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Hitchens Says Morality is Absolute and Innate
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Hrm...well, Christopher Hitchens finally answers the question posed to him over and over in his debate with Al Sharpton: Where do morals come from if you don't have god?

Here is a video from Chris Matthews, with the two men as guests, extending their debate.

When asked what the source of morality should be and whether or not he's a moral relativist, he ducks a bit again, pointing out (rightly, though) that the bible is quite morally relativistic, since the old and new testaments offer starkly different views on violence, revenge, and pacifism (eye for an eye vs. turn the other cheek). This allows the christian to fairly easily justify almost any course of action as moral, by simply pointing to the section of the bible that happens to agree with them at that point in time.

But this still doesn't answer the question about where an atheist is supposed to get morals, and Hitchens, pressed into answering, gives a rather lame one: morality is innate. He says we don't need some celestial dictator telling us that it's wrong to steal and kill. We just know.

Pffffft. This is no good. It just as easily leads down the road to relativism. Also, I doubt it's the answer Dawkins would give.

In the book I'm working on (when I have the time), I draw the distinction between implicit and explicit goals. The difference is your level of awareness about what you value and what you're trying to achieve. As a product of evolution, you're basically a machine designed to effectively propagate the genes in every one of your cells. Your implicit goals are defined by the goals of your genes (to persist, reproduce, and insure the propagation of those genes into future generations). These goals manifest slightly differently between the genders, because of our sexual dimorphism, with men idealizing sex with many partners, status and prestige, and the accumulation of wealth. Women focus more on marriage, stability, a good provider, and strong social networks, all important in raising children.

If we don't appeal to reason to understand why we're doing what we're doing and to figure out those things we want to value and those we do not, we're basically defaulting to being slaves to the whims of our genetic material, allowing them to decide what is good and what is bad.

I'm not sure how well-versed Hitchens is in issues such as evolutionary psychology, but you wouldn't really have to be to adopt a rationalist perspective (that we can use reason to work out the basis for morality). I'm disappointed that Hitchens simply wants to rely on instinct.

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