Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The mutilation of Bibi Aisha — a test case on the objectivity of moral judgements


Several days ago, UD news raised the above case, and the response of a class of students, as a test case on the objectivity of morality. Further details — and a shocking picture of a beautiful but mutilated girl that we all need to examine, painful or not — are here.  In deference to sensibilities, I will ensure that the shocking graphic is below the fold.)

The key issue on the table was posed in this clip from the teacher (who it seems has done research on moral education in today’s climate of radical relativism):

. . . I was not prepared for their reaction.

I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused. They seemed not to know what to think. They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture.

They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.”

Of course, since this case cuts to the quick of today’s radical relativism and its dismissal of the objectivity of morality, we have had a considerable exchange, much of it on various tangents, often quite loaded.

In response to such exchanges in recent days, particular with a commenter I will here call XYZ, this morning I have made a comment, and I now wish to headline it here, as I think it is sufficiently relevant to be brought to general attention. (Pardon how I have had to begin by addressing the now “standard” talking point originally championed by MF  that I am “incomprehensible” so can be brushed aside. This ever so handy talking point is, however, plainly unjustified and uncivil shunning behaviour.  Yes, these are difficult matters to think through, and will take time to work out, but they are real issues and the perspectives raised trace to some leading lights of the ages. So, with all due respect, they need to be squarely faced not dodged on a handy excuse.)

Clipping from the discussion thread here on:


>> . . . since I am going to have to deal with some potentially hot-button issues, let me first off be explicit: I appreciate the fact that you [XYZ] are willing to dialogue, and that you seem to have an interest in the question of morality.

(I will leave it to the informed and fair-minded onlooker to see whether or no I am so utterly obscure and unclear that I can be branded as incomprehensible and dismissed. Let’s just say that since I am actually following a main line of ethical thought championed by leading lights of our civilisation for centuries and more, I doubt that I am really incomprehensible; but what I am summarising cuts across what is now commonly championed by the materialist magisterium, intelligentsia and nomenklatura, and so disagreement and loaded but fundamentally fallacious talking points will create a fog of polarised disagreement that may well lead to the perception of incomprehensibility. So, the many who are caught up in that fog, will find it hard to follow. But, please, let us take it step by step.)

So, we may as well face hot button no 1: do you notice [XYZ] how your comments above rush off on a multitude of poisonously loaded tangential issues?

Pardon, that is symptomatic as I just summarised, and easily explains a lack of understanding: you have been immersed in an environment that is hostile to objective morality, and has all sorts of talking points designed to distract and stir hostility. This is not an atmosphere in which coherent thinking on serious and in parts difficult issues, is likely to be fruitful. Suffice to say that, for generations, serious people have thought through and written soberly and solidly on the themes you have raised.

But, Hot-Button 2: since the proper question is the grounding of objective morality, I will not here deal with most of your side-issues and talking points.

Let us focus on the case in the original post as a key, revealing case study, one that has clearly hit a raw nerve. First things first then, as the flak is a sign that one is near the main target, etc.

In particular, let us focus the comment by the teacher:

. . . I was not prepared for their reaction.

I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused. They seemed not to know what to think. They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture.

They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.”

In steps of thought:

Bibi Aisha -- mutilated by members of her --update, in-law --family for the "crime" of fleeing an abusive marriage where she was literally treated like an abused animal

1 –> We see a clear atmosphere of politically correct, radically relativist intimidation suppressing the natural response — a cognitive judgement that rests on the implicit recognition of human dignity, leading to a feeling of revulsion and outrage over wrong done to the innocent, or against “punishment” in utter disproportion to anything that could have provoked it — that his should not have happened.

(Remember, this is a young girl, Bibi Aisha, who for fleeing an abusive marriage in which she was treated like an animal (and kept with animals!), was [update: hunted] down and caught by her [update: in-law] family, and then had her nose and ears cut off, then was left in the mountains for dead.)

