Summit Lecture Series: Can We Be Moral Without God? with Frank Beckwith, part 6

To purchase the entire DVD set of the Summit Lecture Series, visit summit.org.

Imagine somebody holding a worldview rooted in an unguided evolution. Most often, people in this camp contend that morality is necessary for survival. So, our intuitions about the wrongness of adultery, murder, stealing, and so forth… are merely the consequences of eons of time combined with the survival of these traits which lead to these sentiments of guilt when we violate moral laws.

Therefore, there is no mind behind it.

But, there is something wrong with this line of thinking.Stop Following Me

Firstly, this may explain why we have these feelings today, but it doesn’t explain why we are compelled to follow them. The fact is, there have been people throughout history who have grotesquely violated our moral laws (Hitler, Attila the Hun, Nero, King David). The list is long of those who have murdered, committed adultery, stolen, or lied. Yet, according to the naturalist / unguided evolutionist line of logic, how do we know that these people aren’t just as equally important in the survival of our species as the people who obeyed the moral law?

In other words, how do you distinguish the people who you should follow from the people you shouldn’t follow?

You see, we can’t derive any direction from our sentiments of guilt, if they are merely passed down traits from generation to generation. There must be something greater than inherited feelings in order to compel us to obey the moral law.

If we look at human history, particularly those who violated our moral law, these violators are just as much part of the natural world as someone who obeyed the moral law.

So, how do we distinguish the good people from the bad people, since both groups of people have survived?

Another thing that unguided evolution doesn’t quite account for is the distinction between motive and intent.

Overall, unguided evolution only addresses behaviors, or what people actually do. But, when we evaluate people’s moral behavior, we have to factor in their motive and intent, not merely their actions.

In fact, in some cases, the judgment on whether someone behaved morally or immorally is entirely dependent on their motives and intent. Their actual actions sometimes mean very little.

For example, people who hid Jews from the Nazis and lied in order to preserve people’s lives. They deceived one person in order to preserve another. Their motive and intent would govern entirely whether or not the person was behaving morally or immorally.

And, evolution doesn’t deal with motive or intent, it merely deals with behavior, so it offers an incomplete account of morality.

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