Thursday, April 1, 2010

Proving God Exists: Morality

I can't decide whether I'm glad or disappointed that Eric Hovind actually hasn't written these articles I'm critiquing here. The dude's name is Joshua Joscelyn, but I'm sure Eric at least had to approve these for them to appear on the website. So I hold them both responsible for their production's absurdity. And this final article is not exempt. Shall we?
Atheism is bankrupt. The unbeliever's worldview is utterly devoid of justification. When someone takes the unbeliever's claims to the bank, the check will bounce. If anything is to be said for this illogical worldview, it could be said that the unbelievers have been clever enough to turn the tables on Christians and paint believers as the illogical ones. However, this only underscores the importance of subjecting your worldview as well as that of the unbeliever to closer scrutiny. And one of the best areas in which to do this is in the area of morality.
Utterly devoid of justification is great wording. Well, at least if you're referring to your previous inane articles where you assumed your own conclusions. I don't feel like anyone has turned any tables. Rather, claims have been held up to scrutiny and some have been shown to be... transparent.
Now, before we go any further, it must be stated that I am not claiming the atheist or unbeliever to be immoral, necessarily. This is often confused with the true intent of what I am about to say. But rather, I will demonstrate that, like logic and science, morality is merely assumed by the unbeliever, yet without a rational basis. While he may claim that morality—the concept of right and wrong—is merely the evolutionary result of self preservation, this counter claim has a few fundamental flaws. The unbeliever suggests that morality is simply a man-made construct that came about as an aid to our evolution. After all, it is simply pragmatic to avoid stealing from or killing my neighbor as this will garner favor for myself, and will thus further my survivability. This is sometimes extrapolated to also suggest that morality is what society agrees upon. But this would mean that societies like Nazi Germany were, by definition, good. It would mean that doing wrong to my neighbor when no one else can possibly find out is not wrong, but right.
Ah, I'm not necessarily immoral. Just probably, amirite? All because of this damned unbelief. God, give me faith! Oh,wait, actually that's just wishful thinking kicking in again. When people tell you to "ask God to increase your faith," that's as helpful as telling me to ask the unicorn fairy to increase my faith in leprechauns. If it helps, it's only because I wanted it to help. Otherwise, wouldn't God/unicorn fairy have increased my faith in the first place? I don't know. I honestly haven't dealt with any supernatural beings in my short stint on earth.

Anyway, yes, I do believe morality is a man-made construct. And yes, I do believe it has its basis in evolution. But please, "assumed... without a rational bias?" Just keep drinking that Kool-Aid. Yes, it does actually increase survivability if you don't go around stealing things or killing people. But you say that morality could (under some definitions) be determined by society. Well, I have to disagree. Read on:
And what is "wrong," anyway? How does one define this word? By what standard can something be right or wrong? When the unbeliever is faced with this question, he does not have a rational response. 

Morality is, at its core, based on the results of free-will decisions upon fellow humans. That is to say, something is morally "wrong" if it unjustly harms someone and "good" if it helps them in some way (which would be decided by the receiver of the action). Now if we use that basic definition of morality to analyze your scenario, the Nazis, we can see that it was not moral. Their actions benefited no one and harmed the lives of millions in unspeakable ways. The tough thing about morality is that there aren't always easy choices. Sure, some basics are easy, like "don't murder" (that never helps the victim), "don't steal" (other people have a right to their property - you wouldn't want someone taking your stuff), or "don't rape" (I don't need to explain this one). But as scenarios change and get more complex, things can get more muddled. This happens for issues like nuclear proliferation (incidentally, not a topic covered by the Bible), homosexual marriage rights, abortion, and "universal" (American) healthcare.

One side (clear-thinking people) believe that homosexual marriage should be allowed because it gives people the right to do what they want in a situation where other people will not be notably negatively affected. The other side thinks that it should continue to be outlawed because.... well, their book says so. This is an issue of morals because one side believes their position is morally correct and the other's incorrect (and vice versa). This issue does not require a Bible or any other text to tell you what to think.

