Defining the good: The Golden Rule

GR pic

http://www.pflaum.com

A major argument for God’s existence is that, if there is no God, there is no “true” good, because truth is that which corresponds to reality, to real being. A common counter-argument heard from atheists, agnostics, and skeptics is that this does not account for the definition of moral goodness. If God is the source of goodness, does he define what it means to be good via his commands (hence, it is fiction, not truth), or is it a standard he himself follows (hence, he is not the highest absolute)? In other words, theists cannot define goodness just by grounding it in God’s nature. True, but we don’t claim to.

When we do attempt to define goodness (a separate issue from its grounding), the skeptic’s counter-argument becomes that our definition of goodness would be true whether or not God exists. For example, a successful argument in favor of the Golden Rule means that the Golden Rule is true on its own two feet and does not need to be grounded in God. However—if God does not exist, to what is the Golden Rule true? What being in reality does it describe? So we need both—we need moral truth to be grounded in real being, and we need to know what it means to be good. Those more experienced in philosophy might recognize this is Plato’s “justified true belief,” Hume’s “is ought distinction,” and the resolution to Euthyphro’s dilemma.

Many apologists I come across claim that we don’t need to define goodness, but many skeptics view this as a cop-out. Therefore, this essay, rather than centered on grounding goodness, is centered on defining it (while also insisting it is not true unless grounded in real being). The Golden Rule will be stated out front, referred to throughout, and finally defended.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Jesus, Matthew 7:12)

Made up laws, or laws that are true to nothing, are sandcastles for the tide. Nihilists admirably claim this is why there is no moral truth—because there is nothing in reality to which it can be true. But, if the Golden Rule is true to nothing, why do we find it in every major culture throughout history? This seems to indicate a universal hunger for true meaning and goodness. But to what is it true?—what in reality does it describe? Does it have rival theories in Ethics? Indeed, it does…

We are going to survey how the major ethical theories measure up to eachother when they answer questions like “What should our character be?” “What should we do as far as our conduct or duty is concerned?” and, “What is the ultimate end or consequence?” –all as pertains to the Other/self. So many theories are some attempt at improving the Golden Rule, which might come up in many chapters of an introductory Ethics text, but ironically never gets its own. This time, we’re going to give it its own section at the end. But first, let’s see how all the other major theories work out.

Greek Virtue Theory – Character

Greek virtue theory answers the questions of Ethics by emphasizing a virtuous (rational) character. Happiness is an important consequence only achieved if we fulfill the real purpose for our character, built when our conduct is according to the Golden Mean between a vice of deficiency and a vice of extremism.  Virtue ethics considers character to be more fundamental than conduct, because, in Aristotle’s words, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Plato’s virtue theory, with its producers, warriors, and rulers, is racist, classist, etcetera, thinking that certain types of humans are essentially different from others and therefore have different essential moral obligations and rights.

Aristotle improved on Plato by proposing that what humans do best (men, in particular), is reason, or contemplation. Moral virtue involves reasoning out the Golden Mean on a consistent, character-building basis. For example, the Golden Mean between destructive criticism and deficient criticism is constructive criticism.

One might get things right on accident using the Golden Mean, but there is the potential to get things wrong, because reason is emphasized over love. Making a rational character the highest virtue leaves the Other out of our moral considerations. Although we should behave rationally in our dealings with the Other, “reasoning well” (like being powerful) does not even require an Other (even one’s self) to be in existence. A mindless computer programmed to make decisions according to the Golden Mean would be considered virtuous.

The ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, also came up with the mean, the middle state of moderation, but unlike Aristotle, Confucius expressed a version of the Golden Rule. “For Confucius the superior man is one who shuns pride and strives for humility; Aristotle would have considered such a man to have insufficient self-appreciation.” (507) But there is nothing in reality to which Aristotle’s virtue theory can always be true—there is nothing in reality it always describes.

