In a post entitled “A Seriously Warped Moral Compass,” Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheism relates a discussion he had with an evangelical fellow. The topic? Hosea, chapter 13, a Bible passage in which God promises that for the crime of disbelief, the city of Samaria’s “infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.” This is one of those many Bible passages that the anti-abortion demonstrators refuse to display on their signs as they march in front of clinics.
I’ve often been in discussions similar to the one described by Ebonmuse. Such discussions are highly predictable, actually. They all lead to the same conclusion. The fundamentalists all end up insisting that whatever God does, He is still “good” or “just.”
Here’s how the encounter of Ebonmuse with his fundamentalist acquaintance:
“You’ve said that it’s perfectly okay for God to command genocide. You’ve said it’s okay for him to condemn people to be tortured for all eternity because they had some sincere doubts about his existence. And now you’re saying it’s perfectly okay for him to order the slaughter of pregnant women and their unborn children! So what would you consider immoral? Is there anything you think he can’t do and still be good? Is there any act – anything at all – that a good god would never command?”
For the first time, a shadow of disgust passed across John’s face. “Yes. A good God would never say that it’s okay for people to be gay. Homosexuality is disgusting and unnatural and God would never permit it.”
Here’s how I see it. Either God is not “good” or one can still be good even though one slaughters babies. Now, maybe those babies (some of them being unborn babies) were morally deficient and “had it coming,” but I doubt it.
In my heathen view, babies are not capable of doing anything capable of earning the death penalty. In the meantime, we’ve got a language problem. If fundamentalists keep insisting that God is good when He kills babies, we’ll just have to advise all of the dictionary makers that there is a new definition of “good.” We’ll call it “good #2” (or something like that) and it will mean something like this: evil, depraved, morally obtuse and dangerous. Once this new definition of good (#2) is commonly accepted, we can start using it commonly. For instance, if someone sticks a gun in your face to rob you, you can say, “Hey! You’re good #2!”
Here is how Ebonmuse ends his post:
People such as this have a seriously warped moral compass. They have their priorities precisely backwards, they are obsessed with precisely the wrong things. Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg once said: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
As long as fundamentalists can’t shake off the effects of the LSD they apparently take, they rest of us will just have to understand that they give God a free pass, morally speaking. He gets all the credit but none of the blame. Although He’s sometimes good, he’s often good #2. He’s always “just.” He is incapable of doing evil even when he’s busy slaughtering innocent babies. And perhaps it is because God is so good (#2) that the fundamentalists are “inspired” to be good (#3), namely, they (sometimes) refrain from killing and stealing because they’re afraid that God might be good (#2) to them too.
BTW, I’d highly recommend that you check out Ebonmuse’s site. Lots of thoughtful analysis and good clear writing.
He comes at the topic of religion from many angles, always with new fruitful observations. Here’s how he describes himself:
Part-time computer hacker, part-time freethought activist; optimist and skeptic rolled into one; a poet at heart but a scientist at mind; a thorough-going atheist who admires religious music and architecture. I contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman put it. And anyone who suggests that I’m only an atheist because of a dysfunctional family or a bad experience with church gets fifty lashes with a wet noodle blessed by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
[Note: This is not the original version of this post. While I was correcting a typo, the original post got “eaten” by an airport Internet connection].
About the Author (Author Profile)Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Moral conduct in the absence of commandments. | Dangerous Intersection | August 29, 2010
- God is good | Dangerous Intersection | October 21, 2010
- When God prevents pregnancy : Dangerous Intersection | August 19, 2012
- Seven sins of God : Dangerous Intersection | March 3, 2013