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Atheists Remain Relatively Indignant

Atheists Remain Relatively Indignant

I often muse as to why atheists are so angry. Don’t get me wrong. They aren’t all angry and those that are aren’t always. But, in the big scheme of things, they do seem to be irritated at those of us engaging in apologetics. To me, that seems kind of strange. You see, the worldview of atheism ends in relativism, making the idea that morality is relative the ultimate reality. So, atheists remain relatively indignant.

What I’m not saying is…

I don’t mean to say that atheists are immoral. They most certainly engage in moral actions, sometimes shaming Christians. Atheists embark on moral crusades, if you will. They are interested in the ought as well as the is. Atheists act as moral creatures.

And no, I am not saying that atheists are ignorant of morality either. Atheists know right from wrong. More importantly, they know that there is a right which transcends all people, places, and times. They know this inherently.

In case you were wondering, I am not claiming exclusivity. Christians by no means have the market cornered when it comes to morality per se. We are not necessarily better people than atheists. On a one on one basis, many atheists are probably better people. In general, they often live more ‘holy’ lives. They pursue ‘righteousness’ to a greater degree. They’re good people.

Atheists are moral beings who act and live as if there is a transcendent morality. They do this well and they do it consistently.

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:15, ESV)

No fooling.

By now I may be offending some of them though. That’s not my intention. All that I’ve said previously, I wholeheartedly mean.

How could all those compliments offend anyone, especially a worldview adversary? They ought to be considered compliments. They are gestures that attempt to find common ground.

Atheists hear something that I’m not saying. They’re picking up something that I’m not putting down. The proof is usually in the comments of any article written about the moral argument. Although I spent almost 300 words explaining that I believe atheists are moral, know morality, and engage in moral activities, someone will beat that straw man to smithereens!

Let’s be clear.

The logical outcome of an atheist worldview is relativism. Many atheists embrace this confession. They will flat tell you that all morality is relative. Killing and torturing helpless babies is a preference. Hitler and Stalin had every right to commit genocide. They make fun of Christian apologists for claiming to know what is transcendently moral. They attack religions for promoting moral exclusions. But, they realize that they campaign on cultural thin ice. So, their motto (as promoted on buses and billboards), “Be good for goodness sake!” It’s a coy attempt at rhetoric.

On the other hand, some atheists like Sam Harris do not admit to relativism. They engage in an atheist apologetic that presents humans as absolute moral creatures. The foundation for the morality of these creatures is the good of us all. “We (humans) are moral for the good of humanity”, they might say. Or, “we have learned that goodness produces better circumstances for our survival”, they retort. They propose that we have evolved into moral beings for the sake of our dominance, and that in their opinion, is good. The only reason to play nice is to establish dominance over people and cultures and other competing animals that don’t play nice.

Eat, drink, be merry!

If they are right, if there’s nothing else. if when I die, there’s no judgement and no reward, to be moral is nothing more than an inconvenience. If “the Universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” (Richard Dawkins), then why should I care? The fact is, I shouldn’t. None of us should care.

Why should I be good for goodness sake? What if I think being good is hating atheists? What if I think being good is wrecking those buses with those signs on them? Who’s to say that that’s not being good for goodness sake?


On the other hand, it doesn’t make much sense to me to say that I am an absolute moral creature but base that on what’s good for humanity. It seems that the good of humanity is a vague, ambiguity that has no real value. In this universe, what’s good for humanity is relatively meaningless.

We should strive for the good of humanity to what end? To survive? Procreate? Dominate the universe? fullsizeoutput_1057

That doesn’t make sense when in 10,000 years we’ll likely be engulfed by a star we presently look to for warmth. The good of humanity is a blind allegiance when in the infinite book of time, we are a mere blip on screen somewhere between amoebas and black holes. The reality of the universe doesn’t allow for the so-called goodness of humanities existence to dictate a morality to free individuals.

If there is no moral absolute, we are left with hedonism (doing what I like) or some form of the social contract theory (what is best for society as a whole is right). However, neither of these alternatives corresponds to the moral motions that men have. Talk to people long enough and deeply enough, and you will find that they consider some things are really right and some things are really wrong.-Francis Schaeffer

The ultimate explanatory story is icing on the contradictory confection.

Then there’s evolution.

Evolution necessitates genetic determinism. If we are just a product of our genetic makeup or what Frank Turek calls a “moist robot”, then how is anything we do moral or immoral? Our will, if determined, is not free. Our intentions have as much moral value as a single black-eyed pea. Human desires are innate, animalistic, self-centered, instinct that are dictated to me by my DNA. If Darwinism is true, then we are at best amoral. The death nail of Darwinism is transcendent morality or the other way around. You simply can’t have your cake and eat it too.