However, here’s something my introductory Ethics text failed to mention: Though you won’t find the Golden Rule in Aristotle, you can find the Golden Rule in ancient Greece. And perhaps when Socrates talks about “the god” (Apology, 3b, 14c)—that is the being to which the Golden Rule corresponds?

Atheist Existentialism – Character Revisited

In atheist existentialism the questions of Ethics are somewhat answered by emphasizing an authentic character, valuing that we take responsibility for our choices, and considering important the consequence of responsible freedom.  The answer to the question isn’t as important as experiencing it as true or creating it by choice.  Soren Kierkegaard, the Christian father of existentialism, is an essentialist, finding authenticity in freely choosing, despite adversity, the human responsibility to love (Golden Rule), whereas Jean-Paul Sartre, the father of atheist existentialism, is a voluntarist rejecting discovered purpose and finding authenticity in freely creating how we think humans should be. “In choosing myself, I choose man.” But this is just a restating of the Golden Rule…which we are free to choose responsibly.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative – Conduct

Whereas the Greeks thought they discovered moral value in developing one’s character according to a built-in purpose, Immanuel Kant, though valuing a virtuous disposition (a good will), thought he discovered the answer to the questions of Ethics in the categorical imperative:  “Always act so that you can will that your maxim can become a universal law.”

Important is the consequence of everyone’s moral sense being respected, but to determine whether or not our intentions are to do the right thing, we do not have to wait and see how the consequences pan out. We simply “determine whether we could imagine others doing to us what we intend to do to them. In other words, Kant proposes a variant of the Golden Rule. … (It) draws on the same fundamental realization that I called a spark of moral genius in the Golden Rule: It sees self and others as fundamentally similar.” (224-225) We share the same rationality and the same moral sense by virtue of being human beings, and so the rules are the same for all of us.

A common, though not universal, interpretation of Kant is that he “had harsh words for the old Golden Rule. He thought it was just a simplistic version of his own categorical imperative and that it could even be turned into a travesty. If you don’t want to help others, just claim you don’t want or need help from them!” (224-225) However, instead of viewing the GR as “more simplistic,” one could view it as “more basic” or “more essential.” Kant’s criticism is answered this way: The Golden Rule (treat the Other how you would want to be treated; love the Other as self) includes the Platinum Rule (treat the Other how they would want to be treated), considering we would want the Other to put themselves in our shoes in their interactions with us.

Ultimately, this stands or falls on what it means to be a self that wants what it ought to want. If not grounded on such a self, there is nothing in reality to which Kant’s categorical imperative can always be true—there is nothing in reality it always describes.

Relativism – Conduct Revisited

Relativism answers the questions of Ethics by requiring that we respect and be tolerant of the norms of other cultures, whether or not they agree with ours, and by logical implication, that we conform to our own cultural norms. The basic impulse driving this view is the admirable, merciful feeling that, just as we would not want another culture’s values forced upon ours, we should not force our culture’s values on other cultures. This is golden irony, for this is the Golden Rule incorrectly applied, suggesting again that the Golden Rule is more basic than any of its rivals.

There is much to be said for respecting and preserving cultural diversity. However, to claim such respect as essential, transcending culture, is to contradict the impulse behind cultural relativism. Further, the tolerance of relativism is ineffective in cultures without that impulse.

And note that the absolutist view is not that we force our values on (or adopt the values of) cultures that do not share whatever values are in question, but that absolutes are discovered in and transcend every culture while maintaining the precious diversity that does not destroy common ground.

Lastly, to not hold all cultures accountable to a transcultural standard (except that of tolerance, of course) is to insult the moral autonomy of each culture’s members—their status as free persons able to discern moral truth and make moral choices. It is to claim that Hitler, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Theresa are morally equivalent. It is also to exclude different cultures from the benefits of following the transcultural standard—like universal human rights.

