The following note explores the subject of ethics in the context of an evolutionary / materialistic world-view. My thinking on this subject was provoked in part by discussion with a professor of anthropology I worked for in past years. We were discussing evolution and I had brought up the social impact of Darwinism in the form of Nazi race politics and the Communist Gulag prison system in Soviet Russia. He retorted that painting all evolutionists with the same brush wasn't legitimate and that not all evolutionists were Nazis. I had to admit that it is true that it would be unfair to infer that all evolutionists are morally depraved, but I continued to have doubts about trying to derive any worthwhile ethical system from an evolutionary / materialistic world-view.
My first reaction to the effort of trying to derive ethics (expectations of how humans should interact with one another) from an evolutionary / materialistic world-view is: How do you do that ?? How do evolutionary processes logically tie into/justify ethics ? Reduced to its simplest expression, the development of a code of ethics in an evolutionary / materialistic world-view in my view must deal with some of the following issues:
It's a cruel world out there...
Suppose I am a materialist and that I find myself in a position of superiority (materially, physically or intellectually), that is a position which would allow me to exploit or oppress another human being. Suppose for some reason I should feel the urge to exploit or oppress other human beings, the question then arises why shouldn't I be free to do so? If my natural instincts, established by millions of years of evolution, put me in the mood to exploit or oppress another human being (perhaps in reaction to exploitation or opression I've suffered myself), why deviate from my natural instincts ?? Isn't nature good? Furthermore who would dare oppose me (on logical grounds, excluding brute strength)? Why should I accept anyone arbitrarily setting himself up as a judge of my morality and of my consciousness? Why should other's scruples, other's guilty conscious be binding on me? On what authority?, as, I the materialist, do not recognise any God or gods to whom humanity has to answer.
There is another point to consider. Since science, a priori, excludes matters of ethics and morals and if the gods are dead, then what other ethical standard do we have except to imitate nature ? Regarding relations between men and women this is precisely the view of a cheerful fellow such as Donatien Alphonse François, the marquis de Sade. He is the sort of person (no friend of Christianity in any shape or form...) who isn't shy about saying out loud what others hesitate to think in private, nor is he timid about taking premises to their logical conclusion. He notes ... (1795/1972: 112)
"If it is undisputed that we [men] have received from nature the right to express our [sexual] desires indifferently to all women, it equally true that we have the right to require them to submit to our desires, not on an exclusive basis [Sade is thinking of marriage for life here - PG], I should be contradicting myself, but on a temporary basis. It is undeniable that we have the right to establish laws requiring her [the woman - PG] to submit to the passion of he who desires her. Violence is one of the implications of this right and we are entitled to use it legally. But why not !? Nature itself has proven that we have this right in that it has endowed us with superior strength with which we may submit them to our desires." (translation PG)
Basically, this implies that if nature is at times cruel and coldly brutal, why shouldn't we behave in like manner as well ? How can a person and/or society set up rules governing human behaviour (that is morality) in the context of a materialistic world-view, especially a materialistic world-view that is logically consistent? On what basis ? Where should these rules come from ? William B. Provine, an evolutionist and professor of biology at Cornell University makes the following statement on the philosophical impact of the theory of evolution (1990: 23):
"(...), when he [Darwin] deduced the theory of natural selection to explain the adaptations in which he had previously seen the handiwork of God, Darwin knew that he was committing cultural murder. He understood immediately that if natural selection explained adaptations, and evolution by descent were true, then the argument from design was dead and all that went with it, namely the existence of a personal god, free will, life after death, immutable moral laws, and ultimate meaning in life. The immediate reactions to Darwin's On the Origin of Species exhibit, in addition to favourable and admiring responses from a relatively few scientists, an understandable fear and disgust that has never disappeared from Western culture."
Some evolutionists seem quite aware of the moral implications of their cosmology and try to find an escape hatch. With a little imagination this is always possible. Richard Dawkins notes for example (2000):
There have in the past been attempts to base a morality on evolution. I don't want to have anything to do with that. The kind of world that a Darwinian, going back to survival of the fittest now, and nature red in tooth and claw, I think nature really is red in tooth and claw.
I think if you look out at the way wild nature is, out there in the bush, in the prairie, it is extremely ruthless, extremely unpleasant, it's exactly the kind of world that I would not wish to live in. And so any kind of politics that is based upon Darwinism for me would be bad politics, it would be immoral. Putting it another way, I'm a passionate Darwinian when it comes to science, when it comes to explaining the world, but I'm a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality and politics.
