The Atheist’s Shallow Worldview

engineers-scales-335147-mRecently in a discussion with some atheists, I asked, if all life descended from a common source as many evolutionists claim, why do atheists care for humans more than for other species?

The exchange stemmed from the oft-used assault on God based on the lack of prohibition against slavery in the Ten Commandments. Why, I asked, were atheists so intent on human rights but not on animal rights (though a growing number are moving in that direction). Now that I understand this common descent theory, I would expect those who hold to it to follow the logically consistent position that all life was worth fighting for or that no life was worth fighting for. But to advocate for human rights over and above animals seems inconsistent.

The answer I received was that there’s species identification—we treat those like us more favorably.

Of course other names for “species identification” would be prejudice, partiality, favoritism, bigotry, intolerance. I mean, if it’s OK to identify favorably and advocate for one species over the others, then why not do the same for one gender over the other, for one race over the others, one religion over the others, one language, one ethnicity, one hair color or eye color or height or weight or favorite sports team? 😉

In fact, it seems few atheists think past their assertions to the logical next step or subsequent consequences of their worldview.

In truth what ground do atheists have for ethical living? Why, from their perspective, is pedophilia wrong or murder or rape or car jacking or terrorist attacks? One atheist says the “human community decides,” but on what basis? If more people, or more powerful people, want to have sex with children, than want to protect children from abuse, would the “human community” simply change the laws as if wrong has become right? This is precisely what the movement to change the definition of marriage is doing.

Atheists apparently see nothing wrong with such a moving scale of right and wrong (unless, I suppose, the scale should move to a point where atheism was a crime). Rather, the moral imperative is simply the will of the people (or of the powerful people). This position reflects what life is like without God. There is no authoritative standard and ultimately we descend into caveman thing: might makes right.

What else is there? Self-sacrifice for others becomes a foolish act if this life is all there is. Why give to the needy instead of hoarding all we can get? After all, survival of the fittest should prevail.

And yet, there are impressively generous atheists who seem to derive some pleasure in thinking of others and not just themselves. How does that fit with their worldview?

There’s no absolute standard of right and wrong, and yet almost unanimously all peoples would stop to help a crying child, give directions to a stranger, thank the man who changes a tire deep in the American desert.

The atheist can’t explain the compunction to do what is right. They don’t believe that humans have been made in God’s image.

At the same time, they have no answer for why an atheist would gun down three Muslim students or curse Christians at every opportunity or act in other hateful ways. They don’t believe humans have a sin nature.

In essence, atheists can only go skin deep because that’s where science stops. It doesn’t examine the intents of the heart. What can atheists say about the basic philosophical questions of human existence: who am I, why am I here, where am I going, what is truth, how do I know what is right and wrong (and where did the sense that there is a right and wrong come from)?

The answers I’ve heard are these: humans are a product of chance and evolution, without purpose, ending at death (therefore going nowhere); and truth, like right and wrong, is whatever you make it to be. In that shallow, simplistic worldview, there’s no explanation for the self-sacrifice of a Jim Elliott or for the forgiveness of a Corrie ten Boom or for the selfless service of a Katie Davis. No. The best atheists can can do is rail at the God they say does not exist.

He, on the other hand, extends grace and mercy to whoever believes.

Published in: on February 13, 2015 at 6:17 pm  Comments (31)  
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  1. “He, on the other hand, extends grace and mercy to whoever believes.”


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  2. It is true that evolution picks for us to consider more heavily the morality of the situation we are in (which is why a friend who has been betrayed hits us harder, emotionally, than the starving in Africa), and to favour our own tribe/species. The history of discussions on morality has been one of trying to overcome those biases. (Religious texts have been of limited help here, teaching one kind of tribalism or another.) I think this discussion has been an important one.
    The discussion has helped us to transcend the evolutionary cognitive/moral bias we have (in both issues of science and ethics).
    Part of that transcending biological ethics, i think, has been the realisation that the most ethically valuable thing in the universe is wellbeing. This is the cornerstone of Sam Harris’ ‘The Moral Landscape’.


