“Woody Wednesday” Atheists have no basis for saying that Hitler was wrong!!!!!

On April 30, 2012 (67 years after Hitler killed himself) I stated on the Arkansas Times Blog:

Hitler’s last few moments of life were filled with anxiety as they should have been. He went on to face his maker and pay dearly for his many sins. When I look at the never before released pictures of Hitler’s bunker, it makes me wonder how anyone can claim that this life doesn’t count for all eternity and people like Hitler are home free like Woody Allen’s movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” suggests.

I am not going to give all the blog posts but there were many. Here is another one.

“Elwood” responded to my post with this on the Arkansas Times Blog:

No Everette, god does not establish moral codes. We do. We can attribute them to any deity of your choosing but make no mistake we, society, set moral codes. I suppose you were at prayer meeting on the occasions we discussed civil and moral codes and origins. They existed long before the Hebrewic god came along.

Elwood later asserted on the Arkansas Times Blog:

Warning to fundamentalists: Don’t let go of your imaginary place called “Hell.”
It could cost you a job, family and friends. So, since security is our most important possession hang on to Hell.

That is when I responded on the Arkansas Times Blog:

Elwood, answer this one question. HOW COULD JUDAH HAVE REMOVED HIS TROUBLESOME MISTRESS FROM HIS LIFE WITHOUT KILLING HER? Woody Allen knew what he was doing in this film and he was showing that without God and an afterlife then there is no reason not to murder!!!!

Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS , is concerning the need of God while making decisions in the area of personal morality. In this film, Allen attacks his own atheistic view of morality. Martin Landau plays a Jewish eye doctor named Judah Rosenthal raised by a religious father who always told him, “The eyes of God are always upon you.” However, Judah later concludes that God doesn’t exist. He has his mistress (played in the film by Anjelica Huston) murdered because she continually threatened to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. She also attempted to break up Judah ‘s respectable marriage by going public with their two-year affair. Judah struggles with his conscience throughout the remainder of the movie. He continues to be haunted by his father’s words: “The eyes of God are always upon you.” This is a very scary phrase to a young boy, Judah observes. He often wondered how penetrating God’s eyes are.

Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his religious father had with Judah ‘s unbelieving Aunt May at the dinner table many years ago:

“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazis, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says aunt May

Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

Judah ‘s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

Woody Allen has exposed a weakness in his own humanistic view that God is not necessary as a basis for good ethics. There must be an enforcement factor in order to convince Judah not to resort to murder. Otherwise, it is fully to Judah ‘s advantage to remove this troublesome woman from his life.

Elwood, are you missing in action? Earlier you asserted, “No everette, God does not establish moral codes. We do.” However, you will not elaborate on what the atheist Judah should have done to silence his mistress and save his marriage. Should he have confessed it all (including his past illegal activities) and faced the penalties or pay his hitman brother to have her done away with quietly like he did?

When it comes to morals you like to make big statements but you can not back it up by answering this simple question. I would love to hear from other atheists on this too. Maybe they will run and hide.

At this point Elwood went missing in action. However, several days later another atheist jumped in. A person using the username “John Arkansawyer” asserted:

 I don’t think eLwood is going to drop by, so I’ll take my shot at this.

You are correct that Woody Allen has pointed up a feature of the world as it exists, a feature that I don’t happen to like: People sometimes get away with murder.

What you don’t get, though, is what I just said: It is a feature of the world as it exists that justice is not inherent. Whether you or I like that or not, it’s how it is. In a world without any god, justice and meaning and all good and moral things have to be determined and imposed by people.

With god, one could, in theory, just shrug one’s shoulders at Hitler and say, “You’ll get yours, someday.” With the Christian god as accepted by many fundamentalists, Hitler could make a deathbed conversion and go straight to heaven, do not pass hell, do not collect eternal damnation.

