God new evidence

GOD: new evidence


Could our sense of right and wrong have evolved naturally?

(Beyond Ourselves #24)

What's in the series?      Previous: Science and moral values       Next: Can evolution account for right and wrong?

'Any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts… would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well… developed as in man.'  - Charles Darwin

Could our sense of right and wrong have evolved naturally, without any need to appeal to anything beyond the physical world?

Evolutionists try to explain it in terms of kin altruism - helping my genes to survive, by helping someone else who shares my genes, like a sister or brother.

Or they try to explain it in terms of 'reciprocal altruism' - helping someone else who will help me to survive in turn.

But neither of these is really altruism – they are not about helping someone else, at a cost to myself. Rather, they are both forms of selfishness that just happen, along the way, to involve helping someone else.

Evolution still has a problem explaining genuine altruism - for example when a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save the lives of his friends. On an evolutionary explanation of things, this kind of unselfish act is always a mistake – it is an instinct that has gone wrong.

That is why Richard Dawkins can describe feelings of pity as 'Darwinian mistakes: blessed, precious mistakes,' - but still mistakes. Or, as the philosopher Vladimir Solovyov sarcastically put it:

Man descended from the apes, therefore we must love one another.

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‘Clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the Universe. There must be religious overtones. But I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it.’- Professor Stephen Hawking