The Morality of Evolution
If one fully believes in evolution, do they actually have any basis for moral living? Or is there a better way?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
For those of you that are done with school, as you think back on your years in school, especially middle school and high school, there’s only so many things you can remember from each grade.
Like, when I was in 8th grade: I remember:
I remember not having a girlfriend that year
I remember dislocating my shoulder sliding into 2nd base and then getting mocked by teammates for screaming like a little girl
And I remember the day we first started talking about the beginning of time in 8th grade science.
Now, at this point in my life, I wasn’t a Christian…a follower of Christ.
But I remember sitting there with my mouth open…thinking… “I don’t know…this just doesn’t seem right”
The idea that science just explains EVERYTHING (the beginning of existence, life as we know it, everything)…just didn’t seem right to me.
But how did we get there? As a culture?
To the place where science replaced God?
It’s an odd journey.
Christianity was actually a major catalyst for science…especially biological science.
Because Christianity taught us that God’s creation was GOOD…and that…we should study it.
But in the 18th century, large numbers of people started to drift towards the belief that the natural world is the ONLY reality
And thus science, has begun to replace spirituality, for ALL answers.
And yet…people can’t seem to escape many of the ways of life that Christianity brought us either.
This is the thesis of this series.
That Christianity brought the chair, but the culture didn’t like what the chair was founded in, so they took off the legs and kept part of the chair
But when you do so…it’s only so long until the chair falls down.
Perhaps the best example of this in the scientific world is the interplay of evolution and morality.
If you take God out of the equation, do we still have a basis for morality?
A reason to conduct ourselves in a certain way or treat people in a certain way? Do we have a foundation for that anymore…w/o God?
It’s actually a GREAT question for 2016.
People are increasingly leaving God completely out of things, and yet, are still fiercely moral.
Young people are a good example of this.
Today’s twentysomes are not Amoral.
They care more than many of the generations before them about right and wrong and defending the weak…
A large portion of Americans are still sitting on a Christian chair of morality, and yet they’ve fully embraced evolution as their foundation for why life exists.
But as you’ll see today…these two things aren’t in the least…compatible.
Now, whenever I say the word “evolution,” that raises a ton of questions…particularly for Christians.
“What do you mean by EVOLUTION???,” you say.
“Are you talking about “young earth creationism” or do you believe the earth is older?”
“Are you talking about evolution…but where God possible played a role???”
Today…whenever I say the word evolution (don’t miss this!!)…I’m talking about classic text-book definition of evolution…like you learned in high school biology.
That life on earth has evolved (not just on a micro level, but macro) and diversified into different species through the process of natural selection
That there is no God.
That chemistry produced a self-replicating molecule on earth…and from there…life evolved.
And that before that there was a big bang…in which we can’t explain the cause…or, more accurately, the cause of the cause.
However, the Bible describes a different description of the origin of life.
First verse of the Bible: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Colossians 1:16-17) – NIV
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
We’re going to stick to that very basic belief for the purpose of today’s message.
I don’t want to get into the arguments on “young earth creationism” or “how old is the earth” or any of that today…or even if God involved in evolution) because it actually doesn’t matter for the point of this particular message.
If you are fascinated by those subjects, I highly encourage you to check out a message where we talked about that extensively.
It was from 2014 and was called, “Doesn’t Science Contradict Faith” in our Reason to Believe series
But here’s why we don’t need to talk about the process of HOW the earth has progressed until this point…and why we just need to establish WHO created it…
Because our different REASONS for morality are grounded, not in the details of process, but in the big picture of ORIGIN.
Did God make us?
OR, is there a scientific explanation for life without God?
We have to go all the way back there first.
And based on which of those you choose, you end up with a completely different basis for morality (how we should all live)
WHAT EVOLUTIONARY THEORY SAYS ABOUT MORALITY
So let’s start with evolution.
If you are like many Americans today, and you believe fully in evolution (that God did NOT create the world)…what should you then believe about morality (how we should live?)
