Does Morality Come From God?

Written by J. M. Green for DC:
Since becoming an atheist, one of things that I hear over and over from Christians is that I now have no basis for morality because morality only comes from their god and their Bible. They claim ownership of true, unchanging morality and yet the Bible they revere sends conflicting messages. Consider these examples:
Murder is wrong… if God orders it however, then murder is right, and failing to murder is a sin.

Exodus 20:13 versus 1 Samuel 15:1, 7-11
Lying is wrong... but, if God orders or sanctions it, then it is right.

Numbers 23:19 versus Ezekiel 14:9
Proverbs 12:22 versus Genesis 12:10-20
Children must honor their mother and father… but not according to Jesus.

Exodus 20:12 versus Matthew 10:34-36; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 14:26, John 2:1-5
Human sacrifice is wrong… however, if God orders or sanctions it, it is right.

Leviticus 18:21 versus Genesis 22:1-15; Judges 11:29-38; 2 Samuel 21:1-14; Numbers 25:3-4
Stealing other people’s property is wrong… unless if God orders it.

Exodus 20:15 versus Exodus 3:22
Breaking the Sabbath is a sin punishable by death… but, if Jesus or his disciples decide to break the Sabbath, then it is OK.

Exodus 31:13-15 versus Matthew 12:1-8
Killing an unborn child or a baby is wrong… unless God orders it.

Hosea 13:16; Isaiah 15:9,16-18; Ezekial 9:6; Deuteronomy 2:33-34; 1 Samuel 15:3
Taking another man’s wife is wrong… unless God decrees it.

Exodus 20:17 versus Isaiah 13:16; ; 2 Samuel 12:7,11
Making a graven image is wrong… unless God orders it.

Deuteronomy 4:15-18; Exodus 20:4 versus Numbers 21:6-9; Exodus 25:18; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 6:27-28
Cannibalism is wrong… unless God decides to inflict it on people.

Deuteronomy 28:53; Jeremiah 19:9; Ezekiel 5:8-10
Punishing an innocent party for the sins of another is wrong… unless God decrees it.

2 Kings 14:6 versus Exodus 20:5; 2 Samuel 12:7-15; Genesis 12 (Abram lies, but Pharaoh is punished)
Rape is wrong… unless God commands it.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 versus Numbers 31:15-18; Isaiah 13:16; Zechariah 14:2
Clearly, the Bible does not show objective morality. ‘Biblical morality’ is situational, based on the arbitrary whims of Yahweh. According to the stories found in the Bible, God may command us to do things we would consider morally wrong. If he commands such things, then the fact that he commands them makes them right (according to the Christian belief system). If we fail to carry out his commands, then we are sinning and rebelling against God.

Ultimately, determining what God wants is based on the subjective thoughts, and emotions of fallible human beings. If someone thinks that God is telling her/him to do something and there are biblical examples of God ordering people to do similar actions, then what Christian can tell them they are wrong? The Bible shows us that at any moment, for some mysterious hidden purpose, God may overturn our instinctive moral knowledge, and even contradict things that he has previously said.

‘Objective’ biblical morality is nothing more than each believer determining what they think God wants in a given situation, based on their own thoughts, and their understanding of the Bible and how God may be ‘leading’ them, through signs, inner impressions, and voices.

In light of the biblical story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac in response to God’s horrific command, no Christian can ever be certain that God would not require them to take a course of action which to them seems immoral, in order to demonstrate their faith. For example, if a pregnant woman is suddenly under the strong impression that God wants her to get an abortion, the only way she can demonstrate her faith and trust in God is by proceeding to have an abortion. There is no arguing with the ‘inner leading’ or ‘voice’. Whatever Yahweh wants must be obeyed, even when it flies in the face of reason and morality. Unfortunately, people have acted upon such ‘divine guidance’ impulses, with horrific and deadly results.

Consider the following chilling examples:

Mom: God Told Me To Kill My Baby
August 17, 2001|By Gabriel Margasak

PALM CITY — "Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones ...”

Those were the words of a 21-year-old mother charged with murdering her 8-month-old son.

Jennifer Cisowski's statements, along with prosecutors' statements and court documents released this week, tell the story of a morning fraught with biblical references, feared demonic possession and pleas for exorcism that ended in death…

In the days before the baby's death... Jennifer and Christopher were "completely normal and doting parents" to their only child.

But something happened at 2 a.m. Tuesday: Awake in the deepest of night, Jennifer and Christopher began a conversation about faith and how she believed God spoke to her.

"Essentially at some point in time, she becomes convinced that he [the father] is possessed by some demonic spirit and wants Tabitha to exorcise the demons," prosecutor Tom Bakkedahl said. "She believed only her sister could exorcise the demons from him."

Jennifer told investigators a "spirit" voice told her to harm the baby as a test of faith, according to court documents. "She said she knew that it was wrong to harm the baby, but that the `spirit' voice assured her that the baby would be returned from the dead," the documents state. "Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones by the pool," she told investigators.

"She is told allegedly by these voices to throw her baby down on the ground and he will be healed," Bakkedahl said. "She was of the opinion it was God speaking to her."

"At first the child cried, but then became silent," Jennifer told detectives…
Obeying The Law of God

On July 1, 1999, brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams murdered a gay couple, Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder, in their home near Sacramento, California.

“In his account of the murders, Tyler Williams said that his brother did not consider the killing of Matson and Mowder to be murder, but a "judgement" instead.[15]

In November 1999 Matthew Williams began giving interviews to various media outlets. In an interview with The Sacramento Bee, he admitted to the murders and said that when he killed Matson and Mowder he was "obeying the law of God." Williams said that he committed the murders because he believed their homosexuality violated God's laws, and he hoped his actions would incite more killings. [16]

Williams insisted that his actions did not constitute murder. Because the Bible holds that homosexuality is a sin that must be punished by death, he claimed, the responsibility lies with the victims. Williams expressed regret that more "people who claim to be Christians" didn't "have the guts" to act as he had. Facing the possibility of execution, he said he hoped to become a "Christian martyr" whose death would inspire others to lash out against Jews, homosexuals, and other minorities.
God Told Me To Kill Boys, Says Mother
By David Usborne

Saturday, 3 April 2004A Texas woman who stoned two of her children to death and seriously injured a third on Mother's Day last year told psychiatrists she was driven to kill by a message from God and that she was sure they would rise again from the dead.

Jurors in the trial of 39-year-old Deanna Laney watched a gruelling video-tape made just days after the murders in which she told a prison psychologist, Phillip Resnick, that she felt she had no choice but to bludgeon her children.

"I felt like I obeyed God and I believe there will be good out of this," she explained in the interview, looking wide-eyed and sometimes smiling. "I feel like he will reveal his power and they will be raised up. They will become alive again."
In this last example, Deanna Laney’s lawyer makes some insightful observations which have bearing on the whole question of ‘biblical morality’.

"The dilemma she faced is a terrible one for a mother," Files said. "Does she follow what she believes to be God's will, or does she turn her back on God?"

Files said he would present witnesses who would corroborate Laney's love of her children as well as her belief "that the word of God was infallible."

"It destroyed her ability to discern the wrongness of her act," he said.

When you serve a god who must be obeyed unquestioningly, and follow a morality which is based on the momentary whims of this god, then you must prove your faith and loyalty by acting on your subjective impressions of what your god wants. There is a diagnosis for this condition. We call it mental illness. In the case of religion, it is an artificially-induced mental illness.

By J. M. Green