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I was having a highly spirited debate with one of my best friends about religion. He is an avowed atheist. When I brought up the subject of morality, he countered me with an interesting argument that I haven't been able to shake or respond to effectively, and it's been bugging me. When I asked him about evil, he said that evil is relative to each culture and morals are culturally relative and are nothing more than the standard of what each culture feels is acceptable. The reason I feel that human sacrifice is evil is because my culture, which has been shaped through hundreds of years of religion, tells me it is evil. The Mayans on the other hand, thought human sacrifice was not evil, and that it was actually important and good, because that was how their culture was shaped. I think the holocaust was evil because my American culture told me so. The Germans on the other hand thought it was right and good. No evil was committed because evil is relative.

I don't know how to counter this.... Anyone have an answer? Thanks in advance!

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closed as off-topic by David Stratton, Caleb Mar 2 at 17:17

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2 Answers 2

That is one of the classic points in apologetics. Without one true God, there are no absolutes. If you decided to kill the atheist because he disagrees with your religion who is he to stop you? What right does he have to say that killing is wrong if you decide that it is right for you? Without God the answer is no one has any "rights". In America our constitution is founded on the idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with "certain unalienable rights" , So without a creator those "rights" are whatever the person with the most power dictates.

So you see, he's made your point for you and demonstrated how people act without a christian value system to base their culture on. It's reasonable for people who don't believe in God to have whatever moral system suits them.

Now you can turn this back on him, if morality is decided by majority rule, then guess what? Christianity is still the majority view in America, so by going against it he's admitting that by his own standard he is amoral since he doesn't accept the majority consensus !

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It's also worth noting that following the athiest's line of reasoning, if society deems what is right and wrong, those fighting to change the culture are, in essence evil. By their logic, the abolitionists and civil rights leaders of their day would have been wrong to try and change their culture. Ghandi was wrong to try and change opinions. –  Steven Doggart Mar 3 at 16:44

This question sounds more philosophical than religious.

Watch the movie "Hellbound" to get answers about what is evil.

If Hitler thought exterminating the Jews was a good thing, then why did he hide? Why did Osama bin Laden hide?

Evil is defined by God, not humans.

Atheists usually believe you pay for your evil here on earth, so there is no need for God to punish you.

God is both the protector and punisher.

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