Creationism and Morality, Part 5

We are always being told by creationists that they — and they alone — have a reason to behave morally, while those godless evolutionists think they live in an immoral universe and behave accordingly. We’ve written about this several times before — see Creationism and Morality, Part 4, which links to earlier posts in that series, and also Klinghoffer on Science and Morality.

In Morality, Evolution, and Darwin, we said:

[E]very sane adult you ask will tell you that: (1) he doesn’t want to be murdered, enslaved, raped, or otherwise assaulted; (2) he doesn’t want his property stolen; (3) he doesn’t want to be told lies or be cheated; (4) he doesn’t want his private behavior or his honest and voluntary dealings with others to be restricted; and (5) he doesn’t want his thoughts regulated. Given mankind’s unanimity on the foregoing, would it not be reasonable to conclude that the desire to be free from those conditions is an objectively verifiable attribute of all humans, and therefore any system of morality should be based thereon?

Our rational, non-mystical approach to things avoids David Hume’s Is–ought problem problem because it doesn’t tell people what they should do — that’s left up to them. It only tells them what they should not do.

Along the way, we’ve raised several questions about the creationists’ position which are always unanswered, such as how they can explain:

Abraham’s behavior when God announced His intention to exterminate the populations of Sodom and Gomorrah? Abraham objected and told God that it would be unjust to kill the good along with the rest. And what of Moses’ reaction when God announced His intention to exterminate the Hebrews because of the golden calf incident? Moses argued God out of doing it.

And also:

If evolution were the road to evil, one must wonder how Darwin himself somehow managed to lead such an exemplary life. And where are the headlines screaming: “Another Biology Teacher With 30 Bodies Buried in His Back Yard!” It’s certainly interesting that those who are the most involved with the theory of evolution are the least likely to justify the creationists’ fears.

We thought there wasn’t much else to be said, but today we found Pastor kills himself after mistakenly sending his nude photos intended for his mistress to church members instead. It appears at the website Christian Today, which describes itself as “an independent Christian media company,” located in London. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Pastor Letsego of Christ Embassy in Limpopo, South Africa reportedly hanged himself in shame after he mistakenly sent photos of his genitals to members of his church using the WhatsApp texting service in mobile phones.

According to the online news source Live Monitor, the married pastor intended to send the pictures to his mistress who, it is said, is a member of the same church. Worse, the news source said the pastor sent a message that reads “Wife is away, it’s all yours tonight” along with the photos.

Egad! How is such a thing possible? Then the article says:

Members of the church group who received the photos and message were shocked and outraged. They tried to call up the pastor, who wouldn’t answer. The pastor then left the group. The following day, he was found hanging in his rented church house, Live Monitor reported.

Strange. We would expect that sort of behavior from a biologist — perhaps without the remorseful suicide — but a pastor? Oh wait — the article tells us:

Other pastors have also found themselves enmeshed in extramarital affairs that likewise ended in tragedy.

Really? We’re shocked — shocked! To make it worse, they tell us about two others:

• In June, an Indiana pastor was believed to have committed suicide after he was charged with soliciting sex from a minor, The Christian Post reported. David James Brown, the 46-year-old senior pastor at First Christian Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, was found hanging inside an Attic Self Storage unit in Marietta, Georgia. Investigators found no evidence of foul play.

• Last year, John Gibson, a pastor and seminary professor of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, was also believed to have taken his own life after his name was exposed by hackers as one of the users of the extramarital affair website Ashley Madison.

That’s how the article ends. But observe, dear reader, the fallen preachers they told us about were recent events. They didn’t bother to remind us of some notorious cases from the past, such as like Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, and Jim Bakker. To be fair, we must acknowledge that most clergymen seem to lead exemplary lives. However, if the creationists’ claims about morality are true, there shouldn’t be any failures among creationist denominations. Also, we’ve never seen creationists present a list of prominent biologists whose conduct is comparable to the fallen preachers.

So we’re left with a mystery. We’re told that creationism is the source of morality, and evolution leads to depravity. But why do the data say otherwise? We’re so confused!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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60 responses to “Creationism and Morality, Part 5

  1. Where can I find the Curmudgeon’s rational, non-mystical approach to things spelled out? Is it here on the website somewhere? Many thanks.

  2. “Empathy is a conserved trait.”
    That’s really about it.

    I mean, yes, empathy is just the start of creating a system of ethics, but it’s a mighty good start, and one that’s decidedly useful for a social animal as well.

