Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, May 25, 2007

    Coming up short

    Over the last few weeks, we have seen and heard numerous bold attacks on Christianity. There can be little doubt that the angry wing of the atheist community has been emboldened by the loud and onbnoxious public entertainment efforts of vocal angry atheists like Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins. Unfortunately for the Itchy and Scratchy wing of the non-believers movement, repeating oft refuted and tired arguments by screaming louder and adding cuss words and finger-wagging does not make them valid.

    We have honestly heard nothing new. The atheist scientists, who often claimed before that science cannot prove or disprove God, seem to have abandoned that position now by making liberal use of science to account for things that previously was in the religious or theological realm. Morals are especially popular, with memetic and societal evolution supposedly accounting for morals.

    That argument represents a glaring ignorance of the issue, but it does sound nice and "scientific" though. But before one can even arrive at the logic of an argument, there is the small matter of the metaphysics of epistimology. To be consistent, the theory of how one can know the truth has to preceed any moral argument, since the moral argument rests on how how one "ought" and "should" behave, in reality (that which is the real world). Reality cannot be known without knowing that it is a true reality, and not a figment of the imagination or illusionary, for example.

    Scientific methodology, while valuable for
    discovering and describing God's creation and its practical applications to our lives, comes up short as a mechanism for determining truth. It falls on its own sword...if science is the only way to determine truth, how was that statement scientifically generated or proven?

    Can the scientific argument for morals then be applied to the moral argument? While it offers a possible explanation for the origins and/or the hereditary characteristics of the mechanisms, it cannot comment on how one "ought" or "should" behave. Such an argument is a category error, kind of like saying the printing press is making the planets stay in their orbits by publishing books that describe the gravitational pull of the sun and other planets. Furthermore, once the atheo-scientists make the judgment call on the correctness or not of their moral evolution story, they have to account for the truth-generating capabilities of their methodology. And that is nothing more than a metaphysical commitment that is suicidal at best, as shown above.

    A further obstacle raises its ugly head from the long grass in Eden. If evolutionary mechanisms are indeed responsible for propagating morals by hard-wiring it into our "memes" and folklore, why is it that some do not behave in the way they "ought" or "should"? Lions hunt, monkeys pick fruit, flies lay eggs in dung and man eats, sleeps, drinks and procreates, yet he does not behave in the way he should. The evolutionary mechanisms for survival are supposedly (albeit viciously circular), responsible and irrresistably so, for all of the above. Why not also for morals, if the mechanisms are the same, and memes and genes are analogous? The outcome of moral evolution should be the preservation of those who have morally adapted to the requirements of society, but murderers and rapists live to good old ages, and produce offspring by force (in the case of rapists). That is clearly not a desired moral outcome, but positive in light of evolutionary species progress (survival of the strongest).

    Saying that memes have over time hardwired the requirements of society into humans is question-begging of the best order. It first assumes the existence of both memes and moral societies, and then tries to clumsily argue from the conclusion backwards. Memes would have no reason for existence apart from preserving societal norms (and the imagination of Richard Dawkins), but they cannot come into existence if a moral society does not exist. But moral societies, according to evolutionary folklore, exist because of the preservation characteristics of memes.

    Furthermore, since our atheo-scientists insist on holding up science as the sword-bearer for truth, they must account for the very existence of memes. However, there is no direct scientific evidence for the existence of memes, and stand only as a rather far-fetched analogy with the gene. Furthermore, it seems to be a case of invention, necessary to prop up the metaphysical commitments of non-theists, rather than scientific or epistimological neccesity.

    Clearly then, it is patently absurd to try and account for morals from an evolutionary framework. It is inherently inconsistent and weak. All of the bravado and posturing will not change the fact that to try and do so is a category error, is unprovable by scientific standards, is contradictory from an evolutionary framework perspective, cannot account for how man "ought" to behave and why he doesn't.

    Ultimately, morality is a universal experience, and how man "ought" to behave is a universal moral requirement because it is a universal experience. That behaviour and requirements cannot stand without a universal standard of normative conduct. Universal normative conduct in reality can only be accounted for from a transcendental universally moral source. As a result, any attempts to account for normative universal conduct outside of the Christian God comes up short. (Atheism, deism, pantheism and other theistic explanations all suffer from fatal inherent inconsistencies, similar to the atheist failure we demonstrated here)

    Where our human conduct does come up short, we are transgressing against God and His moral laws. That deserves punishment. However, through His Grace, His Son Jesus Christ was already punished on your behalf. He is the universal law-giver, and the one who saves those who transgress and seek Him.

    You know how you "ought" to behave and yet you don't. That is not without consequences. For your own sake, do away with the consequences and get to know Jesus.

    1 comment:

    Swordbearer said...

    Tremendous post!

    I suspect this one will be well read and passed along!