Ever heard of people using the argument that a behavior is right on the basis of it being observed in the animal kingdom or nature in general? This kind of argument seems to appear from time to time in support of homosexuality. This example provides an illustration of a defeater for that kind of argument.
Here’s part of the story:
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News, San Francisco
It is an image that is sure to shock many people.
An adult polar bear is seen dragging the body of a cub that it has just killed across the Arctic sea ice.
Polar bears normally hunt seals but if these are not available, the big predators will seek out other sources of food – even their own kind.
The picture was taken by environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross in Olgastretet, a stretch of water in the Svalbard archipelago.
“This type of intraspecific predation has always occurred to some extent,” she told BBC News.
“However, there are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.”
The journalist was relating the story behind her pictures here at the 2011 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the largest annual gathering of Earth scientists.
A paper describing the kill event in July 2010 has just been published in the journal Arctic. It is co-authored with Dr Ian Stirling, a polar bear biologist from Environment Canada.
Ross had approached the adult in a boat. She could see through her telephoto lens that the animal had a meal, but it was only when she got up close that she realised it was a juvenile bear.
The kill method used by the adult was exactly the same as polar bears use on seals – sharp bites to the head.
You can read the rest of it HERE.
POINT: As Cornelius Van Til, John Frame and Greg Bahnsen expounded in their teaching about apologetics, a Christian theory of ethics must begin with the revelation of God. Ethics should be more than being building upon the foundation of a behavior observed in nature. Such an ethical theory (justifying a behavior on the basis of observation of it’s occurrence in nature) is problematic. In the same way, if one believes that cannibalism is wrong, this news story about the observation of cannibalism by polar bears would suggest otherwise assuming this method of ethical justification. Such a theory is problematic and must be rejected.
POSSIBLE PRACTICAL EMPLOYMENT OF THIS ILLUSTRATION
Non-Christian (NC): Well, you can’t say that _____ is wrong, because scientists have observed that behavior in nature. Thus, the act of _______ is natural and should not be prohibited or condemned as wrong.
Christian (C): Am I hearing you correctly that your argument is that _____ is ethically permitted because ______ is observed to have happened in nature?
C: By chance, you do believe that it’s wrong to kill and cannibalize someone don’t you?
NC: Yes of course I believe it is wrong.
C: What about the fact that this behavior is observed in nature? Here’s a recent BBC article that has a picture of a polar bear killing and cannibalizing another polar bear. I could cite more examples of cannibalism occuring in nature. But the point I want to make to you is this: Does this justify cannibalism as right? I want to challenge you to reconsider this type of argument justifying an act just because it’s observed to have happened in nature. Again, does this fact that cannibalism occur in nature justify it as right?