  3. “if the creationists’ claims about morality are true”
    then they wouldn’t lie all the time – or ask dishonest questions like KevinC does just above.
    A famous example is of course the Crocoduck of the Bananaman. It even has made it into Wikipedia.

  4. mnb0, my request was a sincere one. I would genuinely like to read TSC’s approach to morality. If you have evidence that my request was dishonest, I’d love to hear it.

  5. There are already the beginnings of a sense of morality in animals. Frans de Wall has given a fascinating TED Talk on this very issue.

    It isn’t hard to recognize how morality develops as organisms become more complex, live together, and have to cooperate in order to survive.

  6. Kevinc,
    Third paragraph of the above post.
    Begins with the word “(E)very”
    Read it, this time?

  7. Thanks skmarshall.

  8. Ham and Klinghoffer would want us to believe that the source for the rules in the Bible was not human – even though the source inmost assuredly human. For instance, why would a god of the kind Christians claim to believe in, love the smell of burning flesh? And need humans to sacrifice animals for its pleasure? If Jesus replaced this “need”, why was he crucified and not grilled?

  9. Clearly these fallen pastors were secret hypocrites. Now if they were REALLY following Hambo’s creationist edict of strict belief in the infallibility of his book, this wouldn’t have happened. There. Fixed that.

  10. KevinC. Lets start on morality by not intentionally lying about established science. Can’t find that at AIG. Sorry ’bout that big fella.

  11. @och
    Yes, if Ham insists on a worldwide flood having taken place in the past 5000 years, then his credibility is zero. If Ham told me it was raining, I would go outside to confirm before wasting my time looking for a raincoat.

  12. So we’re left with a mystery. We’re told that creationism is the source of morality, and evolution leads to depravity. But why do the data say otherwise? We’re so confused!

    Actually, creationists don’t tell us that belief in creation, in itself, is the root of all virtue. They say belief in the Bible is, and that one can’t believe in the Bible without believing Genesis is true as written. Q.E.D.

    What they would say about all those sinning preachers is that they are, after all, fallen human beings who are to be pitied for their mortal frailties, unlike those godless eee-volutionists, who in a better world would be running for their lives.

  13. You’re request is a dishonest one, KevinC. In the first place “I would genuinely like to read TSC’s approach to morality” isn’t the same as “Where can I find SC’s approach to things spelled out?” Of course after six years exchanging comments with creationists like you I’ve got used to dishonest rephrasing like this.
    In the second place our dear SC has made very clear that he has no beef with christianity. He has a beef with creationism and mocks those who reject Evolution Theory. If a christian says something like “God has used evolution to give mankind morality” he’s totally OK with it. He has made that explicitely clear many times; I bet that that’s why he hasn’t answered you. What you and your fellow creationists say though is “People are moral hence Evolution Theory is wrong hence goddiddid.” That’s ridiculous.

    The second version of your request actually consists of two questions; it demonstrates your ignorance that you don’t realize it. The first one is “How does Evolution Theory explain how comes that Homo Sapiens is moral”; others already have referred to the research of Frans de Waal. The second one is “How do unbelievers philosophically ground their morals”, which is beyond the scope of this blog. So I only will tell you that many smart secular thinkers have answered it. The first one was probably Jeremy Bentham, who died more than 200 years ago.

  14. “How do unbelievers philosophically ground their morals”, which is beyond the scope of this blog.

    It is beyond this blog, but the following link has a clear, concise break down on how an atheist can drive their morals.

  15. mnb0, your inability to capitalize Christian and Christianity while treating other proper nouns correctly tells me all I need to know about your personal hangups with religion and your inclination to see dishonesty where it doesn’t exist.

  16. I thought there might have been more to the Curmudgeon’s moral foundation than just the 5 don’ts listed in the above paragraph. That’s why I asked if there was more to read but according to skmarshall, that was it.

    It’s good as far as it goes. After all, it’s just a variation on Leviticus 19:18 and Matt 7:12.

    However, its fatal flaw is that even by deviating from such a moral code, there are no moral consequences. All of us subscribe to the first half of TSC’s code because it’s self-serving but many choose not to live by the second half. If a rapist gets away with his crime, no harm done. Certainly a civil law was broken but what concern that to our rapist? No harm came to him in the act of rape and he got what he wanted: power over the weak. No civil justice. No divine justice. No moral evil. Besides, Hawking has stated “[t]he human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.”

