But Did He Do Anything Wrong?
Daniel Florien from Unreasonable Faith caught Pastor Chris Fox from Kendalls Baptist Church impersonating atheists on Unreasonable Faith. I think Pastor Chris’s point was to show that atheists have no foundation for morality, however there are better ways to go about doing so.
One of the comments that Pastor Chris posted was as follows:
What’s wrong with killing babies? I see no problem with it. I have enough mouths to feed. I don’t get the argument and I am an atheist. Since I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in anything characterized as good, bad / right, wrong. So, what’s the big deal?
He gave away the farm in the first sentence. I’m assuming that he’s talking about abortion. It’s obvious that this was posted by a pro-lifer because no pro-choice individual would ever refer to abortion as “killing babies.” They would refer to it under the equally appaling tag “exercising reproductive rights.”
If you’re going to impersonate atheists, at least get the lingo right.
Which brings up the next question: Did Pastor Chris actually do anything wrong? Well, I think that he did and I’m happy to see that he apologized for it. What he did was create a false identity and attempted to make fun of the atheistic worldview. I’m not sure I see the hypocrisy in this, but what I do see is the same sort of mentality that led atheists to create Landover Baptist Church. We, as salt and light for the world, should avoid the same sort of dirty tactics that the world uses against us. Pastor Chris fell into temptation–he did to them what they did to us, an action specifically condemned by Paul in Romans 12:17.
What he should have done was to engage the issue intellectually. He should have logically demonstrated what we theists have always known: atheists have no foundation for morals, so they borrow morals from the Judeo-Christian worldview and declare that those are the morals that society has “evolved” with. Without God, life has no transcendent value and therefore things like “good” and “evil,” “right” and “wrong” have only what value we humans assign to them. Wrong and right become a matter of opinion in the atheistic worldview.
So, what do the atheists do? Well, they create the New Ten Commandments, of Which There are now 15 (listed on p. 263-264 of The God Delusion). But, the good folks from Atheism is Dead examined those 15 commandments and discovered that most were, in fact, biblically based. The atheist has no escape: his morals are derived from a Judeo-Christian sense of right and wrong, and that sense comes from the Bible and ultimately God himself.
This is how Daniel Florien and his readers knew what Pastor Chris did was wrong. They knew it was wrong because the Bible said that it was wrong, and that means that they get their morals from the same place as Christians.
Posted on March 22, 2009, in Morality, Pro-Life Issues and tagged atheism. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.
And your ‘biblically based’ commandments are taken from Hammurabi, which were probably taken from even earlier times.
It’s called ‘common sense’ and evolved morality.
Ha! So all morals come from Judeo-Christianity? Really? Then explain the morals of Eastern Philosophy (ie Hinduism and Buddhism) that predate Judeo-Christianity, please.
Given that the act of being deceitful and the act of condemning it as morally wrong as been around far longer than the Bible, and that other cultures also come to the same conclusions without Christian belief, I think we can agree that the string of logic you present in your last paragraph is fantastically weak.
Secondly, the last place an atheist would look for guidance on morality is the Bible. Having said that, it is likely, given that Christianity is a relatively young religion, that the morals and values written in the Bible were borrowed from older religions and texts, and also extrapolated from a culture/society that approved or condemned acts as morally right or wrong defined by the times.
Hi Cory, let me adjust a couple things in this article. First, I posted several things related to morality and “killing babies” had been mentioned already, thus my reply. It was not related to abortion, however. Yes, I did make this post from the viewpoint of an atheist, and should have wrote it differently, and not as an actual atheist. Rumors have already been embellishing over the www, and the truth is I have not been trolling the internet impersonating atheists (only this site and a couple posts). I actually had no clue what “trolling” meant til yesterday. The only “troll” I can remember was back in the late 80s/early 90s – the little figurines with hair that stands up like Don King or Buckwheat from the Little Rascals – trolls were cute and ugly at the same time. I also was not intending to make fun of atheism or even claim that this was a viewpoint from atheism in general, but it was not well-posted on my part. I am humbly trying to redeem myself. I am grateful for Daniel and so many commenters welcoming me back to the UF site – kudos!
It is unfortunate that many atheists and believers alike are going to wield this story like a torch, illuminating either the fallen Pastor who’ll do anything to advance Christ’s teachings, or as an example of everything that’s wrong with religion. Neither of which are accurate, in my opinion.
