Whence do liberals and Darwinists derive their moral convictions?

Shrewsbury writes:

This (rather alarming) letter from Mr. Darwin to his pen-pal Asa Gray at Harvard, dated June 5, 1861, may serve to throw some fuel on the fire of the current debate, by what Jesuitical casuistry a dogmatic Darwinism can be reconciled with morality and altruism:

North America does not do England justice; I have not seen or heard of a soul who is not with the north; some few, and I am one of them, even wish to God, though at the loss of millions of lives, that the North would proclaim a crusade against slavery. In the long run, a million horrid deaths would be amply repaid in the cause of humanity. What wonderful times we live in! Massachusetts seems to show noble enthusiasm….
(Europe Looks at the Civil War, New York: Collier Books, 1962, p.62)

So he would gladly accept the slaughter of a million of his kinsmen to end the servitude of an alien race—nay, not even that—to end the abstract idea of slavery. How Darwinian was Darwin?

What is more, it is in fact something very far from morality or altruism happily to sacrifice millions of others for one’s political hobby of the moment—it is good liberalism, though! Where would the execrable Dawkins find his selfish gene at work here, where there is neither genetic benefit nor altruism?

Ahh, this is making my head spin. There’s just no synthesizing all of this except by assuming that no matter how atheistical the atheist or Darwinian the Darwinite, everyone without exception, whether it’s systematized into their philosophy or not, has a sense of some underlying … something … the Tao, C. S. Lewis called it … and acts upon at least some twisted, inverted perception of it.

LA replies:

Shrewsbury’s last point is profound and explains a great deal. No matter what people’s conscious philosophy may be, no matter how much their explicit beliefs may deny God, objective moral truth, or even the possibility of reason itself, everybody has some notion that there is something “right” that we are supposed to do. And that is why liberals and Darwinists, notwithstanding the degree of their sincerity, good will, and good character as individuals, cannot help but have a somewhat dishonest and parasitical relationship to metaphysical reality. As liberals and Darwinists, they deny both the God of the Bible and the existence of objective moral truth. But as human beings they are so constituted that they cannot help but believe—in some fashion—in objective moral truth. They continually rely on and often aggressively invoke the very thing that their reason tells them doesn’t exist.

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And the above is true, notwithstanding the fact that individual atheists and Darwinists may have a better moral character than individual religious believers.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 11, 2008 07:09 AM | Send

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