    Which reminds me: why does the Curmudgeon and everyone else here appeal to philosophy (ethics and epistemology) to make a case for god-free morality when the sainted Dr. Hawking has now declared philosophy to be dead? At the risk of offending everyone here, Hawking is wrong.

  17. I don’t get your point here – without lasting divine punishment in the afterlife, there can be no morality? That makes no sense.

    Yes, if someone does something against the social code and isn’t caught, they get away with it. That doesn’t mean that the social code and its morals somehow don’t exist, and it doesn’t make a system that has divine punishment in any way superior.

    If you have a just and civil society that does its best to keep people from harming others on the one side, and a total theocracy ruled by an actual deity who demands that his believers sacrifice a small child to him every alternate Thursday or face eternal wrath, that atheist society is morally superior to the divine one.

    Divine commands and punishments only bring about justice when they are themselves just.

  18. Careful, @dweller42. You’re just going to get called an atheist, you know.

  19. If there really were a heaven and humans really had souls that transcended death, why would anyone believe the stories we now tell? The Bible starts with a god who punishes evil and rewards good on earth, then evolves into a god who punishes and rewards people arbitrarily, then to one who lets people do what they want on earth, but is going to punish evil and reward good after death (and I have a bridge…). Also notice how this god first picks and chooses individuals for rewards and punishments, but can’t be bothered to separate good from evil. Humans have to argue with this god to convince it not punish good. Seems to me that the people writing about this god, have no clue. Yet we still have people who claim this god saved him or her from some storm or accident – really? Is this one of Axe’s intuitions?

  20. KevinC excels at premature conclusions: “all I need to know about your personal hangups with religion”
    Excellent display of creationist dishonesty. From one small, rather irrelevant fact you jump to a general statement. Fyi: I don’t use capitals for words like atheism and communism either.

    “and your inclination to see dishonesty where it doesn’t exist.”
    Thanks for confirming your dishonesty. You made the request “If you have evidence”, I provided it and you ignore it.

    And totally as expected you continue on the path of your beloved dishonesty:

    “why does the Curmudgeon and everyone else here appeal to philosophy (ethics and epistemology) to make a case for god-free morality when the sainted Dr. Hawking has now declared philosophy to be dead?”
    Dr. Hawking is not my saint and certainly not relevant regarding my views on philosophy and ethics. He’s relevant on epistemology, but took over his views on that subject from ….. secular philosophers.
    This is called begging the question – similar to “when was the last time you beat your wife?”

    “If a rapist gets away with his crime, no harm done.”
    And this is not only dishonest – no secular philosopher of ethics ever has said this – it’s also stupid. Use the few braincells that are not affected yet by creacrap and even you will understand that harm is done even if a rapist gets away with his crime.

    Congratulations, KevinC. You have confirmed that like all creationists I’ve met on internet you’re both dishonest and stupid.

  21. A human like Hawking can be right about some things and wrong about others – as we all can be. Some of us are more wrong than others.

  22. One can find these “discussions” about morality on a number of blogs on the internet. As near as I can tell from having looked at them on sites like Uncommon Descent or The Skeptical Zone, the ID/creationists are really telling us that their “religion” makes them morally superior to everyone else; that implication always seems to come through loud and clear. KevinC is no exception in that regard.

  23. KevinC, what do you make of this theologian who claims that ID/creationists like you are “bad theists”? If you can’t get god right and your morality depends on god, how can you get morality right?

  24. Of course I erred – it was not begging the question but asking a loaded question.

  25. Ugh, MichaelF, Hanby gets a lot of elementary things about ‘Darwinism’ wrong as well. And I’m not thinking of the label ‘Darwinism’.

  26. Mark Germano, yeah, a fair number of my fellow Christians have leveled that accusation at me online, as though it’s some kind of insult.

  27. michaelfugate, Hawking’s remarks are also taken out of context. Originally, he was responding to the notion that a branch of science where not much has changed in a few decades is dead – “If x is death, then philosophy is also dead,” kind of a thing. He did not speak it as articulately as he could’ve, and he doubled down on it rather than clarified it when asked, so he’s not without blame here.

  28. @mnbo, yes Hanby confuses much in that interview – he is not a biologist nor a philosopher of science. He is a theologian. I am more interested in how he dismisses ID and how creationists respond.

