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Whose Morality Is It Anyway?

It begins by considering the Socratic questions offered by Christian apologist Michael Horner. He asks rhetorically:

How do you get ethics from only different arrangements of space, time, matter and energy?

A purely materialistic universe would be morally indifferent. Humans, like everything else in the universe, would be just accidental arrangements of atoms, and therefore, we could not justifiably declare that humans are objectively valuable. And why think the morality of the human species, above all other species, is objectively binding rather than just our opinion?

Value stands out as the central concept here. Rand asked “of value to whom, and for what.” Her point was to define value as that which living things act to obtain and keep. All manner of values permeate our lives, from the mundane to the profound. Life sits atop a pedestal, valued above all. Only living things, those capable of self-generated self-sustaining action, can pursue value. Furthermore, that particular breed of creature which conceives of and pursues value though a process of thought – human beings – needs a code of behavior to determine which actions are life-affirming (good) and which are destructive (bad).

Given that life is the basis of value, and action informed by rational thought is the only means for humans to obtain and keep their values, it follows that liberty is the condition in which men must live. Such objective liberty is not licentiousness, but merely the ability to act upon one’s judgment in pursuit of happiness without coercion from others, a condition made possible only by mutual respect of boundaries.

That is how you get ethics from “only different arrangements of space, time, matter, and energy.” The material universe proves anything but “morally indifferent.” If morality is the code by which we arrive at choices, the material universe harshly rebukes those who choose to act against its nature.

Heading off charges of heresy from my Christian brethren, let us turn to scripture for some confirmation. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:18:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

In the study bible which bears his name, John MacArthur writes of the Greek word translated “is revealed":

More accurately, “is constantly revealed.” The word essentially means “to uncover, make visible, or make known.” God reveals his wrath in two ways: 1) indirectly, through the natural consequences of violating his universal moral law, and 2) directly through his personal intervention…