Implications of Evolution in Morality/Culture
by Rich Deem

Introduction

Created or Evolved?

Two men were seated next to each other as on an airliner along with each of their sons. During the flight, they became acquainted and were discussing their respective occupations. One man was an evolutionary biologist at a major university. The other was the pastor of a Baptist church. Eventually, they began to talk on the subject of origins, about which they shared few, if any, areas of agreement. Toward the end of the flight, the biologist's son began acting up and embarrassing his father. The biologist complained to the pastor about his own son's behavior and asked why his own son was behaving so poorly, whereas the pastor's son was a model of adult behavior. The pastor replied, "My son is descended from Adam, the perfect creation of God, whereas your son is descended from a monkey!"

Rich Deem

The humorous illustration to the right is something that supporters of evolution do not like to admit - that evolutionary theory has moral implications. Recent evolutionary proposals even state that rape is an evolutionary adaptation! Most supporters of evolution insist that evolution has no influence on morality, culture, or societal standards. Here are the principles upon which evolution has moral implications:

Implications of Evolutionary Principles on Morality
Evolutionary Principle Evolutionary Implication Biblical Principle
  1. Evolution is the result of random events (genetic Permanent structural alterations in DNA, consisting of either substitutions, insertions or deletions of nucleotide bases.mutations, deletions, duplications, etc) that are acted upon through the process of natural selection.
The origin of humans is a random, unplanned event of nature that serves no purpose other than to fill a niche in the ecological scheme. Therefore, the human species is not any more valuable ecologically than any other species on the earth. More... God created man in His image - the only animal created with a spirit, by which he can communicate with and love God. Human life is much more valuable than the life of any other species.
  1. The ultimate goal of every species in evolutionary theory is to reproduce successfully through continued evolution and adaptation to their environment.
Men and women fulfill their evolutionary goal best by producing as many copies of their genes as possible that survive to reproduce. Ultimately, the only thing that really matters is passing on ones genes. These ideas gave rise to the modern eugenics movement. More... The ultimate purpose for human life is to make a choice to love or reject God to determine where we will spend eternity. Jesus said that the entire law of God rests upon two commands - love God and love your fellow human. All other temporal issues are ultimately irrelevant.
  1. Humans are a collection of chemicals fashioned and controlled by genes. Morality is an illusion. Ultimately, the only important behavioral law is survival of the fittest.
There are no hard and fast moral laws. Any behavior that fosters the survival and reproduction of the individual with the best genetic makeup is evolutionarily selected. This even includes immoral acts such as rape! More... God is righteous and unchangeable. His moral laws, like His physical laws for the universe, do not change. The entirety of God's moral laws can be summed up in two commandments: love God and love your fellow humans.

1. Origin of humans

By definition, evolution results in the random appearance and disappearance of species. The "rules" of evolution are so susceptible to chaos theory that it is not possible to predict what species will appear or become extinct. This hypothesis was recently confirmed experimentally.1 Researchers inoculated 12 genetically identical populations of the bacterium Escherichia coli into 50-milliliter flasks filled with broth and allowed them to evolve over the period of 24,000 generations (for humans, the equivalent of at least 500,000 years). They found that even though the populations were exposed to identical conditions, there were differences, especially when selective pressures were applied (e.g., a bacteriophage "predator").

A conclusion of these studies is that humans are not the inevitable result of evolution. If dinosaurs had not been exterminated by a large asteroid collision 65 million years ago, evolution might have predicted that an intelligent bipedal reptile would have filled the niche that is now taken by humans. Humans are not any more valuable to the earth's ecosystem than any other species. In fact, humans have made detrimental changes that could spell doom for thousands of other species. One evolutionist, Dr. Timothy H. Goldsmith, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, says that we humans are a "weed species"2 because our actions have been detrimental to so many other species on earth. The casualty rate for mammalian species has been very high over the period in which they have been the dominant species. Very few species survive more than a few million years. It is unlikely that the human species would be an exception to that rule. The implication of evolution is that humans have no more value than any other species that has evolved through chance. A further implication is that human life is worth no more than any other mammalian species. In fact, in recent polls, a sizeable percentage of people say that given the choice to save a drowning puppy or child, they would save the puppy, especially since they couldn't be sued by the puppy if they were to do something wrong in the rescue attempt.

