It is time to return to the repository of bad arguments first shared in the thread for my blog post “Share Your Candidate for the Worst Argument Against Christianity.” In this installment let’s consider a nominee from Tim. His second bad argument reads as follows: “The only difference between you (i.e., the theist) and me (i.e., the atheist) is that I believe in one less god than you.”
I’ve already dealt with this bad piece of rhetoric at some length in The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver, and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails (Grand Rapids, MI: InterVarsity, 2012), chapter 13, which is aptly titled “I just happen to believe in one less God than you.”
Since I’ve already devoted a deeper conceptual critique to this fluffy piece of rhetoric, in this article I’ll keep things light. Imagine Joseph and Josephine. Joseph believes in a moral absolute that structures all moral value and obligation. According to Joseph, all actions are morally good or evil, right or wrong, in virtue of exemplifying this objective moral good or evil, right or wrong. Meanwhile, Josephine retorts that all actions are morally good or evil, right or wrong in virtue of the subjective personal whim of the individual.
Despite Josephine’s assurances to the contrary, you’d be forgiven for thinking the difference between Joseph and Josephine is chasmic.
And then Josephine replies reassuringly to Joseph, “The only difference between you and me is that I believe in one less objective good and right than you.”
Ahem, you’d still be forgiven for concluding that the divide between the two positions is chasmic.
(Hint: if you think the point of this short article is to link theism to moral objectivism then you’ve misread the article.)