Does Evolution Compromise Human Morality?

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January 14, 2013 Tags: Morality & Ethics

Today's entry was written by Loren Haarsma. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Does Evolution Compromise Human Morality?

Note: Today's post is an excerpt from Loren Haarsma's essay "Evolution and Divine Revelation: Synergy, not Conflict, in Understanding Morality". In it, Dr. Haarsma discusses a concern that many Christians find deeply troubling—if science could demonstrate that human morality arose through an evolutionary process, then it would imply that our ethical foundations have no objective status or truth content.

Professor Haarsma responds that the biggest problem with this position is not faulty science, but faulty logic. Describing how something came to be is not equivalent to knowing everything about why it exists. Mechanistic explanations of historical development do not necessarily exclude theological explanations, and they certainly can't "rule out" the possibility of divine, personal revelation within human history.

You can find the complete version of Dr. Haarsma's essay in the book Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological & Religious Perspective, edited by Jeffrey Schloss and Philip Clayton. This excerpt is reprinted by permission of the publisher; all rights reserved.

Once we have a scientific hypothesis for how something exists, it is tempting to make the philosophical inference that this is also why it exists. Richard Dawkins (1976), as well as Michael Ruse and Edward O. Wilson (1993), do this in the evolution of human morality. Scientifically, they hypothesize that, once humans started living in large, complex social groups, individuals whose genes made them constantly selfish were punished by the group and therefore produced fewer offspring than individuals whose genes made them believe in an objective moral code. Moving into philosophy, Ruse and Wilson (1993) write,

Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive end.

Important scientific theories invite philosophical and theological reflection. Dawkins, Ruse, and Wilson, have described their conclusions. But scientific theories are often compatible with multiple philosophical and religious interpretations. For example, Newton's laws of motion and gravity allow several competing theistic and atheistic interpretations.

To avoid Ruse and Wilson's philosophical conclusion, we need not dispute their scientific hypothesis about how morality evolved. We need only dispute their philosophical extrapolation as to why morality exists. Even if we restrict ourselves to an atheistic worldview, this extrapolation is questionable. Donald MacKay (1965) would call this an example of "the fallacy of nothing but-tery". This is the assertion that a description of something at one level renders other levels of description meaningless. From our everyday experience, we know that a successful description on one level does not invalidate other levels of description. For example. one might assert that a Shakespeare sonnet is "nothing but" ink blots on a page (MacKay 1965). True, one way to describe a sonnet is to precisely specify the page coordinates of every ink blot. This description is valid and complete on its own level; however, one could also analyze the sonnet linguistically, emotionally, socially, historically, and on other levels. If one is programming an inkjet printer, the most important description is in terms of ink blot coordinates. For almost every other purpose in life, however, that is an unimportant level of description. In the same way, a complete evolutionary description of the existence of morality does not necessarily invalidate the truth, utility, or significance of other levels of description of morality.

If we do not restrict ourselves to atheism and instead allow for the existence of a creator, the extrapolation from how morality evolved to why morality exists fails further. Consider an analogy. Suppose an inventor builds a robot which could do a variety of useful things—mow the lawn, clean the house, grade homework, write book chapters, and so on. One thing this robot can do, given a complete set of spare parts, is build a replica of itself. Whenever the inventor needs another robot, she gives one robot a set of spare parts and has it build a replica of itself. Amongst all the software subroutines within this robot, there is a set of subroutines that govern the robot's self-replication, including the replication of those self-replication subroutines. Would it be correct to say that the purpose of the robot's existence is merely to reproduce those particular self-replication subroutines? Do all of the other software and hardware of the robot—which allow it to mow the lawn, and so on—merely further the reproductive ends of those self-replication subroutines? At one level, the robot's hardware and software do serve to reproduce those self-replication software routines. At another level of analysis, however, those self-replication software routines serve the robot to produce more copies of itself. At still another level, those self-replication software routines serve the robot's creator. The creator of the robot should get the last word as to which of those levels of description is most important.

