Will Right and Wrong Always Be Obvious?

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 05/16/2013

A person doesn’t have to know the Bible in order to know right and wrong, right? Well, yes and no. It all depends on what value system is being fed to that person by society. A society saturated in a Christian understanding of morality will reinforce that understanding, even among its atheists. A society without the background of Christianity behind it will enforce a different understanding of morality. Atheists have the mistaken idea that objective morality is simply obvious to everyone, but the truth is, it’s not. All one has to do is look back through history (and in other cultures today) to see that this is so. Our damaged consciences are malleable.

Is murdering your child right or wrong? Ask these mothers in India, where it’s commonplace in some areas to let your girl die if you prefer a boy. Ask pre-Christian cultures. This is why I think atheists are being far too hasty when they argue that Christianity is expendable—unnecessary for a good society. If we see atrocious moral crimes in cultures not influenced by Christianity, we have no reason to think our current standards will continue in a culture that rejects Christianity.

Case in point:

You might recall that British politician, Colin Brewer, who last year said that disabled children should be killed to save taxpayer money. You might recall that at the time he apologized and stepped down in disgrace. But you probably didn’t know that he was re-elected to his old seat this year. And he’s at it again.

This time, he reportedly compared disabled children to deformed lambs that need to be culled. In an interview with none other than the Disability News Service, Councillor (yeah, they spell it that way) Brewer said that perhaps we should be treating disabled children like the runt of a litter of lambs which are often disposed of by smashing them against the wall.

“If they have a misshapen lamb, they get rid of it,” he said. “They get rid of it. Bang.”

Bang? That’s sound fiscal policy, huh? And that’s what it is, according to Brewer. He said that disabled people are just too expensive to care for so some may just have to go.

“We are just animals,” Brewer continued. “You can’t have lambs running around with five legs and two heads. It would be put down, smashed against the wall and be dealt with.”

As I’ve written before, intrinsic human value has to be taught. A society’s view of the human person and its value will affect what that society views as being moral: We are just animals. Imperfect animals aren’t worth the trouble. Therefore, there’s a case to be made for killing them rather than caring for them. That conclusion reasonably follows from the non-Christian premise. As Christianity fades in influence and a different view of the human person gains acceptance, don’t expect that our society will continue to recognize that conclusion to be immoral. At that point, people will still consider themselves to be perfectly moral...but only because they’re judging themselves by a different standard of morality.

It’s difficult for us to recognize the depth our depravity when “everyone else is doing it.” Ask Gosnell’s nurses. Only the truth can awaken and sharpen our consciences, and for that to happen, the truth has to be heard and esteemed.

For now, there’s an outcry brewing against this politician in the UK, and that’s a good sign. But it’s not as if he’s a lone voice out there (see Peter Singer). As our belief in intrinsic human value wears away, we should expect to see more like him. Just consider this:

But here’s the thing—[Brewer] was just re-elected earlier this month to his old seat. That means that being pro-infanticide and culling the disabled is no longer a deal breaker in European politics.