In my last post (Part 1), Koukl & Beckwith explained why morality entails more than mere conduct; motive and intent are also parts of the equation.

Denial by Neo-Darwin

This leads us to the second problem, which runs much deeper than the first. When morality is reduced to patterns of behavior chosen by natural selection for the survival value, then morality is not explained; it’s denied. Wright admits as much. [This is a reference to Robert Wright, journalist and author of The Moral Animal — Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology.] Regarding the conscience he says: ‘The conscience doesn’t make us feel bad the way hunger feels bad, or good the way sex feels good. It makes us feel as if we have done something that’s wrong or something that’s right. Guilty or not guilty. It is amazing that a process as amoral and crassly pragmatic as natural selection could design a mental organ that makes us feel as if we’re in touch with higher truth. Truly a shameless ploy’.

Evolutionists like Wright are ultimately forced to admit that what we think is a ‘higher truth’ or morality turns out to be a ‘shameless ploy’ of nature, a description of animal behavior conditioned by the environment for survival. We’ve given that conduct a label, they argue: morality. But they say there is no real right and wrong.

Comtemplative chimp

Contemplative chimp

Does Bongo, the chimp, actually exhibit genuine moral behavior? Does he understand the difference between right and wrong? Does he make principled choices to do what’s right? Is he worthy of blame and punishment for doing wrong? Of course not, Wright says. Bongo merely does in a primitive way what humans do in a more sophisticated manner. We respond according to our genetic conditioning, a program ‘designed’ by millions of years of evolution.

Philosopher Michael Ruse admits that evolution and objective morality are at odds: ‘Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves…. Never the less… such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction… and any deeper meaning is illusory.’

The evolutionary approach does not explain morality: it denies it. Instead, it explains why we think moral truths exist when, in fact, they don’t.”

Go here for Part 3.

  1. pastorjeffcma says:

    Really good stuff. As I commented yesterday I find this to be a fascinating point of discussion. The one thing the author does not seem to understand is that evolution can accomplish and explain everything–all it needs is the magic wand of lots of time. :)

  2. sirrahc says:

    Glad you like it! I think they do a great job of examining the argument and showing how it falls short of what it’s supposed to accomplish. Stay tuned for part 3 tomorrow night…

  3. […] Religion, Robert Wright, Science, transcendant morality trackback Last time (Part 1 & Part 2), Beckwith & Koukl demonstrated how the evolutionary approach to explaining morality actually […]

  4. jane says:

    i came across this article after a search for images of a ‘thinking chimp.’ i am actually wondering if you own this green-background picture.. if so, i wonder if i might have your permission (or discuss buying its use) for something. if not, i would love to know where you found it. very interesting article, thanks!

    • sirrahc says:

      Hi, Jane. No, the image isn’t mine. I think I snagged it off another blog, and it didn’t have a name or other attribution associated with it. Go ahead and do a ‘Save Image As’…

  5. […] here for Part 2 and Part 3. linkscolor = "3333FF"; highlightscolor = "888888"; backgroundcolor = "FFFFFF"; channel […]

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