Michael Gerson in a recent issue of the Washington Post argued that without God we humans are incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, and without fear of God’s wrath we would have no motivation to choose the former over the latter. I agree:
Without God I would have no idea that it is wrong to eat shrimp, have a woman testify in court, see a woman’s face, let homosexuals marry, mix linen and wool in my clothes, or have a glass of milk along with a hamburger. Similarly, without God I would no idea it was right to slaughter followers of other faiths, kill witches, heretics, and wayward sons, and set ravenous she¬–bears loose to tear apart forty–two boys who taunt prophets in the vicinity of ravenous she¬–bears (look it up: 2Kings 2:24).
God is a source of morality. The problem is that there are so many gods and so many books purporting to be the Word of God that it is impossible for us to determine which god is God and which book is God’s Book. If you try to find common ground among gods and books you end up with the Golden Rule: “Do not do unto others that which you would not want others to do unto you” to quote Rabbi Hillel, or “Do unto others what you would want others to do unto you” to quote Jesus who was obviously not paying close attention when he learned the earlier teaching of Hillel in Hebrew school.
While this is good advice, it didn’t come from God, unless of course Jesus is God and then it did come from God, but since a version of the Golden Rule exists in all cultures and seems to be indigenous to all peoples, it is hard to argue that without God human’s are incapable of ethical thinking or action.
If you still insist there is no morality without God, you then have the burden of deciding which god is God. Krishna allows things that YHVH condemns. Allah condemns things that Jesus’ Dad allows. Jesus’ “But I say unto you” statements overrule what YHVH said unto us. When slaveholders sited the Bible to justify owning other human beings they were drawing on God’s morality. When abolitionists decried such horror they made the same moral claim. The point is God is not so much the source of morality but the excuse. We call moral what we want to do, and then imagine a god who will back us up.
The only solution is to discover which god is God. In the previous blog (War on Krishna) I suggested we let the Senate vote on this, but that was silly; the only way to really know which god is God is to let them all battle it out in a global winner–take–all interfaith jihad. We see every day how very bloody this can be, so let me suggest a variation. Let each religion field its best warrior, and let them have at one another in a televised no–holds–barred battle to the death smack down I would call Last God Standing.
Give this some thought. I would be interested in hearing your picks as the best fighter in each faith. Oh, no fair converting someone to fight on your team.