Nature is a Jerk. Don’t Expect Morality From It
by John D. Ferrer
We Don’t Need God to Be Moral, Right?
Often skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and Pastafarians claim that we can get morality from nature. “We don’t need God to be moral,” they say, “We can get morality just fine from natural processes like evolution, brain waves, water cycle, and otters holding hands.”
But is nature that kind of thing? Are we just putting lipstick on a pig, thinking we’ve made a moral man out of it? If so, we are pretending to get civility from nature when it offers nothing of the sort. People who think nature can give us morality are akin to those girls who think that their horrible abusive boyfriend just needs the “right girl” to settle him down. It’s naive to think that you can get morality from that guy. It’s just as foolish to think that nature is anything less than a jerk incapable of robust moral stuff.
To be fair, nature does have “nice” and “pretty” features like rainbows and puppies. But if we really look long at nature, from a naturalistic perspective, we find that nature isn’t nice at all. Instead, nature drives everything in the universe down to extinction, running all usable energy to zero. Nature kills every living thing. In Tennyson’s famous words, “nature, is red in tooth and claw” (In Memoriam A.H.H., 1950). Given nature’s penchant for killing and destroying everything in sight, nature is a horrible basis for morality. In other words, . . .
Nature is a killer.
Maybe you grant that nature isn’t nice but, you contend, it can still give us morals right? Well, sort of. It can force on us all of our thoughtless instincts and meaningless feelings. And we can mistake these for “desires” or even “morality.” But if you mean real morals, like moral facts and objective morality, no, nature can’t give us that. Nature can gives us all sorts of non-moral facts like gravity, geography, and ground hogs. But nature is amoral. According to british-accented atheist, Richard Dawkins,
“The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference”
–“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American (Nov. 1995), p85
Now I normally think Dawkins is wrong about most everything, but if naturalism were true, then his account would fit right in. With no divine guide over nature, no Intelligent Designer, no personal God ultimately grounding all goodness, then that leaves only mindless nature to do those things for us–or leave them undone. Nature lacks all moral awareness or moral direction. Nature can’t even “propose” things that could be true or false, since nature doesn’t make claims. Nature doesn’t say “love your neighbor” or “don’t sit on porcupines.” In this way, nature is libertine. You can do these things if you want, or not. Either way, no biggie. Nature isn’t judging your behavior as right or wrong…
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