100 Answers in 100 Days

More questions answered on this blog:

Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Monday, March 21, 2011

#80: Can we have morality without God?

Evolutionists have a theory of the origin of morality; that it evolved for the sake of survival. If I do my neighbour a kindness, then they will be kind in turn. This mutual kindness pays dividends; friends will get you through life rather than destroy your life. This fits the “all for survival” demand of natural selection. Of course, this theory is not an adequate explanation. It assumes, for no good reason, that kindness will be repaid with kindness. And it sees morality as entirely self-serving. Yet we know that good morals often involve self-sacrifice expecting nothing in return, even when no great benefit can come of it; like when a man gives up his ambitions to care for his wife who has become paraplegic. Morality ought not to be self serving, as one atheist friend of mine adamantly expressed when he spoke of his disgust for Christianity, because in his view Christians only do good out of self-interest - the reward of getting into heaven. But I had to point out that salvation is not of works, but of grace! Getting into heaven is not a result of my works. It is a Christian’s works which are truly motivated by nothing more than genuine love, whilst the Evolutionist explains most acts of morality as acts which benefit one’s self in the "survival of the fittest".

Evolutionists also posit that some behaviours are merely blind instinct. That is, we have this instinct to be altruistic, and the instinct is obeyed whether it’s rational or not. The man who gives up his ambitions for his sick wife is acting, according to the theory of natural selection, irrationally. Or there’s the example in Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion” of a bird which, by instinct, feeds the open mouths in its nest, even when the mouths don’t belong to its own offspring. So this is what’s at the heart of Evolution, then; that regardless of the compassion you feel for someone, you’re really just like a computer doing what you’ve been programmed to do.

What follows from this Evolutionary explanation of morality is that, given the intelligence we’ve evolved, we should be able to identify the “simplicity of the program” and rectify these “mis-firings of instinct”. We end up with the idea that we ought to improve humanity by actively redefining what it right and wrong. The question is, who gets to decide what is right and wrong? Various people have said that Christianity is positively evil and ought to be one of those things that mankind should “evolve beyond”, and they take an active role in trying to remove this human behaviour called “religion.” Yet the same arguments that evolutionists use to decide what is good could be applied to religion. Evolutionists could say that religion evolved in order to give people hope, rather than the emptiness of a life that will lead to absolutely nothing. They should see religion as a good thing, just in so far as the theory of natural selection has positively selected for it! (After all, we see it in every culture on the planet). But they deem it as evil, making themselves judges of what is good and what is bad for the human race. This kind of thing happens in biology as well, as a result of Evolution Theory. Consider the practice of Eugenics where people decide who should or shouldn't be allowed to have children based on what they consider to be desirable physical traits. The result of Eugenics is disastrous. Eugenics, in fact, was partly the rationale for the holocaust. Mankind simply does not have the wisdom to become the judge of what is beneficial or detrimental to humanity. Consider our present culture, how in this day and age we've decided that sex out of wedlock with many partners is perfectly acceptable and normal. Yet I heard a statistic today that 45% of all Americans have some form of sexually transmitted disease.

Now, nobody denies that what Hitler did was evil, and all should agree that a war against Nazi Germany was good and just to bring an end to his wickedness. But an Evolutionist has no right to say that what Hitler did was wrong, nor that we should have fought against the evil of his actions. Hitler, after all, was following Evolutionist reasoning in his extermination of the Jews; he saw himself as an “agent of natural selection", helping mankind evolve beyond certain evolutionary errors. Well, a certain Evolutionist by the name of Shane Killian seems to reject this idea, saying “If Hitler had really been a Darwinist, he would have done absolutely nothing.” This is an interesting response. By his own admission an Evolutionist has no right, if they are to be consistent with their world view, to fight against Hitler, or against any other evil in this world. Why? Because no matter what you do, whether good or bad, it's all going to come out in the wash; natural selection will either "select it" or "reject it". If Hitler ought to have done nothing in the face of what he considered evil, it follows that no true Evolutionist should have done anything to fight what they perceived as Hitler's evil. Essentially this is determinism, and there is no such thing as right or wrong since the process of natural selection is amoral and will select for this or that, even if it means the human race will destroy itself to make way for a new species of giant mushroom or some such thing.

So there appear to be two different philosophies within Evolutionism, where some say they ought not fight evil but leave natural selection to do its thing; and on the other, they say that morality should be a product of reason and philosophy, and that we should now start defying the “program” that natural selection has written for us. Well, the most prevalent philosophy of ethics today is “Utilitarianism”. It is summarized this way: “The greatest good for the greatest number.” And by this rule men have justified the murder of millions! Men like Hitler or Stalin have reasoned that the sacrifice of many will be for the “greater good.” Man’s philosophy fails again. But I suppose that when a follower of secular ethics does evil, people might say “Condemn the man, but don’t condemn the philosophy.” In other words, the man may have misapplied a perfectly good ethical philosophy. I would likewise want to say that for all the evils done in the name of Christianity; condemn the men, but don’t condemn the religion. Yet there is a distinction here. When a man claiming to be a Christian does evil, it is evident that he has not conformed to the commands of the Bible. But when a Utilitarian or an Evolutionist does evil, it’s not the case that he has strayed from the philosophy or misapplied it. He’s actually followed it through to it’s logical conclusion. Simply, the foundation upon which he built was itself corrupt.

Until tomorrow...
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:26-27)

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