In humans, does morality exist to further the reproduction of certain genes, or do those genes exist in order to allow for the production of new human beings who can behave morally? If human beings have a creator, the creator gets the final word on the question of purpose. The mechanism which the creator used to make those genes—whether de novo or via evolution—is secondary. The creator's purpose in creating those genes decides the issue.

References

  • Dawkins, Richard. 1976. Pp. 1-11 in The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • MacKay, Donald. 1965. Christianity in a Mechanistic Universe. Chicago: InterVarsity.
  • Ruse, Michael, and Edward O. Wilson. 1993. The approach of sociobiology: The evolution of ethics. In Religion and the Natural Sciences, ed. James E. Huchingson. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Javonovich.

Loren Haarsma earned a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University and did five years of postdoctoral research in neuroscience in Boston and in Philadelphia. He began teaching physics at Calvin College in 1999. His current scientific research is studying the activity of ion channels in nerve cells and other cell types, and computer modeling of self-organized complexity in biology and in economics. He studies and writes on topics at the intersection of science and faith, and co-authored Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design with his wife, Deborah.


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Jon Garvey - #76206

January 26th 2013

I was thinking of the Irish case when I wrote - its circumstances are not entirely clear, as it flies in the face both of current Irish law and, as I understand it, Catholic moral teaching. Hard cases make bad law, as they say.

The more common situation is the fact that some 180,000 terminations are performed in Britain annually, the vast majority for “social” reasons. In over 30 years of medicine, I never personally encountered a termination performed to save the life or physical health of the mother, saw a handful done to “prevent” disabled babies being born, and a very large number done for a variety of social reasons.

The law as it stands here is pretty clear that for an abortion to be legal under the clause most commonly employed, the risk to a mother’s mental health (not contentedness or personal preference) must outweigh the risks of pursuing the pregnancy, and accordingly the form to be completed by the operator requires the condition being prevented to be named.

I was reliably informed that by far the commonest diagnosis made was “depression”, a specific condition gynaecologists are ill-qualified to diagnose and which in the majority of cases is a pure fiction (as the lack of referrals to psychiatrists, corresponding anti-depressant treatment etc showed).

And yet since 1967, when the first Abortion Act was passed there has  not, to my knowledge, been a single prosecution for a termination being done under false pretenses. Either that’s a unique case of universal obedience to a law, or it’s relativism pushed to extremes.


hanan-d - #76211

January 27th 2013

Hi,

I am new here but I have a question regarding evolutionary biology and morality. I just finished reading Francis Collins book “Language of God” and in it he basically admits that if sociobiology could find the reason behind morality then the basis for “The Moral Law” and its basis for belief in God. 

Seeing as how Collins has a very negative fiew of God-of-the-Gaps, wouldn’t this fit the bill? Sure we don’t have an absolute answer as to the origins of morality, but isn’t science making strides little by little? I keep seeing articles on how animal researching are finding more and more evidence of altruistic behaivior in primates


Jon Garvey - #76213

January 28th 2013

Hi hanan-d

I’ve just reviewed Collin’s discussion of this (pp22-30) and it’s fair to say he concentrates on showing the weakness of the evolutionary case for the moral law - it doesn’t faze him. Despite his dislike of “God of the gaps” arguments he sees, like C S Lewis, the universality of human morality as an evidence for God’s special involvement.

In doing that, he points out that morality is more than altruism in any case, so that finding self-sacrificing behaviour in animals would by no means account for moral consciousness - still less for its Christian foundation in “Love the Lord your God with all you are, love your neighbour as yourself.”

He spends less time of critiquing the evolution itself, but does point out the weakness of kin-selection as a basis. But since kin selection is basically a “selfish-gene” variant (so last century!), it cannot begin to explain genuinely selfless behaviour. In any case, don’t you find the whole kin-selection story a little mystical? I wouldn’t recognise my 2nd cousins in a crowd, and would preferentially save my unrelated friends any day, unless someone showed me some documentation! Human tribal behaviour is surely primarily social: identify the “other” as black, or Republican, or Creationist, or supporting the wrong football team and the fact that he shares a few genes with you is forgotten ... which also reminds us that immorality, as well as morality, needs explaining.

