Can atheist morality prevent Neil DeGrasse Tyson from raping a student?

Richard Dawkins on atheism, morality, free will and human rights
Richard Dawkins on atheism, morality, free will and human rights

Well, I’m been monitoring the morality of prominent atheists and noting a lot of shortcomings. In this post, I’ll first look at the allegations against prominent atheist Neil deGrasse Tyson, then review the morality of other atheists: Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss and Richard Carrier.

Daily Wire has the latest on Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Dr. Katelyn Allers, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell University, claims Tyson allegedly groped her at an American Astronomical Society after-party in 2009.

Tyson’s former assistant Ashley Watson described an incident in which he allegedly pressured her to join him at his apartment for wine. Later, he made several advances, claims Watson, who says she quit her job after the event.

These two allegations come one year after musician Tchiya Amet accused Tyson of raping her during graduate school.

Now let’s look at Richard Dawkins:

I want to raise another question that interests me. Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity in the first place?

[…]Why should you deny your loved one the pleasure of sexual encounters with others, if he or she is that way inclined?

I, for one, feel drawn to the idea that there is something noble and virtuous in rising above nature in this way.

[…]And why don’t we all admire — as I increasingly do — those rare free spirits confident enough to rise above jealousy, stop fretting about who is “cheating on” whom.

What about his ability to stay married?:

In 1984, Dawkins divorced his wife of 17 years, Marian Stamp; later that same year, he married Eve Barham. Dawkins also divorced Barham, though the precise circumstances of this divorce are unclear. He married science fiction actress Lalla Ward in 1992; at present, the two are still married.

Alas, that last quote is outdated. He was legally separated in 2016 from Lalla Ward. This is what I would expect, given his view on the morality of marital fidelity.

Now famous atheist Lawrence Krauss:

Hensley said… Krauss made a comment about her eye makeup, and got very close to her face. Suddenly, he lifted her by the arms and pushed her onto the bed beneath him, forcibly kissing her and trying to pull down the crotch of her tights. Hensley said she struggled to push him off. When he pulled out a condom, Hensley said, she got out from under him, said “I have to go,” and rushed out of the room.

[…]BuzzFeed News has learned that the incident with Hensley is one of many wide-ranging allegations of Krauss’s inappropriate behavior over the last decade — including groping women, ogling and making sexist jokes to undergrads, and telling an employee at Arizona State University, where he is a tenured professor, that he was going to buy her birth control so she didn’t inconvenience him with maternity leave.

And famous atheist Richard Carrier:

In a recent blog post, entitled “Coming Out Poly + A Change of Life Venue”, the esteemed Dr. Richard Carrier PhD, discusses his “coming out” as polyamorous, an “orientation” that he just discovered at the young age of 47.

[…]Carrier claims that after 17 years of marriage, he cheated on his wife multiple times, for reasons that he won’t disclose.  In the midst of his infidelity, he suddenly “discovered” (as a middle aged man) that he was polyamorous.  Even though his wife attempted to make the marriage work by allowing him to see other women under the guise of an “open marriage”, Carrier still decided to kick her to the curb.   So in Carrier’s view, his affairs were not a mistake, but rather a fun new “lifestyle choice” that he will pursue, regardless of the past commitment to his wife.

Atheist Michael Shermer has also been accused of rape, but I don’t think the allegations are credible enough to quote. Although he does admit having sex outside of marriage with her, which disgusts me.

Let’s be frank. Although there are some conservative atheists, the majority of them favor relaxing the moral rules on sexuality and marriage. Most atheists are more concerned about stopping religious people from setting the rules around sex and marriage than they are about following the moral law. I think that the rising popularity of atheism is significantly to blame for the breakdown of the family, and the harm that’s being caused to children who have to struggle with defective or absent parents. Although there are exceptions, most atheists are more concerned about adult selfishness than they are with the needs of children (especially unborn children). Even if they don’t intend for children to suffer from their decisions, children do indeed suffer. Children do best in marriages that are faithful and stable, and the Sexual Revolution – which was championed by the secular left – has clearly not helped help children to get what they need.

