There is a treatise on the nature of morality farther down when you get past the purple letters. I am sharing a bit of my testimony but go ahead down to the main article if you do not care. My testimony only matters in that God can save anyone and I do mean anyone!
Drugs or Jesus. Yes, I was once a junkie, a drug dealer, a party animal, a sinner par excellence. Talking to my oldest recently, as she was telling me what a great Dad I was (her opinion, of course) I told her that she was part of my salvation. I was going to leave my wife and go be a rock hero. I would either be dead, in jail or be one of those old dudes on perpetual tour still trying to lure groupies to his RV after the concert, getting AARP messages in his mail and trying to look and act 29 for the rest of his life. Yes, I had one foot out the door but had not really left everything behind because I had that little girl in that playpen with her big blue eyes looking at me every day. I'd felt a small hand snag my little finger as a baby in an incubator, too small, opened her eyes for the first time and I was what she saw. Sometimes I like to say she had to be pretty brave to fight for life after her first glimpse of the world!!!
But leaving my little daughter was hard and I was so ambivalent that I was still working at the factory and coming home...eventually. Today I remember and wonder how close I was to leaving when that Pastor Wood came to speak to a guy called they called The Caveman. I was rough-looking and smelled like pot and beer and had a cigarette in one hand and a can in the beer in the other. My hair and beard were long, my muscles were toned from lifting thousands of pounds each night at the steel tubing factory, my attitude was bored and dismissive. My heart was mostly with partying and getting a rock band ready to fly but...God had not given up on me.
By God's grace the hesitation gave God just enough time to send one more guy to my door, one more guy telling me about this Jesus and God being real and...zap. In an instant I knew it was true and in an instant I belonged to Jesus more than I did to myself and I belonged at home building a life instead of in bars making love to foolish young women through a microphone. Both me and my wife became Christians, I have six children who are also Christian and three grandchildren being raised to be Christians as well. God has enabled me to work in ministry for 32 years. When I think of all the kids, and teenagers and even adults I have been able to bring to Jesus in these years and how close I came to throwing everything worth anything away...tears fill my eyes and I know it is the Grace of God and His power and not mine.
My oldest reminded me of the years we had a family band and we would sing at churches and we would sing in the van or the car and we would sing at home and with friends and then I realized yet again that I had actually done what I always wanted to do anyway. I had sung in churches and special meetings and on videos and on flatbed trucks in parks and always for Jesus, singing with bands and choirs and church musicians - thousands and thousands over the years. I am retired from all but karaoke singing right now as I rehab a very bad knee but if God wills I will go back to singing in the church group again. I did not become a rock star. But I did become a singer for the Rock of Ages!
So much about life has nothing to do with the material world. This Universe could not have created itself, life cannot make itself, so much of the garbage you get spoonfed in school is utterly ridiculous religious nonsense. Now I hurt for other people and their desperation, for others who are seeking and not finding, for those who are smugly sure that they know it all and they nothing at all worth knowing. Too many seek something in a snort of coke or a dozen coke-and-crowns or a hit of acid or a joint, too many seek refuge in sex or money or fame or indulging in endless fantasies. How many crackheads will lose their families, their minds, their lives? How many babies are murdered in the womb? It is the hopeless meaningless of Darwinism that underlies so much of this!
Richard Dawkins is a poor, sad fool. He challenges God and calls Him names and thinks he is all that. In the end he will be broken and horrified and will realize the gravity of his mistake too late. The irony of it all is that he accuses both God and Christians of immorality! It is no surprise that he is ignorant concerning the Bible. Atheists of all stripes seem to go to a few sources to find pat answers and supposed slapdowns aimed at Christians and creationists. Each and every one of them, Jesus died for and holds out the gift of salvation to them until they take their last breath. Will they go down cursing or crying? I do not know but I keep hoping and praying they will not go down at all.
