Saturday, May 15, 2010
[hanged, drawn and quartered – the old fashioned way]
One topic which seems to have received little attention from contemporary atheists is the issue of crime and punishment.
According to atheists, we have no soul and no free will. On the other hand, our criminal justice system rests on the concept that society has the right to take revenge on someone who has freely chosen to harm others. If there is no free will, then every defendant could correctly claim that he is innocent due to an irresistible impulse, which is a type of insanity defense.
This is summed up by a former dean of Harvard Law School Roscoe Pound in his introduction to "Cases on Criminal Law" by Francis B. Sayre (1927): "Historically, our substantive criminal law is based upon a theory of punishing the vicious will. It postulates a free agent confronted with a choice between doing right and doing wrong and choosing freely to do wrong."
According to atheism, our criminal justice system should logically be abolished and replaced with a mental health system for the criminally insane. Anyone who harms others would be evaluated by psychologists and then incarcerated in a hospital for the criminally insane until psychiatrists would decide that he is harmless. There would be in this case no concept of the “let the punishment fit the crime” because no one is guilty and no punishment is appropriate. Instead, it would be an issue of “let the treatment fit the illness”. Theoretically, a mass killer could be released after a few weeks while a shoplifter might be confined for life. Adolf Hitler and other Nazi war criminals, for example, posed no threat to anyone following the surrender of Germany and could have been set free immediately. We know that Adolf Eichmann after ordering the murder of hundreds of thousands during the war lived a peaceful, quiet life as a rabbit farmer after the war.
I assume that atheists don’t bring this issue up very often since the obvious absurdity of it would demonstrate clearly the falsehood of atheism. It’s much safer to keep hammering on the crimes committed by Muslims as “proof” that anyone believing in God is dangerous.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:47 PM