Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Flaw in Tom Leykis’ Logic

Every so often, radio talk show host Tom Leykis has an hour of “Ask the Atheist”. It is like shooting fish in a barrel. This segment often lures in callers who have no idea why they believe what they believe, and Leykis’ gift of gab, carefully thought-out logic, and control of the microphone allow him to easily defeat the callers, who usually hang themselves with their own rope anyway.

One of the common questions asked of Leykis is “Who says what is right and wrong if there is no God?” Leykis’ response is that “society does, and always has”. He’s right to a certain extent. Whatever the Bible says may not be reflected in our laws. Our laws have changed over the years, while the Bible hasn’t. For example, there used to be legal slavery in the U.S., and now there isn’t. Society doesn't always conform to religious standards.

His problem, though, is that he doesn’t really believe that society is the arbiter of morality.

This is demonstrated when he says that certain laws, regulations, and court decisions – all part of society - are "wrong" by saying they should have been different or that they ought to be changed. He says that there ought to be DNA tests for every child born, so that men don’t unknowingly raise or support children that aren’t biologically theirs. He says it is wrong for women to trap men by getting pregnant. He says it is wrong for men to have the government collect child support for children that aren’t biologically theirs. He says that women ought to have abortions if they are too young or can’t provide for their children. He says people ought not to have debts, because it is a character flaw. He says no fault divorce is wrong because it means that if he was married, his wife could have sex with his best friend in his house (which is, supposedly, wrong) without suffering financial consequences in a divorce. He we ought to reveal the names of accusers in rape cases if the names of the accused are revealed. He says it is unjust when women kill their children or husbands and get light sentences.

Where does that “ought” come from? Where does that “right” or “wrong” come from? Where does that sense of unjustice come from, since these are all things society currently supports via the current system and laws? How could anything that is perfectly legal be wrong, since he says society is the arbiter of what is right and wrong? He’d be more accurate if he said “I’d like to see these laws changed or passed,” or “I would prefer” or “I don’t like”. Sorry, Tom. You can’t use “ought” and “right” and “wrong” if it conflicts with the law - not if society determines morality.

And that is an important danger in denying God and claiming that society determines what is moral or immoral. Nazi society said it was okay to commit genocide. That would make genocide right, wouldn't it? Yet we know this is wrong. But if there is no morality independent of society, where does the impetus for change come from?

There can be a difference between what society tolerates or even promotes and what is right and wrong.

When Leykis or anyone else says that a law should be repealed, passed, or changed, he’s saying there is a higher moral authority than the state, a higher moral standard than the law – one that he wants the law to match. Otherwise, his appeal to us wouldn’t make sense.

Tom doesn’t really believe that society is the arbiter of morality. He believes he is. While he would probably counter that, by the same reasoning, I believe I am the arbiter of morality, I can demonstrate that I do not believe that. There are plenty of things I have done and plenty of things I have wanted to do that I know are wrong, because God says so. If I was the arbiter of morality, those things wouldn’t be wrong - at least not for me. The good thing is, there have been plenty of immoral things I haven’t done, and plenty of moral things I have done – mainly because I put my obedience to God above my feelings or wants.

God is what (or more accurately WHO) determines what is right or wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:43 PM

    When someone doesn't believe in a higher authority but says something is wrong when it cannot be proved wrong, they are giving an opinion.
    If you were to say Tom is wrong because he says there isn't a higher authority, that would be your opinion.

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