Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Christian Admitted To Me That The Holocaust Could Have Been Moral

Technically he's a Jehovah's Witness, whom some Christians do not consider "real" Christians because JoHos don't believe Jesus was god, just the son of god. But anyway, over on the Patheos blog, The Secular Outpost, in a post about the problem of evil, a known trouble maker posed the following question in the comments section to try to challenge the atheists/secularists who regularly comment there:

How woul[d] a a neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalist answer the following: 
"If the Neo-Nazis were to attain world domination and exterminated everyone who thought racism was wrong, would that suddenly make racism and bigotry moral?"

He's a guy I've debated many times before (see here) and so I'm familiar with his tactics. He basically likes to copy apologetic arguments, often from my favorite punching bag William Lane Craig, and paste them on various secular blogs and websites. He tries to challenge skeptics with such ingenious and highly original arguments as the cosmological argument and the moral argument, as well as many other staple apologetic ineptness, but he can't really defend any of them other than to repeat plagiarized apologetic talking points. It's so annoying. So I challenged him back with this question below:

How would a Jehovah's Witness answer the following: 
Suppose god wanted to pass judgement on the Jews, and so god commanded Adolph Hitler to exterminate the Jews, just as god had commanded the Jews to exterminate the Canaanites, Amalekites and Midianites. If god commanded the Nazis to exterminate the Jews, would the holocaust then have been not only moral, but a moral obligation?

Think about it. It's a tough challenge to anyone espousing divine command theory. Since god has commanded genocides in the past, if he had commanded the Nazis to kill the Jews, then the holocaust would have been morally good. No theist wants to admit to this, but it is a logical consequence of divine command theory. So what's the theist to say in response? Well, as expected, he gave me a convoluted response that totally avoided answering the question, saying in part:

Your analogy doesn't work because it's missing two very important components: 
(1) Advance warning: "For the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets." 
"The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has spoken! Who will not prophesy?’" -Amos 3:7,8 
(2) Means of escape for the righteous....

 So I addressed some of his points and fired back:

1. I said, "Let's say for sake of argument, advanced warning was given, would the holocaust then have been not only moral, but a moral obligation?"

I had to ask him this question about 5 times and chase him down to get an answer because he was simply avoiding it, afraid of its consequence. But alas, he finally rejoined:

 i. For the sake of argument, if God had decided to use them to this end the way he employed the Assyrians, the Babylonians or the Romans in ancient times, then, yes, it would have been moral. Not necessarily an obligation, though, because he could have used any resource at his disposal (even the elements).

I was proud of him for finally mustering up the courage to answer my inquiry, and his answer is very telling. It proves my point about divine command theory: anything can be made moral by the mere fact of god commanding it, and so no Christian or Muslim can even say that murder, rape or genocide are absolutely wrong. If their god commanded it, it would be good. And the Abrahamic faiths certainly have a god capable of commanding such violence. Thus, if you ever want to turn the tables on a theist and watch them squirm and equivocate when morally challenged, just ask them what I've asked above and sit back and enjoy the show.

But finally, I think he's wrong that the holocaust wouldn't have been a moral obligation. Saying god could've used the elements is irrelevant to the scenario I painted. In my scenario, god does not decide to use the elements to exterminate the Jews, he decides to use the Nazis. So the medium by which the Jews are to be killed has already been decided. This means that technically it would have been a moral obligation, per divine command theory, for the Nazis to exterminate the Jews.


  1. It is absolutely the result of divine command theory, I think it is good to push them to say it explicitly, hopefully that will tickle their brain later that they have just defended the holocaust in a hypothetical. Also, this is the kind of thing that could affect any observers of the conversation, I know that I would have found the discussion pretty repellent when I was a Christian.

  2. It's also worth noting that Hitler even said in Mein Kampf he was doing Gods work in fighting the Jews!

  3. Oh yeah. See here:



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