You have a passion for something, got caught up in the moment, and said a few things in a way that doesn’t even begin to represent who you really are. I know exactly how you feel.
I would like to think the story and the experience made your Sunday sermon…
Hi – the experience and story did indeed make it into my message. Confession and admittance in not presenting or representing the faith in the best way. Thanks for your words.
Cory and Chris:
You guys really should do some research on the people you are trying to influence. Going into a discussion with a set of false notions about the beliefs and values of those you are talking to just makes you sound ridiculous. Even when you think you have it right you prove to others that you don’t. Cory, pro-choicers will not take you seriously if you refer to abortion as “exercising reproductive rights”. You need to understand what the real issues are, not just the ones you have taught to think are the real issues.
You will make no headway with convinced atheists, especially if they are ex-Christian, if you insist that atheists are less moral than Christians, that all moral values come from the Jewish or Christian god (Yahweh and Jesus, respectively) or that moral values are absolute and unchanging.
Let’s take the assumption of unchanging moral codes first.
When I was a young woman it was solely Catholics who were steadfastly against abortion. Protestants were generally not. These days the fundamentalist streams of Protestant Christianity have forgotten this past and now identify with the Catholics.
Similarly, divorce was viewed as deeply immoral by all Christian groups. Protestant Christian ministers who married divorced people lost their jobs, an English Prince lost a throne and lived in exile in order to marry an American divorcee, an English Princess was forbidden to marry the man she loved because he was divorced and children like us were forced to live in loveless and violent marriages because it was so difficult for parents to get a divorce. Times have changed. These days the Baptists have a divorce rate which is way greater than the rate for atheists and the more religious the person, the greater their risk of divorce.
Now let’s look at the charge that atheists have no moral code and are therefore more immoral than Christians.
Multiple studies have shown that the countries with the lowest rates of abortion, illegitimate births and teen pregnancies are those countries with the lowest percentage of people who believe in a god or other supernatural beings.
Similarly crime rates and prison populations are also lowest in the relatively godless countries.
The US is an outlier. It is the most Christian of the industrialized countries and also has the highest crime rates, the highest abortion rates, the largest prison population and the highest divorce rates. Even within this nation, these rates are highest in the Bible Belt States and lowest in areas where the religious right are not so prevalent.
Countries like Africa which have rising rates of evangelical Christians have rising Christian death and torture rates along with it. Bishops of these primitive churches take the KJV Bible literally and believe that Christians “should not suffer a witch to live” and that they are being “led by the Spirit into all truth” when they determine which child is, or is not, a witch. Child poisonings and witch burnings have now become part of the Christian culture on this continent. Other evangelical clergy in Africa have been intimately involved in wholesale massacres in the name of their Christian god. There are no such mass slaughters in the name of “righteousness” by the non-believers of these countries.
Which brings me to several other points which the two of you have wrong.
Convinced atheists (that is, those who have arrived at this position as the result of prolonged and careful thought and study) do not choose atheism because it allows them to carry on an immoral life-style. In fact, the majority of atheists did not choose to become atheists at all. It simply crept up on them.
You may, however, find a superficially similar position to the one you posit among young people whose default atheism amounts to a rebellion against the religion of their childhood. This is part of growing up and finding your own identity.
Most youths find their way out of this before they hit 25. Others end up harming themselves and others before being faced with a crunch time experience. This sub-group is a lucrative mine for religious conversions to faiths which impose a moral code as part of group acceptance. Others end up in the rooms of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, welfare officers and corrections personnel. Of course, some people never outgrow this stage of development. These are the ones who think that “freedom” involves using foul language at every opportunity and who reject the good of the many in favor of the belief that it is their inalienable right to act only in the interests of themselves and those they choose to care for. This may eventually become a thought-out position but is not representative of the majority of mature atheists.
Convinced atheists do not choose to reject god. They simply find that they can no longer logically, and in good conscience, support such a belief. It is a matter of intellectual integrity. Former beliefs are usually relinquished reluctantly and often with considerable pain.
Convinced atheists do not hate god. You cannot hate something which you have finally conceded is extremely unlikely to exist and, if it does, almost certainly does not exist in any of the forms attested to by one or more the vast array of Christian sects, denominations, congregations, schools of thought or personal revelations.
