theist will have to act irrational to be irrational. That's not news to anyone. The only difference is that the atheist does not have to believe in irrational and counter-intuitive commandments that he must still think are relevant.


  1. Daniel is completely unable to understand how any sort of morality could work without reference to his god. I've explained to him a number of times that we have good reasons to behave ourselves, with not indication that he is able to take it on board.

    His simple caricature of non-theistic morality is flawed but he is unable to see or understand it. He thinks "I'm going to get him before he gets me" get's around the golden rule, but he does not or can not follow the consequences such actions would have for the individual and for society, even though it has been explained to him.

    His simplistic and rigid view are not isolated to non-theistic moral systems. His own moral system is riddled with problems, but he is unable to recognise them, even when they're pointed out to him *sigh* :-)

    1. Yeah, he is just...well a typical Christian. Christianity forces its believers to think we are all just animals howling in the full moon looking to quench our every desires. They can't fathom the idea we can voluntarily exercise restraint. Good think religiosity is on the decline.

    2. The funny part is, we are just animals looking to fulfill our desires.
      What people like Daniel fail to understand or take into account is that we have conflicting desires, and that many of our desires are malleable.
      For instance, my desire for that Ferrari I see on the street conflicts with my desire to not be in prison, to be trusted by those around me, and to be honest. And the latter desires outweigh the former desire. And in fact, this process can lead me to change my desires, to lessen my desire for the Ferrari, for example.

      For Daniel, the latter desires do not exist sans his deity, or are unable to outweigh the former, or something like that. It's like desires that are "good" cannot exist without god, even though there are generally good reasons to have them.

    3. The restraint you mention seems to me to just be us working out the results that would follow from following our desires, and how that impacts other desires of ours, and in cases where the results are not in line with our other desires (as in my case with the possibility of stealing the Ferrari) leads us to not fulfill one specific desire (and to modify that desire to lessen it's force).



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