Being consistent isn't always easy. Marketing issues do come to the fore sometimes and have to be dealt with. Daniel Denett finds himself in the same spot. Though rejecting any moral absolutes, in a Wired interview he says "We are not going to tolerate infanticide. But we're not going to put people in jail for onanism. Instead of protecting stability with a brittle set of myths, we can defend a deep resistance to mucking with the boundaries". But why not "muck with the boundaries"? Why not put infanticide on the same level as onanism? Nietzsche and the marquis de Sade were a lot more consistent...
Some would complain that since Darwinism has appeared on the world stage the end of the world hasn't occurred, nor has the West become a moral cesspool. Now from a Christian/Creationist point of view one may very well be tempted to dispute this point, but there actually is little harm done in allowing it (at least for purposes of argument, bear with me...). If we do concede this point, two things need pointing out.
First of all, it is important to note that the theory of evolution, though popular in academic circles, has never been entirely accepted in Western societies at large (polls in the US for example, typically indicate that large percentages of the population rejet it), so the impact of evolution on these societies may not be as thorough as we might expect from looking at what we hear in the media or in university classes. Secondly, there exists, even among the academic and media elite (whose acceptance of evolution is almost complete) a certain social inertia, which entails maintaining certain scruples, relics of the past, a past that was more moralistic and religious than the present. Dennett's aversion to infanticide is an excellent example of such inconsistency. It is sometimes called wanting to have your cake and eat it too... These moral scruples and inhibitions still subsist simply because they haven't yet disappeared from the collective memory. This is a matter of cultural inertia. Yet time, and an efficient propaganda machine, may eventually wear down these moralising reflexes especially since they have become detached from their original religious base and subsist, for the most part, due to inertia rather than due to deep conviction and commitment of large segments of population in the West. Morality, then, in a materialistic world-view is a bit like the corpse of a person who has just died a violent death. Even if there is no pulse, the corpse's members may twitch and jerk for a while, but eventually all movement will cease. Western society is like that corpse, there are some moral reflexes left in the body, but for the most part they have been disconnected from their life-force and, given time, eventually all moral reflexes may cease.
C. S. Lewis, in his essay entitled Abolition of Man, discusses the issue of world-view vs. actual behaviour. The following quotes are drawn from a discussion of the views of the authors of an essay on education (and morality) in English schools. Lewis observes the morally inconsistent elites of the West (1946/1978: 18)
"Propaganda is their abomination: not because their own philosophy gives a ground for condemning it (or anything else), but because they are better than their principles. They probably have some vague notion (I will examine it in my next lecture) that valour and good faith and justice could be sufficiently commended to the pupil on what they would call 'rational' or 'biological' or 'modern' grounds, if it should ever become necessary."
(1946/1978: 19) "Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite sceptical about ethics, but bred to believe that a 'gentleman does not cheat', than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers. In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment."
Lewis' basic position seems to be that the evolutionist / materialist will, in most cases, continue to act morally (according to the "Tao" as Lewis would say) as long as there are mothers and fathers around who raise their kids with some sense of right and wrong. This means that in the long run the context in which a person's moral reflexes were conditioned during their childhood years is (for the most part) more important than the beliefs a person may come to hold intellectually many years later (exceptions certainly exist I would concede). When such a moral environment is no longer provided for children, we may then expect trouble on a large scale. One may also expect "trouble on a large scale" when political leaders appear on the world scene who are ready to act on their evolutionary / materialist world-view (such as Hitler and Stalin did) and actually shape society on this basis. It appears that Stalin once said that "The death of one man is a tragedy, but the death of millions is a statistic." If one takes into account Stalin's world-view, then one would have to admit that he was being logically consistent (within the presuppositions of his world-view) in making such a statement. I think this approach helps to understand intellectuals, such as the late S. J. Gould, who decried racism, eugenic policies and other such things. They are examples of people, as Lewis says who are "better than their principles". They are not, then, products of their ideology, but rather of their cultural background (especially family). One wonders how many of these 'humanistic evangelists' come from religious backgrounds (either Christian or Jewish) ? Lewis makes another interesting remark on relativism which relates to the previous issues raised above. (1946/1978: 22):
"Their scepticism about values is on the surface: it is for use on other people's values; about the values current in their own set [social milieu - PG] they are not nearly sceptical enough. And this phenomenon is very usual. A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional or (as they would say) 'sentimental' values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process. They claim to be cutting away at the parasitic growth of emotion, religious sanction, and inherited taboos, in order that 'real' or 'basic' values may emerge."