2 –> So, we see a clash between the almost instinctive recognition that we have rights, in the face of massive violation of rights — the full equivalent of rape . . . — and the sort of multiculturalist steeping in radical relativism, backed up by the implicit power of the current establishment that now rules the roost in our public square. {Added, Dec 9th, from Time} Let us now hear what happened to this young lady at the hands of her in-laws and (evidently) the Taliban they seem to have been involved with. For, we must have the courage to face what happened squarely, as a first step to moral clarity:

The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband’s house. They dragged her to a mountain clearing near her village in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, ignoring her protests that her in-laws had been abusive, that she had no choice but to escape. Shivering in the cold air and blinded by the flashlights trained on her by her husband’s family, she faced her spouse and accuser. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn’t run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved. Later, he would tell Aisha’s uncle that she had to be made an example of lest other girls in the village try to do the same thing. The commander gave his verdict, and men moved in to deliver the punishment. Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose. Aisha passed out from the pain but awoke soon after, choking on her own blood. The men had left her on the mountainside to die.

This didn’t happen 10 years ago, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It happened last year. Now hidden in a secret women’s shelter in the relative safety of Kabul, where she was taken after receiving care from U.S. forces, Aisha recounts her tale in a monotone, her eyes flat and distant. She listens obsessively to the news on a small radio that she keeps by her side. Talk that the Afghan government is considering some kind of political accommodation with the Taliban is the only thing that elicits an emotional response. “They are the people that did this to me,” she says, touching the jagged bridge of scarred flesh and bone that frames the gaping hole in an otherwise beautiful face. “How can we reconcile with them?” . . . [Baker, Aryn: “‘Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban, “ Time, Mon Aug 9, 2010.]

2a –> The context for this is the traditional tribal customary law, baad, whereby in PAYMENT for serious crimes (murder, rape, adultery, fornication . . . ) committed by male relatives, young girls are handed over to the aggrieved clan, through the mediation of a local council.  In the words of a UNHCR sponsored journal article (with my notes added from a comment below):

Baad is an ancient tradition in Afghanistan, dating back to the days when no central legal authority existed [–> that’s back to the 1930’s . . . ], and conflicts were settled through the tribal system.

Slowly the practice became widely accepted, even though there is no religious or legal basis for it [–> customary law, is law, often more powerful than law from a weak state, and once marriage is implicated, there is religious sanction by the clergy who are involved, and through popular religious thought; i.e. at minimum, we see a need for a reformation here]. When a man kills, rapes, or has sexual relations with someone other than his wife [–> notice the emphasis on sexual cases; whatever happened to the idea that if I am guilty of a crime, I should pay for it? So, subtext: we are dealing with a way to protect the wealthy and powerful in wrongdoing by handing over an innocent girl in “payment”], a local council [–> So, the respectable and powerful in the community are implicated] can step in to mediate. Lesser offences can usually be settled by the exchange of money, perhaps a few sheep or a cow. But the standard penalty for a serious crime is for the offender’s family to part with a girl, who is given to the victim’s family. [–> STANDARD, as in customary law]

Often the girl given in baad is little more than a slave [–> Unwilling to admit the full shocking truth, so a euphemism is used: she is traded as property and put under the power of another to the point where she may evidently be freely abused] ; she can be beaten or mistreated, or even killed. Much domestic violence in Afghanistan can be traced back to the tradition of baad, according to human rights activists. [–> So, the respectable members of the community councils and the clergy who shape the popular thought on such matters MUST know this; we can infer a climate of intimidation and implied threat of retaliation, probably violent]

“Baad is a negative tradition with no legal or moral basis,” said Judge Sayeed Mohammad Sami, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission for the north. “A human life can never be traded away. It will take a long time and much hard work to get rid of this terrible practice.” [–> Come on now, Judge: “traded away” INTO SLAVERY; this is human trafficking and enslavement]

According to Judge Sami, 571 cases of violence had been recorded in the north over the past year. Out of these, eight were attributed to baad. However, he added, the number could be much higher, since many families do not report such incidents. [–> climate of intimidation and retaliation]

Baad is illegal, said Mah Gul Yamam, a legal expert at the Afghan Human Rights Organisation.

“According to the laws of Afghanistan, a perpetrator bears personal responsibility for his crimes,” she said. “This responsibility cannot be transferred to others. But unfortunately, in Afghanistan, when a man commits a crime, it is the females that have to bear the punishment.” [–> Think about that!]