  29. @dweller42, too many scientists dismiss philosophy because of the actions of some philosophers – it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They wouldn’t dismiss biology because of Sheldrake…

  30. @michaelfugate, much agreed, and that’s what I think Hawking was guilty of there – he targets something that he was already convinced was inconsequential anyway and, really, it’s not. It might not appear so, but a lot of philosophy goes into everything from the establishment of law to bioethics and onward.

    Sort of reminds of the dismissiveness of engineers toward biology and chemistry, honestly.

  31. On the evidence of this thread, can anyone still doubt that KevinC is a valuable asset and it would have been wrong to ban him when he was new and had not developed his full powers?

  32. KevinC said, that without divine retribution in an afterlife, “If a rapist gets away with his crime, no harm done.” I assume he has never listened to a rape victim.

  33. jimroberts says: “can anyone still doubt that KevinC is a valuable asset and it would have been wrong to ban him when he was new and had not developed his full powers?”

    Whenever you guys think the novelty value has worn off, I’ll pull the plug.

  34. jimroberts, I was thinking that too, but he then goes on to say that no harm comes to the rapist, specifically, by his or her actions. Which I’d argue is still true unless you hold that satisfying an appetite, however morally repugnant, has no effect on a person in the long term. I could come up with scenarios and examples, but that’s gross, so I won’t.

  35. KevinC your argument for no retribution is also flawed in that under the Christian view he can get away with it without punishment as well. He does the act, then escapes any punishment on Earth, but he also STILL gets into heaven if he accepts Jesus as his saviour, and believes in the him.

  36. “I assume he has never listened to a rape victim.”
    I was channeling the rapist who chooses not to live by TSC’s moral code. That seems to have escaped everyone here.

  37. Oh yeah and just to round out the rapist profile, he views human beings like Hawking does: chemical scum.

  38. It didn’t escape me, KevinC, it just doesn’t matter. The presence of malefactors is anticipated in basically every moral code ever, so you’re really not making any sort of a point there other than, “Ah, but your system lacks a way to punish people.” Frankly, you’ve picked possibly the worst possible immortal act as your example, too – from what we can find, low-impulse crimes like assault and sexual assault aren’t substantially reduced by fear of punishment or incarceration.

  39. Anyone interested in a collection of lively Hawking’s quotes unfiltered by mendacious creationists might enjoy this selection

  40. Our Curmudgeon asks if

    you guys think the novelty value has worn off

    When did a creationist ever demonstrate novelty? It’s always the same old same old….

  41. Lo and behold ENV has just posted a piece on how people’s vision of humanity influences their position on human rights.

  42. Well, gosh, you’ve got one whole book to support your claim.

    I’m also fascinated at the author’s notion that one can only have a single perspective on humanity, that syncretism is just flatout impossible.

  43. What is interesting is that from the Evans’ description it is much more nuanced than Weikart’s take.

    You can get the logistic regression tables from here:

    Does anyone know of anyone who thinks humans are just machines?

  44. jimroberts asks

    On the evidence of this thread, can anyone still doubt that KevinC is a valuable asset and it would have been wrong to ban him when he was new and had not developed his full powers?

    Actually, it’s clear that creationists love to feel ‘persecuted’, and creationist trolls on the internet seem to delight in ‘suicide missions’ on blogs such as this; they long for ‘martyrdom’ as they feel that vindicates their beliefs. Which does make a sick kind of sense, as there is no empirical basis for those beliefs, so ‘persecution’ gives them an inflated sense of importance and even a perverse validation: “science can’t handle my TRVTH”, or something like that. A bit sad, really, but there it is.

    I really have no interest in — or desire to change — the beliefs of creationists; what they choose to believe really is of no consequence. But some of their actions, such as the DI’s legislative efforts, are harmful and need to be opposed — as they rightly are. But their right to blather foolishly must not be curtailed; the world needs entertainment.

    Of course, they are often too obnoxious to be amusing. Klinghoffer and KevinC attempting to belittle Hawking is risible — but also a little embarrassing: Klinghoffer’s claim that Hawking’s status was due, not to his brilliant scientific achievements but rather to his “evocative, camera-ready physical handicap and cinematically eerie computer-generated voice” was particularly vile. It was something like watching a kid at Disneyland get angry because a terminally-ill child in a wheelchair was taken to the front of the line ahead of him…

  45. But KevinC what do you have to offer with regards to logic? The world awaits.

  46. @och
    All mammals are warm-blooded.
    All black dogs are mammals.
    Therefore, all black dogs are warm-blooded.

