In debates between Atheists and Christians, it has become common for both sides to make a “moral argument about atrocities.” For atheism the argument is that religion should be abolished because religion is dangerous, often citing 9/11, the crusades, and Nazi Germany. Of course, this obviously contains a grouping error: lumping all theistic systems into a single bucket is intellectually dishonest. Yet for the Christian, it must be acknowledged that the crusades are a notable example of atrocities committed in the name of Christianity.
Likewise, Christians often raise moral arguments as well. In modern times the moral argument is often associated with certain brands of presuppositional apologetics, particularly according to Corneilius Van Til. My main argument will always be that the historical evidence for the Resurrection of Christ is the strongest support for the truth of Christainity. I commonly call this the positive case for Christ. Yet, if Christianity is true, then it should be able to accurately describe or explain reality. This means that many secondary arguments such as the moral arguments have validity: if Christianity is true, then that which the Bible says concerning the nature of man, man’s conscience and the results of sanctification should be observable. Christians, therefore also make a moral argument concerning atrocities, usually pointing to the Soviet Union and to Nazi Germany as evidence that atheism is bad for society. While this certainly does not prove Christianity, it is nonetheless a useful argument.
So, if both atheists and Christians have committed atrocities, then how do we judge which moral argument concerning atrocities is valid, or do we simply argue for a moral equivalency? I suggest that the problem presents itself when we consider exactly how the case is made. Usually, the argument is made by association, and it is usually made at the surface level. Personally, I’m suggesting a new approach: the key to the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the argument regarding atrocities is whether or not the monsters are self-consistent with their worldview.
In the next two articles I will address the specifics concerning these arguments from the viewpoint of the Soviet Union and from the viewpoint of the crusades, these are exemplary, the reasoning I am applying can be applied in other cases as well. I will ignore the Third Reich for a number of reasons: first, atheists attempt to identify Hitler as a Christian, based on the use of Christian symbols and language in his propaganda. This is evidence of a historical naivete on the part of atheists. Bernie Madoff claimed to be investing people’s money, but clearly this was not his practice. While this first problem is clearly based on a poor understanding of history, the second problem is that we don’t know that Hitler actually was an atheist, either, though we have very good reason to believe he was. While it is undeniable that the Third Reich and Hitler were greatly influenced by evolutionary theory, there are theistic evolutionists (such as Michael Behe). The National Socialists were also heavily influenced by both Spiritualism and Germanic Neo-paganism (particularly in the SS); Nazi atrocities therefore are best viewed as their own category.