Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Absurdity of Equating Evolutionary Biology With Immorality

A Christian's Viewpoint

Darwin's Evil Finches........

All too often, religious folks who attempt to censure Darwin's theory of Natural Selection by denouncing it as being a harbinger of humanistic morality. According to these fundamentalists, the murderous observations of Darwin is almost akin to a doctrine and an excuse to commit murder and all manner of crimes.

The issue will inevitably revolve around the term "Survival of the Fittest" (Coined by Herbert Spencer), a term used by Darwin to denote his observations that in nature, species or individual animals which were most suited to survive in the environment will have the highest survival chances, and hence the highest possibility of passing down its genes to future generations.

Over at Vjack's blog, a Christian by the name of Paul puts forth his accusations against the late biologist:

All I'm saying is that your theory of evolution and survival of the fittest would say that we should look out for our own interests and for our own survival. The fact that you do not abide by what "natural selection" says should happen shows me that practically, you do not believe in that. You may say that you do, but you do not practice what you believe about science and evolution. I also do not just do good things in the hope of getting something out of it. I have come to realize that there is nothing in me that I could possibly do to earn any kind of reward. It is only by the grace of God that I have salvation. I do what I do because of the love that God has placed within me. Of course, I understand the idea of empathy and I am glad that your morality is not based upon your scientific beliefs. It would be a horrible world indeed if morality was driven by the theory of natural selection. I would just like to know how you determine what's right and wrong. What's right for one person may not be right for another person. How do you determine that stealing from someone is wrong? What is the standard?

Paul makes the follow assumptions:

1. Evolution and its adherent, Natural Selection, are bad morals designed and devised by a deviant, evil scientist (Darwin, who else?).

2. If we live by Darwinian rules, we will surely be murderous, barbarous hordes.

3. Morals must be derived from something external from ourselves, i.e a supernatural entity.

At this point, I will attempt to debunk and make a case for evolution, and reveal the true intentions of people like Paul.

Morality vs Scientific Beliefs?

Paul makes an attempt to link Science and conflate it into a moral code: If you believe in Science, naturally you will act in accordance to the ways of Science.

Suppose I am a physicist studying about the theory of gravity. Obviously gravity is a non-anthropomorphic force: Regardless whether you want that piece of object to fall, it will inevitably fall back to Earth. You can repeat the process once, twice or as many times as you can, and the results will inevitably be the same. Gravity exists. Now, we all know that some folks utilize gravity to commit suicide. Should I be blamed for these suicides, then, for believing, or advancing the fact that gravity exists?

Blaming the Lion For Bloody Murder?

To put it in a more grotesque perspective: Should National Geographic be solely accountable to cannibalistic crime committed by a human cannibal merely because on that day of the crime, a video featuring the bloody eating habits of a pride of lions, along with the grizzly process of the immolation of the poor zebra, was aired on prime time TV?

Contrary to Paul's deductions, morality and the observation of Scientific phenomena are two distinctly, different issues. Blaming Evolution for bad moral behavior is no more erroneous and irrational than blaming the knife for the crime of murder. It simply doesn't add up.

Evolution, Empathy and Selflessness

While it is true that certain species of animals, such as tigers, are solitary creatures and tend to keep to themselves other than for mating and breeding purposes in the wild, apes, lions and other congregating creatures are predominantly social creatures who live communally in a spirit of cooperation.

Ants may be Tiny Creatures, But they Have a Complex Social Structure

Paul assumes that folks who concur with the Theory of Evolution have no room for empathy and selflessness, which is an entirely groundless accusation: Animals have been observed to help their stricken comrades in the wild, and this "empathy" trait is most commonly observed amongst creatures which have complex, social hierarchies, from humans to apes and right down to the smallest creatures, such as ants and bees.

May I challenge Paul to carry out this deadly experiment: Stir up a bee hive. Now we know that bees, when they sting, they basically are committing bloody suicide; they leave behind their sting, along with their internal entrails, and what seems like an evolutionary dead end to the ignorant becomes clear when we study the complex social order of bees. Male king bees are born to mate, worker bees to work, and the female queens to lay eggs continuously for the rest of their lives. The act of empathy and selflessness can be gleaned and observed quite commonly in nature, and here is something Paul obviously has no understanding about.

The Basis of Morality: Social & Tribal Welfare

Paul questions the basis of morality, since us atheists reject an assumed God-based morality, which in reality is simply a mish-mash of religious codes designed to enforce a sheep-like mentality amongst the pious believers.

Like other social animals, Man lives and abides by the rules and regulations that serves best for his community or his tribe: Murder, for example, sows fear and disrupts the community, and is not to be employed unless a threat exists from within and without. Morals, as we know it, evolved purely as a status quo for people to live harmoniously; without it, social life would be impossible.

Our moral codes have, in turn, evolved into codified national laws which we live and abide by in the interests of our nation. In short, moral codes are derived from within our own species, devised and improvised in order to suit the needs of the tribes (and sometimes, the imagined needs of a deity). It has nothing to do with deities, cosmic teapots, and other supernatural mumbo-jumbos as expounded by shamans and religious soothsayers.

Why Blame Evolution?

This is a puzzling question for me: Why is it that religious folks often pick on Evolutionary Biology and lampoon it in a way that no other branches of Science, such as Chemistry and Physics, are attacked?

One plausible reason may be that evolutionary deals with the very heart of religious doctrine: All creatures, great and small, evolve and shared a common ancestor, and no God need to be invoked for this biological process. It strikes a chord with religious folks because it debunks the very foundations of their faith.

Such attempts at discrediting Evolution only goes to show that evolution is very much entrenched in the realm of legitimate Science, and religious folks are trying to engage in every last bit of tomfoolery and trick in the magician's hat to get it out of government schools.

Religious Morality???

Religious Books: The Primal Source of Morals?

As for the basis of God being the bastion of humanistic morality, one only has to glean through scripture upon scripture of religious texts to debunk such claims. While I can already imagine Christians screaming "bloody murder" at the hordes of supposedly deadly atheists out on a deadly rampage, it is an inescapable fact that so many religions, particularly the monotheistic ones, have blood and murder scribed and prescribed to followers in their holy books.

Blaming Evolution for the crimes of mankind doesn't quite click for any rational-minded person, and if religious folks wish to blame poor old Darwin for the crimes of the bigoted and the tyrannic, they might as well take a peek in their very own holy scripture and perhaps be inspired by the magnitude of their inspired holy texts.