Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Darwin Implicated in VA Tech Shooting

"Only the person who believes in God has a basis to make moral judgments to determine what is “good” and what is “bad.” Those who claim God does not exist have absolutely no authority upon which to call something right or wrong. If God doesn’t exist, who can objectively define what is good and what is bad? What basis could there be to make such judgments? The atheist has no basis upon which to call anything good or bad. They can talk about good and bad, and right and wrong—but it’s all relative, it’s all arbitrary. What’s “good” in one person’s mind might be completely “bad” in another’s."

This was Ken Ham, President of Answers in Genesis, in an essay less than 24 hours after the massacre at Virginia Tech. He goes on to blame some sort of Naturalism conspiracy for forcing an evolutionary agenda in schools, thus destroying the moral, religious culture. This is so wrong on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin.

I haven't been able yet to find a web link to this but I recall reading an article wherein scientists did a social experiment with chimpanzees. One chimp was given a button whereby if it was pressed, he would receive food. However, pressing the button would also inflict a painful electric shock on another chimp. The study found that the chimp would literally starve himself rather than inflict that pain on a fellow chimp.

Chimpanzees don't have gods. They don't have commandments. They don't have churches, clergy or doctrine. They will act with compassion and sympathy and even against their own self-interest, not because they fear punishment for sin or reward for virtue in an afterlife, but because they have morals. Or, at least what we anthropomorphically call morals. Their behavior has been wired by millions of years of evolution towards behavior that supports the community. And chimps are not alone. All communal animals behave more or less in the interests of the community. Humans behave the same way, not because of some divine spark but because we are more likely to survive when we work together.

Let's approach his assertion from another angle. In Ham's contention, godlessness leads directly to lawlessness. If that were true, Norway, one of the most secular nations on the planet, should be absolutely rampant with crime and Nigeria, the most religious, should be a paragon of virtue. The exact opposite is true. Norway is an extremely civil and safe place to live while Nigeria is a death trap.

The religious fundamentalists would have you believe that atheism, the road to which begins with the acceptance of evolution, is lawless. That atheists are without morals and to allow secularism into public life will lead directly to chaos and anarchism. Religion is the only way to impose goodness and order.

Atheists didn't initiate the crusades. Atheists did not oversee the inquisition. Atheists didn't burn witches. Atheists don't firebomb abortion clinics. Atheists don't strap explosives to their bodies and blow up markets. Atheists do not hack their neighbors to death with machetes. Athiests don't behead journalists and post the video on the internet. An atheist didn't ask their followers to drink cyanide-laced kool-aid at Jonestown and no atheists actually drank from those cups. Anyone who says that religion is the foundation of morality is lying. Or delusional.

The Milgram experiment involved three people. One was a person hooked up to a machine to receive painful electric shocks. The second was an authority figure ordering higher and higher levels of voltage and the third was the actual subject of the experiment. This person was ordered by the authority figure to actually press the button that would administer the shocks for which he would be paid for his participation in the experiment. While the recipient of the shocks was actually an actor and no electricity was applied, two-thirds of the subjects did as they were ordered. No one who questioned their orders did so before the voltage reached 300 volts and not one of the people who refused to participate took the additional step of calling for the end of these sadistic experiments.

We could learn a thing or two from our ape ancestors.

History has shown that religion is not about morality, it is about order. The authority of the church, the authority of the bible, the authority of doctrine, each using the word of God to impose order. Not a natural order that would come about when people work together towards a collective benefit, but an order that reinforces the position of those in authority. And that authority fears and hates evolution because to understand evolution is to understand the true interconnectedness of the universe. The web of existence that can only reinforce ones concern for others as it ultimately comes around to affect you. And once that enlightenment takes place, one sees that they, the religious authorities, are really only concerned with themselves and the way they survive in their positions of authority is to keep people ignorant. Ignorant about evolution. Ignorant about science. Ignorant about reasoned investigation. Ignorant about critical thinking. Ignorant about the truth. They replace genuine truth with a concocted facsimile of truth using the Orwellian doublespeak of faith.

Ken Ham blames secularism, atheism, evolution and science for the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I do not make the counter claim that religion is at fault in that incident. There is no evidence that the delusional shooter was religiously delusional. But I do emphatically denounce Ham's claim that the lack of God is to blame.

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