Utilitarianism and Atheism

Utilitarianism claims that in ethics, what matters is not rules so much as doing whatever makes the most people the happiest: the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
The action does not matter, only the results matter.
The nice thing about Utilitarianism is that it tells us that there is no God or that he does not matter. If all are meant to be happy like it says, then God does not exist for we suffer. It is useful for sowing prejudice against the God hypothesis. It paves the way for the great light of unholy atheistic science to arrive and take over.


You may object, "What if it is God who tells us to put the biggest happiness of the biggest number first?"  But then do we care about the greatest happiness of most or do we just care about God commanding it?  If being commanded is all that matters then it is contradictory to say that greatest happiness matters at all never mind most of all.


Utilitarianism has its dangers.  What morality doesn't?  It makes it too easy to command something dreadful while claiming you have personal and secret - maybe even psychic - knowledge of why it is for the best.  It is best then to try and stick with situations where you can see the reasons on the table.  Listening to Gods or prophets or people who claim to know what you do not know defeats the purpose of Utilitarianism.  How?  Because if the greatest happiness of most is what matters then they cannot really matter or be enjoyed much if the reasons for what is done are not known.  A Utilitarian God will not lay out his reasons but just give commands and that means you could kill babies at his behest and realise you have made things worse and the babies died for nothing.  It opens the door for unscrupulous people who pretend to know what God wants.
Another nice thing about it is that it opposes Jesus who plainly indicated that Utilitarianism is wrong. In Mark 14 he objected when people said that a woman who put expensive ointment on his feet should have sold it for the poor. And that was in the earliest gospel too!
The predominant moral view in the world is utilitarianism. This is a hard philosophy to apply in life. It is made impossible if you introduce the idea that the greatest good is giving people the opportunity to find God and have their hearts changed by him.

The notion of God goes hand in hand with the notion that he has the right to let us suffer and die so horribly. Utilitarianism tends to be atheistic because it says we should all be happy and that is a direct attack on God.
Utilitarianism says we should not have to make sacrifices for others but because the world is so imperfect we have to. This leaves it open to the attack, “If there is no God then how can persons or their happiness be important when they are the products of chance?” But what has that got to do with anything? It is a kind of racism to say that a person who was made by chance would not be as important as one who was made by God. This is really saying that the person who was made by God is not important at all for it is only God having made him that makes him important so it is really God that is important and not the person. Yet the attack is voiced in Runaway World (page 52). Also, religion does not seem to think that the existence of God means that the existence of chance is ruled out. They think he can step back and let things take care of themselves.

The greatest happiness of the greatest number rule that the Utilitarian system espouses is undeniably right. The Church says it is unworkable. But that is not the reason it rejects it. The unworkability is not the problem it has with it. If there is a God it ought to be very workable for he can maximise happiness by changing our programming so that we are more easily satisfied. He hasn’t done so. If God runs the universe, he can ensure that our deeds will produce the happiest results. But God makes it hard to be a good person or a person who finds happiness. Some people are made so that if they find a dream wonderful person who loves them they are still not happy. To say that Utilitarianism is true, is to say there is no God. All you have to do is look around you to see it.
So God can reward our Utilitarian attempts to bring about the best by making sure our efforts work with his supernatural help as long as our intentions are good. He can make Utilitarianism workable or more workable. The Church cannot accept the Utilitarian philosophy for the Bible and Jesus laid down laws that cannot be broken whatever the cost. So if you believe in the Bible or in Jesus you are deadening your heart to human suffering. You are diminishing your compassion by approving of the mess God has left. You are saying that human welfare has nothing to do with morality. The Church cannot tolerate the possibility that there will be times it serves the Utilitarian end to abandon God and religion. It is God’s happiness not man’s that religion cares about though it is supposed to make man happy as if it were a side-effect. Overall, the point I want to make is that Utilitarianism even if unworkable but it is still a good principle and so belief in God or deities is bad for it denies the validity and the goodness of the principle. God is anti-human.
It seems terrible to say that only happiness matters as if people don't. People benefiting from Utilitarianism would be a mere side effect for it is about benefiting happiness. But if we say that God matters and people don't in comparison are we any better? No - we are worse.


