If there is no God, can there be morality?
I’m not asking whether atheists are moral people and do moral things. They do, but by what unimpeachable and ultimate standard? An atheist might say that certain laws are good for the advancement of the species. But let’s not forget that as an evolved species (according to atheism), we got here “red in tooth and claw.” We evolved upward through violent means. We ascended the evolutionary ladder on the weaker evolutionary elements going back to the first signs of organic life that struggled to survive. Why has that process suddenly become immoral? Famed atheist Richard Dawkins wrote in his The Selfish Gene, “We — and that means all living things — are survival machines programmed to propagate the digital database that did the programming.”
According to Dawkins, the goal of genes is to survive so they can be passed on to the next generation. The Selfish Gene has been described as “a disturbingly persuasive essay arguing that living things are little more than corporal vessels impelled to heed the primal dictates of selfish genes hellbent on their own replication and propagation.”1 These “selfish genes” don’t have a moral compass. They are like the Terminator. Their only goal is to survive and replicate and pity the poor organism that stands in their way.
On what unimpeachable and ultimate standard should we keep the unfit alive? What is the source of that unimpeachable and ultimate standard? It must be physically based because we are matter-only entities. There’s no morality written in our DNA, and even if there was, there is no one or no thing that demands we follow it resulting in eternal consequences if we don’t.
Notice the argument doesn’t say that atheists don’t prove things, or that they don’t use logic, science or laws of morality. In fact, they do. The argument is that their worldview cannot account for what they are doing. Their worldview is not consistent with what they are doing; in their worldview there are no laws; there are no abstract entities, universals, or prescriptions. There’s just a material universe, naturalistically explained (as) the way things happen to be. That’s not law-like or universal; and therefore, their worldview doesn’t account for logic, science or morality. But, atheists, of course, use science and morality. In this argument, atheists give continual evidence to the fact that in their heart of hearts they are not atheists. In their heart of hearts they know the God I’m talking about. This God made them, reveals Himself continually to them through the natural order, through their conscience, and through their very use of reason. They know this God, and they suppress the truth about him. One of the ways that we know that they suppress the truth about him is because they do continue to use the laws of logic, science and morality though their world view doesn’t account for them. — Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen, closing argument in “The Great Debate” with Gordon Stein (1985).2
A few years ago, a group of atheists ran an ad campaign with this banner:
“Relax: hell does not exist, or heaven either, enjoy your life.”
Who defines what gives someone joy and on what basis?
Two atheists walk into a bar…