No God means no justice
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved equal, that they are endowed by some other people with certain inalienable Rights…”
Imagine if Thomas Jefferson had chosen to put these words in the Declaration of Independence instead of his actual words, which reference our Creator as the source of equality and inalienable rights. There are some very big problems with grounding equality and human rights in anything other than in a transcendent source (read: God). First off, if we really have inalienable rights as humans, and these rights were merely endowed by other people, we are left with the question of how other people can endow inalienable rights. After all, what constitutes human rights to one society may not constitute human rights to another society. And which people are the people who endow these rights? The Nazis and Communists, to cite a couple examples, certainly didn’t endow us with these rights. As Frank Turek and Norman Geisler point out in I Dont’ Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist:
If the Moral Law doesn’t exist, then there’s no moral difference between the behavior of Mother Teresa and that of Hitler. Likewise, statements like “Murder is evil,” “Racism is wrong,” or “You shouldn’t abuse children” have no objective meaning. They’re just someone’s opinion, on a par with “chocolate tastes better than vanilla.” In fact, without the Moral Law, simple value-laden terms such as “good,” “bad,” “better,” and “worse” would have no objective meaning when used in a moral sense. But we know they do have meaning. For example, when we say “society is getting better” or “society is getting worse,” we are comparing society to some moral standard beyond ourselves. That standard is the Moral Law that’s written on our hearts.
Moral progress requires a moral standard to progress toward
And the concept of progress, in terms of social justice, makes no sense if there is no Moral Law which transcends the opinions about justice held by various people. In order for such a thing as progress to occur, there must be a moral ideal toward which to progress. But who or what provides this moral ideal toward which to progress? The moral standards of one particular group of people? Which group of people? By whose standard does ridding our society of racism, for example, constitute progress? Certainly not by the moral standards of the Nazis or the Klu Klux Klan. C.S. Lewis (as cited by Turek and Geisler) notes the need for a moral standard which exists above and beyond subjective human opinions about morality:
“The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something—some Real Morality—for them to be true about.”
Indeed, if there is no Moral Law which transcends subjective human opinions about morality, then changes in morality would be nothing more than changes in moral fashions. A return to institutionalized slavery would be akin to a “retro chic” trend in clothing…such as when 1960’s era suits worn on the hit TV show Mad Men became popular again.
Atheists are fond of arguing that our morals evolved as a result of amoral natural processes. But this stance is wrought with problems. Evolution implies progress, which again brings up the question of how changing moral fashions could be deemed progress rather than merely change. Secondly, if our morals evolved, we are left with the question of why some groups of people did not evolve the same moral values as other groups. Did we not allegedly evolve from the same common ancestors as the Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan?
Natural forces cannot produce morality
Put another way, the easiest way to see that amoral natural forces of evolution cannot be the cause of a moral values such as “Slavery is wrong,” or “Genocide is wrong,” is to realize that the same natural forces which evolved these moral values must have also evolved the contrary moral values (held by such groups as the Nazis)…”Slavery is right,” and “Genocide is right.”
The indifference of natural forces towards moral values was eloquently expressed by the famous atheist biologist Richard Dawkins, in his book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:
“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
The Holocaust was rationalized using Darwinian thought
The only “justice” considered by Darwinian evolution is that of survival. And the pitiless indifference toward God’s Moral Law displayed by the Nazis had its origins in Darwinian thought, as demonstrated by California State University Professor of History Richard Weikart, in his book From Darwin to Hitler. As Weikart points out, the racist Nazi rationalization for killing comes straight from Charles Darwin. Weikart cites Darwin from his book The Descent of Man:
“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, the sick;….Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.”
Ending the lives of the “weak members of civilized societies” was apparently a moral virtue in Darwin’s opinion. At another point in The Descent of Man, Darwin (as cited by Weikart) writes:
“The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.”
Statements made by Adolf Hitler reveal his unmistakably Darwinist views. For example, Hitler once said:
“The law of selection justifies this incessant struggle, by allowing for the survival of the fittest. Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.”
Hitler also said:
“The stronger asserts his will, it’s the law of nature. The world doesn’t change; its laws are eternal.”
And exterminating “weak members of civilized societies,” those deemed by the Nazis to be unworthy of passing on their genes, is exactly what the Nazis tried to do. It is not difficult, then, to see why Weikart is justified in stating that:
“Darwinism by itself did not produce the Holocaust, but without Darwinism…neither Hitler nor his Nazi followers would have had the necessary scientific underpinnings to convince themselves and their collaborators that one of the world’s greatest atrocities was really morally praiseworthy.”
Considering the need for a transcendent source of morality, it is unsurprising that the civil rights movement in the United States was founded by Christians such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The success of the civil rights movement can be largely attributed to the fact that figures such as Dr. King were able to convincingly argue that the attitudes and practices of the white majority toward racial minorities did not comply with God’s Moral Law, as cited in the Declaration of Independence.