I’ve noticed in debates that Christians really enjoy taunting atheists with their objective moral values. After all, they say to the atheists, “Without our God and the Bible, you can do anything. Under your worldview of cultural relativism, if you had been around in Germany under Hitler, genocide was ok.” And they say this with a straight face knowing that genocide was sanctioned by God in the Old Testament when the Israelites were invading the Canaanite lands.
So let’s examine the difference in values by assuming it’s true and that Christians are guided by their objective moral values and the atheists are guided by subjective moral values. The first assumption you might make naively is that the atheists are the primary perpetrators of crime. That’s not the case statistically. And you would be hard pressed to think of a famous Christian who hasn’t been toppled by his moral failings. If they aren’t stealing from the offering plate, they are molesting children or having affairs with their secretaries. But don’t worry folks, atheists don’t even think these things are wrong under their subjective moral values. After all without an ultimate authority, it’s up to them to decide what’s right and wrong – and again, if you are a Christian in a debate with an atheist, insert your favorite Stalin, Mao, and Hitler argument here. And if you are an atheist, insert your counter that they didn’t mass murder in the name of atheism. <– See how dumb this debate gets?
So how do we as atheists handle this freedom of destruction we have been granted? Well, most of us including myself realize that the goals that I have in life are easier to obtain by refraining from bad societal behavior. If I want to succeed in society, I’m bound by the guardrails that society imposes. But what if that wasn’t enough? What if the Christians are right and if everyone stops believing in their God and the Bible, they run rampant killing and maiming with abandon? Well, if that were the case, the society would be forced to create some kind of system to restrict those people from the rest of society. They would probably construct some kind of restrictive mechanism – maybe jails. Yeah that’s a good idea, and furthermore there would probably be claims of injustice so they would have to create some kind of jurisprudence mechanism – I know! Maybe they could come up with a criminal judicial system. Hey wait a second, I’m noticing something, that’s exactly what we have here in America. Interesting.
You see folks, objective moral values aren’t enough given a god we can’t see or is seemingly uninterested in meting out his justice in this life. So whether you believe in objective moral values or not, you still need society’s mechanisms for handling bad behavior. Yes, the price you pay with moral relativism is that in theory you can do whatever you want, including genocide. But we did that anyway even when there was a Bible sitting there on our desks and in fact, we glorified genocide in that very same book.
I finished writing this article and then realized the real dividing line right now between atheists and Christians when it comes to “objective” moral values is homosexuality. Although they talk about it in terms of murder and rape, they are really focused on the real moral values question – sexuality outside of marriage. In my encounters with their preaching, Christians are completely beside themselves on the homosexuality issue. In the Bible, God handled the issue by completely destroying Sodom and Gomorra (a story where the only moral man then had sex and impregnated his daughters while drunk). Now, God is silent on the issue, again leaving moral relativists to decide how to handle it. In America, we have decided on the side of free exercise. In some other places where they are also bound by their holy book of objective moral values, they have taken to throwing homosexuals off roofs.