* to encourage a reasoned awareness of how our beliefs impact the way we interact with the world around us
* to foster intelligent and open dialogue
* to inspire a sense of spirituality that has real meaning in day-to-day life

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Creationism and Morality (and the fact that there is no link between the two)

Yesterday, I heard a reiteration of the creationism vs. evolution argument in which a Christian stated that the existence of morality proved the existence of God.  The assertion was that there has to be a creator because people know right from wrong, and since morality and ethics are not traits that could evolve naturally, our understanding of what is moral and ethical must come from a higher source.  There are a few problems with this argument, as you’ll see.  If anyone wants to believe in either creationism or evolution as a matter of personal faith, there is nothing that anyone can say to sway that belief.  When people propose “proofs” for their point of view, those proofs warrant scrutiny.

The most obvious flaw with this particular argument is the idea that morality and ethics are not “survival traits” for humanity.  There is some confusion between the idea of “survival of the fittest” and the concept of “might makes right.”  The theory of evolution doesn’t place value on what is best for one individual creature in the moment, it places value on what is best for the survival of a species over time.  While there are people who engage in immoral or unethical behavior, humanity cannot thrive on those principals.  Without developing some principles of how to treat one another, human beings could never have created anything in cooperation with one another.  The concept of every man for himself would not have gotten our species very far.  Survival of the species requires sacrifice on the part of the individual.

This concept bears itself out in nature as well.  There are animals who do things that are not so healthy for the individual creature, but are necessary for the survival of future generations.  The insect world is full of examples of seemingly instinctual behavior that is detrimental to a single creature and yet beneficial to a multitude.  If creatures instinctively did only what was best for a single animal, there wouldn’t be any animals left.  Nature does not reward selfishness.

Historically, human civilization has also demonstrated the necessity of moral and ethical behavior.  When oppressed by an immoral or unethical minority, the multitudes have consistently revolted and punished the oppressors.  It may seem that people in the present are getting away with horrific crimes, committing atrocities without consequence, but historically speaking, societies have only tolerated that kind of behavior for so long.  When people openly behave immorally or unethically, their society eventually punishes them.  So, even for the individual, it’s a bit of a gamble to operate outside the accepted bounds of morality and ethics.  

Not only is there nothing in the development of morality and ethics that requires the existence of a supreme being, the belief in a supreme being has historically been used to condone immorality.  It is rather convenient to be able to defer to a presumably perfect authority who just happens to agree with your world view.  Throughout history, doing what a particular god wants has often overridden the accepted rules of behavior.  We all know that killing people is immoral, except perhaps when we are killing in the name of something greater than ourselves.  Belief in God allows for “justified” exceptions to the accepted moral and ethical boundaries of a society.

If morality and ethics were dependent upon belief in God, one would think that there would be a clear dividing line between believers and non-believers.  Yet there are believers  who behave immorally and unethically, and there are non-believers who behave morally and ethically.  Not all the time, mind you, like some two-dimensional B-movie character, but often enough that one could not reliably distinguish a Creationist from an Evolutionist based merely on how their behavior stacked up against the moral and ethical standards of their society.  This shouldn’t be the case if belief in a creator was necessary for morality, although it makes perfect sense if our sense of morality and ethics (and our willingness to try to push those boundaries) was in a broader sense evolutionary.  We are all human beings, after all, even though our beliefs differ.

The bottom line is that belief in a creator has nothing to do with one’s capacity for moral and ethical behavior.  Religion is simply a great tool for enforcing moral and ethical behavior among people who are unwilling to accept personal responsibility for their own actions.  If God says to be moral and ethical, and if God will punish immoral and unethical people, then it makes sense for someone who believes in God to be moral and ethical.  Such behavior is often thoughtless, because no one has the authority to question what God wants.  It can also be selfish, because the threat of punishment often receives greater emphasis than the value of the behavior itself.

Morality and ethics make it more possible for humanity to thrive as a species.  People should respect one another because people are worthy of respect.  People lose a piece of their own humanity when they behave in a way that dehumanizes other people.  Moral and ethical behavior ultimately benefits everyone.  Claiming that a higher power has to be involved creates the illusion that the benefits of moral and ethical behavior aren’t enough in and of themselves.  When we are willing to discard the illusion, perhaps we will be better able to see the intrinsic value of relating to one another in a moral and ethical manner.  Until then, the concept of morality really has no impact on the creationism vs. evolution debate.


