Re: basis for morality

Bill Dozier (dozier@radix.net)
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 12:26:44 -0400

I wrote:
> > For instance, Hayek's theory that
> > morality evolved as human society discovered how best to regulate its
> > relationships may be plausible but begs the question as to the authority of
> > the resulting moral law over every individual.

Dennis Sweitzer summarized the "selfish gene" theory:
> The socio-biology view seems to imply that the resulting moral law has no
> authority over every individual. So society is at the mercy of
> individuals--but individuals are at the mercy of society, as well. So, the
> concept of authority is merely a rationalization and variation of
> 'might-makes-right'.

All of which disqualifies it as a basis for morality. It is more of a basis
for amorality. The Selfish Gene was a popular book among some of my friends
when I was an undergrad back in the 70's and I can assure you that none of
the people that I knew that rationalized their immoral behavior with its
arguments even attempted to use it as a worldview. That would be patently
impossible. I would tell you the Norman Geisler anecdote about students and
relative morality, but I'm sure you've all heard it.

Steve Schaffner also replied:
> Does the Christian view really avoid begging the question? How does
> the fact that God is my creator make his law binding morally? Why is
> it _right_ to obey God, rather than merely expedient, or necessary,
> say? Suppose humans prove able, eventually, to make intelligent,
> conscious machines. Should our wishes be morally binding on them?

I did not and would not say that God's status as creator gives him the
right to hold us responsible to his "wishes." What is right and wrong is
decided by what is consistent with God's character. There can be no other
standard, or God is not infinite. Put another way, there is no code that
God must follow in order to be good. God just "is" good. Were there a
standard for him to follow, then the deviser of that standard must be God
instead.

Absolute morality can be grounded only in God's character.

I wrote:
> > On the other hand, the Christian has but one faith commitment to make:
> > submission to the infinite, personal, triune God as revealed in the Bible.
> > In His nature is found the basis for a complete and consistent worldview.
> > Even if we were to concede (and we don't have to) that this single faith
> > commitment is a blind "leap" without foundation, are we worse off than the
> > non-theist? Is it more rational to make one leap or several? What if it is
> > not a blind leap?

Steve replied:
> I don't think the situation is quite as simple as that. I can find
> elements in the Bible that support both my moral beliefs and my
> trust in science, but I can also find plenty of elements that run
> counter to both.

If the Bible actually teaches contrary to your moral or scientific beliefs,
then I would humbly suggest that you consider changing them. If you mean
something else here, then please elucidate.

> It's not at all clear to me to what extent, in
> reality, my moral beliefs are based on my theism. If, for example,
> you were convinced that God was directing you to murder a child,
> would you do it?

I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here, so I don't know how to
respond to this.