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Published on March 8th, 2011 | by Gary DeMar

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Evolutionist Warns: Natural Selection Will Destroy Us

Nobel Prize winning Biochemist Christian de Duve, a professor emeritus at New York City’s Rockefeller University and 1974 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, warns that “natural selection has resulted in traits such as group selfishness being coded in our genes. These were useful to our ancestors under the conditions in which they lived, but have become noxious to us today.” Rape and killing the weak were also useful, and with no God, perfectly “moral.”

This is a curious assessment by Duve given what we’ve read in the past by evolutionary scientists who believe that the cosmos offers great hope for the human race because of evolution. The problem for the evolutionist is how to conceptualize and account for a moral universe when the mechanism of evolution is to stomp on the competition as well as eliminate inferior DNA that might pollute the gene pool. Duve has a solution:

“If you want this planet to continue being habitable for everyone that lives here, you have to limit the number of inhabitants. Hunters do it by killing off the old or sick animals in a herd, but I don’t think that’s a very ethical way of limiting the population. So what remains? Birth control. We have access to practical, ethical and scientifically established methods of birth control. So I think that is the most ethical way to reduce our population.”

It’s humorous to watch atheists try to build a case for a moral universe without God. The latest popular attempt is the Center for Inquiry and its ad campaign “You don’t need God—to hope, to care, to love, to live.” I wonder how this slogan would have worked when competing life forms came up out of the primordial ooze and the stronger chomped down on the weaker in order to insure its evolutionary future. “Since there is no God,” the strong Amoeba said to the weak Amoeba, “there is no reason why I can’t use you for food or enslave you to make my life more fulfilling. Who is there to object except a stronger Amoeba.”

Craig Hazen, director of the M.A. Program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University acknowledges that atheists and unbelievers can live moral and fulfilled lives but not because atheism. On what basis do hope and morality rest given naturalistic assumptions? Hazen goes directly to the point in comments made to the Christian Post:

“You are talking about joy, and pleasure, and goodness and so on. If you’re employing words like that and you have no objective basis for the reality of those words … in other words, if you don’t believe in a moral law giver who actually gives meaning to the words good and evil, you can … put up billboards all day long and they mean nothing. . . . What does it mean to do good in a world that’s really just a gigantic accident of matter and energy?”

We shudder in disgust and horror as Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (1991) tells how he ate a man’s “liver with some fava beans and a nice Chi-an-ti.” Even the story of the Uruguayan Rugby team’s cannibalism high in the Andes in 1972, forever immortalized in the movie Alive (1993), makes us uncomfortable. The same is true of the Donner Party (1846–1847), survivors who many claim ate the remains of their dead. Given materialistic assumptions, their actions are nothing more than the survival instincts of evolved sacks of meat animated by electrical impulses.

As evolved animals, there should be no aversion to killing and eating human flesh since we are, as evolutionists assure us, the products of our DNA that, according to Richard Dawkins, “neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”(1)

James Rachels explains the materialist’s logic in his book Created from Animals: “Darwin’s theory, if it is correct, only tells us what is the case with respect to the evolution of species; and so, strictly speaking, no conclusion follows from it regarding any matter of value.”(2) Billboards saying otherwise does not make it so. In scientific terms, all a naturalistic scientist can conclude is that some people kill other people. He cannot say whether this is “right” or “wrong.”

Michael Ruse, understanding the dilemma of the materialist to account for moral value, maintains that “it is an empirical fact that humans have evolved in such a way as to be highly ‘altruistic,’ and moreover to be greatly dependent on such ‘altruism.’ . . . Hard though it may be to imagine, the murder rate among humans—even taking into account the mass killings of the last century—is less than that among many mammals.”(3) There is no provision in our law prohibiting one animal from killing another animal. We don’t call it “murder.” Murder is an ethical category found in the Christian tradition, a tradition denied by atheistic naturalists like Dove, Dawkins, Ruse, and Rachels.

Because of the inability of materialists to account for morality given their presuppositions, Christian morality is hijacked to create their needed moral center. Without God, there is no way to account for prohibitions against murder and cannibalism or calls for altruism. They need the morality found in theism to keep consistent atheists from stealing their stuff, raping their wives, and eating their children.

Consider the comments of Francis Crick, co-discoverer with James Watson of DNA’s double helix structure. In his book The Astonishing Hypothesis, Crick describes humans as “nothing but a pack of neurons”: “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it, ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.’”(4)

The atheists at the Center for Inquiry have a problem. The scientists behind evolution have no basis for morality or the so-called good or meaningful life.Endnotes:

  1. Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 133.()
  2. James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1990), 92.()
  3. Michael Ruse, Can a Darwinian be a Christian: The Relationship Between Science and Religion (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 192()
  4. Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 1. See Daniel Voll, “Soul Searching with Francis Crick,” Omni (February 1994), 46. Also quoted in Jay Tolson, “Is There Room for the Soul?,” U.S. News & World Report (October 23, 2006), 60.()
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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).