Utilitarianism – Consequences

In utilitarianism, the questions of Ethics are answered by bringing about the consequence of the greatest happiness in the greatest number of people. Conduct is determined by the greatest happiness principle, and a happy character is valued in ideas like ataraxia and eudemonia. Jeremy Bentham’s principle of utility, or the greatest-happiness principle, is as follows: “When choosing a course of action, always pick the one that will maximize happiness and minimize unhappiness for the greatest number of people.” What Bentham did not account for is that, if only a few suffer from the consequences of the act, then the overall pleasure (the end) justifies their suffering (the means).

John Stuart Mill (Bentham’s godson) attempted to resolve this by suggesting utilitarianism is just a general policy for general situations, but others after him have come up with rule utilitarianism, which would be phrased, “Don’t do something if you can’t imagine it as a rule for everybody, because a rule not suited for everyone can have no good overall consequences.” (201) According to Rosenstand, this is another attempt to fortify the Golden Rule. This differs from Kant’s categorical imperative, because it is focused on overall consequences, whereas the cat imp is supposed to be followed even if we calculate that it will not result in the common good.

Emphasizing the “end” allows for evil means and character—there must be a standard that judges the means, the character, and the end to be right. There must also be something in existence to which this standard is always true.

Egoism – Consequences Revisited

In egoism, the questions of Ethics are answered by emphasizing good consequences for the person taking the action, considering selfishness a virtue, and finding it important to act in one’s own self-interest. Egoism is Utilitarianism zeroed in on the individual. Rather than focusing on group happiness, egoism focuses on self-happiness.

Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy of rational self-interest is this in a nutshell: “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action.” Put another way: “The rights of the self/Other end where the rights of the Other/self begin”—that’s just the Golden Rule, restated: “Respect the rights of the Other, as you would have them respect your rights.”

Egoism, however, discourages fellow-feeling and a natural concern for the Other, both essential to a cultivated moral sense. Egoists would only follow the Golden Rule to avoid conflict with the Other (if they perceive such avoidance benefits self), rather than living out the empathy implicit in the timeless, self-, other-, and culture-spanning Golden Rule. And to what is Rand’s “Objectivism” objectively, always true? What self in reality does it always describe?

The Golden Rule – Character, Conduct ‘and’ Consequences

It has been shown how the Golden Rule is a more basic and essential aspect of each major theory in Ethics. Aristotle thought every man’s virtue is built in to reality, and Socrates perhaps grounded the Golden Rule in “the god.” Sartre restated the Golden Rule when he said, “In choosing myself, I choose man.” Kant grounded his categorical imperative in fairness to everyone’s shared moral sense. The impulse of relativism simply misapplies the Golden Rule. Bentham and Mill grounded their universalized happiness principle in our shared need for happiness. Ayn Rand thought the happiness of the self is just as important as everyone else’s happiness. They were all right – we are all free and responsible to choose the best purpose; we all need to be happy, to love and be loved, despite circumstances; we all share a moral sense; and the highest virtue is only always true if it always describes something essential to reality, not just in-the-moment behavior.

The Golden Rule—love the Other as self—best accounts for the questions of Ethics:

“What should our character be?” We should be someone who always loves the Other as self.

“What should we do as far as our conduct or duty is concerned?” We should always love the Other as self.

“What is the ultimate end or consequence?” Always this: That the Other is loved as self.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Jesus, Matthew 7:12)

And to what being in reality does this truth correspond? Whom does it describe? There is only one candidate. The Golden Rule describes that essential being (“character”), demonstrated ultimately on the cross (“conduct”) when Jesus took our moral failings on himself, and gave us his moral perfection, loving us despite circumstances—the ultimate point or consequence (“consequences”).

That’s what goodness means. If that isn’t true, there is no good.

[Cross-posted at Ichthus77.]

