Open Question to Theists: Do You Condone the Use of the Phrase a “Murder of Atheists”?
I just learned about this. Apparently the apologist who runs the site www.truefreethinker.com has described Geisler’s response to The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave as a “murder of atheists.” (See here and here.) To be clear, the author is not calling for the murder of atheists. Rather, he says,
I am employing the term “murder” in relation to the group of atheists who have team [sic] up to produce a failure of a book-the term “murder” in this sense is taken from referring to a group of crows a [sic] “a murder of crows.”
If you are a Jew, would you feel if a non-Jew referred to a group of Jewish authors as a “murder of Jews”? If you are a Christian, how would you feel if an atheist referred to, say, the contributors to The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology as a “murder of Christians”? Do you condone the use of the word “murder” in this context?
To be clear, the author’s clarification notwithstanding, I find the use of the word “murder” in this context to be deeply offensive and very unhelpful for having genuine, respectful dialogue between theists and nontheists. I hope theists who read this will consider condemning this site’s incendiary language on their own blogs.
Steve Hays has responded to this post, questioning why I think Christians should condemn this sort of language.
Over at The Secular Outpost, Jeff Lowder has been calling on Christians to denounce what he regards as mistreatment of atheists. But it’s unclear why Jeff thinks we should do this. Does he think we ought to condemn these (alleged) offenses because they violate Christian ethics? Yet Jeff doesn’t believe in Christian ethics. It’s as if Jeff approves of Christians expressing disapproval on the basis of an ethical code that Jeff disapproves of.
In reply, notice two things. First, Hays refers to “what he [Lowder] regards as mistreatment of atheists” and “(alleged) offenses” without actually acknowledging the “mistreatment” is actual, not “alleged.” Does he deny that these instances are mistreatment? Is he so opposed to atheists that he is unwilling to condemn mistreatment, even when he agrees it is mistreatment? Is there another reason?
Second, Hays seems (?) to assume that if two people (P1 and P2) accept contradictory normative ethical systems, but both systems agree that an action A is wrong (even if for different reasons), it’s unreasonable for P1 to ask P2 to condemn A. I find that bizarre. If they both agree that A is wrong, even if for different reasons, then surely they can both condemn A. If P2 claims to believe that A is wrong, then P2 already has a reason to condemn; P2 should condemn A because P2 believes A is wrong.