Scott Stapp of Creed sang "I'm down on my knees, begging you to rescue me. Please don't let me run, surround me surround me!" God found him and Scott found God. God found me and I found God. Now I will appeal to your heart through your mind with this article. Jesus Christ is always calling, He calls with the stars and the evidence and the Bible and the millions of changed lives and he also calls with logic:
By: Gregory Koukl
Bongo is a chimp. He’s being punished by other members of the chimpanzee band for not sharing his bananas. Bongo is selfish. Bad Bongo. Moral rule: Chimps shouldn’t be selfish.
One of the strongest evidences for the existence of God is man’s unique moral nature. C. S. Lewis argues in Mere Christianity that there is a persistent moral law that represents the ethical foundation of all human cultures. This, he says, is evidence for the God who is the author of the moral law.
Not everyone agrees. Scenarios like that of Bongo the chimp have been offered as evidence for rudimentary forms of morality among animals, especially the “higher” primates like chimpanzees. This suggests that morality in humans is not unique and can be explained by the natural process of evolution without appeal to a divine Lawgiver.
This view of morality is one of the conclusions of the new science of evolutionary psychology. Its adherents advance a simple premise: The mind, just like every part of the physical body, is a product of evolution. Everything about human personality — marital relationships, parental love, friendships, dynamics among siblings, social climbing, even office politics — can be explained by the forces of neo-Darwinian evolution.
Even the moral threads that make up the fabric of society are said to be the product of natural selection. Morality can be reduced to chemical relationships in the genes chosen by different evolutionary needs in the physical environment. Love and hate; feelings of guilt and remorse; gratitude and envy; even the virtues of kindness, faithfulness, and self-control can all be explained mechanistically through the cause and effect of chance genetic mutations and natural selection.
One notable example of this challenge to the transcendent nature of morality comes from the book The Moral Animal — Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology , by Robert Wright.
Robert Wright holds the same view regarding man’s psychological features, including morality. The strongest evidence for this analysis seems to be the explanatory power of the evolutionary paradigm when dealing with moral conduct. The argument rests on the nature of natural selection itself: “If within a species there is variation among individuals in their hereditary traits, and some traits are more conducive to survival and reproduction than others, then those traits will (obviously) become more widespread within the population. The result (obviously) is that the species’ aggregate pool of hereditary traits changes.”1
Wright argues from effect back to cause, asking what is the simplest, most elegant solution adequate to explain the effects we see. To Wright, the evolutionary explanation is “obvious.” In order to survive, animals must adapt to changing conditions. Through the process of natural selection, naturalistic forces “choose” certain behavior patterns that allow the species to continue to exist. We call those patterns “morality.”
If a woman’s “fidelity gene” (or her “infidelity gene”) shapes her behavior in a way that helps get copies of itself into future generations in large numbers, then that gene will by definition flourish.4 (emphasis in original)
Beneath all the thoughts and feelings and temperamental differences that marriage counselors spend their time sensitively assessing are the stratagems of the genes — cold, hard equations composed of simple variables.5Some mothers have a genetic predisposition to love their children, so the story goes, and this genetic predisposition to be loving is favored by natural selection. Consequently, there are more women who are “good” mothers.
What is the evidence, though, that moral virtues are genetic — a random combination of molecules? Is the fundamental difference between a Mother Theresa and an Adolph Hitler their chromosomal makeup? If so, then how could we ever praise Mother Theresa? How could a man like Hitler be truly guilty?
Wright offers no empirical evidence for his thesis. He seems to assume that moral qualities are in the genes because he must; his paradigm will not work otherwise.
This statement captures a major flaw in Wright’s analysis. His entire thesis is that chance evolution exhausts what it means to be moral. He sees morality as descriptive, a mere function of the environment selecting patterns of behavior that assist and benefit the growth and survival of the species. Yet he frequently lapses, unconsciously making reference to a morality that seems to transcend nature.
Take this comment as an example: “Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse“6 (emphases mine). Wright reflects on the moral equipment randomly given to us by nature, and then bemoans our immoral use of it with words like “tragic,” “pathetic,” and “misuse.”
