If I’m not careful I’m going to have to rename this blog “The Evan Erwin Ongoing Commentary Page”. I just can’t help it that he puts up such good topics. Anyway, a recent post caught my eye and I thought I would put my two cents in from the thoughtful Christian homeschool-dad perspective.
Mrs. B: “Wow. I’m really surprised to hear that. You always seem so nice.”
Insert guffawed laughing here. Unbelievable eye rolling. Knee-slapping funny.
For some reason, as the recent 30 Days episode explored, those who don’t believe that Jesus is magic are seen as weirdo serial killers who can’t wait to rape a baby.
I think that comment by Mrs. B was strangely worded but it’s not illogical. What she is probably trying to say is “You seem to have a high sense of morality for someone who doesn’t think any basis for morality exists.” There is no getting around that for an atheist. A true atheist is beholden to one governing moral standard: rational egoism or some other form of egoism. That’s it. That’s all that exists. Now, egoism might be capable of producing plenty of people with decent moral character, but it can just as easily produce a Joseph Stalin without any logical inconsistency at all. That is what makes people uneasy around people who boldly proclaim their atheism. To a pure, consistent atheist virtue is just a word.
We rarely see a truly pure adherant to egoism though. Almost everyone is influenced by religious beliefs to some extent during their upbringing and that infuses the conscience with a lot of guilt. By the time a person is older, it’s pretty hard to expunge the bad feelings they get from being selfish, and to look at the world in a non-moral way. I know the bit about christians thinking atheists are “weirdo serial killers who can’t wait to rape a baby” is hyperbole, but I don’t know a single christian who even remotely thinks anything of the sort. But I do know plenty of people, christian or not, who get a little unnerved about someone proclaiming their atheism. In a sense, the atheist is saying “Hi, I’m Dave. I have no moral grounding for any of my actions.”
We see here though, that Denise is furious because she thinks that someone handing her kid a Church flyer in school is “wrong”. Since she is a self-proclaimed atheist, I have to assume that by wrong she means that it’s illegal(Wrong == Illegal). So it is wrong because a majority of our society has decided that teachers handing out church flyers in school is undesirable. That doesn’t seem to jive though, because I think it’s safe to assume that if teachers handing out church flyers became legal tommorrow, she would still think it was “wrong”, so that can’t be it.
Maybe by wrong she means that it isn’t in her or her child’s self-interest(Wrong == whatsBestForMe). That is fine, but why should I or anyone else care about her own self-interest. It’s my job to worry about my own self-interest. If what’s best for her jives with what I feel is best for me, then it will all work out good, but if not then I am in no way bound to her sense of “wrong”. It wouldn’t seem wrong to me at all. No, I think what is going on here is what offen happens with atheists. She is smuggling morality in the back door. A universal wrong can only be universally wrong if there is a transcendant standard that dictates it, and that is not allowed in an atheist’s worldview.
There are many, many atheists who are nice, upstanding people and have a high moral character. But they aren’t that way as a result of their belief in athesim. They are that way for other reasons. Maybe it just feels like the right thing to do. I just think that atheists should not be surprised when people are hesitant about trusting their moral commitments. At least if you are agnostic, you’re admitting that your not sure about it all. A person who proclaims atheism on the other hand is making a definitive statement about how morality fits into their worldview(if they don’t cheat that is). Mrs. B may be guilty of an irrelevant choice of wording (being nice really has nothing to do with anything), but her intuition about moral grounding is probably sound.
Honestly, in the end I just don’t see the big deal. If you think what the flyer espouses is incorrect just toss it in the trash can and explain to your child why it’s rubbish. If your explanation is reasonable and makes sense then your child will be able to see that and they will probably toss it in the can themselves next time. Christians have been having to do that kind of thing in public school for years. How many christians have had to throw condoms away and explain to their 15 year olds why they shouldn’t be having sex right now?