Baad is against the criminal code of Afghanistan, punishable by up to two years in jail, she explained. But unfortunately, no legal action can be taken unless the woman or girl who is given away makes a complaint. [–> In a climate of intimidation and retaliation, were we see how running away to find refuge in one’s home can lead to mutilation and attempted murder, then shunning and trying to starve out the family, for the crime of letting the girl who survived the mutilation seek effective refuge] Females are often reluctant to initiate criminal proceedings against their relatives, and, indeed, can be physically coerced into complying with the demands of baad. [–> intimidation and violent retaliation]

“There is a dysfunction in the law,” said Mah Gul. “Baad must be recognised as a crime.” [–> but it is, just there is no effective enforcement in the teeth of popular custom]

Afghanistan’s legal system is plagued with corruption and inefficiency, and is in no condition to dispense justice. [–> a failed state, and the west is about to walk away, KNOWING what will happen, which indicts our own elite culture and its radical relativism, especially the major media that have played on our own sentiments to get us to do things that make no good sense] Despite the efforts of the international community, which has poured millions of dollars into judicial reform over the past seven years, many Afghans choose the traditional structures when things go wrong.

Tribal or jirga justice is swift and almost universally accepted – but it has the disadvantage of perpetuating many of the society’s long-standing abuses against women.

Malaly Roshandil Usmani, head of the Women’s Rights Advocacy Association, told IWPR that women whose rights have been violated are in no position to make a complaint. [–> SLAVES have no effective resort]

“Organisations working in the field of women’s rights should not have to wait for women to come to them,” she said. “They need to find these women and work with them.”

Many women do not know their rights, she explained, and still more are prevented from exercising those rights.

3 –> {Returning to the original post} Note, as well, that our feeling of revulsion here, is driven by a cognitive judgement and an implicit, almost instinctive worldview perception of the moral significance of the human individual [the point of the clip above from Paul in Rom 2 (cf here)], one that has been encouraged in our civilisation over many centuries by the Judaeo-Christian tradition and many reformers who have stood solidly in that tradition, open Bible in hand.

4 –> But, the new magisterium, for 2 – 300 years, has been assiduously labouring to knock that scripture-driven enlightenment out of our minds, hearts and consciences. That is why our current climate of discussion is so saturated with litanies of stoked-up outrage and angry out of context misreadings, that would push the God of the Bible, the scriptures, and those who take them seriously in the dock, the agenda being revealed by the striking lack of balance and refusal to recognise the sterling contribution made by adherents of that same tradition for thousands of years.

5 –> There is a name for that: scapegoating, in service to bigotry. However, that is not the main focus, so we note it and put it to one side. (Onlookers, you may want to start here and here, to begin to put this issue in balance.)

6 –> Let us focus the main matter, by looking at what our intuitive recognition that something has gone seriously wrong here is telling us: this young miss has rights, even is she has been wayward, and those rights have been massively violated, tantamount to rape — multiplied by the fact that the destructive mutilation of her face is visible for life.

(F/N: I don’t know if it may be possible to support or if necessary start a plastic surgery fund to restore such faces [to the extent possible], and the bodies of those scarred with sulphuric acid by Taliban Terrorists for the crime of going to school etc, and a similar fund to begin to do something to help respond to the gynaecological problems faced by the girls seriously harmed by so-called female circumcision. Let me pass this one to an Aid Agency specialising in that part of the world. The teacher and his class would be a good point to begin.)

7 –> So, we come to the issue that we have an instinctive, intuitive reaction that tells us that people have inherent rights tracing to our dignity as equals with moral worth. But is this simply a subjective perception inculcated by cultural and historical accident, without warrant on evident facts and reasoning? That is, is it objective? (Where, since we are subjects, ALL human experience is, almost by definition, subject-IVE. But equally, we subjects can and do know many things on warrant, that makes these things objective, not merely empty and delusional perceptions.)

7a –> {Added, Dec 9} Another clip from a comment below, will help put this in context and underscore the seriousness of what is on the table, for in fact such cultural relativism was precisely one of the defences offered at Nuremberg, and was sharply rebutted by appeal to innate recognition of the law above laws, the laws of human nature:

I pointed out the painful truth, that cultural relativism — and for that matter, radically relativist, inherently amoral evolutionary materialism with its inescapable IS-OUGHT gap — has no answer to Hitler’s horrors.

