Tuesday, 13 February 2018

5. Morals and Values - Do Followers of Jesus do Good?

5. Morals and Values - Do Followers of Jesus do Good?

We are still talking about Morals and Values, and who is the law giver - but also; do Christians do good?
It brings us back to the question, “Who is the law giver?”  If there is no ultimate lawgiver, or God, then morals become irrelevant. We are left with anarchy. If we can get away with it, then why not?  If there is no law giver -whatever morality is - right and wrong are just words without meaning or significance.  What is right for you might be wrong for me, but so what!  
Dr. Bahnsen says that, “If the God of the bible does not exist, all principled or moral complaint about what Hitler did to the Jews is irrelevant.  In a godless universe, what one “animal” does to other “animals” is ethically irrelevant.  There is no basis for indignation or outrage.  What happens, happens. Period. We are left with others’ feelings and desires versus the feelings and desires of Hitler – with neither having any more “right” than the other.”
If we support liberal freedom then, in a true atheist worldview, we should defend Hitler’s freedom to do as he desired!
Dr. Bahnsen sets forth a rational, objective case for the existence of the Christian God. A case which fully takes into account the crucial function of one’s worldview in his reasoning.  He is quoted in the tabloid for the Tabash debate as saying: “Pursued to their consistent end, the pre-suppositions of unbelief render man’s reasoning vacuous and his experience unintelligible. In short, they lead to the destruction of knowledge, the dead end of epistemological futility, and to utter foolishness.”  http://www.tabash.com/
I question here the argument that atheists and humanists do as much good in the world as the likes of Robert Raikes, Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Cadburys, Fry’s, Rowntree. The reality is that the Christian ethic, the moral bias of serving a living God gives us great reason to care for His world and the people created in his image.  Interestingly Dinesh D'Souza took Richard Dawkins to task for engaging in historical revisionism when it comes to the atrocities of atheist regimes and declared that Dawkins, "reveals a complete ignorance of history".
In a recent interview D'Souza declared:
Richard Dawkins argues that at least the atheist regimes didn't kill people in the name of atheism. Isn't it time for this biologist to get out of the lab and read a little history? Marxism and Communism were atheist ideologies. Stalin and Mao weren't dictators who happened to be atheist; atheism was part and parcel of their official doctrine.
It was no “accident”, as the Marxists liked to say, that they shut down the churches and persecuted the clergy...]
Dinesh D'Souza stated in another interview:
As one writer put it, “Leaders such as Stalin and Mao persecuted religious groups, not in a bid to expand atheism, but as a way of focusing people’s hatred on those groups to consolidate their own power.” Of course I agree that murderous regimes, whether Christian or atheist, are generally seeking to strengthen their position. But if Christian regimes are held responsible for their crimes committed in the name of Christianity, then atheist regimes should be held accountable for their crimes committed in the name of atheism. And who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? Who can dispute that they committed their bloody deeds by claiming to be establishing a “new man” and a “religion-free utopia?” These were mass murders performed with atheism as a central part of their ideological inspiration. They were not mass murders done by people who simply happened to be atheist.” Joseph Stalin's atheistic regime killed tens of millions of people the vast majority of which were his own people.
The thing that I noted most as I looked through Wikipedia and other web sites and their arguments against my moral perspective, was that no one seemed to talk about “conscience”. Conscience is that strange inner-voice with which we are all born.  No one asked, “Where does that come from?” The Bible says in John chapter 1 that there is, “…a light that lights every man.” John is talking about Jesus in his Gospel when he makes that statement. However, there is also that light of “conscience” that every person has. And why would that be a surprise?  If, as I believe, we are made in the image of God, why would it be strange that there is a part of us that is God-like, telling us about good and bad, right and wrong?  Conscience is a strange thing, it tells us these things but does not make us do the right thing or stop us from doing wrong.  Dinesh D’ Souza says it much better than me:

