I do not think it is a coincidence that the last century’s worst moral offenders happened to be anti-Christian. I am certainly not saying all atheists are morally horrible people. Nevertheless, I also think people who claim rejecting belief in God can somehow be done with little or no damage to our overall worldview (I would prefer to use the term “noetic structure”, since I think there are real contradictions created, but I will just use the term “worldview” as it less technical) are either dreadfully mistaken or dishonest.
I have a few blogs posts drafted that I would like atheists to think about concerning legal rights and generally about moral and legal issues. I really think beliefs are only as strong as the reasons we have for them. So when the foundations for moral beliefs are taken away we should fully expect the moral beliefs they hold to fall with time as well. If you want to be atheist in a culture that was created by Christianity you will hopefully realize you should try to patch up the foundations – or at least see with eyes wide open how morality and legal systems are effected.
While driving I accidentally hit a deer and it is badly hurt on the side of the road. If I called an ambulance it might survive after a surgery and medical care that might cost $100,000.00. I think it would be moral for me to keep driving. It might be better if I thought it would suffer and to take a gun and shoot it if I had one in the car.
Now consider how we treat a person that we hit with a car. We handle that quite differently. Human life is a sacred gift from God and Humans are made in Gods image. So this disparity is perfectly natural for a Christian society. But if we are just animals like other animals and there is nothing sacred about human life why should we think this disparity is justified? Deer seem to suffer. Many animals seem to be at least as conscious as new born infants.
Now you might say the disparity is not justified. But then the question is should we treat people like deer or deer like people? As you think this through try to notice if you are rationalizing your conclusions or if you are truly “reasoning” your way to the conclusions.
In any event this moral confusion was evident in Nazi Germany which passed strict animal protection laws.
A telling quote is from Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda:
“The Fuhrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race… Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed. The Fuhrer is a convinced vegetarian, on principle. His arguments cannot be refuted on any serious basis. They are totally unanswerable.”
Goebbels Diaries, 29 December 1939
By the way, I am not saying Hitler was atheist, but he was anti-christian and clearly rejected the teaching that human life is sacred.