“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
A foundational assumption of skeptics to claim there are moral issues in the Old Testament is a standard exists to make ethical judgments that applies universally. To say God does or commands something morally wrong is asserting there is a standard that everyone, including God, ought to abide by. If they violate it, then it is morally wrong. But the problem for the skeptics is on what basis can they justify this universal ethical standard that everyone must abide by? And why do only humans have this sense of morality? Can animals do anything that are morally wrong?
As Dawkins states:
“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
According to Dawkins’ naturalistic worldview, there is no evil and no good. It is all just pitiless indifference. There is no basis for atheists to assert the existence of any absolute ethical standard to judge if something is morally good or evil.
So, Dawkins contradicts himself by stating there is no evil and no good, yet judges the God of the Old Testament as being evil.
That morality does not exist in an atheistic worldview is also affirmed by atheist philosopher Joel Marks:
In a word, this philosopher has long been laboring under an unexamined assumption, namely, that there is such a thing as right and wrong. I now believe there isn’t.
The long and the short of it is that I became convinced that atheism implies amorality; and since I am an atheist, I must therefore embrace amorality. I call the premise of this argument ‘hard atheism’ because it is analogous to a thesis in philosophy known as ‘hard determinism.’ The latter holds that if metaphysical determinism is true, then there is no such thing as free will. Thus, a ‘soft determinist’ believes that, even if your reading of this column right now has followed by causal necessity from the Big Bang fourteen billion years ago, you can still meaningfully be said to have freely chosen to read it. Analogously, a ‘soft atheist’ would hold that one could be an atheist and still believe in morality. And indeed, the whole crop of ‘New Atheists’ (see Issue 78) are softies of this kind. So was I, until I experienced my shocking epiphany that the religious fundamentalists are correct: without God, there is no morality. But they are incorrect, I still believe, about there being a God. Hence, I believe, there is no morality.
A helpful analogy, at least for the atheist, is sin. Even though words like ‘sinful’ and ‘evil’ come naturally to the tongue as a description of, say, child-molesting, they do not describe any actual properties of anything. There are no literal sins in the world because there is no literal God and hence the whole religious superstructure that would include such categories as sin and evil. Just so, I now maintain, nothing is literally right or wrong because there is no Morality.
Philosopher Rüdiger Bittner says there is no moral ought:
There is no moral ought. For one thing, a morality of what one ought to do cannot account for the reason-giving force of moral judgements. For another, autonomy properly understood excludes our being subject to moral requirements. It is often argued that our common moral understanding is committed to there being things we ought to do—which is true, but does not decide the matter. That commitment itself lacks sufficient grounds, as among other things Aristotle’s example of a moral theory without ought shows. It is also argued that without moral requirements the ideas both of guilt and of blame will be lost—which is true again, but no cause for concern: we are better off without them.
Michael Ruse says morality is illusory:
Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth… Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves… Nevertheless… such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction… and any deeper meaning is illusory…
Philosopher Bertrand Russell says there is no moral standard:
“Outside human desires there is no moral standard.”