Skip to comments.A Response to Richard Dawkins
Posted on 10/02/2013 1:20:19 PM PDT by Heartlander
Asked "whether an absence of religion would leave us without a moral compass," Dawkins responded: "The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible."
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.
Every atheist philosopher I have debated has acknowledged this. For example, at Oxford University I debated Professor Jonathan Glover, the British philosopher and ethicist, who said: "Dennis started by saying that I hadn't denied his central contention that if there isn't a God, there is only subjective morality. And that's absolutely true."
And the eminent Princeton philosopher Richard Rorty admitted that for secular liberals such as himself, "there is no answer to the question, 'Why not be cruel?'"
Atheists like Dawkins who refuse to acknowledge that without God there are only opinions about good and evil are not being intellectually honest.
None of this means that only believers in God can be good or that atheists cannot be good. There are bad believers and there are good atheists. But this fact is irrelevant to whether good and evil are real.
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?
Is it, as Dawkins argues, because reason says so?
My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins's reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church's teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.
In addition, reason alone without God is pretty weak in leading to moral behavior. When self-interest and reason collide, reason usually loses. That's why we have the word "rationalize" -- to use reason to argue for what is wrong.
What would reason argue to a non-Jew asked by Jews to hide them when the penalty for hiding a Jew was death? It would argue not to hide those Jews.
In that regard, let's go to the empirical argument.
Years ago, I interviewed Pearl and Sam Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt and the authors of one of the most highly-regarded works on altruism, The Altruistic Personality. The book was the product of the Oliners' lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
The Oliners, it should be noted, are secular, not religious, Jews; they had no religious agenda.
I asked Samuel Oliner, "Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?"
Without hesitation, he said, "a Polish priest." And his wife immediately added, "I would prefer a Polish nun."
That alone should be enough to negate the pernicious nonsense that God is not only unnecessary for a moral world, but is detrimental to one.
But if that isn't enough, how about the record of the godless 20th century, the cruelest, bloodiest, most murderous century on record? Every genocide of the last century -- except for the Turkish mass murder of the Armenians and the Pakistani mass murder of Hindus in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was committed by a secular anti-Jewish and anti-Christian regime. And as the two exceptions were Muslim, they are not relevant to my argument. I am arguing for the God and Bible of Judeo-Christian religions.
Perhaps the most powerful proof of the moral decay that follows the death of God is the Western university and its secular intellectuals. Their moral record has been loathsome. Nowhere were Stalin and Mao as venerated as they were at the most anti-religious and secular institutions in Western society, the universities. Nowhere in the West today is anti-Americanism and Israel-hatred as widespread as it is at universities. And Princeton University awarded its first tenured professorship in bioethics to Peter Singer, an atheist who has argued, among other things, that that "the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee" and that bestiality is not immoral.
Dawkins and his supporters have a right to their atheism. They do not have a right to intellectual dishonesty about atheism.
I have debated the best known atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss ("A Universe from Nothing") and Daniel Dennett. Only Richard Dawkins has refused to come on my radio show.
Dennis Prager's latest book, "Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph," was published April 24 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.Com.
atheism isn't exempt from analysis or critique of its real world consequences. Atheism is a metaphysical stance -- there are no gods and no God, there is no intrinsic purpose to existence, there is no natural moral law, there is no accountability in an afterlife. Those are quite explicit and consequential assertions, just as the negation of those assertions -- that there is a God, that there is a purpose to existence... -- is an explicit and consequential assertion. Atheism lacks liturgy. It does not lack beliefs and consequences. It lacks belief in God; it does not lack belief in the intrinsic consequences of God's non-existence. As Nietzsche emphatically noted, if God is dead, everything changes.
...atheism is to sin as alcoholism is to angst. Stupor-- metaphysical or medicinal-- is a denial of reality and a denial of consequences, which feels good for an evening or a weekend.
- Michael Egnor
My response to Richard Dawkins is that he is an idiot and apparently unable to do actual science. Probably because he is severely lacking in creativity.
Haven’t heard him debate Dawkins. Hitchens really cleaned his clock, however.
We have plenty of examples of what atheists do when right and wrong is in the eye the the beholder from people like Mao and Stalin, and all the other Marxists.
It’s 100% clear that all that ‘mild pedophilia’ damaged Dawkins permanently.
He is an attention seeker of the highest order. I hate to think of how much profit he has made off of rubes who mistake him for a philosopher.
If you read his, “River out of Eden” you find that he is “very religious” in his devotion to Darwinism. I happen to be on board with that myself, but Dawkins is so focused and reliant on this theory, that you can see where he has transferred his worship.
I learned all I need to know about Dawkins from Ben Stein’s interview with him in “Expelled”. Not what I’d call a capable spokesman for his position.
This is also the entire issue with “gay marriage”. It is divorced from the Judeo-Christian ethics system that has been the basis of our law. Change that and you have no logical means of declaring why polygamy shouldn’t be legal. Seriously, throw out God and you have to ask, what is moral? If somebody steals from me, why shouldn’t I have the right to kill them? Why isn’t it the “right” thing to do?
I’ve atheist family members that feel they can be just as “good” a person as anyone, I then ask them to define “good”? What about arranged marriages? What about chopping off arms for theft? Ah, “no” they say, those aren’t “good” things - I remind them that many people in many countries disagree with them. What makes your version of “good” better than theirs? They can’t answer.