    • But well-being for whom, Allallt? What is good for the lion is not good for the gazelle that he hunts.

      And the question remains: where did the sense that there is a right and wrong come from?

      Atheism doesn’t address this question, as far as I know. In fact, it looks past the other key philosophical questions while making the assumption that, though there are many things we don’t yet know or understand, one thing we do know: God does not exist. Scripture says that’s a foolish position.



      • Evolution explains the sense just fine.
        And now you’re misrepresenting atheism. Atheism isn’t a worldview. Atheism is a conclusion reached, and can be borne out of a number of different worldviews. Atheism is also not (necessarily) the position that God doesn’t exist, but simply not being convinced of a God. That’s an important philosophical distinction. If you choose to ignore it, i am not going to consider your concern that atheism skips over some philosophical questions as sincere. Atheism is a conclusion, and the worldviews it can be borne from are carotene of addressing a broad array of philosophical questions.

        As for the lion/gazelle dilemma you raise: there is a way of getting to maximal well-being for that situation. You have to consider both of their well-beings, in relation to how much they can experience well-being.


        • Allallt, of course atheism is a worldview. You conceive the world as a place without God. That premise colors everything, the same way my belief that God does exist colors my perspective of the world. Of course we can’t both be right, so one of us conceives things as they are and the other in a false way.

          As far as your comment about the lion/gazelle . . . I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to trade places with the gazelle. Does that address the issue of its well-being sufficiently?

          How can evolution address the sense of morality? I’ve not heard that explained.



          • If you persist with position that atheism is a world view, you’re simply mistaken. In every case i know, myself included, it is a matter of another worldview leading to atheism.
            If you don’t think you’ve ever heard of an explanation as to view evolution can lead to a sense of morality, you simply haven’t tried. It’s discussed at length in the selfish gene.
            No, you haven’t done anything to even address the moral landscape. I’d put that on your reading list too.


  3. “why do atheists care for humans more than for other species?”

    They all don’t. Your generalization fails and thus your claim.

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    • HA! 😆 Apparently, clubschadenfreude, you’ve learned that great debating tactic I’ve seen in those discussions I’ve been apart of—you make the judgment that the other person’s argument “failed” and dismiss whatever they have to say.

      But apparently you read past the clear qualifications I made, such as “though a growing number are moving in that direction [toward considering animal rights as well as human rights]” and “there are impressively generous atheists who seem to derive some pleasure in thinking of others and not just themselves.”

      The point is this: for those who live according to what they say they believe, they must adopt a nihilistic worldview. For those who are generous and do any number of other unselfish anomalous actions in spite of the fact that their worldview leans toward self-preservation, they have no answer to why they do as they do. They have no idea what their purpose for being is or why some things are right and others wrong. Many simply don’t address those issues because their worldview doesn’t give them answers.



      • Hello Becky,

        You seemed to have missed where I can show that your generalization fails. I do not care for humans more than other animals. I care about both equally. I find that there is no reason to treat humans better than animals or make believe we are somehow better. We are indeed more intelligent. Does that mean we deserve to be treated better or that we deserve more resources? I do not think so.

        If you can show that your claim ““why do atheists care for humans more than for other species?” is true, then do so. You did not say “some atheists”, you generalized and as soon as I say “I don’t and I’m an atheist.” Your claim is wrong.

        Yep, you do have some qualifications, but your question mentioned none of them and you made a false generalization. You also make false claims in your qualifications.

        Your first qualification “though a growing number are moving in that direction [toward considering animal rights as well as human rights]”. Happy to say, there is not a “growing number” of atheist “moving toward” considering animal rights as well as human rights, there are plenty of us there and we have been there for years.

        Your second qualification “there are impressively generous atheists who seem to derive some pleasure in thinking of others and not just themselves.” This is a poor attempt to try to claim that the vast majority of atheists do *not* derive some pleasure in thinking of others and not just themselves. It’s the old theist attempt to play pretend that atheists are selfish and that only her type of Christian is good.