Relativism (no absolute basis for ethics) only goes so far... And this sort of thing would seem very common in the social sciences and probably among most Western media people too.
It would seem that the most devastating weakness of the attempt to erect ethics within an evolutionary / materialistic world-view is the flexibility of meaning of the evolutionary origins myth. Nazi race policies, the Stalinist Gulag slave labour system, a 19th century laissez-faire capitalist sweat-shop or de Sade's phallocratic sexual politics or Julian Huxley's more humane approach are all (within the presuppositions of the evolutionary / materialistic world-view) equally valid interpretations. Unless one goes outside the system and appeals to some form of TRUTH (a 'Tao') providing criteria with which to judge between good and evil attitudes / behaviour, then these varying implementations of Darwinism will all remain equally valid interpretations of the evolutionary / materialistic world-view. In the context of the materialistic cosmology, choosing one against another is then a matter of taste, no more. Working within the evolutionary / materialistic world-view, there is no basis for rejecting one and promoting the other. In the real world, choices have to be made and the temptation is to reject or promote ideologies for the most superficial reasons, ie, that they are unpleasant or unfashionable... etc. basically creating an image problem. Marketing issues then begin to run the show, not logic or coherence. This situation results from the fact that evolution is a weak origins myth (compared to other origins myths ) as it says little about what humans are and what their value is. This is linked to the fact that, from the start, evolution, as an origins myth, never has been solidly attached (as are most origins myths) to a particular religion or ideology. Such a system would provide the additional meaning that most origins myths lack (as most origins myth provides only general information on cosmological issues not specific moral prescriptions). That evolution can be understood to be compatible to the highest ethics is perhaps at most an interesting marketing issue, but one should understand that evolution does NOT rule out in any real sense the coldest brutality. In logical terms there is nothing intrinsic in this belief system that would demand a sharp divide between Good and Evil. It would appear that some evolutionists do have a gut understanding of this issue, but few bring this up except to vaguely allude to Evolution being "more flexible" than traditional religions. Ernst Mayr is a typical example. He notes (1988: 85)
"There are two reasons why the traditional norms of the West are no longer adequate. The first is their rigidity. The essence of the evolutionary process is variability and change, and ethical norms must be sufficiently flexible and versatile to be able to cope with a change of condition."
One would expect that most evolutionist's attitudes about this matter would be, "the less said the better"...
Working for the "Common Good"?
In general, the evolutionary explanation of ethics involves an arbitrary presupposition that individuals should consider the "common good" when determining their behaviour. Empirical observation of real human behaviour indicates that such considerations will only occur if an individual is motivated by a larger world-view (providing coherent concepts of right and wrong). The basic approach taken by many evolutionists seems to be to take morality, in humans, for granted, and to some extent they would agree with C. S. Lewis on this point, but not for the same reason. Robert J. Richards, in a defence of evolutionary ethics, says (1987: 622):
"Evolution provides the structured context of moral action: it has constituted human beings not only to be moved to act for the community good but also to approve, endorse, and encourage others to do so."
The question which immediately springs to mind is: "What basis can there be for ethical behaviour in a materialist world-view?" Christians and Jews believe that all humans have dignity because they are created in the image of God. This provides a basis for valuing human life and, despite our fallen nature, learning to demonstrate altruistic behaviour (Love) towards others. But where would you get such a justification in a materialist world-view ? Evolutionists (such as Richards) believe that morality (and altruistic behaviour) is the result of natural selection and that these forms of behaviour have evolved because they have selective advantages for the species as a whole. Richards says (1987: 623):
"The justification for the imperative advice to a fellow creature, "Act for the community good", is therefore: "Since you are a moral being, constituted so by evolution, you ought to act for the community good"."
