Are Richard Dawkins points valid in his response against faith as the only way to morality?       [note: in this youtube video Dawkins claims that secular humanists have created a better kind of morality than religion]


As usual for Richard Dawkins, he resorts to pure rhetoric and chooses to simply ignore the question asked by the other gentleman.

First of all, he was asked if it is proper, rationally, for an atheist who denies moral truth to be real, to still attempt to define morality.  He simply ignored the question.  He did not even deal with the problem, which is that the very word morality means right and wrong, which are incoherent words in an atheist worldview.

Rather than answer the question, he ducked it.  In order to do so, he used examples of supposed “morality” from religious contexts which have absolutely nothing to do with morality.  He says that an example of morality is “stoning people for adultery.”  First of all, this would not even be an example of morality.  Morality might be to state that adultery is wrong.  I happen to agree that adultery is wrong.  Dawkins disagrees because in his worldview, literally nothing is “wrong.”  Adultery is not wrong, and neither is sex with animals.  Genocide may be inadvisable or not rational, but it is not wrong in his worldview.  Stoning an adulterer would perhaps be an example of justice, but not of morality.  Does Dawkins even know what morality means?  He also mentions that punishment for not obeying the Sabbath is a kind of morality he opposes.  Again, this is not even an example of morality.  Morality may be to obey God or to give him honor, but punishment for disobeying the Sabbath is not an example of morality.

He then says “I do not want an absolute morality.”  What he is saying is that he does not want morality at all.  Morality, by definition, is a statement about what is right and wrong.  He rejects the very concept of right and wrong.

He then resorts to historical revisionism to support his contention that if we would all simply reject morality, the world would be more moral.  He tells us that things such as kindness, women’s rights, abolition of slavery are “modern” things which came from rational thought, not from morality.  The problem for this is that it is simply not true.  Abolition of slavery worldwide was the result of Christian work against a secular resistance.  The greatest advocate of women’s rights in history was probably Jesus Christ himself.   KIndness?  I suggest you read his book “The God Delusion” in which he suggests that he wishes hell was real so that his former nuns/teachers could go there.  He is a brutally unkind person, at least in this book.

He says that the notion of being kind to animals is a recent invention.  Clearly he has not read the Bible on this subject.  He says that these things are the result of sober and reasoned discussion (presumably among atheists who reject moral truth).  The problem with this claim is that it is simply false.  It is historical revisionism plain and simple.  He says you have to “cherry pick” the Bible to find such things.  Really?  Where are the biblical commands to be cruel to animals?  Where in the New Testament do you have suggestions that unkindness or disrespect for women is acceptable.  Either he has nor read the New Testament, or he is simply being dishonest here.  He says that you have to leave out all the “horrible bits.”  What are these “horrible bits” in the New Testament which we must leave out?  Again, this is rhetoric which plays well to his audience, but it shows true ignorance of what the Bible actually teaches.  He says we have “grown out of” religion and have these wonderful things through secular moral philosophy.  OK.  Where is his example of “secular moral philosophy (a contradiction in terms) producing something good that Christianity was not in fact the actual source of?  Which secular moral philosophy is he talking about?  Postmodernism?  Atheism/Materialism?  Great moral advances from these?  Does he have an example.  I think not.

Secular humanism–a world in which religious morality is rejected has been tried.  It was tried in France in the French Revolution.  It was tried in Soviet Russia, Red China, Pol Pot Cambodia and in North Korea.  Societies which base their moral sense on secular ideas have always descended into hellish abuse of people.  The very ideals he praises–women’s rights, kindness, fairness, civil rights, a world without slavery–these are the very things that are called for in Christian morality. Dawkins tries to hijack Christian morality and pretend that he arrived at it by reason and common sense.  This is nonsense and it defies common experience and history.

A world in which every person’s standard of “right and wrong” is his or her own opinion, based on the world’s ideas is a sure path to chaos, violence, greed, selfishness, and devastation.

I believe that Dawkins is living in a fairy tale world.  A world without morality is a very scary place.   Have religious people behaved in immoral ways at times?  Absolutely. But at least if a Christian acts selfishly or violently or with greed, at least he or she has a moral standard, as well as a human example–Jesus–which tells him or her that such behaviour is wrong.  In a morality-free world, which is exactly what Dawkins proposes, such moral restrictions will be gone.  Do not believe his unrealistic rhetoric that morality can be achieved in a world without the only kind of morality there is–absolute morality.

Dawkins says that “we believe in being gentle and kind.”  Who is “we”?  I will tell you one person who does not act according to these principles–it is Richard Dawkins himself who is an angry, vindictive and unkind person. Just read his book the God Delusion and see if I am right.  Atheists do not believe in kindness or gentleness, because in their world view, the very phrase “believe in” is nonsense.  How can you believe in something that your worldview does not even allow to exist, which is belief in anything other than physical reality, chemicals, neurons firing and blind, deterministic actions of animals without a will to act of a moral compass.  This is sheer rhetoric, and I suggest that Christians not be intimidated by his diatribe against moral truth.

John Oakes

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