The journey from atheism to theism is different for each person who makes it. My journey began with science, then made a turn onto the path of ethics and morality. Webster’s Dictionary defines ethics as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.” Webster’s defines morality as “a moral discourse, statement, or lesson, a doctrine or system of moral conduct.” Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines morality as “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior, the degree to which something is right and good, the moral goodness or badness of something.”
As an atheist I would have argued that I was an ethical person. For example, I believed strongly in journalistic ethics and in ethical behavior as it impacted news coverage and the First Amendment. But what was the source of my ethics and ethical behavior? Did that source of ethics affect my personal life? No. I bent personal ethics to suit my selfish interests. What was the source of that behavior? same source? different source? no source?
As an atheist I cared little for “morality.” In fact, how others saw morality was often something I had to overcome to get what I wanted in life. So, when Christians who talked with me about the existence of God brought up the “law of morality,” it wasn’t something I was interested in discussing – at first.
I later learned that the moral argument for the existence of God is based on generally accepted points of morality within societies. It is based on the premise of moral normativity – the awareness of civilized human beings that some actions are right while others are wrong. Here are three ways I’ve heard to state the Moral Argument:
The other day, as I was catching up on news from the NFL combine, I came across a headline that caught my attention, “Transgender child banned from girls’ bathroom”. “Coy Mathis, 6, was born a male but has presented as a female since she was 18-months-old, her mother Kathryn Mathis told talk show host Katie Couric.” I was confused and it was not about who used what bathrooms. Continue reading
My Past Week
I’ve noticed lately that I have a harder and harder time going to see movies purely for the entertainment value of the show. This weekend I went to see one that really made me step back and look at society, not just as portrayed in the movie, but the society of the audience. Last week I had a conversation with a person that was still fresh on my mind, and I finished reading a specific book on the topic. Those allowed my mind to make some interesting connections.
Last week’s conversation was a political/worldview discussion with a friend on Facebook. This person was more concerned that he be allowed to believe whatever he wanted to believe rather than be concerned about the truth of the content of his belief. He stated that he was a moral relativist and that nothing could be considered “right” or “wrong” on his view; he also believed that the government and its official documents (the US Constitution, in this case) is from where people derive “intrinsic” rights. When he asked me moral questions, I asked if he was asking from within his worldview or mine. He told me to just answer the question however best suits me.
Many militant atheists will say, “Christianity screws up everything,” citing warfare, slavery, the Crusades and intolerance.
Christians will generally respond in three different ways:
- “Christianity is about Christ and not about individual Christians. I am deeply sorry about what people who have called themselves ‘Christian’ have done. However, I’m here to tell you about Jesus.” Continue reading
I harp on about the moral argument for theism, some think. That’s only because I think it’s an under-appreciated argument that has a lot more going for it than most of its critics believe. Here I want to lay out a simple version of the argument, explain why I think it works and how to defend it.
A very simple version of the moral argument, probably the most common that I see, goes like this:
- Unless God exists, there are no moral facts
- But there are some moral facts
- Therefore God exists
The truth is, I think this argument is sound. All of its premises are true (so say I), and the conclusion logically follows. But the thing about sound arguments is that soundness is not the same thing as persuasiveness. Nobody’s going to be persuaded by a move that’s quite this swift. Even once the argument is unpacked a bit more (which is the purpose of this post) a person may not be convinced (indeed, I think the force of the argument really just gets people thinking a bit more, it rarely convinces on its own), but more unpacking is certainly needed. Continue reading
Atheists really like to fight against us ignorant theists who say they have no morals. We’re the backwards hicks who take instruction from a book written by ignorant goat-herders who believed the earth was flat and that the sky was a dome that contained the sun, moon, and stars (all of which circled the earth!). What do we know about morality?
Atheists are so enlightened that they’ve thrown off the shackles of God-belief and are doing the right things because they’re the right things, not because some ancient patriarch shakes his finger at you from 1,000 years ago and says, “Do it or I’ll spank you!”
So of course they don’t lack morals! In fact, they’re more moral than religious people — the vague statistics quoted above don’t lie!
Sensing the sarcasm yet? I hope so. Because I don’t know how to lay it on thicker than what I just did.
Atheists are not immoral. They are amoral.
Difference? Immoral means acting contrary to established morality. It is a question of ethics, not ontology or epistemology. Amoral means lacking morals. It is a question either of ontology or epistemology, not ethics. Continue reading
We resent laws and restrictions. They get in our way. Consequently, many understandably resented the orders to evacuate their homes prior to Sandy’s uninvited visit, and stayed put. However, many had to pay a price for their choice.
Many also resent the teachings of Scripture as an unwanted intrusion. We cringe with contempt when we hear about God’s judgment for sin. For instance, we have found that lying is a useful tool to achieve our ends, but it’s also something of which God disapproves: Continue reading
Kristin Cashore’s recently released Bitterblue, the sequel to Graceling, premiered at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List. If early reviews and previous successes are any indication, the list of accolades will be impressive – and deservedly so. Ms. Kashore is a gifted writer who spends years honing her books, and it shows.
THE BASIC PREMISE
The story takes place approximately 10 years after Graceling ends. Bitterblue, once rescued from certain doom by Katsa and Po, now rules a kingdom still reeling from what Bitterlblue calls “the rape of her mind” by her maniacal father, the former king. He had subjected the realm to unspeakable cruelty with a Grace (a gift) that made people believe the lies he told to cover up his fixation with torture and murder. Many people disappeared when he was alive; many more still hide very dark secrets even though he is long gone. Continue reading
Recently I found myself in the midst of a very difficult situation where evil appeared to triumph over good. I found myself asking the same questions many of us ask. How can a good God, the God I believe in, allow suffering and evil? Is He really good? Is He really there? Every fiber in my being cried out against the wrongness of my personal suffering and was heightened by thinking of the harsh pain so many others are facing worldwide. Where was the good, the right, and the just that I and the rest of humanity so rightly longed for?
Wrestling with the problem of evil is nothing new for us, both personally and intellectually. It’s a problem that is harder than most because it’s not purely cerebral. It touches the very core of our being. To think through the why and how of suffering often opens up old wounds, causes current wounds to fester, and is just plain painful. For many of us, the answers we find are unsatisfactory, so we come to the conclusion that either God does not exist, or that if He does He’s evil Himself.
I’ve discovered that in looking for answers to the questions we have, I’m led to more questions, ones I didn’t expect. The problem of evil is no exception. We struggle with evil, but why don’t we struggle with goodness? Continue reading