Convinced atheists are rarely atheists purely because they lack knowledge of Christianity, the fellowship of “real” Christians or an experience of a relationship with Jesus. Many atheists have a better understanding of the Bible than not only the average Christian but often the average evangelical preacher as well. There is a sizeable proportion of newly vocal atheists who have theological training, have run Christian ministries or have taught in institutions which train clergy or pastors. Some are still working as ministers or teaching theology because this is the only marketable skill which they possess and/or they do not have the financial or emotional resources to get out and/or they cannot get out of this double life without harming their family in some way. Theirs is a very difficult and precarious situation. You would be surprised just how many people like this there are.
Convinced atheists do not have lives which are devoid of meaning and purpose. Life is what they make it. It is precious because it is the only one they have.
Finally, convinced atheists come in many packages and have a wide variety of viewpoints, moral positions, political affiliations and ideological leanings. Some are nihilists (Nietzsche); most are not. Some are communists; most are not. Some are libertarians; most are not. Many are humanists; some are not. Many are liberal; some are not. Many are highly educated; many are not.
When you can understand and accept all this then, and only then, will you be ready to talk to an atheist and have him or her take you seriously. Until then you are trying to converse with people who don’t actually exist.
I rather suspect that this homily was all a waste of time. I strongly suspect that you will be unable to relinquish your false ideas about what an atheist is because your faith will not allow you to reject this picture for the reality. I am reminded of a quotation from the TV series, HOUSE MD: “If you could reason with religious people there would be no religious people.” While, I would be happy to be proved wrong I think the changes are pretty low. What do you think?
Excellent piece! As a former Pentecostal minister, I can vouch for the fact that reading the Bible was one of the main factors in realizing Christianity was not the way to go, and that the average Christian (of my acquaintance, anyway) wasn’t well-read in the Bible. I can also vouch for the fact that it isn’t (usually) a flip or casual decision to let go one’s faith, but a process that isn’t always pain-free.
I edited it and put it on my blog.
Like you, I have theological training for the ministry. Unlike you I “deconverted” after the first year – mostly as the result of intensive study of ALL of the books of the Bible, coupled with insights from reputable modern scholarship. My consequent studies in psychological science confirmed and intensified my informed position. My first dissertation investigated the personality profiles of people who had, and had not, changed or lost their religious beliefs. While the dogmatic/open-minded and liberal/conservative vectors were highly significant, environmental factors were also important. As it is in the field of mental health, maintaining a delusional or logically unsupportable ideological position is significantly assisted by restricting socialization to those who hold the same or similar beliefs. This is particularly effective for those with high social needs. Those who dissent tend to be among the group with a greater need for independence. In other words, our belief loss is partly genetic and partly environmental and the belief maintenance of those who host this list is due to identical factors.
Amazing… The guy rocks up on an atheist discussion board, proceeds to lie his ass off and come out with some totally outrageous and offensive pap – and you twist that into him DEFENDING morals? I appreciate that as a Christian you must be used to twisting facts to suit your beliefs and world-view, but damn!
Oh dear, oh dear.
We get our morality from the bible? Really? Funny then how I lost my religion early on in life after being appalled and disgusted by bible-god. Everything he does is morally obscene. For example, due to anger management issues he not only throws Adam & Eve out of the garden, but he places the eternal Curse of Original Sin on all humanity thereafter. This curse then sets him up to be the hero who “saves” us from his wrath. This sounds a lot like the arsonist who starts a fire and then reports it in order to admired by the public.
Can you imagine anyone today punishing someone for something done 2 or 3 thousand years ago? Then there’s the alleged flood. It’s the first holocaust. Yaye, bible-god! Then there’s the infinite punishment for finite transgressions thing. In contrast humans mete out punishment commensurate with the “crime.”
I could go on with countless examples of the moral repugnance of bible-god, but I will stop with the sacrifice of his son in a gruesome blood sacrifice to himself. Was there not a better solution to the disasters in his creation than this?
Bottom line, bible-god is a hapless screw-up with a violent temper and the last deity in the universe you should turn to for moral guidance.
Who exactly are you writing this for? It’s not going to convince anyone. You need to stop lying and accept that a good proportion of our moral structure, that followed by the great majority whether religious or not, does not come from the Christian bible or any other “God given” text. If you take out “morals” relating to deity worship from Christ’s message you are simply left with morals that were presented by earlier teachers such as Confucius, the Buddha and others. Morals that have evolved over time as the most reproductively efficient way to behave towards fellow humans.
