Defending the Faith: Moral law is no product of evolution

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  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 10, 2012 1:14 p.m.

    RE: Brahmabull, It is so strange to me that people can say the Abraham story is a real reflection of god.
    Abraham Offered Isaac (Genesis 22) is A Type Of Christ(prophecy).

    Isaac (Genesis 22) Jesus, Only son of promise (v. 2 ) ;Only begotten of Father (John 3:16).

    To be sacrificed in Moriah (v. 2) . Sacrificed in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 3:1)

    Considered dead by father for three days (v. 4). Dead for three days (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

    Carried wood for his own sacrifice (v. 6. ). Bore his own cross (John 19:17-18)

    Submitted willingly to father (vv. 6, 8). Submitted willingly to Father (Matt. 26:39)

    Raised from altar, his life spared by the power of God . Raised from the dead by the power of God (Rom. 6:4)

    Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead(Hebrews 11:19).

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Dec. 10, 2012 10:57 a.m.

    It is so strange to me that people can say the Abraham story is a real reflection of god. In my opinion, god would never ask a person to sacrifice their own child. It is almost as if people, even today, can get away with anything if they just say it is part of their religion or that god told them to do something. So if that is the case, the terrorists who crashed into the twin towers should be forgiven immediately because that is what their god wanted them to do, right? People still practice polygamy because they believe that god commanded it. Brian David Mitchell kidnapped Elizabeth Smart because he believed he was commanded to do so. How are those any different than Nephi slaying Laban because he was commanded to do so by god? The point is if something is wrong, you can't claim it is right because god told you to do it. That opens the door for anybody to follow that path of logic and we are all in trouble.

    @ thetruth - you may want to actually read the story of Abraham and get it right before accusing somebody else of getting the story wrong.

  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Dec. 9, 2012 12:05 p.m.

    Ether 4:11-12

    "For because of my Spirit [they] shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.

    12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good;"

    God is THE source of morality! That's my faith, belief and testimony!

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Dec. 9, 2012 12:38 a.m.

    Wow. If "the truth" is correct, we must never judge anything to be evil, much less fight against what we think is evil, lest haply we be fighting against god's tricky plans unawares!

    This view is ancient gnostic nonsense, and completely undermines morality. We must pray nobody takes such muddleheadedness seriously. Any morality in which the ends are used to justify the means is a sure sign of moral bankruptcy and a fast track to amorality.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 8, 2012 7:14 p.m.

    @The Skeptical Chymist

    Again it was NOT immoral to God who knew the ends thereof.

    And if Abraham knew the ends of the test it not be much of a test, would it?

    The Old testament laws were given only to the Children of Israel and no other, for reason already mentioned previously.

    Christians live by the NEW testament, or the higher law. Even Jews no longer live strictly by the law of Moses, and since God has done away with it (fulfilled in Christ), I would guess that does not bother him.

    NO one is expected to live by the the lower law.

    You seem the believe you understand everything that God has commanded from God's perspective, and that is where you err.

    For someone who is Eternal and all things are Eternal he has created including us, who can create life and raise the dead with not more than a thought or word, I do not think death means much to him.

    While death from our perspective seems like an ultimate and great thing.

    Understanding God and his Eternal nature help put his commandments and gospel in perspective.

    Our view of "morality" can be very limited.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 8, 2012 4:50 p.m.

    RE: the morality of the Bible,Law and Gospel.

    1) The civil use, as a force to restrain sin. This falls under the general revelation as well as natural law (cf. Rom 1-2).

    2) The pedagogical use is the law also shows people their sin and points them to mercy and grace outside of themselves. “the use of the law for the confrontation and refutation of sin and for the purpose of pointing the way to Christ” . (Gal 3:24)

    3) The normative use . That is, this use of the law is for those who trust in Christ and have been saved through faith apart from works. It “acts as a norm of conduct, freely accepted by those in whom the grace of God works the good, this use of the law is for those who trust in Christ and have been saved through faith apart from works.
    "The Law is for the proud and the Gospel for the brokenhearted." - Martin Luther

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 8, 2012 2:43 p.m.

    @the truth

    Is Obedience to a God who commands you to perform an immoral act (i.e., the sacrifice of Isaac) a morally valid choice? According to my understanding, Abraham did not know that God was only testing his obedience. He did not know that God would not demand he follow through, and was prepared to follow through with the act. That tells me all I need to know. Abraham was not acting in any way that I would recognize as moral, and neither was the God he thought was commanding him.

