Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Immorality of Amorality

You may be aware that I just completed a 6 part series on Charles Darwin’s book, “The Descent of Man.” And as you can imagine, our atheist friends did not enjoy the journey. 

Most of them predictably offered little more than hasty dismissals and denials. Naturally, as angry atheists are wont to do, there was no shortage of irrational name calling and ad hominem argumentation—like this little gem: 

More ineptness and lies from the lord of the flies. Does it never get old for you Steve Griffin to spread bullshit albeit better knowledge? 

How does one rationally respond to such imbecility? It puts me in mind of C.S. Lewis’ quip that if one cannot understand things written for grown-ups then one should not talk about them. Nevertheless, such playground banality is all too common with Darwin’s insolent, embarrassing stepchildren.  

But thankfully, there was an exception. The following is an excerpted, irenic and adult conversation, regarding morality, with one of my detractors. For clarity his words appear bold and italicized 


“You are committing the ‘Is/Ought Fallacy.’ It's true that if you step off the top of a skyscraper that gravity will pull you to your death. This is a scientific fact, just like evolution. Does this mean that I ought to push you off the top of a building? Of course not. Your argument is fallacious. You are also committing a fallacy known as an ‘appeal to consequences.’ The potentially negative consequences of a belief have no bearing on whether or not it is true.” 

I am not committing the fallacies of which you speak. 

Darwin does not say these things (genocides, etc.) will--but shouldn't--happen. He says they will and should happen. He considers such natural selection (the "extermination of savage races") to be evolutionary progress. 

When you invoke the "is/ought" tension, you are speaking in moral, ethical categories. ("Ought" entails moral obligation.) Natural selection is and there's no moral imperative to say it ought not to be. 

"Is/ought" is only so much nonsense to Darwin's views on race and survival. 

Furthermore, Darwin anticipates no "negative consequences" for the human species in "weeding out" (to use his phrase, “The Descent of Man” p. 351) inferior races. And I never said Darwin's views are "true" or "false" based upon "consequences." 

I said "Ideas have consequences." This is the case with all ideas, both true and false. 

“Scientific theories do not have any necessary connection to moral beliefs. Based on Newtonian physics alone, genocide is also acceptable. You're committing a category error. Let's grant for the sake of argument that, based on his theory of evolution, Darwin concluded that we OUGHT to promote eugenics. So what? There is nothing intrinsic to evolution that leads to any moral position.” 

Friend, I've been as clear with you as I can, yet you do not understand me. I don't know why you persist to see a "category error" where there is none. Perhaps I am to blame. 

I agree with your insistence that there's no "necessary connection" between naturalistic evolution and moral beliefs. (Have I not said this? Haven't I repeatedly written to you that evolution knows no moral "ought/ought not" category?) 

Let's go further, shall we? If the naturalistic evolutionist is to think and reason, consistent within his own worldview, he has no moral basis or foundation to say of anything: This ought not to be. 

In other words, the naturalistic evolutionary worldview cannot say: Genocides are morally wrong and ought not take place. The naturalist has no moral category for "right" and "wrong." You are more than willing to admit this. 

This is why you say of genocide: "So what," and "Based on Newtonian physics alone, genocide is also acceptable." 

The fact is, based upon naturalistic evolution, genocide and eugenics are not considered to be morally wrong. Survival of the fittest! 

“The Bible also CAN and HAS been used to justify genocide and other atrocities. What do you think we should conclude about it?” 

This is unquestionably true. However, two very important things are to be said here. 

First, you are committing the classical tu quoque fallacy. That is, you are basically stamping your foot and proclaiming—“You too!” (At least we finally have a tacit admission that evolutionary ideology has played a principle part in eugenics and genocide.) 

Second, when the Bible is misused to support “atrocities,” Christians have within the Bible, within the orthodox Christian worldview, a moral framework with which to condemn “atrocities.” The Christian worldview has within it the capacity for moral judgment. 

And herein lies the fundamental difference. 

When the Bible is misused to “justify” any “atrocity,” the Christian can rightly use the Bible to condemn the “atrocity” as immoral. Christianity has a recognized, objective, authoritative moral foundation and ethical system. This moral foundation and ethical system is found within the Bible. 

But when someone—like Hitler—uses naturalistic evolutionary ideology to “justify genocide and other atrocities,” there is nothing within naturalistic evolutionary ideology to say such things are morally wrong.  

Naturalistic evolution has no moral foundation and thus no discernible ethical system. There are no “certain moral beliefs” within the system. Survival of the fittest! 

Perhaps you personally find “atrocities” distasteful. But you cannot consider them morally wrong. 

When it comes to genocide and eugenics, if you are to be consistent within your own naturalistic evolutionary worldview, the most you can say is: Stuff happens. “So what.”


  1. Greetings from Northern Ireland. Enjoyed your post yet be very careful of using quotes from CS Lewis as he had some very strange views which were very pro - Rome etc. I have a booklet highlighting these. Psalm 118 v 8

    1. Thank you for reading and thinking, Raymond. Blessings to you and yours.