— by Steve Wenick
Have you ever heard someone call an atheist a hypocrite for committing an immoral, unethical or illegal act; probably not. But if a religious person commits the slightest transgression, impropriety, or unethical action he or she is immediately labeled a hypocrite. My question is why is a religious sinner labeled a hypocrite while an atheist, engaging in the same illicit behavior, is not?
Does being godless absolve one of moral responsibility; of course not. Most atheists would assert that they have high standards of ethical behavior, and if that is so, why are they not dubbed hypocritical when they violate their own designed code of ethics? The reason could be that there are those who regard themselves as ‘enlightened’ and that belief in a religion is a crutch for the dependent, superstitious misguided and insecure. The fact that some of the greatest minds of history were men of faith, such as Moses, Jesus, Maimonides, Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Faraday, Boyle, and Descartes is disregarded by those who are hostile to religion. For them religion as nothing more than a compendium of fairy tales, archaic rules, and absurd rituals devoid of any relevance to the lives of today’s sophisticated intelligentsia.
More after the jump.
History is replete with godless men like Stalin, Lenin, Marx, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Chavez, some of which were brilliant and at the same time monsters and among history’s most brutal butchers. Their G-d was one of their own making; be he a king, emperor, premier or the State. Since the atheist’s sense of morality is by definition subjective, because only G-d can set up an objective standard of good and evil for all of mankind, those with the power set up the rules. If right and wrong, good and evil are determined by man and his conscience is the brainchild of his subjective views; only G-d’s definition of good and evil can be objective. If one does not recognize the existence of G-d then of course His objectivity does not exist but that does not negate that fact that the non-believer’s sense of right and wrong is totally subjective.
I do not know or understand G-d but I do believe in Him in much the same way I believe in love, hate, empathy, cruelty or any other emotion. In a dream all things are possible even imagining what G-d looks like and understanding His ways. But when awake we cannot see or know G-d any more than a microscope can see or examine itself. I have been told that we are hard-wired and that our emotions are nothing more than the result of the work of some celestial electrician. Perhaps, but who hardwired that electrician. In the end it really all comes down to belief and faith. Even the most devout atheist has only his belief that there is no G-d, for there is no empirical proof of it. The universal equation of G-d is that proof of the existence of G-d is no more provable than proof of His non-existence and believing or not believing in G-d is in of itself the product of subjectivity and opinion.
Getting back to the original question of why for example are lying, cheating and stealing religionists labeled hypocrites while atheists doing the same things are not? We’ve all heard the cynical remark, “Oh look at him and he’s supposed to be religious” but never have we heard, “Oh look at him and he’s supposed to be an ethical atheist”. The answer lies in the fact that ethical atheism carries only the imprimatur of its human author and not that of G-d. For the ethical atheist there is no absolute authority save one’s own sense of right and wrong therefore society has no expectations of his adherence to his creed, which can shift at a moment’s notice. In some respects that position reveals hubris of the highest order, for one is answerable only to one’s idea of ethical behavior, which is born upon the wings of one’s whim.
On the other hand if one does not believe in G-d is it not hypocritical to act as if one does? Not necessarily, because for some the path leading to the belief in G-d is paved with the practice his mitzvot. The Torah teaches, “We will do first and afterwards understand” (Exodus 24:7). In other words only by doing mitzvot will we come to an understanding of their value. Some would call that position foolish — while others would simply call it faith.