Morality: Explaining Good and Evil

We now come to the third piece in the puzzle of reality – Morality. Morality is a strange subject in many ways. Our culture seems very entrenched in a “supposedly” relativistic view of morality these days. By relativistic, I mean that people tend to think that they should be able to determine right and wrong for themselves. By “supposedly”, I mean that I don’t think that anyone actually would want to live in a world like that, and that’s why no one actually believes they can decide right and wrong for themselves. Some people may talk like they believe it, but if we observe them long enough we catch them talking like there is a real right and wrong that everyone should follow.

How many times have we heard the phrase: “Do the right thing!” Or how about the opposite? “What that person did was just wrong!” We hear these kind of sentiments all the time – on the news, on the radio, and on social media – EVERYWHERE! No matter what, humans cannot stop themselves from speaking in moral terms. There is a real right and a real wrong, and we all know it. But which worldview best explains this concept?

As before, I will begin by trying to fit this piece into the worldview of atheism. Once again, we must be reminded that an accurate worldview is not going to have contradictions between the main pieces: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. So where does that leave the atheistic/naturalistic worldview? Well to put it bluntly, an atheist cannot make any sense of morality with their worldview. In this view everything we are, everything we think, and everything we feel is all the product of chemical reactions and evolution. There really can’t be things like good and evil or right and wrong in a world like this. All we are is our DNA. All our beliefs about right and wrong are simply the result of a long line of bio-chemical dominoes falling. In other words, in a world such as this, when someone says rape is wrong, their feeling of the wrongness of rape is supposedly just a trick that their evolution is playing on them to make them dislike rape. However, in this worldview it is not the act of rape itself that is wrong. Another person could have evolved to believe the exact opposite, and we would supposedly be wrong to criticize such a person for having DNA we don’t agree with.

I am sure to any casual observer, rape is the kind of thing that is wrong regardless of what anyone thinks about it. We would never tell a woman who was raped that what happened was not really wrong, but that the rapist just evolved differently than her and that’s why she thinks it was a horrible crime and he thinks it was perfectly fine.

We all know that things like murder, rape, theft, lying, betrayal, adultery, and other related crimes are immoral acts. Whatever worldview we embrace should have a way of accounting for the reality of objective moral values like these, and atheism doesn’t even have a way to ground them (For more on this see my article: The Problem of Evil for Atheists under Topics).

For pantheistic worldviews, like Hinduism, that depend on systems like reincarnation, evil is often described as an illusion. Remember that in this worldview, God is the universe. God is everything. You are God. I am God. Your uncle Frank is God. Even my cat is God (I think my cat actually believes this)! It would therefore seem that in this view, there is no reference point for defining right and wrong either, as everything is actually the same thing, and whenever we think there is a distinction between good and evil, it is just an illusion.

Strangely enough though, reincarnation teaches that we pay for our “bad” deeds in the following life, and we will continue being reincarnated until we are able to pay off the debt we accumulated in all our previous lives! If that seems like a huge contradiction……it’s because it is. However, despite this, there are millions of people who adhere to this worldview and the consequences are staggering. Countries like India are filled with millions of homeless people who have no one to help them. They are told their suffering is the result of a previous life they are now paying off, and if another person were to help them it might interfere with the process! This is why an accurate worldview is so important – because ideas have consequences. I personally do not find a worldview that labels the suffering of a starving homeless child – as a punishment for bad Karma – to be a very compelling explanation of reality.

How about Christian theism? What does the Christian worldview have to offer in terms of the question of morality? In one word – coherence. If the universe was really created by God – a claim that we saw in the post on Origins, which is fairly well evidenced – then it is an easy step to say that our moral reference point is the very character of the God who created everything. The reason we know rape and murder and theft and lying are wrong is because these things are a direct violation of the moral compass that God has given us. I am not in any way saying that a person needs to believe in God to know the difference between right and wrong. People can certainly understand that without any belief in God at all. I am saying that our undeniable moral values, (our unconscious moral reference point), are the imprint of the image of God in which all humans possess.

There is no contradiction here – the puzzle of reality fits quite nicely together. Unlike atheistic or pantheistic worldviews, the Christian worldview actually matches what we can observe to be true about the world, especially when it comes to morality. There is a real right and a real wrong. A real good and a real evil. There are such categories as moral and immoral, and they are not opinions derived from evolution nor an illusion. Only a worldview with God as the creator can explain them for what they really are.

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