Evolution, as you might guess, doesn’t have a set list of rules or precepts, for morality.
In evolution, there is no purpose, but to survive and pass on your genes.
So where then, would the evolutionist say that morality even comes from?
Why then, if you see someone fall down in the middle of the road, do you feel compelled to help them?
As if it’s the RIGHT thing to do?
Darwin proposed that morality is simply a byproduct of evolution.
Darwin himself said this: “When two tribes of primeval man, living in the same country, came into competition, if the one tribe included…a greater number of courageous, sympathetic, and faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger, to aid and defend each other, this tribe would without doubt succeed best and conquer the other…. Thus the social and moral qualities would tend slowly to advance and be diffused throughout the world. –
What he’s saying is that moral concepts like “looking out for one another” were passed down in our genes…because having somewhat of a morality was a tool in the toolbelt of survival.
He’s saying that, “Morality is therefore an adaptation of the human species…just like hands and feet.
…that we discovered that in order to survive, we needed to not be complete jerks.
WHERE EVOLUTIONARY THINKING ON MORALITY FALLS SHORT
You can see right away…that this isn’t inspiring.
And how many people do you know that even believe this?!?
But not only is it not inspiring, when it comes to being a foundation for morality…it’s quicksand.
Think of it this way:
I read this from Christian Apologist Greg Koukl this week:
Evolutionary morality can be summarized this way:
“I ought to be unselfish because it increases the chances of the group surviving, which is better for the species, which, I ultimately care about…because that’s better FOR ME…for my survival.
So if we say that we have moral feelings today because it helps OUR survival, what we’re really saying is that morality is then rooted in selfishness.
Is that really morality?
Can you really have any sort of system of ethics that is rooted in selfishness?
That can’t lead to anywhere good.
Think of it this way:
If I’m saying that my moral action is actually rooted in the survival of my group…then I don’t have very strong parameters on what “moral” IS.
All sorts of things could be considered moral if they benefit MY group’s survival.
Can you see how this opens the doors for a lot of scary moral propositions?
History is full of people saying, “For the survival of my people, we must kill your people”
The evolutionist/atheist can give you a theory on how morality ARISES out of evolution (for the betterment of the group), but it’s significantly more challenging for them to tell you WHY any sort or moral living is right…beyond that it advances human progress…and thus the species.
But see, the danger here is, if morality is merely for the betterment of the group…morality IS not fixed.
The recently deceased, William Provine, who was an evolutionist and biology professor at Cornell University, states in referring to the implications of Darwinism, “No ultimate foundations for ethics exist, no ultimate meaning in life exists, and free will is merely a human myth.”
In other words, if evolution is true, then there can be no universal moral code that all people should adhere to at ALL TIMES.
And modern-day evolutionists would actually say that’s a GOOD THING
In fact, Jerry Coyne, a very famous Professor of Evolution from the University of Chicago, says it this way: “Should we be afraid that a morality based on our genes and our brains is somehow inferior to one handed down from above? Not at all. In fact, it's far better, because secular morality has a flexibility and responsiveness to social change that no God-given morality could ever have.”
Do you see what he’s saying??
Most evolutionists today are not without morals.
They still want to do good in the world.
And what Dr. Coyne is saying is that unlike Christians (who would say moral thinking is FIXED in the character of God)…the fact that evolutionists can evolve their moral thinking over time…is a great thing!
They would say that morality is still necessary to human progress.
And human progress will best be served if morality can adapt with the times.
But is the very type of thing that the Bible tells us to be on the lookout for
(Colossians 2:8) – NIV
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
We’re to look out for hollow philosophies that depend on human ideas.
When morality is always being redefined because morality can be “anything that best furthers human progress or your species” that’s a scary thing!
Because that’s completely subjective.
If morality is simply determined by the group, there’s nothing higher to appeal to when the group decides to move on
If human rights are determined by what the majority currently thinks (not a right established by God), then those rights have no use.