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

DISCLAIMER: Blog entries made by individual authors reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the view of other CAA authors, or the official position of the group at large.
About Maryann Spikes

Maryann Spikes is the original admin of the Christian Apologetics Alliance blog. She also blogs at Ichthus77. Maryann loves apologetics and philosophy, particularly all things Euthyphro Dilemma and Golden Rule. A para-educator (autism) for five years, she holds a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an AA in Humanities via Modesto Junior College, and moonlights as a freelancer at Ichthus77.com. You can follow her on Twitter @Ichthus77, connect with the Ichthus77 community on Facebook, or look her up on Google+.

  • tildeb

    You missed a rather important category here: biology.

    Let’s revisit: why does the notion of reciprocity seem to cross cultural and linguistic and religious boundaries? You conclude “This seems to indicate a universal hunger for true meaning and goodness.”

    Umm, no it doesn’t. It represents a common behaviour to which we apply meaning and purposes that may or may not be reflective of what’s going on. When you include behaviour of other critters showing clearly the same concern for reciprocity in the same way we do, then all the philosophizing in the world won’t get you one step closer to understanding what’s going on. It’s the wrong filter. But it is a guaranteed way of fooling one’s self to think a pseudo-answer with nebulous terminology inserted into logical form does the trick. It doesn’t because it produces zero knowledge (which is a clue, btw…). In other words, we’re looking in the wrong place. Let’s look instead to reality itself.

    This is where biology is our friend and helps us to establish physical causes and effects for these behaviours that do not require grounding in metaphysical philosophizing mumbo jumbo. It allows us to appreciate that the concern we call the urge to reciprocal behaviour is supra-species wide and this too is a pretty good clue that the foundation is not philosophical or theological or metaphysical but purely biological by means of a natural mechanism. And this has influence establishing our deepening understanding what we mean by moral development, defining criminal behaviour, and erecting ethical standards.

    • http://www.ichthus77.blogspot.com/ Maryann Spikes

      Hello tildeb. You sound snooty and not at all fun to discourse with…but let’s see how it goes.

      The fact that we all have the faculties to do mathematical reasoning…does that mean biology made it all up? How about the fact that we all have the faculties to carry out the scientific method–does that discredit every scientific discovery? How about the fact that we all hunger for food? Does food then not really exist, just because our hunger is biological?

      The fact that none of us *are* the being that would make the Golden Rule true…and yet we still find this rule in every major culture in history…does seem to indicate we hunger for its truth.

      I have great respect for those who want to deepen our understanding of what we mean by moral development and criminal behavior, and to erect ethical standards.

      But I also have great respect for those who will not be obligated by a construct.

      • tildeb

        Well, I guess I’m snooty then…if by snooty you mean I happen to care about what’s true and think reality and not beliefs about it deserve our respect.

        It seems pretty obvious to me that you are confusing epistemology with ontology (not at all uncommon in theology), meaning that you are confusing the word we use to describe a property or relationship as the thing itself, a thing you call ‘being’. But ‘being’ isn’t a thing; it’s a word we apply to describe a state. By assuming ‘being’ is a distinct and discrete thing in and of itself you then make a fundamental mistake to assume a causal agency for it, and this is right out of our philosophical history to explain ‘breath’ (spiritus) and ‘motion’… an ancient idea of agency once quite popular that has long been shown to be in fundamental error (think of flocks of birds or schools of fish that give the appearance of a discrete and distinct thing when, in fact, it is the property of local units obeying local rules). But much of philosophical underpinnings of theology is based on this discredited notion of a necessary agency when it is not necessary at all and continues to give it legs when in reality there is no evidence to continue its support. Being – like a flock – is not a thing but a state brought about by local biological units obeying local biological rules. To understand the biological state is not furthered by philosophical, metaphysical, or theological inquiries relying on nebulous words; our understanding is furthered by investigating the biology responsible for it. Whatever human behaviour is under consideration, the first and most useful avenue of inquiry should be the biology that brings it into ‘being’ and not other way around.