        The point is that you are telling falsehoods about others. You are also incorrect in trying to equate atheism with nihilism. They are not the same and it is a shame that Christians like yourself must try to conflate them to feel better about yourselves. There are many types of nihilism, and what you apparently are trying to claim all atheist should feel is existential nihilism or something like this “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.”

        Again, you seem to be a Christian who wants to pretend that no one but her can have the correct morals and that morals can only come from her version of the Christian god. Do you agree that this is the case?

        I do not believe that life is meaningless. I think it has lots of meaning and it is up to humans to find the meaning for their lives. I follow a very stringent set of morals, to not to lie, to try my best to help my fellow humans, to do my best to take care of animals and this planet. I do these thing because I do not want them done to me and I like to help people. Very human reasons and I do not need to claim that my morals are the perfect ones or that some magical being approves of my morals. I do not need to believe in your version of your god, another Christian’s version of their god which can completely disagree with yours (so much for the usual Christian claims that their morals are somehow “absolute”), anyone else’s god, etc, to be a decent humane person. I certainly have no need at all to adopt nihilism which has nothing to do with atheism, the conclusion that there are no god or gods.

        I have plenty of reasons of why I do what I do, and again your claim that I do not fails. I have empathy. I care about others and I do not want anything to happen to them that I would not want to happen to me. The “golden rule” was around long before your religion was invented. You want to claim that acting unselfishly is somehow anomalous to atheists. Please do show me your evidence for this. What statistics can you show that atheists do not act as unselfishly as Christians do? I can show that they do here: and here:

        I don’t need an external purpose for being, to imagine that something created me and I’m its special friend. My purpose is what I determine it to be, to love my husband, to help others, etc. I do not need a magical carrot and stick to do what I find to be beneficial to others.

        What is your purpose? What are your morals? If you claim that they are the only good morals, how can you demonstrate this? If another Christian has different morals than you, can you show me that you are the only right one and they are wrong?


      • You seemed to have missed where I can show that your generalization fails

        I guess I’m not doing a very good job of explaining myself, clubschadenfreude. I intended to qualify my statements about atheists rather than give a sweeping generalization because I’m aware that many (most?) atheists don’t carry out their belief system to the logical conclusion. They actually do live as if life has purpose, as if something they do here and now has lasting value, that there is more than selfish gain. What I was discussing was the atheists’ position when carried to its logical conclusion.

        In contrast to you, I believe that humans are unique, having been made in God’s image. I also believe that God gave humans the responsibility to care for the rest of creation—a job we have bungled more often than not.

        Some (most?) atheists care more for humans than for animals. I know this because there’s still more meat eaters than vegans. And cannibalism hasn’t become an acceptable practice. As I pointed out in another comment, I did intend the qualifications I put into the post to apply here. I’m sorry I wasn’t clear.

        I’m afraid you’re wrong when you ascribe motive to my statement about atheists and generosity. I’m making no claim about those who aren’t impressively generous because I don’t know about them. Some are impressively generous because the media makes much of what they do. It isn’t a reflection on others who do as much but who aren’t put into the limelight. Rather, that atheists of any number, great or small, show generosity flies in the face of expectations. There is no philosophical reason for an atheist to be generous. If life depends on survival of the fittest, if there is nothing but this life, then the logical conclusion should be a selfish life. Hence, my conclusion: not all atheists live according to the logical result of what they purport to believe; and those that don’t have no reason for why they don’t.

        You say you believe life is meaningful, but you haven’t said what gives it meaning. If all die and that’s the end, then what does it matter that you did your best not to lie? Why not lie if it will move you toward what you want in life? I guess you did give some explanation: you want others to treat you this way, so you live according to your moral code in hopes that others treat you that way in return. It’s a good, pragmatic approach. Of course, it doesn’t account for those who will live according to a different moral code, even for the same reason.

        Far from saying atheists are selfish, my contention is this: every time an atheist lives according to a morality that is incongruous with your belief system (what matters is survival), you prove God’s existence. It is He who gave us a moral compass. Though we may not be in agreement about all the particulars of what is right and what is wrong, we do agree that there is a right and wrong.



