Sentamentalism & Leftism != Goodness

Look out, Christians; it looks like godless parents raise more liberal kids than we do.

Wait… what do you mean that’s not news? But Jezebel just ran a big ‘gotcha’ story on it denouncing us. Well, they did headline it as Godless Parents Are Doing a Better Job (of course they did) but frankly, the way I framed it is more accurate. After all, Jezebel’s followup to their headline reads, “Overall, not believing in God seems to make people and their offspring more tolerant. Less racist. Less sexist. Enviro-friendly” defining morality entirely in terms of political leftism. The piece ends the same way, quoting the Zuckerman editorial that spawned it to indicate how the godless are more likely to believe in global warming, support gay rights, and embrace feminism. So from top to bottom, their claims of superior morality amount to nothing more than claims of being further left-of-center.

How very shocking.

It’s just another in a long line of “we don’t need God to be good” pieces—and a particularly bigoted one at that. After author Tracy Moore ends a full paragraph of hysterical ranting about all the horrible Christians who surrounded her in her youth, so goes on to say, “seriously: I’m not one of those people who thinks anyone who is religious is dumb, or narrow-minded, or any such thing.” Then, in the very next paragraph she clarifies that it’s really only 100 out of every 101 that she ever encountered who are actually like that.  I’m not kidding; she really says that. In the very next paragraph. She is truly the paragon of the acceptance and open-mindedness for which she perpetually praises herself.

A century or so ago, atheists actually had courage and conviction; they followed their beliefs to where they naturally led: “if God is dead, then everything is permitted.” Half a century and tens of millions of deaths caused by atheist regimes later, they began to realize that this wasn’t terribly good PR and instead started blaming Christians for spreading nasty rumors about how amoral atheists are. Today, atheists are much more liable to insist, like the Jezebel piece, that they actually are our moral superiors—that Christianity gets in the way of being a good person.

Now, which group comes out ahead in terms of earthly righteousness isn’t terribly important to me. As a Christian, my religion is based on the fact that Christians are forgiven in Christ—not that we’re better people than everyone else. Nevertheless, what goodness and morality actually mean are undoubtedly worthy topics to explore. Reading the Jezebel piece, it quickly becomes apparent that morality means something radically different to the kind of bigoted unbeliever who wrote it.

Amidst the sea of anti-god cliches littered throughout, Moore explains the moral superiority of the godless by continually underscoring a single point: empathy. “Morality,” she says, “comes not from a book, or a guy up in the sky, but from the idea that how you treat people matters, because how people feel matters.” “[Not believing] can give you a greater clarity about right and wrong, because you’re more likely to base it on empathy and decency than a guaranteed spot upstairs come Judgment Day.” In other words, the thesis presented in the piece is that atheists do better because they care so much more about how people feel. Now, if sentimentalism were the same thing as morality, as Moore assumes, then she might have a case. Fortunately, they’re not.

I say “fortunately” not for the sake of the reputation of the godly, but for the sake of civilization. Narrowly basing morality entirely on how sorry you feel for someone else altogether expels higher ethical concepts like justice and mercy. Because its easier to empathize with an unprepared mother than with an unborn child, the sentimentalist fights for the gruesome deaths of tens of millions of the latter. Because it is easier to empathize with rape victims than with men who are falsely accused, the sentimentalist embraces hoax after hoax in order to eliminate every facet due process that protects against false accusations. But at the same time, because they find it easier to empathize with poor ethnic minorities than with whites, the sentimentalist turns a blind eye to the actual rapes and sexual slavery of hundreds of young white girls in Rotherham out of fear of provoking a backlash of insensitivity against the Pakistani immigrants who were raping them. Because it is easier to empathize with current cultural underdogs, the sentimentalist brings up past atrocities like the Spanish Inquisition (responsible for the executions of around 1250 people total over three and a half centuries) in order to minimize the ongoing murders of tens of thousands every year at the hands of Muslim terrorists.

Sentimentalism leaves no room for justice, no room for mercy, no room for the rule of law. For the sentimentalist, questions of who to protect as a victim and who to punish as a perpetrator are resolved entirely by who they happen to feel sorry for. When they acquire political power, the force of the state is directed towards these ends. Far from being moral, sentimentalism is merely another means for the powerful to prey on the people they don’t like. If this is what the godless exclaim about themselves, then it is no wonder that those with whom the godless do not empathize (like Christians, based on Moore’s bigoted tirade) have no desire to let the godless acquire political power and cultural influence.

It has often been noted that if liberals didn’t have double-standards, then they would have no standards at all. This kind of sentimentalism promoted as morality is what enables virtually every kind of hypocrisy we find on the left—whether godless or not.

[Author’s Note:  Hans Fiene recently wrote a great take-down of the original Zuckerburg piece over at the Federalist.  It’s so much better than what you just read that I wouldn’t have bothered posting this at all if I hadn’t already written 80% of it by the time I read Fiene’s.]

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
This entry was posted in Atheism, Culture, Ethics, Humanism, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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