Science in Christian Perspective
Evolutionary Thought and the Morals and Dignity of Man:
Susan C. Walker
2715 S. Jay St.
Denver, Colorado 80227
From: JASA 30 (March
Absolute truth does not exist for a growing number of people in he world today. The laws of religion are no longer binding for a majority of the world's inhabitants. Even science, the accepted heralder of "truth," can offer only a close approximation to this elusive entity - and a strong probability may be replaced by a stronger one at any given moment. This relativity is pervasive in all areas of modern life.
While scoffing at the idea of an absolute moral law, and proclaiming himself no more than an animal with an extensively convoluted brain, modern scientific man lives as though his life has purpose, and as though he deserves fair treatment from the world around him. Despite the obvious lack of concern on the part of evolution for justice and dignity, man shouts loudly not only that he wants to live as long as possible, but that he wants to live well! He takes every precaution to preserve his own physical body, and to shower it with comfort and luxury. His life is sacred to him, and his right and freedom to live the life he chooses are defended vigorously.
Proponents of an evolutionary world view such as George Gaylord Simpson and Jacques Monod admonish us to break with the irrational past and pay homage to science. Simpson asks us to recognize that Darwinism has been accepted for a century, and then scolds us for continuing to pursue the higher superstition of Christianity. Monod rebukes us for sharing in the benefits of scientific-technological discovery, but not acknowledging that materialistic science is the only god to whom we should give obeisance.' It is frightening, to say the least, that these highly influential and educated men advocate breaking with the past in both practice and theory, yet offer no workable alternative system. In fact, the system their theory naturally brings forward is the one we see today: a moral and ethical chaos based purely on the arbitrary desires of any particular society at a given moment. Since there is no absolute, transcendent authority, power rules; though individual man in a position of strength claims to believe in a just world, his just world view most always ends at his own doorstep. In this kind of a society, it is predictable that Hitlers and Mansons will arise, perpetrating justice in their own narrow definitions of the concept.
In a recent discussion with a scientist friend, the issue of absolute versus relative morality came up. His opinion was that relativity is a fact of life, and nothing to be opposed. One obviously is not physically capable of the same concern for starving people in India as one has for the well being of one's own child; promiscuity (homo or heterosexual) is not a matter of concern in far off Congress, or on Bughouse Square in Chicago, but only if it invades your immediate neighborhood or your child's school playground. In his opinion, morals are obviously "adjustable," depending on the personal will and pleasure of the individual.
What is the real reason for this obviously contradictory standard for you (and those close to you) and for "others" afar off? This communication reviews two examples of outstanding inconsistencies in the thought and practice of naturalistic man, and then discusses them in light of what the Bible says about the nature of man's heart.
That man has finally been forced to take his place with the animals is a well made point in present day college psychology courses. It is stressed that egocentric, pre-evolutionary, Christian man assumed himself a specialty, indeed, the focal point of God's creation. College professors proudly proclaim their humility in assuming a place amongst, as opposed to above, the rest of the animal kingdom.
In spite of this avowed willingness to share fully in his animal ancestry, homo sapiens has not yet offered himself for scientific experimentation. To be sure, a few dedicated scientists have been their own experimental subjects, and some have died as a result. It is also true that Hitler did experiments with humans during World War II, but the rest of the world decried the fact that masses of "human animals" were sacrificed. In this present day, such ne'erdo-wells as the retarded and prisoners are often made available for experimentation, but strict rules govern the lengths to which the investigator may go. He is expected to uphold a well defined moral and ethical code in his work with human subjects.
If man is just one of the animals, as many would have us believe, why such sorrow when a dedicated scientist is lost to the world; why ethical and moral guidelines for research which involves human subjects? The less privileged animals (whom we supposedly have joined in rank) have guidelines to guard them against atrocities, but nevertheless they suffer immensely. They are bled, poked, given tumors; they are bred to die! Does evolutionary man really comprehend the implications of his suggestion that we are simply animals, with no spirit or personality which makes us stand out? Clearly he does not! In spite of concentrated, and many times exaggerated, attempts to erase the spirit and dignity, man (including the most avid materialist), lives a life which loudly broadcasts his spirituality. This manifestation is more often than not a severe distortion of the spirit which God desires, but it is there, nevertheless.
For secular man, murder is wrong but adultery, homosexuality etc., are only relatively wrong. The idea today is that "as long as nobody gets hurt, anything goes." Ours is a society of convenience, we do what is easy, what is fun, and what feels good at the moment, with little, if any, thought about possible consequences. Though it is obvious that rampant veneral disease, abortion, unwanted children, and divorce are often results of sexual misuse, costing the society a monumental amount of worry and money, modern man prefers to think of himself as a liberal, and declares sex a matter of preference, not morality.