What does it take for a person to have a reason to be moral?

1) Objective moral values

There needs to be a way to distinguish what is good from what is bad. For example, the moral standard might specify that being kind to children is good, but torturing them for fun is bad. If the standard is purely subjective, then people could believe anything and each person would be justified in doing right in their own eyes. Even a “social contract” is just based on people’s opinions. So we need a standard that applies regardless of what people’s individual and collective opinions are.

2) Objective moral duties

Moral duties (moral obligations) refer to the actions that are obligatory based on the moral values defined in 1). Suppose we spot you 1) as an atheist. Why are you obligated to do the good thing, rather than the bad thing? To whom is this obligation owed? Why is rational for you to limit your actions based upon this obligation when it is against your self-interest? Why let other people’s expectations decide what is good for you, especially if you can avoid the consequences of their disapproval?

3) Moral accountability

Suppose we spot you 1) and 2) as an atheist. What difference does it make to you if you just go ahead and disregard your moral obligations to whomever? Is there any reward or punishment for your choice to do right or do wrong? What’s in it for you?

4) Free will

In order for agents to make free moral choices, they must be able to act or abstain from acting by exercising their free will. If there is no free will, then moral choices are impossible. If there are no moral choices, then no one can be held responsible for anything they do. If there is no moral responsibility, then there can be no praise and blame. But then it becomes impossible to praise any action as good or evil.

5) Ultimate significance

Finally, beyond the concept of reward and punishment in 3), we can also ask the question “what does it matter?”. Suppose you do live a good life and you get a reward: 1000 chocolate sundaes. And when you’ve finished eating them, you die for real and that’s the end. In other words, the reward is satisfying, but not really meaningful, ultimately. It’s hard to see how moral actions can be meaningful, ultimately, unless their consequences last on into the future.

Theism rationally grounds all 5 of these. Atheism cannot ground any of them. 

It’s easy enough for an atheist to imitate the people around him when he is in a society grounded in Judeo-Christian values. But when no one is around to watch him, what reason does he have to do the right thing? And what is the right thing, in an accidental universe?

Positive arguments for Christian theism

14 thoughts on “Can atheist morality prevent Neil DeGrasse Tyson from raping a student?”

  1. As an atheist, I think it’s no different than questioning Catholic morality and not molesting children…

    Countless Catholics abide by moral rules and would never condone those who molested children! I think same for any belief or non belief…Athiests abide by similar moral rules, they just don’t need an outside being telling them what’s moral. One can clearly see why rape is immoral for instance! Violating a person in itself is immoral, not just because a god decrees it. What if someone’s god said DO rape? Is it moral then? The question boils down to is it pious because it is pleasing to God or pleasing to God because it is pious? As the ancient Greeks put it (albeit with multiple gods)… That is, is something moral in of itself or moral merely because God said so?
    To the nonbeliever as well, rape is never condoned or enabled!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, it reduces down to needing a changed heart not merely who’s issuing the commands. Moral rules and duties written down on a piece of paper or in a really old codified book don’t have the power to change you to love God and neighbor. That’s what the gospel is all about – changing your heart so you are no longer a rebel and can’t now properly love God and neighbor. Also, see John 3.

      Also, the Euthyphro dilemma has been answered ad nauseum by Christian thinkers.


