I haven’t talked about religion in ages. The arguments against religion have been ripped apart to the point that it isn’t even fun now. It’s just mediocre and played-out. However, recently the founder of the Prager University (which, neat fact, has no school attached to it) decided to make a video that has made a bunch of waves in the online community for how stupid it is. In hit, he argues that the reason that we know that murder is wrong is because of God. A statement so asinine and easy to destroy, let’s show you his video, and then respond to it.
His first question – do you believe that good and evil exist? As a concept, sure. But as a true thing that is harder. See, it’s totally open to interpretation. Is the person who stole bread to feed themselves evil? They did commit a crime – theft. But does that make them evil? There are behaviors that I believe are more right and more wrong, but my line is in one place and other people’s lines are in another. There is no concrete standard to what is good and evil. At least not in secular society. But Prager has a different perspective. He believes that the answer to that question divides America up into sides based on how you answer. See, in his mind, there an answer to that question, and he is about explain what it is.
His second question – is murder wrong? Well, that depends. Am I killing someone to save the life of someone I love? I would argue that that is permissible. Am I killing someone for sport? I believe that is wrong. Context matters. That’s why people who have a black and white view of morality are always amusing. Nothing in life is that simple.
Third question – how do I know? As I said, since the answer the right and wrong nature of murder varies from person to person (I bet the BTK Killer has some thoughts about the nature of murder), what informs my worldview is how I have been raised and the perspectives I have come to after looking at all the evidence. For example – I look at different scenarios and I make judgements on whether or not an action is justified in that situation. I think the person who punched a guy because he is a “Nazi” (A term so flagrantly used that it has lost all meaning) is in the wrong because he was doing nothing violent or threatening toward that person. He was no threat to them, yet he was attacked. That is wrong. What informed my opinion of that are my values and my respect for freedom of speech.
Prager postulates that, without God, there are no “moral facts.” This statement is laughable in every way. For starters, to what standard are you holding that to? The Ten Commandments? Sure, they say that murder is wrong, but you also bring up rape. NOWHERE in the Bible does it say that rape is wrong. In fact, the worst that happens is that the man has to marry his victim and pay the father 15 silver shekels. That’s the value that not only does God’s voices on Earth put the crime of rape, but also the opinion of the woman who was the victim of rape. Makes God look like a real piece of work, doesn’t it?
God has, on numerous occasions long after the Ten Commandments are written, broken his own rules. He destroyed the cities of Soddom and Gamorrah, killing all men, women, children, toddlers, and babies. What did those last three groups do wrong, exactly? He commanded his armies to kill all the men of a village, tear open the bellies of pregnant women, dash the skulls of babies against rocks, and take the virgin daughters as sex slaves for themselves. God even sent a bear to kill a bunch of children. What was their crime? They made fun of the baldness of the man. For that paltry reason, the divine being who is supposed to be a moral authority condones murder? That seems like a really bad standard that all of society is supposed to be beholden to?
But I can already hear the apologists – “God is a higher being, so we can’t judge him based on the standards he’s given us!” So, do as he says and not as he does? That seems like a really shitty standard for the supreme being of the universe. What kind of leader asks that the people under his dominion live up to a standard that he himself does not? It’s basically like a murderer who kills people out of spite (and if you look at the bear story that is EXACTLY what it was) telling you that killing is wrong. Why is God exempt from society’s criticism? The apologist argument basically tries to make God immune from the cruel reality – that his holy book are full of rape and murder, often which God commanded, and he is for some nebulous reason innocent in that. Prager makes the argument that it is through God that we know that murder is wrong. I disrespectfully disagree, because if that’s the case then I should be able to go out and rape a girl and pay the father 15 shekels and be okay.
Not to mention, Prager says that all we have are opinions about morality without God. Well, since the last time God did anything where he was seen in a way of clear documentation, it was before the days of video cameras, who do we have to give the statements about his morality now? We have people. People like the Pope. People like Ray Cumfart. People like, of all people, Brett Keane. Hell, people like Gail Chord Schuler, who says that she and God are fighting back against Jesuits who rape Brent Spiner. These are the people who are telling the world exactly how God feels. Can hear the apologists – but we have the Bible! Yeah, but the Bible is full of contradictory verses. In fact, it’s so easy to find verses that forbid or condone everything that pretty much everything is wrong somewhere in the Bible.
Liberal Christians try to pass it off as Jesus and the New Testament make it all better. I have my issues with that way of thinking. After all, it’s bullshit. Jesus outright said he did not come to abolish the Old Testament law, but came to fulfill it. Apologists try and argue that it is still written, but here’s the other thing – there are translation errors. Since the original language that wrote most of the Bible is dead languages (and that’s not even accounting for the parts that were straight up plagiarized, like the Jesus story). The versions we have now have been proven to be full of translation issues. So we have to rely on people and their OPINIONS to tell us what God wants now! Prager’s entire point is fucking stupid!
He then says that all us atheists will admit that without God, there is no objective morality, and no “atheist philosopher” has said otherwise. Sam Harris actually has, but I guess Prager has a limited atheist perspective that he gets. No surprise, he’s a far-right conservative. I’m surprised he’s talked to ANY atheists. For my part, I don’t believe there is truly objective morality. Since morals are behaviors that a society or doctrine deems are right or wrong, they are just a system of control from the top down. Here’s a video by my favorite YouTuber where he lays out the closest that we’ll ever come to objective morality – empathy. When we can empathize with other people, we are able to make behavioral decisions as close as it can get to right and wrong.
I think that pretty much sums up all of his arguments. I’ve destroyed him without even getting one and a half minutes in. Not too shabby.
Until next time, a quote,
“Marge, everything is a sin. I mean, have you ever sat down and read this thing? Technically, we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom.” – Reverend Lovejoy, The Simpsons