Dawkins on Morality in the God Delusion

This is connected with what will be a later post. Dawkins does speak about the biblical witness to morality in his book, but that’s so badly handled that I want that to have its own post. For now, I want to concentrate on Dawkins’s idea that we don’t need God in order to be moral.

Dawkins begins by talking about mail received by non-Christian organizations from Christian writers. The language is terrible as are the threats of physical violence. I see no reason to think Dawkins is making these up for some who are skeptical. I sadly do believe some could write such things and believe they are doing God a service. Dawkins condemns these letters.

On this, we agree.

Here’s the distinction though as we’ll see when we get to the parts on Scripture. This is in direct contradiction to the claims of Christ. I don’t believe Christ would condone what these people are doing. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Christ is pleased with the other side either. However, let us not do evil that good may result. (Romans 3:8)

Now Dawkins’s basis for morality is what we would expect. Natural selection. The problem though is that an is does not imply an ought. What happens when I learn there’s nothing outside of myself I am accountable to? Heck. What happens when I learn good does not exist outside of me? What happens when I learn that good and evil are just subjective?

Dawkins goes into moral dilemmas. Please be clear on this people. Moral dilemmas do not destroy absolute morality. If there is no absolute morality, there is no such thing as a moral dilemma. Moral absolutism does not claim that we know the best and right thing to do in every situation. It just claims that there is one.

Dawkins speaks of a study of Hauser and Singer that shows that atheists and religious believers seem to make the same judgments when predicted with these dilemmas. Dawkins proudly says that this seems to be compatible with the view that he and many others hold that you do not need God in order to be good – or evil.

At this point, D’Souza would say “This is what happens when you let the biologist out of the lab.”

I read this and thought “It’s no shock to me.” Here’s why. As a Christian, I believe in the natural law which is rooted in God and is in all of us as we bear his image. You do not need to hold to a religious worldview to know that murder is evil. God places that knowledge in you innately. As soon as you understand what life is and what murder is, you know that murder is evil.

Now Dawkins asks if we really need moral surveillance to be good, and while he’s skeptical, he tells a story of how in Montreal the police went on strike. Chaos had come about by the end of the day. Dawkins simply asks why the fear of God did not stop most people? I would answer it’s because most people don’t have it.

Dawkins later makes the claim that absolute morality is driven by religion. This is not the claim of a natural law believer though. It can be revealed in religion, but the source is God and one does not need a religion to know what is good and what is evil.  Dawkins seems to think that until the Ten Commandments were spoken, no one knew murder was wrong.

And in the end, Dawkins never gives one thing. He never gives an objective basis for good and evil. He simply says that we know what actions are good and what are evil. By what criteria? How does he differentiate? Without an absolute standard of good and evil, we cannot say. The actions are either good in themselves or not good. It’s interesting Dawkins says this while saying that it’s fortunate that morals do not have to be absolute.

Again, this is what happens when you let the biologist out of the lab.

We will be writing more on Dawkins’s book over the next few days, but needless to say, I am not impressed. A poster on a forum I belong to said that with him apparently retiring, that leaves more time for writing books so look out creationists.

Unfortunately, I have yet to see the threat. If books like this keep coming out, my faith will definitely be increased.

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