For too long, I've been mulling over (and procrastinating) a response to a friend who wants to know how the lack of a deity effects her morals, specifically the values of care and respect. Some questions I'm pondering:
- If there exists no deity and therefore nothing transcendent, then aren't we without any standard outside of evolutionary change by which we can judge evolutionary change?
- Are care and respect "good" merely because a selected group of species on a solitary planet has the collective feeling that they are?
- There was a time before natural selection did its work and we didn't have the collective feeling that care and respect were good. Were they then not?
- If AGW wipes all life off earth (and ipso facto out of the universe), then will the goodness of care and respect have been erased? Presumably, future life forms will have their own collective feeling about ________; and even if that is in opposition to our current, collective feelings about care and respect, will their collective feeling be just as "good" as ours?
- If our collective feeling that care and respect are good makes them good, then did our collective feeling that they weren't good make them not good? By what standard do we measure that, at one time the human race was further away, but now it is closer?
- If there is no transcendent standard outside of evolutionary change, by which we can judge evolutionary change as "closer" or "further away" from some ideal, then aren't we just stuck calling "good" whatever evolutionary change we happen to be going through at the time?
- On what basis does the particular collective feeling that care and respect are good warrant a thumbs up, while the collective feeling that religious piety is good, does not (as the new atheists would have it)?