The Tragedy of Unbelief

21 03 2007

Something that has intrigued and fascinated me for a long time has been the moral consequence for a culture when it rejects God. How are ethical decisions taken in a society which is bereft of the certainties of revealed truth, of principles higher than it’s own ability to achieve consensus? Tragically the answer to this question is being provided in real time terms by our own nation, in its continued lunge towards moral vapidity. Whether one looks to the senseless round of North London stabbings in the media recently; the move to categorise those involved in drugs as patients rather than offenders; or the easy charm with which our culture speaks of behaviours which were unspeakable less than a generation ago.

The crowning moment for this new morality was provided last night on BBC1’s program, ‘William Crawley Meets’. This has been a fascinating series produced by BBC1 Northern Ireland, with Crawley questioning people like Bishop Gene Robinson and Richard Dawkins in a prolonged interview. I was home late last night, and only caught the concluding moments of Crawley’s latest offering – an interview with radical philosopher Peter Singer. My knowledge of Singer is limited to some slight engagement with his work in undergrad philosophy, but his views are utterly extreme and entirely liberal. I happened to tune in at the moment when the interviewer was pressing him on the ultimate conclusions of his philosophical system which finds its basis in evolutionary theory. Crawley directly asked Singer if his liberal view of human sexuality might not lead to the ultimate acceptance of behaviours such as paedophilia or bestiality. Singer’s response was telling, and profoundly sad. Cautious of Crawley putting words in his mouth, Singer skirted the issue, and became increasingly evasive as the questions became more direct. He stated that his philosophical worldview was based on a concern for suffering to be reduced for human beings to as great a degree as possible. Crawley said that many paedophiles would deny that their actions harm children. Singer’s response? He would need to look at the evidence!! Crawley put it plainly, ‘But it’s just wrong isn’t it?’, to which Singer responded that such a moral response comes only from years of evolutionary conditioning in which reproductively rich relationships have been favoured as a means of populating the planet, rather than non-productive (that is childbearing) relationships.

How pathetic! Here we have a man who is a Princeton professor of philosophy, completely incapable of making a moral judgement on an issue which is patently, manifestly wrong. This is the ultimate tragedy of unbelief – a world with no moral terms of reference, a world where taboos can be demolished, a world where no one is ultimately safe or protected. It would be an empty claim that everyone who rejects God will ultimately embrace such thinking – but it is hugely thought provoking for those who are not believers, in terms of how they make their own value judgements in the absence of absolute divine revelation.

This is a world without God – or more accurately a world so blinded by its ‘god’ that it can spit out the sweet truth of God, while greedily swallowing the bile of humanistic thinking.




One response

5 04 2007

I saw that interview too – great series. loved the dawkins interview. crawley wiped the floor with him too. can you get the singer one on the internet anywhere?

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