The Death of Socrates

The Death of Socrates

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The absurdity of atheistic moral outrage

Some people reject the idea that God is real on the basis that the world’s suffering is too abominable for any possible justification. They claim that no just God could possibly escape condemnation, hence there can be no just God; because, clearly, a just God cannot be guilty of a moral outrage.

However, in that case, it is difficult to see how the idea that “what is natural is abominable” might arise. If the world is the way that it is just because that is the way that it is, then what reason do we have to complain that it is not the way that we might like it to be?[1] Why do human beings complain when the world isn’t just – if there is no reason to expect it to be so? Only if there is a just Creator can the Cosmos be rationally expected to be just; and we are only justified in rejecting the idea of God’s reality on the basis of the World’s injustice if we have a rational expectation of justice – which itself is predicated on the reality which we are attempting to deny.

In other words, any argument against the reality of God based on moral outrage has the character of ceasing to have any force as soon as its conclusion is deemed to be true. While it is true that the existence of suffering in the world is compatible with the proposition: “the idea of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God is a fantasy” (setting aside the more basic question of the matter of existence itself) this fact does not force one to adopt this proposition as true; for once this proposition is accepted as being true, the argument from moral outrage does not sustain its truth. This is because for the Atheist is unable to formulate this argument without assuming the value of the very thing (namely, justice) which it succeeds in disvaluing.

[1] Indeed, many atheists tend to the view that death is part of life and must be accepted stoically without complaint and that suffering should be either dealt with in the same way or else mitigated by all means available – including euthanasia. An atheist does not rail against either the God that they do not believe to be real in the face of adversity or wickedness or else condemn the Cosmos for being exactly what it is. What would be the point in them doing either of these things?

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