  4. Excellent read!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First, it’s worthwhile noting your misconception about the “atheistic worldview.” Atheism isn’t a worldview per se; it’s a lack of belief in gods. The worldview you’ve ascribed to atheists reads like a caricature. Most atheists are not nihilists.

    Second, how does God’s say so make something moral? Your criticisms of the “human community” response apply to your own position also.


    • Beliefs (or lack thereof) inform and shape our worldview. You can’t have one divorced from the other.

      I’m interested in seeing what Becky has to say in answer to your question about “how God’s say-so makes something moral,” but I have my own answer too:

      Re-framed in the language of the computer age:

      He who creates the universe (i.e., God) sets the rules by which that universe and everything in it must function (see Genesis). When components of that universe fail to function as instructed, other elements of that universe will still function as designed to correct or address the malfunction. The Creator God is also able, by virtue of His role as Creator, to step in and personally address malfunctions (see Genesis through Revelation).

      This may have what appears to be an adverse effect on the components which malfunctioned, and they can of course object, but actions have consequences, and malfunctions must be corrected for the universe to continue functioning as designed.

      Now…a squeaking, malfunctioning component can get the Creator’s attention just as much as it gets the attention of any of the rest of us (see the parable of the Unjust Judge), and He isn’t unfeeling; He loves His human components and wants them to function joyfully in His grand design and to know His love for them (see the Sermon on the Mount).

      When they’re unhappy and think they have cause for complaint, He is willing to entertain the possibility, although He insists that it isn’t so (see the book of Job), and extend to them the benefit of the doubt, and apply mercy and grace (see the Gospels) to that which is making them miserable, with the stated goal of returning them back into proper function and a state of peace and joy (see Matthew through 3rd John).

      There are definite limits to His patience, though, and since human components can not continue to malfunction without destroying themselves or others around them, He regrets their demise, but has allowed it to limit the scope of the damage they can cause (see Genesis 6:3).

      He has also decreed limitations to the life of this universe, which is in a state of decline because of our malfunctioning, and will eventually remove and replace it with one that is free of malfunctions (see Revelations).

      Keeping in mind that context,

      We have the Old Testament, which records God’s judgment on wicked nations (even Israel) that were treating their people and the other peoples around them in inhuman ways which continue to be antithetical to God’s instructions for the universe even today.

      We even agree with God that nations must be stopped from abusing His definitions of right and wrong when we take issue with genocidal maniacs and oppressive, destructive societies.

      There is no real cure for ISIS, for instance, except by addressing their virulent ideological war with an extreme amount of force such that it wipes out all members and discourages anyone else from taking their war up.

      God has taken final, absolute care of wicked people like ISIS throughout history, and has given us multiple glimpses of those societal corrections throughout the Old Testament.

      He is also the SAME God who commanded the ancient nation of Israel to treat the strangers and aliens among them with kindness and generosity, and made no distinction as to whether those strangers and aliens were Jewish converts or pagans, and reminds the Jews that they had been aliens living in Egypt, with all of the nuances that historical context gave them of both the good and the bad (Leviticus 19:33-34).


      • I find four things incredibly interesting about your computer analogy:
        (1) It doesn’t do away with the idea that ‘proper function’ is arbitrarily defined and could have as easily been murder and capriciousness and death and suffering.
        (2) Computers are necessarily dispassionate and amoral. That is the system you had to rely on to justify God.
        (3) A malfunctioning bit of software is a sign of a deficiency in the programmer.
        (4) Whereas the God-programmer used to be very deleterious to malfunctioning code (think: Floods and Plagues and Lott of Sodom), now It is not. Such miracles/intervention with the program have ceased.

        Interestingly, you are unarmed in an intellectual battle with ISIS. They also believe they are following God’s programming (interesting that they not be smote like the people of Sodom… not that I think suck deleterious behaviour is ethical, just that it would be consistent…).
        I have never agreed with God’s definitions of right and wrong: that faith takes precedent over action or intent; that surrender of critical faculties is preferential; that knowing how to keep slaves is even applicable; that eternal punishment for finite crimes is ethical; that vicarious redemption is a virtue… It seems to me that the overlap between my disgust for genocide and what you perceive to be God’s disgust for genocide is either a coincidental overlap or, given Its history of genocide, a mistaken view.


