This just in from Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writing in support of the death penalty:
In a world of violence, the death penalty is understood as a necessary firewall against the spread of further deadly violence.
Seen in this light, the problem we face today is not with the death penalty, but with society at large.
American society is quickly conforming to a secular worldview, and the clear sense of right and wrong that was Christianity’s gift to Western civilization is being replaced with a much more ambiguous morality. [emphasis mine]
If I still believed in God, I would thank him that “the clear sense of right and wrong that was Christianity’s gift to Western civilization” — a moral clarity that brought us
- the Inquisition in the 15th century;
- Martin Luther’s persecution of the Jews in the 16th;
- the persecution of Galileo in the 17th;
- the killing of over 40,000 “witches” through 18th;
- slavery in our “Christian Nation” through the 19th;
- the Bible Belt’s tooth-and-nail fight against civil rights through the 20th;
- and the rape of children by priests that had doubtless been just as widespread through every century of the Church’s history, but finally came to light in the 21st.
— I would thank him that all this had been replaced with almost anything else.
And how ironic is it that Albert Mohler’s own denomination was founded to support the right to own slaves? And he’s scolding us secularists because we don’t have “a clear sense of right and wrong”!?
I was once a Southern Baptist myself, so I know where Mohler is coming from, but from my current perch it’s pretty hard to take. If I were to give full vent to my feelings on this subject, I would say something I’d regret. Therefore, I’ll give the floor to the endlessly forbearing Richard Dawkins. A transcript follows the video in case you’re in a hurry.
QUESTIONER: Considering that atheism cannot possibly have any sense of absolute morality, would it not then be an irrational leap of faith, which atheists themselves so harshly condemn, for an atheist to decide between right and wrong?
DAWKINS: Absolute morality — the absolute morality that a religious person might profess — would include what? Stoning people for adultery? Death for apostasy? Punishment for breaking the sabbath? These are all things which are religiously based absolute moralities.
I don’t think I want an absolute morality. I think I want a morality that is thought out, reasoned, argued, discussed, and based upon — you could almost say — intelligent design.
Can we not design our society which has the sort of morality — the sort of society that we want to live in? If you actually look at the moralities that are accepted among modern people, among 21st-century people, we don’t believe in slavery anymore; we believe in equality of women; we believe in being gentle; we believe in being kind to animals. These are all things which are entirely recent. They have very little basis in biblical or quranic scripture. They are things which have developed over historical time through a consensus of reasoning, sober discussion, argument, legal theory, political and moral philosophy. These do not come from religion.
To the extent that you can find the good bits in religious scriptures, you have to cherry-pick. You search your way through the Bible or the Quran and you find the occasional verse that is an acceptable profession of morality and you say, “Look at that! That’s religion!” And you leave out all the horrible bits. And you say, “Oh, we don’t believe that anymore. We’ve grown out of that.” Well of course we’ve grown out of it. We’ve grown out of it because of secular moral philosophy and rational discussion.