The Surprising Fact of Morality
Evolutionists have some ingenious explanations for morality.  But do they work?  Morality is both a universal and a surprising fact about human nature. When I say that morality is universal I am not referring to this or that moral code. In fact, I am not referring to an external moral code at all. Rather, I am referring to morality as the voice within, the interior source that Adam Smith called the “impartial spectator.” Morality in this sense is an uncoercive but authoritative judge. It has no power to compel us, but it speaks with unquestioned authority. Of course we can and frequently do reject what morality commands, but when we do so we cannot avoid guilt or regret. It is because of our capacity for self-impeachment and remorse that Aristotle famously called man “the beast with the red cheeks.” Aristotle’s description holds up very well more than 2,000 years later. Even people who most flagrantly repudiate morality — say, a chronic liar or a rapacious thief — nearly always respond to detection with excuses and rationalisations. They say, “Yes, I lied, but I had no alternative under the circumstances,” or “Yes, I stole, but I did so to support my family.” Hardly anyone says, “Of course I am a liar and a thief, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.” What this means is that morality supplies a universal criterion or standard even though this standard is almost universally violated. 
Morality is a surprising feature of humanity because it seems to defy the laws of evolution.  Evolution is descriptive: It says how we do behave. Morality is prescriptive: It says how we should behave. And beyond this, evolutionary behaviour appears to run in the opposite direction from moral behaviour. Evolution implies that we are selfish creatures who seek to survive and reproduce in the world. Indeed we are, but we are also unselfish creatures who seek the welfare of others, sometimes in preference to our own. We are participants in the game of life, understandably partial to our own welfare, while morality stands aloof, taking the impartial, or, “God’s eye view”, directing us to act in a manner conducive to the good of others. In sum, while evolution provides a descriptive account of human self-interest, morality provides a standard of human behaviour that frequently operates against self-interest.
So if we are mere evolutionary primates, how do we account for morality as a central and universal feature of our nature? Why would morality develop among creatures obsessively bent on survival and reproduction? Darwin himself recognized the problem. In “The Descent of Man, Darwin argued that “although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe, yet . . . an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another.”  Darwin’s point is that a tribe of virtuous patriots, with each of its members willing to make sacrifices for the group, would prove more successful and thus be favoured by natural selection over a tribe of self-serving individuals. This is the group-selection argument, and for many decades it was considered an acceptable way to reconcile evolution with morality.
But as biologists now recognize, the argument has a fatal flaw. The question we have to ask is how a tribe of individuals would become self-sacrificing in the first place. Imagine a tribe where, for instance, many people shared their food with others or volunteered to defend the tribe from external attack. Now what would be the fate of individual cheaters who benefited from this arrangement but hoarded their own food and themselves refused to volunteer to fight? Clearly these scoundrels would have the best deal of all. In other words, cheaters could easily become free riders, benefiting from the sacrifices of others but making no sacrifices themselves, and they would be more likely to survive than their more altruistic fellow tribesmen.
So do I still think morality or conscience is something that comes from the ‘God who is there,’ after reading all that is said about my opinions in the various discussions, Wikipedia and otherwise?  Even more so!

Adrian Hawkes
W. 1518
For UCB 3 Minute talk


  1. Christopher Chessum
    Sure. But no more than anyone else.

  2. Christopher Chessum
    Yes really! I know that Christians love to blow their own trumpet about all the good works they do, and they love to feel that they have some kind of monopoly on morals and ethics, but the reality is that they don't. Yes, I too have heard the old cliché in sermons that "the Christian Church is the only organisation in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members." I've lost count of the number of times I've heard that old chestnut. The only problem with it, is that it's totally untrue on two counts.

    1. The Church doesn't only exist for the benefit of its non-members. It also exists for the benefit of its members.
    2. There are plenty of organisations that do actually exist for the benefit of their non-members that are not religious at all. Examples include Doctors Without Boarders, Amnesty International, the World Development Movement to name but 3. There are plenty of others.