This may sound plausible in a university class room, but what do you do if you are a Jew in Auschwitz or a woman witnessing her child being molested by a hoodlum or a political dissident wanting to speak your mind in communist China or happen to live in an inner-city neighbourhood run by a drug lord? How do you get your enemies to think of "the community good" ?? Invoking "community good" amounts to little more than a cheap marketing ploy, but is meaningless in the real world. After all, didn't Hitler invoke the (Aryan) "community good" to justify the Final Solution? Stalin and Mao also invoked the "community good" when setting up the Gulag and initiating the Cultural Revolution. It's all good... But getting back to our own situation in the 21st century, in a context where our elites rejet the Absolute, never fear, our political and civil freedoms are still "relatively" safe...
Bringing in the concept of the "common good" seems to imply (on the part of evolutionists, unconsciously no doubt) a society still living off the benefits of the Judeo-Christian value-system while denying the basis for these values. This is cultural hypocrisy. In such a materialist society, sooner or later these values will be swept aside as well (ACLU notwithstanding). At least de Sade was consistent. CS Lewis points out another difficulty in deriving morals from instincts placed in us by evolutionary processes (1943/1977: 22)
"If the Moral Law was one of our instincts, we ought to be able to point to some one impulse inside us which was always what we call "good", always in agreement with the rule of right behaviour. But you cannot, there is none of our impulses which the Moral Law may not sometimes tells us to suppress, and none which it may not sometimes tell us to encourage. It is a mistake to think that some of our impulses say mother love or patriotism are good, and others, like se or the fighting instinct, are bad. All we mean is that the occasions on which the fighting instinct or the sexual desire need to be restrained are rather more frequent than those for restraining mother love or patriotism. But there are situations in which it is the duty of a married man to encourage his sexual impulse and of a soldier to encourage the fighting instinct. There are also occasions on which a mother's love for her own children or a man's love for his own country have to be suppressed or they will lead to unfairness towards other people's children or countries. Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses."
Since the Holocaust and World War II, Western elites have slowly realised (though would rarely admit) that evolution is an inadequate source for morals/ethics and cannot be applied to human societies. As a result, evolutionists face a "great temptation", that is to fall back on proven moral systems already present in the West and which have their source outside the evolutionary worldview. Commenting on this dilemma among British evolutionists GG Simpson and Julian Huxely, John C. Greene notes (Greene 1981 : 174-175):
"To the outside observer it seems obvious that Simpson and Huxley simply take for granted the moral values and ideals of Western culture and seek to derive them from some other source than the sources that originally inspired them Greek culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition. They are forced to do so because they reject both philosophy and Christianity as incompatible with the positivistic conception of knowledge that informs their thinking."'
But Nietzsche states that if you reject the Christian God, then rationally you are incoherent if you attempt (consciously or not) to hang on to shreds of Christian morality. In Twilight of the Idols (ix.5) Nietzsche mocks this attitude and comments:
"G. Eliot. They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the
more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. That is an English
consistency; we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females
à la Eliot. In England one must rehabilitate oneself after every
little emancipation from theology by showing in a veritably awe-inspiring
manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they pay there.
"We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth--it stands or falls with faith in God.
"When the English actually believe that they know 'intuitively' what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem."
Despite Nietzsche's comments, there is still no lack of materialists attempting to fall back on Judeo-christian morals. It would appear that the urge to appear moral (in their own eyes at least) is rather stronger than the urge to be rationally coherent. Philip Yancey (an American Evangelical author) writes about a visit with other evangelical leaders to Russia shortly after the fall of Communism (which had consistently applied a materialistic world-view for over 70 years) and a meeting with the editors of the newspaper Pravda. Yancey notes. (1995: 131)
"Pravda editors conceded to us that they did not know how to motivate people to show compassion. A recent campaign to raise funds for the children of Chernobyl had foundered. The average Soviet citizen would rather spend his money on drink than support needy children. Their own polls had revealed that 70% of Soviet parents would not allow their own children to have contact with a disabled child; 80% would not give money to help; some advocated infanticide. "How do you reform change, motivate people ?" the editors asked us."
