I can't say that I'm surprised by this, but I am tremendously saddened. They reported that 9% of Americans identify themselves as atheist. Apparently, their blasphemy is compelling enough to warrant a major network news magazine to do a feature story on them.
The man and his wife who issued the "challenge" angered me, not because of their atheism, but because of their brash, dismissive, angry, and elitist attitude. Even if I am irrational in my belief (as the atheist claims), there is a civil way to correct me, and this couple's way is is not it. Then again, if there is no God, what basis do I have for demanding civility? I imagine a conversation with this couple may go something like this:
- Why be civil/kind to others? Because it is the right thing to do.
- Why is it the right thing to do? Because it is how I would want to be treated.
- Why should I treat others the way I want to be treated? Because a peaceful world is created by practicing the golden rule.
- Why should I be concerned about a peaceful world? Because life is more enjoyable/comfortable when there is peace.
- Why is enjoyment/comfort in life important? Come on ... why?
I remember learning once about the war crimes trials after World War II in Nuremberg. If I remember correctly, the Nazis' defense was that they committed no wrong. They did not violate any law, for their actions were in perfect accord with the law to which they were accountable. Their actions may have violated American or British law, but they were not under American or British law. Therefore they did something wrong. This is cultural relativism; (culture determines morality). They were found guilty and sentenced. But the court didn't even try to convict them of violating a law of MAN. The verdict was that they were guilty of violating a law that transcends geographical and political boundaries. A higher law. What law was that? No international law existed at the time that would have condemned them! Friends, the Nazis were convicted based on the fact that they violated the moral law of GOD! The court was careful not to name or attempt to define God. But do not be fooled, the Nazis were condemned because the court recognized that, at the foundation of all morals is something/someone transcendent.
If there is no God, then we have no basis on which to declare the Nazi's guilty of moral wrong! We have no basis on which to declare the thief, the liar, the murderer, or the rapist guilty of moral wrong either. They simply operate on the basis of individual relativism (aka moral subjectivism), which says that each individual determines his own morality. Moral subjectivism and cultural relativism are just different expressions of the same old, irrational argument which the Nazis used in a failed attempt to defend themselves at Nuremberg.