        • http://www.ichthus77.blogspot.com/ Maryann Spikes

          No, I’m not confusing epistemology (defining) and ontology (grounding)–I clearly distinguished between them in my post. The Golden Rule is the epistemology/defining side of things. God is the ontology/grounding side of things…it is “that to which the Golden Rule is true.” Without God’s existence, the Golden Rule has no ontology (being)…is true to nothing…describes nothing.

          You want to prioritize the biology of learning before we set out to learn…I think you are in serious error there. You go ahead and study that biology, though–I’m sure it is fascinating. But — will you be able to learn anything about it, really…since in order to do that, you require we already know it? lol…

          • tildeb

            I think you are confusing how something comes about (must be agency that I’ll call ‘god’) with what comes about (the appearance of a property or state or relationship). Arguing that the latter is dependent on the former is a thinking mistake because there may be other perfectly legitimate cause. The trick here is to support the link between them… by way of evidence from reality rather than from the debatable meanings of nebulous words.

            The link between reciprocity and its behavioural appearance in not just human but can be found from other critters. Whether god is actual or imaginary plays no part in finding these behaviours (the what) so explaining how they come about with references to god does not advance our understanding and creates no knowledge at all. It is a worthless avenue of inquiry to pretend the link is accurate or explanatory on this basis: the assumption produces zero knowledge. That’s a clue about the assumption’s value, btw….

            So what’s the alternative?

            Well, the study of the biological basis for reciprocity seems to produce some interesting avenues of inquiry, an approach that seems to offer us insight into these behaviours and allow us a means to predict and test the role different biological systems play in producing the appearance of moral behaviour. This does not mean we start with all the answers as you snidely attribute to being my point, which it isn’t, but indicates a worthwhile avenue of inquiry that is allowing us to slowly build an understanding of how biology informs behaviour we call morality. This production of knowledge that works for everyone everywhere all the time is a pretty good clue that we’re on the right track. And this track was completely ignored in your post, which is why I suggested it needs to be included rather than overlooked. That you take such exception to my justified criticism tells me that something else, some other motivation other than accurately describing the various avenues of inquiry into reciprocity is at work here. No doubt you’ll attribute my intention to being ‘snooty’ rather than respectful of the current state of investigations into this behaviour.

            • http://www.ichthus77.blogspot.com/ Maryann Spikes

              If other critters have developed a moral sense, that would not change the fact that they are sensing the same “being” we are sensing… And, if there is no such being, we are all just imagining things. Hallucinations usually are not a group thing…even less a generational thing.

  • http://lotharson.wordpress.com/ Lothars Sohn

    Hello Maryann, thanks for your thoughtful article!

    Generally, atheists say that evolution endowed us with an universal moral grammar in our DNA, which is universally valid and therefore objective.

    My problem is that space aliens might have evolved radically different intuitions, and holding fast on the contrary is nothing more than wishful thinking.

    What are your thoughts on the issues I mentionned?

    Lovely greetings from Germany
    Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

    • tildeb

      LS, you continue to make a fundamental error assuming that evolution is in any way related to atheism. It isn’t. Atheism has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution. Why you grasp so firmly to this fallacy that it does, this tired and worn out creationist trope, is a mystery when you have been shown repeatedly why it is a false link.

      Evolution is true because it is supported fully by reality in every avenue of inquiry we undertake that deals with how reality works, and it offers us the explanatory means to build knowledge about how life changes over time. This knowledge (and not any theistic beliefs) is then successfully applied in many practical ways in therapies, applications, and technologies that work reliably and consistently well for theists and non theists alike. If it were not true, then these would fail! But they don’t fail. They work. All the time. Every time. And we can have confidence that this shall continue to be the case because we have no evidence – none – that indicates it will fail. That’s why it’s a theory… and one you can trust (and probably have already) with your life.

