These days people express their atheism as casually as if they were commenting on their political views or their favourite football team. At the same time, they would undoubtedly support those of the Ten Commandments not directly referable to God; particularly those outlawing killing, stealing and lying. They tie nothing together.
What prevents us from killing, stealing and lying if we can get away with it? I am reading Richard Dawkins (The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution) at the moment. If, in fact, without Divine intervention, all life emerged from a single source (sprouting originally from inorganic matter) then moral standards appear not to have an external anchor. If we are cousins to cockroaches and cabbages why can we squash the first and eat the second while owing some special duty of care to our fellow human beings?
Evolutionists explain that being kind to one another is a product of natural selection. Those who went around with evil intent towards their fellows did not fare so well nor multiply so much, as did those happier to coexist in social harmony. Whether this is right or wrong, it is most unsatisfactory.
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. When these messages are assumed to be handed down from God they have a gravitas that mere custom – hewn from natural selection — cannot give them. And, it cannot give it to them within a bull’s roar.
With belief in God waning precipitously in Judeo-Christian societies, the question is whether standards of conduct will inevitably wane pari passu. I can’t help but feel that they have and will. If God ain’t assumed to be watching, social evolution may well reverse; particularly among those who believe they can get away with things. The consequences will be dire.
It is hard to spot change when you’re living within it. A barometer is needed. The political class as a race apart on the public stage provide one. The signs of decline are evident. Mendacity, deceptiveness and dishonesty appear, to me at least, to be a growing sore among the political class.
Does lying and dishonesty among politicians matter overmuch? Well it does if it leads to nuclear annihilation, courtesy of President Obama’s latest lies. Lying and dishonesty are slippery slopes. It was a whopper when President Clinton said that he hadn’t had sexual relations with “that woman”, when he most certainly had. It was a whopper when his wife, as Secretary of State, explained that she dodged bullets in Bosnia, when she most certainly hadn’t. It was a whopper when Susan Rice, as National Security Adviser, put the killing of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi down to Islamic outrage over a video, when it most certainly wasn’t. But the US is in plenty of company in breeding politicians without moral compass.
The scandalous expense rorting on the part of Australian politicians on both sides is yet another example of disintegrating standards of conduct. Little did some of them expect when exposing Bronwyn Bishop’s imperious excesses that the planks in their own eyes would be exposed. A reading of the New Testament may have been salutary. Did they know they were doing wrong? Frighteningly, maybe they didn’t. Sure they were contrite when caught. So are many cutthroats and thieves in the dock.
It is also laughable when reference is made to the more stringent rules in the UK for controlling politician’s excesses, when these have only been recently instituted in the face of rorting in extremis.
When morality is simply the accidental offshoot of natural selection, the rules may have to be watertight and rigorously policed. We cannot expect the cousins of cockroaches and cabbages to necessarily behave well. This brings me to President Obama’s latest speech at the American University in Washington DC.
The absence of conscience in lying about sex and dodging bullets is one thing, as is rorting expenses. When it comes to national security the ante is upped. President Obama said that there were two choices in controlling Iran’s nuclear ambitions: diplomacy or war. In saying this he specifically and disingenuously implied that absence his deal with Iran only war remained as an option. He said this to the American people knowing that those opposing his deal were arguing not for war but for tighter sanctions and a better deal.
He also knew that by taking military action off the table he had weakened his bargaining position. It was all pure deception. And he surely knew it and was not troubled by it.
He further said that “just because some Iranian hardliners chant ‘death to America’ doesn’t mean that’s what all Iranians believe.” No, they don’t, but the military and theocratic leaders of the country, including ‘the supreme leader’ Ayatollah Khamenei, do. Not all Germans wanted to invade Eastern Europe and kill Jews, but Hitler, Himmler and Goering and others did, and that proved sufficient.
By referring to hardliners as though they were a fringe group he deliberately set out to mislead the American people. This again is pure deception on Obama’s part. What other conclusion is tenable? Unless, maybe, he has plummeted into such an abyss of immorality that he simply thinks that truths and lies are interchangeable substitutes. And, perhaps, you just might think that in absence of a moral anchor.
As human beings we need all the help we can get in remaining on the straight and narrow. When the Ten Commandments are no longer taught and are inexorably marginalised and withdrawn from human experience – and the atheist’s script takes over — what’s left? How will it ever have the same restraining effect?
If Obama’s mind were wedded to the truth he could not have kidded the American public or himself. He could not have made perfidious common cause with Khamenei. The truth would have exposed the flaws in the current deal which, as a result, would never have been concluded. We wouldn’t be on the path to nuclear weapons and ICBMs being in the hands of religious fanatics.
Lies and deception can lead to disaster. That’s why they are prohibited. It is simply a mistake to believe that you can take God out of society without deleterious consequences. And this is even more the case if, in fact, we are purely, accidentally, cousins of cockroaches.
If you have any residual doubt about that let me switch gears. Have a look at the cavalier attitude of doctors employed by Planned Parenthood in the US, via YouTube, who harvest and sell the organs of unborn babies they have aborted; carefully, to avoid damaging profitable organs. I would recommend that atheists start at least pretending that they believe before yesterday’s worldview of Josef Mengele frames tomorrow’s reality.