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Sometimes Rape and Murder Are Good Right?

March 5, 2012

Imagine a little child at recess who is playing ball with her friends.  Quickly, a boy runs over to them and takes away their ball.  

Upset by their misfortune the little girls run over to the monitor and cry out, “He took our ball!  Thats not fair!”  

The monitor witnessing the incident simply replies to them, “Don’t be upset little ones, the boy thought it was right to take your ball and so it is okay.  Go ahead and play somewhere else”?   

Was the monitor correct in her judgement to say that the little boy was perfectly fine to take their ball?  I think most of us would say probably not.  But why?

Every conscience person is born with a sense of right and wrong, good and bad – even if they do not follow them and/or are unaware of where they come from.  This can be demonstrated in real life scenarios like above; where children are wronged on the preschool playground everyday despite being very young in age and knowledge.

Please consider the following scenarios in order to further illustrate this point.   


Scenario 1

The country of Gambia in West Africa hosts a population of approximately 10 million people. Gambia differs in their perspective of customs and belief and some are controversial. Probably the most controversial practiced custom in Gambia involves the mandatory mutilation of the female genitals. Have you ever heard of this? Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization  as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” {1}

FGM is considered by its practitioners to be an essential part of raising a girl properly—girls are regarded as having been cleansed by the removal of “male” body parts. It ensures pre-marital virginity and inhibits extra-marital sex, because it reduces women’s libido. Women fear the pain of re-opening the vagina, and are afraid of being discovered if it is opened illicitly. {1}

Considering this as a reality in the world, would you say that it is okay to mutilate the genitals of little girls and women against their will?

Scenario 2

The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the German community. As part of their “final solution” to get rid of this inferior Jewish race, the Nazi’s exterminated approximately 6 million Jewish people along with other classes of peopled deemed unfit for the “New Germany”. This was a real event that happened in this century by, at the time, one of the most educated countries in the entire world.

Were those in power justified in the “cleansing” of an inferior race?

Scenario 3

A pack of lions are roaming the desert in search of a day time snack. Eventually the pack comes across a group of unsuspecting Zebras grazing in an open field.  Licking their lips, the lions wait patiently for the correct time to make a move. Soon enough a lioness springs from the grass and begins its run toward a zebra. Scared for its life the zebra runs away and the chase begins between prey and predator. As is the case in the animal kingdom, the lioness eventually catches up with the zebra, kills it and the snack begins.

Now do you think it is wrong that the lion kills the zebra? 

Scenario 4

One day an elderly lady finds herself at a crosswalk in a busy part of the city. She has a few grocery bags and cannot seem to cross the road easily because she needs the use of her walker to do so. A young passerby notices the woman and her struggles and wonders what he should do.

Do you think it would be good for him to go and help her cross the street? 

Okay so now you may be wondering why I had you take the time to read and answer the above four scenarios.  The reason is because each of them call upon the need for you to reflect upon them from a moral perspective.  This is important because many times in life we are faced with decisions on how to act or how not to act.  The question is, however, is it up to me to decide what is right or wrong?  Or are some things in fact right and wrong?  This contrasting view point is known as the difference between subjective and objective moral values.  Lets define the two so that we know the difference between them more clearly.

Subjective morality, are statements of moral values and duties that are found within the physical framework of moral agents (human beings). In this way, they are dependent on what a human person (or persons) thinks or believes.

  • A morally subjective statement about a situation may be, “I felt it was right. I know it was right. Therefore, it is right.  And just because it is bad for you does not mean it is bad for me.” Subjective morality also exists in group, or cultural mentality as is the case with the Nazi party where they thought it was right to do what they did.

Objective morality, on the other hand, are statements of moral values and duties that are found outside, or transcend, the moral agents. In this way, they are independent of what human persons think or believe.

  • An objective statement may go something like this, “Murder, rape, and torture are evil regardless of who believes that they are good. Furthermore love, self sacrifice, and kindness are really good regardless of who believes the opposite.”    

I read once of an ethics professor who illustrated the difference between subjective and objective morality finely to his students on the first day of class. The professor would walk in to a packed stadium seated hall and ask this question, “By show of hands, who believes in subjective morality?” Most often more than half of the class would raise their hands.

The next thing the professor said was, “Well in that case this is how the grading for my class will go. If you are shorter than 5’8” you get an A. Unfortunately, however, if you are taller than 5’8” you get an F.” Right away a good number of the students understood the wise professor’s point. That if they really do believe in subjective morality, than it is up to the person (or persons) in power to decide what it right or wrong, even if they disagree with them.

