This is the topic of debate in chapter 3 of God or Godless?
Randal Rouser opens by imagining the mind-set of someone who tortures and kills people for fun. He imagines the character denying that what he does is evil, because (on the assumption that there is no God) morality is a purely subjective concept, with no objective basis for deciding whose morality is right and whose is wrong.
John Loftus, in his opener, says that the title of the chapter assumes that there is one God, whereas there are multiple concepts of God, with their own moralities. …
Good for philosopher Alain de Botton, who has challenged atheists to consider what virtues they think might add up to a ‘good life’. That’s better than worrying about how to be wealthier, or more attractive.
He has come up with a list of ten:-
Problems? Yes, I think there are some problems with this approach.
First, there is the problem of definition. Sacrifice? – of what, to whom? …
Writing in The Times (5th January), Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss (former President of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice) argued cogently against any change in the law.
1. The law works well as it is. Each year, fewer than 20 cases of assisted suicide are considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions. In Oregon, by way of contrast, the number of assisted suicides has quadrupled since it was legalised in 1997. ‘Legalisation means normalisation’. …
Arch-atheist Christopher Hitchens repeatedly held out the following challenge to religious people:-
“Name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer.”
Hitchens seems to think that he has religious folk stumped. “As yet,” he claims, “I have no takers.”
I am very far from wanting to defend ‘religion’ in general. So I would respond by asserting that it is not difficult to find multiple instances of moral acts that would only be performed by followers of Jesus Christ, and others that would more prevalent amongst followers of Jesus Christ than among non-believers. …
John Stott is his usual measured self when he speaks and writes on the subject of abortion. So it is without hyperbole that he urges us to avoid euphemisms, and to speak of things as they really are:-
‘The popular euphemisms make it easier for us to conceal the truth from ourselves. The occupant of the mother’s womb is not a ‘product of conception’ or ‘gametic material’, but an unborn child. Even ‘pregnancy’ tells us not more than that a woman has been ‘impregnated’, whereas the truth in old-fashioned language is that she is ‘with child’.…
Bishop Tom Wright opposes the idea of the government setting up an independent enquiry to look at assisted suicide. Speaking recently in the House of Lords, he said that
Parliament is there not to bend to every media-manipulated public whim, but to take the larger and longer view.
It is often the case that ethics debates taking on a special meaning when individual cases are considered. Bishop Wright drew attention to
the old lady who last summer told me several times that she just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up, but who eventually made a full recovery and celebrated her 63rd wedding anniversary last month and greeted her sixth greatgrandchild last week.