Is this a Gotcha question for an world view that excludes God?
Gocha no. 3: So can you just do whatever you want?
image from Jeff Meyer
Atheist Answer: “No because we still have laws” “which are based on morality” [as well as other things]… “We need to regulate things to make society run smoothly ” for example traffic lights.
Me – Of course no one does whatever they want. There are laws, and other constraints on people. This gocha isn’t that well phrased. I think it’s a subset of the previous one about morality. If there is a morality, then even though we might do whatever we wanted, there would be a day of reckoning when our choices catch up with us.
The guys do however raise an interesting point. That someone might think that killing their religious enemies will result in life after death and so end up doing evil in this life in the expectation of reward in the next. The thing is though that is not fundamentally a religious issue, it is a moral one. What if someone thinks it’s good to kill their ideological enemies, or people of a certain faith, or any particular group of people, in this life? On what basis do you say they are wrong? Neither the golden rule nor survival of the fittest, nor the maximising of human happiness are solid enough to give real objectivity. Even if the perpetrators are acting under a false belief if does not mean their morality is necessarily wrong. People can do good things for wrong reasons. You need to posit the existence of God to have a basis from which to say that those committing atrocities in the name of God are doing objective evil.
They say a “meta consequence” (ie eternal life) is very scary. I agree. If people think they will benefit from mass murder in this life, that is scary. My question to the guys though would be, does the suicide bomber ultimately get away with it? If he just winks out of existence, how does morality have any bearing on his actions in this life?