  1. Randy you really are an amazing writer.

  2. Thanks, man. Much love to you.

  3. Randy, have you read 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis? He explores this issue in some detail....

  4. Yes, Laura, I have! Although I'm familiar with Mr. Lewis' argument, I respectfully disagree with his conclusions. I don't find it necessary to attribute what we consider moral behavior to a higher intelligence. I look again to the animal kingdom and see plenty of examples of what looks like compassion, self-sacrifice, even love, and yet I don't really think that animals have the capacity to consider moral or ethical arguments. Among human beings, immoral and/or unethical behavior is often justified to the point that it seems "right" to kill or oppress a group of people, demonstrating that we don't always have a clear understanding of morality ourselves. C.S. Lewis' example of Hitler is a perfect example -- Germans (and others, including many American industrialists) at the time of Hitler's rise thought he was doing a good thing.

    The book is essentially the story of Lewis' conversion to theism, which he defends in part with an over-simplified case for Christianity (which has been oft-quoted or paraphrased since). He uses what he believes to be logic to suggest that if Jesus was claiming to be God, he either really was God, he was consciously lying, or he was delusional. He concludes that the Liar and Lunatic labels are not consistent with Jesus' character, and thus deduces that he must have been uniquely divine.

    The problem is that we don't really know what Jesus' character was. The only testimonies we have are unreliable, particularly since there is no real extra-biblical evidence for the remarkable events that are recorded in the Gospels. I'm not suggesting that a group of people set out to defraud the populous with a scam religion, but I do think that there are other possibilities than the three narrow views Mr. Lewis considers. He takes a common debate tactic of creating the illusion that there are only a small number of options to consider, so that when the obvious fallacies are eliminated, the conclusion he wants to prove is all that remains.

    I do believe that there is a connection between Christianity and the human concept of morality. I just don't agree that the existence of morality is in any way evidence of a god. Likewise, I believe that the ethical virtues Lewis claims to be the result of Christian belief are possible without any religious trappings. I think that Christians themselves prove that ethical and virtuous behavior do not necessarily result from faith. (This is where Lewis would perhaps accuse me of pride, that greatest of sins.) I'm sure he wrote authentically of things as he saw them from his perspective of faith, I just think that there are other legitimate perspectives.

  5. I was thinking more specifically about the first two chapters of 'Mere Christianity,' where Lewis uses morality as evidence of God.

    He illustrates just what you did -- that humans have instincts to preserve themselves AND to protect/further the interests of the herd. He suggests that morality lies in the decision between the two, when those two instincts conflict. He uses the example of seeing a fellow man drowning. One instinct tells us not to jump into the dangerous water, because it's dangerous... another instinct demands that we help. When we decide between two competing instincts, that, Lewis says, is morality -- and the self-awareness to make just such a decision is part of what separates us from the animal kingdom.

    Animals and insects, as you pointed out, are also presented with conflicting instincts. In those cases, the stronger instinct simply wins. With humans, morality sometimes demands that the weaker instinct is "right". Whether individually or in concert, animals and insects strive to survive, reproduce, enhance pleasure, diminish pain. Humans strive for more. Why?

    There are also examples where a particular instinct is morally correct in some circumstances and incorrect in others. Sexual desire is "incorrect" when imposed on someone against their will; it's "correct" when expressed within a consensual relationship and will propagate the species. The instinct to fight is "incorrect" when used to overpower someone just to take their "stuff"; it's "correct" when used in self-defense. Morality is the law that governs which is which.

    I also found your statement interesting that "people should respect one another because people are worthy of respect." What makes people inherently respectable? What about our humanity makes us all worthy of anything?

    Respecting each other is part of the "more" I mentioned above -- it is beyond survival, and therefore transcends evolution. Why do we strive to respect each other?

    (P.S. I think you know this, but I believe in both evolution and intelligent design. From my perspective, they are not mutually exclusive.)

  6. I also think science and religion could get along a little better than they do when extremists start debating. I probably wouldn't have even felt inspired to write this particular entry were it not for loud and insistent people with viewpoints that are much narrower than yours!

    The rest of my response will apparently have to take up two comments...

