Re: Social Problems and evolution

David Campbell (
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 16:30:03 -0400

>it true that we are to work out early human history only on fossil
>evidence, and exclude our biblical understanding of God's plan of

This depends on the definition of history. If we are trying to determine
what people did day-to-day, there's not much detail in the Biblical record
before Abraham, and even from that point on it is only incidental.
Archaeology and paleontology tell a fair amount about what people were
doing, but don't tell why-Genesis 1-3 is needed for that. Fossils give the
most direct evidence for the timing of events in human physical and
cultural evolution, but we must decide what is evidence of humanness in
order to correlate the archaeological record with Gen. 1-10 in any way.

As far as the relationship between "speciesism" and evolution goes, the two
are not directly related. The validity of "speciesism" is a philosophical
or religious question. Only after one accepts a principle such as "a lack
of qualitative differences between humans and other species means that they
have equal value" can the scientific evidence be relevant. From a
Christian viewpoint, there is an important qualitative difference between
humans and non-humans. The former are made in God's image, the latter are
not. Whether the physical aspects of humans were created via evolution or
not is irrelevant to this aspect.

A line of argument that may carry weight with non-Christians is why is it
better to be a "phylumist" or "kingdomist" than a "speciesist"? Why should
animals have the right to eat plants? Are you more important than the
potential offspring of a mosquito or other biting fly? [Even if you shoo
them away rather than squashing them, you deprive them of food that is
especially important for reproduction.] A conflict of interest soon
arises-are the organisms that benefit from your being in good health
[yourself, dependents, "friendly" bacteria, etc.] more valuable than those
that would benefit from your sickness or death [pathogens, competitors (a
broad category if one considers those organisms that might use habitiat
that currently is used to grow human food, build houses, etc.), scavengers,
etc.]? There are plausible arguments for drawing a line at certain levels,
but some justification is needed.

David C.