    I would not want to emulate Abraham's code of morality, and would not teach it to my children. Neither would I want to worship a God who demands animal sacrifices, let alone one who demands that his followers be willing to sacrifice their own children to him. The fact that, in the story, God did not demand that Abraham follow through changes nothing.

    I think that most Christians reject the God exemplified in this story, and do not hold with any of the ideas of Old Testament justice/morality. This is good, and proves my original point. Morality comes from within us - not from an ancient text.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Dec. 8, 2012 12:19 p.m.

    It is unclear to me how Dr. Peterson, as a Mormon, can distinguish his view from naturalistic morality. Any criticism that can be leveled against atheistic moral systems can be redirected toward the LDS worldview, because both are at bottom 100% materialistic.

    What exacerbates this problem for the LDS is the Big Bang, which was mentioned by Dr. Peterson in his article. There was literally nothing "before" the Big Bang: no matter, no energy, no space, no time, and therefore with respect to the LDS universe, no gods, no law, no law-giver. There is nothing eternal in a materialistic universe. Moreover, how can there be an eternal law without an eternal law-giver? The Latter-day Saint cannot evade this charge.

    Why do we need to grovel at the feet of a being who emerged from the same evolutionary processes as we did? Remember, as man is, god once was. Worship is owed to nothing emerging from the Big Bang.

    A material universe is just as purposeless and amoral to an imperfect, albeit powerful, human being (the LDS god), as it is to us.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    Dec. 8, 2012 11:57 a.m.

    There is no atheistic theory of morality that can objectively ground morality. Every one of these theories is built around something intrinsic to man, whether it is reason, evolution, society, or some secularized version of the golden rule. It's all subjective. And if you ground your morality in something that can change (i.e., man, the LDS god), then your morality is equally subject to change, capable even of contradicting itself as it evolves.

    The most coherent atheistic system is nihilistic; it recognizes any moral principles for what they are-- man-made constructs that are subject to change. Herein lies the danger of atheism and Mormonism. There are no guarantees. The Mormon god can reveal one truth, and then abrogate that truth with a further revelation. Man can write the American constitution one century, and then overturn it in another.

    Nihilism is the logical outcome of your systems. There is no unchangeable foundation. God is not 100% trustworthy.

    Orthodox Christianity offers a solution to these problems, with morality objectively grounded in an eternal, immaterial, immutable, all-good Being. Anyone genuinely interested should YouTube William Lane Craig's teachings on morality.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 8, 2012 9:13 a.m.

    @The Skeptical Chymist

    While I may have got the story wrong, It was test of Obedience, and nothing "immoral" actually happened in the end.

    God commanded Abraham to go do sacrifice h9is son, God did have him actually do it. As we can see God was never going to let it happen and so the story could not end any other way.

    If Abraham disobeys Issac lives,
    If Abraham obeys Isaac still lives after all is said and done.

    AS far as stonings go, again there's nothing immoral about the Law of Moses, The children of Israel were so disobedient and wicked, that God was needed give them a stricter lower law to follow. Perhaps to punish them and certainly to teach them Obedience.

    And it was ONLY given to given to them. I would be immoral for God, as any parent, not to tend to disobedient children and do what necessary to make them a better people.

    To judge God when we do not have his wisdom, perspective, understanding, and knowledge of all things, people, and of the future, and of all truth, seems quite foolish on our part, when we are little children to him.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Dec. 8, 2012 8:30 a.m.

    I don't get all the arguing here. I personally have friends who do not consider themselves spiritual, and yet are extremely moral people. A rational non-believer can up to very moral decisions without acknowledging there is a God.

    I personally believe in a God very deeply. I try my best to live a moral life. But an honest look through history does see evolution of morality. 150 years ago society had a great moral debate about whether government had the right to determine if it was moral to own another human being - denying them of their free agency - a practice that had continued for thousands of years.

    Up until the 1800s, it was moral for christians to put others to death because of their faith, The muslim faith is wrestling with that current moral debate now. Sacrifice, polygamy, how we view other races, have all had moral changes to them.

    We need to be careful in attributing too much to God.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 7, 2012 5:14 p.m.

    @the truth
    "If you actually read the story God NEVER commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son.