And, I did not pick this by accident or as an evasion, it has a very specific historical relevance. At the Nuremberg trials, I am informed (e.g. cf here and here — which opens up the issue of just how wide the holocaust really was, e.g. the no 2 victim group were the non-Jewish, largely Catholic Poles, at some 3 mn [where half of the Jewish victims were also Poles]), the precise “who are you to judge us” defense of following lawful orders issued by legitimate authority within the culture was used.

The only way that could be broken was by appealing to higher law, i.e. natural law, the objective law of human nature that we all know and which stands in judgement over us all. We are under the government of natural law, the law of our nature. From this, the only worldviews that are credible are those that ground OUGHT in a foundational IS.

Let me quote, giving US Supreme Court Justice and chief American prosecutor Robert Jackson’s devastating reply, pp 50 – 51 in the first linked:

In The law Above the Law, John Warwick Montgomery describes [the Nazi] argument: “The most telling defense offered by the accused was that they had simply followed orders or made decisions within the framework of their own legal system, in complete consistency with it, and they therefore ought not rightly be condemned | because they deviated from the alien value system of their conquerors” (emphasis added).4

But the tribunal did not accept this justification. In the words of Robert H. Jackson, chief counsel for the United States at the trials, the issue was not one of power — the victor judging the vanquished — but one of higher moral law. “The tribunal rises above the provincial and the transient,” he said, “and seeks guidance not only from International Law, but also from the basic principles of jurisprudence, which are assumptions of civilization . . . . ” 5 [Beckwith, Francis, and Koukl, Greg, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, Baker (2005 printing) pp. 50 – 51; Judge Jackson’s words emphasised. HT, Google Books.]

And, similarly, that was how slavery was broken, and it is how we will have to look at Bibi Aisha’s case. For, you see, I am a descendant of slaves, and Bibi Aisha was bonded as a hostage wife, in effect a slave under the “baad” custom, in payment for the murder of a member of her in-laws clan by a cousin of her father . . .

8 –> {Returning to the original post} Now, in grounding rights as a platform for liberty and justice in government, John Locke answers this from a theistic perspective by citing “the judicious [Richard] Hooker” in his Ecclesiastical Polity, 1594+, as I cite in the IOSE:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

9 –> Notice, how this crucially pivots on the instinctive understanding of one’s moral worth, and on the linked recognition of the equality of the other as just as much made in God’s image; from which all else follows on serious reflection. The US Declaration of Independence of 1776 (echoing the earlier Dutch DOI under William the Silent of Orange, 1581) draws this out to the level of a polity, clarifying the issue of rights (and their Creational roots) and the balance of just powers of Government based on the informed consent of the governed:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .

10 –> The pivotal concept here is self-evidence: things that are so, are necessarily so, and are seen to be patently such on pain of absurdity, once one understands clearly what is being discussed. Here, once one is willing to acknowledge the moral dignity and equality of people, on their Creation by God, all else plainly follows and leads on to the right of reformation of bad government, or if necessarily its replacement and correction if it is stubborn in wrong and abuse.

11 –> So, the issue of rights and thus of objective morality finally rests on our being made with a certain moral worth by our inherently good Creator. Indeed, “rights” may then be defined/summarised as: binding moral claims for respect that we make on one another, rooted in our fundamental equality, dignity and worth as human beings. (Such is prior to any negotiated entitlements we may make, premised on the principles that we have such rights.)

12 –> This is of course a hot button point.

13 –> For, in the name of “science” and in the linked name of separation of church and state, with a one-sided litany of real and imagined complaints on theocracy and bomb throwing terrorism or tyranny and torture or witch-hunting tossed in, we are being programmed to red flag reference to anything that smells like a Divine Foot in the door of our public square.

