بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
A detractor recently left a comment on my most recent video (above). In that video, I argued that Zizek’s statement that “if God exists, everything is permitted” is false. My detractor argued as follows:
So isis can use their own Muslims for prostitution and kill innocents ( including Muslims) but because they follow Ramadan or follow some other rule that denies them from let’s say stealing they aren’t under zizeks definition that religion allows you to do anything you want? You know those athiest communists are the same right , they kill people left and right but they also have their own set of rules that your supposed to follow so no they don’t allow “ everything “. Your really being disingenuous in your argument. Religion can allow you to commit any atrocity under the name of god, just because they don’t eat fish on Fridays or they fast for a month or something doesn’t some how cover up the fact it can let you basically do whatever you want in that specific religion in time. Take Christianity , pick a religion and you can basically do anything you want. Mary multiple women, some allows gay marriage , we used to and still to this day kill for Christianity ( crusades and Christchurch shootings), the Bible has been used to justify slavery, quran pedophilia etc etc. it makes good people do bad things . In atheism, bad people do bad things. Good people can’t be twisted by religion to do bad things. So yeah isis isn’t any better than communist atheist.
I thank the commenter for his contributions. Here are a couple of points to note in response to this comment.
” So isis can use their own Muslims for prostitution and kill innocents ( including Muslims) but because they follow Ramadan or follow some other rule that denies them from let’s say stealing they aren’t under zizeks definition that religion allows you to do anything you want? “
Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying. That scriptures always contain moral prohibitions even after you twist them to get some of the things you want. The statement that “if God exists, everything is permitted,” therefore, is literally false on its face. It seems the commenter admits this, but thinks it’s insignificant because ISIS can twist scripture to justify killing innocent people.
Consider that the only way that extremist religious groups do get what they want is by deliberately twisting and ignoring significant parts of scripture. The fact that they do this shows you it is not the scripture itself which is justifying their actions, but their twisting of it. In which case, a completely secular morality can also be twists for nefarious ends – take the United States, for instance.
There are more honest and less honest readings of a religious scripture. I for the life of me cannot figure out where atheists get the idea that Christianity allowing gay marriages is an example of religion justifying this practice. What’s happening, and any intellectually honest person knows this, is that these Christians are twisting and ignoring the Bible in order to justify it. And ISIS does the same thing.
If you take this idea to its extreme, I could twist, omit, and fudge Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” to justify belief in God. All I have to do is put in half quotes, and ignore 90% of what the book is saying, and viola, I can claim Richard Dawkins believes in God!
But is this what Richard Dawkins is actually saying? Of course not, and any intellectually honest person can see that. Likewise, when someone picks of the Quran and says “the Quran says you can rape and pillage at will!” and then proceed to do what ISIS did, they are being just as disingenuous.
My question to the commenter is this: how can you put the blame on religion for people twisting it to say what they want? Surely the blame is on the people who twist it, not the text itself.
Furthermore, the idea of twisting morality to suit personal ends is not restricted to religion. Every moral system can be twisted to commit atrocities.
The commenter argues that atheist communists too had moral prohibitions.
In practice, I agree that every worldview and society must entail moral prescriptions and proscriptions, otherwise it couldn’t function. However, the whole point that I was making in the video is that the atheist cannot justify any moral prohibition whatsoever, as Dostoevsky said. Their worldview is incoherent. They claim “don’t do X because it’s bad,” but they have no way to justify the existence of good and evil. On atheism, this is just an illusion fobbed off on us by human evolution. It’s basic in-tribe out-tribe preference.
So while atheist communists might also have moral prohibitions, they cannot justify their prohibitions. Scriptural religions, on the other hand, at least prima facie have a justification for their moral prohibitions.
Thus Dostoevsky was correct, and Zizek is wrong.
The commenter seems to be missing the forest for the trees. He is concerned with the actual content of what a religion is prohibiting and what it is allowing, instead of understanding the point I was making which is that a religion can give you a reason to believe something is good or evil in the first place.
This error is most clear here: “In atheism, bad people do bad things. Good people can’t be twisted by religion to do bad things.”
Wrong. On atheism, there are no good and bad people or things. We’re just a giant cosmic accident with no purpose or value whatsoever, we’re all doomed to die as is the universe itself, and morality is simply an illusion of the human mind which was inculcated through evolutionary processes that occurred completely accidentally.
On theism, there are good and bad people and actions. It is for that reason that scripture even has the potential to be twisted and used for evil! If everything was permitted in scripture, why would you need to twist scripture in the first place?
There is one final point I’d like to make, which is that the commenter talks about how the Bible justifies terrible things like slavery, and the Quran pedophillia. He says this as if he has a coherent moral system that he can justify to say what is actually right and wrong. My question is where are you even getting the idea that these things are wrong? He’s talking as if there are moral facts, that we just “know to be true” and then we can measure a given religion up against.
But if atheism is true, no such moral facts exist. You are simply an accidental accumulation of fundamental particles which inexplicably behave in a certain way, in a certain time, and a certain place to cause you to believe that these things are wrong. Your moral intuitions and gut feelings are simply a subjective illusion of the mind.
” So yeah isis isn’t any better than communist atheist. “
I find this part of the comment interesting because I was in no way shape or form arguing that ISIS is better than a communist atheist. I don’t like, support or condone either. I honestly don’t know how someone could watch that video and come to the conclusion that this was my thesis.