The importance of a right…is that people can still be protected even if they’re in the minority!
The Rwandan Genocide is a good example here.
The Hutu tribe (which was 85% of Rwandans) decided that it would be in the best interest of their group to eliminate the minority Tutsi Tribe.
And see, when a group can decide their own morality without the existence of an unchanging/HIGHER morality, it’s the powerless who always lose out.
History is ugly on this topic.
Let’s remember that Hitler convinced the majority of his people that the Jews were “an inferior pollution to the gene pool.”
Many have argued that Darwin didn’t go that far with his theory (IN truth, Darwin wrote that it could be the logical conclusion to his theory, but often didn’t allow himself to mentally go there)
But where did the Nazi’s get that idea?
Not from Jesus.
Darwin himself wrote, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races,”
Evolutionists can certainly tell you that racism, or genocide is bad, but the challenge is that they can’t give you an objective reason on WHY it’s bad.
They can only say, “I think racism or genocide might work pretty negatively against human progress”
But they can’t say, “it’s not RIGHT”
And why should an evolutionist even say they have an obligation to even something as simple as human progress?
How can one have an obligation to anything without a higher being?
Another evolutionist could just as easily use evolutionary theory (and many have) to say that we ought to simply copy nature and destroy the weak so the strong survive.
There are no moral restraints to protect the weak, because moral restraints don’t exist in evolution
THE INCONSISTENCIES OF EVOLUTION
But this kind of talk makes almost all Americans uncomfortable.
And in part, my aim was to make you feel a bit uncomfortable.
I want you to see that evidence for truth isn’t ONLY in scientific data…but also in philosophical thought…and in how we live everyday life.
You can’t say you fully believe in evolution…and then not live it out.
Then you don’t really believe in it…you believe in something else.
And I think when it comes down to it, a lot of Americans prove by their actions, that they don’t really BELIEVE in evolution (that everything can be explained by a scientific worldview…without God)
In truth, they want to believe in something else.
They want to believe they have a purpose.
Not that they are just some afterthought on a random speck of dust in an enormous universe.
The most popular atheist (and also evolutionist) right now is certainly Richard Dawkins.
The man is crazy, but what I like about him, is he’s actually consistent with his beliefs
He doesn’t say that “the world is a biological accident” on one hand and yet say, “But we’re all obligated to morally treat each other kindly for the sake of human progress” on the other hand
He says, “There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference. . . . We are machines for propagating DNA. . . . It is every living object’s sole reason for being”
Stephen J. Gould, the famous Harvard scientist was once asked “What is the meaning of life?”
He responded: “We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures. We may yearn for a higher answer, but none exists.”
If you’re an accident, if your creator is science, then there is NO purpose to your life.
And certainly no objective reason to be kind or even to teach your children to be kind.
And if there’s no purpose…there is no right and wrong.
Timothy Keller says it this way:
“If there is no God, or anything beyond this material world, then whether you’ve been good or cruel or murderous will make no final difference.”
And again, I tell you, all of this is EVIDENCE too.
Why do we yearn so much for purpose?
Perhaps that’s because there is a God…who created you to have a purpose…and put that within you.
And that’s evidence for the existence of God.
Evidence for God goes far BEYOND just looking at science.
Science is important.
But science is just one of many categories of evidence.
The more I got to thinking about it this week, the more I was surprised with how antithetical evolution is to some of secular culture’s most deeply held beliefs.
Abortion makes no sense through the lens of an evolutionist
The basic tenet of evolution and survival is that you are to survive…to procreate…and pass on your genes.
So the fact that we would stop that, through aborting our own genetic offspring, is actually completely contradictory to evolution.
Same sex relationships don’t fit with an evolutionary mindset for the same reason.
Here’s another one: It seems everyone in 2016 is fighting for the rights and equality of someone or some people group.
And yet how can we say that we should fight for the rights of the poor when evolution says “Survival of the fittest?”