  47. KevinC, you state that the “fatal flaw” of The Curmudgeon’s moral code is that “even by deviating from such a moral code, there are no moral consequences.”

    To me, the requirement of moral consequences for disobedience of a religious moral code is just more evidence that your religion is simply an invention of man designed for the purpose of controlling the actions of others, and even the thoughts of others.

    Believe it or not, there are many of us who can be “good” and still not believe in heaven and hell. However, if you require the fear of eternal condemnation in order to keep you from murdering someone, it is a good thing for society that you personally fear your God. But just because you need that kind of control, don’t assume that everyone does.

  48. @Megalonyx: Re: the rantings of creationist trolls about being “persecuted” on the internet — sounds a bit like Donald Trump complaining about his treatment by “the mainstream media”.

    But this is really straying from the theme of SC’s blog, so I shall not respond to any Trumpistas who may take offense.

  49. What is the “morality” of a person who gets an advanced degree in a science and then publishes, over a period of many years, calculations and reports of the research of others that are completely wrong in order to prop up his sectarian beliefs while passing this misinformation on to young followers?

    Consider such an individual who always wags his title and letters after his name, makes sure to mention that he did well in school, touts himself as some kind of “Isaac Newton of information theory” or that his sectarian beliefs have given him the correct perspective on how to “interpret” scientific concepts. What are we to think of the quote miner who changes passages of the writings of others to make them seem to say something exactly opposite of what the original writer intended?

    Either that person is so incompetent that he can’t see his own incompetence, or he actually understands the correct science but tells it incorrectly to his audiences, or he knows he can’t withstand the crucible of peer review in the scientific community but passes himself off as an expert anyway and plows ahead with his misconceptions and misrepresentations of science and scientific concepts to young people and ignorant laypersons who can’t defend themselves.

    Is a person who has such a religion and does all these things a moral person? Does his religion excuse his actions and behavior thereby making him moral despite the constant stream of misinformation he spreads his entire life? Do that person’s religious beliefs justify his actions and make him a moral person? Is such a person more moral than, say, an atheist or a “Darwinist?”

    Are people like Morris, Gish, Dembski, Lisle, Purdom, Sewell, Ham, Behe, Abel, Meyer, and the other leaders of the ID/creationist movement moral persons? Is their morality better than that of atheists and “Darwinists?”

    What does our troll say?

  50. michaelfugate notes:

    What is interesting is that from the Evans’ description it is much more nuanced than Weikart’s take.

    Yep–but is anyone surprised the DI has sifted and filtered someone’s research and selectively presented a partial account?

    Evans’ data are the results of a survey recording respondents’ professed beliefs, not data about correlation between ‘beliefs’ and ‘actions.’ For example, one of the questions was along the lines of the classic ‘ticking bomb’ scenario (is it justifiable to torture a suspected terrorist in the hope of extracting information to save innocent lives?), and one can certainly have a lively discussion around such ethical questions. But it is interesting (and Evans notes as much) that professed attitudes don’t correlate with behaviour, e.g. many respondents strongly believe that torture, in some circumstances, is indeed justifiable–but very few would actually perform such acts of torture themselves.

    All of which I think is indeed interesting (though I can already hear our Curmudgeon’s sneer: the word ‘sociology’ makes him want to reach for a gun 🙂 ), but of course, the DI dishonestly attempt to pass off this survey data about articulated beliefs for empirical data about behaviour–and that is a completely different kettle of fish.

  51. Our resident DI apologist attempts to fling a bit more poo:

    Oh yeah and just to round out the rapist profile, he views human beings like Hawking does: chemical scum.

    Well, that was refreshing! Hawking is the moral equivalent of a rapist! Who knew? No doubt, were he able-bodied, he’d be flying aircraft into skyscrapers, or beheading folks who don’t share his beliefs, or…wait, something’s adrift here…


    “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”

    My goodness, there’s something in there that sounds like ‘human exceptionalism’! But wait — there’s more:

    “You cannot understand the glories of the universe without believing there is some Supreme Power behind it.”


    “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”

    Jeepers! Is this how rapists think? Maybe Hawking could apply to be a ‘Fellow’ of the DI? He even talks about design of the universe — no, wait, he deviates from the DI dogma on that:

    “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.”

    He messed up with that word ‘believe’ (i.e. he doesn’t say he ‘knows’), and that ‘probably’ in front of his thoughts about ‘heaven’ and ‘afterlife’ really do show we’re dealing with the moral equivalent of a rapist here. Pity, that.

