Vox Nova is the Catholic Slacktivist. The contributor(s) are unashamedly liberal, deeply concerned for the poor and the suffering, welcome nonCatholics with open arms and preach understanding and tolerance over bigotry and hatred. You can imagine how that goes over in the Catholic blogosphere. You can also imagine that I like Vox Nova very much.
So it's not this post I am snarking on, I happen to agree that atheists have morals like everyone else, it's the inevitable "atheists so do not have morals and Hitler was an atheist and that proves my point!" (I have no idea why, but Vox Nova comments always set the land record for fastest unrelated idea to Godwinning.)
David, you are correct that many atheists do live moral lives, however my point was that there is nothing in atheist belief, or non-belief if you will that compels them to do so.
Doesn't that make us better than Christians? Think about this for a second. Chris here is living his life to attain heaven and avoid hell. At best, that's enlightened self interest. If I believed in hell and someone had a good argument that wearing hats made out of green jello was the only guaranteed way to avoid hell, you'd better believe my head would be covered in green jello at all times. Really, Chris' behavior is just like a person who stops at every stop light, even at 4am when no one else is around and you're waiting for nothing. You wait to avoid the possibility of getting a ticket. Chris behaves to avoid hell.
I, on the other hand, have no hell to avoid and no heaven to attain. I act morally because . . . well, it really doesn't occur to me to do otherwise. I bleed for the poor, the downtrodden, the abused and rejected because I know how that feels and "good" isn't in it. I help where I can because I have benefited from help, and to inspire others to help because the world needs more of that. But I'm not expecting anything out of it.
So who's the better person, Chris?
No one can judge one a “bad atheist” in the same way they can identify one as a bad Christian for example.
Ummm . . . I'm not really sure what that means, to be honest. A bad person is a bad person, Christian, atheist or otherwise. If he means a substandard atheist, I guess that would be an atheist who worships occasionally.
There are standards and norms by which one can judge one’s life to be a sound example of following Christ or not, but to one who denies God, there is really no such set of norms on which to judge them, at least not on moral grounds. They can easily change the rules of morality, as Stalin, Hitler and notable others have done to justify their barbarity in the name of a subjectively defined good; a master race, proletarian rights, etc.
Chris, anyone can change the rules to suit themselves. Neither belief in god nor god hisownself stops Christians from doing so. You want some "notable others" to add to your Godwin? How about every Catholic priest who molested children? You can't diddle children without changing your morals to suit yourself. (Hopefully.) How about every pastor who embezzled from their church? How about those Crusaders who spread war and death and torture across the Middle East to spread the word of a god who said that the meek shall inherit the Earth?
How about them, Chris?
*That quote is apocraphally attributed to Hassan i-Sabbah, and is quite a bit more difficult and thought provoking than a first look reveals.
**It's Simile Monday here in Hell! Feel free to add your own.