Atheists, naturalists, or secularists often make moral arguments against the Bible, saying that God is immoral for commanding certain things in the Bible. However, atheism’s moral problem is that because it starts from a foundation that is without God, there is a fundamental flaw with these kinds of moral arguments.
Atheism’s Moral Problem Is that it Has No Justification for a Universal, Objective Moral Standard
The problem with trying to make a moral argument against the Bible from a foundation that is without God is that without God, there is simply no justification for a universal, objective moral standard that is binding upon everyone.
If someone says that we must start with the assumption that all that exists is matter and molecules, then we must ask that person, “How do you justify the existence of right and wrong?”
Most atheists, naturalists, and secularists try to justify their moral arguments with “because of human convention,” or “because of a social contract,” but these attempts ultimately fail because “convention” and “social contract” do not provide justification for any ”’universal, objective”’ moral standard.
If a moral standard is not universal and objective, then there is simply no reason why anyone ultimately needs to adhere to that standard.
Was the Holocaust Wrong? Are Rape and Child Sacrifice Always Wrong?
Most atheists, naturalists, and secularists would say that the Holocaust was wrong, and that rape and child sacrifice are always wrong.
However, it was “convention” and a “social contract” in the nation of Germany that what Germany did in the Holocaust was right. The civilization of Germany determined that it was right for Germany to exterminate Jews and other groups that it decided were inferior.
On what basis can an atheist, naturalist, or secularist object to the Holocaust? Attempts have been made, but all of these attempts ultimately fail.
Similarly, hypothetically, if a group or civilization decided that rape and child sacrifice were acceptable—which may actually be true for some civilizations—on what basis would an atheist, naturalist, or secularist object to this? Most atheists, naturalists, and secularists would object, but again, like with the Holocaust, their assertions that it is wrong for these groups to condone rape and child sacrifice ultimately fail.
Those who say that the Holocaust, rape, and child sacrifice are not wrong are at least consistent with their worldview, but it is certain that they do not ”’live”’ consistently with what they say. They would certainly object to a person stealing from them; they would not sit by passively and accept having everything stolen from them. In other words, they would not say, “Well, there’s no moral standard, so I shouldn’t care if people steal everything I have,” or, “Well, this group has decided that stealing is okay, so I should just let them steal from me.”
The Solution to Atheism’s Moral Problem
After we examine all worldviews, we will find that only the Christian worldview is fully self-consistent and can provide a valid universal, objective moral standard. All other worldviews fail at some point. For a full defense of this position, see Presuppositional Apologetics.
According to the Christian worldview, God’s nature and character is the source of the universal, objective moral standard that humans are bound to follow. It is because of who God is, a righteous God, that things like the Holocaust, rape, and child sacrifice are wrong.
Regarding incidents in the Bible that non-Christians commonly say make God immoral, when we apply the Bible’s own standard against these incidents, we find that these incidents actually do not make God immoral. This is because, if we have properly demonstrated that the Christian worldview is a philosophical necessity for rationality itself, then we must interpret these incidents that non-Christians say are immoral against the Bible’s own standard.
When we examine what the Bible teaches, we see that the Bible teaches that God himself is the ultimate moral standard, and that God cannot submit to any moral standard that is external to him, or else he would not be ultimate in authority. In other words, anything that God says and does is, by definition, right, and not wrong.
The common objection to this position is, “Doesn’t that make God a tyrannical ruler who can command atrocities?” The answer to this objection is that God will only ever say and command things that are consistent with his holy character.
Regarding God’s commands to eliminate entire nations, or God’s commands to enslave people from pagan nations, we must recognize that God has the right to punish all humans because of sin, and that it is not wrong for God to punish people in these ways.