Christian Smith is Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame.  His book sees the atheist principles namely

- you can be exceptionally good without faith in God

-you can believe in being universally good without God

-science refutes God

as false and tries to argue thus. 

Many atheists agree with Smith.  Some say that good is only a metaphor, the word should be grey.  By grey, one is only admitting that everything is about taking a direction that has a helpful side and a horrible side.

If you change it to,

- you can be exceptionally grey without faith in God

-you can believe in being universally grey without God

-science refutes God

Then it is obvious the book is nonsense.

The main point of the book is that the atheist cannot explain why good should be done unless there is a God and that without God the atheist can indeed be good but has no reason to be and definitely has no reason to argue that the whole world deserves love and respect and help.  Smith says the atheist will be a crafty and sensible knave who does harm when he thinks nobody will know.  As our argument above says, moral mores are grey anyway so there is nothing stopping an atheist from just saying we should help all when we can and leave it at that.  It is just another grey rule.

By good, the book smuggles in a hidden meaning, sacred.  Or in other words, good is not to be called good unless a God says it is.  As if good can be made by something's opinion!  And especially when all "good" has a bad side so you always do more harm than  you bargained for.  If an atheist is good only because she or he can be that is good eviscerated of the sacred.  It is about practicality not the sacredness.  The most you can hope for with good is the lightest shade of grey.   If good or such grey were possible, the best person is the person that is spontaneous about doing it.  The person will be so spontaneous and about helping that God will be the furthest thing from their mind.  They will be that spontaneous.

The book would say you should be good to all creation  Thus people wonder why you should look after a stranger unless a God wants you to.  The fact is the atheist who does something or nothing is being grey to everybody else.  Action and inaction both have consequences for nobody is in a bubble by themselves - the bubble is the world.  You may as well make people feel better.  You may as well help.  What is wrong with that?

Smith knows that we cannot really do good to everybody.  You cannot even manage that if it is your own village never mind the whole world.  So what he wants is a principle.     He wants us to say in principle if we could help all we should.  But who cares?  Helping strangers is an element of human nature, it is something we need to do.  He whitewashes morality in order to get his principle but it does not work for it is based on a lie.

One principle would be that instead of preaching how we should be willing to help all is that we should just go out and do it.  That is not what he is doing.  He is a preacher of the principle when he should BE the principle.

Smith complains that morality cannot be totally about thinking and you need to be motivated by fellow feeling.     He complains that we must not be like Kant who said that iron rules are needed and are to ban anything that would stop life functioning if we all did it.  Eg murder, theft. 

Smith wants us to add in feelings for God to the mix.  By extension religion will come in.

The religionists may not be Kantian but still Kantian in some things. For example, Jesus made it an absolute moral law that everybody must follow that everybody is to serve God just because God deserves it and to do it with only God in your heart. You serve God in others but not for their own sake but his so that is how you can do this and still help people. If Kantianism is incoherent or dangerous then Jesus was dangerous as is anybody who is Kantian with God. God is the biggest issue of all. So if Kantianism is immoral or harmful then even if you are not Kantian, being Kantian with God, makes you as bad or worse than a Kantian.

Religious people say that if you are forced through having no choice to do something terrible it remains wrong.  You are not to be praised or rewarded for doing it. Rather you are to be supported and understood.  So what if you had to pick loving God supremely and alone or valuing your neighbour?  Surely putting a God you don't know before the neighbour you live beside is evil!

It is typical of books like Smith's that they avoid things that overthrow their position.  Here is one massive question that he does not cover.  Nobody does.  Animals are more numerous than us.  They are more vulnerable.  They do not think of the harm they do while we do.  Some animals are at the development level of young human children.  We would be nothing without animals.  Now is killing them for food right or wrong or neutral?  It would be natural to say it is wrong for it is taking a creature's body for food when it cannot consent and its whole body cries out for it to live.  Those who hurt animals are probably hurting people too.  Those who agree with hurting animals will soon agree with hurting people as well.  Yet nobody says we should include animals when we say that the rule is that we help all!


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