Much is being made of Phil Robertson‘s graphic description of an atheist family murder scenario. To be sure, it is disgusting. However, Robertson misses the point, and falls victim to a common misdirection that reveals his complete lack of understanding.
To catch you up: During a prayer breakfast in Florida, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame attempted to illustrate the evils of atheism by describing the brutal rape and murder of a “little atheist wife” and “two little atheist daughters.”
In his explicitly-described event, the atheist father is tied to a chair and made to watch as two villains rape and kill his family. Oh, and for good measure, Robertson describes in vivid detail the decapitation of the little atheist wife, and the incessant taunting of the villains to the atheist father.
You see; in Phil Robertson’s world, being an atheist is apparently something that justifies such a horrible punishment. He also seems to think that it is the atheist’s fault that this wife and daughters are brutally raped and murdered, you know… because the atheist has no morals. He clarifies this point in his story by explaining that the villains taunt the atheist father, implying that it’s OK they have done these horrible things because “there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong.” -As if…
Robertson unknowingly demonstrates a point that is clear among most in the atheist community, and lost on the majority of Christian zealots: the comprehension of right and wrong does not require a God.
In fact, as my atheist friends would tell you, having a God that threatens to punish you if you don’t do what he says seems to undermine the integrity of moral behavior. The theory questions whether you can claim a moral high-ground if your motivation lies primarily in self preservation and the avoidance of extreme punishment. Basically: are you resisting the urge to harm other people simply because God will punish you if you do? Or do you have the moral stamina to be good for goodness’ sake?
Nevertheless, Robertson misses completely a key point that makes me think he is an Arrogant Jerk: Robertson revels in the notion that the atheist would somehow have suddenly come to realize that rape and murder are wrong, but only because it just happened to them in a graphically horrible manner, and specifically because the atheist doesn’t believe in God.
This could only make sense to someone who’s moral standing is artificially buoyed upon belief, and not rooted in heartfelt compassion for our fellow man. That Robertson would spin such a demeaning tale to illustrate why belief in God is so important reverses his intentions and demonstrates turmoil and hatred – neither characteristic of the original Christian framework.
Here is the shocking tale that Robertson told at a prayer meeting, a meeting I must assume was assembled with inspirational intentions. I hope there were no children present; this is really awful:
“I’ll make a bet with you; two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
If it happened to them, they probably would say, ‘something about this just ain’t right.’”
I found audio of the event, too. You won’t believe this: