Perkins vs. D’Souza: Morality

In his fourth essay criticizing Dinesh D’Souza, Greg Perkins notes that D’Souza accuses atheists of rebelling against moral rules. After summarizing why that’s not the case for atheists who know what they’re talking about, Perkins adds:

[T]he religionists are themselves guilty of the sin of moral subjectivism. The essence of subjectivism is acting on whim — wishing, assuming, feeling, or declaring that facts will align themselves with thoughts and lives. Of course, this gets it exactly backwards: thoughts and lives must align themselves with the facts because facts are absolutes to be discovered, not declared. Merely hoping or asserting something is good doesn’t make it so, and it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the whim of a lone subjectivist deciding what is good or bad, the whim of an entire civilization voting on it, or the whim of a “supernatural” mind decreeing it. So the religious who claim to have an absolute morality are really only subjectivists of a supernatural stripe. The trouble for them is that their sort of subjectivism is just as false as any other: God telling Abraham that it is good to slay his innocent son Isaac doesn’t make it good. His ordering the enslavement of entire peoples in the Old Testament doesn’t make that good.

While Perkins only hints at the full case behind his arguments, he starts down the right track and offers a useful reading list.

There is a point that Perkins doesn’t make: D’Souza is psychologizing. He is postulating some psychological rebellion that, in most cases, simply does not exist. (Perkins correctly claims that many atheists resort to the theory of subjectivism, but that’s a very different charge.) Thus, D’Souza’s argument on this point is not only wrong but ad hominem.