To be a consistent atheist one must be a consistent moral relativist. That’s all.

You say tomato…

That gets me to the point. Why do atheists get so angry at Christian apologists? What is there to be angry over? If morality is relative, what is wrong with believing in God or being convinced of the deity of Christ? If morality is relative then racism, bigotry, and hate are nothing but the way losers whine. If morality is relative, then preference reigns. If all morality is relative, nothing is wrong. That’s reality and I’d like to know why I can’t be left to my delusion?

Atheists remain relatively indignant though. That’s reality too. Their delusion is that they ought to be.



I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice

7 thoughts on “Atheists Remain Relatively Indignant

  1. Your argument has a few holes in it. You talk as if moral relativism is something relegated only to Atheists, but I can find evidence for relativism with anyone. The easiest one is when is it acceptable to murder? If you merely define murder as the unlawful killing of another human being, then most people would say that murder is never acceptable. However, if you define murder as the deliberate ending of another person’s life, no matter the circumstances, then everyone who has ever killed another human being, no matter if it’s execution, self-defense, war or unlawful killing is a murderer. And by that, then your morality is mere relativism.

    As for what is moral, it is what society defines to be appropriate. 160 years ago and millenia before, much of society said that slavery was moral. 50 years ago, miscegenation was considered to be morally distasteful. And since people are the products of their society, and a certain form of bigotry is anethema to the current morality of society, then it is immoral. Morality is and always has been relative to the social mores of the group in question. It’s why I’ve always been a fan of codes of ethics. With those, at least you know what is what is expected for the group, as opposed to an individual’s ill-defined morality.

    Now then, as for your bit on Evolution. Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with morality. It’s a description of finding the best fit for the environment, and how it comes about. Social Darwinism, on the other hand, is what you are describing. Social Darwinism relies on the belief that those in power and in wealth are the most fit. This is largely not the case, and is more a case of being at the right place at the right time or inheriting the results of being in the right place at the right time. If anything, it has more in common with the idea of the divine right of kings than anything else.

    As for the anger about someone being a Christian, as much as anything, it’s a defensive response. We have a nation that is supposed to be a-religious, but has had WASP religion forced into it almost entirely out of fear. The motto of the US is ‘E pluribus unum’, but you only look at our money, you have to actively search for it, whereas the religious moniker ‘In God We Trust’ is blatantly obvious, a holdover from the red scare. Everywhere we have Christians trying to place their religious beliefs into law and tradition, something that an atheist is going to oppose vehemently. And some of that vehemence is going to be directed at the people of the group who are proponents, both the innocent and the guilty.

    1. Logan, of course you’re correct that religious people can be moral relativists. You are also correct that cultures and religions have erred when it comes to specifics like slavery. But, you make the point better than me that absolute morality exists. Whether Christian theist or atheist, inconsistency does not negate the fact.
      The way I use the terms Darwinism and evolution interchangeably may be a mistake but the usual argument that we are products of our DNA is used by atheist materialists as well as Darwinists. So, it’s hard for me to see how that allows for human freedom and in turn human responsibility.
      I share some of the same opinions about our ‘Nation’ and it’s modern religious slang so I won’t pretend otherwise. I don’t share the historical interpretation that our nation was supposed to be a-religious. This idea of nationhood is a modern construct that disregards Jeffersons America in favor of Hamilton’s. No one had the idea about an indivisible mega-state that was inherently a-religious at the creation of the General Government.
      The timeline was hyperbolic when speaking of Sol. It doesn’t matter how our existence ends though. If atheism is correct and this is all there is, morality itself is modern slavery.

  2. Oh, and your timeline of stellar life is a bit off. Sol isn’t projected to turn into a red giant for a few billion years according to current models. So the planet is going to get scorched well after humanity in its current form has died off.

  3. I’m curious how much Enlightenment philosophy you’ve read. An extremely large portion of it espouses the necessity of the separation between church and state. And the thing about the Enlightenment is, it was a direct consequence of arguably the deadliest per capita war in history, the 30 Years War, which was a religious war. Entire regions of Germany were depopulated, Sweden, Austria and Spain lost most of their menfolk, and most of the nations who were actually involved were bankrupt at the end, it’s one of the big reasons why England was such a dominant sea power afterwards. The Enlightenment was a reaction of visceral horror at the what happens when religion and the state become too intertwined.

