I’m reading through the latest issue of Skeptic when I run across the article Virtuous Reality by Douglas J. Navarick—no link. In it I read these lines in my physical copy, “But in purely materialistic scientific terms, could there be any difference in moral content between the actions of the terrorists and the tectonic movement of plates—his emphasis? They are both processes of nature and presumed to be to be governed by laws in their respective geological and psychological domains. The brain is a physical system no less than a planet.”
I have to ask, Mr. Navarick, do you think about the things you do think about?
There is a vital difference between tectonic plates and human beings, plates can’t think. We can. We can have motives and intentions. We can come up with reasons, we can rationalize. A thing or any animal without a functioning brain can’t have intentions. Any animal with a functioning brain can. And when that animal has brains enough to understand how their actions can help or harm another then the action in question becomes a matter of morality. In as much as Navarick’s example terrorists are human beings with functioning brains and who are capable of understanding that what they propose to do will harm other human beings to the terrorists’ benefit—my emphasis, then it is a moral act and an act of evil.
The thing we need to remember is that an act requires intention. Tectonic plates can’t act, we can. The fall of an avalanche or the breaking of a wave just happens, there can be no thought behind them. Sorry Mr. Navarick, but I can’t accept the rest of your argument because your basic foundation is so flawed it renders the rest of your article senseless and useless.Humans are capable of doing things for a reason, and until you accept that fact you have nothing of value to add to this discussion on the nature of evil.