On this same subject a Romanian author, Sergui Grossu, adds (1979: 62-63):
Before the introduction of the atheistic education in Lithuania, theft, corruption, attacks on human life, rape, were very rare occurrences, however in our days such cases happen daily. Dealing with juvenile delinquents, it has been necessary to build cells in offices of the militia. Never before in Lithuania has alcoholism, murder, lies, dishonesty, the refusal to accomplish one's duty been as rampant as these last years. Everywhere, one observes a lack of conscience, in employees, officials, in shops, in factories, in administrative offices, in hospitals and elsewhere. Reality has demonstrated that atheistic education has not been able to provide our youth with healthy moral principles and atheistic propaganda has not managed to raise the moral level in society. (translation PG)
We may wonder what society should do if the individual responds to evolutionary sermons on "the community good" by responding that their selfishness is genetic (think of the "gay gene"...) and that it would be wrong to deny their selfish impulses... What then ? Another dodge one could also employ would be to simply use a very narrow definition of what one means by "the common good", understanding it as being strictly related to one's own (race, family, national) self-interests. What then ??? Within the materialist standpoint, why shouldn't these narrow definitions of "the common good" be perfectly legitimate ? There's no reason why... (excluding unconscious reference to the Golden Rule or Judeo-Christian views on good -evil). In any case, there may be other reasons for unregenerate men and women to ignore appeals to "the community good", simply because their life-history may have taught them that "the community" has never cared about them so why should they give a **** about anyone else ?? In such circumstances there's no logical reason to exclude selfishness as a legitimate form of adaptation in the evolutionary / materialistic world-view especially if it is perceived as enhancing their chances of survival. In the following quote, Francis Schaeffer explores two consequences of the adoption of a materialistic view of man (1982/94: vol. V 290):
"On the one hand, the idea that mankind is only a collection of the genes which make up the DNA patterns has naturally led to the concept of remaking all of humanity with the use of genetic engineering. On the other hand, it has led to the crime and cruelty that now disturb the very people whose teaching produces the crime and cruelty in the first place. Many of these people do not face the conclusion of their own teaching. With nothing higher than human opinion upon which to base judgements and with ethics equalling no ethics, the justification for seeing crime and cruelty as disturbing is destroyed. The very word crime and even the word cruelty lose meaning. There is no final reason on which to forbid anything - "If nothing is forbidden, then anything is possible."
If man is not made in the image of God, then nothing stands in the way of inhumanity because basically "humanity" is an empty concept. After all, Hitler and the neighbourhood rapist are humans too! Within the Darwinian cosmology, is there any particular reason why mankind should be perceived as "special" or unique? Evolutionists will thump on their copies of the Origin and say "NO, man is just an animal! Get used to it!" Human life is cheapened. We can see this in many of the major issues being debated in our society today: abortion, infanticide, biotechnology, euthanasia, the increase of child abuse and violence of all kinds, pornography (and its particular kinds of violence as evidenced in sadomasochism), the routine torture of political prisoners in many parts of the world, the crime explosion, and the random violence which surrounds us.
Peeking into the Abyss
Most cultural anthropologists are relativists. It is logically consistent for materialists and atheists to be moral relativists. There are however, I believe, levels of relativism. People who don't believe in any moral absolutes are relativists (as is the case for most cultural anthropologists working in non-western societies) and as such they think no one should go and impose moral laws on other societies (missionaries for example) so their approach is hands off, until... circumstances become "unpleasant" and, then, they are confronted with issues that hit them personally and confront them with the fact that their relativism is only skin deep and hides moral absolutes that they would rather not acknowledge, but pop their ugly heads out nonetheless. So ironically they find themselves flipping upside-down the position of Paul here as he says: "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Romans 7: 19). So there are two levels of relativism. The first a lazy form of relativism and is, essentially, reserved for things that the relativist doesn't believe in. It is a hypocrite's relativism as it is aimed at OTHER PEOPLE'S BELIEFS! Cultural anthropologists will very likely never admit to such a thing, but if you catch them with their pants down, it becomes obvious. When doing fieldwork, typically cultural anthropologists work with a contact in the culture that they are studying. These contacts are called "informants" and after a number of months (or years) a strong relation of friendship may develop. The informant is no longer just a bug to be studied under a microscope, but a real flesh and blood person, and eventually a friend. This changes things. The following quote (where, in order to protect the privacy of the individual, the informant's name is just "P") illustrates such a case (Herdt 1990: 200)
"In P.'s case, we wondered, before we left the Valley, whether, when her husband died, some of the men, within the bounds of their customs, would kill her for being an uppity, disruptive female. Was it our business to prevent her murder, and in doing so, inflict on these people our alien morality ? When we decided to hell with it - we were going to protect her by warning them not to kill her or even beat her senseless - we knew we were INDULGING ourselves. In doing so, we perhaps saved her, but pushed our friends one step further on the road to unforseeable cultural change."
