Dennis Prager has a column responding to Richard Dawkins, who answered a question on whether we could have morality without religion by saying, “The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible.” His response is predictably absurd.
This is the crux of the issue for Dawkins and other anti-religion activists – that not only do we not need religion or God for morality, but we would have a considerably more moral world without them.
This argument is so wrong – both rationally and empirically – that its appeal can only be explained by a) a desire to believe it and b) an ignorance of history.
First, the rational argument.
If there is no God, the labels “good” and “evil” are merely opinions. They are substitutes for “I like it” and “I don’t like it.” They are not objective realities.
Gosh, what a sparkling new argument. *yawn* But here’s the problem: This is not an argument for the existence of God or the truth of any religion. Even if the argument is absolutely true, it does not even attempt to argue that such a God actually exists or that any religion is true. At best it’s an argument for why they hope that God exists and their religion is true. But if there is no God, the moral proclamations of religions would suffer from exactly the same problem that Prager claims secular morality suffers from. I call this the “Simon says” argument.
But if there is no God — or even if there is — we still have to figure out how to live with one another in societies, whether they be primitive tribes, modern nation-states or the human race as a whole. We have to figure out how to co-exist with one another. And if they really believe that without believing in God they’re going to go off and start raping and pillaging, that speaks volumes about them, don’t you think?
To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, “Do not murder,” murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies.
So, then, without God, why is murder wrong?
But bear in mind that all of those things, including murder, is justified on the basis of religion. If God exists and the Bible is an accurate record of his actions, God is the greatest mass murderer in history, by orders of magnitude. No one else even comes close. The Bible says that he murdered virtually everyone and every animal on earth in a global flood in a fit of rage. And he explicitly commands murder over and over again. So with God, why is murder wrong?