      That you don’t like that evolution contrasts with certain religious beliefs you hold is not the problem of evolution, or science, or atheists; it is fully your problem you create when you insist that the square peg of your beliefs really do – must, in fact – fit seamlessly into the round hole of reality. But it doesn’t regardless of what any atheist might otherwise wish. Your problem is with reality that does not adhere to your beliefs about it anbd you continue to try to blame others for this disconnect. As if that wasn’t bad enough, expecting reality to change in service to your incompatible religious beliefs about it is simply not rational.

      • http://lotharson.wordpress.com/ Lothars Sohn

        Hello Tildeb, unfortunately atheism involves evolution, and if evolution makes an objective morality impossible, it’s also the case for atheism.

        I have nothing at atll against Evolution, I find it is very elegant and beautiful theory.

        Cheers.

        LotharsSohn – Lothar’s son
        http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

        • tildeb

          Well, sure, because there is no evidence for any interventionist agency in our study of biology (so far) this fact clearly reveals why the claim that there has been nothing more than wishful thinking. In this case, the absence of evidence that should be there if the interventionist claims were true is rather telling and supports the notion that there remain no compelling reasons from biology to believe otherwise. In fact, to believe otherwise stands in contradiction to the evidence at hand. That’s reality. That’s reality arbitrating certain beliefs that make claims about reality. These interventionist belief claims about this agency causing real effect in the real world are not supported by reality, and to maintain the beliefs in spite of this absence of evidence is to hold beliefs in contradiction with reality. And this is the central plank for all divine creationist claims, that there really was an interventionist agency at some historical point causing real effect. In order for this belief not to be delusional (meaning a belief held contrary to reality), it requires not just evidence for it but explain why and how this absence of evidence that should be there is not. That is YOUR task to fulfill if you want your creationist beliefs to be considered compatible with science rather than contrary to it.

          Religious belief makes the same contribution to our understanding of morality as it does to our understanding of evolution: nothing but noise and heat and interference. Such belief erects barriers to gaining knowledge about the real world by insisting that reality is not the proper adjudicator of faith-based claims: piety is. And this is a guaranteed way to promote ignorance masquerading as ‘answers’.

          • http://www.ichthus77.blogspot.com/ Maryann Spikes

            On interventionism…If our biology allows for “genetic engineering” (and it does) — I wouldn’t rule out God tinkering around w/ things. However, I am a theistic evolutionist (tentatively). See my above reply to Sohn regarding evolution.

            • tildeb

              You may not wish to rule it out, but that is a far cry from believing it is true. For that belief to be justified requires evidence for it. The ‘possibility’ of tinkering does not equal in any sense the notion of ‘probability’ for it. For example, it’s possible this comment is produced by a intergalactic mushroom sent to spy on mankind but believing this to be probable without compelling evidence is well past the halfway mark to Crazy Town. If an interventionist agency ‘tinkered’ with our genes, then it looks identical to descent by common ancestry with other primates (which helps explain why your DNA contains a chunk of non active proteins that is identical to simian damage from a simian virus found in <i.all related great apes. Why a designer would include this in our human DNA is nonsensical.

              And, even though I know you’ll consider this to be ‘snooty’, one cannot accept both evolution and belief in divine tinkering for the simple reason that evolution means changes to life over time by natural selection and not supernatural. This is why anyone who accepts some measure of causal intervention at some historical point in human ancestry by some divine agency that causes effect is clearly incompatible with evolution as it is currently understood as a mechanism. This is why you can sometimes have religion without creationism but never, ever, have creationism without religion; creationism is a faith-based belief, plain and simple, that has zero evidence for it and stands incompatible with the evidence at hand. The claim for theistic evolution is an oxymoron.

      • Mark McGee

        “Atheism has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution.”

        I agree that atheism and evolution are not the “same” thing … but how else do atheists explain the existence of the material world?

        • tildeb

          The same way anyone else does if he or she is honest: I don’t know any definitive explanation. How it came to be this way is a scientific question, best answered by the scientific inquiry. Imposing theology on it doesn’t ‘explain’ anything; it asserts what isn’t know by claiming it is. This is inherently dishonest.

