(From the first article):
For the next 10 articles, I will be responding to ten supposedly “unanswerable” questions that, although the title may seem as if they are posed to “theists” as a group, are actually targeted directly towards not only Christians, but Catholics specifically.
Many theists believe that our moral sensibilities are essences or qualities that were given to us by a supernatural source (“God”). There is no evidence to support this claim. There is, however, evidence to support the idea that morality is based on agreed-upon subjective preferences. Broadly understood, morality is a human construct built on four things: reciprocity, altruism, principles of fairness, and empathy. Do you like being burgled? Probably not. Nobody else does either. And so we take this realization — that stealing from people is wrong and that we don’t feel so good when we are the victim of a theft — and then codify our dislike of burglary, accompanied by a requisite punishment, into law. As for altruism, it’s a mechanism that helps ensure survival of the group (remember, humans are social animals). But you want to believe the opposite, that God is “commanding” us to be nice and neighborly. No. Morality is an “emergent property” of evolution, a system, so to speak, in which we evaluate intentions and consequences, and become aware of the effects of behavior on other sentient beings. People come to shared conclusions about subjective experience, and from this conclusion compassion and empathy emerge. As Franz de Waal once put it, “Without empathy, you can’t get human morality. It makes us interested in others. It makes us have an emotional stake in them.” It should also be noted that rudimentary forms of morality can be found with other animals. Think of the number of videos you’ve seen of animals helping other animals. …