I didn't choose this video because healthyaddict is the most articulate defender of atheism. Frankly, I've heard other, more articulate atheists make these same points. I picked this video because healthyaddict is very brief and I believe she is more representative of the casual way people usually make this argument. By the way, I spend about as much time looking at material critical of Christians as I do examining material defending Christians. When I talk about the unbelievers' arguments, I want to fairly represent their views and not build a straw man of their position. In this case, you can hear healthyaddict's position in her own words. I can't be accused of misrepresenting her.
Are we all agreed? Then let's move on.
She opens her video with the comment that “morals are silly” but she never really addresses what she means by that. It's very strange. From there, she changes direction and begins explaining her theory on the origin of morals. It's to this point that I'm going to respond.
Healthyaddict says that morals come from natural selection. That's not a big surprise because that's all that atheists or evolutionists ever have as an explanation. She's a little vague, though, in that she doesn't explain how this mechanism works. Is she saying that morality is a conscious act where we choose behavior that offers the greatest survival advantage or is morality an evolved trait where we instinctively act in ways that offer the greatest chance for survival? Either way, I will show you why she's wrong.
For her first example, she says that if we go around killing people “then the species would die off.” I guess she's saying that if we killed people carte blanche, then eventually we'd kill everyone. That's a little overreaching, don't you think? Again, I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth but I'm going to try to help her out. What she might be trying to say is that if we go around killing people, we are more likely to be killed in revenge. Therefore, if we act peaceably toward our neighbors, we're more likely to be left alone by them and, so, are more likely to live longer, have more kids, and pass along the trait of being peaceable.
This sounds plausible at first but it fails under scrutiny. First, it's well known that animals often fight and kill each other – even members of the same species. Sometimes, they fight for reproductive rights where the victorious male is allowed to mate and the defeated male is dead. This actually strengthens the species as a whole by removing the weaker males from the gene pool. If survival of the fittest is the goal, why would it necessarily be morally wrong for humans to kill each other if it were for something like the love of a woman?
Furthermore, under the “don't kill and you won't be killed” theory, would imperialism be objectively immoral? In the US, under our Manifest Destiny mission, we militantly displaced whole nations of American Indians, killing many of them and forcing many more onto reservations. Since this allowed the invading, white men to prosper, it must be moral by healthyaddict's standard.
Healthyaddict also attempts to tackle the dilemma of altruism. Why do humans do things that are a cost to them and a benefit to others? It doesn't make any sense according to evolution where everything is measured only by its survival benefit. Healthyaddict suggests altruism is a sort of reverse to the “don't kill and you won't be killed” principle; altruism is a “do this and they'll do it back to you” strategy. She gives the example of chimps picking bugs off other chimps. They do it in the hope that later, some chimp will pick bugs off them. I think healthyaddict needs to look up the definition of altruism. If you are expecting something in return, then it isn't altruism by definition. When people give money to starving children in third world countries, they never expect the children to someday repay them. Neither does the giver imagine that someday he might find himself in a third world country and will need some, middle class Westerner to give him food.
About 2 minutes into the video, healthyaddict undoes her entire point. She says, “I do think some things are very core when it comes to altruism, not killing each other generally, not raping each other. I think that's kind of like a universal standard because of natural selection.” You can see that the idea of morality by natural selection is so vague as to be meaningless. It's far more subjective than objective. No behavior could really be called immoral if an argument could be made that it offers some survival value. Yet she uses words like “core” and “universal standard” when it comes to the immorality of things like murder or rape. Is there a “core,” “universal standard” of morality or isn't there?
Immediately after stating that some things are universally wrong, healthyaddict points out that some attitudes of morality change over time. She uses the example of homosexuality. Now, homosexuality does not convey any survival benefit. Evolution hinges on reproduction and attraction to the same sex guarantees there can be no offspring. If perpetuation of the species is the objective, then homosexuality should never be viewed as moral. So if attitudes toward the morality of homosexuality have changed, something other than natural selection must be the standard by which it is judged. I would ask healthyaddict, what is that standard? What makes murder and rape always wrong and homosexuality sometimes wrong?
Healthyaddict highlights the futility of the atheist's position. Atheists strive mightily to demonstrate that there is no transcendent, absolute standard of morality. They know to acknowledge the existence of immutable morality strongly suggests there must be a transcendent Judge of right and wrong. So they equivocate and change the meaning of morally “right” to mean “what is expedient.” Yet when it comes to things like rape and murder, atheists immediately label them as absolutely immoral.