The new atheists like to claim that religion is evil, that if we can only eliminate it from the public discourse, our most pressing sociological problems will infallibly evaporate.

Leaving aside the unreasonableness of the position for the time being, the atheist really has a massive problem with his position: there is no possible meaning that can adhere to concepts like right, wrong, good and evil within the assumptions of atheism.

At base, atheism is materialism. And in materialism, there is no self-consistent framework within which one can make value judgments; "good" and "evil" are nonsensical terms if the cosmos is all that there is or will ever be. Whatever happens happens; it is neither good nor evil – it just simply is.

When the dictator orders the destruction of an entire people group, that is not "evil;" it is simply evolution in action. In evolution, the only real purpose for anything is to pass on your genes to the next generation. The most efficient way to ensure that this happens is to eliminate all effective competition. To commit genocide is only evil from the perspective of the doomed people group. There is no God to whom the genocide will give account; if he escapes the justice of man, he escapes completely.

The atheist can point to no purpose, no possible meaning to and for anything. Yes, he can assign whatever subjective meaning to his life and actions that he wishes to, but what of it? Such "meaning" is, ultimately, meaningless. So what that the atheist believes his life has meaning, that he arbitrarily assigns purpose to his actions; the cold, materialist universe pays no mind, does not care. The universe does not care when the atheist suffers unjustly. What happens to him, at the end of the day, is random, meaningless, noise. No reason. Nothing. And when he dies, all that he is dies with him.

Sure, he can pass on his legacy – but what of it? Legacies are ephemeral things, most often ignored, sometimes squandered, at times openly repudiated. In sum, the atheist only has his weak, short, pain-filled life, and then eternal nothingness. One bare decade later, and almost assuredly he will be completely forgotten. Certainly in a millennium. Without controversy in one million years. All he was, all his accomplishments, forever, irrevocably lost. And ultimately, when the materialist universe ends in either fire or ice (depending on which theory of gravity carries the day), nothing – absolutely nothing will remain – not only of the atheist, but if anybody.

When the stars have all burned up their nuclear fuel and spin in the utterly dark, eternally cold depths of space, slowly losing all momentum; long after even the last of the behemoth black holes have completely evaporated away through Hawking radiation; when all matter has ceased to be on even a quantum level by the inexorable and ever-increasingly-accelerating expansion of space itself; for an eternity of eternities, all the atheist’s fears, hopes, accomplishments and those of every other living soul throughout all time will mean, forever and ever, absolutely nothing.

Within the atheist’s worldview, then, nothing can ultimately be good or bad – for the precise reason that nothing will mean, nothing can mean, anything.

When the child dies in agony that’s just life. When the rapist gets away Scott free, that’s just what happens.

There is no God; crap happens. Deal with it by ignoring it, or sink into irremediable despair.

To assign categories like right, wrong, good and evil to anything, he is forced to borrow intellectual capital from outside his worldview, since his has no self-consistent apparatus for dealing with such.