The creation basis for morality
Driving home from the office, I couldn’t help noticing what a difference a police speed trap made to the traffic’s speed. A motorist who, moments before, had been ‘sitting on my rear bumper’ and pushing me to exceed the speed limit suddenly became a model citizen obeying the law.
News bulletins every day abound with stories of moral unrest somewhere in the world. The Columbine high-school massacre in America a few years ago focused world attention on a once-average community which suffered the outrage of brutal murders. The atrocities that resulted in the deaths of thousands in the World Trade Center terrorist acts brought to light how wicked human beings can be towards one another.
Society’s laws are being violated at an ever-increasing rate, as evidenced by the rapid expansion of police forces and proliferation of all manner of ‘security’ devices and services to protect life and property. Clearly, our social ethics have not kept pace with our incredible achievements in science and technology. Social reform and massive government spending on new ideas to cure society’s ills will be doomed to failure in the long run as society’s shift away from God-based concepts continues. Why is this?
Just as with the motorists who slow down when faced with a speeding fine, society tends to become more responsible when, as individuals, we’re accountable to someone. However, the idea that as human beings we are accountable to a Creator for our actions, and will face a judgment for them, has become ‘outdated’. Constant bombardment via schools and the media with the evolutionary notion that we are simply the result of a cosmic accident has persuaded many that there is no higher being in the universe. Mankind is not responsible to anyone, in this evolutionary view. There will be no accounting for our actions during or after life here on Earth.
However, according to the Bible, a day is coming when all of us will stand before God and be judged for our actions while alive on Earth. No one will escape.
What a difference it makes when people believe that we will be called upon to give an account of ourselves for every situation. ‘But I say to you that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment’ (Matthew 12:36).
When the Nazis during WWII carried out their brutal reign of terror upon innocent Jews, would they have done so if they had truly believed that they would reap a recompense for their actions? The Nazis had been taught that evolution was true and involved the concepts of survival of the fittest and elimination of the weak, and they were determined to apply this in real life. The ardent evolutionist Sir Arthur Keith, although an anti-Nazi, commented on Hitler’s evolutionary stance:
‘The German Führer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.’1
The bloodthirsty regimes of Hitler and Stalin both based their philosophies on evolutionary principles. Injustice, cruelty, and merciless brutality were backed up by the ultimate evolutionary notion that all things made themselves, and that there is no higher authority which we must obey.
Evolutionist zoology professor Ernst Haeckel, whose fraudulent drawings of embryos continue to feature in some school textbooks2, and whose influence laid much of the foundation for Hitler’s Germany, argued in his book Natural History of Creation, ‘the church with its morality of love and charity is an effete fraud, a perversion of the natural order’.3 He said this was because Christianity ‘… makes no distinction of race or of color; it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce? May we not say, then, that Christianity is anti-evolutionary in its aim?’4
Others have written concerning prewar Germany: ‘The Jews, labelled subhumans, became nonbeings. It was both legal and right to exterminate them in the collectivist and evolutionist viewpoint. They were not considered … persons in the sight of the German government.’5
How different to the Bible. God’s standards are love and kindness towards one another:
‘… if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love works no ill to its neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law ’ (Romans 13:9–10).
The concepts of right and wrong must have an ultimate basis from which to appeal, or else they become simply relative to the culture. This is what we see happening in today‘s Western world. The Bible teaches that God the Creator made men and women for each other, and experience confirms that we are made for each other physically. This was the Creator’s intention and plan. And any deviation from this is outside the created order. So it has been until very recent times, when, backed up by evolutionary ‘science’, the concept of homosexual acts being ‘wrong’ has been changed. Now they are promoted as neither right nor wrong, but a ‘choice’. And, unless one appeals to a Creator who sets the absolute laws for life, who can say this is incorrect? If there is no Creator who has made us and set the rules, then all our morals and ideas of what is right or wrong are simply subjective—what we ourselves decide.
