Concerning Moral Darwinism

Friends,

Those of you who visit are well aware of my disdain for Darwinian evolution. Recently, I have gone so far as to point out that some of the most detestable events of human history have been perpetuated on the basis of Darwinian Evolution. Some have challenged this notion saying that even if that is true, it has nothing to do with ‘modern Darwinian evolution’ as if there can be drawn such a clear line–a line that many are unwilling to give to the church as regards some of our jaded past.

I posted a link to an essay posted at Answers in Genesis and was told that the authors of that website are ‘too biased’ to be considered reliable. Well, as it turns out, I’m not the only one (not that I thought I was, it just took time to find more) (nor is AIG!) pointing out the moral deficiencies of Darwinism. I just today came across an author named Benjamin Wiker. Here are his credentials:

Dr. Benjamin Wiker, Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, holds a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from Vanderbilt University, and has taught at Marquette University, St. Mary’s University , and Thomas Aquinas College (CA).

He is currently a Lecturer in Theology and Science at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a full-time, free-lance writer. Dr. Wiker writes regularly for a variety of journals, including Catholic World Report, New Oxford Review, and Crisis, and is a regular columnist for the National Catholic Register.

He has published three books, Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists (InterVarsity Press, 2002), The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Bethlehem Books, 2003), and Architects of the Culture of Death (Ignatius, 2004). He is currently working on another book on the “intelligent design” theory for InterVarsity Press called The Meaning-full Universe. (From St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology)

In his essay Moral Darwinism and the Descent of Man he wrote:

When it comes to sorting out the moral implications, those who champion evolutionary theory present a decidedly disunited front. Richard Dawkins believes that evolutionary theory rests on the assumption that the universe is utterly devoid of good and evil, and that we are free to construct our own Ten Commandments. Steven Pinker has suggested that infanticide is natural, and that we therefore ought not to be so morally censorious to those who kill their young. Some like Francis Fukuyama and Larry Arnhart have even tried to make an argument that evolutionary theory is fundamentally conservative, supporting marriage and the family as essential evolutionary structures.

What did Darwin think? Perhaps he might help us sort things out. After all, if anyone knows the real implications of evolutionary theory for morality, it should be the man himself. We find Darwin’s account of morality in his Descent of Man, a work published about a decade after his more famous Origin of Species.

This is a most serious essay that those who have disagreed with me should read because it goes straight back to the source: Darwin. My point in continuing this quest is to point out that Darwinism is not so morally neutral as Darwinists would have us to believe. There are real, profound, and in some cases deadly consequences of believing, practicing, and evangelizing in the name of Darwin. Dr Wiker concludes:

While he didn’t call for direct extermination of the weak, Darwin did believe that the unfit shouldn’t be allowed to breed at all. As for the fit, “there should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring.”

What does this mean? Forced sterilization? The end of monogamy? Breeding camps for the hyper-fit and concentration camps for the unfit? Darwin was purposely vague, but ended with the ominous remark: “All do good service who aid toward this end.” Well, that’s morality according to Darwin. Again, it ain’t pretty, but all must agree on one thing. Darwin correctly drew the logical moral implications from his evolutionary theory. It’s hard for the most adamant advocates of Darwin to recall the horrors of the 20th century—to bring to mind all those who thought they were doing “good service” by the eugenic elimination of the unfit—and not squirm a bit.

These are powerful insights into the full scope of Darwinian belief and practice. What matters is here is not, how many people have nothing to do with such beliefs, but rather how many practices in our current culture find their full bloom in the soil where Darwin sowed these seeds. To be sure, there will be many who say: “That’s not what current evolutionary doctrine teaches,” to which I must respond, “Your teacher’s name is still attached to the dogma. Your work is built upon his ideas, upon his foundational work.” I think this is a brilliant essay even if you don’t arrive at fully agreement with the author.

The essay can be found at the To The Source archives. At this most helpful website, you can access their archives that contains over 240 essays.

