Hard Questions or Bad Arguments? Part 12

Ok, we’re in the home stretch of this series of responses to the article by J.H. McKenna. And here we go.

The question ‘Who gave you a conscience?’ means about as much as ‘Who gave you a nose?’ The answer to both is ‘nature.’ A dog and a cat have a conscience, as does a monkey, and even some birds. These animals know when they have done wrong and feel guilt and demonstrate guilt when caught. A ‘conscience’ is no proof of a God.

Has he asked a dog or cat about their “conscience”? The last time a dog got into my trash, or my cat pooped on my floor, I doubt that they were mindful of how I felt or were necessarily concerned about the rightness or wrongness of their actions when confronted. There’s a number of fallacies running through this objection, from the anthropomorphic fallacy , to jumping to a conclusion (conscience is no proof), to a category error (conscience=nose?). It’s simply absurd.

Theists have fought fellow theists to the death for thousands of years. And yet it is inconceivable that an army of chemists should kill botanists or astronomers kill geologists.

So, what? Men have been killing men for millennia, for various reasons, the fact that many of them have been theists means nothing. If someone can cite a single instance where an atheist has fought another atheist, the entire objection is refuted. So, non sequitur.

Unbelief is a false crime, and belief is not meritorious. God could neither be injured by the one nor boosted by the other.

There’s just enough truth to this to be a dangerous and deceitful lie. While it is true that our belief or unbelief has no effect on God, it has a direct and immediate effect on us in the here and now. If one believes what God has said, there will be justice and harmony. It is unbelief in God that stirs up discord and strife.

The Psalmist who said ‘Only a fool says in his heart there is no God’ meant to say ‘Only a fool is afraid to announce his unbelief to the wide world and keep it a secret in his heart.’

Actually what the Psalmist said was,

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

Immediately after that profound title, he says,

They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
    there is none who does good.

Point being, that the person who denies the existence of God is intending to do evil, to truly sin with what the Bible calls a “high hand”. It is the immoral, evil, villainous person who denies the existence of God, who is truly a “fool“. The point of the Psalmist is to contrast with the person who vocally denies the existence of God, like the average atheist, but continues to live in accordance with the reality of a just and righteous God, a God who judges and punishes men for their sin and rebellion, to the one who follows the logical conclusion of the profession and fully engages in rebellion. It is not, “keeping it a secret“, rather it is living that belief out that makes one a “fool” according to the psalmist because the “heart” that is being referred to is the seat of the intellect and will. Evil acted out is the demonstration of the declaration in one’s heart that one is truly a fool.

And that’s it. No more in this series.

As I said, my posts may become irregular while school is in. I’ll probably be sharing thoughts as I work through various classes and continue doing research on my book and other projects but, you never know.


  1. You’ve made an unnecessary mountain out of this. The argument — and I suspect you know this — could be easily be expressed as:
    Theist: “Who gave you a conscience?”
    Atheist: “How do you know it’s a ‘who’ question?”

  2. There’s a difference between college-debate apologetics and theology. You understand that, right? Because, at the moment, you’re employing the tactics of college debate apologetics.
    You asked me how I know it’s not a “who” question, despite the fact I never said it isn’t a “who” question. I merely asked how you know it is a who question.
    You’re refusing that your questions have implications that carry a burden. In this example, by asking how I know it’s not a “who” question is assuming the idea ‘it is a “who” question’ is either already defended or the default position. It isn’t. It’s an implication that carries a burden.

    • There’s no difference between theology and apologetics. Those that say that there are are simply making a category error. Everyone has a theology and a need, no a requirement to defend that theology. If you’re going to make an argument, make an argument, don’t ask rhetorical questions then say that I have defend something that I haven’t claimed or stated in a manner that needs to be defended.

  3. I didn’t ask a rhetorical question. I asked a question. You dodged it with a shifting of the burden.
    Can I take this as an admission that you are not going to answer the question ‘How do you know this is a “who” question?’?

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