Yesterday I received an email from Mike. He asked a question about hell. Well, it wasn’t really a question. It was a statement disguised as a question. When I get emails like Mike’s, I am enjoined to follow the words of Proverbs 26:4–5:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes.
For years I’ve been dealing with people like Mike. Mocking is the best they can do. It’s all they have. In the emails he sent to me, there isn’t a single argument in any of them. It’s all about ridicule. “You’re an idiot.” Blah, blah, blah. “You’re stupid.” Blah, blah, blah. “Christianity needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth.”
Mike emailed me. I didn’t email him. He asked a question. I answered it in a cordial way. Of course, I knew his motive and I knew it wouldn’t do any good, but I try to answer every person who emails me. In most cases, it’s not a waste of time. In this guy’s case, I’ll use it for an article or another video.
If hell exists and I am not warning people about it, then I would be worse than a Hitler. Mike’s answer is, “Well, hell does not exist.” End of debate. Of course, he wasn’t interested in an answer, and if I attempted to answer him on this particular issue, it would not matter since there is no one who can defeat him (to use his own words) because he has defeated every person he has ever argued with! The issue is not ultimately about hell. The issue is, “By what authority?”
If there is no just recompense after death, if there is no ultimate Judge, then what Adolf Hitler did this side of the grave is irrelevant and “morally” inconsequential. All he did was eliminate chemical bags of meat and bones. At death, Mike and Hitler will be nothing more than “dust in the wind.” At this moment, given his assumptions about reality, Mike is nothing more than wet dust animated by electricity. Richard Dawkins sums it up nicely: “It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips. . . . continue the list as long as desired.”
Mike’s so-called acts of goodness (borrowed from a Christian worldview, I might add) will not matter to the worms that consume his flesh. So what does it matter what we do this side of the grave when at death Mike and Hitler are moral equals? He can try to dispute this, and I’m sure he will try since there is no one who can defeat him. Is morality determined by the majority? A group of philosopher kings like Mike and his ilk? Does morality evolve? Maybe Hitler was ahead of his time. How do physical particles (our essence) generate moral rules? Didn’t we get here by killing weaker biological units? Given the assumptions of evolution, we most certainly did. Was it wrong when our pre-biotic soup ancestors did it? When did it stop being wrong and why? Why is it wrong today? Mike needs to tell us. Killing is fundamental to our nature, as one socio-biologist put it. Rape was also normative.
Dawkins is helpful again to make the point: “In the universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.” Hitler was just dancing to the music of his DNA, and how dare Mike to “judge” him? Mike is just another chemical bag of meat and bones. Get off Hitler’s back! His DNA made him do it.
So please, Mike, don’t bother me with your meaningless arguments in a universe of “blind physical forces.” In the words of B. F. Skinner, your comments are little more than “noises that come from your mouth.”
I did receive a response to Mike after I sent the above text to him. It’s what I expected:
How about debating me on your own turf? You are like that pompous bag of wind Dennis Prager who uses your very argument, to which I say “So?” Because you enjoy the notion of heaven and hell as an equalizer for earthly evil and goodness doesn’t make it so.
Given Mike’s assumptions about reality, we are nothing but bags of wind with no moral demands put on us from an impersonal universe. And what was his response to my extended remarks? Dennis Prager uses the same argument, to which he says “So?” I say the same thing . . . “So?” So what if Hitler killed six million Jewish bags of meat and bones and started a war that led to the deaths of many more millions? So what if Helen Thomas made anti-Semitic remarks? So what if Lenin, Stalin, and Pol Pot added to the killing fields. The bodies of the dead are nothing more than fertilizer. He needs to explain to us where morality comes from given materialistic, atheistic, and evolutionary assumptions. Of course, he can’t. That’s why he didn’t even make the attempt. He needs to understand that without God there are neither good nor evil actions. Hitler is neither worse nor better than the biological units he did away with. As they say, stuff just happens.