Conservative commentator Dennis Prager believes that atheists are incapable of knowing murder is bad. That’s because you need to believe in a Higher Power to have any sort of morality, otherwise it’s all relative! You’d think the simple fact that open atheists don’t commit a lot of crimes would be enough to retire that old canard… but he brings it up again in a new video for Prager University.
… Is murder wrong? Is it evil? Nearly everyone would answer yes. But now I’ll pose a much harder question: How do you know?
In a secular world, there can only be opinions about morality. They may be personal opinions or society’s opinion. But only opinions. Every atheist philosopher I have read or debated on this subject has acknowledged that if there is no God, there is no objective morality.
Prager goes on to say that atheists can be good, adding that that doesn’t negate his argument. But of course it does.
What would you rather have? Religious believers who believe in absolute morality yet frequently break those rules (hello, Catholic priests)? Or atheists who don’t believe in absolute morality but mostly play by the Golden Rule?
Yes, morality is relative. Vegetarians think killing animals is unethical, and many Christians would disagree with that. Who’s right? There are people who oppose abortion for the same reason, yet many would argue it’s immoral to limit women’s choices. Absolutely morality suggests there’s a right and wrong to ethical questions that are full of nuance. Not every conflict is that simple to resolve.
Then, Prager brings up an old argument that even Zygote Atheists can refute.
Now, many will argue that you don’t need moral absolutes; people won’t murder because they don’t want to be murdered. But that argument is just wishful thinking. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao didn’t want to be murdered, but that hardly stopped them from murdering about a hundred million people.
While Hitler wasn’t an atheist, it’s still an absurd thing to say. Plenty of wars have been waged by people fighting in the name of faith. And while Stalin and Mao were atheists, they weren’t killing in the name of No God. Murderers gonna murder. There are other factors to consider, but Prager ignores them all.
And it’s not like God is the guy to look to for advice on morality. He killed approximately 25,000,000 people.
So on what basis can we say that murder is wrong? Here are a few ideas that come to mind: Because it destroys societies. Because a world where people are allowed to murder others is one where we’re so focused on survival that we can’t concentrate on anything else. Because we’re all better off treating others the way we want to be treated.
I’m glad Prager believes in absolute morality since it’s clear he couldn’t tell right from wrong without it. But the rest of us know better.
By the way, Prager made the same silly arguments years ago when he said that the only way we could know murder was wrong was through the Ten Commandments.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how believing in God is the only way any of us can be decent people?
(Thanks to Justin for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)