(And, don’t you dare point to the track record of regimes driven by amoral scientism in atheistical or neo-pagan forms over the past 100 years. Don’t you dare raise the issues of racism, the Aryan man highest evolved race myth, elite classism, social darwinism, the eugenics movement initiated by Darwin’s cousin Galton and led by his son Leonard, or the push for abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, or the Gulags, mass slaughters and the holocaust. Don’t you dare ever point out the historic lines of descent from Darwin through Haeckel and co and on to the Prussian/German Militarists and the Rape of Belgium in WW I, then to the holocaust under a soldier (now turned dictator for life) who — surprise (not) — had served in that area, a generation later. Added, Dec 7, his remarks on that rape of an innocent nation that foreshadowed what would happen in the 1940’s : “The old Reich knew already how to act with firmness in the occupied areas. That’s how attempts at sabotage to the railways in Belgium were punished by Count von der Goltz. He had all the villages burnt within a radius of several kilometres, after having had all the mayors shot, the men imprisoned and the women and children evacuated. “ [Secret Conversations] Don’t you dare ever point out Heine’s grimly prophetic warning from the 1830′s premised on how once the subduing talisman of the cross was ever shattered in GERMANY through the skeptical speculative and natural philosophers, the ancient demonically irrational berserker battle lust and fury would rise again and wreak havoc across a continent and beyond. Don’t you dare ever point out how H G Wells — a student of Huxley, Darwin’s bulldog — wrote a whole series of science fiction novels that warned of the way science out of moral control could lead to serious abuses. Don’t ever, ever ever point to the key passages in Chs 5 – 7 of Darwin’s Descent of man, including his cool prediction of genocide that was not immediately balanced by a response to the moral hazard he identified. No, no, no, evolutionary materialist secularism and its fellow neopagan and apostate Christian travellers are sacred cows, not to be touched. No, no, no, you must shut up and stop your ears to the moans of over 100 million ghosts from the regimes of the past 100 years.)

14 –> But, Plato, 2,350 years ago, put his finger on the root problem, in The Laws, Bk X [and I see over many, many months that you and others from your position have not responded to this in any serious way above]:

[[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [–> note the evolutionary materialistic philosophy] . . . .

[[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.– [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke’s views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic “every man does what is right in his own eyes” chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . .

15 –> In short, evolutionary materialism is a longstanding philosophy on the nature of reality and how it has come to be, which is inherently utterly amoral and radically relativist, leading directly to the absurdity that “the highest right is might,” when we all know that the right is often not on the side of the might.


16 –> This reduction to patent moral absurdity is a big part of the reason why evolutionary materialism was rejected in classical times, even though paganism was not much of an improvement. (NB: In the earlier part of his remarks, not quoted above, Plato — ever mindful of what had happened to Socrates, subtly distances himself from that paganism and hints at his own distinctive idealism. In the linked above, you can also see how after the part clipped above, he goes on to argue to the creation of the world by a good power through a cosmological design inference.)

17 –> What has happened in our time, is that in the name of science, such evolutionary materialism has donned the holy lab coat, and thus draws cultural power from the prestige of science. It is even trying to question-beggingly redefine what science is, in its own image, through so-called methodological naturalism. never mind, that such ideologisation of science would decisively undercut the credibility of science as an objective, evidence led, empirical search for the truth about our world.

18 –> But, as Provine documented in the infamous Darwin Day address at U of Tenn, 1998, this is what is lurking just beneath the apparently calm surface:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

19 –> The key reduction to absurdity lies in point 5. If we are not significantly free to decide and choose responsibly, we can neither think rationally nor decide and act ethically, we are playthings of genes, memes and other forms of conditioning. So also, the scientific and cultural elites dressed in the holy lab coats, philosopher’s academic gowns, and the suits of statesmen, are just as enmeshed in the spider’s web of irrationality, and so rationality, science, and responsibility collapse in a mare’s nest of self-referential contradictions.

20 –> Such evolutionary materialist thought is inescapably incoherent, absurd and necessarily false. We need to begin again to build a worldview on sounder grounds, and here is a 101 on how to do that.

21 –> Now, we can return to the issue of the objectivity of right and wrong, with that major distraction off the table.

22 –> We can notice, from simply how we quarrel, that we instinctively and by consensus, recognise that we are under moral government. For, we do not generally refuse to admit that we have definite moral obligations, we appeal to them and try to shift blame, or excuse ourselves etc. As C S Lewis points out in the opening argument and opening words of his well known Mere Christianity:

Every one has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”-”That’s my seat, I was there first”-”Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm”- “Why should you shove in first?”-”Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine”-”Come on, you promised.” People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups. Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behaviour does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behaviour which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise.

