There Can Be Only One!
In my last post I examined the problems with asserting that just because something does not exist physically it therefore, necessarily, exists spiritually. If you haven’t read it yet, or watched Peter Kreeft’s video, which I am critiquing, you can check them out here.
In this post I want to examine why Kreeft rejects the five sources of morality that “Atheists typically propose” in favor of moral commands from a Moral Commander. Those five sources are:
- Human Nature
Now I could go through and identify some flawed thinking Kreeft uses in most, if not all five sources, but I want to focus on his argument as a whole. The problem is Kreeft goes through each source and declares, “Evolution can not be the ultimate source of morality… Reason cannot be… Conscious cannot be…” you get the idea. But he flat out announces his biggest weakness when discussion Conscious, he states “Conscious alone cannot be the ultimate source of morality.” That’s right Kreeft thinks that each of these five sources has to battle it out with each other to become the Ultimate Source of Morality! Like a bad sequel to the Highlander franchise (“There can be only one!”), or for those of you who are a bit younger in the audience a mediocre Jet Li film (no disparagement meant. The One is an enjoyable film to be sure).
Ultimately I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised given Kreeft’s background of thinking in terms of “There is only one God.” I can see how it could be easy to then fall into the trap of extrapolating that to “there is only one source of morality.” But Atheists, or Secular Humanists, or anyone with common sense really doesn’t have to be hindered by that same limitation.
Let’s take Kreefts Utilitarianism slavery example. 90 percent of the population recognize that enslaving 10 percent would bring them great benefit. Do they enslave the 10 percent? No, because a majority of the 90 percent’s basic human nature tells them to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Reasoning recognizes the harm slavery will cause the 10 percent. Their conscious tells them that enslaving people is wrong, and if we swing back to utilitarianism, they might benefit financially from the enslaving of the 10 percent, but money isn’t the only way, nor is it the best way to determine “greatest good.” The emotional torture it would bring to be apart of such an unjust institution would actually be more detrimental than beneficial. And now our understanding of morality has evolved to recognize that enslaving people, no matter the circumstance is always wrong.
Morality comes from several sources, from all five sources listed above and more besides I’m sure, but it also comes from each and every one of us. Morality is a social process, different groups across regions and time have determined which moral codes are most effective for their society to flourish. It has been a relatively recent development, historically speaking, that we have been able to talk in anything like universal human rights, or universal morality. The world first needed to become much smaller. Now we can sit here from our 21st century vantage point and (rightfully) cast judgement on the moral codes of past societies, or even current societies around the world and wonder how they could have been so blind. Just like in the 25th century, where everyone is a vegetarian will wonder how we could have been so cruel as to slaughter pigs for bacon. Oh and other little things like continued racism, LGBT discrimination, and misogyny.
We as a species are still learning, and our understanding of morality is still evolving. I for one hope it continues to move in a direction that grants everyone with dignity and respect.
Thanks for reading. If you have thoughts, please share them below!