When a partner cheats on another in marriage, who is to say this is wrong? What is ‘wrong’? When a person murders another, or steals what belongs to someone else, on what basis is it wrong? For if evolution is true, then ultimately one person killing another is no different than a lion killing an antelope—a fact of life and survival of the fittest, for mankind has no place of honour among the animal kingdom aside from that which we attribute to ourselves. How different from the Bible, wherein our Creator says we are special and above all else that He created. ‘Therefore do not fear, you are of more value than many sparrows’ (Luke 12:7).
Evolutionists invent all sorts of complicated explanations to account for why evolution can give rise to altruistic (considerate, self-sacrificing) behaviour. Kindness and love towards others are among the hallmarks of the Biblical codes of life. It is not dependent on the giver receiving any benefit from the act. Evolution is a blind concept built on chance random events, with no purpose other than, supposedly, to benefit the propagation of one’s genes. It does not know the end from the beginning. It incorporates the ideas of survival of the fittest, and the weak dying out or being exterminated to make way for the strong to survive. Love is totally contrary to this. Kindness that infers no benefit upon the one giving it makes little sense if evolution is true.
Missionaries helping the poor in third world countries are completely wasting their time if evolution is true. They are actually working against the natural order of things, by their efforts to support individuals or groups that cannot survive by themselves. Under the truth as evolutionists really ‘know’ it, the weak, hungry and incapacitated ought to be allowed to perish if they cannot survive under their own strength. Darwin himself lamented the foolishness of society for caring for its ‘weak members’ and thus allowing them to ‘propagate their kind’, with ‘undoubtedly bad effects’. He said that ‘excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.’6
In a debate between two evolutionists, Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist, said, ‘There’s a large group of people who simply are uncomfortable with accepting evolution because it leads to what they perceive as a moral vacuum, in which their best impulses have no basis in nature.’ And Richard Dawkins, who is a Professor at Oxford University and an ardent atheist, replied, ‘All I can say is, That’s just tough. We have to face up to the truth.’7
So, consistent evolutionists who acknowledge what their philosophy is really saying know that an evolutionary worldview is devoid of absolute morals.
Some evolutionists try to escape the obvious consequences of their position. They suggest that, since mankind now knows his true origins as a product of chance in an impersonal universe, we can guide our own evolution. And man is of sufficiently high moral character, they say, to set the rules by which we measure compassion, love, altruism, ethics. But what is moral character anyway? And why is one person’s opinion of what is right or good any more right or relevant than another’s? So, who decides what is right? If evolution is true, then there are no such things as morals. There is no objective standard by which to measure what is ‘good’. Everything becomes a matter of one’s opinion, unless there is an absolute source to appeal to.
Hitler decided that those he didn’t like should be exterminated, and convinced the majority that he was right. So, on what basis would an evolutionist say he was wrong? If our only appeal is to what we think as a society, think of this: had the Nazis achieved their goals of world domination, would their children have grown up believing it was wrong to kill Jews?
Does this mean those holding to evolution cannot live a moral, ethical life? Not at all, and many do. But when they see unethical behaviour by others, they have no grounds on which to judge that behaviour as wrong. It may be their choice to be faithful to a marriage partner, and to do good to others. But it may be another’s choice to live a life of unfaithfulness, or to take advantage of everyone around them in order to get ahead. If evolution were true, then neither position is right or wrong. Just different choices. Therefore, society as a whole gravitates to a less moral position.
So, when we tell children that it is wrong to murder, for instance, do we tell them why it is wrong? Is it wrong only because society currently says it’s wrong, or because our Creator has told us it is wrong?
The ultimate cause of immoral behaviour is of course sin, and not evolutionary beliefs as such. But the more a culture is infused with the belief that there is no right and wrong, ultimately, the more we can expect to see a rejection of the authority of the Bible and its proclamation of absolute values.
