Lewis’s “Law of Nature” argument

PZ Myers, over at Pharyngula, digs up CS Lewis’s old “Law of Nature” argument, which Francis Collins claimed left his atheistic beliefs “in ruins.” Let’s have a look at it, shall we?

Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man in in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.

Lewis is off to a fair-ish start. We do have “some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are.” As a social species, we’ve learned by experience that each of us, as individuals, benefits from belonging to the group, even though we sometimes compete with other group members for food, wealth, mates, status, and so on. Some behaviors, like stealing and murder and violence, are so disruptive to the group that group membership ceases to be a benefit for most individuals. We call these behaviors “Wrong.” Other behaviors promote the well-being of the group, and thus the benefit to the individual members of the group. We call these behaviors “Right.” Read the rest of this entry »