Dr Wiker has written a book titled Moral Darwinism: How we Became Hedonists. Here’s a short review from Amazon.com:

Abortion. Euthanasia. Infanticide. Sexual promiscuity.Ideas and actions once unthinkable have become commonplace. We seem to live in a different moral universe than we occupied just a few decades ago. Consent and noncoercion seem to be the last vestiges of a morality long left behind. Christian moral tenets are now easily dismissed and have been replaced with what is curiously presented as a superior, more magnanimous, respectful and even humble morality. How did we end up so far away from where we began? Can the decline be stopped?Ben Wiker, in this provocative and insightful book, traces the amazing story that explains our present cultural situation. Wiker finds the roots of our moral slide reaching all the way back to the ethical theory and atheistic cosmology of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. Christian teaching had been in contention with this worldview long before it reached its pinnacle with the rise and acceptance of Darwinism. But it was Darwinism, Wiker contends, that provided this ancient teaching with the seemingly modern and scientific basis that captured twentieth-century minds. Wiker demonstrates that this ancient atomistic and materialistic philosophy supplies the guiding force behind Darwinism and powerfully propels the hedonistic bent of our society while promoting itself under the guise of pure science.This book is a challenge not only to those who believe Darwinism to be purely scientific fact but to Christian who have at times inconsistently lived out their Christian moral convictions and so have failed to recognize and address the ancient corrosive underpinnings of our present moral and intellectual crisis.

Of course, I realize some who read this will scoff because books are somewhat intellectually inferior, full of speculation and lacking peer reviews as they are. But for others who have open minds and are willing to test their time held convictions to Darwinistic Dogma, this book might be a great, challenging read.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry

PS–for what it’s worth, Francis Collins, ‘a leader in the field of medical genetics, served as the director of the recently completed Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health,” has written a book titled The Language of God (See Review by Catherine Couch in the March/April 2007 Books & Culture). While I don’t agree with the necessary conclusion of the author (or the reviewer) that ‘theistic evolution’ is a viable option for the Christian who believes Genesis 1 to be foundational to the entire canon, it may, nonetheless, be a good read for those who struggle with both sides of the equation, or in the reviewer’s words, “For someone seeking reassurance that religion has not been disproved by science, this book will be welcome.” Collins also ‘adresses a series of potential intellectual objections to religious faith.’ I’m not at all sold on ‘theistic evolution.’ In my mind, I believe it to be totally at odds with Scripture (and folks like R Dawkins finds it to be totally at odds with evolutionary theory!). Nonetheless, I mention the book that perhaps it might be a bridge for some since it is written by someone with credentials that might be appealing.

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  1. You’re drawing an extremely long bow indeed. What you are attempting to do here would be akin to people trying to say that mainstream christian-based ethics are those of the KKK.
    Which, of course, is a ridiculous argument.

  2. Matt,

    In fact, here’s what I wrote: “What matters is here is not, how many people have nothing to do with such beliefs, but rather how many practices in our current culture find their full bloom in the soil where Darwin sowed these seeds.”

    I’m talking about ideas, Matt. Ideas, and the people who perpetuate ideas, are open to criticism and rebuke. What is the current ethical model for abortion on demand and euthanasia? Are those things based on Christian doctrines?

    Thanks for the reply.
    jerry

  3. John

    Mr Wiker also belongs to an outfit (many outfits) that celebrate the “triumph” of capitalism.

    He is also a materialist through and through–right through to his bones!—as are all of his “right” thinking fellow travellers.

    What is captitalism?
    It is an “advanced” form of social Darwinism or competitive individualism. The war of all against All and Everything, including Real God.

    The inherently aggressive (infinitely godless) adolsecent western ego infesting and destroying the entire planet. Even to the point of having brought the entire planet to the point of both cultural & ecological melt-down.

    Such an outcome also being THE INEVITABLE outcome of the western anti-“cultural” script with its drive to total power and control.

    This reference provides a very sobering assessment re the current state of the planet ravaged by western ego-man

    1. http://www.coteda.com/fundamentals/index.html

    This essay gives a unique understanding of “creation” stories.Why is the only choice between Darwnism and “creationism”?

    2. http://www.dabase.org/creamyth.htm

    This essay describes how we are “educated” to be incapable of real responsibility for our presence and actions in the world.

    3. http://www.dabase.org/2armP1.htm#ch2

    This essay describes the POLITICAL motives of those that pretend to justify traditional god-ideas by appealing to science.

