What is the origin of the moral law written on each of our hearts? This question presupposes that you and I have identical codes of conduct embedded deep in our subconscious minds; we can try to suppress or ignore this code but it is there nonetheless. This deeply embedded code of conduct is the little voice inside which, for example, tells you not to:
- steal from, double-cross or murder persons who treat you with kindness
- abuse children, elderly, sick or disabled
- admire selfishness
If you question the existence of this code of conduct or "moral law," try to locate a stable society, anywhere in recorded history, which espoused the three items listed above. The origin of the moral law cannot be determined with certainty; but, once again, the evidence points strongly in a particular direction. Three origins have been suggested:
- The words "moral law" encompass certain types of behavior which have developed in us by the process of biological evolution. The details of this development process are covered by such theories as "kinship" and "reciprocation" and may even employ the principles of game theory. The types of behavior, classified as "moral law," accomplish no purpose other than to enhance the survivability of the human race.
- The "moral law" is learned social behavior passed from adults to children; collective human experience has recognized that certain restrictions on social behavior result in a more pleasant society for all.
- The "moral law" is really God's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Mat 22:36-40). This commandment embodies the sum total of the Law given to us by God (Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14). To make sure no one missed the instructions, he wrote His Law on everyone's heart (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14,15).
Which of these explanations is consistent with the facts?
Consider, for a moment, the following groups of people in our society; assume these people are institutionalized with no means of support beyond public charity:
- Elderly (with no relatives) suffering from severe Alzheimer's disease
- Orphan babies with AIDS
- Orphan babies with Down's Syndrome
Preserving the lives of these individuals causes a drain on the resources of society and in no way enhances the survivability of the human race. Would you like to have them killed? If a little voice inside you is saying, "These people need love and compassion," that voice does not have biological evolution as its origin. Mutation, genetic drift, migration and natural selection cannot justify giving "kindness" priority over personal well being.
Collective human experience has clearly recognized that certain restrictions on social behavior result in a more pleasant society for all; the existence of civil and criminal law reflects this recognition. However, in your daily life, cheating would often be more pleasurable than truthfulness. On those occasions when you know you won't be caught, do you really refrain from cheating because you know, in the long run, society will be a better place because of your decision? If so, you are an unusual person. Cultures which use the "good of society" as a basis for morality are typically rife with crookedness.
If confronted with opportunities to:
- keep $10,000 cash you found in a wallet on the sidewalk
- commit adultery while away from your spouse
- conceal $15,000 of your income from the IRS
Would what's "good for society" be an important consideration when making a decision? Is your innermost, secret character based on learned social behavior about what's "good for society?" There is no evidence to support such a premise.
This leaves God as the most likely source of that little voice telling you right from wrong. (7)