When the Spokesman-Review publishes atheists

Donald Clegg a local atheist gets published off an on in the Spokesman-Review. However, whenever Mr. Clegg gets published, immediately afterwards, the Review’s editors publish letters literally attacking the man for his beliefs and opinions. two such letters appeared in the Spokesman-Review this Sunday morning 21 February 2010.  First from Christ Merkling who is the pastor of Orchard Christian Fellowship.  Headlined:  Consider the source

Donald Clegg’s column, “Atheists can hold a high standard of morality without faith,” was well-written, but his premise begs a serious question: Where does the standard of morality come from?
He says one can “show fidelity without the least interest in faith or belief…” Fidelity to what? You can’t call for a collective fidelity to an arbitrary ideal.
The mention of “ordinary standards of decency” shows that he believes thre exists a benchmark for human behavior that we should all agree upon, but fails to identify where it comes from. If standards exist, they must be set.
If there is no higher authority than human kind, why should anyone’s standards trump another’s? Why should the standard of a gang member, who believes it a high achievement to kill a cop, be less valid than the one who believes murder is a heinous sin?
The reason most people agree that things like murder, stealing, lying and selfishness violate a standard is because God is the Standard, and He showed us the Standard by sending Christ. Mr. Clegg’s essay only serves to strengthen this truth.

Let me first suggest that Pastor Merkling is doing a lot of projecting.  If you are an atheist you must be the consummate liberal.  Or if you are an atheist, you must be the consummate anarchist.  Or if you are an atheist, then you must be the consummate secular humanist.  Since I have seen very similar language found in the above letter applied to any of the groups in question.  However, Pastor Merkling’s singular comment, “You can’t call for collective fidelity to an arbitrary ideal,” presented me with this question of my own:  What does he think that Christianity is, but calling for a collective fidelity to an arbitrary ideal.  And demonstrates exactly that in the rest of his letter.  Make that, no atheist should set such a standard no, I will.

What can also produce a major gut busting LOL! in the good pastor’s letter is while most people may agree about the evils of theft, falsehood, murder; within their own societies; the truth also is, that people will also agree that theft, falsehood, murder can be a good thing when very handily used against “the enemy.”  And when you can base such a rationale “on faith,” then you have a decided problem.  For that is how we get wars, pogroms against people not of your faith, the witch hunts, the Army-McCarthy hearings and etc.  And who did set the sort of “arbitrary standard” that the highest achievement of a Scott Roeder is to kill a Dr. George Tiller, anyway?  God, or Mr. Roeder’s church?  To put it quite bluntly, Pastor Merkling may as well have been describing the entire and violent history of his Christian faith while projecting its worse aspects onto an atheist.  But, what isn’t asked, do atheists call for wars in the name of God?  Maybe if we had an atheist for president, we wouldn’t have found a need to invade Iraq.  But because we had a “Godly man” in there instead, many people suffered and died because of that “Godly man’s” ego and and need to one-up his father, than might have otherwise.  Even though plenty of people did suffer and die at the hands of that butcher of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein.  As have many other people under equally terrible dictatorships who’s countries we refused to invade.  Morality based upon political expediency?

Next:  Column made rival’s point

Atheist Donald Clegg’s recent column on morality without faith does a good job of actually proving the existence of God.  He correctly notes that high standards of morality can exist without faith.

People have an innate sense of right and wrong, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.  As he mentions, they can, and too often do, suppress those feelings.  So where does this idea of decent human behavior come from?

We know it when we are being treated unfairly.  We expect others to understand fairness.  We also recognize various levels of morality.  this implies that there is some “standard” to which we should conform.  Where did that standard originate, and what lies behind this natural feeling that is so universal.  We did not invent it, yet we know we ought to follow it.  Someone or something is urging us to do the right thing by others.

If God created us, we should expect that he would care about us and want us to treat each other kindly.  We would expect him to influence us to behave in a certain way.  This is exactly what Mr. Clegg has discovered.  Religion helps us know the source of this influence.

Kevin Wright

Spokane Valley

The problem for Mr. Wright is that Mr. Clegg did not in fact make that argument, Mr. Wright did.  Mr. Wright decided that Donald Clegg had discovered a “faith in God” or a “religious belief” when the atheist never made any such declarations!

Now, for anyone who’d have a desire to agree with Mr. Wright, when was the last time you checked your bible?  Mr. Wright has a remarkably liberal take on religion that has absolutely nothing to do with what’s found in the bible or in all of religious history.  It is only recently that “fairness” entered the social picture.  And “fairness” was introduced by the much maligned (old) left bank.  “Fairness” after all, to oppose slavery, to oppose the bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan, to oppose Jim Crow laws.  To support the equality of women.  To make it more possible for the disabled to take their place in this society.  Their disabilities no bar to holding meaningful jobs.  “Kindliness” is also a recent introduction.  It is from “kindliness” that Franklin Delano Roosevelt worked this nation through the great depression and for his efforts, was attacked as a Socialist by his “God-fearing” political opponents.  “Kindliness” created child labor laws and other government intrusions that have the less than kindly in a political uproar ever since.  But of course, we wouldn’t regard such “God given” urges to aid others through the offices of government as actually being “moral” in nature, now would we?

With both of the above letters you get this impression:  Pastor Merkling and Mr. Wright set themselves up as superior to “that guy” over there—Donald Clegg.  “We” already know what Mr. Clegg struggles toward and must come to an understanding of…  And can smugly condemn “the fool” for not really realizing this for himself.  But what did Christ have to say about such self-righteous behavior?  Bet neither of these letter writers read that part of the bible.  Just as they found God’s law, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” to be unacceptable in practice.  So, arbitrary “standards” anyone?

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