Is morality subjective in this way?

Sure some things in life are subjective in nature like beauty, taste, the arts, etc… But are moral values and duties subjective? Well lets suppose Hitler accomplished his dreams and brainwashed every person in the world to think that murdering people as he did was good. Would it have been good? No and absolutely no. Murder, and especially genocide, is wrong! Most people do not need to be told this.

What about in the animal kingdom scenario? Are animals moral agents?

Cornell University Law School defines murder, “Murder occurs when one human being unlawfully kills another human being.”{2} The question would then be: When a lion attacks and eats a zebra, does it murder the zebra? Or does the lion kill the zebra? If it murders the zebra, than why do we not have a system of law prosecuting predator lions for killing zebras?

Ethicist Richard Taylor reflects:

“Such actions, though injurious to their victims, are no more unjust or immoral than they would be if done by one animal to another. A hawk that seizes a fish from the sea kills it, but does not murder it; and another hawk that seizes the fish from the talons of the first takes it, but does not steal it – for none of these things is forbidden.” {3}

This lack of morality can also be seen in the plant kingdom.

It is clear that forced copulation occurs in a wide variety of species. It has even been suggested that some plants engage in forceful mating–the male plant tries anything possible to get its pollen around females’ barriers…” {4} This may seem like an awkward question but does this mean that plants rape each other?  Probably not.

Our sense of morality is real and is unique from all of the animal and plant kingdoms of the world and deep down every person knows this.  However, It is how we come to know these moral truths that separate us.  For example:

One day a person says to another confidently that he believes the Sun goes around the earth while the other person believes that the Earth revolves around the Sun. In this case, because of the advancements in knowledge, we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun. This means that those who believe otherwise, however sincerely and sure they may be, are in fact mistaken.

In this case coming to “know” that the earth revolves around the Sun is a matter of discovering truth. Not inventing it.

Similarly objective Truths (like moral Truths) exist in reality, objectivley – even if we fail to discern them.  

If you agree that there are objective moral values and duties than where do they come from? What is their foundation?  In ethics, the question pertaining to this ontological foundation for moral values and duties is an open one.  Why?  Because on atheism, moral values cannot truly be objective if grounded somehow in nature.  What about on theism?  God has already given us his answer.

“So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27

I believe that God, as the epitome and loci of moral goodness and love, is the best explanation for the foundations of morality. This coincides with the belief that a person does not have to believe in God to be moral. For example there are many atheist persons in the world who do not believe in God and are genuinely nice and moral people. However, if the Bible is true, this fact fits right in line with reality. Why? Because God created both the theist (believers) and atheist (unbelievers) and therefore his moral law would be written on all of our hearts. God is not biased.  The apostle Paul recognized this when writing about those who perish apart from God’s Law,

…since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts.” – Romans 2:15

Hebrews 10:6 also says,

 I will put my laws in their hearts, 
   and I will write them on their minds.”

Without God, where could this moral foundation we experience be founded?

Atheist biologist Richard Dawkins explains,

“There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” {5}

Why would Richard Dawkins say such a thing? Because he is right! On a naturalistic view of the world, we are just social bi-products of evolution by natural selection.  We live here for a short time and die like the rest of humanity. There is no such thing as morality but rather it is an illusion much like free will.

Michael Ruse, an agnostic philosopher of science, adds:

“The position of the modern evolutionist is that morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.” {6}

But why on a naturalistic worldview is it impossible to view morality in an objective way?  The short answer would be that on a naturalistic view, nothing can exist apart from nature.  Everything must be physically reducible and nothing can exist apart from the natural & physical world.  This includes an objective God, moral values, etc… 

I may go into this more deeply in another post but I hope that you have begun to see:

First, that objective moral values and duties do exist in reality

Second, that without God, objective moral values and duties could not exist

Third, God must then exist because objective moral values exist.


{1} Female genital mutilation”, World Health Organization, February 2010.

{2} http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/murder

{3} Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1985), 14

{4} Understanding individual differences in male propensity for sexual aggression.(pp. 31-58)Washington, DC, US: American Psychological AssociationLalumière, Martin L. Harris, Grant T. Quinsey, Vernon L. Rice, Marnie E. , (2005). vii, 294 pp.

{5} “there is at bottom no good….Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” published in Scientific American (November, 1995), p. 85

{6} Michael Ruse quote…love thy neightboer….“Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in “The Darwinian Paradigm,” London, Routledge, 1989, pp. 262-269).


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One Comment
  1. An intelligent, Biblical, and well-written post. What a gem!

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