Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Darwinism, Evolution, and Ethics . . . my FB Firestorm!

Last weekend I posted these thoughts on my FaceBook page.  They started a long and involved debate between several of my friends that is still going on, four days and fifty posts later.  I'm going to paste my original post below, and add a few of my subsequent thoughts to it.  Here is what started it all:

    If you ask a room full of 100 people how many of them believe that Darwinian evolution rather than divine creation is primarily responsible for man's presence on earth, most would probably go for evolution - even here in Christian friendly America. If you asked how many of them believed Darwinian evolution was solely responsible, with no creator, no guiding hand, no "Prime Mover" at all - you would still get a very large percentage, although some would dissent (many American Christians like to think that evolution was one of the tools in God's hand in shaping life on earth, a topic we can discuss another day).

     Now, take that group that claimed nothing but pure Darwinian evolution created humanity by chance - and ask how many of them would like to live in a society that governed itself by purely Darwinian principles - with no law other than survival of the fittest.
How many would raise their hands, I wonder?

    I'd bet none.
    And that's funny - from a purely Darwinian point of view, we have way too many people in this world using up our precious resources, and many of them are seemingly too poor and ignorant to contribute anything to the advancement of the species. Some thinning of the herd would be to the advantage of all those strong enough to survive it - yet our minds recoil at the prospect!
The existence of a moral compass, however damaged it may be in some individuals, is a powerful argument that we are a product of something more than pure natural selection.

After a couple of people had replied, I added this comment:
Darwinism as a scientific theory contains enough merit to be worthy of consideration and debate.  Darwinism as a social philosophy, however, leads inexorably to the gates of Auschwitz.

Since then, a number of my friends who are either skeptics or non-believers have tried to argue that natural selection could cause human beings to develop a sense of morality.  Books have been written on the subject, in fact.  I still find it unlikely.  And here is the kicker - even if you could argue that moral values are an evolutionary development to facilitate the stability and survival of our species, that would still lead you to one conclusion - that right and wrong are purely relative, and defined differently by different cultures.  And once you deny that the terms "good" and "evil" have any meaning beyond what society places on them at the moment, you are still prone to wind up hanging a sign that reads "Arbeit macht Frei" over a camp whose showers contain gas nozzles . . . .

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