Other, more complex issues would be those like nuclear proliferation. Is it moral or immoral to stockpile nuclear weapons? Should we distribute them? Should we try to remove all of them everywhere and use all of our military power to do so, voiding other countries' rights to sovereignty, trying to ensure that everyone in the world can be free from the threat of nuclear violence? People have taken stances on both sides of this issue and have made compelling arguments both ways. Christians often paint a picture of a completely black-and-white world where each action is either completely right or completely wrong. This unfortunately just isn't how the world works. Choosing the lesser of two evils is sometimes the best thing to do. But I'm digressing.
To him, if right and wrong are only based on human consensus, than morality is entirely subjective—it changes, and is not absolute. In other words, what is right to one group at one particular time can "morally" be wrong to another group at another time. Or if right and wrong are in the mind of the individual, then how can they be blamed by their actions? If evolution is the explanation, and we are only acting as our DNA dictates, then once again, there is no way we can logically be outraged when somebody's DNA causes them to kill, rape, or lie. After all, we are not outraged at the rock that falls on a car and injures the occupants. How is this any different from the purely naturalistic explanation given lamely by the unbeliever? They're only reacting to their genes, right? Evolution cannot account for morality.
No, conversely, if morality is entirely based on what God says, then it must be relative - subjective. It would be completely based on "God says so" (never a good reason to believe when the person who told you that isn't known to be trustworthy).  If God says that action X is good, then it simply is good regardless of context, motivation, or meaning. If God told you to slaughter children (and don't say it hasn't happened... repeatedly), then it is a good thing to do. An honorable one. A required one. And that's something I just can't buy. Remember the Euthyphro Dilemma? It asks the question, "Is it moral because God commands it, or does God command it because it is moral?" Clearly, I do not believe it can be the former, for that would require countless absurdities like the one I just mentioned. If it is the latter, then God is simply a bystander at the moral carnival, watching the ferris wheel of choices spin and dictating to you when to get on and off the ride. This is especially hurtful to those believers who would like to think that God created and is in control of everything, including morality. But it's just not so.

In case it hasn't been obvious from what I've said so far, people are not outraged at rocks for falling on them (well... some are, but it's a futile thing) because rocks don't have free will. They aren't making choices. Morality requires choices. In the same way that you can't fault a person for pulling the trigger and killing a child if his hands and fingers were hooked up to a machine that controlled them against his will, you can't fault a rock for falling on a car if it had no say in the matter. If a rock did become sentient and decide to crush my muscular legs, I'd have a legitimate reason to complain.
Yet evolutionists and unbelievers, in general, behave in moral ways. They make statements like "You shouldn't teach Creationism to little kids," or "You ought not to judge other people." They bear witness to the Creator by their conscience, while making moral statements, though these statements cannot be accounted for within their worldview. The fact that unbelievers appeal to objective morality, even though they lack the standard for such, proves that they really do believe in God! Unbelievers borrow from the Christian worldview in operating within the guidelines of morality. It is the Christian worldview, because morality to a Christian is merely a reflection of God's nature. Morality to a Christian stems from an absolute standard—God and His Word. Morality is built into the hearts of every person God created, whether they follow that conscience or not. Deep down inside, even atheists know that there is an absolute moral standard—they just can't bring themselves to confess His name. In this way, morality bears witness to the Creator God, who is good and right. And that, you can take to the bank.
Yay! You finally get it! We shouldn't be teaching creationism to little kids. Because it isn't science and it isn't true. I mean, you can deny that, but reality isn't up for grabs here.

Non-Christians appeal to a non-objective but intellectually defensible morality that tries to find the best decision in the set of all possible decisions. Note that this whole while, you've used the adjective "Christian" to describe all of these things that you're trying to prove here. I could change that to "Jewish" or "Muslim" and that wouldn't change your arguments one bit. That should raise some flags for you, but that isn't even your biggest problem. You assert, again, without justification, that we have defined our ways of thinking upon your Bible without realizing or acknowledging it. You haven't backed up a whit of these assertions, and I think now that realization has been heavily poured upon your head.

So here's the "moral" of the story. Think rationally. Anticipate the consequences of your actions, especially in situations where you are aware that things can go wrong. By being conscious about the impact you have on your family, friends, and society in general, you can make the world be a happier, less crappy place. And smile about that!



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