    Abraham chose to tie up his son for sacrifice, and God blessed his obedience with another animal to sacrifice"

    Genesis 22

    2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

    9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

    10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

    Sounds like a command to sacrifice him. I used the LDS scripture website so I hope you consider that to be an acceptable translation of the Bible to use.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 7, 2012 12:48 p.m.

    @ Tyler D: I never said that "virtually all [profound experiences across a wide range of cultures and traditions] take their experiences as total confirmation of their traditions and sacred books."

    I, too, have ""read many accounts of spiritual experiences across a wide range of cultures and traditions." I have also interviewed hundreds of people from a wide range of religious backgrounds (including a large number of non-Christians as well as a significant representation of Christians) about their beliefs. Besides the Mormon standard works, I've read the Bible in other translations, the Quran, the Tao, and a little of the Hindu text (I can't spell it without looking at it).

    For these reasons, I disagree with your conclusions. I certainly believe that "profound experiences" can bring certainty, but I disagree that they "bring certainty" across all cultures and religions.

    This question of certainty as you raise it is couched in the inferences of Mormonism, which I accept, and which I have found to be almost unique in its approach to certainty of religious truth and the nature of the sort of "profound experience" that can classify as a personal revelation from God.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 7, 2012 11:42 a.m.

    Jeff - “@ Tyler D: Have you done a comprehensive study of "profound experiences"? How do you know they can't bring certainty?”

    Not sure about “comprehensive study” but I’ve read many accounts of spiritual experiences across a wide range of cultures and traditions. And you are correct that virtually all of them take their experiences as total confirmation of the truth of their traditions and sacred books.

    But… since many of these “truths” are contradictory or mutually exclusive, what should be plainly obvious is that 1) they cannot all be true and 2) spiritual experience is not a credible way to prove facts about the objective world. At best, these experiences only demonstrate that your religion puts you in a proper frame of mind and heart to have these experiences.

    PS – Skeptical is right about the OT – unless you think it is OK to stone your neighbor when he mows his lawn on a Sunday.

  • John Brown 1000 Laketown, UT
    Dec. 7, 2012 10:41 a.m.

    A fabulous discussion of where morals come from is The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. It's a fascinating and fun read. If you want to get a flavor go out to the RadioWest page on the KUER website and listen to the interview Doug Fabrizio did with the author. Can't recommend it highly enough.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 7, 2012 9:36 a.m.

    @ The Skeptical: Who are the "we" that have "all rejected the morality of the Bible"?
    And what evidence do you have that "our human rationality" alone "tells us that we must do so to live in a moral society"? I agree with both you and Peterson that "our sense of morals is independent of what the Bible tells us," but I conclude, like Peterson, that that very independence proves the existence of God.

    Your reference to the "'justice' of Deuteronomy" should be part of a separate discussion. We all want "justice." I think we're afraid of the "justice of Deuteronomy" only because it represents a justice that might include ourselves and not simply others.

    As a "social species" we have been terrible in many of our choices for what is and isn't moral. Hence my examples. If you don't know people that have practiced or advocate some of the terrible things I mentioned (ie, social Darwinism and culling the herd), perhaps you don't get around too much.

  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Dec. 7, 2012 8:53 a.m.

    @Ernest T. Bass

    Anachronisms? So the scripture applies to you (re: “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men.") Anachronisms represents a fickle claim since you - and others - now conclude that all and everything (scientific and otherwise) is settled and complete, and that we conclusively know what is there to know and discover about anything and everything. Think again, my friend. God is real and the Book of Mormon is true, you just have to find it out yourself. Notwithstanding, I respect your opinion and beliefs. Merry Christmas - if you believe.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Dec. 7, 2012 8:28 a.m.

    "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." John 17:3

    We can spin our wheels for a lifetime arguing about the existence of God, or we can get down to business and "know" him and his son, Jesus Christ.

    All are invited to partake of that feast of knowledge, but not all respond.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 7, 2012 8:18 a.m.

    @The Skeptical Chymist

    Read the strory, God never commanded Abraham directly for abraham to sacrifice his son.

    God commanded Abraham to go with his son and make a sacrifice, without any sacrificial animal he only had his son, so to fulfill God commandment he had to bound his son, then his obedience was rewarded.
    That is the story, read it again.

  • donn layton, UT
    Dec. 7, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    @ Craig Clark" ,The elements are eternal" (D&C 93:33).

    (Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    In (2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2)God existed before time, implying he created time.

