Posted by: Mr. C | May 6, 2008

Darwinism, Materialism, and the Decline of Moral Absolutes

This is a fascinating post from the folks over at Uncommon Descent. The author (BarryA) gives an interesting example from legal history relating the decline in moral absolutes to the acceptance of Darwinism as dogma.

Here is an excerpt:

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With “The Path of the Law” Holmes had founded the school of “legal realism, and this theory gradually came to be the predominate theory of jurisprudence in the United States.  “Legal realism” should more properly be called “legal materialism” because Holmes denied the existence of any objective “principles of ethics or admitted axioms” to guide judges’ rulings.  In other words, the law is not based upon principles of justice that transcend time and place.  The law is nothing more than what willful judges do, and the “rules” they use to justify their decision are tagged on after they have decided the case according to their personal preferences.  At its bottom legal realism is a denial of the objective existence of a foundation of moral norms upon which a structure of justice can be built.

Why would Holmes deny the objective existence of morality?  This is where the influence of Darwin comes in.  It is one of the darker secrets of our nation’s past that Holmes, perhaps the most venerated of all our Supreme Court justices, was a fanatical – I used that word advisedly — Darwinist who advocated eugenics and the killing of disabled babies. I n Buck v. Bell Holmes wrote “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” As Phillip Johnson has written, Holmes was a “convinced Darwinist who profoundly understood the philosophical implications of Darwinism.”

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