A newspaper on my desk at work recently sparked an interesting comment along this line. As the director of our research division passed my desk, his eye caught the by-line of an article appearing in the religious news section, which went something like this "Priest says the Bible does not Condemn Homosexuality." His comment was quick and to the point, "Who the hell cares what the Bible says about homosexuality!" The same man came back from a scientific meeting in New Orleans a few weeks later, and exclaimed that a previously beautiful section of New Orleans had turned into a homosexual greeting ground with young boys selling their bodies on every street corner. On the one hand, this man refuses to acknowledge an absolute morality which condemns homosexuality; yet on the other, he is repulsed by the presence of promiscuous homosexual practitioners, and states that their presence in a formerly attractive area has caused severe degeneration of that area. Once again, there is glaring inconsistency in the thought and practice of secular man.
Psychology and sociology seek to explain consistent and inconsistent behavior in Godless terms. The way man thinks and behaves is determined solely by his genes, his evolution, his environment, or his society etc. Soeiobiologist P.O. Wilson, according to a recent Time article, tells us that there may be genes for homosexuality, spite and conformism.' B.F. Skinner suggests that we must rid our minds of the idea that man is dignified and free. Only as we accept our evolutionary, spiritless, biological selves will we come to know and understand the real causes of behavior. 4
In 1973, a book came out by Karl Menninger titled Whatever Became of Sin? As Christians, our answer is that it is still around and has become nothing different from what it has always been. It is, and always will be, disobedience to the commands of God as proclaimed in Scripture. Unregenerate man despises the thought of having to worship and to pay homage to the God of the Bible. Romans 1 says that man has a knowledge of God and the truth, but that he suppresses that knowledge because of his sin. This explains the inconsistency in the thought and practice of the Godless individual. C.S. Lewis says it beautifully in Mere Christianity:
"If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our ease is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we need most and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possibly ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger - according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way."5
Man, therefore, in proclaiming himself an empty organism, just one more
result of evolution, yet living with a sense of his own sacredness, it evidence
of the Bible's accuracy in diagnosing his condition. Aware of God's higher
absolute moral standard, and convinced of his own dignity and spirit as made in
the image of God, man continues to blaspheme and desecrate the very name of God
for his own ego flattery and convenience. He knows what is right, but does not
do it. Romans I says that he not only does wrong himself, but condones
wrongdoing in others. The apostle Paul appears to be describing those
liberal-minded people of our present day who truly are not their brother's
The Bible gives the follower of Christ a consistent living guide. Life is precious; man as made in the image of God should first love God in Christ, then serve and fellowship with his brother, and finally protect and nourish the world and the animals which God has given temporarily into his charge. Unfortunately, Christians often live as inconsistently as does secular man. Our world view tells us that all life is something to be cherished, as a creation of God. Yet we eat too much meat; we allow (by our unconcern) the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent animals in laboratory experiments (not all of these experiments are unnecessary, but many are); we contribute heavily to atmospheric pollution and resource waste. Perhaps a consistency on the part of the Christian community would help to persuade secular men of their wrongdoing.
The Bible also gives us a totally adequate moral guide. We tend, again, as does unregenerate man, to often be inconsistent in our thought and practice. We embrace sexual morality; we are, for the most part, heterosexual and nonadulserosss. Our inconsistency shows itself in our readiness to be sexually obedient, but not to be materially destitute. Our sexual behavior shines, but our bank accounts and cupboards are often in a close to immoral condition.
If those in the world are to face the errors in their thinking, it is imperative that we as Christians face up to the inconsistencies in our own lives. We must, with Paul, readily admit that ". . . I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do" (Romans 7:19, RSV). It must be clear to the unsaved world around us that we are only sinners, saved by the grace of God. Even the inconsistencies of the redeemed will not totally disappear in this lifetime, but the Christian, again with Paul, is pressing "toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14, RSV). The Bible tells us that Christ's strength is made perfect in our weakness. As we allow God's word to penetrate our lives, our inconsistencies are more and more lost in His perfect consistency.
The world today is looking for something - anything which brings security, truth, stability, warmth, love. That secular, materialistic man recognizes and hates his Godless inconsistency is evident in the suicide, divorce, addiction, and mental illness statistics. We as Christians can share with a dying mankind the consistency which is found only when man comes to God through Christ; when he recognizes that he is a spiritual, dignified, moral being, whose only raison d'etre is to serve his Creator.
1Simpson, G.G. This View of Life, Flareourt, Brace and World, Inc., pp. 6-7, 1963
2Monod, J., Chance and Necessity, Alfred A. Knopf, pp. 170-171, 1971.
3Donovan, Hedley, ed. in chief. Time, Inc. "Sociobiology: A New Theory of Behavior." Aug. 1, 1977.
4Skinner, B.F., Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Bantam/Vintage Books, p. 191, 1971.
5Lewis, C.S.,Mere Christianity, The Macmillan Co., p. 38, 1952.