A Wandering Moral Compass

One of the main arguments by young-earth creationists against evolution actually has nothing to do with either creation or evolution.  The argumant goes like this:

  • With evolution there is no need for a god.
  • The study of evolution therefore leads to atheism.
  • Since God is the arbiter of right and wrong, disbelief in God removes any perceived need for a moral filter a person might have.
  • Therefore, evolution is wrong because it leads to amorality.

While this is just so wrong on so many levels – akin to “Your research is completely false because I dislike your sweater” – there is something even more. It turns out that it is belief in god that leads to a wandering moral compass.

A recent study, described in New Scientist, shows that people map their own beliefs on what they think God believes. In other words, people presume God’s beliefs based on their own, rather than the other way around. Thus, as people’s beliefs change, so does their presumption of God’s beliefs.

 This means that there is no absolute and permanent recognition of what God believes, and thus there is no definitive moral compass imposed by the Almighty. Even worse, it says that whatever a person believes, if they are a believer, they will tend to think that their personal beliefs are shared by God, and therefore just.

As an argument, this does not, of course, demonstrate the validity of evolution (there is plenty of that elsewhere) any more than the original argument refutes it. It does, however, suggest that creationists should not throw stones. Or, to take it a step further, maybe it suggests that evolution should be taught because it removes the wandering moral compass, leading to greater morality. 

I’m just sayin’.

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