This is an important and uncomfortable question for believers to consider. If polled, I’d guess most would say not in spite of the fact they do it routinely when talking to atheists *and* other christians. Are they aware they’re doing it? I’m convinced some of them are. Do some look to mitigate their responsibility to the truth by rationalizing that because they *believe* something to be true, stating those beliefs as true doesn’t “count” as a lie. I think some do. It’s an ironic position to be in as an absolute moral values advocate, to assume such a subjective moralistic position. And to acknowledge it I think would eventually erode their confidence in their beliefs. I’d call it a generally dishonest intellectual practice.
Some of you may already be aware of this fellow.
Otherwise known as “CARM. Matt is the master of framing a question in such a way that pre-supposes what he claims is the “truth”. To my recollection he’s never actually demonstrated any of his beliefs are true, mostly he just engages in sophistry to muddy the water with his followers. On his website he’s got “questions for atheists” that he imagines are insurmountable barriers for non believers to answer. Most roll their eyes and move on rather than waste time addressing first the sophistry in order to get to what the question actually is. I’ve gone through his lists somewhere, although I can’t remember where. Might be early in the blog or elsewhere on social media. I digress. That brings us to this:
I’ll post a link to the whole page at the bottom of this post, if you have the time and are up for the aggro.
The actual philosophy Matt’s using as a “source” for this idea is Jeremy Bentham’s principle of utility~
and Francis Hutcheson, who first introduced a key utilitarian phrase. In An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725), Hutcheson says when choosing the most moral action, virtue is in proportion to the number of people a particular action brings happiness to. In the same way, moral evil, or vice, is proportionate to the number of people made to suffer. The best action is the one that procures the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers—and the worst is the one that causes the most misery.
I think Harris has boiled this down in various recent discussions as maximal good vs minimal harm. In any event, you will note Slick makes no mention of the whole idea, but frames the question in reductionist terms as just “reducing harm”. Then he follows it with a litany of questions intended to force the reader to accept absolute moral authority as true against the reality that all morals are inescapably subjective. Implied as well in the framework is the assertion that “all atheists” adhere to his false characterization of reducing harm as secular “dogma”.
The questions get increasingly ridiculous by orders of magnitude culminating in this final question:
When atheists have to deal with the attitude from the religious that we are morally defective somehow and then ask a question like that with the implication that we’d condone anything about that scenario as good or moral illustrates the level of moral bankruptcy on Matt Slick’s part. Does he know what he’s doing? I think so.
And christians wonder why atheists are “angry”.