    Always happy to dispel any myths about Christian virtue signalling. Let me know if you have any more.

  3. Adrian
    mmm you mentioned the slavery issue and told me the Atheist were campaigning, who and what was that? By the way did you read the Blog?

  4. Christopher Chessum
    I didn't read the blog. Briefly glimpsed over it, looked like the usual tirade winging about atheism. Jeremy Bentham was one, to answer your first question.

  5. Roberta Whitt
    Adrian, you should share my post on atheist. Actually had Chris in mind when I reposted it. I've only known one atheist and he changed his mind before he died.
    I think Chris has an interesting name for an atheist.
    Oh, has he ever heard "Christians aren't perfect just forgiven.

  6. Christopher Chessum
    Actually Roberta, I used to be a Christian. I was even a member of Adrian's church for a while. I even went to Bible College when I was in my early 20s. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

  7. Roberta Whitt
    Then you know good works are as filth rags if you do not believe in JESUS CHRIST as your personal Saviour. I'm not a theologian either. Just a sinner saved by grace. With out that faith none are worthy.

  8. Christopher Chessum
    Roberta Whitt Well I'm familiar with the kind of biblical instruction you've had Roberta. Respectfully, I would suggest this is the worst kind of theology, whereby dogma is classed as being more important than one's deeds.

  9. Roberta Whitt
    I'm sure you are and that makes it even sadder for you. Just doesn't shake my faith for a moment. Christopher, BECAUSE OF THE CROSS I DO NOT HAVE TO EARN MY SALVATION. JESUS CHRIST DID THAT FOR ME. I'm not an theologian, just forgiven. That's what so great. You should quit trying to make it seem so hard or impossible. Just except the simple truth.

  10. Christopher Chessum
    Roberta Whitt What exactly is “it” that you claim I am making seem hard and impossible?

  11. Sinead Kanlioglu
    To add to Christopher's points: 3. Many Christian organisations exist for the benefit (often £££) of their founders/'leaders'.
    As you know I'm not a theologian but it strikes me there's a lot to be said for those prepared to do good without the carrot or stick of an afterlife.

  12. Sinead Kanlioglu
    One more thing..quoting dinesh d'souza in an article regarding morals and ethics seems a little off to me. I follow him on Twitter to try and get opinion outside my bubble. Some of what he posts - even in the last hour is vile.
    I still think you're great though even if I am a lost soul ;-)

  13. Roberta Whitt
    Please keep in mind if you are right I have nothing to loose, however if you're wrong you have everything to loose.

  14. Christopher Chessum
    I find it curious when Christians want to attack atheism, they often cite Hitler who wasn't even an atheist. Read Mein Kampf where Hitler talks about doing God's work by eradicating Jews. Read the Nazi party oath where allegiance had to be sworn to the Fuhrer and to God. Read the inscription on the belt buckles of the Nazi party uniform where the inscription "Got mitt uns" (God is with me) is found. I'm not saying Hitler was a Christian, but he was certainly no atheist.

    As for D'Souza, Adrian has quoted this particular citation from D'Souza's book many times before. But if there is one thing worse than having history written by a scientist as D'Souza complains, it's to have it written by a spin doctor - which is basically what D'Souza was during the Regan administration. He hasn't lost any of his flare. I actually quite admire D'Souza in many ways but there's no doubt about it; what he writes here is pure spin.

    Firstly, I think we need clarity on what atheism actually is. Theos is the Greek word for God. Theism is belief in God or Gods. The prefix "A" simply means "without." Therefore atheism literally means without belief in God or Gods. Atheism, says nothing about a future vision for society; it says nothing about a utopia - it is simply an absence in the belief in a deity of any kind. Atheism is therefore not a motivating factor to kill people or eradicate those who disagree with you. To want to do that, you need another component: in Stalin and Mao's case, it was Communism; with it's own doctrines of dialectical materialism and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat. These were the central doctrines of communism. Atheism was rather peripheral to those.

