Last night while my wife and son were at church, I started watching Richard Dawkins’ Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life on Youtube. After watching the first episode, I looked for the second but couldn’t find it. So I started watching the third episode. About half-way through, My wife got home. After changing into her PJs as she does every night when she gets home, she joined me on the couch. She sat down at about 38 minutes into the above linked video, just about the time when Dr. Dawkins starts talking to Ricky Gervais. A few minutes later, she said something about “When this is over remind me to tell you something about that…” whatever comment one of them had just made. So I stopped the video and asked her to say what was on her mind.
“Where does morality come from?” she asked me.
“From what I understand, it’s partially genetic, but mostly cultural.” I replied. “I mean, most higher animals have some sort of rudimentary morality. Look at the bonobos who protected the dead body of a member of their group from the human gamekeepers.” I referenced a video I had watched a while back depicting this scene at a game preserve. Then I continued, “Morality is mostly cultural. People decide how they want to be treated and they treat others that way. It’s been evolving like that for millions of years.”
Then she got to the real reason she was asking. “Pastor J… said in his sermon tonight that morality can only come from God.”
“Oh really,” I replied. “I know plenty of moral people who don’t believe in god, not to mention the many immoral acts god is recorded as doing or condoning in the bible.”
She actually agreed with my first point. “Yes, I know a lot of people who were raised in non-religious homes, and most of them are just as moral as a lot of christian people I know.”
Just then, I recalled Sam Harris’ TED Talk about science being able to answer moral questions. Since we already had YouTube pulled up on the TV, I brought it up and we watched it together. She didn’t say much. She did say “Hmmm” every once in a while during the video, however. Afterward, I was going to bring up Sam Harris’ debate with William Lane Craig, but she was starting to nod off. So we went to bed without much conversation about it.
I thought it was a pretty successful evening. I’m glad we can have conversations about our differing ways of believing, and more so that she is actually questioning what she believes. The pastors I’ve had have always said not to take their word for it, but to go study it for yourself. It appears she is starting to do that… but not in the way they have always intended. An open, reasoning, logical mind is always the enemy of faith.