Re: The Genesis Factor
Mon, 10 May 1999 17:39:01 -0500

My comments are below:

Vernon wrote:

>1) The Lord himself warns us to test the fruits of every doctrine before
>we accept it as being true (Mt.7:15-20). On this basis - as I'm sure
>you'll agree - evolution has a poor track record. This alone, in my
>view, should be a major deterrent to all who accept Christ as the way,
>the truth, and the life. [To those who will point to the many bad things
>perpetrated by the Church, past and present, let me say this: wherever
>and whenever the Lord's teachings have been properly applied, great
>goodness and blessing have followed].

"Old Seashells" replied:

Actually, I would disagree. Whenever biological evolution is properly
applied, the result is an understanding of biology and paleontology. Any
metaphysical (e.g., moral) results involve at least infusion of some
metaphysical idea.

To use a non-controversial example, physics and chemistry can be used to
tell me how to build a nuclear weapon. I need something else to determine
whether this is morally proper, and science cannot provide that.
Evolutionary biology can tell us what is likely to be a genetic success or
failure and what the physical consequences are likely to be. What is a
morally proper use of these ideas is again, another question.

The metaphysical premise "Anything that promotes one's evolutionary fitness
(i.e., the proportion of one's genes in the next generation) is morally
acceptible" would produce lots of bad results. However, this is a
metaphysical premise, not evolution. It also has never been advocated by
anyone, in part due to some of the behaviors thereby condoned, but also
because it does not favor its adherents against other people. If I adopted
this as my moral guidance, I could advocate oppression of people who do not
resemble myself, in an effort to put myself ahead of them. However, they
are equally justified in oppressing people who resemble me. Thus, the
popular purportedly evolutionary metaphysical systems are altered from this
to favor their adherents.

Eugenics, some racism (Nazism, for example), social Darwinism, and
communism all claim to be evolutionary. However, they all have the premise
that "Anything that promotes MY evolutionary fitness is morally
acceptible." For those not on the inside, this premise is actually
contrary to the premise that everyone should promote his own evolutionary
fitness. Also, these typically claim that one should seek the purported
good of the group over one's own good. Again, this is contrary to personal
evolutionary fitness for many. Someone with a genetic disorder, for
example, is regarded as inferior by most of these systems, so that he
should refrain from reproducing (if not from living). Obviously, this does
not help him spread his genes.

If I believe that biological evolution is the primary means by which the
God of the Bible created the present diversity of living things, probably
from a single common ancestor, then the resulting moral conclusions will be
to love the LORD my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to
love my neighbor as myself.

The other way in which evolution is frequently claimed to support bad fruit
is claiming that "because we are evolved from animals that do such and
such, we should do it too." This is simply bad logic. We physically
cannot do many things that animals can do, in addition to the insertion of
the absurd moral premise that "anything animals do is morally acceptible
for us". Also, the evolutionary connections are often not sound. For
example, "Chimps are promiscuous so I can be too." Unless I am also
inclined to live in the jungle without a house, eat live termites, and
otherwise follow their example, then I am obviously not being consistent
but merely seeking an excuse. Also, certain details of their reproductive
habits are such as to make most people reluctant to copy them in exact
detail; rather, the chimps are misrepresented as behaving how the speaker
wishes to behave. Another fallacy often used in such arguments is "it is
in our genes, therefore it is OK." Genetic determinism is not true, and
genetic propensities can be good, bad, or neither.

Thus, the science has no moral fruit whatsoever. Purported moral fruit of
evolution is no more valid than the purported bad fruit of Christianity.

My comments:

I think that the fruit of philosophical naturalism has been tested
- as Phil Johnson pointed out - and it is not too good. On the other
hand, the fruits of methodological naturalism have been both wonderful
(cures for diseases, better food) and terrible (more efficient weapons).
This wonderful / terrible mix is - as Old Seashells points out - due
to the non-moral nature of science. Science models nature and nature
just is. Nature itself does not declare its goodness, Genesis does.
In the same way, the fact that we are evolved animals does not
declare what we should do, but rather, what we are adapted to do.

The problem is - as Old Seashells also pointed out - that philosophical
naturalism has certain ideas about what we are adapted to do.
I believe that those "its only natural" ideas will prove to be only
one part of a more complex story. I think that soon
evolutionary psychology will theorize something that we
already know: Human psychology is more than mere mammaliam pleasure
seeking and pain avoidance. Far more.