If You Think Racism is Wrong, You Should be a Christian

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

September 6, 2017

In my four decades or so on earth, I do not remember race relations being so tense as they are today! Although I was raised in a small and mostly “white” town in central Nebraska, my parents always taught me that all human beings are created equal in the image of God and that the color of one’s skin does nothing to negate this fact. As I was growing up in the 80s, besides Luke Skywalker, nearly all of my heroes were African-American. From Michael Jackson (in his “Thriller” days) to Michael Jordan, these guys were the ones I wanted to emulate. After all, everyone wanted to “Be Like Mike.” In fact, not only did I not possess a single racist bone in my body, I wished I was black when I was younger. I grew up in a world that was post-racist!

Check that — I thought I was growing up in a post-racist world!

I am dumbfounded when I hear and see racist remarks casually used in conversation, on the news, and over social media. Why am I dumbfounded? Because I KNOW that racism is objectively wrong! How did I ascertain this knowledge? Because of evidence that God exists (all the evidence points to this fact) and I know that God has revealed His plan for humanity, to humanity, through Jesus Christ! Because of Jesus, we know the objective plan and purpose for humanity (which is true apart from subjective human opinion).

Why should we care what Jesus said or taught? Because Jesus rose from the dead (the historical evidence points to this fact). Since dead men do not rise naturally (as Dave Hume pointed out), the best explanation for the resurrection is that a supernatural cause — God — raised Jesus from the dead. I don’t know about you, but as my FreeThinking Ministries colleague, Adam Coleman, has said, “if you were dead and then came back to life, I’m going to listen to what you have to say!” Moreover, if God raised Jesus from the dead, then we seem to have a divine stamp of approval on everything that Jesus said, taught, and exemplified.

What can we learn from Jesus?

God created all humans in His image on purpose and for the purpose of love! The image of God is not based on one’s physical appearance or the color of his or her skin. No, the image of God is the immaterial soul. Although physical properties can change over time, the image of God that is shared by all humanity is not only equal, it is eternal! This provides a logical foundation to know that racism is not just wrong, it is just plain stupid!

Recently, my FreeThinking Ministries colleague, Shannon Byrd, offered an attention-getting post on Facebook.[1] He wrote:

If you think racism is wrong, you should believe in God!

1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. If objective moral values and duties do not exist, then racism is not objectively wrong.
3. Racism is objectively wrong.
4. Therefore, objective moral values and duties exist. [from 2 and 3]
5. Therefore, God exists. [from 1 and 4]

Byrd’s argument from racism is a version of what is commonly referred to as the Moral Argument for God’s existence (click here for a short video explaining the argument). This Facebook post was promptly “shared” by many who desire to see a change in our current culture and to see racism come to an end. However, simultaneously objections from committed atheists and agnostics appeared. One social media “troll” complained:

“Unfortunately, statement 1 does not necessarily follow in the negative. The argument doesn’t show that if objective morals exist, god must exist. You’re misappropriating causation here.”

The syllogism itself might not “show” this to be true, but this is what a defense of the premises is for. Just because a defense has not been offered in a Facebook post does not entail that a defense cannot be made or has not been made. Much ink has been spilled defending the premises in the deductive moral argument. In my opinion it is quite easy to connect these logical dots.

Another skeptic wrote:

[This argument] could serve as a great discussion starter, but unfortunately I think it has come to be more of an obstacle to fruitful discussion. This is because the proponents of the deductive argument don’t proceed to offer a substantive defense of theistic metaethics or assessment of non-theistic metaethical alternatives.

This is also sound:
P1. If cats have four limbs, then the sky is blue.
P2. Cats have four limbs.
C. The sky is blue.

First, it is painting with too broad a brush to assert that “proponents of the deductive argument don’t proceed to offer a substantive defense…” Really? What about all the work of great thinkers such as Jerry Walls, David Baggett, William Lane Craig, Adam Lloyd Johnson, and many more? What about my previous essays? While it may or may not be true that many proponents of moral arguments of this stripe do not engage in this task, it does not follow that no one does.

Second, there is no relation between the antecedent and consequent in the first premise regarding the limbs of cats and the color of the sky. So, although this is an example of a sound argument, it is clearly not a good argument. This may seem counterintuitive, but I agree with the skeptic in that there must be a clear relationship involved for the premise (and the argument) to be compelling. If the relationship is not so clear, then additional arguments are needed.

In my experience, the first premise of the Moral Argument is quite clear and the majority of people immediately see the relation, understand it, and grant it. In fact, I personally believe that many begin to affirm atheism because they love their sin. In my many years of experience as a youth pastor this typically is sexual sin (I admit this is anecdotal evidence).[2] For example, they like living in a manner opposed to the model of marriage Jesus affirmed in the Gospels (one man with one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime).[3] However, they intuitively know that if God does not exist, then the words of Jesus are simply his subjective opinion — who cares what some guy who lived a couple of thousand years ago named “Jesus of Nazareth” thinks! Thus, those who would rather live according to their sexual desires (instead of the Law of Christ) choose to affirm atheism so they can sleep at night. They understand the fact that if God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist. If this first premise is true, and God does not exist, then no one can condemn the atheist’s sexual lifestyle as objectively wrong.

Moreover, many atheists (like Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss) are willing to grant the possibility of some intelligent designer of life in the universe[4] — but it cannot be God, anything but the God of the Bible! Why are many atheists “cool” with granting a form of deism (a creator of the universe that is not involved with the universe) but not a monotheistic maximally great being who is worthy of worship?[5] I contend it is precisely because they know that if God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist! They know the first premise of the moral argument is true, but if the creator of the universe does not care how we act in the universe, then Christians cannot logically claim that a person’s sexual activity (or any other activity) is not in line with the creator’s intent, plan, or desire.

