I was recently speaking to someone about materialism, and I was curious as to how someone who believed only in the natural realm would argue morality.
Evil is that which a good person would stop if they could.
This naturally begs the question: If evil is solely determined as being the opposite of what a good person wants, then what is a good person? An example was given to disprove the existence of a good God.
If Bambi’s mother dies a slow and painful death, that’s something a good person would stop if they could. Therefore, that’s evil and if someone had the power to stop this and they were good, they would stop it. An all powerful God could stop it, but doesn’t, therefore, there is no morally good all-powerful God.
There are many fallacies in this example, but perhaps one will suffice. Materialism rejects God because God would stop that which is morally evil. Having removed the concept of God, the naturalist has also removed the concept of good and evil. In removing the God of the Bible, they have removed that which justified their question the God of the Bible.
In the perspective of materialistic evolution, the natural is all that exists. Some atoms banging together became rocks, and other atoms over time, became Bambi’s mother. There’s no moral superiority of Bambi’s mother. She’s just an accident of nature and though prettier than a rock, has no moral superiority over the rock. In the materialistic world, how is a deer morally superior to a deer’s corpse? Certainly the deer feeds Bambi, but the deer’s corpse feeds the entire forest with nutrients. From the perspective of the naturalist, then, the illustration is that a blob of matter changes due to the world around it. There’s no moral evil there.
“But,” one may object, “the question isn’t just about death, but about agony and pain.”
Yet the same naturalist will argue that pain, like pleasure, is merely the cause and effect of matter and energy bouncing around. Again there is no morality there. The real “evil” is that the deer evolved an ability to feel pain.
Or perhaps the real “evil” is that blobs of matter we call humans evolved a sense of compassion for the pain of other blobs of matter.
While the materialist may say a Christian’s worldview has to deal with the problem of evil, the materialist’s worldview has to deal with the problem of not being able to explain either evil or good.
In other words, the materialist says that human suffering is evil and disproves any moral deity, but they will say in the next sentence that humans are inconsequential byproducts of the evolutionary process and are nothing more than small blobs of matter that are part of the gigantic blog of all matter. They will say that human suffering is an insurmountable challenge to God, but then declare the human suffering is of no consequence at all.
Evil is only defined as that which a good person would stop, and a good person is only defined as a person who stops that which is evil. Evil is only a concept in that it relies on there being a firm definition of goodness, until we ask about goodness, and we find that it can only exist if there’s a firm definition of evil. Having removed any non-material moral force, there is neither a definition of good or evil, so the entire moral argument fades into non-existence.