Given an atheistic or even an agnostic starting point, how can someone be outraged by evil? Without God, being outraged over the presence of evil is a subjective notion borrowed from the Christian worldview. “If God is nothing,” according to Russian novelist Feodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881), “everything is permitted; if God is nothing, everything is a matter of indifference.”
But if there is no God and religion, there are no moral truths, only moral opinions. If God and religion are not in the picture, then good and evil, right and wrong, don’t objectively exist. They are subjective terms that just mean “I like” or “I don’t like.”
Therefore, no matter how much one thinks things through, without God and religion — specifically, the God of, and the religions based on, the Bible — the individual’s conclusions about what is right or wrong can only be opinions about what is right or wrong. Without God and religion, morally speaking, there is no fixed north or fixed south. The needle points wherever the owner of the compass thinks it ought to point.
“If we are all biological accidents, why shouldn’t the white accidents own and sell the black accidents?” ((James Scott Bell, The Darwin Conspiracy Gresham, OR: Vision House, 1995), 64.
Voltaire is reported to have said, “I don’t believe in God, but I hope my valet does so he won’t steal my spoons.”
C.S. Lewis, who was once an atheist wrote:
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 a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? … Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. ((C. S. Lewis, “The Rival Conceptions of God,” Mere Christianity (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1956), 31.))
How can an atheist be upset about evil, if we are all merely evolved blobs or accidents?
The History Channel is running a series called “WW II in HD.” In an advertisement for the series, a WW II soldier states that he entered the war a believer in God, but after looking into the opened eyes of a dead soldier he became an atheist. At that moment, his moral aversion to war should have ended. He was staring into the light receptors of a bag of meat and bones that had short circuited, just one of millions of “multicelled animals” that died at the hands of other bags of meat and bones that still had their electrical circuitry operating. There is no morality to it all; it’s evolution in action. The strong survived similar to the way multicelled creatures survived billions of years ago in the soup of life after the Big Bang.
Thomas H. Huxley wrote in 1893 that “Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of many have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before” Darwinism came on the scene.
Then he says that we may at some time “arrive at an understanding of the aesthetic faculty; but all that understanding in the world will neither increase nor diminish the forces of the intuition that ‘THIS‘ is beautiful and ‘THAT’ is ugly.”
from: Thomas H. Huxley, “Evolution and Ethics,” Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1899), 80.
*emphasis in the above quote is mine (italics & bold)