By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Evolutionary Biologist Punts--Wildly

Adaptation and Natural SelectionImage via Wikipedia
Here is the quote:

"I account for morality as an accidental capability produced, in its boundless stupidity, by a biological process that is normally opposed to the expression of such a capability," Dr. Williams wrote starkly in 1988.

Source link.

The quote is from a N.Y. Times obituary on Dr. George C. Williams, an evolutionary biologist, affiliated with Stony Brook University, New York.

His quote begins with the assertion "I account . . . ." But you do not account. Is it really "accounting"-- for something so socially, historically, culturally, psychologically, and perennially significant as human notions of morality-- to assert that morality is "an accidental capability produced, in it boundless stupidity" by an inherently hostile biological process?

Dr. Williams did not account for morality at all but merely, at best, stated the question: whence something that cannot be adequately explained by biological or evolutionary processes alone?

Remember that many non-theists criticize religious traditions precisely because they are alleged to have failed to explain, for example, the reality of suffering and evil. Well, the Christian religious tradition explains much suffering and evil as due to human hubris in rebellion against the Creator's plan for human thriving (many non-Christian perspectives offer similar explanations).  That is more of an accounting than what Dr. Williams proposed. The non-theists should at least seek to remove the beam in their own non-explanations before criticizing others for an alleged lack of answers and before peremptorily dismissing questions that they just can't answer.