When men say "I ought" they certainly think they are saying something, and something true, about the nature of the proposed action, and not merely about their own feelings. But if Naturalism is true, "I ought" is the same sort of statement as "I itch" or "I'm going to be sick."Update: Tom comments, We're driven towards eating apples over dirt clods. It's transcendant. It's abstract. Yeah, there might be a weird dirt eating cult in Houston, say. But they'll be in the minority. Can you see why evolution might give us THAT drive? (And if you can get that far, is a mother nurturing her child that far away? I would argue that we eat apples based on data collected by our senses, not on some abstract notion that drives us to eat them. However, the color of the apple you eat is based on the notion of redness (if you’re eating a Red Delicious). The quality of redness is abstract and would still exist whether or not your senses properly interpreted the photons reflected by the apple. Or consider, for instance, that you see a single, red apple on the table. Your senses tell you that there is one apple there. But where do you get this concept of “oneness”? Where does the number “one” exist? You believe in the existence of numbers yet you have no empirical data to prove that they exist. It is an abstract concept, which comes from a mind. Note: Simply because you may believe that numbers exist or that a mother nurtures her child, does not, in and of itself, show us how evolution could have provided you with that belief. As for Lewis’ logic, perhaps another rendering of the passage you refer to will help alleviate your confusion: Jesus made certain truth claims about himself. They either were not true or they were true. If they were not true, then he either knew they were not or he didn’t know they were not. If he knew they were not true, then he is a liar. If he didn’t know they were not true, then he was crazy (or… just very stupid). If they were true, then he is who he claimed to be. Also, I didn’t present that argument in my Lewis’ quote, so while it is possible he could have been wrong in the passage you refer to, that does not mandate that he was wrong in the passage I referred to as well. Paul said, I'm getting a pretty clear sense of your desire for an unequivocal foundation for morality. But as strong as your wish may be, it doesn't make it so. … It [naturalistic evolution] does account for a morality that humans tend to subscribe to, which is easily explained by evolution with only one assumption: that a sense of morality is a competitive advantage. If that assumption is true, then beings that exhibit such a sense will tend to do better than those that do not. Actually, I wish I could do whatever I wanted, for my pleasure alone. I certainly don’t wish for an unequivocal foundation for morality… I simply see that that’s how it must be if morality truly exists. Otherwise, if there were no reason to follow one morality over another, then they all become valid (or invalid, depending on how you want to look at it). Either way, the very concept of morality becomes meaningless. Acknowledging that morality exists and then backing it into the goal-less process of evolution (goal-less except for, I guess, the one assumption presented) is hardly a convincing argument that evolution actually produced morality. By what authority are you appealing to by claiming that we use only one assumption? That we tend to do better? How do we know what better is? By how many organisms are left alive at the end of the day? Says who? How about by insuring that only the healthiest organisms are left alive at the end of the day (providing we know what healthy means)? So instead of waiting for natural selection to do its handiwork, we’ll circumvent the process and eliminate the unhealthy members of the species on our own. But we still have too many living members of our species breathing at the end of the day. So let’s not only kill the unhealthy ones, but let’s grind them up and cook them for the next day’s meal as well. After all, our one assumption is that we have a competitive advantage that allows us to do better – and what could be better than insuring that the healthiest members of the species survive? Is that right, or is it wrong? It matters on what the majority says? Says who? Pragmatism? And by what authority are you appealing to for that? Etc., etc., etc. What opponents to this idea of moral truth need to understand is that in presenting your argument, i.e., that naturalistic evolution can produce a moral code, you can appeal to nothing - save determinism and chance. No competitive advantages, no warm cuddly feelings, no emergent (read: magical) properties, nothing. Just electrical impulses and chemical reactions interacting amongst the myriad of pathways found within that extraordinarily complex entity known as homo sapiens sapiens.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Does it make sense, rationally, to posit that evolution has the capacity to produce a moral code? Consider that a sense of right and wrong, if valid, must transcend pure opinion. In other words, if it's wrong for John to murder Mark, then it probably follows that it's also wrong for Mark to murder John. Yet, the real issue in that case is not who is murdering whom, but whether or not murder itself is wrong. However, the issue is unpacked even further by addressing the question of whether or not the abstract concepts of moral right and wrong even exist. Proponents of naturalistic evolution fail miserably when attempting to give account for the existence of morality. If naturalism rules, and all our actions are merely determined by the laws of physics in conjunction with random variations, then exactly how does naturalistic evolution account for a transcendant rule of law - a moral code - an abstract reality that we all recognize? Furthermore, by what authority are we compelled to recognize a naturalistically derived moral code? Another, more sovreign naturalistically derived moral code? And why should we recognize that one? C. S. Lewis wrote,
I’ll be out of pocket this weekend which, for me, now starts on Fridays. We’re finally getting away on another trip to visit some more California Missions and scope out any remaining wildflowers (the third try must be a charm). Hopefully LotharBot or Bonnie will join in the discussion on this post.