He writes, “Go above and beyond the call of a smoothly functioning conscience; help those who aren’t likely to help you in return, and do so when nobody’s watching. This is one way to be a truly moral animal.”7
It’s almost as if there are two categories of morality, nature’s morality and a transcendent standard used to judge nature’s morality. But where did this transcendent standard come from? It’s precisely this higher moral law that needs explaining. If transcendent morality judges the “morality” that evolution is responsible for, then it can’t itself be accounted for by evolution.
Wright argues that the reductio ad absurdum argument from social Darwinism is flawed. Though life in an unregulated state of nature is, as 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes described it, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,”10 we’re not required to take the “survival of the fittest” as a moral guideline.
Evolutionists may be right when they argue that we’re not compelled to adopt the morality of evolution. The threat of social Darwinism, though, is not that society is required to adopt the law of the jungle, but that it is allowed to do so. The exploitation of the weak by the strong is morally benign according to this view.
What Darwinists cannot do is give us a reason why we ought not simply copy nature and destroy those who are weak, unpleasant, costly, or just plain boring. If all moral options are legitimate, then it is legitimate for the strong to rule the weak. No moral restraints protect the weak, because moral restraints simply do not exist.
One can’t infer actual moral obligations from the mere fact of a chimp’s conduct. One might talk descriptively about a chimp’s behavior, but no conclusion about morality follows from this. One can observe that chimps in community share food, and when they do they survive better. But one can’t conclude from this that Bongo, the chimp, ought to share his bananas, and if he doesn’t, then he’s immoral because he hasn’t contributed to the survival of his community.
Further, in fixing blame, we distinguish between an act done by accident and the very same act done on purpose. The behavior is the same, but the intent is different. We don’t usually blame people for accidents, such as in the case of the boy who didn’t intend to trip the old lady.
We also give attention to the issue of motive. We withhold blame even if the youngster tripped the old lady on purpose if the motive is acceptable: he tripped her to keep her out of a sniper’s line of fire.
Motive and intent can therefore not be determined simply by looking at behavior. In fact, some “good” behavior — giving to the poor, for example — might turn out to be tainted if the motive and intent are wrong, as when a man gives to be thought well of but has no real concern for the recipient. Indeed, it seems one can be immoral without any behavior at all, as when a woman plots an evil deed but never has the opportunity to carry it out.
Morality informs behavior, judging it either good or bad, but it’s not identical to behavior. Morality is something deeper than habitual patterns of physical interaction. Therefore, one can’t draw conclusions about animal morality simply based on what one observes in their conduct.
Evolutionists such as Wright are ultimately forced to admit that what we think is a “higher truth” turns out to be a “shameless ploy,” a description of animal behavior conditioned by the environment for survival. We’ve given that conduct a label, they argue. We call it morality. But there is no real right and wrong.
Does Bongo, the chimp, actually exhibit genuine moral behavior? Does he understand the difference between right and wrong? Can he make principled choices to do what’s right? Is he worthy of blame and punishment for doing wrong? Of course not, Wright says. Bongo merely does in a primitive way what humans do in a more sophisticated way. We respond according to our genetic conditioning, a program “designed” by millions of years of evolution.
The evolutionary approach is not an explanation of morality; it’s a denial of morality. It explains why we think moral truths exist when, in fact, they don’t.
One of the distinctives of morality is its “oughtness,” its moral incumbency. Assessments of mere behavior, however, are descriptive only. Since morality is essentially prescriptive (telling what should be the case, as opposed to what is the case) and since all evolutionary assessments of moral behavior are descriptive, then evolution cannot account for the most important thing that needs to be explained: morality’s “oughtness.”
The question that needs to be answered is: “Why shouldn’t the chimp (or a human being, for that matter) be selfish?” The evolutionary answer might be that when we’re selfish, we hurt the group. That answer, though, presumes another moral value: We ought to be concerned about the welfare of the group. Why should that concern us? Answer: If the group doesn’t survive, then the species doesn’t survive. But why should I care about the survival of the species?
Here’s the problem. All of these responses meant to explain morality ultimately depend on some prior moral notion to hold them together. It’s going to be impossible to explain, on an evolutionary view of things, why I should not be selfish, or steal, or rape, or even kill tomorrow without smuggling morality into the answer.
