Monday, September 10, 2007

Moral Evil and Atheism

In the last post, I attempted to show that it is logically inconsistent for the atheist to appeal to the presence of evil as an argument against God's existence. For if atheism were true, there would be no standard (at least none with any logical grounding) to which to appeal in calling one thing good and another evil.

But the problem is even worse (for the atheist) when the evil appealed to is moral evil (as opposed to 'natural' evil). (That is, I can generate some empathy with the atheist who asks how God could allow thousands of people to die in an earthquake, tsunami, or flooding. To me, this presents the more difficult problem for the Christian apologist, and I look forward to offering some responses in future posts.)

Moral evil is that pain and suffering that is caused by moral beings (human beings) when they commit crimes against others--other humans, other creatures, the Earth itself, and (on the Christian view) the Creator Himself. When the atheist appeals to the existence of moral evil, he compounds his inconsistency. That's because moral evil is readily explained within the biblical worldview and unexplained by naturalistic evolution. (Remember that it was Darwin--with his theory of evolution--that, in the words of atheist Richard Dawkins, "made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.")

Neo-Darwinian evolution does not account for the atrocities of Hitler, Pol Pot, or Saddam Hussein. If all of the behaviors and traits we exhibit are selected for on the basis of the resulting survival and reproductive fitness, what these tyrants did is far outside the bounds of such selection. In other words, natural selection (and random gene mutation) is a grossly insufficient explanation with regard to the moral evil produced in the twentieth century.

Compounding the atheist's problem is the indisputable fact that the most murderous regimes--far surpassing the loss of life associated with any theistically-motivated rulers, governments, wars, or crusades--have been those that have set out to make atheism the state religion. Between them, Mao, Lenin, and Stalin murdered over 100 million of their own people, putting the lie to the currently popular atheist charge that [God-affirming] religion is the worst thing imaginable.

Central to Judeo-Christianity is--and always has been--a ready explanation for the existence of moral evil. Mankind, though made in the image of God and thus capable of great good, is fallen. We are born with a propensity to evil; we are in need of redeeming. This message permeates our Scriptures.

Far from weakening our confidence in the truth of the Bible, any appeal to the existence of moral evil in the world is a confirmation of this understanding of reality that is unique to Judeo-Christianity.

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