I often hear atheists going on and on about how the Bible has this evil and that evil. Their favorite one seems to be slavery. Here are three things I say to atheists when they push this objection.
The Bible and slavery
First, you should explain to them what the Bible actually says about slavery. And then tell them about the person responsible for stopping slavery in the UK: a devout evangelical named William Wilberforce.
Here’s an article that works.
We should compare Hebrew debt-servanthood (many translations render this “slavery”) more fairly to apprentice-like positions to pay off debts — much like the indentured servitude during America’s founding when people worked for approximately 7 years to pay off the debt for their passage to the New World. Then they became free.
In most cases, servanthood was more like a live-inemployee, temporarily embedded within the employer’s household. Even today, teams trade sports players to another team that has an owner, and these players belong to a franchise. This language hardly suggests slavery, but rather a formal contractual agreement to be fulfilled — like in the Old Testament.3
Atheism and moral judgments
Second, inform them that moral values are not rationally grounded on atheism. In an accidental universe, there is no way we ought to be. There is no design for humans that we have to comply with. There are no objective human rights, like the right to liberty (that would block slavery) or the right to life (that would block abortion). Although you may find that most atheists act nicely, the ones who really understand what atheism means and live it out consistently are not so nice.
Famous atheist Richard Dawkins has previously written this:
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)
When atheists like Dawkins talk about morality, you have to understand that they are pretending. To them, morality is just about personal preferences and cultural conventions. They just think that questions of right and wrong are arbitrary. Things that are wrong in one time and place are right in another. Every view is as right as any other, depending on the time and place. That’s atheist morality.
What’s worse than slavery? Abortion!
Third, you should ask the atheist what he has done to oppose abortion. Abortion is worse than slavery, so if they are sincere in thinking that slavery is wrong, then they ought to think that abortion is wrong even more. So ask them what they’ve done to oppose the practice of abortion. That will tell you how sincere they are about slavery.
Here’s atheist Richard Dawkins explaining what he’s done to stop abortion:
That’s right. The head atheist supports killing born children.
2 thoughts on “How to respond to an atheist who complains about slavery in the Bible”
There are not many truth-seeking atheists left in America these days, WK. For that reason, pro-abort atheists will say that God performs more abortions than anyone (through miscarriage), and they will even quote (twist) Scripture to “prove” that the Bible supports abortion.
And LGBT, etc. Just like the SBC supported slavery using the Bible, abortion is now being “christianized.” So, your article is assuming that there are still atheists left who are truth-seeking. I really am not meeting many like that anymore, and I am in a position to do so.
It is still a good article, and I sure hope somebody reads it that it can help. But, the ones I am meeting are all-in through 9 months now and even “joking” about killing babies after birth. And they want nothing less than our tax dollars going specifically to “help” these “poor” women get the “healthcare” they need.
It has gone from “safe, legal, rare” to shouting pride in their abortions, keeping track of how many they have had, and naming their abortions after those of us who try to encourage them to not murder their children.
The playing field has changed dramatically, just in the last 5 years.
One thing to add, when atheists confront me with this, I state and prove that the more atheists are in a country, the higher the number of slaves and pedophiles. Mexico, for instance, is said to have 8 million slaves, and family there is frightened, fearing the borders will open again and children begin to disappear. https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/mexico-haiti-have-highest-numbers-of-modern-slaves-in-americas/