Sexual Assault and Moral Absolutes

A lot has happened since Harvey Weinstein’s activities have become more universally understood. I had a number of articles in mind, which I so far have not written, often because of changes in the story. Some of them are on politics, and this issue among others revealing the political process as forming political religions (something I will likely write about later, progressive atheism seems to have a political eschatology and the idea that government or communities can solve our real problems appears to the modern idolatry of our time; sadly an idolatry to which church members are not immune). Some openly advocate making this a political issue, with twitter messages arguing that the conviction of innocent men is acceptable if it hurts patriarchy.[1] Similarly, there are serious ethical questions that need to be asked about society in general; these include questions about the new mood itself, we see for example, little differentiation between types of activity (what would qualify as a misdemeanor in most states is not distinguished from felonious behavior). Similarly, victim groups are treated not all alike. Men accusing George Takei[2] or long running accusations of pedophilia in Hollywood by actors like Corey Feldmann have not had the same reception as those raised by female actors, and were not really part of the #metoo movement. This is actually a long running issue, issues involving sexual assault against men is often not given the same treatment in the press as sexual assault against women, and yet this is also a substantial problem in our growing brave new world. There are epistemological questions (such as the question of evidence) particularly when it comes to college campuses where men are filing (and winning) lawsuits against their former schools for claims of harassment against unproven allegations that they committed sexual assault. Not only are there questions about the burden of proof, however, we are also faced with a sea of uncertainties as to the boundaries of this brave new world of sexual indulgence; for example, at what point in our “enlightened,” “liberated” society, is an advance by a man merely unwanted, and when is it harassment? There is also the question of guilt and expiation, these are the unforgiveable crimes to many millennials and feminists; there are, in some quarters, the quest for the pound of flesh that is reminiscent of the quests that led to the great terrors in revolutionary France or the concentration camps of Siberia in past societies.

Yet these themes aren’t new, similar discussions happened after allegations by Juanita Broadrick,  Kathleen Wiley or the Duke rape case, and some of these questions transcend the question of sexual assault, itself. Yet, they also show something of the intellectual bankruptcy of the post-modern age that we live in, and how the world is required to constantly borrow from a Christian worldview in defiance of their own professed view of man as a product of chance and natural selection.

According to the prevailing opinion, man developed from primates, who in turned developed from “lower” animals through the action of millions of years of random mutations, and those mutations being filtered through the process of natural selection. This process is not a kind one, nature is brutal in ways that civilized man has largely forgotten; the weak die, sometimes in the teeth and claws of other predators, other times from an inability to procure food, or by the inability to compete with stronger members of the same species. Only those who through a combination of luck and “fitness” are able to pass their genes on to the next generation. For man, the key to survival was the development of his brain as a superior processing machine (no discussion of the software, or “soul” of that machine is needed, or wanted). This process, the atheist will argue explains not only the development of biological species but of social and ethical conventions as well; societies similarly evolve to ensure the survival of the group which in turn ensures the survival of the groups genes. This, in a sense, is similar to the classical utilitarian ethic (which seeks, as Bentley and Mills noted, the greatest happiness for the greatest number of individuals). Ethics are the creation of society, they do not come from an external source such as God.

The problem with this approach is that so often, they establish on the one hand that ethics evolved with mankind, and yet all too often they reject any hint that modern societies should adopt social Darwinism. In biology class we are safe to sagely say the dinosaurs were not fit to inhabit a world of changing climate conditions after a meteor strike, but in ethics, we must save the polar bears who are not fit inhabit a world of changing climate conditions caused by human use of fossil fuels. Man, to the biologist is an animal, without any special dignity, but not to the sociologist.  This case in point is proven in recent reactions to sexual assault and harassment.

Sexual activity in the Darwinist world is about procreation; the fact that the process is pleasurable is merely an incentive to engage in activity that perpetuates the species. Thus, in ancient times, a man might compete with other men for mates from the biological drive to ensure that their genes would enter the next generation and this process ensured that weaker males did not weaken the species as a whole—or at least, if moderns were consistently Darwinian that is what they would argue. Yet, this is not what is discussed, the polygamy and sexual assault of the past is never put forward as a “species survival strategy,” it becomes the origins of the feminist bogeyman of “patriarchy;” the idea of morality as a survival strategy is chauvinistic, archaic and not acceptable (despite beginning in a time when, according to Darwinians, passing on the genes of weaker males might not be a good idea, and women would be benefited by being taken from weaker males who could offer fewer resources and less protection).

Nor are appeals to societal mores admissible in this case. In the atheist theory of the development of ethics, society becomes the final arbiter of right and wrong, (thus engraining not the principles of a constitutional republic, but the mob rule of the less stable forms of democracy). There is no division in this view between natural rights and civil rights; both the right to the freedom of speech and the right to a trial by jury are equally within a societies prerogative to extend or remove. Thus, we are told, we cannot to judge non-democratic societies, such as many in the Middle East, that do not recognize basic human rights. It does not matter that Middle Eastern countries support, or turn a blind eye, to female genital mutilation, that is just their way, and our criticisms are just an example of Islamaphobia. Similarly, we are not to judge the past, as we indulge in the fantasy of the myth of progress. Yet, this is not the spirit we see in the modern mood. You see, as these allegations are brought forward, past societies are criticized for being on the wrong side of this issue; society is the final arbiter of morality, except apparently when it isn’t.

In short, the modern tells us that modern evolution has created a subjective approach to morality; ethical absolutes do not exist. And yet, as the recent press has shown us, we cannot live consistently with a belief that moral absolutes do not exist. The biologist might content himself by noting that this is just some type of illusion, created by our societies, connected to our herd instincts, arguing such instincts are simply stronger than our ability to overcome them. Yet, if this is the case, it raises serious questions about man’s ability to make ethical judgments, and the modern rejection of social Darwinism is untrustworthy. Or, perhaps there is a God who made us, who gave us an ability to make moral judgments (albeit a capability damaged in the fall), and we treat things as moral absolutes because, in point of fact, moral absolutes do exist.


[1] Re-accessed 22-january

[2] re-accessed 22-Jan