Confusing Moral Utility With Moral Creation
by J Warner Wallace
Are moral laws simply a product of cultural utility and sociocultural evolution? As a skeptic, I used to think so. I believed moral laws evolved along with the species. Humans who accepted certain moral behaviors and principles were far more likely to survive, and that’s exactly what happened; those who were more inclined to accept certain principles emerged through the process of Natural Selection. As a result, modern humans acknowledge a set of moral values essential to survival, and the first of these morally inclined beings documented their commonly accepted standards in ancient codes like Buddhism’s Five Precepts and Noble Eightfold Path, ancient Egypt’s Ma’at, Hinduism’s Yamas or Judaism’s Ten Commandments. There are, after all, many common features in these ancient codes. The Golden Rule, for example, appears to be a foundational moral concept acknowledged and utilized by nearly every ancient group. While I did not believe moral truths were an expression of our genetic coding, I did believe we evolved as a species to embrace and use certain moral principles because they benefited our survival.
The problem, of course, is this claim fails to account for the source of these moral concepts; it confuses moral utility with moral creation. Let me give you a comparative example…
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