From Which Worldview Does Human Equality Naturally Follow?

I truly believe the vast majority of people do in fact believe all human beings to be equal.  Whether that is consistent with their overall worldview is another matter all together.  However, I think only one worldview is able to deem all human beings ontologically equal without requiring some exception, or borrowing from another.  I have had a few recent discussions with Atheists about whether atheism is able to deem and treat all people equally.  But does this claim follow from the worldview itself?

Atheism — which is necessarily naturalistic — advances the idea that human beings are but another link in the chain of biological diversity.  Atheism has two unfortunate disadvantages when answering this question.  The first is bridging the “is>>>ought” gap.  There is nothing within the Naturalist view which dictates that people should be treated equally; why people should not act on their instincts (See: Good Move Sir!).  Naturalism by definition is merely a universe composed only of matter:

(Who Needs Morality?) — On the view of Naturalism everything is matter.  Our bodies are a collection of molecules, like dirt, rocks, grass, etc.  Just another grouping of cells forming an organism; we are simply cells in motion.  When we consider our interactions with others, we are not interacting with “people” per se, but molecules interacting with other molecules.  If Naturalism is true, then I do not see how there can be a true difference between intentionally causing physical pain to a child for the mere pleasure it brings someone, and a leaf falling to the ground.

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How then does the Naturalist get from merely recording and describing the interaction between forms of matter, to assigning a label of good or evil to the content of the interaction without making an appeal to a non-existent, non-physical concept?  To even lay claim to a subjective morality, how can the Naturalist stay consistent with his worldview yet make any appeal to a non-physical concept such as good or evil, right and wrong?

The second problem is how, on a naturalistic worldview, can we know all human beings are equal?  Since each human being possesses different attributes: hight, muscular build, intellect, survivability etc., based on a naturalistic assessment of organisms — which is necessarily utilitarian — there are some human beings that are better — in the Darwinian sense — than others.  Human flourishing doesn’t help either.  Many organisms do not adhere to the human traits of sharing, protecting or rescuing strangers, etc. and in fact steal, forcibly copulate, and ostricize other like organisms and still thrive.

Any reference to anything non-physical: compassion, justice, equality, etc. is borrowed from a non-naturalistic worldview which is able to define such terms consistent within the framework of the worldview itself.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not saying that for the most part Atheists do not hold all human beings to be equal, I think they do, only that the idea of equality is not extracted from their philosophical framework.

As far as it goes, the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only view from which the concept “all human beings are equal” can be drawn.  Because all human beings carry the Imago Dei, it can be said they are all equally valuable.  It is being made in the image of God which says that regardless of your appearance, strength, beauty, or talent, that all human beings share an essential equality.  This is not true for other religious worldviews.  Of course, we find times in history where this tenet has been ignored or suppressed, but it is built into the framework of the worldview.

Moreover, only by holding the pro-life position can one say all human beings are equal.  Human beings are such from the moment of fertilization (See: Get A Life, Part 1), and the pro-life view recognizes this.  The pro-life view holds that all human beings regardless of where they are developmentally are worthy of being protected.  Arguments defending elective abortion are used to marginalize and strip human beings who are in the earliest stages of their development of their right to live and be protected.  Could you really say you believe all human beings are equal if you are willing to champion the right for some to have their lives taken for the reasons women have abortions?

It would seem that only the pro-life Judeo-Christian view can truly make the claim that holding all human beings to be equal flows naturally from their worldview.  To be sure, many, if not most Atheists, and people from an array of worldviews do believe all human beings are equal.  But they do so in spite of their worldview, not because of it.

Comments

  1. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. It does not have a fundamental philosophy, it is not a religion.
    While atheists do often have similar philosophies, they are not grounded in some atheistic dogma.

    An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in gods. Gods are like the tooth fairy, they have a mythical persona, but they do not exist.

    Everything you have said here is geared towards a fictional group of people.

    • Rick

      Atheism is the belief God(s) do not exist. I am not callint it a religion, but it is a worldview. It is a filter with which the world is viewed. For instence, believing there is no God requires a physicalist interpretation of all events. While you may think “lack belief” and belief that none exist” is trivial, it isnt. I lack belief in which MLS team won the championship 2 years ago.

      Either way, Naturalists exist, naturalism is the worldview, they are not fictional. You are likely a Naturalist, are you not? You say Gods do not exist, are you fictional?

      Your comment lacks any substance.

  2. From a naturalist (your term) point of view, suffering and pleasure are objectively subjective states of being. Though suffering and pleasure are founded in the movement of matter, they are emergent properties that can be used to help us distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. You are simply wrong to state that a JC worldview has objectivity whereas a naturalist worldview doesn’t. You say that a naturalist must define morality subjectively, but you haven’t taken into account the fact that a JC worldview does simply that, but CLAIMS it is metaphysically objective. I can’t believe you threw in a quick and dirty claim about abortion–you need to devout more words to that because there’s not enough there to even argue with.

    • NS

      Thanks for the comment. But I disagree that you can extract right and wrong from suffering and pleasure based solely on interactions of matter. Right and wrong are not physical and cannot be accounted for by physicalism or naturalism. They are moral labels. I think you are conflating what naturalists personally believe with what flows from the naturalist worldview.