    I agree with the premise that self-awareness sets humanity apart. I just don't see that self-awareness (or the choices that emerge from it) as evidence of an intelligent creator.

    I don't claim to have a hard-and-fast answer to the question of why humans strive for more. (The question itself may be worth more than having a solid answer.) I can say that morality makes sense. I don't need to believe in God to understand that society could not persist if people started expressing their sexual desire or violent urges without restraint. Society is better than chaos. Society keeps us from living like animals. Society provides the structure that allows individuals to thrive.

    The prospect of those social boundaries falling apart is so terrifying that some cultures insist on women being completely covered in public. They don't trust men to keep their urges in check. In turn, these kinds of artificial safeguards keep men of that culture from having to develop self-control. Their sense of what is "moral" or "right" has developed very differently from someone who grows up in a culture where it's accepted that women can show as much skin as they want AND it's wrong to rape or abuse women.

    Similarly, everyone doesn't agree on when violence is right or just. Sure, breaking into someone's house, beating them up, and stealing their TV is wrong. But what about sending military forces overseas to kill as necessary to make sure we have access to the natural resources we want? Violence is always the result of unchecked fear, but fear can be very compelling. Fear is what keeps us from seeing the value and worthiness of other people. And ourselves. If morality stemmed from an absolute authority, wouldn't there be a more consistent understanding of right and wrong, rather than a vast spectrum of fear-based opinions?

  7. As far as the question of human value, I suppose I don't have a reason for people to possess value. They just do. It's part of the definition of being human. Asking why people have value is like asking why the angles of a triangle should all add up to 180 degrees. People are by definition worthy of respect. Any time that I start believing differently is because of some degree of fear, and that fear is almost always irrational. If I had to put a label on it, perhaps it’s that self-awareness we’ve mentioned.

    The answer is not God. Unfortunately, people have twisted the concept of a higher power so often for their own personal agendas that it has become cliché. God is used as an excuse to oppress and kill at least as often as a reason to show compassion. Whether we like it or not, the world has moved beyond the point where respect for a higher power has any real value because people have too often abused the idea.

    There is no longer any basis for trusting someone who claims to know what God wants. You can’t make such a claim without drawing reactions from people who disagree with equal conviction. It may not be the case that people have stated what God wants with malicious intent, but there have been enough people who have invoked God illegitimately to warrant suspicion. It may be that people simply couldn't come up with any other way to justify their opinions, or it may be that people honestly believed that God wanted what they wanted. At the end of the day, the concept of God simply does not suffice as a universally meaningful answer.

    Thus, when I look for something that could have universal value, I return to that which we all hold in common. We all have the quality of being human. It is undeniable. So that is my starting point. I'm at peace with the belief that human beings have intrinsic value just by virtue of being human. I know that there are Christians who adopt a very similar view, that people have intrinsic value because God loves them (or something close to that). I just don't see the need for the external validation. The question can always be raised: But what if God doesn't actually love me? Or that group of people? No such question can be raised about whether or not a human being is a human being.

  8. This is all so interesting! And the best part is, I agree with you on so many of your points.

    We agree that human beings possess value, and we agree that we should respect each other. Your analogy of every triangle having 180 degrees is gorgeous, because that's exactly my perspective. When I studied biology and chemistry and math and physics in school, I was delighted at how orderly the universe is.

    The periodic table of the elements, for example, is mind-blowing in its orderliness... humans organized each of the substances they encountered in a two-dimensional grid based on measurable properties, and they lay out like.... like.... magic. And we keep trying to break it, to find new elements, ones that don't fit in the matrix, and the few we've discovered since then slide right in. I find that amazing.

    So when we examine human nature and see a certain orderliness to it... that cold murder in every culture is reprehensible, that leaving someone more vulnerable than you to die is always frowned upon, everywhere.... the order we find there is not much of a leap for me to accept. The physical universe is based on the laws of physics, so why can't the moral universe be based on the laws of morals?

    I see that cosmic order (in both the physical and the moral universe) as a higher power. Not evidence of a higher power, it IS the higher power -- or at least a facet of it.

    From reading your comments about how royally humans have screwed up the value of respecting a higher power (which I also agree with) has me thinking that we may agree on an even larger point: namely, that there is, in fact, a higher power.

    Let's not call this power God, much less the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Do you believe that there is something bigger than us, a force that has imposed all this order where we would expect to find chaos?