Another great artist, Randy Newman, speaking as the Devil makes this point to an angel, “a good girl, cut down in your prime”, recently arrived in heaven:

“The man who shot you in the head
In that ‘Burger King in Tucson
Well, he never will be punished you know
He will move to Big Pine, California
Become the richest man in Inyo County
While that may not be much, it’s enough
When he dies
Sixty-five years from today
With his loved ones all around him
He’ll be whisked right up to heaven
He won’t pass go or have to wait
He’ll just march right through the Goddamned gate
And why, you may ask yourself why
For thousands and thousands of years
I have asked myself why”

To which James Taylor, playing God, answers:

“Faith.
Contrition.
Sincere contrition.
Confession.
Sincere confession
Redemption.
Absolution
Those who seek Me shall find Me
In the case of this man,
Predestination

My ways are mysterious
Sometimes even to myself
My ways are mysterious”

Now, that’s not terribly satisfying from a moral point of view either. The “death and glory” version of Universalism, where all souls go to heaven as soon as they leave the body makes much more sense from an ethical point of view, especially if you accept the late Bill Hicks’ description of life:

“It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.”

Of course, Hicks, like myself, was somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist. Like Hicks, I don’t expect any life after death or eternal reward. Justice has to be provided here on earth.

So when a Hitler or a Nixon dies, not unpunished–both those men suffered, though not in proportion to their evil–or scot free, but still without having truly experienced justice for their sins, it’s the fault of those women and men who didn’t work hard enough to impose justice upon them.

That’s the ethical duty we face in the absence of god: Justice here and now, determined by human reason and imposed by human action.

Martin King’s riff on Theodore Parker’s claim, that the arc of the universe is long but that it bends toward justice, is true in a world populated by humans, who aren’t bad and who take that arc in their hands and bend it for all they’re worth. Atheists and thoughtful theists alike don’t depend on god to git-r-done (for values of ‘r’ which include ‘justice’).

__________

Let me start responding by first quoting two points that you make:

You are correct that Woody Allen has pointed up a feature of the world as it exists, a feature that I don’t happen to like: People sometimes get away with murder.

What you don’t get, though, is what I just said: It is a feature of the world as it exists that justice is not inherent. Whether you or I like that or not, it’s how it is. In a world without any god, justice and meaning and all good and moral things have to be determined and imposed by people.

_____________

Let us take a close look at how you are going to come up with morality as an atheist. When you think about it there is no way around the final conclusion that it is just your opinion against mine concerning morality. There is no final answers. However, if God does exist and he has imparted final answers to us then everything changes.

Take a look at a portion of this paper by Greg Koukl. In this article he points out that atheists don’t even have a basis for saying that Hitler was wrong:

What doesn’t make sense is to look at the existence of evil and question the existence of God. The reason is that atheism turns out being a self-defeating philosophic solution to this problem of evil. Think of what evil is for a minute when we make this kind of objection. Evil is a value judgment that must be measured against a morally perfect standard in order to be meaningful. In other words, something is evil in that it departs from a perfect standard of good. C.S. Lewis made the point, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call something crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”[ 1 ] He also goes on to point out that a portrait is a good or a bad likeness depending on how it compares with the “perfect” original. So to talk about evil, which is a departure from good, actually presumes something that exists that is absolutely good. If there is no God there’s no perfect standard, no absolute right or wrong, and therefore no departure from that standard. So if there is no God, there can’t be any evil, only personal likes and dislikes–what I prefer morally and what I don’t prefer morally.

This is the big problem with moral relativism as a moral point of view when talking about the problem of evil. If morality is ultimately a matter of personal taste–that’s what most people hold nowadays–then it’s just your opinion what’s good or bad, but it might not be my opinion. Everybody has their own view of morality and if it’s just a matter of personal taste–like preferring steak over broccoli or Brussels sprouts–the objection against the existence of God based on evil actually vanishes because the objection depends on the fact that some things are intrinsically evil–that evil isn’t just a matter of my personal taste, my personal definition. But that evil has absolute existence and the problem for most people today is that there is no thing that is absolutely wrong. Premarital sex? If it’s right for you. Abortion? It’s an individual choice. Killing? It depends on the circumstances. Stealing? Not if it’s from a corporation.