If you feel that human life is worth more than the life of other mammals, then you didn't get this moral perspective from evolution. The Bible says that God wants every person to be saved and join Him in heaven.3 It says that God created the universe and planet Earth specifically as a home for mankind and gave Him dominion over the Earth.4

2. Purpose of human life

Evolutionary theory states that the goal of evolution is preservation of the species, which is accomplished through the perfection of the genome by the processes of A permanent structural alteration in DNA, consisting of either a substitution, insertion or deletion of nucleotide bases.mutation and natural selection. In the past, natural selection guaranteed that only fit humans survived to reproduce. With the appearance of society, agriculture, and medicine, survival is no longer a function only of individual fitness. The idea that humans are only the sum of their Deoxyribonucleic acid: the chemical inside the nucleus of a cell that carries the genetic instructions for making living organisms.DNA leads to the idea that people of inferior genetics should be eliminated. The term for this philosophy is eugenics. For example, according to Darwin's disciple, Francis Galton:

"I do not see why any insolence of caste should prevent the gifted class, when they had the power, from treating their compatriots with all kindness, so long as they maintained celibacy. But if these continued to procreate children inferior in moral, intellectual and physical qualities, it is easy to believe the time may come when such persons would be considered as enemies to the State, and to have forfeited all claims to kindness."5

According to Margaret Sanger, a member of both the American Eugenics Society and the English Eugenics Society:

"Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly ... Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to maintenance of those who should never have been born."6

Clarence Darrow, the famous defense lawyer at the Scopes monkey trial, and a confirmed atheist commented about the purpose of human life. According to Darrow:

"The purpose of man is like the purpose of a pollywog - to wiggle along as far as he can without dying; or to hang to life until death takes him."

Abraham Maslow "Hierarchy of Needs":

  1. Physiological - hunger, thirst, shelter, sex
  2. Safety - protection from physical and emotional harm
  3. Social - affection, belonging, acceptance, friendship
  4. Esteem - self-respect, autonomy, status, achievement, recognition, attention
  5. Self actualization - following your inner desires

Abraham Maslow:

"As far as I know, we just don't have any intrinsic instincts for evil."

"If you think in terms of basic human needs; instincts at least at the outset are all 'good' ...careful study of them will provide the values we need by which better societies can evolve."

"Since this inner nature is good or neutral rather than bad, it is best to encourage it rather than suppress it. If it is permitted to guide our life we grow healthy, fruitful and happy."

Carl Rogers:

"I do not find that... evil is inherent in the human nature"

The Bible says that all people have worth - even the crippled and "genetically inferior." The Bible says that God wants every person to be saved and join Him in heaven.3 This worth of each human life comes from God's love. According to the Bible, God created humans and endows each one with a spirit, which is a unique feature of humans (and not present in any other animal). It is this spirit that allows us to love both our fellow humans and God.7

3. Morality - illusory or real?

These darwinistic behaviors have been called "memes." Here is what Darwinists say about these memes:

"Like genes, memes that evolve are "selfish," existing only to replicate themselves. In this view, not only are we lumbering robots controlled by our genes, but we are also controlled by our memes, which do not always agree with our genes."8

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human NatureThere are a few honest individuals who admit that evolutionary theory does influence attitudes and morals. In fact, social Darwinism claims that all the behaviors we do we do because they provide some selective advantage to the individual or the species. For example, evolutionists can explain reciprocal altruism ("I scratch your back, you scratch mine"), but have had difficulty explaining altruistic acts done by humans that are not likely to be returned by the recipient. However, in a recent issue of Nature, Nowak and Sigmund attempted to explain why such behavior can pay off in the long run and so be evolutionarily stable.9 According to their main idea, whether an individual helps others determines his or her social status in the group. Indirect reciprocity can evolve if the others take this information into account in future social interactions. Therefore, evolutionists are attempting to explain all behavior (even that done at sacrifice to the individual) in terms of evolutionary theory.