    … God who gives life to the dead and Calls into Being things that were not.(Romans 4:17 NIV)

    Col 1:16, For in him all things( including angels) were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

    RE: What is the official LDS view of Evolution?
    Christians, and Jews believe that God created all that exists ex nihilo (out of nothing). Mormonism is quite different in its cosmology, claiming that God fashioned the universe out of preexisting material. God is eternal in some forms of LDS theology, but so is preexisting matter, including the material used by God to create human beings.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Dec. 7, 2012 6:06 a.m.

    All cultures have morals it is not a uniquely Christian thing. They used to call it "Natural Law" in the old days because everyone knew it instincitively, the knew it by nature. People still do which is why various dictators in the world will crush press freedoms because they know deep down in their hearts that what they are doing is wrong.

    Morality is common to all societies because, somehow, God, whoever that God is, put it into societies to do things like be kind to strangers or to be fair, or to rule for the common good rather than for a corrupt intention, not to sleep with other men's wives, not to punish people after they help you, etc.

    C.S. Lewis did a review of this in a book called "The Abolition of Man".

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Dec. 7, 2012 5:56 a.m.

    In college a philosophy student argued that morality is based on logic, morality is a pretty handy tool for groups to grow beyond more than a couple of dozen people.

    Morality in this view is an extension of logic and it gets its power from logic and it must be logically defensible.

    It makes sense, so I did a little exercise. I went around to non-Western students and I asked them if it wasd moral to give food or money to the poor. They universally agreed. Then I asked, "Well, what if someone does it for appearances but not out of genuine charity?" They all answered that it was wrong in that case because the motives were wrong.

    Logical questions don't care about the motives. 2+2 is 4. It doesn't matter if you tried to get 5 but you could not count. It is still a right answer. Logic should predate morality because of evolution. Dumb cavemen didn't live long enough to build villages.

    If morality was a logical tool the reason why one gives to the poor should have nothing to do with the morality of the act. The poor are fed in any case.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 10:25 p.m.

    @the truth

    I know the story of Abraham and Isaac well (although I am sure there are other interpretations). God commanded Abraham to take his son, Isaac, to Mount Moriah, and to sacrifice him. As Abraham prepared to do so, after binding Isaac, God told him that now he knew that Abraham feared God, and told him to release his son, and instead to sacrifice a ram caught in a thicket nearby. According to the story, Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son because God told him to do so. I guarantee that if this happened today, we would consider Abraham to be a psychopath. We would send him for psychiatric evaluation and treatment immediately. If he followed through on this act, his defense that God told him to do so would be considered proof of insanity, rather than piety. Yet, Christians and Jews celebrate Abraham as a righteous man. Even if it were just God testing Abraham's obedience (as Christians and Jews claim), in my opinion Abraham absolutely failed the test. He was willing to commit a gross evil just because he was commanded to do so.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 6, 2012 8:51 p.m.

    All truths are consistant with the laws of nature. Nature is god. It is encouraging that Mr. Peterson is getting in touch with nature, now if he can just learn to accept it with out trying to personalize it with fancy names and self grandeur.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 8:21 p.m.

    @The Skeptical Chymist

    If you actually read the story God NEVER commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son.

    Abraham chose to tie up his son for sacrifice, and God blessed his obedience with another animal to sacrifice

    @Ernest T. Bass

    Your monkeys are not moral they are just docile or violent.

    The monkey are not using any morality.

    In evolution there is no morality, there is doing whatever is ever necessary to assure the survival of the individual or doing what comes natural.

    A monkey can violent or docile naturally.

    The cow is docile naturally not by moral choice.

    The lion kills other creatures not by moral by natural need to feed.

    For Morality you must have a choice,

    Evil exists because we have a choice,

    Good exist because we have a choice.

    God has taught we need to overcome the natural man

    the natural man operates on instinct and satisfying natural needs.

    Morals come from a higher law a spiritual law they override instincts and satisfying a need for a greater Good.

    A Good that does not matter in evolution.

    Thank God there is no evolution, and we have choice to become something greater than our natural selves.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 6, 2012 7:03 p.m.

    It seems to me that we are using "morality" as it had only one universal definition and action.
    All the examples of immorality presented here such as killing cats and others. May seem immoral to our culture. However, burning babies as offering to Baal in the OT, was what those believers thought was moral. Abraham thought something similar.

    Why do we demonize Darwin? The man was brilliant and brought light to our understanding of ourselves and the world. His theory is not incompatible at least with my belief in God. On the contrary brings reason to a world of superstitions.

