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.
- Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 133. [↩]
- James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1990), 92. [↩]
- Michael Ruse, Can a Darwinian be a Christian: The Relationship Between Science and Religion (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 192 [↩]
- 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. [↩]