You need to stop these lies, if your God does exist, she’ll judge you harshly for them.
I don’t follow your logic. Even if it were true that atheist morals are ‘borrowed’ from the judeo-Christian worldview, which as various people have pointed out is demonstrably false, this doesn’t demonstrate that god is the basis of all morality. The atheists in question would be choosing to employ those morals above others (or above eschewing morality altogether). They’d pick and choose the ones they liked. For example, they wouldn’t have much truck with the rules about loving god, since they wouldn’t believe in god. This picking and choosing would seem to imply that god is not the sole arbiter of their morality.
The fact that morality is largely universal the world over, regardless of whether Judeo-Christian worldviews are prevalent, suggests to me an origin of morality that is at least partly genetic and that systems of morality based on holy books, local and nationwide laws etc. stem from that. If you are somehow claiming that this happened the other way round, I can’t wait for your explanation, let alone your evidence.
The funny thing is that all of these arguments about how morals must be derived from religion must be made by people who don’t own dogs or at least frequent dog parks.
My 13 week old puppy came home a couple days ago soaked in rottweiler and mastiff drool from the adult dogs he was playing with at the park. This little guy is quite nippy around the larger dogs and can be a pest, but the only thing I am worried about it that he might hurt a joint playing too hard. That is because even dogs are moral creatures–it is against their morals to hurt a puppy and a healthy dog won’t do it.
As powerful predators they are armed to do significant damage to one another but to survive in a pack they also have have evolved strong inhibitions to hurting each other. Kinda like the big shift man made to become a super predator, we then had to evolve a moral sense to protect ourselves from ourselves.
I wonder if this whole morals come from god thing correlates with cat ownership? Cats do eat their young…
Do you really think the Jews were raping and killing each other ad naseum until Moses walked down with the 10 commandments?
By your ridiculous delusional logic, squirrels get their morals from the bible as well.
Reproductive rights are a good thing: excellent, and the right of all humans.
Fox didn’t apologize very sincerely or well. Not nearly as well as the people who would apologize better than he did: the ones who wouldn’t make such asinine, irrational assumptions about atheists in the first place.
The atheists knew it was wrong, because they have ethics, not because they got morality from the bible, which is simply one of many myth and religion writings that have morals, many of them predating the bible.
The Bible is the only infallible source of morals, not the only source of morals. The fact that ethics and morals predate the Bible, as I have argued before, only strengthens my case that absolute morals indeed exist, and the ground for them is God. The modern source is the Bible, which is God’s Word.
It is inescapable–if you are a modern person, your source for morality is the Bible.
BTW, it’s a BABY, not a choice. You have no right to terminate a life. Instead, take some steps to prevent pregnancy altogether. Birth control is widely available if you aren’t disciplined enough to abstain until you’re actually ready to have a kid. If you become pregnant and really don’t want the baby, then there are plenty of nice people out there trying to adopt. Consider the humane alternatives before you go and murder an innocent child.
The only infallible source of morality is that which allows humans to live together in harmony, by which logic, the average Christian is far LESS moral than the average atheist or humanist as most of them don’t discriminate against others based on their faith, their willingness to bow down to an invisible sky man and his propped up mouthpiece on earth. Those that say that religion is the only source of morality are those that can’t be trusted, the same as the child that only does the right thing because his parents are watching, the only difference between the invisible sky man and Santa Claus is the name. Logic is the only infallible source of knowledge; whether moral or otherwise.
Also it’s not a baby, it’s a cluster of stem cells that will in probability become a baby, however there are more than enough children on this earth and so every couple that doesn’t have a child is doing the rest of us a favor; either through birth control or abortion, however, even I agree that abortion should be saved for the most serious situations.
My cardinal sins:
Failure to push your body to its limits
Say what u mean Cory… “It’s not lying if u do it for God”…
You people astound me. Landover Baptist is a parody. It gets mistaken for real fundamentalists because the two – parody & fundies – are often hard to tell apart.
Was Pastor Chris Fox trying to be funny? Or was he trying to offend? Or was he just bearing false witness, plain and simple?
Balderdash. The Bible’s bronze age notions of morality can be traced back well before the Jews decided to pick one god to worship from all the others they worshipped before.
And yet when the difficult choice comes, it’s amazing how many “pro-lifers” do at the very least think about that choice.
You get top marks for pomposity at least…
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