It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed.

And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word.

Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the
rules of football.

Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the “laws of nature” we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong “the Law of Nature,” they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law-with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.

23 –> In short, here we have a nigh-universal consent that comes out in our most heated moments, when our guard is down, that we live under common moral government that pivots on our inherent moral worth and equality, so there is a general rule of fair play that we should all respect.

24 –> Why on earth should we not take this consensus as pointing to an objective reality, just as we have a universal consensus that nonsense is nonsense and 2 + 3 = 5, not just in particular cases, but on pain of absurdity, always and necessarily?

25 –> The answer is of course that we are caught up in the poisonous fog of evolutionary materialist amorality, in a context where we tend to confuse the philosophy of materialism dressed up in a lab coat, for science.

26 –> But, for 2,350 years and more we have had excellent reason to know that the very obvious absurdity and chaos flowing from such amorality is good reason to reject that pretender out of hand, and that the very orderliness and careful organisation of our evidently contingent cosmos points to its source in a designer that lies beyond it.

27 –> And in our time, the evidence of a definite beginning and of fine tuning that sets the observed — the only observed — cosmos to a carefully balanced operating point set up to facilitate C-chemistry, cell based life underscores the soundness of that longstanding judgement.

28 –> So, the reasonable man or woman will accept the force of the consensus that we are under moral government as a testimony of fact, and will then see that the only serious worldview that can provide an IS that can ground OUGHT as an objective duty, would be an inherently good and wise God and Creator. (Indeed, that careful balance is the proper answer to the modern attempts to resurrect the Euthyphro dilemma, so-called as an objection to ethical theism, cf here for details.)

29 –> So we have a serious worldview option capable of working with the actual scientific evidence — as opposed to the atheism dressed up in a lab coat that would establish itself as today’s equivalent of a theocracy, an atheocracy, even trying to question-beggingly redefine science itself in that pursuit — that grounds morality objectively, as being rooted in our inherent nature as morally valuable, created beings endowed by our common wise and good Creator with certain unalienable rights, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as to our dignity, persons, innocent reputation, property etc.

30 –> On the strength of that view, we can then see that this case in view, the mutilation of Aisha, is a straightforward one of violation of the dignity of a person, which is plainly and objectively wrong and inexcusable. Just as gang raping and/or torturing her — actually this is a case of torture and is fully equivalent to gang rape — would be blatantly wrong.

31 –> The tradition and culture that sponsors such egregious wrong has much to answer for, and should therefore be drastically reformed.

32 –> And, with these foundational principles firmly in place, we can then proceed to deal with more complicated and difficult cases, such as what happens when, in a world where evil doers can gain horrendous power and set out on destruction and oppression, we may have to face the challenge that for all the horrors that inevitably accompany a war, a relatively small war now is better than a much bigger and hard to win one later, to contain or stop the rising wave of evil. As opposed to, a war is “good.”

33 –> And that is the context for the longstanding Judaeo-Christian ethical view that there is such a thing as a good reason why the civil magistrate is armed with the sword in defence of the civil peace of justice, never mind the temptation that that poses for such to turn tyrant.

34 –> In short, when for six weeks in summer, your nation’s manpower has been locked up in the teeth of an invading army, and the champion Goliath stands forth, there is a reason for a 16 year old lad to stand forth with a sling shot in his back pocket and five stones. (Goliath had four brothers, and evildoers like that are almost always liars, so he was ready for them too.)>>


I would be remiss if I were not to put up one last clip, on where this all points (ane where many are ever so desperate NOT to go), from Greg Koukl:

The presence of evil in the world is considered by some to be solid evidence against the existence of God.  I think it proves just the opposite.  The entire objection hinges on the observation that true evil exists “out there” as an objective feature of the world.  Therein lies the problem for the atheist.

To say something is evil is to make a moral judgment, and moral judgments make no sense outside of the context of a moral standard.  Evil as a value judgment marks a departure from that standard of morality.  If there is no standard, there is no departure.

