Philosophy Magazine

RESPONDblogs: Morality. Is It a GIFT Or Just the Result of EVOLUTION?

By Stuart_gray @stuartg__uk

right-way-wrong-way1

My kids have always had a keen sense of what is right and what is wrong.

As twin girls, they grew up together and they did so with little finely tuned radars that instantly detected when one of them was being treated unfairly. If Naomi was given a MacDonalds Happy Meal on Tuesday while Rebecca was at her swimming lesson, Rebecca made it quite clear to us that she expected to receive a Happy Meal herself at our earliest convenience. As I am sure you will understand – Christmas and Birthdays in our house have always been a delicate balancing act.

It’s not just my girls who are like this. We are all beings with an acute sense of what should be and what should not be. How many times have we flashed the other motorist and said something like…”He should NOT have cut me up like that!” Have you ever watched the news on TV and shaken your head, “How can people be so cruel to each other? The world ought not to be like this.”

Humanity’s clear sense of “ought” and “should” is called Morality. We are a moral species.  And – as far as we can tell – this marks us out from the other life forms on this planet.

So this brings me to my question. If the Atheists are right and there is no God…if our universe is simply the result of physical necessity and the working of the laws of physics…then where do objective Moral values come from? How did we evolve our finely tuned sense of right and fair vs wrong and unfair?

It seems to me that Atheism – and particularly the Material Naturalist worldview – has a problem. It wants us to believe that a non-moral first cause combined with a non-moral evolutionary process of chance and natural selection – has led to a moral species.  Us.

How can a non-moral process led to a moral result?

At which point the naturalist may smile and respond. “Your analogy of the driver that cut you up is the right one, Stuart. Morality is simply the result of millions of years of social convention and evolution. It’s the way that society has grown to regulate people’s behavior. This is vital for us – it promotes cooperation and it avoids society from breaking down. BUT – it does not require any God to exist. It has just happened over a long period of time. Morals come from within us.”

And I would answer – why? Why is it better for society for someone to cooperate and have their behavior regulated? Why is it better for society NOT to break down? The answer – survival of the fittest – right?

Yet this answer is not a good description of what is under pinning our morals in society. Why? Because it misrepresents us.

What do I mean?  Well a society that was truly built on the principle of “survival of the fittest” would have no time for the handicapped or the elderly or the sick. But this is not what I see today. An incredible amount of time and care is expended every day on our planet to care for people in this unfortunate position. I see it in the Western countries, and I also see it in the developing countries in Africa. The people doing the hard work of caring are to be applauded … they deserve a medal! Right?

Did you ever see the Science Fiction movie from the 1970’s – Logan’s Run? That was all about a society that killed its elderly as a matter of course. Elderly is classed as over 30 (I’d be long gone, myself!) The drama of the story comes from two characters – Logan and Jessica – who instinctively know this is wrong and decide to fight against it. And – as they approach the big 3 0 – they run away so that they will  not be killed themselves. This story resonates with us when we watch it because we know inside – it’s wrong to put old people down for the benefit of the young. It’s wrong in fiction as well as fact. A society built on survival of the fittest…or the youngest…or the better off…or the minority is inherently corrupt and evil.

Those who claim that evolutionary principles have led to human moral values – are simply not thinking thru the issue. They aren’t honestly going where their claims would ultimately take them to. Why? Because “survival of the fittest” leads us to Hitler’s final solution. Do you really sense that it’s right to go there? Because I don’t…and I can bet the majority of the people alive on our planet today agree with me.

No – I think that OBJECTIVE moral values exist. They don’t come from within us at all. They are given TO us. They are baked into us by the Baker. Morality is not about studying beneficial behaviours and copying them. No – morality is about studying behaviours and making an objective moral judgment on them!

Where does that objective standard come from?

Here’s what I think.

I believe that our hard wired sense of right and wrong – comes from the character of the God who made us and left his imprint on us. I think human morality is a signpost to the source. It’s like a stamp of authenticity from the manufacturer. Objective moral values point to our creator, who is described in these terms by the Bible.

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

“…God is love.” 1 John 4:8


RESPONDblogs: Morality. Is it a GIFT or just the result of EVOLUTION?

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

Paperblog Hot Topics