Michael asked:

I was a Christian then became an atheist. When I had questions and asked my pastors I was told to read the bible. I did and I have some problems with it and that’s why I became an atheist.

Editor’s note: Michael alluded to acts of violence by the Israelites saying God told them to kill people.

Trent Horn replied:

" ... I guess a major part of your question is how does that differ from Islam? Because in the Qur’an there are probably over a hundred prescriptions telling believers in Allah to kill non-believers. I think the big difference is that in the Old Testament, God’s commands in Deuteronomy are situated in a historical context. They are not perpetual commands for believers. They are specific commands for a people in a theocracy who are dominated by other rival pagan societies that were very dangerous and this kind of atmosphere was common in the ancient world and these prescriptions in the Old Testament were really more to limit bad behavior then they were to promote good behavior. So the commands to kill in the Old Testament are limited in time and environment but in Islam they seem kind of open ended and could apply anywhere ...

You’re a proud atheist. Is it possible that all the religions are contradictory but there could still be a God? Do you have any good reason to think that God doesn’t exist?"

Michael replied:

I think it’s man made to be a control issue. Some of those believers are so extreme they will die to defend their faith. They would kill in the name of their God, and there are so many that do. How else can you kill and then get someone to feel righteous about it?

Trent Horn replied:

"You could get human beings to kill for almost any reason. This doesn’t exempt atheism either. So I don’t think we can say we should be atheists or give up on God because God can be used to get people to kill others. I mean you can get atheism to kill people ... Sam Harris is a new atheist, and in his book The End of Faith, he says in there, ‘there are some ideas that are so dangerous that we might have to kill people who believe them.’ Think about Stalin and the Soviet Union. That the U.S.S.R.was an atheistic government and people, even if you don’t have religion people will kill for Communism, they’ll kill for owning land, they’ll kill you because they don’t like you. Human beings, we’re bad.

I think under theism, theism makes sense that there are these objective moral rules. There are some things that are just really bad. They’re bad regardless of time, place or culture. And like the wrongness of killing, its universality would make sense if God makes human beings valuable and beings you just shouldn’t kill for any old reason. So I think theism better makes sense of our moral feelings. Just because people can kill in the name of religion doesn’t make religion false any more than the fact that people can kill in the name of atheism would make it false. We have to look past people’s behaviors and examine the arguments for their position ... You say that God can be made up to get people to do things, well atheism can be made up so people won’t feel guilty or judged. Just because something can be made up doesn’t mean something isn’t true."


Catholic Answers, "Atheism for Everyone" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: September 23, 2013

Name of show: Atheism for Everyone

Guest comments by: Trent Horn

Question appeared in show: 12:01

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