Are Rape, Slavery and Honor Killings Ever Good?

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Blog Post
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In my last post, I discussed how the most common objection to belief in God – the problem of evil – is actually a problem for everyone who raises it. In order for there to even be a problem of evil, which should be an obvious problem to anyone who lives in reality, then objective morality must exist. There must be things that are evil, regardless of human opinion, or else the problem of evil disappears. However, in order for there to be evil, there must be good. In order for there to be good, there must be a moral law by which to differentiate between good and evil. That moral law requires a moral law giver, which is the being people are trying to disprove when they bring up the problem of evil in the first place. You can read my previous post here.

I received a lot of responses to this article. Some denied evil altogether (not sure how a sane person does that), and one whom I interacted with briefly actually went on to blog about our interaction in order to argue against my position, which I welcome of course. In the process however, he said some things that I think illustrate the bankruptcy of the atheistic worldview in assessing the moral problem we all face. You can view his blog post here.

In the comments section of my blog, he wrote:

Life is not black and white as you seem to reduce things. You are creating a false dilemma where none exists. Good and evil are human categories and as long as we are human, there are acts that will be designated bad by the greatest majority of us. That is how things are.

I responded by saying this:

I am afraid some things are black and white. Rape, for example, is either objectively evil, or subjectively evil. It has to be one or the other (Law of excluded middle) and it can’t be both (law of non-contradiction). If, as you say, things are designated bad by majority, then it means that if the majority decided rape was now good, then it would become good and not evil. Another example would be that if the Nazis had won WW2 and successfully brainwashed anyone who disagreed with them, then the Holocaust would no longer be evil, since the majority would now think the Jews should have be killed. I find that appalling, and I would argue that some things are wrong, regardless of the majority vote. Otherwise, someone like William Wilberforce would become wrong for opposing slavery, since the majority thought it was fine.

It was this interaction that he blogged about, and I wish to add my take on it as well.

First of all, in his response he seems to argue completely for a subjective form or morality, also known as relativism, where morality is relative to the person who holds it, or perhaps the culture they live in. He surprisingly agrees with the statement in my response, that rape would be good if it happened in a society where the majority thought it was. In other words, when ISIS takes over a town and becomes the ruling majority, like they already have in many parts, whatever unspeakable things they decide to do to the women there are actually good according to this person’s view, since the majority says it is! He also believes that William Wilberforce was actually wrong for opposing slavery, since most people at that time thought it was just fine!

This is the absurdity that surfaces when human opinion is made to be the arbiter of moral truth. In many Muslim countries, women are killed by family members if they have been raped, an act called honor killing. If this person is correct in his assessment of morality, then we have no right to judge a man from such a culture who strangles his recently raped daughter for dishonoring her family. Does that sound right to everyone? I should hope not, but the logic being used by this blogger would allow for this kind of thing.

In my assessment, and I am sure many others, it is irrelevant what the culture of William Wilberforce thought about slavery, and it is irrelevant what a culture believes about honor killing – those things are always wrong, all the time, whether the culture believes it or not. That is what it means for something to be objectively wrong, and most people that are not defending their atheism are able to admit as much. I leave the reader to decide which worldview more closely matches reality: The worldview with the ability to condemn slavery and rape and honor killing as objectively wrong, regardless of majority opinion, or the worldview which claims that morality is up to the individual or the culture, making moral reformers like Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, and William Wilberforce wrong since they opposed the majority view of the culture. Here is a quote from a rather famous person who talks a lot like my atheist blogger friend:

Then I learned that all moral judgments are “value judgments,” that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either “right” or “wrong.” I even read somewhere that the Chief justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments.

Sounds a lot like when the blogger said, “Good and evil are human categories and as long as we are human, there are acts that will be designated bad by the greatest majority of us.”

Quote continued:

Believe it or not, I figured out for myself what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself: that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any “reason” to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring — the strength of character — to throw off its shackles. I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable “value judgment” that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these “others”? Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more to you than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as “moral” or “good” and others as “immoral” or “bad”?

By the way, this quote is from serial killer Ted Bundy, who truly saw the logic of this view and lived it out. He actually said this to a woman right before he raped and murdered her. I know my atheist friend doesn’t believe this, because very few are as consistent in their relativism as people like Bundy. Most people only like relativism when it can be used to dismiss God, not when someone uses it to rape and murder people for fun.

In his closing statement in the blog, my atheist friend adds this little comment:

I have done a lot of reflection on this subject and at present, I am convinced there is no lawgiver. And secondly that if I granted you the chance of saying there was one, we would still be far from deciding which god it was. You would insist it is the Christian god and I will have to ask you to tell me how the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and others lived so exemplary lives before the coming of this particular Jew.

Just a side note, I have not heard many people argue that Greco-Roman culture was exemplary (they killed people for entertainment and encouraged pederasty, just to start.) That however, is not my primary concern. This comment displays this person’s complete misunderstanding of the moral argument for the existence of God. Never, not once, did I ever say that people need to believe in God to be moral. I think I even went out of my way to make that clear in my original post. And yet here we see it being argued that people might have been moral before Jesus arrived on the scene, which misses the point entirely.

Of course people can be moral without believing in God! The claim of the Christian worldview is that humans are created in God’s image, which is why we have faculties like reason, rationality, and our moral compass. This why we believe people are capable of being good without believing in God, because our sense of objective morality is built into us, and we can’t escape it. In addition, the moral argument is part of a cumulative case for the God of the Bible, and so I agree that in and of itself it does not lead a person to Christ. It does however make more sense of reality than the blogger’s relativism.

Thanks for reading!

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Comments
  1. mike says:

    “Are Rape, Slavery and Honor Killings Ever Good?”

    I would agree, they are never good. they are in fact evil, born in the hearts and minds of mankind. why then I find these things accepted and even commanded in the Old Testament by God along with Genocide and Infanticide is hard for me to reconcile as a Christian. Have you read the Old Testament accounts of the entry of the People of God into the Promised Land lately?
    -mike

    Like

    • defendingyourfaith says:

      There are definitely some difficult passages in the bible for sure. No argument there. However,I believe a careful reading of the old testament, within its historical context, shows God in a different light than what is imposed on Him by a 21 century audience. Genocide is killing people because of their race, but the Canaanites were a diverse group of people, that were judged based on their abhorrent cultural practices like child sacrifice, and beastiality. God also judged Israel when they crossed the line, so no genocide there.

      The slavery I referred to in the article was the race-based African slave trade, fueled by kidnapping and violence. What is described in the Bible for the most part was indentured servitude, with laws protecting abuse of those who were “slaves” (Hebrew = ebed – servant). It was a way of removing poverty and debt by giving people the ability to sell themselves into servitude.

      Honor killings, where a woman is killed by a family member because she was raped like in Muslim countries, are nowhere to be found in the Bible.

      Please understand that this is an over simplified answer on a very complex and sensitive issue. I would encourage you to read “Is God A Moral Monster?” By Dr. Paul Copan, for a much more detailed explanaton of such things.

      Thanks for stopping by brother!

      Like

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