Or let me give you a fourth example: Secular culture has come a long way in how we treat those with cognitive & intellectual disabilities, and we treat them with respect nowadays…
But evolutionary thought would require the exact opposite approach
There is no basis for morality in evolutionary thought.
Just a morality that will advance your survival and your own genes.
Evolutionary thought on morality doesn’t even give us what we want in how we even treat our own children.
In his book Flesh and Machines, MIT professor Rodney Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine—or what he calls a "big bag of skin, full of biomolecules" interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry.
In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way.
But, Brooks says, "When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself … see that they are machines."
And yet Brooks admits in his book, "But that’s not how I treat them … I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis."
So how does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance?
He doesn't. Brooks ends by saying, "I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs."
This is the tragedy of an age where we sit on chairs without legs.
And what I desire for our culture to do is to begin to look at the evidence harder.
We can no longer just buffet-style load beliefs and philosophies on our plate and NOT see that some of them don’t make any sense together.
It’s like putting mayo on Cheeseburger…just don’t do that!
If you are a true evolutionist, and you don’t believe God created the universe, then:
You cannot say there is a purpose to your life
You cannot say there is an absolute right or wrong…on anything
There are no “Rights” or “freedoms” guaranteed to anyone.
But if God exists, then there is an objective right and wrong.
And God’s perfect nature is how we measure it.
We are to be kind, and loving, and grace filled…because God is those things.
And God gives us further instructions on plenty more issues.
And His Spirit to guide us on even more.
(Hebrews 11:1-3) – NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
God has given us SO much evidence that he has created our world and us.
Will we believe it…by faith?
I believe when all of the evidence is examined, the most reasonable thing is to believe in God by faith…NOT to disbelief in God…by faith.
The question that we all need to ask today is: What best explains the existence of morality?
Why do we all feel such a pull towards things being “right” or “wrong”
Why do we all, at times, feel this sense of guilt over something we’ve done?
Where does our obsession with morality come from?
What best answers that question?
And in the end everyone must accept one of two alternatives and live accordingly
Do we believe the world was created by random chance?
If we do, then we must live that way.
But if you believe…
That ethics is more than just survival or advancing human progress…
That there’s a purpose to your life.
That there are some things that are RIGHT…some things that are WRONG…
That the poor and the weak deserve our help
If you believe all of those things…
Then that means…that the evidence in front of you…says that GOD created the world…not chance.
And God’s purposefully left you with that evidence, in your heart, your conscience.
Today, like this whole series, ought to cause us to believe deeper in our God.
So often nowadays, I feel like we’re running backwards from faith…and into the arms of more doubt.
But if we just look harder at the evidence of everyday life, Christianity IS the most plausible answer for the existence of life.
And the vast majority of people know this.
This is why even 90% of atheists might say they life was created by chance, but can’t bring themselves to embrace the chaotic madness that should come with living that out.
And so they settle for living looks like a mostly Christian life…minus the church/spiritual part.
And friends, that in itself, is some of the best evidence that God has left us of his existence.
If God is just a fiction, his ways wouldn’t make so much sense in real life.
But how telling is it…that His ways of living are the ones that make the most sense even to those who don’t believe in Him?
I pray that God continues to reveal Himself to you more and more, and that He builds your faith.
Let me pray for just that…
This morning, we are going to take communion together as well. Communion is always a great time for us to remember what our faith is all about.
That our God, not only created everything and gave us breath, but that, He sent His son for us.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do. But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. To only do it if we truly believe it. And if you’re still just seeking, that’s ok. You’re on a journey. 2) Communion is an opportunity for believers to examine themselves (ask yourself some tough questions)
In the back, there are 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
Sometime to remember what He’s done and what He will do
And when you’re ready, at any time during the next few songs (if you need to wait, wait), you can go back and take communion.
If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so. With each other, by yourself, or our prayer team will be in the back to pray for you as well (POINT THEM OUT)
We really just want you to encounter God during our service.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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