Can a world without religious values ever be consistent when it comes to ethics?

The answer to this question is obvious for most people—of course killing is wrong. Most moral codes forbid murder, and in the Bible, the Ten Commandments also forbid murder. But even without these moral codes, most people ‘just know’ that killing is wrong—in fact, if someone needed someone to tell them that killing is wrong, we might question their sanity!

However, finding justification for killing, say, people of a different ethnic group, political rivals—or the elderly and unwanted babies in the womb—is nothing new to the atheistic worldview. In fact, raising such a question is a logical consequence of accepting evolution as truth and rejecting the truth and authority of Scripture. After all, if humans evolved, so did our morality, so who is to say that our morality may not simply reflect what was advantageous for the species over millions of years? What was regarded as moral some years ago might not be relevant today if the world were to face food shortages, for example. If that is the case, then we are left with a solely pragmatic code of ethics, and it also means ethics could change if what’s deemed advantageous for the species changes.

Is murder always wrong?

Recently in the Journal of Medical Ethics1 (which as we’ll see is a very oxymoronic title) this question was posed by two researchers whose ultimate goal is to justify organ donation after cardiac death—where the patient has brain damage and is on life support, but the patient isn’t dead because the heart could start beating again.2….

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