The evolutionary explanation disembowels morality, reducing it to mere descriptions of conduct. The best the Darwinist explanation can do — if it succeeds at all — is explain past behavior. It cannot inform future behavior. The essence of morality, though, is not description, but prescription.
Evolution may be an explanation for the existence of conduct we choose to call moral, but it gives no explanation why I should obey any moral rules in the future. If one countered that we have a moral obligation to evolve, then the game would be up, because if we have moral obligations prior to evolution, then evolution itself can’t be their source.
Evolution does not explain morality. Bongo is not a bad chimp, he’s just a chimp. No moral rules apply to him. Eat the banana, Bongo.
This creates two problems. First, evolution doesn’t explain what it’s meant to explain. It can only account for preprogrammed behavior, which doesn’t qualify as morality. Moral choices, by their nature, are made by free agents — not dictated by internal mechanics.
Second, the Darwinist explanation reduces morality to mere descriptions of behavior. But the morality that evolution needs to account for entails much more than conduct. Minimally, it involves motive and intent as well. Both are nonphysical elements that can’t, even in principle, evolve in a Darwinian sense.
Where do morals come from? Why do they seem to apply only to human beings? Are they the product of chance? What world view makes sense out of morality?
We can answer these questions simply by reflecting on the nature of moral rules. By making observations about the effect — morality — we can then ask what are its characteristics and what might cause it.
This is a profound realization. We have, with a high degree of certainty, stumbled on something real. Yet it’s something that can’t be proven empirically or described in terms of scientific laws. From this we learn that there’s more to the world than just the physical universe. If nonphysical things — like moral rules — truly exist, then materialism as a world view is false.
Many other realities seem to populate this invisible world, such as propositions, numbers, and the laws of logic. Values such as happiness, friendship, and faithfulness exist, too, along with meanings and language. There may even be persons — souls, angels, and other immaterial beings.
It becomes clear that some things really exist that science has no access to, even in principle. Some realities are not governed by scientific laws. Science, therefore, is not the only discipline that gives us true information about the world. It follows, then, that naturalism as a world view is also false.
Our discovery of moral rules forces us to expand our understanding of the nature of reality. It opens our minds to the existence of a host of new entities that populate the world in the invisible realm.
The second thing we observe is that moral rules ar e a kind of communication. They are propositions — intelligent statements conveyed from one mind to another. The propositions take the form of imperatives, or commands. A command only makes sense when there are two minds involved, one giving the command an d one receiving it.
We notice a third fact when we reflect on moral rules. They have a force we can actually feel prior to any behavior. This is called the incumbency of moral rules, the oughtness of morality we considered earlier. It appeals to our will, compelling us to act in a certain way, though we may disregard its force and choose not to obey.
Fourth and finally, we feel a deep discomfort when we violate clear and weighty moral rules; an ethical pain makes us aware that we have done something wrong and deserve punishment. This sense of guilt carries with it not just this uncomfortable awareness, but also the dread of having to answer for our deed. Distraction and denial may temporarily numb the pain, but it never disappears entirely.
Faced with a limited number of options, we must choose something. When the full range of choices is clear, rejection of one means acceptance of another. At this point our discussion becomes personal, because the ultimate answer to our question has serious ramifications for the way we live our lives. We may be tempted to abandon careful thinking when we are forced to confront conclusions that make us uncomfortable.
Our options are limited to three. One: Morality is simply an illusion. Two: Moral rules exist but are mere accidents, the product of chance. Three: Moral rules are not accidents but are the product of divine intelligence. Which option makes most sense given our four observations about morality?
Some argue that morals simply don’t exist. They are nothing but illusions, useful fictions that help us live in harmony. This is the evolutionist’s answer we’ve already found seriously wanting.
Some take the second route. They admit that although objective moral laws must exist, they are just accidents. We discover them as part of the furniture of the universe, so to speak, but they have no explanation, nor do we need one.
This won’t do for a good reason: Moral rules without grounds or justification need not be obeyed. An example may help to illustrate. One evening in the middle of a Scrabble game, one notices the phrase “do not go” formed in the random spray of letter tiles on the table. Is this a command that ought to be obeyed? Of course not. It’s just a random collection of letters.
