Many Atheists say that God is not the source or a requirement for having good or evil. But what really happens to Good and Evil when you remove God from the picture?
Recently I was watching one of my favorite shows Sonic X. It was in the third season where Sonic and his friends were battling some decepticon-inspired alien robot clones to stop them from taking over the galaxy. But in one of the episodes Tails said something that got me thinking.
When facing a group of Metarex trying to get a Chaos Emerald from him, Tails told them that while he and his friends might not be as tough as them, they still had good on their side which was more than they could say for themselves.
This isn’t the only time good is mentioned in shows like this. In the Transformers Anime ‘Robot in Disguise’ Optimus Prime tells the human protagonist of the story that their power comes from a source of good and not greed. It’s things like that that have always got me wondering about how atheists define morality.
So first off, how do we as Christians define good and evil?
The Christian worldview starts with God as the source of everything including morality. To a Christian morality is absolute with God’s law being the main authority. It’s because God’s law is implemented in creation that we have things like cause & effect and the human conscience.
But for an atheist the definition of morality is a lot more relative. They still believe in right and wrong but for different motives and their view of right and wrong is also different.
In the dictionary good is defined as “morally exellent; virtuous; righteous;” but once again whether something or someone is virtuous or righteous can be viewed with two completely different worldviews.
Several psychologists have written about what evil is and what makes someone or something evil. In James Waller’s book ‘Becoming Evil’, he defines it as “the deliberate harming of humans by other humans.” And in The Lucifer Effect by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo evil is defined as “intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others.”
So think about what these definitions mean. In both definitions there is a common factor with humans harming other humans being the ultimate evil. No matter what your worldview is I think we can all agree that harming other humans is evil. Everyone agrees that someone who goes into a school with the purpose of killing innocent people is evil—except for the one doing it.
You see, when morality is relative the beliefs of the person in question is all that matters. The culprit in a school shooting may be viewed as evil by other people but he probably doesn’t look at himself as evil. He can convince himself that the people were worthless or that they deserved to be shot and thus dehumanize them in his mind. Then because of the principles of relative morality, you could no longer define this person as evil because in his mind he wasn’t harming other humans.
In a Christian worldview however, the definition of evil is much more broad. God’s law covers much more than just harming other humans; it also includes things like covetousness, lying, and even sins of the hearth like pride and jealousy.
In Matthew 19:17 Jesus asked the rich young ruler “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.”
It turns out that the morality of the atheistic worldview is drastically different from that of the Christian worldview. That’s what happens when you try to have good without God. In the end, relative morality ends in no morality at all.