      But I wasnt making a dirty claim throwing in abortion. This post was about human equality. I think only the pro-life JD worldview can lay claim to viewing all human beings as equal. Abortion marginalizes a segment of the human population and regulates them to living at the sole discression of another, their mother. A worldview which can “reason” away another human being’s right to exist by no means holds all human beings equal. That’s the point.

      • If the naturalist point of view is true, and if we want right and wrong, we must base right and wrong from emergent properties (suffering, pleasure) of matter interactions. We may WANT there to be a ‘true’ objectivity (maybe we want it), but given what we have (physical observation, unless you can provide me with non-physical observation), we have to make do.

  3. I guess I would suggest that the fact the Christian world view is that we are all created in the Imago Dei is foundational to a Christian view of equality.

  4. John,
    When the starting point is made in the image of God, it sets the bar pretty high. When the starting point is matter the bar just seems much lower. If nothing else the materialist view militates against any sort of inherent equality.

  5. I understand there is view of naturalism (only physical) and a view of ‘naturalism plus’, but I just don’t get how you can claim to know anything about the ‘plus’ part. It’s important for you to clarify, because if you make any claims about morality based on your unfounded claims to this knowledge, you run into the same problem with extracting right and wrong from an unstable foundation (the problem you say a naturalist has).

    • I’m not really buying naturalism plus. Unless you are suggesting supernaturalism, but that’s not naturalism, obviously.

      I can lay my claim on revelation. It sounds like you are seeing the limitations of naturalism to explain the world as we see it.

  6. revelation is ‘naturalism plus’

  7. NS
    Basing morality on “suffering” or “pleasure” is very relativistic. One person’s pleasure is another person’s suffering. The morality then becomes subjective – do you chose what is moral based on the suffering or pleasure? And what defines suffering? You are making arbitrary moral claims.

  8. Burning alive is not relative to organisms with a nervous system. Again, I’m asking you to grant me that the metaphysical/supernatural/JC worldview is not any more objective than a purely naturalistic worldview. You can claim that there is an objective observer that deems right and wrong, but how do you demonstrate the truth of this claim?

  9. John, just admit that your claims to metaphysical objectivity rest on the premise “miracles described in the bible are true”, and we can agree to disagree.

    • I think they are true, but there’s a little more to it than that.

      • John

        Miracles are (bad) evidence of an immaterial reality. If miracles (literally natural, observable phenomenon with supernatural/immaterial causes, or observable immaterial phenomenon) aren’t true, what other evidence could you cite as testimony to the reality of metaphysical objectivity?

        NS

        • NS

          First, they are only bad evidence if you have a worldview bias against their possibility — i.e., only if you start with the belief they are impossible. But aside from that any emotion: joy, sadness, or memory, the idea that one interaction of matter is good and another is bad is evidence of an immaterial reality. Abstract ideas and numbers are evidence.

          While you might want to say that memories are electric synapses, sure that is how they manifest to the outside observer, but to the individual they are exponentially more than wavelengths.

  10. Very good article.

  11. Shalom ! says:

    Naive S. I we agree re our need for supernatural Revelation.. Yes, miracles specifically the ultimate one The resurrection of The Christ (Jesus of Nazareth) ! The Word of God:both the written (SCRIPTURE) and The Living Word, are Divinity Self revealed. Anyone who limits themselves only to. Natural revelation has only part of the overall evidence! I am enjoying the discussion . We must seek for Truth.if we think and Reason that there IS Truth! Shalom!

  12. Thank you Shalom! Revelation (from books, copies of copies of copies of copies…of copies of books, self-report, reports of reports of reports…of reports of self-report) is evidence that must be true, necessarily, in order to make the claim “MP objectivity is true.”

  13. You can say “ideas are immaterial” and “memories are more than material”, but how do you demonstrate this? How do you show me that ideas and memories can exist in, say, a rock, or a haystack, in the same way they exist in a human brain? You may say ideas exist in books, and beyond their human sources by word of mouth, but they started in material brains (which have their own material origins). You can make statements like, “they are exponentially more than wavelengths, ” but you have to show me in what way. I can say “batman plus carrot juice equals pizza slice”, but without supporting evidence and operational definitions, this statement is worthless.
    I appologize: by bad evidence, what I meant was the kind of evidence that we wouldn’t use in support of other truths about the world. When we make our planes, or design our bridges, or synthesize our vaccines, we require way, way stricter probability of falsehood. How likely is it that this cabin will lose pressure? This bridge give out with X amount of weight? This vaccine kill a third of the people who take it? What do I mean by stricter? We are even stricter in our day to day lives. If at 8:00am, your friend you haven’t seen in years calls you up to tell you not to go outside due to nuclear fallout, you’re going to require more evidence than most people require when they assume the truth of revelation. You’ll look out the window. You’ll turn on the TV. You’ll ask your distant friend how he has come to know this. You might even peek outside. These are BETTER types of evidence than the types used in support of revelation (copied books and multiply removed word of mouth).

Trackbacks

  1. […] even see how morality itself is even arrived at on Atheism (Who Needs Morality?, Good Move, Sir, From Which Worldview Does Human Equality Naturally Flow?).  But I’m not arguing these here.  I’d just like to know how you, the Atheist, believe a […]

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