      • I think Allallt said it quite well, so I don’t have much more to add other than to note that, in keeping with the computer analogy, wouldn’t it follow that we are simply programs obeying the commands of the programmer? Whatever we do is whatever we have been programmed to do. On this view, something is “wrong” if a program fails to compute a function as intended. The programmer can’t blame such a failure on the code – after-all, he wrote it. He could have written it differently. If he were an omniscient programmer, he could foresee and avoid such “wrongs” easily.


      • Allallt, I hope Krysti gives you her answers to your comment, but I thought I’d note a couple things. First, an analogy is just an analogy—meaning that it will inevitably break down at some point. It’s not meant to be a perfect one-to-one correlation with the thing it is being used to explain. It’s just that some people will find the computer concept easier to understand than abstracts.

        I’m amused at your list of what you think are God’s definitions of right and wrong. You’re wide of the mark by a long shot, so no wonder you disagree.

        The real question this post brings up, though, is that you ought not have a sense of right and wrong if you were consistent with your worldview. If there is no God and life boils down to survival of the fittest, if there is no afterlife and this world is all we get, then why would you care about other people or playing fair or being honest—if doing the opposite could help you survive or get more of what makes you happy? It’s incongruous for an atheist to have a set of moral values. And yet you have them.

        Atheism has no answer for why. It’s beyond the scope of that worldview to address the big philosophical questions of life.



        • Rebecca,
          Your analogy only works because it is amoral and only on the assumption that programmer can be imperfect. That’s functional to the structure of your analogy. If the analogy fails that fundamentally, I’d take a moment to consider whether what you hope it represents fails for the same reasons.
          If you are a Christian I’d like to know why God’s behaviour isn’t represent of Its nature or morality.
          As I explained in earlier comments “Atheism isn’t a worldview. Atheism is a conclusion reached, and can be borne out of a number of different worldviews” and those world views have many methods to discussing morality. If you look at my first comment (2nd overall comment) you’ll see that I explicate my method. Clubschadenfeude does the same.
          Your representation of atheism as necessarily nihilistic has lead me to talk of ‘religious nihilism’. It is the position that many religious people adopt (particularly to denigrate atheists). The position is that value is necessarily an extrinsic property. What this means is that the ‘religious nihilist’ doesn’t believe anything has its own value, instead value must be externally provided by a God. That is to say that human life, conscious wellbeing and peace are all without value, except with God.
          I reject that philosophy! I don’t think that value has to be dictated by authority. And even if it did, there is nothing that makes God’s opinion on the matter more important than mine. (As a warning, people often rely here by describing God as a bully in some way. Try to avoid that, if you can. That just means values–morality included–would be a tyrannical thing.)


          • Allallt, this thread is getting too narrow, so I’ll answer the bulk of your comment in a new thread, but I thought I’d point out here that the analogy isn’t mine. Krystie made the comparison. I was planning to make a note that the difference between the analogy and real life is that God made us in His image, after His likeness. Which means He gave us a will. He didn’t program us in the way a computer is programmed. It’s a significant difference and probably answers your objections.



          • That direct really address the concern at all. Think about the difference between Ghandi and Charles Manson: neither of then willed to have the urges they had, but one actually had the will to kill prostitutes, the other did not. Even if you believe in freewill, those urges are a programming error.
            And even if that did address anything, it only addresses 1 point.


        • In what way is it incongruous for an atheist to have moral values? The act of valuing isn’t a religious act per se; it’s a human act. With regard to your last comment, about addressing the “big questions,” my latest blog post addresses this. The religious are not necessarily better equip in this regard than those of us who do not share their enthusiasm for supernatural explanations.


        • Interesting that you say valuing is a human act, Kaleidocyte. Because it apparently isn’t an animal act. I guess that’s my real point: the fact that humans have a moral compass—whether or not we agree on what is right and wrong—makes us unique. It’s an indicator that we are different from animals.

