My all-time favorite novel is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which raises the great moral dilemmas debated by philosophers through the ages and boils them down to one unforgettable dictum: “If there is no God, then everything is permitted.”
— Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, from How Now Shall We Live?, p. 452
[Bertrand] Russell admitted that he could not live as though ethical values were simply a matter of personal taste, and that he therefore found his own views “incredible.” “I do not know the solution,” he confessed. The point is that if there is no God, then objective right and wrong cannot exist. As Dostoyevsky said, “All things are permitted.”
— William Lane Craig, from Reasonable Faith, p. 61
In debates, Christopher Hitchens often offers the following challenge: “Name one moral action performed by a believer that could not have been done by a nonbeliever.” Leaving aside the fact that this challenge is based on a misunderstanding of the theist objection (he thinks the objection is that without God, we couldn’t know right from wrong, when the actual objection is that there wouldn’t be any right or wrong), the challenge itself is completely invalid when proposed by an atheist because, logically, it could never be answered to the satisfaction of an atheist, even if valid answers exist. Continue reading
A number of years ago, a terrible mid-winter air disaster occurred in which a plane leaving the Washington D. C. Airport smashed into a bridge spanning the Potomac River, plunging its passengers into the icy waters. As the rescue helicopters came, attention was focused on one man who again and again pushed the dangling rope ladder to other passengers rather than be pulled to safety himself. He had freely given his life that others might live. The whole nation turned its eyes to this man in respect and admiration for the selfless and good act he had performed. And yet, if the atheist is right, that man was not noble—he did the stupidest thing possible. He should have gone for the ladder first, pushed others away if necessary in order to survive. But to die for others he did not even know, to give up all the brief existence he would ever have—what for? For the atheist there can be no reason. And yet the atheist, like the rest of us, instinctively reacts with praise for this man’s selfless action. Indeed, one will probably never find an atheist who lives consistently with his system. For a universe without moral accountability and devoid of value is unimaginably terrible.
— William Lane Craig, from Reasonable Faith, p. 68
[The modernist] goes first to a political meeting where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts. Then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting where he proves that they practically are beasts…. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality, and in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men.
— G. K. Chesterton, quoted in Tactics by Greg Koukl, kindle location 2026
Kai Nielsen, an atheist philosopher who attempts to defend the viability of ethics without God, in the end admits: Continue reading