    Behavior is probably the most complex thing on the planet to model, and DNA is only the base to build off of. Environment has at least as much or more to do with it, which includes diet and intellectual stimulation. Human free will is very much something that exists, and DNA is only very slightly responsible for our actions. In truth, Evolution really only has to do with survival to the point of passing on genetics. Behaviors beyond that are not it’s purview.

    1. I’m not trying to persuade you to acquiesce a theocracy. I am a Jeffersonian on the issue. I merely disagree that the States that created the GG were a-religious. That is the proper view of American history. This has less to do with Locke and Hobbes than you might be insinuating.

  4. Having read (and agreed w/ ) this article, my comment is not so much on the article itself, but on those it examines, and I was inspired to write it after reading the comments made by Logan. At first I was going to reply to him, but as I read his comments I quickly realized he is a moral relativist, and thus no matter what I said to him, he would have a contradictory response no matter how much it conflicted with any of his previous points. So, I opted to simply write my own response. I believe a large part of the problem in communicating w/ atheists and unbelievers is due to what I will term the ‘dogmatic-to the-point-of-exclusion’ nature of many of our (Christian apologist) predecessors, and unfortunately, contemporaries. I should state that I am merely a layman, and by no means a true apologist, however I am a student of the human condition, and (Donnie will understand) have the mind of Christ/Holy Spirit which guides me into all truth,hence, wisdom. Having said that, I believe it is unfortunate that so many of the believers representing the theist camp are as closed-minded as the athiest (or even much worse). This, I believe has much to do w/ the reasons our position is rejected before even entertained. Far too many believers (as J. Warner Wallace points out) have no idea why they believe what they believe, so they end up merely shouting about how wrong the unbeliever is, giving the impression that we are ALL ignorant and bigoted. They would do well to take the advice of Dr. Craig and not endeavor to win arguments, but rather win souls (implied: hearts & minds), or, as the Apostle Paul wrote: “I have become all things unto all men, that by any means I might win some of them to Christ.” I believe 100% that many athiests are more moral in some ways than many believers, however that morality cannot depended upon, due to the fact (as this article rightly pointed out) that they are moral relativists. This will inevitably lead them to eventually break their own moral code when the relativist deems it necessary for the preservation of the position they hold or some other subjective reason. This is part of the human condition, perceived self-preservation. (As a 25 yr. veteran of the Alaskan commercial fishing industry, I can tell you of a prevalent saying in that realm which denotes this outlook honestly: “hooray for me & sorry ’bout your luck!”) … this is seen most clearly in scientific circles where (as Frank Turek points out) the findings of the researcher(s) are interpreted through the lens of their particular worldview. As Mr. Turek states, “science doesn’t say anything. Scientists do.” One of the biggest differences I see between the (Christian) theist and the athiest is intellectual honesty. By that I mean the willingness to follow the evidence wherever it leads. This (confirmed to me by the witness of the Holy Spirit) is the reason I am an ‘old-earth’ creationist. As Hugh Ross has pointed out, along with much other evidence, the light from the stars we can measure has taken eons more time to reach earth than 6,000 yrs. To be fair, I will say I have seen a little bit of science that showed a model for why light traveled faster in the early moments of creation, thus accounting for the mere impression of some 14 to 17 billion yrs. since the creation event, however, this account seemed to me to be shakey at best, and (to me, at least) somewhat ‘forced’ and possibly even contrived… to me, this is the Christian version of Darwinian (or macro) evolution. I am a firm believer in following the evidence no matter where it leads, for as God is truth, and all truth belongs to Him, therefore when we come to the end of any honest trail followed w/ integrity, we will inevitably arrive at the truth held by God so I have no fear in simply following the trail of breadcrumbs He left behind in what Hank Hannagraaf, among others, has called the book of nature. I will close by stating that relativism is DEADLY to honesty, and entirely counterproductive to learning, cooperation and finding truth as the relativist will always wind up contradicting truth, and even himself in order to maintain the position that is best for him at that particular point in time. That’s all I got-God be with you!

    1. Peter, I appreciate your passionate response. As Greg Koukl says, the problem with errant world-views is that the people who hold them are always bumping up against reality. Truth is the kind of thing that won’t give in to our attempts to alter it. Post-modernists actually expect their bank accounts to be correct. Materialists argue as if they have free will. Moral relativists get angry when they are victims of transgressions. Atheists live as if there is a God. It’s difficult to exist in Gods world and suppress the truth about him without paying the price of hypocrisy. As you said, that’s true for Christian theists as well.

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