The fact that these anthropologists note that in intervening in such a way they consider that they were "INDULGING ourselves" underscores the fact that they (perhaps unconsciously) recognize that their relativism strips them of a basis for making any such an intervention/judgment. Such an intervention/judgment is then totally irrational. They also realize they are breaking an unwritten anthropological law (again based on relativism), never to change the customs of the society being studied. Situations like the quote above point out the fact that even the most consistent relativists are closet moral absolutists (they believe in moral absolutes). The bottom line is that they're just trickier to nail down. They are sophisticated hypocrites. You have to catch them with their pants down. It's the same sort of line you'll get from homosexuals ranting about Christians being homophobic. This disguises the fact that they can't (and won't) tolerate anyone calling their behaviour SIN... So again you have people who parade as consistent relativists, but are in fact closet moral absolutists. You have to be very good to catch them at it though...
In the context of relations between the individual and the State, Schaeffer notes (1982/94: vol. V 467):
"You must understand that those in our present material-energy, chance oriented generation have no reason to obey the state except that the state has the guns and has the patronage. That is the only reason they have for obeying the state. A material-energy, chance orientation gives no base, no reason, except force and patronage, as to why citizens should obey the state."
Try and imagine cases where an evolutionary / materialistic world-view was actually put into practice on a wide scale and did not produce moral nightmares of some sort. I can't think of any but, even if there were, the list would be short. Or at the other end of things, do evolutionists have any heroes of altruism and compassion that could compare to people like Florence Nightingale, Albert Schwietzer, Mother Teresa of Calcutta ? One largely forgotten cultural spinoff of the darwinist perspective was racism as entertainment. This has been documented in a Wiki article on Human Zoos which examines how "inferior races" were paraded for the amusement of the more "enlightened" or "advanced" races. Professeur of biology Douglas H. Boucher, in an article on the philosophical and social impact of Darwinism, noted that the theory has always had important political repercussions (and he lists Malthus' economic and social policies, 19th century Social Darwinism [basically racism], eugenics in the 1920 and 30s, Nazi race policies in the 1930-40s, in our generation, abortion, population control policies and sociobiology) and points out that the links between the biological theory and political theories (and practices) are clear and the consequences dramatic - racism, sterilisation and even genocide - and well known. Boucher also adds (1981: 83-84)
"We [evolutionists - PG] are in the habit of denouncing these links as abuses of Darwinism, regrettable of course, but with no real relation to the scientific validity of the theory. Some may see in these counterfeits a powerful argument for total separation of science and politics. As for myself, I draw a completely different conclusion; that scientific theories (whether they are "true" or "false', "strong" or "weak") and ideologies are inseparable. The relationship between adaptationism, Malthusian views, and Mendelism, on one side, and the development of Western capitalism, on the other, is perhaps just as historically inevitable as it is unjustifiable logically. (translation PG)
But in any case who gets to determine what constitutes an "abuse" when there is no real reference point for Good beyond survival? From an evolutionary point of view, why should anything except survival be the ultimate value? What could be more important (and why)? When policies and morals change and produce Holocausts and oppression why should this be termed an "abuse" instead of an "adaptation"? Who decides what an "abuse" of Darwinism is, the post-modern elite's marketing department??
Peter Singer is an ardent evolutionist and animal rights activist. He is also professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Being an evolutionist, Singer totally rejects the Judeo-Christian concept that man is a particular being, a being apart from the rest of other living organisms, created in Gods image. In Singer's view, man is an animal, nothing more. Thus one must drop the illusion that man is special, separate. The only thing setting apart humans is their self-awareness, which is tied to a being's capacity to feel pain and pleasure. Singer is a more coherent evolutionist than most and advocates scientific experiments on human children with mental disabilities as well as bestiality (2001). If a human loses its self-awareness (or never appears to have attained it) then Singer considers this individual as less than human and may be treated like an animal, hence permitting scientific experiments on human children with mental disabilities. But life sometimes plays wicked tricks on people. The Wiki article on Singer notes that Singers own mother came down with Alzheimer's. Now Wiki being the servile politically-correct institution that it is does not go after Singer on this, but in discussing this matter it does point out one grim fact (2010).
He [Singer] said, "I think this has made me see how the issues of someone with these kinds of problems are really very difficult" In an interview with Ronald Bailey, published in December 2000, he explained that his sister shares the responsibility of making decisions about his mother. He did say that, if he were solely responsible, his mother might not continue to live.
