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The concept of morality requires certain things to be true (whether considering animals or humans).

This paper will be a bit terse due to my desire to keep it to the length of a single page.
1) The moral actor must be capable of free choice. If the actor did not have free choice in determining
the action, how could it be held morally accountable for its actions?
2) The individual must be capable of rational thought. This does not imply the individual always uses
their capacity for reason appropriately. But if they are not even capable of rational thought, the
possibility of making a moral choice is just not there.
3) There must be objective moral obligations. If there is no real obligation to behave in a certain way,
then what is the point in even discussing “morality”?
4) Objective moral obligations (a moral law, if you will), must have a source. If there is a moral law
we are obliged to follow, what is the source of this immaterial law?
There are probably more points that could be added, but with these few, it is already clear that the
materialistic worldview is entirely unable to account for morality in the first place (regardless of
whether one thinks animals exhibit traits that appear “moral” or not). The reasons are as follows:
1) Materialism does not play well with the concept of free will. If our mind is nothing but a bioelectrical computer deterministically conforming to the laws of physics and chemistry, free will does
not exist. You can make no choice that is not bound by these laws, so your actions are not determined
by a conscious “self”, but by the laws of nature.
2) Materialism cannot account for rationality. As demonstrated in the prior point, your decisions
would not be based upon some external standard of what is rational, but on the particular chemical
composition of your brain at any given moment.
3) On the materialistic worldview, there cannot exist an immaterial standard of good that applies to
everyone. If there is no ontic referent (real reference point) for an objective moral standard that is
external to the actor, the actor is bound to nothing but his own personal feelings (which are themselves
just an epiphenomenon of the chemical reactions in their brain). Under such a view, the word
“morality” becomes meaningless.
4) Objective moral obligations must be grounded in something external to one's self; otherwise, they
are not moral obligations, but mere personal or societal preferences. (e.g. you like tomatoes, I do not…
England drives on the left side, America drives on the right side… etc.) What kind of source would be
sufficient to account for this transcendent moral law? It would seem that only a transcendent, personal
agent makes sense.
One of the big problems with the thinking of atheists like Sam Harris and others who try to show that
we learn what is moral via evolution or science or reason, is that they are making a category mistake.
The issue is not how one thinks we might learn what is moral (epistemology), but whether objective
morality exists and if so, what is its source (ontology). In the materialist worldview, objective morality
can't exist because objective moral obligations are in the realm of “ought”, not “is”.
I hope you found this informative, or at least thought provoking.
~RLK