This is the cover from New Scientists magazine for March 31, 2018:
The materialist editor who wrote the text for the cover is deeply confused about at last two things:
- He implies that we “know” that inequality is morally wrong in the same way we “know” the earth orbits the sun. But that is true only if morality is objective and part of that objective morality is that inequality is wrong. But by definition materialists cannot believe in objective morality, because they reject any transcendent moral code by which to judge moral claims.
- Under Darwinist principles inequality is the natural state in the struggle of all against all. After all, in a world of “survival of the fittest,” the “fittest” are anything but equal. Why should the editors suggest that inequality, which is inevitable in their worldview, is wrong?
As I have written before, the Christian idea of equality of all men before God is the foundation of the political idea of the equality of all men under the law. Don’t take my word for it. Atheist professor Yuval Noah Harari agrees. In his international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harari wrote: “The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God.”
This passage comes from a longer passage in which Harari argues that the ideas expressed in the Declaration are so much imaginary drivel. He writes:
Both the Code of Hammurabi and the American Declaration of Independence claim to outline universal and eternal principles of justice, but according to the Americans all people are equal, whereas according to the Babylonians people are decidedly unequal. The Americans would, of course, say that they are right, and that Hammurabi is wrong. Hammurabi, naturally, would retort that he is right, and that the Americans are wrong. In fact, they are both wrong. Hammurabi and the American Founding Fathers alike imagined a reality governed by universal and immutable principles of justice, such as equality or hierarchy. Yet the only place where such universal principles exist is in the fertile imagination of Sapiens, and in the myths they invent and tell one another. These principles have no objective validity.
It is easy for us to accept that the division of people into ‘superiors’ and ‘commoners’ is a figment of the imagination. Yet the idea that all humans are equal is also a myth. In what sense do all humans equal one another? Is there any objective reality, outside the human imagination, in which we are truly equal? . . . According to the science of biology, people were not ‘created’. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ‘equal’. The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’? Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently’.
Just as people were never created, neither, according to the science of biology, is there a ‘Creator’ who ‘endows’ them with anything. There is only a blind evolutionary process, devoid of any purpose, leading to the birth of individuals. ‘Endowed by their creator’ should be translated simply into ‘born’.
Equally, there are no such things as rights in biology. There are only organs, abilities and characteristics. Birds do not fly because they have a right to fly, but because they have wings. And it’s not true that these organs, abilities and characteristics are ‘unalienable’. Many of them undergo constant mutations, and may well be completely lost over time. The ostrich is a bird that lost its ability to fly. So ‘unalienable rights’ should be translated into ‘mutable characteristics’.
And what are the characteristics that evolved in humans? ‘Life’, certainly. But ‘liberty’? There is no such thing in biology. Just like equality, rights and limited liability companies, liberty is something that people invented and that exists only in their imagination. From a biological viewpoint, it is meaningless to say that humans in democratic societies are free, whereas humans in dictatorships are unfree.
Harari’s analysis is remarkably clear-eyed for a materialist atheist. He admits that under materialism, human dignity does not exist; universal principles of justice and equality do not exist; human rights do not exist; liberty does not exist. All of these things are social constructs resulting from entirely contingent physical processes.
Kudos to Harari for acknowledging what he sees when he peers into the abyss. As for the editors at New Scientists, well, we have their measure.