15 Responses to Evolutionist Warns: Natural Selection Will Destroy Us

  1. John McGrew says:

    Wow, Gary,
    You sure kicked the hornet’s nest on this one. But I think you gave the wrong name for CFI. I think it stands for confounded flipping idiot, and if some of the responses don’t prove the point, no point can be proven. But it is good to know that you’re not just preaching to the choir.
    Lightly,
    John

  2. Alchymist says:

    And, oh yes, on the subject of “Restoring America’s Biblical Foundation”. It may come as news to you guys, but America was NOT founded on the bible. I suggest you read the ACTUAL WRITINGS of your revered Founding Fathers sometime.

  3. Alchymist says:

    So you guys want us all to take our moral compass from a “god” who lies, wishes humans to remain stupid and ignorant (“in the day that thou eatest thereof [i.e. the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge] thou shalt surely die.”), demands that Abraham sacrifice his firstborn son to “prove” his love for a god who is supposed to be omniscient, approves of Lot handing over his young virgin daughters to a mob of drunken perverts just so they’ll leave him and his guests alone, demands that the Israelites commit what we today would call genocide (see Deuteronomy, ch.20)….. so what kind of “moral compass” is THAT??? – certainly not one I’d care to follow.

    Alchymist

  4. Jack says:

    Mr. Demar, your entire article is based on the premise that morality must be based on christian values, and therefore any moral behavior by nonchristians is based on their association with christians.

    So, as a christian, are you automatically morally superior to Mohandes Ghandi, Anwar Sadat, the Dalai Lama, Anne Frank or Baruch Spinoza ? Through accident of birth into a christian family, are you superior to all those with different backgrounds?

  5. Mark says:

    The level of ignorance revealed by both Gary DeMar and Christian de Duve in the above embarrassingly foolish diatribe is astonishing.

    I am proudly a life-long atheist and I’ll cheerfully match my morality against any religious morality.
    My morality can be defined by: “Unselfish acts that increase the benefits of cooperation in groups are moral.”

    That’s it, it is all I need.

    In fact, the normal methods of science show this is the basis of not only all cultural moralities, including religious moralities, but also the basis (the reason they biologically evolved) of our moral emotions such as empathy, guilt, and righteous indignation.

    You have any moral questions you want cleared up? Ask me.

    How about the Mathew 7:12 version of the Golden Rule? How do you apply that when dealing with criminals and in time of war?

    Science tells us that, assuming we want to maintain the emotional and material benefits of cooperation in groups, that we ought not (it is immoral) to follow Mathew 7:12 when doing so is likely to decrease the benefits of cooperation in groups as it sometimes would be when dealing with criminals and in times of war.

    You think the Mathew 7:12 version of the Golden Rule which Jesus said summed up the law and prophets came from a supernatural God? Game theory shows it is merely a statement advocating two well known winning strategies from game theory: direct and indirect reciprocity. As part of mathematics, these were winning strategies when the fusion fires of the first star lit and will be winning strategies till the end of the universe.

    I enthusiastically accept the burdens of my morality because I think doing so is most likely to meet my needs and preferences over my lifetime by enjoying the emotional and material benefits of cooperation.

    Science shows that religious moralities, for example the “Ten Commandments” and the many versions of the Golden Rule, and are just semi random assortments of necessarily flawed heuristics (simple rules of thumb that usually work) for increasing the benefits of cooperation in groups. Morality is no more complicated or mysterious than that.

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks for the invitation to ask questions, just a few:

      Why did you choose that particular definition?

      What do you mean by the normal methods of science?

      Does the progressive, skeptical nature of science make you believe that your definition will be outdated in a few decades or centuries?

      You have an explanation for why your definition of morality came about, but why would adherence necessarily follow? What are some of the assumptions that allow for that definition to be followed?

      What’s exceptional about the return of the golden rule in John Nash’s works?

      If Matthew 7:12 is a summation of the law and the prophets, why consider Matthew 7:12 in isolation when considering the topic of war criminals? Ought not the whole counsel to be considered?

      You define “morality,” which is great, but why put it alongside Matthew 7:12 at all? Isn’t that equivocation? I’m sure that a 1st century Jew might have a different definition than a 21st century atheist.

      Are values subjective? I mean, do all men value cooperation in the same amount and in the same manner? Could your rule be applied universally?

      You say, “Science shows that religious moralities, for example the “Ten Commandments” and the many versions of the Golden Rule, and are just semi random assortments of necessarily flawed heuristics (simple rules of thumb that usually work) for increasing the benefits of cooperation in groups. Morality is no more complicated or mysterious than that.” Citation?

      Certainly I’ve seen heuristics in behavioral financial models, but those are of a different caliber than religious moralities. Why assume that religous moralities (I assume ALL, maybe I’m wrong) all have the same end goal of cooperation in groups?