    If Professor Peterson is looking for something that defies evolution. Perhaps he should search on why some poeple self sacrifice or help enemies, or put their lives in danger for strangers. These things tend to contradict our impulse and instinct for survival that is key in evolution. Just a thought.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 6:20 p.m.


    My point is that we have all rejected the morality of the Bible, because our human rationality tells us that we must do so to live in a moral society. Our sense of morals is independent of what the Bible tells us. Thus, our sense of what is moral does not come from religion. None of us now advocate for the "justice" of Deuteronomy, because we perceive it to be unjust.

    We are a social species, and we determine what is moral or not based on what maximizes human liberty, subject to what is good for society. Your examples of "culling the herd", killing those we politically disagree with, survival of the fittest, and social Darwinism are all grossly immoral because they damage us as a society, and because they diminish our humanity. I don't know anyone who advocates for these things, though I'm sure such repellent people exist.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    Dec. 6, 2012 4:40 p.m.

    If morality were a product of evolution, why do we not behave as the rest of the species on earth? We and the apes match DNA by 97%. So why aren't I killing my neighbors for food, taking over their habitat, murdering a young mother's infants so she'll breed again (like lions do), and a host of other cruel acts. Is my refusal to do these things found in the 3% of my DNA which is unique to humans?

    That's it? The existence of 'morality' is attributable to a mere 3% of DNA?

    Maybe so, for all you skeptics and atheists out there. But I'm not sure. Morality to me seems to be something 'real' and tangible, something we all can agree is necessary. Nobody here wants their money stolen from them. But if morality is a product of chance, why not take your wallet and run?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 6, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    @ the Skeptical: Your rhetorical questions cut both ways. If we can be moral without God, then is it moral to kill people who disagree with us politically? Is it moral to believe in social Darwinism? Is survival of the fittest moral? Is it moral to cull the herd? (etc.) Further, you place the cart before the horse. Is there a God? If there is, then what is He like? You suggest that there is no God because you disagree with Him, but to disagree with Him means that he exists.

    @ You: You imply by your post that you do not accept the witness of the Holy Ghost as evidence of anything. Scientists/scholars, like the "arrogant" Mormons you decry, believe in their evidence, and they often draw conclusions based on the evidence they have, even if it is incomplete. Your contrast of the "humble" scientist with the "arrogant" Mormon is disingenuous. What if the scientist/scholar is a believing Mormon? Are you suggesting that Peterson's doctorate or expertise somehow are canceled because he's a believing Mormon?

    @ Tyler D: Have you done a comprehensive study of "profound experiences"? How do you know they can't bring certainty?

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    Kouger: do you really want to quote a text with so many anachronisms?

  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 3:31 p.m.

    If the shoe fits, wear it:

    "O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
    But to be LEARNED is GOOD IF they HEARKEN unto the counsels of GOD." Book of Mormon (emphasis mine).

    God is Wonderful!

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 6, 2012 3:03 p.m.

    We need to separate transcendent experience from religion as a set of beliefs.

    People have been having profound (spiritual, for lack of a better way of putting it) experiences of self transcendence for a long time. These experiences and how they make people feel (and most importantly change their lives) have been had by people in all cultures and traditions - although if they include visions or voices, those are always conditioned by ones culture and beliefs, which is why Hindus don't see Christ and Christians don't see Krishna - regardless of whether they are polytheists, theists, or atheists (e.g., Buddhist mystics).

    What these experiences don't do - whether a warmth in the bosom, a powerful vision, or a mystical sense of oneness with the universe - is confirm the truth of any one religion. If they did, only people who believed the "true religion" would have them. If believing certain religious explanations about the world, a pre/after-life, how we get morality, or in the truth of a sacred book, helps someone have these experiences, great! But please stop claiming certainty of and superiority for your beliefs as the only way.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 6, 2012 2:55 p.m.


    I agree. We need to be open to all available evidence. That is precisely what got me here.

    The Skeptical Chymist,

    Goodness is an attribute of God. If he were not good (moral) then He would not be God and, even if He were, He would not be worth following.


    “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil”

    Tyler D,

    I do not believe that God has any need to suspend physical laws any more than I do to start a car or use a telephone.

  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 2:11 p.m.