  2. I’ve known a handful of avowed atheists in my 60 years on this earth. I’ve never met one who was happy. Most were irritable and angry people, miserable to be around or work with, with a chip on their shoulders like a telephone pole. Virtue signaling was their mantra, and they were always eager to be combative, in your face, demeaning, disrespectful, narcissistic, and argumentative over anything that triggered them, not just Christianity, but SJW causes, perceived infringement of their rights, fear of white blue-collar males, fear of gun owners, vitriol for intact nuclear families, imposing their agenda on others, or their paranoia that an impending theocracy was going to be imposed on them. Often, this animus stemmed from some early bad experiences with Christianity (clergy, churches, families), while some of it came from being raised in already left-leaning atheist families, most often those employed in education, behavioral sciences (particularly), social services, non-profits, and government. I can count on one hand the atheists I’ve encountered who had a genuine code of ethics and moral compass, and had some semblance of civility, which was commendable. I’d submit that natural law may have had some bearing on this. But for the most part, most atheists I’ve encountered are libertines, sexual deviants, and morally bankrupt. Case in point, years ago, as a then teenager, my family lived in a neighborhood with a liberal Democrat atheist family. The parents were employed in social services and education. They had 3 teenage daughters, and an adopted young African American son (they were a white couple). Their 13 year old daughter cohabitated in the family basement with her 25 year old boyfriend, all with the parents blessing (isn’t that statutory rape in most states?). The 15 and 17 year olds had abortions, and proudly and publically flaunted it like a badge of honor. Their promiscuity was legendary in the community, and drug use abounded. The young son went about the neighborhood reeking havoc and chaos. He tried to arson and elderly decorated WWII combat veteran’s home (intentionally started a fire in his garage), impaled and elderly woman’s indoor/outdoor cat with a homemade spear. The cat had to be euthanized. He set up booby traps on the streets resulting in an accident, damage to property, and injuries. Law enforcement took a cavalier approach to it ( the father was on the city council).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Here is an excerpt from a note I put online in 2004 regarding ethics drawn from a materialistic worldview.

    A while ago I heard an interview on the radio (YES, our [Canadian] ever so politically-correct CBC…) about a Christian who lost his faith and became an atheist. It was one of those typical stories about the slide into “unbelief” our postmodern elites love to gloat about. Oddly enough the freshly converted atheist missed certain aspects of Christian belief, heaven/life after death in particular. One of the main reasons he gave for his conversion was all the horrible hypocrisy he saw in Christians. Isn’t it strange though that you never hear stories about atheists becoming Christians because of all the horrible hypocrisy that they saw among leading atheists?? Why is that?

    What does that tell you about atheism or atheists?
    Is this because atheists so morally pure that no criticism will stick or is it for some other reason?
    Why does making REAL high moral demands on atheists seem totally irrelevant? What does this tell us? Is this because of the underlying logic that if, in terms of behaviour, you’re aiming at a non existent target, then (absolutely) anywhere you hit is fine?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I always think back to that story about the leftist journalist who offered to give Bill Clinton oral sex even after all those allegations of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, etc. came out.

      Why? Because he kept abortion legal. If you want to understand what most atheists mean by morality, I think that’s a pretty good illustration. They want to do what they want to do when they want to do it, and silence you if you don’t approve of them. Stand up and clap, or else.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Atheism can’t disappoint because they have gone and destroyed any need for a standard to meet.

    The same goes to morals now there is no standard when we are just animals. So when they fail to meet laws that they claim had an evolutionary social advantage to pass on genes, it is ok because they know a better way to improve on things.

    But most atheists don’t base moral views on anything scientific. They happily are embracing leftist views of do what feels right, because turning to science and logic would make them have to do things that aren’t always fun this second.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The standard is relative. It’s “what makes me feel good”. What else could it be in an accidental universe? And the point is that the cost of their reckless pursuit of self in the moment is paid by their children, and the other people around them.


  5. But we aren’t just animals to an atheist if it comes to arguments like if someone is stronger that Richard dawkins they could by animal kingdom rules fight him, take his home job spouse and leave him to die.

    But they will reject those rules of the animal kingdom because it harms them. They are only part of the animal kingdom when it comes to aborting children or looking to commit adultery on a spouse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Atheist fascination with biological evolution means that they will always be tempted to imitate it by favoring the strong over the weak. There is no way to generate an ethic of compassion when you start with biological evolution, the survival of the fittest.


      1. It is true you can’t generate that feeing of compassion and to me that is a great failure of atheism as a way to build society.

        An atheist that cares for others and assumes moral ideals will function well on society.

        But if they reject the social rules all you have is the path toward a police state that will help to make sure all will follow the decided upon social rules.

        And sadly society is moving slowly to the path of big brother police state. Report your neighbour that dated to warm up the car in minus forty weather for more than twenty minutes, etc


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