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February 18, 2010

Naturalism’s Moral Foundations

by Dr. William Dembski

Jeffrey Dahmer: “If it all happens naturalistically, what’s the need for a God? Can’t I set my own rules? Who owns me? I own myself.” [Biography, "Jeffrey Dahmer: The Monster Within," A&E, 1996.]

Naturalists like to stress that you don’t need God or religion to be good. Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins even suggest that leaving God out of the equation actually allows one to be more moral because then our moral acts are authentic, motivated by deep conviction rather than by having a divine gun to our heads.

Even so, Dahmer’s logic is compelling. We need some external reference point — God — to justify being good. And that justification is significant in its own right. Without it, we can still rationalize particular evils, but we cannot dispense with the category of evil entirely.