How dare we refer to ourselves as “humanity”! In so many ways there is absolutely nothing humane about us – we can be so selfish, arrogant and sadistic. “Love one another as I have loved you”, was the final great commandment of the Lord, conveying the central and most important element in our relationship with God – love; yet how we fail this most important tenet through our self-centred lifestyles.
These thoughts and similar flashed through my mind after reading the latest atrocity to cross the front page of a local newspaper and although a skewed generalisation, those thoughts did convey my sense of moral outrage. The article reported the discovery of a dead infant, wrapped in newspaper, put into a black plastic bag and dumped into a storm water drain. ‘The dead baby had become like debris in the drain’ read one of the by-lines in an article expounding the horrific rise in child abandonment. This was made especially poignant given the celebration of Child Protection Week occurring at the time! Yet another innocent had been sacrificed to the expedience of a society obsessed with materialism, self-gain and a decided lack of any moral accountability.
Indeed, the regularity of this type of behaviour (and this includes abortion) has so desensitised society to human atrocity that, other than expressing initial indignation, the incident is soon forgotten beneath the weight of the next act of moral turpitude. In the meantime, the innocents are consigned to the backwaters of history and statistics – shame on us!
In the current debate between religion and atheism, atheists and secular humanists propose that morality does not need God, that human morals are much older than religion. Recent studies point to the fact that interaction by our distant ancestors displayed moralistic behaviour almost 500 000 years ago, long before religion evolved. In a recent study, Harvard Professor Marc Hauser stated that “…people’s moral intuitions do not vary much across different religions all around the world. From an evolutionary perspective, that means that human morality is very old — old enough to pre-date any religion that exists today.” He concludes that “…religion cannot be the ultimate source of intra-group cooperation. Cooperation is made possible by a suite of mental mechanisms that are not specific to religion. Moral judgments depend on these mechanisms and appear to operate independently of one’s religious background.”[i]So why the need for God?
For that matter, why would children need parental oversight in their upbringing – surely the inbuilt suite of mental mechanisms would be enough to guide the child to a correct level of moral integrity?
However, parental oversight is most necessary, else what measure does the child have to judge what is right or wrong? Similarly, society needs a moral compass, an unchanging measure against which to regulate its moral behaviour – GOD is that measure!
Without that measure, atrocities such as prompted this response can and will occur. To misquote Alan Paton, ‘Cry, the Beloved Children’!
1. Shook, J., 2010. Morality evolved first, long before Religion. [Online] Available at: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/morality_evolved_first_long_before_religion/ [Accessed 01 June 2012].