The point is that our moral reasoning, while logical, is nonetheless fueled by fundamental axiomatic starting points concerning what good and evil look like. In other words, it is fueled by strident basic intuitions over what must be the case and what cannot be the case. And in that regard it also closely parallels our logical intuitions. Both Locke and Descartes discussed at length the penetrating luminosity of our basic logical intuitions in a way that parallels to a striking degree our moral intuitions, with all their added emotionalism. Our emotional attraction to certain actions (e.g. altruism) and aversion to others (e.g. rape) is the way we perceive truth in morality.
I’m happy to say that any person who thinks God ordained the wholesale slaughter of an entire society from infants to the elderly has spent one too many days in (1) Sunday school, (2) a Hutu training camp, or (3) the SS youth corp.
Throughout the whole exchange I’ve presented an argument: our moral intuitions provide is with powerful prima facie evidence that genocide is always wrong. This moral intuition comes both in contemplating individual incidents of killing, like the dismemberment of an infant, as well as the whole sweep of a society decimated by genocide as in Rwanda (read Dallaire’s Shake hands with the devil). We have a moral revulsion to such actions which strongly supports the axiomatic starting point that such actions are intrinsically wrong. And that moral intuition is stronger than our beliefs that scripture is wholly inerrant and correctly interpreted in the relevant passages.
Rauser stipulates an axiomatic moral intuition against “genocide,” then cites two historical examples to corroborate his claim. But a basic problem is his argument that his supporting material undercuts his claim. His examples unwittingly amount to counterexamples. Wouldn’t the Hutu and the SS count as empirical evidence against his intuitive appeal?
But that’s not the only problem. He also says:
These young Christians are thus unaware of the large number of Christian evolutionary biologists back to the great Theodosius Dobzhansky, and indeed all the way back to Asa Gray, a contemporary of Darwin and America’s leading botanist of the 19th century. They are often unaware that the Catholic Church embraces evolution, as do leading evangelical scientists like Francis Collins and Denis Lamoureux. Not surprisingly, they also remain unaware that most of those theologians laboring in the theology/science dialogue made peace with Darwin long ago (Alister McGrath, John Polkinghorne, R.J. Russell, Ted Peters, Arthur Peacocke, Ian Barbour and many many others besides).
Does evolution underwrite a moral intuition against “genocide”? Doesn't evolution directly undermine a moral intuition against “genocide”? As Michael Lind has noted:
Evolutionary biology does not provide much hope for the sort of altruistic personal commitment to planetary solidarity that secular humanists want to encourage. Humanist Manifesto III claims that the joy in Stakhanovite that enlightened human beings liberated from religion are expected to feel -- an "ought" -- can be derived from an "is" -- biological fact. "Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships."
But social animals are not altruists. Nor are they strict individualists. They are nepotists. As a rule social animals, like wolves, deer, humans and chimps, show favoritism to their relatives and friends and allies, with little or no concern for members of their own species with whom they have no close connection. Abrahamic monotheism insists on the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God. Darwinism insists at best on the distant cousinhood of humanity.
Among humans, nepotistic solidarity can be transferred, with difficulty, to political units larger than the extended family.
Evolution fosters nepotism rather than altruism. Michael Lind’s claim about in-group solidarity among social animals has far more empirical support than Rauser’s appeal to moral intuition.
In the same vein, Edward Wilson, the father of sociobiology, recently recanted his theory of eusociality:
So Rauser’s endorsement of human evolution is at war with his condemnation of “genocide.”