    Secularism and atheism are becoming more prevalent today - even in modern America, a country that was founded by those who believed in God. What is glaringly missing in the discussion so far is the absence of the totality of religion and God which encompass pre-mortal existence. Included in that is the faith that I have in the knowledge that every person born in this world is endowed with divine innate light and awareness. It’s called the Light of Christ. Therefore whether you were born as a bushman or tribal savage, an important “moral seed” has been placed in you by virtue of a pre-mortal spirit existence. This knowledge that the spirit component existed with God helps explain moral choices without religion. We should not claim to know and understand everything hence the fickleness that reason can sometimes bring. I have learned from philosophers and scientists and I have acquired knowledge and reason to help me with my journey but FAITH in a LOVING GOD and his program/plan for me has just as much, if not a more profound effect on my deeper understanding of life.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 2:02 p.m.

    Morality is. Is it from God, or biological evolution? I don't know. I am a Marxist, but only to the degree that I accept Marx's econometrics. It's not true Marxists are necessarily atheists. I believe and hope there is a God, I'm just not sure. In the meantime I accept that morality is. Indeed, Marx was concerned with the spiritual connection (though he wouldn't be caught dead saying it outright) between men and their work.

  • You SLC, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 1:54 p.m.

    I won't even bother picking apart the weak arguments in this disjointed article. Instead, I'll just offer this observation: True scholars/scientists/thinkers are open to all available evidence and draw appropriate conclusions based on that evidence. They are happy to admit error when evidence comes along that strongly disproves any theories. There is a humility involved in their work to uncover as much truth as they can about our universe. By contrast, theistic apologists in general and Mormon apologists like Peterson start with an unassailable certainty which they have been indoctrinated with by the religious leaders and holy books of their choice, and then they cherry pick the evidence that seems to aid their cause while dismissing the rest. There is a special kind of arrogance needed for that approach.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 12:29 p.m.

    If we get our sense of morality from God, is an act moral because God says it is? If so, is it moral to kill your own son when God commands you to (as in Abraham and Isaac)? Is it immoral to let your disobedient child live, instead of stoning him as God commands (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)?

    Alternatively, is the morality of an act determined independently from God's commandments (as written down and interpreted by men)?

    I submit that morality is independent of our conception of God, and this is why most cultures have similar moral views - they are based on what is required for human beings to live productively in a society. As our society has changed, our views of what is moral have changed as well. Our society used to think that owning slaves was a moral action, in accordance with God's wishes. Now our morality has evolved. This is not because the Bible has changed, but because our society has changed.

    Morality is independent of God or even belief in God, in my opinion. You can be good without God, and most nonbelievers are. You can be good with God, and most believers are.

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Dec. 6, 2012 12:22 p.m.

    If biblical God is our ultimate arbiter, then how does one explain social order and morality within societies where there is no belief in God? How can one explain the beautiful works created by those who are not religious? And why is it necessary to have such a belief in order to be a kind, caring, responsible and productive member of a society?

    The Bushmen of the Kalahari are among the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa where they have resided for at least 20,000 years. Given the often inhospitable environment, this is truly amazing. And these people have avoided the many societal ravages which have plagued the planet for centuries. They are one of the oldest, if not the oldest peoples in the world. They have no church, no Holy texts, no God of Abraham.

  • Kazbert VAIL, AZ
    Dec. 6, 2012 12:12 p.m.

    I am an engineer. I understand both the necessity of data and the danger of wresting false conclusions from data. I was atheist for many years until I learned that I wasn’t rejecting God, but rather rejecting the many falsehoods I had heard about God. I learned how to commune with God, and how to experiment with the Word of God and feel it enlarge my soul. I have conducted the experiment thousands of times over many years, and I cannot refute the data. My faith is not blind, but seeing. It is a discovery that must be first-hand, but it is available to any who sincerely desire to know if there is a God.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Dec. 6, 2012 11:45 a.m.


    C.S. Lewis ,”I think we probably differ about the meaning of creation. I take it to mean, to cause to be, with-out pre-existing material...."

    "The elements are eternal" (D&C 93:33).

    "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter." (D&C 131: 7-8)

    What's the mathematical probability that when Einstein postulated the equivalence of matter and energy (E=MC2), he might have been channeling Joseph Smith at the expense of C.S. Lewis?

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 11:34 a.m.

    It's absolutely amazing to think of all the details and arguments and issues and objections that Peterson didn't address, and all the contexts he didn't provide, in this enormously long article of his. The man had almost 740 words to work with!

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 11:21 a.m.