    (I say that we would expect to find chaos, because I believe the Big Bang is the best theory we've got going -- and if something is going to create chaos, I would expect the Big Bang to do it. Plus, what created the ultra dense matter that "bang"-ed? And what created that? And that? It's like a long line of train cars that never ends... except that it must end.... or rather, begin. And as far as I'm concerned, wherever it begins is God.)

  9. We do agree on a lot of things. One could argue that the "laws of morals" are somewhat more subjective than natural laws, but it's true that there are some basic tenets of morality that are consistent across cultures. I'm thinking, though, of the whole issue of vengeance and how that has defined international relations for thousands of years. It almost seems universal that if you hurt me or someone close to me, then I am entitled (if not obligated) to hurt you back -- and to add an extra measure of injury if I can.

    I would suggest that some universal ideas of right and wrong are more healthy for society than others. Some people would say that the desire for vengeance is so inherent and universal that it must be part of the cosmic order you describe. From a certain perspective, it would be hard to argue with that logic. It is for this reason that I appeal to something beyond what just comes naturally for people. I believe in something that requires more of us than a cosmic plan that is somehow pre-determined and handed to us. We have the capacity to reason and to sublimate the reactions we have to our circumstances. We have the advantage of creativity.

    I agree that there is an order to the universe. I don't agree that order proves intelligence. I can appreciate the wonder of the world in which we live without drawing the conclusion that someone must have created it. Why must there be a force that imposes order? More to the point, how can there be an end to the line of train cars if there is an intelligent creator?

    Consider this: When we observe natural laws, we see order because the natural world does what we have come to expect it to do. These are descriptive laws, not prescriptive laws. We've been able to observe enough about how the world works to describe it and make reliable predictions. It doesn't mean that nature is being obedient to a higher power. If natural laws require a "lawgiver" simply because there is an observable order to them, then the mind of that lawgiver would likewise need to be orderly and not chaotic. And if the existence of order requires a higher power, then the "lawgiver" who designed the natural world would also require a higher power to have created it/him/her. Otherwise, the argument is dishonest from the beginning. Essentially, it would be like saying that everything except what you're trying to prove needs a designer.

    So, I don't believe in a force that imposes order. I believe that our minds are keen enough to make observations and predictions. I don't know that there needs to be an end to the line of train cars. Even if there was an ultimate beginning, I'm not convinced that a beginning requires an intelligence to have begun it.

    As you know, I believe that what we typically call the divine is something within each of us. Not a higher power, but an inner self -- the seat of truth that goes beyond our superficial wants, a keen appreciation for the world around us, and the capacity to create. If I were to consider anything to be a higher power outside the individual, it would be the inescapable impact of human connection. We are more than ourselves, we are part of a greater existence. Our actions have an impact on other people -- people we may not even know. There is a system at work, and we participate in that system one way or another. When we are at our best, we act from a deeper awareness of that system and our connection with other people. This is where morality comes into play. Not because people are following a prescribed or encoded set of laws, but because an individual is aware on some level, in a specific moment, of the deep connection we share with one another and makes a choice to honor that connection.

  10. Wow. So often while reading your reply, I found myself nodding and saying, “Yes!” And yet we disagree, fundamentally. This is really great.

    You’re making a huge and very important point: natural laws, like gravity, must be obeyed. But humans are free to disobey moral laws, or The Law of Human Nature, as Lewis calls it. Like self-awareness, self-actualization, the pursuit of truth, the appreciation of art, and a long list of other things that aren’t explained by evolution, this Law of Human Nature is unique to the human race. We can disobey it, if we choose, just like we can choose to not achieve our full potential, or to not find our purpose, or to live a lie, or to never fully regard art as a full and necessary aspect of our humanity.

    You have provided examples of moralities that fall short of this Law of Human Nature: Nazis and the industrialists that sympathized with them, cultures that place the burden on women for preventing their own rape, societies that endorse vengeance. And naturally, I agree that these fall short of the standards that we share. Of course, some moralities are better than others. But just by comparing one morality to another and saying that one is more “right,” more “true,” more “just” – that means that there is a yardstick by which to judge them. Otherwise we dissolve into chaos, a world dictated by moral relativism. If we are only governed by our “inner selves,” then we must stand by and not only watch people wage wars of vengeance on each other, but we must respect it. We must say to ourselves, “they have an inner self, just like I do… and if their inner self governs their actions, then I have no grounds upon which to intervene, because my inner self does not have any authority or supremacy over theirs.” But I think we agree that if any of the injustices you mentioned were being done to our fellow man, we *must* intervene. It would be our moral duty. That was the whole point of you calling out the fact that those actions fall short of “the mark.”