In a  recent book, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion,10 authors Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer claim that rape is "a natural, biological phenomenon that is a product of the human evolutionary heritage," just like "the leopard's spots and the giraffe's elongated neck." In other words, rape is a biological "adaptation" that allows undesirable males the opportunity to pass on their genes. According to Randy Thornhill, "Every feature of every living thing, including human beings, has an underlying evolutionary background. That's not a debatable matter." According to the anthropology department at the University of California Santa Barbara, "That rape might be an adaptation is a reasonable hypothesis to pursue, and the proper framework is intersexual conflict."11 If rape is just an evolutionary adaptation, then how can it be immoral?

The Bible says that morality is a result of choices that people make, and not the result of some conditioned evolutionary response. Is there any experimental evidence supporting this viewpoint? In a newly released book, Three Seductive Ideas, Harvard University psychologist, Jerome Kagan, makes the claim (and backs it up with experimental evidence) that humans are radically different from every other species of life on earth. Dr. Kagan refutes the ideas of evolutionary psychologists, including "infant determinism" (the idea that all human behavior is set by age 2) hedonism (the idea that all human behavior is motivated by a desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain), and "abstractionism" (the idea that all human behavior is controlled by a limited set of laws or rules). He points out that men who committed terrible atrocities had loving parents during their childhood years and that "evolutionary arguments are used to cleanse greed, promiscuity, and abuse of stepchildren of moral taint." Instead, Dr. Kagan shows that humans are a special creation, endowed with a spiritual nature, and motivated by a desire to maintain a feeling of virtue, which is unique among sentient animals. He points out that there are no non-human animal models for human pride, shame, and guilt. Humans also appreciate the difference between moral right and wrong. According to Dr. Kagan, "Not even the cleverest ape could be conditioned to be angry upon seeing one animal steal food from another." According to a recent review of the book in Science, "The idea of the duality of human nature (of meaning over and above mechanism, or mind over and above mechanism, of angel over and above beast), and of the remarkable discontinuity of human nature from everything that came before, is alive and well for Kagan precisely because he has such a high regard for facts."12

Conclusion Top of page

 

  1. Evolution reduces the value of human life to be equal to that of animal life.
  2. Evolution reduces the value of human purpose to the passing on of one's genes.
  3. Evolution replaces the value of moral behavior with the concept of survival of the fittest. It says that moral (and immoral) behavior is an evolutionarily selected trait that improves the survivability of the species.

  1. A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test by Kenneth R. Samples
  2. Why Darwinism Matters by Nancy Pearcey.
  3. Is Christianity True? Evidence for the Truth of the Christian Religion
  4. 'People are Basically Good' - Proof to the Contrary
  5. The Power of Atheism to Change Lives
  6. Atheism Doesn't Lead to Immoral Behavior - Or Does It?
  7. Are Atheists and Theists Morally Equivalent?
  8. Does Atheism (Determinism) Negatively Impact Morality?
  9. Book Review: The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris

References Top of page

  1. Appenzeller, T. 1999. Test Tube Evolution Catches Time in a Bottle. Science 284: 2108.
  2. "The final message on extinctions is a reminder that human behavior--habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, poaching, and the introduction (accidental or deliberate) of species into new environments--is causing extinctions at an alarming rate. In our success, we have become the ultimate 'weed species.'" from Timothy H. Goldsmith. 2001. Everyday Impacts of a Most Influential Theory. Science 293: 2209-2210.
  3. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
  4. And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28)
  5. Medawar, P. and J. Medawar. 1983. Aristotle to Zoos. p. 87 (from Fraser's Magazine 7, 1873).
  6. Elsah Droghin. Margaret Sanger. (from The Pivot of Civilization).
  7. and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)
    And He [Jesus] said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'" (Matthew 22:37-39)
  8. Wilson, D.L. 1999. Flying Over Uncharted Territory. Science 285:206.
  9. Claus Wedekind. 1999. Give and Ye Shall Be Recognized. Science 280: 2070-2071.
  10. Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer. 1999. A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion.
  11. Is rape an adaptation? from the anthropology department at the University of California Santa Barbara website.
  12. Shweder, R.A. 1999. Humans Really Are Different. Science 283: 798.

http://godandscience.org/evolution/implications.html
Last Modified January 16, 2006

 

Rich's Blog