February 23, 2020

Christians Who Would Rape and Murder Without God-Belief

prison cell

If you have spent any time interacting with fundamentalist Christians, you have undoubtedly heard something like the following:

If I didn't believe in "God" (i.e., the one particular god I prefer over countless others humans have worshiped throughout time), I'd be running wild in the streets because there would be no morality. Without any reason to be good, I'd rape and murder at will. So would everybody else.
I don't recall hearing this from Christians who were not fundamentalists, but it wouldn't shock me to learn that some of them say similar things from time-to-time. It seems to be an odd byproduct of what they have been taught about the relationship of Christianity to morality and bigoted attitudes toward atheists.

I've always found it strange that I seem to think more highly of these Christians' ability to behave appropriately than they do. While I have sometimes wondered whether I should trust that they might really be the monsters they claim to be, I persist in my conviction that most of them are every bit as capable of controlling their impulses as the rest of us.

Suppose for a moment that a "bible-believing" Christian were to come to his senses and realize that there weren't any gods. Now suppose that everything this same Christian had told us about how his god-belief was the only thing stopping him from murdering everyone around him was accurate. Without god-belief, he snaps and begins violently assaulting everyone in his path. What do you suppose would happen to him? He'd end up dead or in prison, right? And assuming he's not an incredibly stupid person, he'd know this in advance of his crimes, wouldn't he?

This is part of why I have so much trouble believing this nonsense about how assorted Christians would be running wild if it was not for their god-belief. They are well aware of what happens to people who commit major crimes like rape and murder. Unless they expect us to believe that their loss of god-belief would somehow make a lengthy prison sentence appeal to them, they would still be motivated to avoid one. This motivation would probably help them exercise a bit of self-control. You know, just like the rest of us do.

Of course, most of us do not refrain from harming others merely to avoid punishment. We may treat others well because we hope they will treat us well, but most of us also have at least some empathy for others. This extends to Christians even if they'd like to ignore it when convenient. If they were to progress beyond their god-belief, they'd still have all the other reasons to behave themselves. When it comes to moral behavior, gods and "holy" books are unnecessary.