Naturalism: All Things Not Being Equal
I find it interesting that we chase after the word equal.1 In high school sports, every player wants equal playing time. In the work force, equal pay. In society, equal right and opportunity. On the world stage, we want less fortunate countries to have equal amount of opportunity to access clean water or food. But where does this notion of “equal” come from? What is the root cause of why we chase this thing called equal? There are only two possibilities, which could explain this idea of desiring equality: Either it is a byproduct of natural processes or we’ve been made in the image of God, who has endowed us with objective moral duties and values.
Naturalism is the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and processes, in which, supernatural explanations are excluded or discounted. In other words, nature is all that there is. With regards to morality, famed philosophy of science professor, Michael Rues wrote,
“Considered as a rationally justifiable claim set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves…Nevertheless…such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction…any deeper meaning is illusory.”2
Thus, if morality is simply illusory, then our ideas, thoughts, and justifications for equality amongst people is not something that is objectively real, but is make believe, only used to ensure that our species flourishes and propagates DNA. This raises serious questions:
- If we are simply the biological spin-off our primate cousins, why think equality is not just an illusion? There is no such standard in the animal kingdom. There is always a hierarchy. The strongest male lion leads the pride; the women are the hunters and only eat after the males. The female black widow spider, after mating with a male, kills the male, because she no longer needs him. Where is the equality in that? Equality is not seen via the natural world. ONLY the strong survive. The lion kills the zebra and cares nothing about its value or equality; in nature, there is no equality. As Richard Dawkins stated, there is nothing but “pitiless indifference.”3
- If this the case, why does it matter if people own slaves? If slave ownership increases the overall labor of our “herd” at a cheap cost (free) and allows us to progress and remain atop of the food chain, why does equality matter? If homosexuals have no intrinsic moral worth or value, why not quarantine them or even kill them? They provide no reproductive value to the Homo Sapiens species.
However, all of us are not indifferent to some cause related to individuals or groups of individuals. We view slavery as abhorrent, which is why there are groups popping up left and right, throughout the world, to stop human trafficking, which is the highest form of slavery in the 21st century. We are appalled when we hear about the grotesque beatings and tortures of special needs people, homosexuals, transgender, men, women, and children. We are crushed when we see or hear about the vile acts of groups like ISIS.
In conclusion, given the fact that our sense experiences reveals to us an objective reality and without an overriding reason not to, we should all trust our moral experience, which tells us that human being have an objective moral value. Between Naturalism and Theism, it is only the theistic worldview, which agrees with our moral experience, namely, that human beings are ends in of themselves and not means to an end. It is the naturalistic worldview, which drives against the grain of our moral experiences by explaining them away as mere illusions. Therefore, the person who does believe that human beings are equal in value should move in the direction of theism not naturalism.
((From this point on, when I use the term equal, I mean in terms of worth and value. that humans are ends in and of themselves and not means to and end.))
((Michael Ruse. Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics, The Darwinian Paradigm (London:Routledge, 1989), 262, 268-269.))
((Richard Dawkins. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (New York: NY, 1996), 133.)