Commands are communications between two minds. Chance might conceivably create the appearance of a moral rule, but there can be no command if no one is speaking. Since this phrase is accidental, it can be safely ignored.
Even if a person is behind the communication, one could easily ignore the command if it isn’t backed by an appropriate authority. If I stood at an intersection and put my hand up, cars might stop voluntarily, but they’d have no duty to respond. They could ignore me without fear of punishment because I have no authority to direct traffic. But if a police officer replaced me, traffic would come to a halt.
What is the difference between the officer and me? My authority is not grounded. It doesn’t rest on anything solid. Police, in contrast, represent the government, so their authority is justified. They are legitimate representatives of the state, appointed to carry out its will.
It’s clear then that a law has moral force when an appropriate authority, operating within its legitimate jurisdiction, issues it. If people violate such a law, they could be punished. The same is true of moral laws. These laws have force if a proper authority stands behind them. Moral rules that appear by chance, in contrast, have no such grounding.
Our second option fails because it doesn’t explain the three important features we observed about morality. Chance morality fails to be a communication between two minds and therefore cannot be imperative. It doesn’t account for the incumbency of moral rules, nor does it make sense of the guilt and expectation of punishment one feels when those rules are violated.
What best explains the existence of morality? A personal God whose character provides an absolute standard of goodness. An impersonal force won’t do because a moral rule encompasses a proposition and a command; both are features of minds. Ethicist Richard Taylor explains: “A duty is something that is owed. . . . but something can be owed only to some person or persons. There can be no such thing as a duty in isolation. . . . The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain, but their meaning is gone.”12
Only one option makes sense of each observation about morality: a personal God who created both the material and the immaterial realms. Moral laws suggest a moral lawgiver, one who communicates His desires through His laws. He expects His imperatives to be obeyed.
The existence of God also explains the incumbency of morality. Ethics are adequately grounded because God is a proper authority for moral rules. The universe is His possession because He created it. He has the right to rule over it; His great power undergirds that right
Ethical pain — true moral guilt — also makes sense with this explanation. Morals are not disembodied principles but personal commands, and so a violation is not just a broken rule but an offense against the person who made the rule. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard pointed out that a person could not have anything on his conscience if God did not exist.
Some attempt to argue that they don’t need God to have morality. They can live a moral life even though they don’t believe in a divine being. But no one denies that an atheist can behave in a way one might call moral. The real question is, “Why ought he?” Trappist monk Thomas Merton put it this way: “In the name of whom or what do you ask me to behave? Why should I go to the inconvenience of denying myself the satisfactions I desire in the name of some standard that exists only in your imagination? Why should I worship the fictions that you have imposed on me in the name of nothing?”13
A moral atheist is like someone sitting down to dinner who doesn’t believe in farmers, ranchers, fishermen, or cooks. She believes the food just appears, with no explanation and no sufficient cause. This is silly. Either her meal is an illusion, or someone provided it. In the same way, if morals really exist, as we have argued, then some cause adequate to explain the effect must account for them. God is the most reasonable solution.
Morality grounded in God explains our hunger for justice. We desire for a day of final reckoning when all wrongs are made right, when innocent suffering is finally redeemed, and when the guilty are punished and the righteous rewarded.
This also explains our own personal sense of dread. We feel guilty because we are guilty. We know deep down that we have offended a morally perfect Being who has the legitimate authority to punish us. We also know we will have to answer for our own crimes against God.
In the end, we must accept one of two alternatives. Either we live in a universe in which morality is a meaningless concept and thus we are forever condemned to silence regarding any moral issue, or moral rules exist and we’re beholden to a moral God who holds us accountable to his law. There are no other choices. As Francis Schaeffer put it, “These are not probability answers; [these] are the only answers. It is this or nothing.”14 If one is certainly false, the other is certainly true.15
Gregory Koukl is president of Stand to Reason, an apologetics organization (www. str.org), and the coauthor with Francis J. Beckwith of Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Baker, 1998).