A reader from my last post mentioned the name of Richard Dawkins. Of course, I’m sure a lot of people are aware that Richard Dawkins is one of the most revered (if not the most revered) atheist by the present-day atheist community. Next to Dawkins is probably Charles Darwin, who most of us know is the author of the “On the Origin of Species” in which Evolution has been purportedly suggested to have diminished the concept of Creation and Intelligent Design.
Let me first say that I have no problems with Evolution. I actually find Evolution fascinating and it may very well explain how various species have changed through time and how various species are related to one another. What I don’t buy is Evolution-determinism, suggesting that all aspects in life including morality can be accounted to Evolution. This article is not meant to defend either Creation or Evolution. This article is intended to lay down criticisms against those who present an apology for Darwin, asserting that Evolution’s testability has been proven to account for morality through the domestication of plants and animals as well as cases of dog breeding for temperament. (Yes, believe it or not I have read dog breeding as a case presented in asserting Evolution’s explanation of morality.) This is also a critique on those who say that Richard Dawkins has explained and validated his claims to support the Darwinian model. Oh my flying spaghetti monster! I almost fell off my chair when I read that one! Wow, if Richard Dawkins says so, then it must be true!
I don’t know about you but to me it seems really stupid to merely equate domestication or being such a nice dog to being a moral human being. Good grief! What an overly simplistic account for such an abstract topic as morality!
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Here are a few things to ponder on…
Suppose you’re in a small boat with your best friend and you two are in the middle of a lake. By some unfortunate accident your boat capsizes throwing you and your best friend in the frigid water. You are a good swimmer but unfortunately your friend isn’t. Naturally, you try to swim to the nearest shore tugging your friend along with you. When you and your friend reach the shore, you notice that your friend is extremely exhausted showing signs of hypothermia. With your friend’s dying breath he requests a favor. Your friend goes: “If I die, I want you to go to the backyard of my house and dig out a bag full of money worth $5 million. I want you to give this money to the manager of the Ginebra San Miguel ball club to give to Michael Jordan as an enticement for him to play for Ginebra”. Because he is your best friend and this is his last wish you agree to do this favor. After a few moments, your friend passes away.
You get rescued a few hours later then you proceed to your friend’s house a few days after your rescue. You dig out a bag in the backyard and sure enough $5 million dollars is there! You know that even if you give this money to the Ginebra San Miguel team, Michael Jordan would still not come out of retirement and play in the PBA, hence, a waste of money. You also know that this $5 million can potentially save the lives of thousands of children with cancer in the hospital where you work (let’s say you work in a children’s hospital) if you purchase a couple of magnetic resonance imaging machines. What are you going to do? Okay, let’s just say that these are the only two options and going to the Bahamas squandering the money is not an option. Anyway, are you going to give this money for Michael Jordan’s enticement or are you going to use it to save the lives of thousands of children with cancer? We are basically dealing with the difference of rightness and goodness here. If you opt to give the money to Ginebra, some may say that you are doing the right thing because you are (duty) bound by your promise to your best friend; besides, the money is not yours to start with anyway, right? But if you choose to use the money for needed equipment in the hospital where you work at, many lives may be saved; some may say that this is the good thing to do.
In any case, what will you do if you were put in such a dilemma? Would you give the money to the Ginebra San Miguel team general manager for Michael Jordan’s enticement (as you promised your friend), or are you going to use the money to save the lives of thousands of sick children? (Let’s pretend that these are the only two choices you have in this case.) For whatever of the 2 options you decide to do, would you say that your decision is the “right” thing to do or is the “good” thing? Why? How do we define the status of a moral judgment? What makes “right” actions “right”? Would doing something “right” equate to “good”? If we achieve something “good” from an action, does that make the action “right”?
Is there a clear-cut answer to the differentiation of “right” and “good” and “wrong” and “evil”? Can someone in this god-forsaken world show, using Charles Darwin’s evolution under the natural selection framework and/or using Richard Dawkins multitude of work, a definitive and airtight conclusive answer to such moral questions?
If evolution or genetics leaning folks say that “good” or “right” or even “moral” is anything that helps one’s genes propagate and “bad” or “wrong” or “evil” is anything that causes your genes to be extinct then they may qualify something as “murder” being immoral because murder is ultimately detrimental to our survival as a species. But what if survival is dependent on murder?
The movie “The Ballad of Narayama” presents a disturbing story. The movie tells of a story a long time ago in Japan. The protagonists in the story lived in a tiny poor village where resources were scarce. In that poor little town, sick children are left to die in the rice paddies and girls are often sold into prostitution. The community accepts these acts for the survival of the rest. To top this off, they also have a law that requires all 70 year old persons to go on top of Mount Narayama to die which will supposedly free up more resources for those who are more useful, young, and able-bodied members of the town. Orin, the matriarch of a family, is closely turning 70 years old. She doesn’t want to die but the law mandates her to do so upon reaching 70 years of age. Her son, certainly supports the law, as he pushes his mother to fulfill the mandate.
Is it morally “good” to push for Orin’s death for the sake of the survival of the family?
To tackle more on “good”, “evil”, “right”, “wrong” actions, please ponder on the following:
1. The sheriff in a southern town is guarding the courthouse against a mob that is about to storm it by force, in order to capture a black prisoner and lynch him even before his trial. If the mob is frustrated, many people may be killed in the ensuing riot. Should the sheriff deliver the prisoner to the mob? If he does, was his deliverance of the black prisoner “good” or “evil”? “Right” or “wrong”?
2. You were summoned by a ruthless dictator in front of 200 prisoners (let’s say they are all innocent but just imprisoned because of politics). Just for kicks (and possibly a big ego trip) he gives you these 2 choices:
a. If you shoot and kill your 5 year old child (who is your only child), he will not order the execution of the 200 prisoners in front of you.
b. If you refuse to kill your child, he will order the execution of the 200 prisoners in front of you.
What would be the “right” and “good” choice for you?
3. Would it be “good” or “right” to whip pigs to death if more succulent pork resulted from this process, giving the consumers of pork more pleasure? Why?
4. You are on your way home and you see two houses on fire. One is yours and the other belongs to your younger sister. Your wife and child are at home as are your sister and her family. You can only save one house. Which one is the “right” and “good” choice to save? Why?
5. As a doctor, you are the last person to see Mr. X before he died in the hospital. You believe that he has become mentally incompetent in the last few hours and in that time he has rewritten his will. In the new will he viciously attacks each member of his adopted family and reveals that he actually was born a woman. He then cuts every family member out of the will leaving his fortune to a Psychic Chatline. Mr. X asks you to make sure that the new will gets to his lawyer. Knowing that the document will most likely be thrown out of court but not before the damage to Mr. X’s family is done. Do you carry out Mr. X’s last request? Why would your choice be the “right” and/or “good” choice to make?
As you can see, there are certainly cases where “goodness” or “rightness” don’t have any direct relevance to genetic propagation. So in light of this, what would really determine the status of a moral judgment? Again, has Darwin and/or Dawkins provided definitive and airtight conclusive answers to such moral questions using evolution under the natural selection framework?
The problem with Darwin apologists like dopey atheists, who strike me pretty much as Dawkins worshipers, is that they get so excited about paying homage to their heroes that they reduce everything under the framework championed by their idols without giving their arguments much thought. Perhaps they can reflect on what Mark Twain said:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Calling a spade, a spade…