Is Utilitarianism the default view if there is no God?
Sam Harris claimed that morality just means wellbeing so we can learn how to me moral from science.  For Harris, morality is real and objective.  The principles are as good as laws from a God though there is no God.


Christians sometimes say that if there is no God then all we can make do with for a morality is some form of Utilitarianism. So some Christians would agree with Harris in principle - a form of objective morality without God is possible. They only complaint they have is that Utilitarianism is too hard to calculate and rules become difficult and too fluid but they have to admit that the problematic result of Utilitarianism being right does not make it wrong. In fact it would be worse without it. Those who say that there is no objective morality without God usually think that Utilitarianism is not morality. But it is if is the best we can come up with.
William Lane Craig praises Harris for holding that goodness is objectively real and not just a matter of opinion. Now how can Craig or any Christian praise Harris for that? What is the problem?
The alternative is to hold that right and wrong are just opinions and have no factual basis (relativism). But Craig says you need to bring in the idea of a moral God who commands moral goodness otherwise talk about what is objectively good makes no sense. In that case then how can Craig praise Harris? To have the wrong kind of objective morality is far worse than having an unabashedly relativist one! It will have consequences and threaten real morality. At least the relativist is never sure her moral code is right! So there is hope!
Plus if God is the ground of objective morality it is objectively moral to recognise that and it is a basic duty. So the atheist is not a fan of objective morality but cherry-picking objective moral rules which amounts to making a mess of it.
The answer to Craig that it is better to sense that goodness is objectively real even if you don't know why. If a gun were put to your head and you had to decide between just believing morality was real or real because a God decrees it is you know which one would be the most important. The importance given to God is counter-moral.
Proof that whatever Grounds Objective Morality it is not God
Religion argues that God sending earthquakes to kill people is good so in reality religion thinks natural evil like that is not bad it is good so that means the only evil there is is moral evil - that which human beings do. Assessing evil as moral evil means you declare you have the right to assess actions as morally evil even if they are not. Not taking the risk of being wrong is itself seen as immoral. This does not mean you can call somebody a murderer if there is a chance that they didn't intentionally kill the person and if the evidence says to consider such a chance. It means that you are saying murder is always wrong even though there is a risk, perhaps small, perhaps nonetheless significant, that it is not always wrong. So the way religion will not apply the moral code about risk to God is immoral. Man alone is accused when God should be included in that accusation. This is neither loving, fair or honest. It proves God cannot ground morality.
The argument that God is all good and never makes evil claims that evil is not a power - it is simply a good thing in the wrong place and the wrong time. This if you look carefully is denying that evildoing and sin are real. If it is not about the action but about where and when it was done then can you call that morality? No. It is evil to punish people as if their actions are the problem when they are not. God cannot give us or teach us morality. God can only give us a "morality" that is counterfeit and evil.
Think of it this way. You will consider it bad to hate somebody just because of their race or beliefs. The hate hurts you, it makes you see things in a distorted way and it risks you hurting the other person and it gives bad example to others. The ingredients then are: self-hurt, misperception, risk to another person and hateful views spread to others. To say that each of these individual things is good but is just in the wrong place and time makes no sense and shows no idea of what goodness means. See what is happening? It is not about the action - it's not action its actions. There is no such thing, strictly speaking as an action ever. It is not too hard to see an action as an absence of good but when you see that the action is just a sum of several individual actions it becomes impossible. To say that your deed is just in the wrong time and place is to try and pretend you are looking at the wood not the trees. It is based fundamentally on a lie.  Morality then is only objective if there is no God.
Moral contradictions arise when you try to base morality on God or on what God commands. The end result may do a good job at looking moral but it is in fact anti-moral.

The Utilitarian is better off then than the believer for at least then it is a reasonable attempt to ground morality firmly and declare that morality is just simply the truth, the unchangeable truth!  It can be applied differently to circumstances but what it is does not change.
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Roman Catholic Ethics: Three Approaches by Brian Berry

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