The Institute is always getting great questions from curious and concerned Christians. Here’s one I thought I’d post since I think the answer might help clarify the topic for other Christians.
This is the question:
“Where do atheist get the notion that science and science alone can account for morality?”
Here is my answer:
There are, in the atheist perspective, two different kinds of morality. There is personal morality and social morality. In personal morality, each person gets to decide their own version of right and wrong for themselves. On the other hand, in social morality, a single, prevailing culture creates a standard of behavior. Usually, this standard evolves over time, changing as the opinions of the majority sway.
Most of the time, it’s in this realm of “social morality” that atheists say they are moral; It’s a given that most people are moral if judged by their own personal standards. So when an atheist claims to be “moral” or to know “morality”, it is only in a post-modern sense. Either their actions are moral by the standards of their own culture or else by some global, nebulous, inter-religious standard no one can seem to define.
Now, the question asked was, “Where do atheists get the notion that science and science alone can account for morality?” Their “notion” is forced on them by their world view. If there is no God to set a standard, there is no objective standard; Everyone must judge for themselves what is right and wrong. Of course, this is purely subjective and may change based on how they’re feeling at the moment. Aren’t we glad that morality doesn’t change based on how someone else feels that day?
So, if it is humans that determine morality, and humans are merely molecules in motion, then it must follow that morality is merely caused by some of those molecules in motion affecting other molecules in motion; There can be no other cause. Some biologically determined chemical change directs our moods and emotions. Based on those and our ability to choose the course of action that benefits us the most, we humans, over eons of time, developed systems of social morality. Eventually, as their story goes, these social systems of morality combined with superstition to form religion.
Therefore, if we begin with the assumption that there is no God, then we have no choice but to attribute morality to mere biology. If mere biology then only science can explain them; There is no place for religion.
It is the assumptions they begin with that lead to their illogical conclusions.