Idiotic Argument Against Christianity
A side project that I’m working on, in addition to everything else, is to re-read (in their entirety) the books that are supposed to destroy not only Christianity, but theism in general. I’m creating a site, currently empty except for some cool pictures, where I will post my thoughts and links to the thoughts of others on these “masterworks” of atheism.
I’ve started with Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation, which is the shortest of all of the books. Harris makes a huge error in the opening pages of the book. This mistake might hold the title for the most idiotic argument against Christianity ever purported, and I’ve noticed that other atheists have propagated the error. Like a virus.
Although I will develop the argument more succinctly later, I wanted to take a moment to address it. Neal, a user who commented on John W. Loftus’s reactionary piece to The Infidel Delusion, stated that atheism cannot provide an objective moral standard, but Christianity does. Neal makes a serious philosophical error, though I don’t think he intended to. I think that he intended to suggest that Christianity, as it points to God, provides that as the ground for morals. Atheism isn’t able to posit objective morality, as much as it is synonymous with metaphysical naturalism. If the universe is all there is, then there is no transcendent realm to appeal to when looking for the ideal standard. The ideal standard ought to be, it does not exist in point of fact. “Ought to be” has no meaning in a universe where only the natural exists: nature is what it is.
The first reaction to Neal’s lengthy piece was from Jim, who said:
And atheism provides no objective criteria whatsoever. So even here Christianity is superior in that it provides objective foundations for society.
Sorry, Christianity doesn’t provide any objective foundations for society, either, except perhaps purely “within” Christian society.
There seems to be no evidence of any actual absolute objective morality. The universe doesn’t care what Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, or the Inquisition did.
Within human society, we have determined certain “objective measures.” Take the length of the meter, for example. The length of the meter is only as good as HUMANS desire to accept OTHER HUMANS declaration of the standard.
If a group of humans decides to have a different standard for length (the “foot” or “yard”) they are free to come up with their own objective standard for their group. Or they can redefine the length of the “meter” for their own group. What they CAN’T do is redefine the “meter” for a different group.
What Christians have done, allegorically is subjectively decided on the nature of a GOD who decides what the length of the meter is and then claim that they have the ultimate OBJECTIVE foundation for the definition of a meter.
You see what Christians are doing? They are simply using the creative power of their mind to invent something (SUBJECTIVELY) and using that creation as a foundation for OBJECTIVITY.
It’s quicksand . . .
Both Neal and Jim fall into the same trap, propagating the same error that I’m accusing Harris of: Christianity is not the foundation for morals. God is the foundation for morals.
To his credit, Jim corrects himself (kind of) midway through the post, shifting the source of morality back to God. This is the correct view. Christianity is, with qualifications that I won’t get into here, a series of interpretations of the same book. Being subjective in nature, therefore, Christianity cannot provide an objective ground for morality. As such, it is not the source of morals.
Jim, however, makes many serious mistakes. The underlying assumption of his comment is that philosophy and theology cannot provide any objective insight into who God is, and what he would command. That is, philosophy and theology don’t consist of real knowledge, just mere opinion. He also rejects the authority of Scripture, and in all probability, the very existence of special revelation. He also implicitly accepts relativistic morality, which is also false.
I hate it when people say that Christianity is the ground of all morals. That’s patently false. God is the ground of all morals. Christianity is, with some qualifications, subjective and therefore cannot be the ground of morality. God, who is the good, is immutable. Therefore, God is our ground for morals. Atheism cannot account for the existence of the material universe, much less provide a ground for objective moral standards.