Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's Only Natural.

Time and again, I see atheists on Twitter pointing to things that happen in nature to justify human behavior.  This always strikes me as very odd.  The people who pride themselves on being superior to others because of their firm grasp on "rational" thought think it's OK to emulate the actions of creatures incapable of rational thought.

Let's take a few minutes to look at some things that occur in nature:

1. Fighting and killing for territory.  Seeing this one gives us a different perspective on wars of aggression.  Maybe it isn't wrong for one country to invade and absorb another country.  We should ask the older populations of Poland and France what they think about this one.

2. Survival of the fittest.  In nature, we see weaker animals killed or left to die on their own.  There is no compassion in nature.  If you can't hack it, you're dead.  Now we have justification for murders and genocides.  If we stick with the "it occurs in nature" model, we get justification for the strong in society preying on the weak.

3. Stealing.  I watched a program about penguins the other day.  In it, one penguin was building his nest.  When he went to find more materials, another penguin would walk over and take the materials he needed for his nest.  We can now justify any type of theft.  Did you fall for a Ponzi Scheme and lose your life savings or get mugged in an alley or someone broke into your house?  Too bad!  It occurs in nature, so it's OK.

4. Killing offspring.  When a mother polar bear brings her cubs out of the den, she has to be extra careful to make sure that the male isn't around.  Why?  Because he'll kill the cubs and eat them.  Rabbit mothers have also been known to kill their young.  Ever wanted to kill you kid?  Now you can!  Isn't nature wonderful?

5. Polygamy.  Mormon fundamentalists, rejoice!  Your practice of polygamy occurs in nature, so it's now justified!  In the wild, many animal species have alpha males.  These males have earned the right to mate with all the females in their respective herd or grouping.  All the females in the group are part of their harem.  This is true until another male challenger rises up and either kills or displaces the alpha.  (There's that whole violence/killing thing again.)

6. Killing after mating.  This one is especially nice.  Praying mantis females attract a mate, do the "deed", and then kill their mate.  Spouse getting on your nerves?  Guess what?  Kill him or her.  It's no big deal.  Nature.  Remember?

Do I need to go any further?  I didn't think so.  I'm being completely facetious with all this, of course.  The point is, it is ridiculous to try to justify the behavior of people based on what animals do.  Haven't we "evolved" past that?

I can hear a lot of you now.  "We can tell right from wrong, though!"  Really?  Who determines what is right and wrong?  A thief certainly doesn't think what he's doing is wrong.  A murderer probably feels justified in what he has done.  And who are you to tell them differently? 

I've heard it argued that "rational society", whatever that is, would decide right and wrong.  Maybe we could set up a UN-style Right and Wrong Commission.  Unfortunately, this idea fails before it starts.  We can point to the current conflict in Syria.  The Syrian government is allowing the military to kill its own people through bombing, shelling, snipers, etc...  The UN wanted to pass a resolution to step in.  this was blocked by China and Russia, however.  Why?  China and Russia don't see a big problem with what's going on.  This shows that something seen as wrong by some may not be seen that way by others.

It seems to me that we shouldn't be taking our moral and societal cues from nature.  Doing so will plunge our world into a state much worse than what we already have.

Those who claim logic should think this to its logical conclusion.

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