Brief Apologetics: Critique 1

This is the first installment in a series of 6 posts I’ll be writing regarding apologetics. In our world of social media, blogs, and the like, debating is becoming much more abbreviated and widespread. Instead of a few people writing a bunch, there are a bunch of people writing very little. My intent is to contribute – specifically to the world of religious debate – through these brief responses to some common critiques of religion/Christianity that show up in online forums. I hope they’ll help to sharpen the thinking of the religious as well as challenge the propositions of the non-/anti-religious. Comments and more critiques are welcomed, but I make no promise to respond to all of them. I will reject/delete comments that become overly abrasive, so please be civil.


Critique 1:
Religion has produced genocidal campaigns (i.e. the Crusades) and therefore should be left behind before it can do more harm to humanity.

The problem with this critique is that an atheist has no basis to declare genocide to be wrong. In order to use this against the religious, our critic has to somehow prove that killing and oppressing a large group of people in the name of religion is morally wrong (Machiavelli, a famous atheist philosopher from the Renaissance, actually considered large-scale oppression to be good). There is no empirical evidence to show that genocide is evil and so, with a godless worldview, it cannot be denounced. In fact, with all of the talk about over-population, couldn’t genocide be a tool in the hand of natural selection?

(Side note: I absolutely believe that all genocide is a great evil. It is not my intention to talk about these atrocities as though they’re trivial. Unfortunately, atheism and disbelief in absolute moral law do trivialize such horrific acts.)


5 thoughts on “Brief Apologetics: Critique 1

  1. league89 says:

    You certainly don’t beat around the bush, do you 😉 Excellent, Dustin, I am excited to read more.

    I think that on another note, as I play the devil’s advocate for a moment, amny would also point to Hitler, who claimed to be a Christian when he began his efforts with the Nazi Regime.

    I also think it fair to note that not all atheists, or non-religous people, hold to the ideals of natural selection. It is not to say, either, that it would be “natural-selection” when one group or party is taking control of the population.

    As it stands, I too find genocide to be an evil that should not be repeated or forgotten. It is also a frustration to me when there is mention of any person finding genocide to be a solution.

    I believe that the root of the discussion here is: Who determines what is evil? If you are an atheist, who decides the moral code? If you are religous, the answer to that would be: The God/god whom you serve.

    • Thanks for your insights Jessy! Your last comment regarding the root of the discussion is spot on. Without moral absolutes, there’s no basis from which to call things evil. And the only way to have moral absolutes that are binding on all humans is to have an authority over all of us who determines them.

      On a more personal note, middle- and upper-class people (like myself) are insulated. We’re the only kind of people who could possibly cling to moral relativism. If we all went to a third-world country where people are being horrifically oppressed/raped/slaughtered, moral relativism would cease.

  2. One thing to keep in mind in regards to apologetics is that YHWH has authorized genocide through the Canaanite conquest. Very different from what the Crusaders did as they went on their own authority for their own motives and not the Lord’s!

    We see YHWH instructions in Deuteronomy 20:16-17 “But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction…”

    The purpose of this was to display YHWH’s holiness and monotheism, for the land that the people of Israel were entering was a land of wickedness and polytheism (Deut. 9:4). This then showed the nations that there is one God that’s all powerful.


    • Your right Dan. That’s why I made a case for the atheist being unable to cast a moral judgment on genocide. I wasn’t about to try to get in to the Biblical passages like Deut. 20:16-17 which detail God’s judgment on people. That would cause my series to cease being “brief” apologetics. 🙂

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