Chistopher Hitchens has an infamous response to the Christian apologetic of morals derived from God. He claims firstly that vicarious atonement is evil and that circumcision is bodily mutilation. Therefor God is not moral, basically. He goes on in his book to record the many ways that following God leads to evil. In other words God is not great because actually he is not that good. If God is not good then why listen to his morals?
People like this idea because they already believe God to be lacking in goodness because of all the evil currently in the world. So because God is not good we don’t need him. Christopher Hitchens says he doesn’t need a God in order for him to be good while accusing God of not actually be good himself. So just to understand, Christopher Hitchens is good and God is not good.
So this causes me to have to ask how does one derive that someone else’s morality is less or better than their own? How does one do this when their worldview is based on survival of the fittest? Firstly, If God is not real it seems silly to call him immoral. If God is real and thus around to be called things, why does a mere mortal get to make assertions after him? If he isn’t real why argue so vehemently against him and his followers? I guess this is why he says he is not Atheist but Anti-Theist, at least he is honest.
So what he is doing is saying he does not need God’s morals to be good because he clearly has different standards, better ones even. If we are not simply going on his personal feelings then there is a moral standard, so, what is it and where does it come from? Why is it binding on others? Why are we held accountable to it and the kicker, why is God? It must be a great thing if even God is held under its sway. But the claim is there isn’t. If this is true and there isn’t a governing moral standard, why should people be warned off God anyway? If there isn’t a moral standard why make so many moral assertions? In the end what he has said whittles down to simply opinion and if that is all we have why are others not allowed to have the opinion of a good God?
If someone is going to argue against a being beyond the realm of men shouldn’t he at least appeal to a moral reason beyond his own opinion?
Well he didn’t answer these questions but instead he pulls out his smoking gun and says “What good deed can a person of faith do that a person without faith couldn’t”?
This a good question, thus all the smoke, but let’s see about it.
It is only by the Holy Spirit that man can say Jesus is Lord. Not just utter the phrase but posses the faith to declare him the praise. Another one is that without faith is impossible to please God. These are good things declared by God beyond the simple law of “do” and “do not” which he aptly observes that anyone can follow. A Christian can faithfully spread the Gospel, the good news about God.
This line of questioning is all about ability. Can a non-christian do good? Can a non-christian not do good? The Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God so yes we can do some good and many do. The issue isn’t about ability but of declaration of goodness and what God accepts.
Now obviously someone would say well that is not intrinsically good and I do not accept it. But why not? What standard are you judging? Why do you get to say such? Why is everybody calling everybody else’s good into question? This is really what this argument is doing. To call God’s good into question is to claim a better standard that you are working from? Who’s is it then? Why is it better?
Jesus, well aware of man’s attempts to throw around moral judgments, calls a man out for speaking in terms of good and not good when he had no idea of what he was speaking. Jesus was trying to get the man to understand his use of “good” so he asks the man trying to assert goodness saying “why do you say that I am good? No one is good but God.” (Mathew 19:17) Jesus wasn’t denying his own goodness but affirming that he was good solely because God is good, it had nothing to do with a man assigning him the trait. God’s goodness and standards have nothing to do with man’s approval. That is one of the benefits of literally speaking a universe into existence.
The Bible asserts that God is good over and over again, go and read the Psalms for more.
Now this whole debate is circular reasoning on both sides. This is good because I hold it to be good, and that is good because the Bible tells me so. But it ends as a smoke screen covering what it really is about, which is authority and who actually possesses it. Now I have plenty of reason to believe in God’s authority and his declarations of goodness – look at his resume – but what authority do you have to undermine his?
That is the question. Now he does acknowledges that this is an authority issue which is why he calls God a tyrant. But rather than deal with it he subverts it by resorting to character assassination. This is political tactic not an argument. He puts himself in this position because he says he is an Anti-theist rather than an Atheist. To say you are an atheist is to simply undermine any discussion. We simply have different beliefs.
See what Hitchens arguments have done is try to discredit God and thus undermine his authority. Which is fine if you want to believe so, which is also free to be done living under God, he allows you to disagree with him. But it still does not build your own platform for authority especially when your platform is based on humanism. What we have is an argument from silence. If there is no God then everything truly is permissible or if there is a God and you hate him then whatever you desire goes, but why?
This system leaves people having to simply give power to other people (Governments) to create a safety net for civilization, and I am thankful when they do, but what truly protects? What truly governs? The whims of the people? If enough people rose up to overthrow the governments they could establish quite a new rule and we would have quite a new order and quite a new standard of living, a new moral. This has happened over and over again in history. To prevent anarchy our founding fathers recognized the need for a higher authority otherwise we simply have a different King and what is to keep him from acting like King George?
Who would be able to stand up and say “Actually, no, this is wrong?” well, no one that is unless you have enough other people with you ready to use force. Might truly does make right in this worldview. Well, this is survival of the fittest so it makes sense. So is this new standard of living with new human defined morals any better or worse? Well nothing really to say either way without an objective morality; we only have the basis of man. Now I am thankful for the conscience which is God-given. (part of his resume again) I pray that more people would consider it. The problem is some people’s conscience have gone bad and often they get into power. Without revolution who checks evil? Who defines it? Who governs it? Who rules when the rulers go bad? Who rules when the people want nothing but licence? Well we are left to the disagreeable whims of the people. We are literally ruled by zeitgeist.
When the questions of sovereignty comes to the surface, we have to ask are we free to govern ourselves? Well, yes this was the point, the founding fathers, whether they were all specifically Christian or not, recognized the Bible to ground the rule of law in God and establishes a lasting and true freedom for the people because it appeals to something greater. The point of the Gospel is it requires freedom to work, people have to be free to choose him or not. These granted freedoms, established the safe boundaries for disagreement, for commerce, for growth, and even the pursuit of happiness. But for all this to work what was needed was the ability to say “this far and no further.”
The issue is accountability.
Now I can never convince anyone that God’s morals are best for us after our society has already relativized morality. All I can do is point to how God’s law created the foundation for freedom and encouraged our society towards civility. With God no longer being considered we are victims to other men. Other men will decide your rights and wrongs, louder men will establish your customs and practices, more powerful men will enforce their wills and the people will have nothing upon which to stand because no longer are certain unalienable rights granted by the creator. They are opinions.
Darwin leaves us with the only right guaranteed by nature is might.
If we will not stand under a higher authority, a higher morality from God, then we will be held down under a human one. This is how tyrants are born, no accountability. If the soul is not accountable to God, a man will only be ruled by force.
“It is when a people forget God, that a tyrant forgets his chains.” – Patrick Henry.
“If we will not be ruled by God, we will be ruled by Tyrants.” – William Penn
How long will our false security in the goodness of men last? I would rather be ruled by God. “You are good and do good, teach me your statutes.”(Psalm 119:68)