          In this article, I’m suggesting that an atheist who lives in a way consistent with his beliefs would not put other people before his own well-being (survival of the fittest) and would not do anything that doesn’t advance his own sense of well-being and happiness. If this life is all there is, then it goes to reason that a person would want to live all out for himself to get the most out of the time he has here on earth. What other purpose does he have?

          Some say, the purpose is to leave a legacy, but if the next generation is doomed to die and that’s it, what is the point of having them remember your greatness? It will simply die with them. So only the few greats will be remembered, and that in an indistinct way.

          Think of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. What do most people know about them? So does it matter that they lived in honorable ways (if, in fact, they did)? If they bettered society, what does it matter since all the people in society will end up extinguished?

          So it’s not a matter of being equipped for moral living but a matter of motivation to do so. Why would an atheist be altruistic?

          And how can atheism address the question, Why are we here? Evolutionary theory, reduced to its simplest, says life is an accident. So there can’t be a purpose outside one we ascribe to our own lives. Who’s to say, then, that the pedophile who gets pleasure out of sexually abusing children is wrong? He’s doing exactly what the lion does when he brings down a gazelle—taking advantage of others to meet his own needs.

          I hope this clarifies my thinking. I’m not saying nihilism is the position of atheists, but it is the natural result of atheistic thought taken to its logical conclusion. That there are atheists who live in contradiction to their beliefs actually points to the existence of God the Creator who made them in His image, with a moral compass.



          • In paragraph two, you seem to harbour the misconception that atheism imparts some sort of ethical message that atheists ought to live by. Atheism is not a fully packaged worldview. It says nothing about ethics whatsoever, so to claim that an atheist must behave a certain way if he is to be consistent with atheism is to misunderstand what atheism is – quite simply, a lack of belief in gods.

            This misconception is prevalent among believers, and I think it arises because the believer often superimposes his or her religious system of thought onto the atheist. The contingency between morality and divinity is a feature of your worldview, not mine. I don’t feel the need to invoke supernatural entities in order to justify moral claims, and I don’t consider religious claims to be a particularly good basis for morality.

            Why are we here? Some people believe that this sort of question belongs to religion, but I couldn’t disagree more strongly. Human beings have been asking this question for as long as they’ve been able to ponder it. Some are confident they’ve found the answer in the doctrines of one religion or another. But the religious aren’t necessarily better equip to contemplate the human condition than those of us who are not religious.

            I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to address the entirety of your comment. I’m typing this between meetings on a dreary Wednesday morning. If I have the time, I’ll get back to it.


          • Kaleidocyte, I appreciate this exchange. It’s interesting to me to learn your perspective.

            You say atheism is not a fully packaged worldview, but there are logical conclusions that believing there is no god lead to. Sometimes I write myself backwards—giving details before saying where I’m going. The point, I believe, is in the final paragraph of the comment above: “I’m not saying nihilism is the position of atheists, but it is the natural result of atheistic thought taken to its logical conclusion.”

            So no god leads to no after life. No god leads to no eternal judgment or reward. No god leads to this life is all we have. No god leads to making the most of the here and now. No god leads to the ends are all that matter.

            You see my line of thought? Consequently, I’m left to wonder why an atheist would believe a moral life is commendable or desirable.

            I guess my original premise is upheld with the idea that atheism isn’t a fully packaged worldview. It certainly is a worldview, contrary to Allallt’s protestations. It colors the way atheists perceive life. But it has no deeper purpose other than to negate the One who gives purpose, so any morality or meaning, atheists are on their own to figure out.



