Is It Not Merely Mistaken But Also Morally Repugnant to Believe in God?

In a provocative Times essay, Michael Ruse (FSU) argues that believing in the existence of a God that doesn't happen to exist is not an epistemic error per se so much as it is a moral one. From the essay,

When asked in Ireland a few years ago about the abuse of children by priests, Richard Dawkins — who, along with Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, is among the best known of the New Atheists — responded that he was more concerned about bringing a child up Catholic in the first place. You don’t say something like that seriously — and Dawkins is always serious — without a deep sense that something is dreadfully morally wrong. The whole system is rotten, this stance shouts, and corrupting to the core.

...What is truly striking is that atheists of Dawkins’s stripe don’t just say that believing in God is an intellectual mistake. They also claim that it’s morally wrong to believe in the existence of God or gods.

You might think there is something a little funny here. The basic question is not about religion in all its diversity and complexity. It’s about whether God exists. Either God (let us stay for convenience with one God, the God of theism) exists or God does not exist. Belief in God, seen this way, is not a moral matter. Whether two plus two equals four is not a moral question: It does. You should believe it. End of argument. Same with God.

...The biologist J. B. S. Haldane said: “My own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” Perhaps so and I would not be surprised if a lot of people go along with this. That, however, is no reason to believe in Christianity or Judaism or any of the other religions. Even more, it seems morally repugnant to accept — if not rejoice in — living in a world ruled by the God of religions.

This is what motivated nonbelievers down through the ages. It is what motivated John Stuart Mill to say, when he rejected the Christian doctrine of a good God: “I will call no being good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow creatures; and if such a creature can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.”

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Oct

Belief in God

You write: In a provocative Times essay, Michael Ruse (FSU) argues that believing in the existence of a God that doesn't happen to exist is not an epistemic error per se so much as it is a moral one.

Wouldn't this be wrong to say?  How could Mr. Ruse advance his argument that the "existence of a God that doesn't happen to exist" be advanced when he has no direct knowledge of it?