    4. http://www.adidam.org/download/Religion%20and%20Science.pdf

    This essay is about the childish emotionally primitive mommy-daddy “creator” god of exoteric religion—the only kind of religion that exists in the USA. The genocidal patriarchal parental deity. The “god” promoted by all “right” thinking religionists.

    5. http://www.aboutadidam.org/readings/parental-deity/index.html

  4. John,

    clearly you are just as religious and political as anyone else who has read or replied to this post, or to anyone whose blog I linked to in the short essay. Good luck!

    jerry

  5. Why does Wiker very carefully avoid quoting Darwin’s observation that “the aid we feel impelled to give to the helpless” expresses the “instinct of sympathy,” which is “the noblest part of our nature”?

    Why does Wiker very carefully avoid quoting Darwin’s claim that Jesus’ affirmation of the Golden Rule “lies at the foundation of morality”?

    Why does Wiker very carefully avoid quoting from Darwin’s long account of the “moral sense” as natural for human beings? Why does he not quote Darwin’s conclusion that “ultimately our moral sense or conscience becomes a highly complex sentiment–originating in the social instincts, largely guided by the approbation of our fellow-men, ruled by reason, self-interest, and in later times by deep religious feelings, and confirmed by instruction and habit”?

    Is it possible that Wiker is being deceptive?

  6. Larry,

    I suppose Dr Wiker ‘carefully avoids’ quoting certain parts of Darwin because they are not central to the thesis he developing. However, I notice that you are very carefully quoting parts of Darwin without any direct context yourself. Is it possible you are being deceptive?

    So let me ask you: Why do Darwinists ‘carefully avoid’ citing all the evidence when it comes to their theories? Why do Darwinists carefully avoid citing the evidence that is contrary to Darwinian evolution? I suspect that what irritates you most is that someone actually took time to read all of Darwin and talk about all the things Darwin said and not just the parts that support current propaganda and indoctrination. I suppose you are irritated that a portion of Darwin’s theory that you would prefer to remain hidden has, in fact, been exposed.

    Is it possible, just possible, that Darwinists, in their current incarnation, have carefully avoided telling the public (and in particular the children whose minds they warp) all the things that the beloved Prof Darwin espoused and believed, and all the necessary extrapolations that have drawn out of his theory? Is it possible that Darwinists are, in fact, being deceptive, but even more so, because no one is allowed to challenge the Darwinism taught in schools (or they might face lawsuits from the ACLU or others who claim some vague ‘separation of church and state’!)?

    Is it possible that Darwinists are not only deceptive, but deceived?
    jerry

  7. In my books, I have gone over Darwin’s writings meticulously. As far as I can tell, I have not left anything out. But if I have, and if you can identify them, please do so, and I will correct my mistakes.

    The main point here is that Darwin’s discussion of the “moral sense” is extensive. Wiker does not cover this material at all.

    As far as eugenics is concerned, Darwin is explicit about condemning Galton’s ideas as “utopian.” Moreover, Darwin is explicit that his main concern is incest, which is why he wanted more study of cousin marriages to see if this should be prohibited.

    Do you object to laws against incest as eugenics?

    I don’t understand your point about not being able to challenge Darwinism in the public schools. I have argued in print for allowing equal time in high school biology classes for discussing “intelligent design theory.” Do you object to this?

    Do you disagree with Darwin’s claim that Jesus’ statement of the Golden Rule is the foundation of all morality? Do you disagree with his claim that the “moral sense” is rooted in human nature?

    Darwin condemned slavery as wrong. Do you disagree with this? Would you cite the Bible as supporting slavery? Here, I would think, the natural moral sense that slavery is wrong helps us to see that the Bible’s endorsement of slavery cannot be right. Wouldn’t you agree?

  8. Larry,

    I have not read your books, so I cannot verify your claim one way or another. Besides, you are the one who suggested that another author was being deceptive, not me. Since I have no idea who you are, and I have no idea what books you have written, and I was merely commenting what Prof Wiker wrote, I’m quite uncertain how you expect that I commenting on your body of work.

    Now, to your questions one by one.