        • Hi again, Rebecca. I’m curious, actually: why is my description of some elements of God’s morality wide of the mark?
          (1) faith takes precedent over action or intent; that surrender of critical faculties is preferential;
          Given that we all fall short of the perfection of God (which is the meter of “Good”, is it not), how do we make up the deficit if not with faith? Given that we can make up any deficit with faith alone, surely faith supersedes actions and intent.
          (2) knowing how to keep slaves is even applicable;
          God certainly gives us commands on how to keep slaves. It even distinguishes between foreigners and ones own people. Is this not ethical? If not, why is it in the Book?
          (3) eternal punishment for finite crimes is ethical;
          Can our transgressions be infinite? Can eternity in Hell be finite?
          (3) vicarious redemption is a virtue
          Who has sinned more than any other individual in history? I’d put my money on Jesus Christ. That is the consequence of him dying for our sins, is it not? That the sins now belong to him. That’s just awful, but it is what vicarious redemption is. How is that not a part of God’s ethical plan?


          • Sorry it’s taken me so long to bet back to you, Allallt. Actually it’s because your questions deserve some time. I finally decided to write a blog post to answer the first one, which I think requires the most explanation. Here’s the link to it: Is Faith The End All And Be All Of Christianity?



  6. I’m not sure I completely understand your idea of “religious nihilism,” Allallt. I mean, I don’t believe someone without God has no value. I don’t know any Christian who believes that, though there might be other religions or professing Christians who believe that. I simply don’t know any who hold that view. Rather, because God created humans in His image, we have inalienable value, whether you believe in Him or not. Why do you think Christians are pro-life? Because we value all human life.

    So the value of life isn’t dictated to us by God. It’s actually something that’s part of who we all are, given by God as part of the creative process.

    I will say, however, God’s opinion on things ought to weigh more than a human’s opinion. Think about it: God, who is eternal, has perfect knowledge and is good. Humans are mortal, fallible, and faulty (I’d say, sinful, but for the sake of this conversation, I’ll concede to faulty, meaning we all make mistakes and sometimes we even purposefully do what we know is wrong). Why would I think a human’s opinion is as important as God’s?

    As to Him being tyrannical: He doesn’t force people to believe in Him. A tyrant would. God doesn’t.



    • (1) Religious nihilism is the position that no things have value, except with God. This is the philosophy you are implicitly stating by saying that atheists, who believe the universe functions without a God, should also be nihilists. It isn’t about belief in a God, it is about the actual different between a universe with and without God.
      Imagine God died. Would life still be valuable after that? I don’t see that you’re equipped to say “yes” here, but I am. Therefore, I’m not the nihilist here.
      (2) How does being faulty devalue an opinion? Do the mentally ill have less valuable opinions to the mentally healthy?
      (3) God does force us to believe. It seems vacuous to say we have the choice to believe or not. The choice, properly stated is: believe and live for eternity in peace; or don’t believe and burn for eternity in Hell. This is not really a free choice; the game is rigged. The consequences for not doing exactly as God says is artificial and vengeful. I can’t see a good way of distinguishing between this and a domestic abuser.


  7. How is nihilism the natural result of atheism? This is what I meant earlier by the religious superimposing their system of thought onto atheists. In your worldview, life can only have meaning if there is a God. For some reason, you expect people who do not share your worldview to believe this as well, and so you conclude that atheists ought to be nihilists.

    One of the preconceptions I held about atheism when I was a Christian was that the atheist must live a life bereft of wonder and joy. Looking at life through a theistic lens, I thought that atheism meant cracking that lens. I imagined then that, to the atheist, life itself must appear fractured and on the verge of breaking, as that is what it would look like through a cracked lens, and that this would fill the atheist with despair. But atheism isn’t a cracked theistic lens. Atheism is the removal of theistic lenses.


    • I should add that I do see your line of thought, but it’s a line of thought that follows from your worldview, according to which everything must be imbued with theological significance or else it has no significance at all.


    • I don’t know if you read my earlier comment, but I think I can take a good guess at what a person who claims atheists should necessarily be nihilists are saying. You were right, I think, in an earlier comment when you said that it involves superimposing their specific philosophy onto an atheist.
      I think the religious person believes that all things have no inherent value. The only way a thing can have value is by command from God; God commands value. Therefore, if you don’t think there is a God, you reject this method of things becoming valuable.
      I am not convinced by that philosophy. It means that people like Rebecca think that life would be meaningless and without value if God died or she could be convinced to not believe in God. But I’ve never know a religious-atheist deconversion result in that.

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