Good vs Evil
Good vs. Evil -- So Are Atheists Evil?
My short response would be, No....and yes. However, I would offer the same answer if you asked Are Christians evil? My answer applies to all people. In the sense that both atheists and Christians generally can live good lives (i.e. they become useful members of society, care for their children, etc.), my answer would be no. However, when we consider inherent human tendencies toward selfish behavior, sometimes at the expense of others, I know of no one who is completely free from such evil.
Many Christian theists have concluded that the existence of evil can provide good evidence for the existence of God. Consider the argument put forth by Ravi Zacharias in his book A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism.59 In the appendix he writes:
An atheist might respond60 that proposition number three lacks merit since the only requirement is a moral system, not necessarily a moral law. A moral system may just as easily arise via memetic61 evolutionary mechanisms as by an omniscient lawgiver. While the existence of memes remains highly speculative, I would grant such a possibility exists.
However, this fails to account for the sort of evil that defies cultural explanation. In most of the section that follows this question in your book, you cite examples such as Adolf Hitler, Kim Il Sung, and Josef Stalin. Humanity world-wide would decry many of the horrors perpetrated by Josef Mengele under the Nazi regime. Mengele injected chemicals into the eyes of infants in an attempt to change their eye color. This experimentation caused severe pain and often permanent blindness. The Third Reich apparently sanctioned such cruelty. It would seem that what one culture considered acceptable would be considered evil in most other cultures. While atheists have done little to stem the tide of cultural evil, Christian missionaries brave the front lines. The Maori of New Zealand practiced cannibalism until 1840, an evil renounced by the Maori in large part due to the evangelistic efforts of Christian missionaries.
Missionaries, however, from various Christian churches came to evangelize the heathen. They made a direct attack against the Maori form of theology. The golden rule of brotherly love was preached, and war and cannibalism were condemned. The new religion was accepted by the chiefs, and their tribes followed. It was some time, however, before the various tribes would give up the satisfaction of using their newly acquired firearms against their hereditary enemies. Old scores had to be settled as a point of tribal honour. Finally, the new teaching prevailed and inter-tribal wars ended. With the cessation of wars, the supply of slain enemies ended and cannibalism ceased.62
Both you and Richard Dawkins seem to believe that evangelical Christianity represents one of the worlds worst inherent evils. Dawkins asks, How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? Its one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?63 Yet absolutely no evidence exists to support the claim that Christianity is a manifest falsehood. In fact, Dawkins theory of the existence of memes has as much, if not more, potential for being a manifest falsehood as does the God hypothesis.
Good vs. Evil Upright Behavior
In the final analysis, Christian theism, based on the morality of Jesus Christ, provides the most foundationally coherent grounding for morally upright behavior. Such behavior is completely consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Muslim theism offers no such grounding. The teachings of the Koran encourage fighting and violence, as I have shown and as you so often point out. The atheist also has no grounding for morally upright behavior, since evolution alone cannot account for an innate human awareness of right and wrong. Does this mean that atheists and Muslims cannot live moral lives? Absolutely not. Only that their worldviews offer no intrinsic warrant for such behavior.
Read Page 1 of Letter To A Christian Nation: A Response.
59 Ravi Zacharias, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993), p. 176.
60 Doug Krueger, That Colossal Wreck (1997), see http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/doug_krueger/
61 Memetics refers to the study of memes. A meme, coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976, is analogous to a gene, in which social and cultural trends are considered analogous to hereditary traits, and evolve over time.
62 Peter H. Buck, Native Races Need Not Die (National Library of New Zealand, 1952) (http://teaohou.natlib.govt.nz/teaohou/issue/
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus
Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus
I still have questions