Evil can’t be real if morals are relative.  Evil is real, though.  That’s why people object to it.  Therefore, objective moral standards must exist as well.  This discovery invites certain questions.  Where do morals come from and why do they seem to apply only to human beings?  Are they the product of chance?  What world view makes sense out of morality? . . . .

The first thing we observe about moral rules is that, though they exist, they are not physical because they don’t seem to have physical properties.  We won’t bump into them in the dark.  They don’t extend into space.  They have no weight.  They have no chemical characteristics.  Instead, they are immaterial things we discover through the process of thought, introspection, and reflection without the aid of our five senses.

This is a profound realization.  We have, with a high degree of certainty, stumbled upon something real.  Yet it’s something that can’t be proven empirically or described in terms of natural laws.  This teaches us there’s more to the world than just the physical universe.  If non-physical things–like moral rules–truly exist, then materialism as a world view is false

There seem to be many other things that populate the world, things like propositions, numbers, and the laws of logic.  Values like happiness, friendship, and faithfulness are there, too, along with meanings and language.  There may even be persons–souls, angels, and other divine beings.

Our discovery also tells us some things really exist that science has no access to, even in principle.  Some things are not governed by natural laws.  Science, therefore, is not the only discipline giving us true information about the world.  It follows, then, that naturalism as a world view is also false.

 Our discovery of moral rules forces us to expand our understanding of the nature of reality and open our minds to the possibility of a host of new things that populate the world in the invisible realm.

 Second, moral rules are a kind of communication.  They are propositions:  intelligent statements of meaning conveyed from one mind to another.  The propositions are in the form of imperatives, commands.  A command only makes sense when there are two minds involved, one giving the command and one receiving it.

There’s a third thing we notice when we reflect on moral rules.  They have a force we can actually feel prior to any behavior.  This is called the incumbency of moral rules, the “oughtness” of morality we discussed earlier.  It appeals to a person’s will, compelling him to act in a certain way, though he often disregards its force and chooses to disobey.[1]

Finally, there is a deep discomfort that is felt when we violate clear and weighty moral rules, an ethical pain, making us aware that we have done something wrong and are deserving of punishment.  This sense of guilt carries with it not just the uncomfortable awareness of wrong-doing, but also the dread of having to answer for our deed . . . .

Our options are limited to three.  One:  Morality is simply an illusion.  Two:  Moral rules exist, but are mere accidents, the product of chance.  Three:  Moral rules are not accidents, but instead are the product of intelligence.  Which option makes most sense given our four observations about morality?

Some want to argue that morals just don’t exist.  They’re nothing but illusions, useful fictions that help us to live in harmony.  This is the relativist’s answer.  This view is not an option for those who raise the problem of evil . . . .

Some take a second route.  They admit that objective moral laws must exist, but contend they are just accidents.  We discover them as part of the furniture of the universe, so to speak, but they have no explanation, nor do they need one.  This won’t do for a good reason:  Moral rules that have no ground or justification need not be obeyed . . . .  Commands are communications between two minds.  Chance might conceivably create the appearance of a moral rule, but there can be no command if no one is speaking.  Since this phrase is accidental, it can safely be ignored.  Even if a person is behind the communication, one could ignore the command if it isn’t backed by appropriate authority . . . .

Only one answer remains as a possible source of morality.  If morality is not an illusion and not the product of chance, then morals must be the result of an intelligent designer.  Universal moral laws that have genuine incumbency require an author whose proper domain is the universe, who has the moral authority to enforce his laws, and the power to ultimately mete out perfect justice.

What is the best explanation for the existence of morality?  A personal God whose character provides an absolute standard of goodness is the best answer.  An impersonal force won’t do because a moral rule is both a proposition and a command, and these are features of minds.  Ethicist Richard Taylor explains:

A duty is something that is owed….but something can be owed only to some person or persons.  There can be no such thing as a duty in isolation….The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God.  The words remain, but their meaning is gone.[3]

 Only one option makes sense of each observation about morality:  a personal God, who is the creator of both the material and the immaterial domain.  Moral laws suggest a moral law giver.  His laws are a communication of his desires, imperatives expected to be obeyed.  [More . . . ]

So, I believe we have some fairly sobering reflection to do. END

U/D, Dec 7:  News details updated on further research.