What I don't understand about this is why Christian apologists feel they even feel the need to assert that non-Christians can't be good people in the ethical/legal sense. This isn't the claim of Christianity, that without Christ, civilization will break down.
Look at Japan. Manifestly non-Christian, in origin and contemporary constitution, and yet, one of the most honor-bound, socially restrained societies that ever was. Does that mean they get to go to heaven when they die? No, but it does make arguments from Christians claiming that without Christ the only outcome is widespread murder and mayhem.
Christianity claims that good civic behavior is *not* enough, eternally and temporally. It does not claim one cannot lead an outwardly "good" life without Christ. Instead it claims one cannot be *righteous* on the inside of one's own accord.
So the "debate-stopper" seems to be more of a "reflex-trick" to see who will bite on straw man arguments like Steve did. In his zeal for the faith, he figured he had to commit Christianity to being the sole source of all *ethical* behavior.
That ain't the case. It's not hard to find law, abiding, ethical people all over the world who are not Christians.
What Christianity claims is that while that's true, it's not what's really important, for works and ethical uprightness are not sufficient to satisfy God. They do not make up for one's sin, for one's unrighteous attitudes and actions.
This just makes Christianity look really stupid. Anyone who is familiar with modern Japanese society will laugh at a paragraph like this. Steve, do you know what the murder rate is in Japan vs. the US? How can that be if what you say is true?
Speaking for myself, what is more likely to make Christianity look really stupid are intellectual joy-riders like Touchstone. I offered an 8-point argument for my position. Did Touchstone make the slightest attempt to interact with my 8-point argument?
No, all he did was to launch into a knee-jerk screed that was completely unresponsive to my actual argumentation.
Since he lacks the mental discipline to follow any argument he doesn’t already agree with, let’s lay down a few breadcrumbs and see if he can follow the trail:
1.Shermer (along with Dawkins, et al.), raised both a de jure and a de facto challenge to the Christian. What *would* an apostate do? And what *should* an apostate do? I answered him on both counts.
2.Did I ever say that unbelievers in general, or apostates in particular, are law-breakers? No.
What I said, rather, is that, is that, given a chance, unbelievers generally legislate according to their value-system, such as it is.
You can be a law-abiding killer because the law gives you a license to kill (e.g. abortion, infanticide, euthanasia).
You can be a law-abiding rapist because the law lowers or abolishes the age of consent.
Depending on the country, the authorities sanction a child sex trade, or child marriage, or child pornography.
Depending on the country, gang-rape may be part of the honor-code or rite of passage.
You can be a law-abiding robber because the law canonizes certain forms of extortion (e.g. eminent domain).
So an unbeliever doesn’t need to be lawless to do his own thing. He simply exacts legislation that makes rape, robbery, and murder a civil right.
3.What about Japan?
i) Notice that he talks about modern Japan rather than imperial Japan. No discussion of the Shogunate. Modern Japan, beginning with MacArthur, is obviously influenced by modern American culture.
But what about the cult of pederasty under the Shogunate? What about the cult of violence under the Shogunate? What about the feudal economic system?
Yes, in a military dictatorship, everyone knows his place. Very law-abiding. But what about the morality of the law they abide by?
iii) What about modern Japan?
What about pornography in modern Japan? What about kiddy porn in modern Japan? What about prostitution in Japan? What about sodomy in Japanese culture—both ancient and modern?
What about the abortion mill in modern Japan?
Since its all legal, then, by definition, it never figures in the crime stats.
It’s remarkable how quickly you can lower the crime rate by decriminalizing crime. All it takes is the stroke of a pen.
What about organized crime? What about the Japanese Mafia?
We could go right down the list.
It’s an excellent illustration of Touchstone’s moral blindness that he cites Japan as a counterexample to my thesis.