The majority of people (including atheists) seem to intuitively know the first premise of the moral argument is true. Adam Lloyd Johnson notes, “This premise seems to me much stronger . . . at least it strikes me as more obviously true.” He quotes Paul Copan:

“The connection between God’s existence and objective moral values has been noted by even non-theistic thinkers of all stripes.”[6]

However, some need additional help to connect the dots. To accomplish this particular task an additional argument is needed.[7] Consider this:

1. If God does not exist, life is objectively purposeless.
2. If life is objectively purposeless, there exists no objective standard to which one ought to approximate.
3. Anti-racism is an objective standard to which one ought to approximate.
4. Therefore, life is not objectively purposeless.
5. Therefore, God exists.

The first premise is true because if God does not exist, then life in the universe was not created on purpose or for a specific purpose. On an atheistic worldview, it seems that at best we are nothing but a happy accident, but nothing more than “dust in the wind.” Premise (2) follows because if life was not created on purpose and for a specific purpose, then there is no objective purpose to life. With that in mind, if there is no objective purpose of life, then we possess no objective standard to which human beings ought to approximate. It follows from this that if there is no objective standard (or a “Law above the law”) in which humans ought to approximate, then objective moral duties do not exist. We have no objective obligations — at best we are left with nothing more than human opinion and perhaps the majority vote (but who cares what the majority thinks)! Thus, on atheism, there is nothing objectively wrong with disagreeing with Jesus regarding his model of marriage or anything else. However, on the other side of the coin, if there is nothing really wrong with anything, then there is nothing wrong with intolerance, gay-bashing, or racism.

The third premise makes a statement that seems to be just as clear as scientific data (if not more): racism is really wrong — even if Hitler and other white supremacists disagree! In fact, the majority of humanity knows that even if Hitler would have won WWII and then proceeded to kill or brainwash every single person who disagreed with him, so that eventually 100 percent of humanity affirmed white supremacy, the Nazis would have still been objectively wrong in their actions (this is the “Law above the law” which Chief Justice Jackson was referring to in the Nuremberg trials which led to the prosecution of the Nazis).

If it is true that humanity ought to be “anti-racist” or that we are objectively obligated to oppose Nazis, then objective moral values and duties do exist! That is to say, there is an objective purpose to human life in which we ought to approximate and racism violates this standard. If this is true, then life is not objectively purposeless.

Therefore, God exists!

Conclusion

The Bible teaches that we are all equal and created in God’s image. Moreover, according to Jesus, the entire Law in which humanity was created to approximate is summarized in two “great commands”: Everyone love God, and everyone love everyone (from your neighbors to those who consider you an enemy). According to Jesus, since we were created on purpose and for the specific purpose to love all people, therefore, we ought to love all people — including those of different races.

By the way, there is a big “or else” according to Jesus. If one does not wish to live according to the Law of Christ and God’s purpose for humanity, they are free to spend eternity apart from God’s loving plan. They are free to do things their own way for eternity. Jesus referred to this place as hell.

Bottom line: Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is a perfect example of going out of one’s way to make sure a person of a different ethnicity thrives and flourishes (even though these different people groups were hostile to each other in the past). If our culture actually starts to follow the Law of Christ, then we will eventually live in a post-racist culture! I look forward to that day.

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Tim Stratton


Notes

[1] Byrd also offers the following version of the Moral Argument:

  1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. If Objective moral values and duties do not exist, then moral progress such as the Emancipation Proclamation is illusory.
  3. Moral progress such as the Emancipation Proclamation is not illusory.
  4. Therefore, objective moral values and duties exist.
  5. Therefore, God exists.

[2] Frank Turek notes this same correlation in his book Stealing From God, p. 110

[3] I do not assert that this is the case of all atheists. It is difficult to judge motives with certainty, but I merely note that in my experience this SEEMS to be the case. I am willing to be corrected. I would also love to see a study on the percentage of atheists who believe they should live according to the model of sex and marriage taught in the New Testament by Jesus and Paul.

[4] Turek notes both Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins have affirmed they are open to deism (not to be confused with theism) in the endnotes of Stealing From God (235). Krauss writes, “The apparent logical necessity of First Cause is a real issue for any universe that has a beginning. Therefore, on the basis of logic alone one cannot rule out such a deistic view of nature.” Krauss, A Universe From Nothing (173). In his debate with John Lennox, Dawkins admitted that a “reasonably respectable” case could be made for a *deistic* type of god. “Has Science Buried God?”

[5] I distinguish between a mere supernatural and enormously powerful Intelligent Designer versus a Maximally Great Being worthy of worship (God)! I make this clear in my article, “Calvinism Implies Atheism.”

[6] Adam Lloyd Johnson footnotes Copan, 221. See for instance Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Kurtz, Richard Dawkins, and J.L. Mackie.

[7] Here is an expanded argument for further clarity:

1. If God does not exist, then life in the universe was not created on purpose or for a purpose.

2. If life was not created for a purpose, then there is no objective purpose of human life.

3. If there is no objective purpose of human life, then humans possess no objective standard to which humans ought to approximate.

4. If there is no objective standard to which humans ought to approximate, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

5. Racism is objectively wrong.

6. Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.

7. Therefore, an objective standard to which humans ought to approximate exists.

8. Therefore, an objective purpose of human life exists.

9. Therefore, life was created for a purpose.

10. Therefore, God exists.

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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