God’s Not Dead, Chapter 3 – Can Humanity Be Good Without God? (pt31)
CAN HUMANITY BE GOOD WITHOUT GOD?
C. S. Lewis is quoted to begin this subsection, making two points about morality.
First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way.
So, first, an ad populam argument is a fallacy if you are relying solely on the fact that many people believe something. I don’t know if this is one of those arguments though. Lewis doesn’t say that the “curious idea” is of a creator, only that we should act a certain way. I don’t doubt this fact, I resent when he uses this “curious idea” as evidence for god. There is another error, many people can be persuaded out of a morally gray feeling, more about this below. The second point is even less evidence for a creator god. If I knew for a fact that an all powerful god were the basis for my morality and my existence I would do my utmost to behave my best. Either the power of sin is greater than this all powerful god or this “curious idea” isn’t as solid an evidence point as the author would lead you to believe. These two points are evident in the fact that religious people (in general) aren’t the best, most moral, people around. That is not to say that all religious people are bad or that no religious person can be good, remember I don’t associate morality with religion.
Another problem with the statement “…human beings, all over the earth…” is that not all of these humans have the same “curious idea”. The problem with this “ultimate law” the author believes in is in this disagreeing.
Science can, in principle, help us understand what we should do and should want… to live the best lives possible.
Immediately after the above quote from Sam Harris, the author says:
But science has its limits.
That is exactly what Harris is quoted for saying. The author cherry picked this quote from Sam Harris to refute what he said but he did a poor job because these two say the same thing. Somehow the author also disagrees with Harris when he says:
I am arguing that, in the moral sphere, it is safe to begin with the premise that it is good to avoid behaving in such a way as to produce the worst possible misery for everyone.
So according to Harris, morality comes down to this: judge your actions by whether they hurt everyone.
I have no idea how the author can disagree with this statement. Even if you believe that a god gave you morality, how can you disagree with this?
Does this mean that if my actions hurt only a few, I’m okay?
Yes, sometimes it does. Think about war or the police. Think about anything you have ever thought was a bad action but then justified. There are people who are hurt by those actions but their pain is outweighed, sometimes, by the good that comes from the action.
That’s like someone who committed a murder standing before the judge and saying, “I know I killed that man, but think of all the people in this town that I didn’t kill.”
It isn’t like that actually, if only I could change the sentence from that murderer and ask the author if it changed his position. ‘I know I killed that man, but think of all the people in this town that he didn’t kill.’ Does that change your position? What about someone who is being tortured or held captive escaping and killing their captor? The morally gray areas are not explained through religion.
Exodus 20:13-Thou shalt not kill. That is all it says; no addendum, no asterisks, no ifs, ands, or buts. If you were a person of faith in the god of the Bible how could you ever justify any killing? How too can you justify all of the murder in the Bible, especially by the people who were given the laws, supposedly, directly from god?