But it is a known fact that there is a genetic component to Alzheimer's and
chances are that Peter Singer himself may come down with it. And if he did,
it would appear entirely logical (from the perspective of Singers worldview)
to consider him as less than human and thus potential lab rat material. Would
Singer thus agree to be deemed less than human? But if he already had the
symptoms of advanced Alzheimer's how could he agree/disagree? He wouldnt
understand the question. If a person shared Singers worldview, asking
the question would be simply pointless. And if this person was a medical bureaucrat,
then Peter Singers life would hang on a very fine thread.
In Genesis 3: 5 Satan offers Adam and Eve the forbidden fruit, conferring knowledge of Good and Evil. In the West it seems that, with the rejection of the Judeo-Christian world-view, the forbidden fruit has been too well digested and that knowledge long lost. We no longer distinguish between good and evil. All we do know is what science and technology allow us to do. Who will tell us what not to do, unless it turns out to be something deemed "politically incorrect" by media elites or superior court judges? The winds of morality in our time are ever changing. Media has great influence and can make or break fads in clothing or fads in music. But in our generation their influence has expanded greatly and now they can make or break fads in public morality as well. If baby seals, owls and whales are thought of as cute (in other words good for ratings...) then it is immoral to hurt them, but if the media feels they are no longer cute, then they go to the purgatory of Hollywood has-beens.
Media elites have now assumed ideological functions performed in previous generations only by bishops, rabbis and pastors. With the influence they now wield they can create new taboos, censor public discourse, tell us what to think and how to behave. They can break the careers of politicians whom they deem "non-kosher". With media backing, anything becomes possible. They decide which issues get coverage and which opinions get attention. Issues that are deemed "not significant" don't. They decide what is "important" and what is not. Few groups in the West have such power. Who knows what the next moral fad will be ? Perhaps paedophilia as a positive expression of selfhood or the killing off of unwanted elderly people or others with diseases which are expensive to treat will soon be seen as acts of compassion? Why not? Who's to stop such things from happening if they have become fashionable and have backing in the media and the superior courts? In the long run, one may expect that all those books by evolutionists discussing how ethics can be derived by evolutionary processes in university libraries are destined to be read only by other evolutionary academics and then gather dust in an intellectual form of natural selection...
One can allow that evolutionists have very fertile imaginations and could possibility develop a coherent ethical system, but I doubt this very much as when it comes to the real world, they have very few scruples about using unethical and hypocritical means to market their mythology. For example, discussing the perils of teaching evolution in a culture that is critical of his mythology, Darwinist biology professor Bora Zivkovic, who blogs at A Blog Around The Clock notes bluntly (2008) :
You cannot bludgeon kids with truth (or insult their religion, i.e., their parents and friends) and hope they will smile and believe you. Yes, NOMA is wrong, but it is a good first tool for gaining trust. You have to bring them over to your side, gain their trust, and then hold their hands and help them step by step. And on that slow journey, which will be painful for many of them, it is OK to use some inaccuracies temporarily if they help you reach the students. If a student, like Natalie Wright who I quoted above, goes on to study biology, then he or she will unlearn the inaccuracies in time. If most of the students do not, but those cutesy examples help them accept evolution, then it is OK if they keep some of those little inaccuracies for the rest of their lives. It is perfectly fine if they keep thinking that Mickey Mouse evolved as long as they think evolution is fine and dandy overall. Without Mickey, they may have become Creationist activists instead. Without belief in NOMA they would have never accepted anything, and well, so be it. Better NOMA-believers than Creationists, don't you think?
A while ago I heard an interview on the radio (YES, our so politically-correct
) about a Christian who lost his faith and became an atheist. It
was one of those typical stories about the slide into "unbelief"
our postmodern elites love to gloat about. Oddly enough the freshly converted
atheist missed certain aspects of Christian belief, heaven/life after death
in particular. One of the main reasons he gave for his conversion was all
the horrible hypocrisy he saw in Christians. Isnt it strange though
that you never hear stories about atheists becoming Christians because of
all the horrible hypocrisy that they saw among leading atheists (example of
evolutionist)?? Why is that?
What does that tell you about atheism or atheists?
Is this because atheists so morally pure that no criticism will stick or is it for some other reason?
Why does making high moral demands on atheists seem irrelevant? What does this tell us?