    1. Yes, I am opposed to incest, for a variety of reasons, not least of which it is condemned in Scripture in 1 Corinthians.

    2. I have no particular issue with ‘equal time’ for ID, and if you have argued for it, that’s your right to do so. Although, to be sure, I have pointed out in a number of posts here that I am not a proponent of ID. I believe in Creation, Genesis 1, for reasons I have elucidated in other posts. ID does not necessarily need or require or support Biblical revelation. (Besides, I don’t want a public school, where the teacher might be atheist, teaching my sons about the Christian faith or Scripture. That is my job.) What I am asking for is, then, not necessarily what you call ‘equal time,’ as much as a presentation of both sides of the story. In other words, don’t teach evolution as fact, but as theory that many object to for valid scientific reasons.

    3. Yes, I disagree with Darwin’s claim that Jesus’ statement ‘of the Golden Rule is the foundation of all morality’ and yes I disagree with his ‘claim that the ‘moral sense’ is rooted in human nature.’ (That’s merely a repetition of the humanist manifesto which is ‘man is the measure of all things.’) I agree with Scripture that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Thus, I agree with Scripture that God is the only true measure of morality, and the only foundation for moral accountability. To measure morality by comparing one man to another is meaningless. And, as Jeremiah said, “Who can trust the (human) heart? It is deceitful above all things.” My sense of morality and Stalin’s are two entirely different things. And yet, Stalin would consider himself a very moral man, and me less for my Christian faith. He would applaud an atheist who killed a Christian and kill a Christian who criticized an atheist. That’s morality ‘from human nature’ and clearly it is bunk. Morality must come from outside of ourselves or else we are merely relativists having no idea what is ultimately or immutably moral.

    And have we not found ourselves in that very place in today’s world due to the underlying premise of Darwin’s claim that the ‘moral sense’ is rooted in human nature? Unless I misunderstand that statement, I read it in Scripture: “In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” This is, in fact, our postmodern cultural relativism.

    4. I agree with Darwin if he condemned slavery. However, I fail to see how slavery is not a necessary implication of Darwin’s hypothesis. (See my post on Joachim Fest). But let me make this clear: the Bible does not, contrary to your assumption, ‘support’ slavery. Paul laid down very clear conditions for people who were slaves, one of them being that if they could get themselves out of it, they should. Here’s the quote in context:

    17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to. (NIV)

    Furthermore, Paul lays down rules, if you will, even for those who were ‘slave owners.’ The problem with your understanding is that you only have in mind southern ante-bellum slavery in the US. Slave conditions in the times of Paul were substantially and significantly different. (See also Philemon; Ephesians 6; Colossians 4). So, you have a great misunderstanding of what ‘slavery’ was in the Bible. Interestingly, Paul wrote these letters to the churches where, presumably, slaves were in attendance and free enough to worship.

    The point is that Scripture was not written in order to start an uprising of slaves in the Greco-Roman world. Paul was writing to instruct the church, and Christians, how to conduct themselves in any situation they found themselves in and to rely on Christ who was their Master. And as far as I know, Jesus never said anything one way or another about Scripture, but there can be no doubt that the Scriptures do not justify Southern American slavery, and any reading that does support it is simply a terribly bad reading.

    Still, if I recall correctly, it was a Christian named William Wilberforce who went out of his way to condemn and overturn the slave trade in England. Did Darwin work so hard in his convictions?

    Wilberforce worked till the day of his death to put his Christian beliefs (that the trading of human life was wicked and wrong) into practice and eliminate slavery. Did Darwin do as much or did he simple ‘condemn’ it? (Where did Darwin condemn it?)

    So, in short, I don’t agree with you because you don’t understand Scripture, the reason it was given, or the power that stands behind it. You have a few select Scriptures that you have pulled out of their context and upon which you have developed a weak thesis. I would suggest you study some of the history of what slavery was like in the days when Paul wrote his letters and make an accurate assesment of the Christian faith and Jesus.

    Thanks again for stopping by, I always enjoy contrary points of view.

    jerry

  9. Krondan

    “Darwinism is not so morally neutral as Darwinists would have us to believe.”

    Of course not. A mere glance at this page
    is enough to establish that…

    Euvolution 0.4.6.1




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