  52. Pope retiredsciguy suggests:

    the requirement of moral consequences for disobedience of a religious moral code is just more evidence that your religion is simply an invention of man designed for the purpose of controlling the actions of others, and even the thoughts of others.

    I think one can argue there is good empirical evidence for your contention here.

    That religion is an invention of man certainly appears to be the case when one considers the vast numbers of competing religions, each arising from a different culture and each generally making similar claims about their exclusive ‘truthiness.’ That alone does not at all rule out the possibility that ‘god’ or ‘gods’ exist in some form, but it certainly undermines the claims of any one religion to be universal or anything other than culturally-specific.

    As for the purpose of religions: Set aside ‘survey’ data, crafted ‘ethical dilemmas’, and the DI’s attempts to attribute to something they call ‘scientism’ the source of all evil. Let’s take science right out of the mix for a moment and consider Western Europe in the near-millennium roughly between the sack of Rome (476 CE) and the Renaissance. This of course was a Golden Age, untainted by ‘materialistic science’ and almost no openly-professing atheists (as such were generally dispatched PDQ). In those halcyon days, Europeans firmly based their moral compass on the Church, and of course desported themselves accordingly…NOT!

    You can fill in the details. One of my favourites is the sack of Jerusalem (1099) during the First Crusade, but there are plenty of other samples of the high moral behaviour of folks who do not doubt that their god can beat your god up.

  53. “I was channeling the rapist ….”
    Exactly that is your dishonesty, dear creacrapper KevinC. Secular ethics does not only channel the rapist but also the raped one.

    Mega notices: “[Creationists] are often too obnoxious to be amusing.”
    It can be amusing to stubbornly confront them with their ignorance, dishonesty, hypocrisy and quite often their lies – as you have done yourself regarding Hawking. As Mike Elzinga already pointed out creationists – and KevinC is no exception – are very good at undermining their claims regarding morality by displaying behaviour that mentally sane people immediately recognize as immoral – like the aforementioned willful ignorance, dishonesty and hypocrisy.
    It’s a sorry bunch like there ever has been one, those creationists.

    A bit of nitpicking, completely irrelevant for your point: Rome was not sacked in 476 CE, but in 455. In 476 emperor Romulus Augustulus was send in unvoluntary retirement (and lived happily on).
    My favourite examples of exemplary christian morals put into practice are the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and the Cathar Crusade a few years later. These happened during the heighdays of christian dominance in Western Europe and made the Vandals who sacked Rome in 455 look like a bunch of choirboys.
    In case anyone needs to be reminded what will happen if KevinC gets things the way he wants:

    The political views of our dear SC might differ somewhat from mine, that suddenly looks quite irrelevant if we have to share a cell a la Koerbagh under supervision of KevinC.

  54. Megalonyx, I think if I had really implied that Hawking was the moral equivalent of a rapist, the Curmudgeon, with his finger already hovering over the Smite button on his keyboard, would have dispatched me already. But he’s a lot smarter than you are and surely knows what I meant.

    So let’s go over this one more time and then you can have the last word. We’ll see how creative you can be coming up with your next straw man.

    I never said Hawking was the moral equivalent of a rapist, I said Hawking and the rapist share the same view of humanity: no intrinsic moral value. Certainly no more than that of chemical scum. An atheist, if he were consistent, should agree that any value we have is conferred upon us by our fellow man. And if it is only conferred upon us by others, it can also be revoked or denied altogether. Either on a global scale, as the Curmudgeon would have, or on a national, societal or individual scale.

  55. @KevinC: Kevin, just because you think it would be nice if we had a universal, God-given moral code doesn’t make it so.

    As Megalonyx clearly states above, the fact that there is no universal moral code is compelling evidence that our various moral codes in humanity are culturally-derived, not God-given.

    If God sent a global flood to wipe out all of evil humanity, why didn’t He (notice the capitalization there, Kevin?) likewise send a plethora of Jesuses to Earth to simultaneously carry the Good Word to all cultures?

    I know, I know — “God works in mysterious ways.” There’s always an answer.

  56. Our resident DI spokestroll throws down a curmudgeonly challenge:

    We’ll see how creative you can be coming up with your next straw man.

    I am indeed flattered, but you credit me with a measure of creativity I do not possess: I was merely having a little mazurka with the Rapist Strawman which you yourself introduced.

