By the same token, adopting nihilism as it applies to morality is not going to have any impact on anyone’s conduct. Including ours. (“The Atheist’s Guide to Reality”, p. 96)
He claims because all people have the same moral “programming” due to evolutionary pressures, it, therefore, doesn’t matter what one actually believes.
I expect that even the most passionate of evolutionary psychologists is bound to hesitate here. Surely, not every single thought in our heads is simply dictated to us by our physiology, completely apart from our professed beliefs?
But the materialist might have a hard time arguing against Rosenberg. As he discusses in his book, a consistent materialist should reject the idea that thoughts or beliefs exist at all. And it is certainly hard to argue that non-existent things affect behavior.
I’ve discussed some of the problems with this already. But part of what is going on here, I think, is that Rosenberg and others seem to dismiss the power of cultural pressures. This might seem an odd thing to say about a group that makes frequent use of the word “indoctrination”, but many of them don’t seem to be aware that the same force works equally well in secular circles.
What does this have to do with morality? Social pressure does a lot to influence people, even moral nihilists. This being the case, it simply does not follow that, because there is a small minority of well behaved nihilists in a culture, that a culture filled with them would not decline in their moral standing.
Because Rosenberg is so focused on the physical, he fails to note, let alone answer, this argument. Yet it is the primary concern about the growth of moral nihilism in modern culture.
Of course, none of this is to say that nihilism is untrue. It may well be that morality is a fiction (though I’ll be arguing otherwise in the future). Even then, a nihilism that finds so much time for moral indignation at religious believers seems something of a contradiction.
And that may be Rosenberg’s biggest issue. He can’t seem to give anyone either an intellectual or a moral reason to accept the scientism he so fervently pushes.
In fact, the view leads him to reject the existence of both thought and morality.