Dear Phil Robertson: A moral code based upon anything other than compassion for others is not really moral. Now, ask God to forgive you for the harm you’ve caused.
One name I’d like to never, ever hear again is Phil Robertson’s. That’s why I was hesitant to even write this post – I hate the idea of giving his name any more ink than it’s already had, what with his homophobic rants and all.
Now the bearded reality TV star has taken his shit-slinging another step further and claimed that he likes to imagine the scenario* of the rape and murder the family of an atheist. Not any particular atheist. Just, you know, your average everyday law-abiding atheist. (I’m not going to quote him here because it’s horrific, but you can read it on Huffington Post.)
Because Robertson thinks it wouldn’t be a big deal to an atheist, due to their belief that there is no god. Because he thinks without a religious moral code, you have no morals at all and don’t believe in right or wrong.
I know, I know, it makes no sense.
But it does highlight a particular type of absolute idiocy that some people promote about atheism: That there is no moral code for atheists.
Here’s the truth: Atheism doesn’t prescribe one set of moral codes as many religions do. That part is true. But in no way does that mean that atheism requires that atheists have no morality or moral guidance. It just means that atheists’ moral code comes from within themselves, also influenced by the laws of the municipalities where they live.
When I first heard this story, I emailed the editorial team here at GMP and said this:
He’s really stupid, that’s the thing. Like, he thinks atheists have no moral code because their moral code isn’t based upon a god. That’s the stupidest thing ever. It just shows how completely stupid he is. I’d like to use another word, but I can’t because “stupid” is the best word for someone that stupid.
And of course, stupidity can be very dangerous.
But, as Kathryn (my co-Exec Editor) pointed out, this guy probably isn’t stupid. He’s clever enough to have created a large profitable business, so he is potentially clever enough to figure out that atheism isn’t a lack of morality, but rather just a lack of a religious-based morality.
So I take it back. Robertson isn’t stupid, he’s ignorant, which in this case means “willfully stupid”.
See, it’s people like this that have caused me to re-evaluate my spiritual beliefs so as to call myself a Humanist. I consider myself an agnostic Humanist. I believe that there is a possibility of something like God, or a spirit, or some universal energy we don’t understand. I don’t think I have the ability to say for sure that there isn’t.
I believe that good comes from the goodness humans choose to create, and evil comes from the harm humans choose to cause.
Religion is good when the people who are a part of it choose to do good. Religion is bad when the people who are a part of it choose to do bad. Religion is not inherently good or bad, and no Humanist can make the logical leap that it is.
Every day, we have the choice to do good or to do bad for the world. Whatever we choose to do is based solely within ourselves, not because of God guiding us to goodness or the Devil tempting us into bad.
But because we choose it.
And so I want to ask Robertson one single thing:
If you’re only refraining from doing evil because you believe you won’t have a higher price to pay (with God), then are you really a Christian? Is that actual morality, or is it just following the rules for your own selfish hope of making it into Heaven?
After all, Jesus served others because he believed that all humans deserved his compassion and his care. Not because he was worried that he wouldn’t make it through the pearly gates.
What I ultimately hope to tell Phil Robertson is that a moral code based upon anything other than compassion for others is not really moral. And it’s not what Jesus lived. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
Now, in accordance with your beliefs, go ask God to forgive you for the harm you’ve caused and hope he will forgive you.
*this line has been slightly edited for clarity.