How can someone who says, almost proudly, that ethics is an illusion of the genes mesh with Christianity, a religion that puts obedience to God’s word and will right at the heart? In fact, it is not as difficult as it seems, so long as you remember that I am offering a naturalistic account of ethics, and Christianity is a supernatural religion.
I am saying that if you ask, “Take God out of the equation and can you still get ethics?” my answer is, “Yes, you can, if you are talking about normative ethics, but when you enter the metaethical realm you find that it is all biology and psychology, with no further meaning.
The thought that there is something more—the thought needed to make normative ethics function—is an illusion.”
Michael Ruse, “Evolution and Ethics” in Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski, Nature of Nature conference, The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2011), p. 861.
One Reply to “He said it: Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse’s view of ethics as illusion”
I admire Ruse’s attempts to find ethics without God. I agree with him that ethics is not merely a matter of following revealed dictates (no pork, go to church, give alms, pray.) On the other hand, without God, it is hard to find any firm ground, much less higher ground. Dostoyevsky takes apart that view in his much more readable book “The Brothers Karamazov”.
So can it be possible to have God without ethics? Absolutely, but it is not possible to have ethics without God, because ethics, no matter how we arrive at them, throw us onto God. Either they direct us to the true God, or they convert us into gods. Either way, we cannot have ethics without God. Ruse may think he has found a way to bypass the Anglican God of his upbringing, but he will find he has merely made himself into a little emperor, a little god in the image of the Anglican God, only a lot more petty.