I Know Evil When I See It

What is sin? Is homosexuality a sin? How can my sins be forgiven? Will God forgive me?

Some are shocked at the utter depravity that can lurk in the minds and hearts of seemingly-normal people. I have to admit that I’m rarely surprised to see how much evil one can do.

Today’s shocking Yahoo News story is about a man in Austria who confessed to holding his adult daughter captive for 24 years. The man, now 73, built a soundproofed vault in his home where he kept her captive. Not only did he hold her against her will under the nose of his unsuspecting wife, he also fathered at least seven children by his captive daughter.

Who knows that evil lurks in the hearts of men? Well, the Shadow knows…and so does anyone who believes the Bible. A number of religions take a positivistic view of humanity, suggesting that we’re all good at the core. The Bible does not. It describes a race of people who are a combination of goodness and evil, capable of amazing love and inescapable depravity.

I’ve had numerous discussions with atheists on the matter of good and evil over the years. Honestly, all but a few of them seemed to be in severe denial over this question: why do you believe in right and wrong if you don’t believe in God?.

Many atheists, in fact, complain quite loudly about Christians who believe that one can’t have ‘morals’ without religion. They say that they can, but I strongly disagree. I’d love to hear from the atheists who visit, as long as they provide some sort of rational argument to counter this:

  1. If universal right and wrong exist, how can we know them?
  2. If there is no universal right and wrong, then any moral judgments boil down to personal opinion.

The typical atheist argument for morality goes like this: if it’s good for society, it’s morally good…if it’s bad for society, it’s morally bad. The problem with that argument is that one can debate what’s “good” and “bad” for society. With no standard by which everyone can judge good and bad for society, you’re left with only personal opinions.

An alternative argument says that whatever society deems as good is morally good…but that’s just personal opinion writ large. When one thinks of slavery in early American history, both arguments obviously fail. A minority of individuals stood up to the majority and pointed out an obvious evil, and they swayed society to make the changes necessary to eliminate the situation. If “good” is whatever society deems it to be, then abolitionists perpetrated an evil act by fighting slavery.

I have no doubt that 99% of atheists would find the actions of that particular Austrian man to be reprehensible. My question is “on what basis do you consider his actions to be wrong?”. I have no problem saying that he did evil because I believe that moral rights and wrongs are objectively known…but for those who don’t believe in absolute truth, accusations of evil ring hollow.