Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The Hypocrisy of the Moral Relativist
Just today, one facebook respondent wrote, “Christianity is without a doubt the most immoral religion on the planet.” Another atheist responded, “Your God is a cruel sadist.” There were other responses that were too gross to repeat. However, it seems that each respondent failed to realize how illogical their responses had been.
Here’s why! An atheist cannot believe in moral absolutes like “torturing babies is absolutely wrong.” This is because moral absolutes must be unchanging, universal, and more authoritative than our individual moral preferences and judgments. If they were changing, they wouldn’t be absolute. Nor could they pronounce any judgments, because they might be different tomorrow.
They also would have to be universal. If a moral absolute was different from country to country, then it couldn’t be absolute. Instead it would be relative to the culture. Consequently, one culture might hold that abortion is right, another that it is wrong. Who’s right? Neither, because there is no absolute answer to determine which position is correct.
It also has to be more authoritative than any competing judgments. If my own feelings about abortion carry more weight than a moral absolute, then the absolute is trumped and become irrelevant. If the absolute doesn’t have the authority of God behind it, everyone could and should just laugh it off.
All of these criteria require something transcendent, above our own circumstances – something or Someone who takes precedence over every other opinion and cultural assertion. Of course, only an omniscient and omnipotent God could possibly provide such a basis for moral absolutes.
It is therefore not surprising that atheists reject moral absolutes in favor of moral relativism, the belief that morality is entirely relative to the culture, the history and even to individual judgment.
However, the atheist often fails to see that this disqualifies him from any rational discussion of values or morality. If the atheist admits that he can only make subjective moral judgments, entirely relative to his feelings and his culture, then he has nothing objective to say. He can’t say that “it’s wrong to torture, kidnap or rape.” He can only say, “From the standpoint of my own culture, feelings and judgments, what you’re doing is wrong.” However, he can’t say that these things are indeed wrong!
However, the atheist continues to make absolute judgments about things even after admitting that there is no basis to make these judgments. He calls the God of the Bible a “sadist,” but from the standpoint of moral relativism, there is nothing wrong with being a sadist. It might be deemed wrong in my culture, but really, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it, because there is no right and wrong to begin with. There are just competing individual judgments.
Interestingly, God has designed things in such a way that those who reject Him can’t logically judge Him, while those who receive Him wouldn’t want to judge Him. Yes, there are things that trouble us, but we prefer to trust – and we have good reason to trust – that He has the perfect answer and the perfect plan.
When I point these things out, I’m usually met with hostility. Why? I think that even though they deny God, on a deeper level, they have a sense that there is a God who will judge them, as Paul had written about those who suppress the truth about God:
• Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)
I must never forget that this is a spiritual battle. Therefore, after I’m finished debating the atheist, I’ll then share with them about the love of God and the hope that could be theirs.