*Re: statement on creationism?

jeff witters (WITTERSJ@ESUVM.EMPORIA.EDU)
Wed, 24 Nov 99 11:02:03 CT

On Wed, 24 Nov 1999, Moorad Alexanian wrote:

>I can imagine an evolutionist telling his kids that they are
>related to monkeys and then insist his/her children abide to
>moral/ethical behavior.

>Evolutionary theory is totally different. It deals with the
>emergence of life from non-living matter. For those all
>"moral/ethical" choices must be based on matter and what we
>consider the spiritual is pure nonsense!

Moorad,

While I would be the last person to agree with the people you
have described, I do not think we further our cause much by
gross oversimplifications. I have known people who DO base
their moral/ethical decisions upon "evolutionary theory,"
although it might be better described as a rationalization of
actions. To caricature their stance as deriving a basis for
moral actions from vague "emergence from life" and being
"related to monkeys" is to invite summary dismissal of anything
else we might have to say. Their lie is much more complex than
that, though still a lie in the end.

Some take the nihilist approach because they see that nature
gives no moral imperitives; thus, there is no "ought," only
"is." However, they still live with "oughts," but without any
justification.

More commonly, others take their inspiration from sociobiology/
evolutionary behaviorism. Here, behavior is more or less
adaptive, and "good" and "evil" may be used simply for their
connotive power. From studying behavior, its consequences, and
its motivation (ie, "selfish genes") in other creatures, we have
found that the interaction of survival (presumed to mean
positively disproportionate contribution to genetic complement
of next generation) and actions is a dizzyingly complex picture.
and a host of other "moral/ethical" appearing actions.

Of course, to actually understand how these work for a particular
behavior or set of behaviors for a group of organisms takes much
time and mental resources. So, in the end, the evolutionary
"moralist" justifies his/her actions by what would be even
_scientifically_ invalid extrapolations from the vast body of
literature on animal behavior and evolutionary ecology. There is
really no end to the fun that these debunkers seem to have (take
a look at issues of Skeptic). Their rationalizations, in my
experience, are built on a complex base, but are quite shallow
when it comes to withstanding much clear-headed probing.

Does this of itself invalidate evolution? No more than the
usefulness of a hammer for construction is invalidated because
some would use it for _destruction._

Just some thoughts.

Grace and peace be with you. Jeff