I received this very strange response to my article Context Rules: The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible Confirmed by someone using the handle “primitive futurist”. He began by dismissing equality as “over-rated”:
Big deal. Equality is so over-rated. Bible has it right, moderns have it wrong. Get over it.
Actually, it is a very big deal. Equality is the foundation of justice and morality. The Bible is wrong on this point. We moderns are beginning to get it right, after thousands of years of error. As Dr. Martin Luther King said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
I referenced the “moral arc” because it is the title of Michael Shermer’s recent book The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. It explains morality from an atheist perspective. Steven Pinker referred to it as a “sequel” to his book The Better Angels of Our Nature saying it “explores all our spheres of moral progress, not just the decline of violence.” Here is a snippet of his review found on Amazon.com (link):
Shermer has engaged the full mantle of moral progress and considered how far we have come and how much farther that arc can be bent toward truth, justice, and freedom. The Moral Arc is a thrilling book, one which could change your view of human history and human destiny. Through copious data and compelling examples Shermer shows how the arc of the moral universe, seen from a historical vantage point, bends toward civil rights and civil liberties, the spread of liberal democracy and market economies, and the expansion of women’s rights, gay rights, and even animal rights. Never in history has such a large percentage of the world’s population enjoyed so much freedom, autonomy, and prosperity.
Moral progress driven by the advancement of science and reason was my main point, but there were other ramifications echoing from that rich phrase. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would never have had to fight, let alone die, for equality if it were something that was effectively taught in the Bible. There is no way a whole nation of Bible believing Christians could have instituted slavery and racism if it were not somehow endorsed, or at a least allowed, in their “holy book.” The moral arc of the Bible is “justice” in the form of retribution rather than reconciliation. The narrative is a bloodbath orchestrated by God himself from Genesis to Revelation, where he finally finds satisfaction by watching his enemies tormented forever in the Lake of Fire:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12, 15)
Getting back to our interlocutor’s comments, he responded by ignoring everything I wrote except the reference to Dr. King:
Dr King would be the first to reject your anti-biblical so-called justice.
So you say that Dr. King would reject equality as the foundation of justice and morality? Seriously?
It appears your devotion to the Bible has blinded you to the nature of justice and morality. If equality is “anti-biblical” then the Bible is fundamentally immoral.
This apparently encouraged him to tell us what he really thinks about anyone who doesn’t posit the existence of some sort of god, whether it be Allah, Yahweh, or Zeus doesn’t appear to matter. If you don’t posit a supernatural whatsit, you are lost in a world consisting of nothing but atoms colliding in the void with no meaning or morality possible. Here is how he explained his view:
Blah blah blah. White middle class first-world dilettante posturing. Go down to Mexico and have this discussion with the cocaine cartels who will machine gun a family without thinking twice. There’s your atheism.
First he rejects equality as “anti-biblical” and now he is casting my reference to Dr. King’s call for equal rights as a “white middle class first-world dilettante posturing”? What’s he trying to say? That middle class first-world Caucasians cannot authentically promote equality? That would rather ironic in light of our primary gift to the world being freedom and equality and justice for all. Whether we fall short matters not; it is what America is all about! They are our highest ideals.
His leap to atheism is equally absurd and non sequitur. Indiscriminate killing is a common feature of ignorant, primitive humanity driven by fears and superstitions, such as we find in the Bible. Theirs were the tormented minds that created the God of eternal punishment we see in the Abrahamic religions.
And this brings us to his most densely packed sequence of non sequiturs, unjustified assertions, and ignorant caricatures of what atheism entails:
There’s your evolution. Survival of the fittest is the only law in the jungle. Shit happens as Richard Dawkins says. Get over it. The gazelle doesn’t whine and whinge about equality when the lion takes it down. Eat or be eaten. Might is right. The rest, if you are an atheist, is just posturing. There is no equality. DNA doesn’t care.
Beginning at the top: Survival of the fittest, or natural selection, is simply a fact that is abundantly confirmed. It would be true whether or not there is a god. It does not imply that “might is right.” That would a category error that contradicts what we mean by the word “right”.
A gazelle does not “whine and whinge about equality when the lion takes it down” because gazelles do not possess the faculty of language and reason, which are prerequisites to moral philosophy. This error probably has its roots in the arguments of William Lane Craig, as I explained in my article Why Most Animals are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God. The fact that Craig has been repeating these elementary errors for many years shows that he is truly incorrigible, and is a corrupting influence on the mind of believers who repeat his errors without thinking.
Now we come to his central assertion: “The rest, if you are an atheist, is just posturing. There is no equality. DNA doesn’t care.” The fact that DNA “doesn’t care” is no more relevant than saying that the software that made his comments possible “doesn’t care.” We are not our DNA simpliciter. Our DNA is a critical part of us, but we are much more. We have form, and our form is involved in a dynamic biological process that makes us what we are. His assertion is no less fallacious than saying that a pile of bricks is identical to a building. It is the fallacy of composition.
His main error is to assume that atheism implies materialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Atheism entails nothing but the absence of theism. An atheist could be as “spiritual” or “mystical” as anyone. But all of that is irrelevant, because morality and meaning is based on what we are and has nothing to do with any god. The God On/God Off game makes this pretty clear. Clap your hands, there is no God. Clap your hands, there is a God. Did you notice the difference? Me neither. There is nothing about any god that would make an otherwise meaningless universe meaningful. If a future life makes this life meaningful, what makes the future life meaningful? If not another future-future life, then it must be an end in itself. If the future life could be an end in itself, why not this life?
Throw out the bible, and all you have left is Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law. Everything else is just trendy fashionable this-year’s-model. Women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights. What about the rights of the tuberculosis bacteria? When are you going to stand up for its equality? The only morality outside the Bible is self-justifying attempts to placate the conscience, but if evolution is all there is, your conscience is nothing but illusion. Get over it, head down to Mexico, and start making a killing. What have you got to lose? Your eternal soul? Ha Ha. Not if it doesn’t exist.
The assertion that the Bible creates meaning is quite absurd, given that it says countless people will be tormented forever in hell. What would be the meaning of their lives? Unfortunately, Christians have an answer for that. They say those suffering in hell have meaning because they are glorifying God by showing his “justice.” And so we reach the bottom of the abyss of Christian apologetics where “divine justice” is revealed to entail an eternal evil of infinite injustice.
And now we come to the crowing incoherence of the Christian dogma that there would be no morality without the God of the Bible. If that were true there would be no morality, for they are saying that nothing is actually right or wrong, but only because their God said so. This error has been understood for about 2400 years since Plato wrote Euthyphro. Dr. Craig’s attempts to avoid it by positing “God’s nature” as the definition of “fair, good, and just” is utterly ludicrous, because it would imply that the meaning of those words does not depend on objective reality. I explain this in my article Morality is Objective, Like a Pair of Scales: Another Fatal Flaw in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God.