Good vs. Evil — So Are Atheists Evil?

good-vs-evil

My short response would be, “No. . . .and yes.” However, I would offer the same answer if you asked “Are Christians evil?” My answer applies to all people. In the sense that both atheists and Christians generally can live good lives (i.e. they become useful members of society, care for their children, etc.), my answer would be “no.” However, when we consider inherent human tendencies toward selfish behavior, sometimes at the expense of others, I know of no one who is completely free from such evil.
Many Christian theists have concluded that the existence of evil can provide good evidence for the existence of God. Consider the argument put forth by Ravi Zacharias in his book A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism.59 In the appendix he writes:

  1. Yes, there is evil in this world.
  2. If there is evil, there must be good (a problem the atheist has to explain).
  3. If there is good and evil, there must be a moral law on which to judge between good and evil.
  4. If there is a moral law, there must be a moral law giver.
  5. For the theist, this points to God.

An atheist might respond60 that proposition number three lacks merit since the only requirement is a moral system, not necessarily a moral law. A moral system may just as easily arise via memetic61 evolutionary mechanisms as by an omniscient lawgiver. While the existence of memes remains highly speculative, I would grant such a possibility exists.

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Good vs Evil