Paul Gosselin is a Social Anthropologist and the author of Flight from the Absolute: Cynical Observations on the Postmodern West.
Boucher, Douglas H.
Le néo-darwinisme: mythes et réalités. pp. 77-84
in Darwin après Darwin. Levy, Joseph J. & Cohen, Henri (éds.) Presses de l'Université du Québec Sillery, Qc (coll. Journee d'études multi-disciplinaire, Dec. 1982 (U. du Québec à Montréal)) 1984 220 p.
Can We Be Good Without God?
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996
2000 The Descent of Man (Episode 1: The Moral Animal)
(Broadcast on The Science Show on Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National in Jan. and Feb. 2000, produced by Tom Morton)
Michael Vick: Appeal to Darwin!
Vonnegut's Amibivalence (video series in 6 parts - YouTube - 2010)
Gosselin, Paul & Baird, Paul
Moral Absolutes: An Exchange with Atheist Paul Baird. (Samizdat 2010 - 2011)
Greene, John C.
Science, Ideology and World View : Essays in the History of Evolutionary Ideas
University of California Press Berkeley CA 1981 x-202 p.
Les enfants du Goulag: Chronique de l'enfance opprimée en URSS.
Editions France-Empire Paris 1979 255 p.
Herdt, Gilbert; Stoller, Robert J.
Columbia U. Press New York 1990 467 p.
Keith, Sir Arthur
Evolution And Ethics.
G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York 1946/1947
Lewis, C. S.
The Abolition of Man: Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools.
Collins Glasgow 1946/1978 63 p.
Lewis, C. S.
MacMillan New York 1943/1977 190 p.
Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist.
Harvard U.Press Cambridge Mass, 1982 564 p.
Twilight of the Idols. 1895 (Text prepared from the original German and the translations by Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale)
Charles Darwin’s notes on marriage and children, ‘better than a dog anyhow’.
Yahoo! News | The Sideshow – Tue, Aug 14 2012
Provine, William B.
Response to Phillip Johnson. (Letter) pp. 23-24
in First Things mag. no. 6 (October 1990)
Richards, Robert J.
Darwin and the emergence of evolutionary theories of mind and behavior.
University of Chicago Press Chicago & London (coll. Science and its conceptual foundations) 1987 700 p.
Sade, Marquis de; & Blanchot, Maurice
Français, encore un effort si vous voulez etre républicains_. (extrait de La Philosophie dans le boudoir”) précédé de L'inconvenance majeure.
Jean-Jacques Pauvert Paris (collection Libertés nouvelles; 23) 1795/1972 163 p.
The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer: A Christian World-View.
Crossway Books Wheaton IL 1982/1994 vols. I-V
Charles Darwin and the Children of the Evolution.
The Sunday Times November 8, 2009
Heavy Petting. Nerve, 2001
A Civic Biology and Eugenics. pp. 123127
Journal of Creation v.20 no.3 December 2006
Finding God in Unexpected Places.
Moorings (Ballantine/Random House)
Nashville TN 1995 240 p.
Why teaching evolution is dangerous.
(August 25th 2006)
 - A non-Christian as far as I know.
 - Sir Arthur Keith, an evolutionist, writing just after World War II, observed, (1947 : 27- 28) :
The German Fuhrer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution... To see evolutionary measures and tribal morality being applied vigorously to the affairs of a great modern nation, we must turn again to Germany of 1942. We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution produces the only real basis for a national policy... The means he adopted to secure the destiny of his race and people were organized slaughter, which has drenched Europe in blood... Such conduct is highly immoral as measured by every scale of ethics, yet Germany justifies it; it is consonant with tribal or evolutionary morality. Germany has reverted to the tribal past, and is demonstrating to the world, in their naked ferocity, the methods of evolution.
 - CS Lewis' definition of the Tao:
"This conception in all its forms, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental alike, I shall henceforth refer to for brevity simply as 'the Tao'. Some of the accounts of which I have quoted will seem, perhaps, to many of you merely quaint or even magical. But what is common to them all is something we cannot neglect. It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are. Those who know the Tao can hold that to call children delightful or old men venerable is not simply to record a psychological fact about our own parental or filial emotions at the moment, but to recognize a quality which demands a certain response from us whether we make it or not. I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself - just as a man may have to recognize he is tone deaf or colour blind." (p. 16)
 - J. Huxley was involved in writing the UNESCO charter.