In his video Where Does Morality Come From? (HERE) Chris asks and tries to answer where our sense of morality originates. “Do we need to invoke the existence of a super complex being (God), for which we have no direct physical evidence, or can we explain…” morality naturally? After a brief moment of thought, Chris comes up with two words: Natural Selection. He claims that “animals with a moral intuition increase the probability that their species will survive. Animals without this intuition don’t! Morals have a survival advantage”
I really don’t see the proof of Chris’ hypothesis in nature. Animals like rabbits don’t seem to have a sense of morality. Yet, despite the fact that they are prey of a great number of carnivorous species, they have survived, largely due to the rate of reproduction of their species. Carnivores, such as lions, hawks and sharks have also survived to our day, yet none of these species seem to have much use for nor does their behavior express any kind of moral code. Having this understanding, I would have to disagree with Chris’ hypothesis. I don’t think it is provable given the evidence we have in nature.
Chris claims that he doesn’t believe morals are linked to religious values, to which I have to disagree. Nevertheless, he does rightly say that being religious doesn’t make one more moral than anyone else. Although morality does come from God, he doesn’t force himself upon us. If mankind were to image God, mankind would be moral, because we would be as God is. The fact that good behavior by some is appreciated and imitated by others doesn’t make one moral. It simply keeps one from degenerating further in his rebellion against God. A religious person, including one claiming to follow Christ, is no more moral than anyone else in this world, unless he is guided in his behavior by the Holy Spirit. God tells us in his word that our own righteousness is like filthy rags in his sight (Isaiah 64:6). That is, our morality, disconnected from its life-source (God) is of no lasting value.
Chris reiterates that religious values have nothing to do with moral intuition, but this is not so. The Bible concludes that God writes his law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-33). He does this through the preaching of the Gospel. We cannot unlearn what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Christian morality was once considered foolish, but today at least some of it is embraced by the world but its source or power is denied and made common—i.e. as coming through Natural Selection, or in other words man can be moral without God (cp. 2Timothy 3:5).
Chris sought to demonstrate how natural intuition is a better moral compass than what could come through religion. He offered an example quoted from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. In his book Dr. Dawkins quotes from a study done by Israeli psychologist G.R. Tamarin, which he conducted in 1973 with Jewish school children. The study involved more than 1000 children between the ages of 8 and 14. It concerned what was done in the book of Joshua in the overthrow of Jericho. The children were asked if Joshua acted morally. The children overwhelmingly decided he did, with 66% giving total approval, but only 26 % totally disapproved, and 8% giving only partial approval. Dr. Dawkins does not say whether the word genocide was used, but I’ll speak more of this below.
Dr. Dawkins then recounts that Dr. Tamarin gave the same problem to 168 different children but changed Joshua’s name to General Lin and Israel was changed to a Chinese kingdom existing 3000 years ago. In this case, only 7% gave total approval, and 75% of the children totally disapproved. Dawkins concluded that, when the children’s Jewish loyalty was removed, they agreed with most modern humans that Joshua’s action was a deed of barbaric genocide!
From my position I see both the study conducted by Dr. Tamarin and Dr. Dawkins judgment of its value as skewed. In the first place I hardly think the destruction of a city should be called genocide, which is defined as: “the systematic killing of all the people from a national, ethnic, or religious group, or an attempt to do this.” Which national, ethnic or religious group was entirely contained in the city of Jericho? Secondly, Joshua was acting upon the judgment of God, the Judge of the world. Moreover, since Jericho was a walled city, it was a military outpost. Most folks there would have been armed and ready to fight, young and old. There probably wouldn’t be many women there, but those who were there, could have had some connection with either the military or the forbidden religious activity God intended to judge. Everyone but Rahab and her friends and family were destroyed.
From a Biblical worldview, God has the right to judge mankind; he is our Creator. From an atheistic worldview, God doesn’t exist, so no such right of judgment exists. The account of Israel destroying Jericho is not a moral issue. What is at issue is whether or not God exists. If God exists, morality is a moot point, because God has the right to execute judgment upon whomsoever he pleases, when he pleases and through whatever means he pleases.
Finally, presumably Dawkins (Chris isn’t clear on this) asks “what if God asked you to kill your family or blow up a building (e.g. 911) as proof of your loyalty? Would a heinous act not be evil even if the Creator of the universe asked you to do it?” The problem with all this is that God does not ask us to do such things. Those who do them are not acting under the influence of God, but are either politically motivated, or they are done by mentally ill people. God worked through the nation of Israel in ancient times. This was the only nation ever chosen by God as his people through whom he would act to judge other nations. At our present day God works through his Church, not a nation. We have no armies or government. We have no laws, other than the two laws of love, to which others must submit. We preach Christ as Lord, and to him alone we submit and call upon others to do the same (cp. 2Corinthians 5:17-20).