The fact is that most people are drowning in a sea of moral relativism. If everything is allowed then nothing is disallowed. Then nothing is wrong. Then nothing is ultimately evil. What I’m saying is that if moral relativism is true, which it seems like most people seem to believe–even those that object against evil in the world, then the talk of objective evil as a philosophical problem is nonsense. To put it another way, if there is no God, then morals are all relative. And if moral relativism is true, then something like true moral evil can’t exist because evil becomes a relative thing.

An excellent illustration of this point comes from the movie The Quarrel . In this movie, a rabbi and a Jewish secularist meet again after the Second World War after they had been separated. They had gotten into a quarrel as young men, separated on bad terms, and then had their village and their family and everything destroyed through the Second World War, both thinking the other was dead. They meet serendipitously in Toronto, Canada in a park and renew their friendship and renew their old quarrel.

divider

To paraphrase the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the person who argues against the existence of God based on the existence of evil in the world has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.

divider

Rabbi Hersch says to the secularist Jew Chiam, “If a person does not have the Almighty to turn to, if there’s nothing in the universe that’s higher than human beings, then what’s morality? Well, it’s a matter of opinion. I like milk; you like meat. Hitler likes to kill people; I like to save them. Who’s to say which is better? Do you begin to see the horror of this? If there is no Master of the universe then who’s to say that Hitler did anything wrong? If there is no God then the people that murdered your wife and kids did nothing wrong.”

That is a very, very compelling point coming from the rabbi. In other words, to argue against the existence of God based on the existence of evil forces us into saying something like this: Evil exists, therefore there is no God. If there is no God then good and evil are relative and not absolute, so true evil doesn’t exist, contradicting the first point. Simply put, there cannot be a world in which it makes any sense to say that evil is real and at the same time say that God doesn’t exist. If there is no God then nothing is ultimately bad, deplorable, tragic or worthy of blame. The converse, by the way, is also true. This is the other hard part about this, it cuts both ways. Nothing is ultimately good, honorable, noble or worthy of praise. Everything is ultimately lost in a twilight zone of moral nothingness. To paraphrase the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the person who argues against the existence of God based on the existence of evil in the world has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.

Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer pictured above.

_______

By your own admission man imposes his own morality and that is why I want to challenge atheist like “John Arkansawyer” to show what basis he has for saying Hitler was wrong!!!

Early in his career Hitler was popular and many of the German people bought into his anti-semetic views. Does the atheist have an intellectual basis to condemn Hitler’s actions?

____________________________________ 

 

I personally met someone who was part of the Hitler youth movement in Germany in the 1930’s and until his dying day he believed that Hitler was right. I had a basis for knowing that Hitler was wrong and here it is below.
 
It is my view that according the Bible all men are created by God and are valuable.  However, the atheist has no basis for coming to this same conclusion. Francis Schaeffer put it this way:
 
We cannot deal with people like human beings, we cannot deal with them on the high level of true humanity, unless we really know their origin—who they are. God tells man who he is. God tells us that He created man in His image. So man is some- thing wonderful.
 
Francis Schaeffer died in 1984, but there is a website dedicated to his works. In 1972 he wrote the book “He is There and He is Not Silent.” Here is the statement that sums up that book: 

One of philosophy’s biggest problems is that anything exists at all and has the form that it does. Another is that man exists as a personal being and makes true choices and has moral responsibility. The Bible gives sufficient answers to these problems. In fact, the only sufficient answer is that the infinite-personal triune God is there and He is not silent. He has spoken to man in the Bible.

The basic question Woody Allen is presenting to his own agnostic humanistic worldview is: If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it?  The secular humanist worldview that modern man has adopted does not work in the real world that God has created. God “has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is a direct result of our God-given conscience. The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 1:19, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God  has shown it to them” (Amplified Version).

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” The Humanist, May/June 1997, pp.38-39). Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism.

Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (The Humanist, September/October 1997, p. 2.). Humanists don’t really have an intellectual basis for saying that Hitler was wrong, but their God-given conscience tells them that they are wrong on this issue.

Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen – 1989) – Final scenes

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