    And, fair’s fair, I will defer to your superior knowledge about the mentality of rapists. Full disclosure: I have never met one, nor do I possess the divinely-imparted intuition to so confidently attest to their “view of humanity” as you are able, or to even guess their view whether Certs is a breath mint or a candy mint. Perhaps you could enlighten us on that point as well, as your knowledge of rapist mind-sets is so comprehensive?

    I have, however, in the course of my life known three different victims of rape–and I do mean cases that resulted in arrests, trials and convictions–and two others whose allegations I believe to be entirely credible (in one case, the alleged perpetrator had died before the victim was able to bring charges, in the other, the victim has chose not to bring charges for lamentable but personal reasons). In two of the three cases resulting in conviction, the perpetrator was a relative (a stepfather in one, in the other an uncle since diagnosed with schizophrenia); the third case was a lad who was raped as a 12-year old by a priest while in the care of church-run foster home in Ulster. It had never before occured to me that the common denominator here was that the perpetrators must “share the same view of humanity” as Stephen Hawking. I bet he’s the number one pin-up in penitentiaries across the globe, and copies of A Brief History of Time are probably used as a coveted currency amongst convicted inmates therein!

    (Sorry, but when that mazurka music strikes up, I just gotta dance!)

    Well, you are indeed enamoured of that “chemical scum” phrase, which you repeatedly offer as the alpha and omega of Hawking’s “view of humanity” despite some of the selected quotes offered previously. And that’s your perogative. I only wonder how often you have to clean your reality filter given how frequently it must get clogged up.

    And–this really will be a stretch for you–try and consider just how puerile and foolish the DI’s constant refrain of “No Darwin, no Hitler” really is. One could make precisely the same argument (and it would be precisely as dishonest and fallacious) by claiming, “No Jesus, no Jonestown, no Crusades, no Inquisition, no Witch trials, no Smithfield Martyrs, no– &c &c.” Nobody thinks, in the rape cases I mentioned above, that the priest committed his appalling crime because of his religion, or his “view of humanity.”

    OK, the mazurka music is over; I return your Rapist Strawman to you.

  57. michaelfugate asks

    Does anyone know of anyone who thinks humans are just machines?

    No. But I think it interesting that the extreme view of ‘human exceptionalism’ promoted by the DI (particularly by Wesley J. Smith and Dr. Michael Egnor) really does seem to regard non-human animals as mere automatons, separated from Homo sapiens by such an enormous gulf (which could never, in their view, have been bridged by ‘micro-evolution’) as to constitute an entirely different–and inferior–order of being.

    It’s as if they fear some sort of dreadful contamination by the notion of common descent and thus feel compelled to so vehemently deny the compelling demonstrations of the continuum of evolution. The fear seems to be that if we are “mere animals” we’ll behave like “mere animals”–which I do find pretty funny, given that no other species seems capable of injuring its own kind in the intentional manner we sometimes do.

  58. And KevinC also notes that our Curmudgeon

    a lot smarter than you are

    That’s true, I must own.

    …But I got the girl. Olivia is mine!

  59. One thing the human exceptionalists like to harp on is “innocent” human life. What does that mean? Don’t they believe we have all sinned and fallen short? Who in their view is innocent? Wesley J. Smith over at DI goes on and on about abortion and euthanasia – the so-called “culture of death”. Why no concern over the death penalty (we know innocents have been killed), war/airstrikes (we know civilians are often killed), deaths due to corporate malfeasance, etc. Why only some preventable deaths and not others? How are absolutes more moral than playing it by ear? How does one decide between the death of a mother and her unborn child? How does one decide between the death of an enemy terrorists and non-enemy, non-terrorists in the same building or neighborhood? If one reads the Bible, the recorded god seems pretty damn cavalier with human life.

    @Megalonyx – yes Evans’ data are just responses to a survey and not what people do in different situations. Its like the “trolley problem” who knows how they would react in that situation?

  60. Oh by the way, here are the 5 questions:
    1) whether we should intervene in another country to try to stop a genocide;
    2) whether anyone should be permitted to buy kidneys from poor people;
    3) whether terminally ill individuals should kill themselves to save money;
    4) whether we should take blood from unconsenting prisoners; and
    5) whether we should torture terror suspects, if it would save other people’s lives.

    How do you think your God would answer this quiz KevinC?
    Weikart doesn’t tell us the “correct” answers…