      I’m a little concerned about the use of the word science being thrown around. I appreciate the use of John Nash’s work, but other than that, science is very general. Citations are great.

      • Matthew says:

        Real quick, Mark, I won’t be able to check the site for nearly a week, so don’t feel pressed to respond ASAP.

      • Mark says:

        Mathew, thanks for the reasonable tone of your questions. Re-reading my comment, I was a bit intemperate in my reaction to a piece that I found to be bizarrely ignorant and insulting.

        As you probably suspect, my statements here of what “science tells us” about morality are, for reasons of simplicity and compactness, really only what I can personally defend by argument and don’t give a full picture of this area of not yet fully settled science.

        How about moving this discussion to a more appropriate discussion forum?

        Since it is the organization most singled out in the article, how about the Center for Inquiry (CFI) site? Just sign up on their discussion forum. I have already posted something in the Philosophy section on this article and can put up new posts addressing your questions over the next few days.

        But in case it might be of interest to some readers on this site, I will start here:

        As I expect you are aware, science attempts to only deal in facts that are independent of people’s opinions. So “Unselfish behaviors that increase the benefits of cooperation in groups are moral behaviors” is presented as a fact (a provisionally true fact as is normal in science) that in a vital sense I did not choose; the nature of reality did. It is just my attempt to describe that reality.

        Why I present it as a fact is based first on its explanatory power. This includes its explanatory power for 1) virtually all past and present cultural moral standards (that advocate unselfish behavior) regardless of how diverse and contradictory, 2) our biologically based moral emotions of empathy, guilt, and (in particular) righteous indignation, and 3) its explanatory power for moral puzzles such as “Why are people altruistic and why has morality been so confusing?”

        I present it as a fact in the normal sense in science (or perhaps better described as a theory – but that word would likely confuse people on this site) also because it meets other standard criteria from science. It is 1) simple, 2) universal (even cross species), and 3) does not contradict any known facts about cultural moralities or our moral emotions.

        Examples of its explanatory power are why the Golden Rule has the form it does as mentioned above, why circumcision and not eating pork have been considered moral requirements, why people could have sincerely considered keeping slaves and male dominance of women moral, and why morality has been so confusing.

        I’ll leave this as is for now. If there is interest, we might continue the discussion over on the CFI forum.

    • Mark says:

      I just re-read the article to see if it really was a bad as I remembered. I see that I misread the quote

      “You are talking about joy, and pleasure, and goodness and so on. If you’re employing words like that and you have no objective basis for the reality of those words … in other words, if you don’t believe in a moral law giver who actually gives meaning to the words good and evil, you can … put up billboards all day long and they mean nothing. . . . What does it mean to do good in a world that’s really just a gigantic accident of matter and energy?”

      as being a quote from Christian de Duve, and further, that Christian de Duve agreed with GARY DEMAR . That was false and I owe Christian de Duve an apology. More carefully reading the quotes, de Duve seems quite sensible as should be expected by a Nobel Prise winner. My outrage should have been aimed only at GARY DEMAR.

      The only excuse I can provide is that the piece is too disgusting to read carefully.

  6. Bill Trip says:

    I continue to be amazed at those who believe in a matter only universe expressing moral outrage.
    Dear Atheist, live within and be consistent in your worldview. Live it out! Stop borrowing intellectual
    capital from a theistic worldview. Nature only cares about the survival of the fittest. Nature has no
    moral compass. Morality flow from God. You are moral because you are made in God’s image.

  7. marcus says:

    This is nonsense. Codes against murder, theft, etc. existed in civilizations long before anybody had any idea of “God” (I don’t count polytheistic religions whose “gods” are basically the equivalent of comic book superheroes/villains, precisely because they have no moral authority beyond “I can beat you up”).

    • Matthew says:

      What’s nonsense? Your understanding of ancient people groups? They believed in the authority of the gods. and?

      • Matthew says:

        Correction to my last post:
        It wasn’t fair to assume that this was only relevant to ancient people groups. There are hundreds of millions of people alive today that are polytheistic. Also, can you provide support that civilizations arose before the belief in “God?” I’d like to take a look at those references. I’d agree that civilization existed before the days of Abraham, but that’s not what I mean in my question to you.

  8. aSeattleConservative says:

    We’re dealing with pure evil Gary. I hope that Christians will soon realize that evil can’t be reasoned with, especially on a institutional basis.

  9. Matthew says:

    It strikes me as madness that these people even attempt to tamper with the idea of morals and ethics. Hypo: If I was an unbeliever, I certainly wouldn’t use the morals and ethics of mere men as a substitute for the morals and ethics of God. Why would I reject the morals and ethics of a God I didn’t believe in only to accept the morals and ethics of men I knew not to be gods? If I was an unbeliever, I would want to be totally and completely free, even from the inventions of men.

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