A (more-or-less) weekly series (although there was a pause for a while) of responses to the things Christians say to atheists, based on the video reproduced here on 30th January 2012. The aim is to tackle one every weekend, to give both a moderate, polite response to each question ('Piano'), followed by a more forceful rebuttal of the same question ('Forte').
Atheists are immoralor You just don't want moral restraints - which is also addressed in this post
It is very frustrating to hear this old chestnut repeated over and over again. Those who make this claim seem to think that it will become more true if they say if more often. I leave it to the integrity and judgement of the reader to decide whether there is an validity in this approach?
So is it true?
I know atheists who sometimes joke about this topic. Usually this happens in a situation where there is a question of honestly being discussed. Take an example of having a meal with a group of people in a restaurant. The bill is complicated, and the waiter makes an error and misses several of the meals off the bill, or maybe gives you the bill for a neighbouring table. The net result is that the bill is for a figure much less than the actual price of the meals that you have eaten.
What do you do? Well in a recent case of this in a restaurant in Oxford the table of atheists had this discussion.
Shall we be good honest typical atheists and tell the waiter about the error and pay the full sum? Or should we be typical Christians and read the bill like they read the bible - picking the bits they like and discarding the rest as irrelevant. The choice was very easy and the waiter was suitably grateful.
Does this count as morality?
In this week when a pope has retired into a life where he is going to have to hide himself very well to avoid the risk of prosecution, let's look at a couple of big moral issues.
What does Jesus say about contraception? I think you have to agree that he was silent on the subject, and only with the most convoluted theology could anyone claim any biblical teaching on the matter at all. And yet the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is against the will of God, even where it is a matter of life and death. Millions of people in Africa have been infected with HIV AIDS because of the teachings of priests, under the direction of The Vatican. Is this objective morality?
Apologising for being too predictable, the issue of systematic cover-up of child abuse within the church must also be considered. (It is not just the pope, but it has happened in other countries too, notably UK as described here.) Not only is it immoral in the minds of most people to abuse children, but then to move priests to new parishes were they can offend again is only compounding the problem and confounding justice. To refuse to give the evidence to the secular authorities is not only immoral but specifically and clearly illegal.
Now try to tell me that atheists have lower standards of morality!
Who is it that fails to demonstrate moral restraints?
Last episode: God bless the pope
Next: Can't you just make yourself believe?