          As for biology, we have an excellent explanation that works for everyone everywhere all the time to produce consistent and reliable technologies, therapies and applications. If this isn’t knowledge, then under what term should we call it?

          There’s a pretty good reason why most working biologists don’t believe in the kind of creative, interactive, intervening god favoured by so many christians; there is ample evidence from reality that the explanatory claims about biology caused by this supposed agency (and made available by various scriptures) is factually wrong. Why believe it’s true when reality shows us it is not? And evolutionary theory really does strike a fatal blow to the central tenet of christianity: that we descend from an historical couple that brought about the need for redemption, and that the redemption requires a savior. We know this first part is factually incorrect if genetics is true. We know that we descended from a primordial mother ~70,000 years older than our primordial father and that the smallest population bottleneck to explain your and my DNA shared ancestry was about ~10,000 (~1200 for a very specific migrant population). The alternative is not just to reject genetics but the method of science on which it is based. Faitheists cannot cherry pick which bits of science to accept and which to reject based on what agrees with their faith-based beliefs as the guide unless they are able to show that their faith-based beliefs produce equivalent knowledge. And here’s the kicker: religious belief does not produce one speck, one lick, one iota of knowledge about reality that works for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s why the rate of equivalent religious belief in a creative, interventionist god by top-tiered scientists is so very low; they simply have no good reason to hold such an opinion.

          • Mark McGee

            I have never met an atheist who did not believe in evolution. Have you? What else would an atheist believe about origins? I clung to evolution as an atheist and held it up proudly as “fact” until I saw that it was just a theory.

            As for your statement that the evolutionary theory – “really does strike a fatal blow to the central tenet of christianity: that we descend from an historical couple that brought about the need for redemption, and that the redemption requires a savior. We know this first part is factually incorrect if genetics is true. We know that we descended from a primordial mother ~70,000 years older than our primordial father and that the smallest population bottleneck to explain your and my DNA shared ancestry was about ~10,000 (~1200 for a very specific migrant population). The alternative is not just to reject genetics but the method of science on which it is based.”

            I’m glad you added that last line – “The alternative is not just to reject genetics but the method of science on which it is based.” Are you talking about the 1987 news about mitochondrial DNA and human evolution? If that’s the one you mean, I reported on that story and followed it with great interest. It made headlines for awhile, then disappeared from view. Are you certain that no other scientific discoveries have been made since then that would bring the 1987 findings into question?

    • http://www.ichthus77.blogspot.com/ Maryann Spikes

      Hello Sohn. Evolution may have endowed us with the ability to sense moral truth, but it cannot produce the being to which moral truth is always true. Morality only holds for persons/selves. The Golden Rule would apply in our interactions with aliens, and in their interactions with us–it would be no different than our interactions with people of different cultures on Earth. Good questions! :)

      • http://lotharson.wordpress.com/ Lothars Sohn

        Hello Maryan, but if MATERIALIST evolution is true, there could be advanced creatures, which lack empathy to a great extent, but are yet capable of cooperating. And if they wanted to enslave earthlings, there would be no common moral rule to call upom. But would Go allow the evolution of these space aliens in the first place?

        Lovely ngreetings from Germany
        Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland

        Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
        http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

      • http://lotharson.wordpress.com/ Lothars Sohn

        If you have the time, you could check out my blog, in the next hours, I’m going to develop an argument suggesting the incompability of materialism and moral realism.

  • http://lotharson.wordpress.com/ Lothars Sohn

    Hello Maryann, as I told you, I’ve published my own post showing the problems between materialism and belief in an objective morality.

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/on-the-compability-of-materialism-and-moral-realism-von-der-kompatibilitat-des-materialismus-und-des-moralischen-realismus/

    I’d feel greatly honored if you could take a look at it,
    I think that Christian thiners ought to cooperate much more :=)

    Lovely greetings from Germany
    Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com