    The fact that there is a “mark” at all proves that there is something above and beyond our inner selves.

    Regarding your comments about the lawgiver needing a higher power as its creator, who would then also require a higher power, ad infinitum – you are exactly right. In order for the line of train cars to end – and it must, based on the observable laws of physics that we understand – then there must be an ultimate creator: one that is omniscient, one that is omnipotent, one that exists outside of time.

    This is true for the Big Bang, or any other theory about the beginning of the universe. What created the Big Bang? And what created that?

    What is at the edge of outer space? Some sort of wall or boundary? If so, what’s on the other side? And what’s on the edge of that?

    The fact that we’re even capable of having such a discussion transcends evolution. It is not required for survival, and there’s not even an evolutionary benefit. Navel gazing never brought home any bacon.

    To quote John Keating from Dead Poets’ Society: “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

    I couldn’t agree more, and I’m so thankful that this is so. But there’s just not a reason for it to be found within Nature.

  11. I suppose there is a bit of navel gazing going on, but I'm not convinced that our ability to reason implies the existence of a supreme being. I'm also not entirely convinced that this capability to reason and discourse has no survival benefit for the species. Still, even if poetry and beauty and romance have no evolutionary value, their existence does not prove a higher power.

    My point about your train car illustration is that there is no reason why the train cars have to end. To suggest that there needs to be something that created everything else without itself being created by something is a contradiction. "Everything must have a cause" and "God did not have a cause" are mutually exclusive statements. If you can believe that God is eternal, why is it so far-fetched to believe that the universe is eternal? At least we know that the universe exists.

    Your argument implies that God is a cause, but not an effect. I can't think of an observable situation in which one could demonstrate a "cause without a cause". It seems like the argument is based on what it's trying to prove -- namely, that God is eternal and exists "outside of time" as you put it. But if God exists outside of time, he can't really cause anything. How can something exist outside of the natural flow of time and still interact with temporal things? There's some prime navel gazing for you!

    But our original conversation was about morality and ethics. In observing that we have a sense of right and wrong, you see evidence of a creator. I would say that human ethics are a result of how human beings value one another. We could generally say that life-affirming things are good and life-opposing things are evil, but the very fact that so many different ideas exist about how human beings should treat one another contradicts the idea of a universal Moral Law.

    Ethics points to a struggle between what we selfishly want for ourselves and what we know is best for the greater good. While there is a certain amount of disagreement about what is best for the greater good, I would say that a large portion of that disagreement is the result of fear clouding our discernment. Deal with the irrational fear and people might just agree a little more about right and wrong.

    I can understand the obvious instinct of vengeance, and I can see how detrimental that instinct is to a society. I don't have to condone it or accept it, but I also am limited in how much I can intervene. Assuming moral responsibility for other people's behavior is misguided because I can't control what other people think or do. I can still say with some conviction what decisions are life-affirming, but I’ll still wind up disagreeing with some people. The best that I can do is to live my own life in a way that fits with my sense of what is moral and ethical, and to encourage others to do the same. There will sometimes be conflict between what I want and what I think will best serve the greater good, but at the end of the day, it's possible that doing something I think is reprehensible would actually be the best thing for society.

    So, there is a yardstick, but we are not all going to agree on it. The God concept becomes a way for people to avoid debate and insist on their perspective instead of having a rational discussion and considering the merits of a different point of view. That creates conflict (sometimes violent conflict)and it ultimately invites the dehumanization of those who disagree. What you and I are doing (however deeply into our navels we may be gazing) actually affirms life, engages our minds in considering our beliefs, encourages us to live in a way that reflects what we value. It seems to me that there should be more evolutionary value to that ability over the ability to beat the Other into submission, but that may just be wishful thinking.

  12. I love your observation that what you and I are doing affirms life and engages our minds. I really enjoy having my beliefs challenged, because either they will be strengthened or corrected (and therefore improved)... either way, I win.