    Look at humans, chimpanzees and bonobos monkeys. The DNA is so similar. Humans and Chimpanzees are violent, to the point of killing one another.
    The Bonobo monkey, looks almost identical to the chimpanzee but are not violent with one another. Chimps and Bonobos evolved in the same part of Africa, only separated by a wide river. Bonobos evolved peaceful genes while the common ansestor of humans and chimps evolved with a violence about them.
    It would appear morals are indeed evolved.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 6, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    Twin Lights
    “I too do not believe in “the old-man-in-white-beard who waves a magic wand (suspending the laws of physics) every time he wants change something in the Universe.”

    But isn’t this precisely the sorts of events (miracles) we read about in the Bible? And how do explain the fact that while these things seemed to occur on a regular basis in the Iron Age, there is no credible evidence that the laws of nature have ever been suspended in modern times?

    Coach Biff

    I’m sorry you feel this way. Speaking only for myself, I meant nothing malicious and certainly don’t feel insecure about following logic and evidence wherever it might lead. Perhaps you are projecting some of your own feelings onto others.

    As to why I commented on this article, I simply believe in (and enjoy) conversation and the marketplace of ideas. And frankly, living in an information bubble of like-minded people is not only boring but somehow feels un-American. Our democracy was founded on dialogue and we shouldn’t fear it.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 6, 2012 10:40 a.m.

    I can't believe that all I have learned, all I have experienced and all that I have loved in my life have no meaning, no purpose and are "accidents" which is the case if you are an atheist. I can not imagine anything more discouraging, more disheartening and more bleak. If these things do not belong to me forever, what are they for? Nothing? Can't comprehend living and thinking like that.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 10:28 a.m.

    RE: Twin Lights, it was the natural world that testified of Him to me. True,

    General Revelation, Atheists claim that there is not enough reason to believe God exists. Romans 1, Paul proves otherwise. All men see God in creation but suppress the evidence in sin. “noetic effects of sin.”
    Paul is not saying that the human faculty for thinking is destroyed by sin.” The non-Christian can know some truth. If the faculty to reason was destroyed, truth could never be known and God could not condemn people for denying it.

    RE: Craig Clark, Original Sin,:.. every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. Gen 8:21;. Behold, I was sharpened in iniquity; in sin did my mother conceive me. (Ps 51:5)..
    C.S. Lewis ,”I think we probably differ about the meaning of creation. I take it to mean, to cause to be, with-out pre-existing material, to cause both form and matter of something pre-conceived in the Causer’s thought which after creation, is other than the Cause. Aseity.

    Even J.P Sarte understood. “The finite makes no since without the infinite.

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    I just love the viscious attacks on Dr. Peterson by atheists and self named anonymous posters on an article in the Religion section of this website. It just testifies to me that those who are commenting on here are so insecure in their beleifs that they feel compelled to bloviate in opposition in order to fill some measure of what they lack. Astounding.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 6, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    Tyler D

    I too do not believe in “the old-man-in-white-beard who waves a magic wand (suspending the laws of physics) every time he wants change something in the Universe.”

    The Scientist

    Let’s deal with the “Grand Watchmaker” later. As to morality. What allows such things as death in the Bible or BOM is understanding that birth is not the beginning and death is not the end. In that context, the morality is more understandable.


    Agreed that “Non religious persons, or those of wildly different faiths, can be moral.” But in most cultures, it is religion that is the source of morality. Let that culture go a few generations without religion and the morality dwindles.

    Weber State Graduate

    Reason is a powerful tool but it is a cold light - lacking the warmth that endows human morality with more than just logic. If left to reason alone, could we not easily justify many acts that we now consider immoral? I think most of us could.

    I do not obey because of threats. Most I know do not.


    Yes it does. Who was it who said that?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    Ranchhand, you seem to believe that everyone has some sort of moral compass that says murder is wrong and torturing kittens is not good, and that "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" will create this community of believers that will make the world whole and wonderful, without God,of course. This rationale "is utter and complete nonsense." Without God, there is no moral compass, no community of values. Both Hitler and Stalin were quite comfortably "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you." Or course, it had to be pointed out to them with a rather pointed sword that they were wrong. In the meantime, men and women can go on living in a naive and delusional state that "everyone" surely knows what is right and wrong without God. Ask the tortured kittens about that one. They certainly don't want to wait until "community" values kick in! As Dostoevsky said, "If there is no God, everything is permitted." Being naive is no excuse for ignorance of what human nature is capable of without God.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Dec. 6, 2012 9:24 a.m.