The Christian Gospel message of Salvation is meaningless without the concept of right and wrong. God the Creator imposed the (eternal, as well as physical) death penalty for infringement of His Law. In the ultimate act of love the universe has ever known, the Creator then became a man in order to take that penalty for mankind’s sin. God upheld the validity of His Law by not relaxing its demands even when God the Son would be the one having to suffer its penalty. Those who believe this can thus know total forgiveness and acceptance by God on that basis.
Steve Cardno is Art Director of Creation magazine. His talents have been greatly used in promoting Creation and the Gospel worldwide. Return to top.
- Keith, A., Evolution and Ethics, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, p. 230, 1947.
- Grigg, R., Ernst Haeckel: evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit, Creation 18(2):33-36, 1996; Fraud rediscovered, Creation 20(2):49-51, 1998.
- Milner, R., The Encyclopedia of Evolution, Facts on File, New York, p. 206, 1990.
- Ref. 1, p. 72.
- Whitehead, J., The Stealing of America, Crossway Books, Illinois, USA, p. 15, 1983.
- Darwin, C., The descent of man, John Murray, London, p. 134, 1887.
- Evolution: The dissent of Darwin, Psychology Today, January/February, p. 62, 1997.
Some are eager to point out that in cases like the Inquisition, and more recently clergy involved in sex abuses against children, ‘the church’ is hypocritical. Of course, the Bible strongly condemns these and other forms of crime, and those acting in these ways are inconsistent with what the Bible teaches.
However, evolutionists who argue this way are being inconsistent with their own philosophy. Because if there is no Creator who sets absolute rules, such as ‘You shall not murder’ (which is what the Nazis did to the Jews, totally consistent with their evolutionary beliefs), then the only rules that exist are what we as a society make up.
A theistic evolutionist may profess belief in a rule-giving Creator, but because of his/her de facto rejection of a reliable revelation, how can the rules be known for certain?
Simply put, if the Bible misleads in Genesis, how do we know when it can be trusted elsewhere, including its moral teaching? Jesus said (John 3:12): ‘I have spoken to you about earthly things and you do not believe; so how will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?’
Morality and history
From very early records we see that man has shown a high degree of culture and understanding in law and moral/societal behaviour. Dating from the 17th century before Christ is the Code of Hammurabi, a Babylonian king who, according to secular historians, came to power about 1750 bc. This set of laws, governing situations such as marriage, commerce and theft is generally regarded as one of the best and earliest written codes of law for a society. The proper functioning of law depends on the existence of an ultimate authority. Speaking of a society which was crumbling because of a lack of authority, the Bible says: ‘In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes’ (Judges 21:25).
The Ten Commandments are considered, even by many non-Christians, to be a foundational set of rules for moral and ethical living. But if they were written by only a man, then they are no more ‘right’ than someone else’s opposite view. In rejecting Biblical absolutes, will modern law eventually cease from allowing criminals to be branded with ‘wrong-doer’ in favour of the more evolutionarily consistent concept of a ‘socially-unacceptable choice’? Some evolutionists have excused even rape on the grounds that males’ genes and ‘less civilized’ evolutionary past predispose them to such actions (see Rape and Evolution).
As the evolutionary foundation of no right or wrong overtakes the Biblical concept of personal responsibility, we can expect people to have less defined boundaries in both young and adult life, resulting in increasing social and family problems.
Children and behaviour
Every parent knows that young children do not have to learn selfishness or misbehaviour. Such conduct is innate and this is why ‘No’ is one of the first words babies become familiar with. An Oxford University study reported in 1999 that even children with no religious input had ‘… abstract notions of a Creator’, thereby paving the way for a solid foundation in the concepts of right and wrong.
Increasingly, public dismay is felt worldwide at reports of children committing violent crimes. And as personal responsibility is becoming less recognized, the concept of doing ‘what is right’ for its own sake is becoming less practised.
People tend to take offence at someone else telling them what they can or can’t do. The answer is, however, to recognize the truth that the Creator, not man, has set rules, such as not stealing, which apply to anyone, at any time, anywhere.