If morality evolves, then why do some scientists cast judgment?
Science reporters occasionally make the case for moral relativism: the idea that moral judgments can vary from culture to culture, depending on what the people in a culture were taught is right or wrong. Live Science, for instance, teaches that “Right or Wrong: How You Judge Others Depends on Your Culture.” But in other articles, they will promote abortion rights, gay rights and other moral questions in an absolutist manner (e.g., 3/13/16).
In another case, PNAS published results of surveys about whether people take reason into account when they make moral judgments. “It is widely considered a universal feature of human moral psychology that reasons for actions are taken into account in most moral judgments,” the summary begins. “However, most evidence for this moral intent hypothesis comes from large-scale industrialized societies.” So who’s right? Aren’t hunter-gatherers closer to the pristine evolved state of Homo sapiens? Isn’t industrialized society a recent anomaly? If they believe that, it undercuts their reason for writing this paper, since natural selection considered our ancestors fully fit without “reasons for actions” for millions of years, according to consensus theory.
Modern secular science is in a hopeless dilemma. Evolutionary scientists and their reporters teach that morality evolved, but want to speak with authority about right and wrong. Some recent examples:
- “Oregon’s new birth control law increases access, but more still to be done” (Science Daily). The headline makes a moral judgment on a divisive issue that is currently pitting the Obama Administration against the Little Sisters of the Poor (and other religious institutions) in an important case facing a deeply divided Supreme Court. Yet the academics behind the article say, “This law is a step forward for contraceptive access.”
- “‘Abortion Pill’ Gets New Label: 5 Things to Know About Mifepristone” (Live Science). Try as she does to present a straightforward, factual explanation of the infamous abortion pill, Rachael Rettner delivers a list of “5 things to know” that omits the very most important aspect: whether the pill causes a murder of an unborn human baby. Some of the facts and terms are useful to know, but one cannot be neutral on a moral issue this important that is dividing the country and the world. She ends by focusing only on the potential risks and side effects for the mother, totally omitting reference to the other human being inside of her. You can’t find the words baby, unborn, or even fetus in the article.
- “Breeding humans: Utopias from the early modern period” (Science Daily). The opening sentences show moral relativism: “The idea to improve humans and to optimise procreation emerged long before genetic engineering. As far back as the 18th century, concepts did exist that appear unthinkable from the modern perspective.” But if it wasn’t unthinkable for them, was it morally right?
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