    Morality is a learned disposition acquired from associations with fellow creatures of our own species. The divine force we loosely call God might be a creature of human imagination but what a powerful concept it is and with such irrepressible force. Even if it’s the evidence of little more than human yearnings, the need to know and understand who and what we are does distinguish us as a species. What drives us to excavate fossil remains of creatures who walked the Earth a hundred million years ago. Why do we contemplate these fellow earthlings of times past with such a sense of awe and wonder?

    I have fond childhood memories of sitting on the grass on summer evenings with my brother and sister as Dad pointed into the night sky showing us how to locate the Big Dipper and other constellations. He would explain that it took millions of years for the light from the stars to reach Earth. He’s no longer with us but as I recall those memories it’s almost like having what we call a transcendental experience.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 6, 2012 9:18 a.m.

    This article makes some strange and unjustifiable leaps in logic. 1st off, Peterson concedes that all the laws of physics were in place an “unbelievably tiny” fraction of a second after the Big Bang, but then goes on to imply a Designer of everything including our innate sense of morality. As far as I know Dawkins would have nothing to say about anything prior to the Big Bang – his point, and the point of science in general is simply that the laws of physics (evolution being an end product of those laws) are enough to explain what we see in the Universe, including us.

    And most scientists and atheists would not deny the possibility of the kind of God believed by Vedanta Hinduism, Einstein or even the poet Browning. What they tend to not believe in is the childish old-man-in-white-beard who waves a magic wand (suspending the laws of physics) every time he wants change something in the Universe. What they typically say is “there is no evidence that such a being exists.”

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    Once again, an amateurish, cherry picked mash up of context-less quotes from poets, philosophers, and theoretical physicists, trying to resurrect the teleological argument mashed up with the argument from morality.

    Trouble is, if the Grand Watchmaker designed the universe to serve any purpose, Sandy as well as countless "acts of god", biological toxins, bacterial critters, and the like support the idea that the Watchmaker was either incompetent or determined to murder the human race in cold blood.

    And it is peculiar for a Mormon to invoke the argument from morality when such an argument rests on the existence of an absolute, universal, unchangeable and objective moral reality that could not possibly hold if Nephi's assassination of Laban and if Jesus' coercive threats to destroy crowds of survivors (3Nephi) are considered "moral".

    The morally bankrupt gnosticism of Peterson's assertions is evident and lethal to his argument.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 9:06 a.m.

    That morality exists across cultural and religious lines suggests to me that it well could be a product of evolution, since religion is totally subjective and does not demonstrate itself as being a necessary component of morality. Non religious persons, or those of wildly different faiths, can be moral. However, if one is to argue that morality is a product of an intelligent designer, it is a mighty leap of logic to believe it justifies the existence and imposition of your god over mine, or anyone elses.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 6, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    @ RanchHand. Just because you have failed to observe evidence of morality coming from outside or above us, doesn't mean millions of others have not. Failure to observe is the saddest of all commentaries about a mans life, especially when there is so much of it around us!

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 7:35 a.m.

    It's entirely reasonable that the principles governing human behavior have been discovered through experiences and deducted through the exercise of reason.

    Aristotle rejected the theory that morality comes from some higher power that endowed humanity with a set of universal morals. Rather, he preferred a model of reality grounded in humanities distinct power to reason drawn directly from our experiences.

    Morality is learned from our experiences through a chain of events that enables us to develop a set of standards and general principles that work to maintain an orderly society. Simply put, morality is the result of a set of rules that has evolved through trial and approach to solving problems through a propensity to affect the survival of a host population.

    The primary tenet of morality is rationality where morals become an application of the role of reason which subsequently results in a code of values that guide human choices as a means of survival. It's for the purpose of self-preservation that humanity has intellectually created a code of morality, not because of some supernatural law giver who would test someone's ability to obey a commandment with threats of punishment and damnation.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Dec. 6, 2012 7:24 a.m.

    "Another remarkable fact about morality is that it seems to come from outside of us, even above us. "

    What utter and complete nonsense. A simple "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" creates an incredible sense of "morality". There is nothing "outside or above us" about it.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 6, 2012 7:18 a.m.

    Me too Twin Lights, me too!

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 6, 2012 5:43 a.m.

    In those periods where doubts of God surrounded me, it was the natural world that testified of Him to me.