A Classic Example of an Incoherent Worldview1
[This is an excellent article from Michael J. Kruger, posted on January 30, 2015, at www.michaeljkruger.com.]
As one considers the values of Hollywood and American pop culture, it would be easy to conclude that no one is concerned all that much about morality. The dominant message is that people should live whatever life-style suits their personal preferences. What is right for one person is not necessarily what is right for another.
Or so it would seem.
Just about the time you are convinced that Hollywood thinks morality is relative, a major entertainment figure steps forward and speaks out vigorously about a moral cause. Maybe it’s the environment. Or perhaps it’s racism. Or maybe the moral cause is caring for the poor. Regardless, it turns out that, in certain instances, morality is absolute after all. In regard to these moral issues, apparently everyone should be on board.
Such was the case with the latest statements by the actress Julianne Moore. The headline I read about her most recent interview said it all:
“Oscar Actress Frontrunner: I Don’t Believe in God; Gun Control a Must.”
Now right off the bat, it is clear that there are some serious problems with Moore’s worldview. First, she stumbles into the very problem mentioned above. How can we take her moral position seriously, when the message of her industry is that there are no moral absolutes? You can’t say, on the one hand, “Live whatever life-style you want,” and then, on the other hand, say, “You must follow this particular moral position” (in this case, gun control). It’s one or the other.
But, the second problem is even bigger than the first. In addition to making moral claims, Moore makes it clear that she doesn’t believe in God. Apparently, then, she has an atheistic worldview. Of course, she is free to have such a worldview, but the problem is that it doesn’t square with her moral crusade for gun control.
Presumably, she is concerned about gun control because she values human life. She believes it is “wrong” to take a human life, and wants to prevent as many human deaths as possible. But, on an atheistic worldview, why is human life more important than any other life? It is just the product of billions of years of mindless evolution. On an atheistic worldview, taking a human life is no different than taking the life of a cockroach. On an atheistic worldview, there is no right and wrong at all.
Later in the interview, Moore admits as much. She says:
“I learned when my mother died five years ago that there is no ‘there’ there,” she reflects. “Structure, it’s all imposed. We impose order and narrative on everything in order to understand it. Otherwise, there’s nothing but chaos.”
Basically, according to Moore, there is no inherent meaning in the universe–meaning is just something we “impose” on a world filled with “chaos.” All good and well, but what then is the ground for her moral claims about gun control and the value of human life? In a world without meaning, why would it matter what one human does to another? It is just one bag of molecules doing something to another bag of molecules.
Of course, Moore might respond and say, “You can still have morality on an atheistic worldview. Morality is determined by what is good for the most people. And gun control is good for the most people.”
But, this just creates a new moral code out of thin air, namely that “Morality is determined by what is good for the most people.” Where does this moral standard come from? Did she just make it up? And why should people follow it? Moreover, how does Moore determine what is good for the most people? What counts as “good”?
In the end, Moore’s worldview faces some serious philosophical challenges. She wants to have absolute morality so that she can declare murder wrong (and thus advocate gun control), but at the same time she provides no coherent basis for what makes something right or wrong. Indeed, she has a worldview that actually destroys the possibility of their actually being any real right or wrong.
When someone has such an obviously incoherent worldview, it makes one wonder how that happens. What leads someone to embrace two obviously contradictory premises? The Bible actually provides an answer for this. The Scriptures teach that men and women are made in the image of God and the law of God is written on their heart (Rom 2:14-15). This explains why Moore insists that murder is wrong (which leads her to advocate gun control).
The Scriptures also teach that unbelievers suppress this truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18-23). Even though Moore knows there is a God, she refuses to admit such a thing and tries to live her life without him. Thus, her contradictory worldview is inevitable. She is trying to get away from God, but cannot escape him because the Law of God is written on her own heart.
Of course, it should be noted that Christians agree with Moore’s concern for human life. We agree that it is wrong to murder (regardless of what one thinks about the merits of gun control laws). The difference is that Christians actually have a coherent reason for why murder is wrong, namely because humans are made in the image of God (and thus are different from the cockroach), and because God has commanded us not to murder.
While non-Christians might act moral, and might advocate moral acts, only Christians have grounds for why an act is moral or immoral in the first place.