    Communism and religion actually have a great deal in common.
    (1) Both have their holy prophets: Jesus/Mohammed - Marx, Engles, Lenin, etc.
    (2) Both have their sacred texts: the bible/koran, etc - Das Capital, Communist Manifesto, Mao's red book, etc.
    (3) Both have their blueprint for society; their ultimate utopia. The Kingdom of God on earth where the lion will lie down next to the lamb - the communist society when all men will be free to do whatever they like; ie., be a surgeon in the morning, an artist in the afternoon a philosopher in the evening.
    (4) Both have their sacred doctrines which you must accept by faith and not question. The virgin birth, resurrection, atonement, obedience to God and his word, etc - dialectical materialism, class consciousness, obedience to the Communist Party.
    (5) Last but not least: both have their heretics and witch hunts and inquisitions when followers step out of line,
    What's really striking about the ideas of Mao and Stalin, is how similar their ideas are to religion.

  15. Adrian
    Well Christopher Chessum You probably know my objections to Religion, its a killer. But I did find you comments on communism and religion very agreeable, I have used the same argument many times. However what you missed is the same can be said of the Atheist points of view. I did say to Richard Dawkins when he interviewed me that it seemed to me that he was a great evangelist for his religion. He got very cross with me much to the camera mans amusement, saying to me that many had said the same thing and he objected strongly to it. So my guess is you will object stonly to it too, but I hold my opinion, it comes across to me very much like religion, which I say again, much Like Jesus did, I hate it. Religion that is.

  16. Christopher Chessum
    For me it's not really about atheism v religion. It's really about truth. Atheism is my default position because I've yet to see either evidence or reason to believe in a deity. Religion is a highly generic term and it has a huge amount of variation. Not all religious people believe in a deity for example. Buddhists and Taoists have managed perfectly well for thousands of years without belief in a deity, but they are still religions. It's not that I want to spread atheism. I really don't care that much about what people want to believe about God or the afterlife. It's a matter for each individual to make up their own minds. It may surprise, but I do occasionally attend church. I sometimes go to evensong in the Church of England. It's a tradition that is unique to this country and the music is out of this world. Hearing the King James version of the bible being read is often very moving. The poetry is beautiful and the time for quiet contemplation and reflection actually does something for me, even though I'm not a Christian.

    The problem lies more with fundamentalist brands of religion that can't see anything beyond the paradigm of their brand of faith. So I have problems with statements like, "only my holy book contains the truth," "only Christians can do good in the world - what anyone else does counts for nothing because they don't believe in the one true God," "only Christians can experience love in the home," "only Christians can appreciate the beauty and magnitude of the universe." These are all statements that I have heard from the mouths of Christians - and the only reason I challenge them, is because their statements are totally untrue. The fact that some Christians choose to believe those things is their affair; but misleading other people with lies and falsehoods is another matter, which is why I tend to raise my head above the parapet.

  17. Adrian
    Well that is an interesting comment, and one that I very much agree with. These days I often don’t use the word Christian, as it often has so many connotations, many of which I would like to dissociate myself from. So, when asked are you a Christian my oft reply is well that depends what that means, I am a follower of Jesus. In terms of can other do good, can they be right well of course they can. All of us are made in the image of God, even if we don’t believe He exists, so why should it surprise me that people are often generous, kind, and so on, these simply display God’s likeness. People who say the opposite simply do not understand who we are. We are made in the image of ‘The God who is there’ even if we do not know it. Sure that image often has been damaged and spoiled, but you would not want me to go into my theological reasons as to why that is, would you.

  18. Adrian Hawkes
    Hi Sinead Kanlioglu well I don't really follow Dinesh, though have listened to some of his debates. Not sure what he has posted that upset you but will look. How dare he upset you...