    I would like to point out a common misconception that is prevalent among my more science-oriented friends, which is that God, a supernatural being, can be explained or understood through scientific study. The scientific method is designed to observe and explain the natural universe, not the supernatural. Without that qualification, there is a bit of a contradiction in my statement about the line of train cars... but the *physical* line of cars *must* have a beginning and an end; whereas their supernatural creator is not bound by such natural, physical laws. And since the cars *must* begin, their creator must be supernatural. It's the only way (I've found) to explain it... but I keep looking, seeking the truth.

    You're also correct that the existence of a common moral standard -- along with love, hope, faith, and all that we listed -- does not prove the existence of a higher power. But neither can those things be explained by evolution alone -- there is something more "out there." While it is not a proof, it is certainly supporting evidence.

    Outside of those two clarifications, which should have been included in my previous statements, I only have one additional point. You mentioned being limited in how much you can intervene in other people's immoral behavior, that you can't control what other people think or do. I noticed that you used the word "can," but I'm more worried about the moral implications, which involve "should." If someone is committing a wrongful act, we *should* intervene to the fullest extent that we *can*. If I see an adult pointing a gun at a child, you can bet your last dollar that I will intervene, and with great gusto. It's an extreme example, but it illustrates the point. That kind of societal pressure is what makes us, well, a society. And we agree that society is valuable.

    I will end here. I very much respect your perspective, and I sense that you respect mine -- and that itself is cause to celebrate. Cheers!

  13. Yes, you're absolutely right that there is something life-affirming in (almost) everyone that spurs us to action when we are able to act. Sometimes people don't agree on what constitutes a "wrongful act", but there are a few pieces of common ground throughout human culture.

    I did go into a bit of atheist apologetics there, but I'm sure you know I didn't intend that as a personal attack in any way. We do agree on lots of things, but being one of those science-oriented people, I'll just be blunt. I don't see the need to invent a supernatural realm in order to explain the perceivable world. I think it creates more conflict and strife in the world than it resolves. I don't claim to understand everything that exists in the natural world, but I don't think it's necessary to understand everything. A bit of mystery makes life interesting.

  14. I loved that! I didn' want to jump in the middle of your conversation, but I like hearing the diffrent perspectives expressed in a way that doesn't seem like your yelling at each other!

    And also, I wanted to say that with morality and ethics like you are talking about, it makes sense to think of it like a struggle between what I want and what I know I should do. It seems safer not to get involved when anyone is holding a gun, no matter who they're pointing it at, but there's also a part of me that pushes me to jump in if I can do something, like when you said a person pointing a gun at a child. I don't want to get shot, but then I should do something. That choice is what defines our morality, right? ANd when we do what helps other people, like you said life-affirming, that's a good moral choice, and when we do what hurts other poelpe, then it's evil.

    But what about when I do what I want and no one else is involved. Like if I watch TV instead of exercising. Can that be a moral or ethical choice? Or is it only when the decision involves other people? You don't have to have an answer, I'm just thinking about this now after reading what you guys were saying. I hope you keep it up!

  15. I had no sense of being personally attacked at all.

    I agree that a bit of mystery makes life interesting. Just as life is mysterious, so is God. We are so close in our respective understandings that the differences are almost a technicality -- but a giant-flashing-red-light-with-alarms-sounding technicality, to be sure. ;)

    C.S. Lewis actually points to this in 'Mere Christianity' -- he said something like the closer you get to the true beliefs of an espoused faith, the more similar the various faiths become. (He admittedly was not including atheism in his statement -- or maybe he was!) It's a good test for knowing that we are closer to the truth.

    It's the extremists, out on the fringes of each espoused faith, that seem to cause the majority of the problems....

  16. Very true. And I don't think I'm a representative of the whole of atheism, either. Every belief system is a spectrum, but the extremists do seem to have the most difficulty recognizing that.

  17. Andre, I just noticed your comment!

    I do think there is a moral component to your example of watching TV instead of exercising. We must use good judgement, but when the general lack of exercise (whatever the alternative is) reaches a point that it causes our bodies real harm, then we are disrespecting our bodies, which is an immoral choice.

    Of course, you have free will, and the lack of any "victim" external to yourself changes the equation quite a bit. But there are a whole host of examples of self-harm that would be considered immoral to varying degrees....