The failure of atheism to account for morality

As a worldview, atheism is intellectually bankrupt and is wrought with philosophical problems.  In this video, let's look at the inability for the atheistic worldview to offer objective morality.

First I need to clarify that atheists can be morally good.  They can even be people of integrity.  But that isn't the issue.  Having good morals doesn’t mean you have objective morals. One atheist’s good morals might only be coincidentally consistent with true objective morality where another atheist’s isn’t.

Objective morals are those that are based outside of yourself.  Subjective morals are those that depend on you, your situation, culture, and your preferences. Subjective morals change, can become contradictory, and might differ from person to person.  This is the best that atheism has to offer us as a worldview.

Think about it, in atheism, there is no moral right and wrong.  There is no moral "should and shouldn't”.  Why?  Because when you remove God, you remove the standard by which objective moral truth is established.  In atheism, morality is up for grabs.

In an atheistic worldview, lying, cheating, and stealing are neither right or wrong.  They are phenomena to which, if the atheist so decides, moral values can be assigned.  Sure, the atheist might say that we all should want to help society function properly, and it does not benefit society as a whole to lie, cheat, and steal.  But, this is weak intellectual reasoning.

Let me put some flesh and blood on this and show you why.  What if there were a global economic meltdown and social turmoil ensued so that robbing people at gunpoint to get food became common place.  Robbery would then be a social norm.  Would such a norm be wrong?  If it is not wrong, then you affirm situational ethics and can’t complain when the situation suits somebody else’s fancy, and you get robbed at gunpoint.  Of course, this would lead to anarchy.

If you say such theft is wrong, then why is it wrong?  If it is your opinion that it is wrong, that is nice; but opinions don’t make ethical standards.  If you said it is wrong because it is wrong, you are just begging the question.  Besides, that would mean there was a moral standard outside of yourself to which you must answer, and that would imply a Moral-Law Giver.

Anyway, some atheists maintain that the best moral system is that which brings the greatest happiness, the least amount of suffering, and the greatest freedom for as many people as possible.  That is a nice sentiment, but it doesn’t work.  Take a look at slavery, for example.  The greatest happiness for the greatest number of people means that a minority of people should suffer in bondage.  This way, the greatest amount of freedom for the majority is ensured.  But if the atheist says that it is wrong to enslave a minority to benefit the majority, then why is it wrong?  Because he said so?  If he says it’s wrong because the minority is suffering, so what?  Why is suffering wrong?  It may be unpleasant.  It may not be nice.  But, from an atheistic worldview, why is it morally wrong to oppress a minority to benefit the majority?  Atheism can’t help us here. It just isn’t up to the task of providing solid answers.

Let me reiterate by saying that atheism offers a subjective moral system that is based on human experience, human conditions, and human reason.  By its very nature, such moral evaluation is relativistic, dangerous, can change, can become self-contradictory and can lead to anarchy.

True morality is not merely a collection of concepts agreed upon because it helps stop the guy with the gun from taking your food.  There is something more, and the Bible offers us more.

It offers us an objective set of morals:  do not lie, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not bear false witness, etc.  These morals don’t change depending on your opinion, your situation, or your personal preferences.  They are based on God’s character; and since God doesn’t change, these morals don’t either.  Therefore, it is always wrong to lie, to steal, to commit adultery, and to bear false witness but not so in atheism’s empty moral vacuum because morality is formed in a subjective manner.

So, after an economic meltdown when an armed stranger is approaching you on a dark road and you are taking food home to your hungry family, who would you rather the stranger be: a Christian who believes stealing is wrong and that God is watching or the atheist who sees a need and points his gun at you as he adapts his ethics to suit the moment?


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About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.