-Taken from Facebook-
To begin, I want to say that I will not be addressing the straw-man form of the Christian moral argument atheists often put forth, which is, that atheists don’t know morality or cannot behave morally. In order to properly address what the moral argument actually is, we need to first define some terms; Epistemology, and Ontology. Epistemology is how one knows something, and Ontology is why what we know exists or where it came from. Now the moral argument put forth by Christian theists is not that atheists don’t know morality or cannot behave morally. In fact, we all, (theist, atheist, buddhist, and agnostic alike), know morality because God has written it on our hearts. But that is epistemology. And let me agree with the atheist that there are a number of ways that we all can know morality. Maybe our parents taught it to us, or maybe we learned it from society, or maybe it is just some feeling we get inside. But all of those ways that we can know morality (epistemology) do not explain why morality exists (ontology). And that’s our argument. That without God, without a transcendent anchor to affirm the morality we all believe in, then all the things we “know” are merely reduced to human opinion, and are therefore not objective, but subjective. It’s just our opinion vs, let’s say, Hitler’s opinion. And so objective morality cannot even exist in an atheistic universe. Again, this is not to say that atheists can’t know morality or that they cannot behave morally, but that they cannot justify morality. They can give all kinds of examples as to how they know it, but cannot explain why it exists. So that’s the moral argument in a nut-shell.
Now let’s get to the article itself. We’ll start with the title; “Why Did God Create Atheists?” Now on the surface, this may seem like a credible question to ask, but when we look at it a little more closely, we can see that it makes a faulty assumption. It assumes that God created certain people as atheists; that certain people were somehow preordained by God to be atheists. And this is simply false on the Christian view. God doesn’t create people theist or atheist or anything in between, but rather He creates us all with free-will, gives us evidence that He exists, and then respects our free choices to believe what we want to in the end. So the question cannot even be answered because it does not make sense in its current form. Now, having said all that, if we want to discuss a credible question, it would look like this: “why would God create those who He knew would choose atheism?” Actually, I’ve heard the question stated this way; “why would God even create a universe in which some people would choose to be atheists?” Now these are questions worth consideration, but that I think in the end, are fairly easy to answer. “It seems to me that so long as God provides sufficient evidence so that we can know he exists, and provides sufficient grace so that we can all be saved, that those who would freely reject God and His grace, should in no way be able to prevent those who would freely embrace God and His salvation” (William Lane Craig). The bible says that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), and that He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-10). It is only because people freely reject God and His grace, that this end is not reached. But one may ask, “why wouldn’t God, then, create a universe with only people who freely accept Him?” William Lane Craig points out, that if such a universe is available to God, that it has overriding deficiencies. An example he gives is a universe with only two or three people in it. This means that God is no less loving for preferring the current universe, and that those who reject God’s evidence and grace, In William Lane Craig’s words, “have nobody to blame but themselves.”
Now let’s get into the content of the article. “The Master responds ‘God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all – the lesson of true compassion…’” The problem with this concept is, this idea that the atheists are the ones displaying “true compassion” is based on the straw-man argument put forth later in the article that says that Christians only do good because some holy book tells them, or because of some divine command, or because of some morbid fear of hell. The author then says but “but aha, now an atheist, he does it because he’s truly good person” (paraphrasing of course). This is just silly. Both the theist and the atheist do good because it comes from within their hearts, because they both genuinely care about others. However, the atheist cannot justify why it is objectively good to help others. Who says? It’s just their opinion. The theist on the other hand can give an objective standard to which good actions are compared to say that it is objectively good to help others. The article later reads, “And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.” This very statement proves my point. That’s all good is in an atheistic universe, a feeling.
The article concludes by saying, “…when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say, ‘I will help you.’” Question… Why not do both? I mean, HELLO, why, again, is the author arbitrarily assuming that the Christian wouldn’t not only pray, but also reach out and help the person themselves? Not to mention the statement is permeated with the word “should” importing a moral standard into a framework that has none. Ultimately the idea put forth that one ought to “become an atheist” makes no sense because in an atheistic universe there is no objective standard telling us that we ought to help people. The difference is not, whether one ought to pray or help people themselves, because both theists and atheists help people themselves, the difference is that Christians can also pray so that God can take care of the things that we are incapable of doing.
In summary, I want to reiterate that I am not saying that atheists cannot be moral or good people, because in fact, some atheists live lives that would put some Christians lives to shame. But I don’t think that atheists can justify the ontological foundation for objective morality. Frank Turek puts it this way – “you can read a book and know what it says and deny that there is an author, which is true. But there would no book to read in the first place, unless there was an author. Likewise, you can know morality and deny that there is a God, which is also true. But there would be no morality to know, unless God existed”.
-by M. Stelman Smith. 3-16-17