Can Attribute Moral Law to Evolution?

From: shelley_sgr

hello i read your article on whether or not God exists and I have a question: Why can't this moral law you speak of be attributed to evolution? thank you!


It can. People do it all the time. In fact, people attribute anything and everything to evolution. That is the beauty - and the weakness - of the theory. It is elastic enough to cover everything, but in the end does not mean very much. I heard a scientist define evolution as "change over time." Who can doubt evolution in that sense?

The real question - and I think the question you intend - is: Can a random, purely material process account for the moral law as men in a variety of cultures and ages have described it? In other words, is the moral law something merely natural or does it have a supernatural origin, that is, a Lawgiver?

There are some advantages to viewing the moral law as merely natural. It removes any logical basis for guilt - or for condemning other people. If the moral law is purely natural, then right and wrong are relative categories, as changeable as most anything else in a culture. While this view seems very attractive, it does have some drawbacks. I would describe the difficulties this way:

We live in a therapeutic culture which sees evil in medical terms. For example, we rightly recognize that alcoholism is a kind of sickness, that is, a condition the sufferer did not freely choose. Still, we do not give a free pass to a drunk driver. Or to use a more extreme case: A pedophile could be viewed as a very sick individual, driven by a terrible compulsion. But who would excuse a man who rapes a child? We are always eventually brought back to the fact of human freedom, of right and wrong. Even a thoroughgoing secularist (materialist) like Carl Sagan could not avoid those realities. After carefully explaining that morality was simply a product of evolution, Sagan himself - with no hint of irony - asked us to do the right thing. That is, make sacrifices to preserve the planet, save endangered species, fund scientific research, etc. If that were not enough, he informs us that, like the lowliest amoeba, our most basic drive is to have the maximum number of offspring and then he tells us we must resist that impulse or risk destroying the planet. Like many materialists, Sagan forgot his own philosophy, once out of school. And he was a better for doing so.

What do you think, Shelley?


Fr. Phil Bloom


Other Questions

Adam, Eve and Evolution (Catholic View)

Evolution at Odds with Belief in God?

See The Death of Darwinism by George Sim Johnston

Darwin's Black Box

Evolution and Bible

Stephen Jay Gould (Gobachev of Darwinism?)

Darwin on Trial

Homily on the Moral Law

Hawking, Galileo and the Pope

Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Science on Evolution, October 22, 1996