What Collins doesn’t put in his argument is the largely teleological-tale (aka Just So Story) methodology of sociobiology. Pick a behaviour, any behaviour. Imagine a possible (and mostly unsubstantiated) biological or social context in ancient times, in which such a behaviour might contribute to survival. Then flip round the argument - because it could have been so, it was so. The net rresult is that you’ve explained something that isn’t morality in non-moral terms using mere speculation. That ain’t science, but mythology.

One might also argue that finding an evolutionary efficient cause for moral behaviour (maybe, say, as a spandrel to kin selection) would, in any case, not exclude the final agency of God. And that’s an important consideration, because in classical theism (and philosophy) nothing in efficient causes does away with a need for a final cause in God - in other words nothing that evolution can find means that it was not also part of God’s purpose. However, personally I’m with Collins on the thought that, if a sufficient cause for love of God and love of neighbour were proven (rather than a mechanism for the evolution of altruistic behaviour almost or entirely confined to man being conjectured), then it would provide a challenge to faith.

So far, though, science hasn’t even gone one step towards that, as Collins rightly says.

Lastly, I’m cautious about the validity of discovery of altruism in primates. Methodology has sometimes been found to be deeply flawed. It’s worth reading someone like David and Ann Premack (Original Intelligence) for some sound work on primate behaviour studies and their limitations.


hanan-d - #76234

January 28th 2013

Thank you for the reply.

You say:

“...so that finding self-sacrificing behaviour in animals would by no means account for moral consciousness - still less for its Christian foundation in “Love the Lord your God with all you are, love your neighbour as yourself.””

Ok, but wouldn’t THAT be an excellent piece of evidence of a beginning to “Love they Lord…..?” I mean, Collins repeadidly mentions how evolution has plenty of time to do its magic. So given that time, why can’t regular animal altruisim eventually evolve to something like Lovey your neighbor? All you need is time. 

AND….

I seem to see a pattern within Biologos to never rely on God of the Gaps, and that answers may eventually pop up to everything. Including the origins of life.

http://biologos.org/questions/the-origin-of-life

So let me guess this straight. Collins (or BioLogos) admits that science may eventually find all the natural answers. He admits in his book that there is plenty of bad design in humans. So the only thing I can put my faith in is what he calls “Moral Law,” which, going by his previous logic, may actually have a naturalistic explanation too. Why should I believe EVERYTHING will have solid natural explanation, but Moral law? 

New book about to come out on the issue of primates
http://www.amazon.com/The-Bonobo-Atheist-Humanism-ebook/dp/B007Q6XKEY

 


Eddie - #76237

January 29th 2013

hanan-d:

You raise a good question.  I would formulate it in terms of the distinction between “science” and “scientism.”  Theistic evolutionists often say they are for science, but agianst “scientism”—meaning by the latter the doctrine that science can answer all the important questions, including questions about human matters.  Yet if we asked people 500 years ago about Darwin’s theory of evolution, they would have said that it was “scientism” (if they had had the term then), because it “misused science” by trying to answer questions about human origins, which belong to theology and ethics.  But nowadays, TE scientists, such as those at BioLogos, take it for granted that science can speak about human origins without becoming “scientism.”

Your query raises the question how the line can be held at the origin of human bodies.  Why, in principle, could it not be shown that human feelings, morals, even human religious beliefs, have an evolutionary tree?  That they were not created ex nihilo with a specially created “soul,” but grew up from crude antecedents, even as the human body did?  Then it would not longer be “scientism” to affirm such conclusions; it would be good science.  What prevents this?

I’m no big fan of “sociobiology”—I think its conclusions are wrong— but I’m hard-pressed to find any theoretically coherent statement by any TE about the nature of science that would rule out the attempt to produce a sociobiology.  And Darwin himself, in The Descent of Man (a work I’ve never heard a TE talk about) gave an evolutionary account of the higher, human things.  And he built that account on the insights from The Origin of Species, which TEs all accept.  So how did they erect a barrier to keep Darwin’s later thoughts out, while retaining his earlier ones?  How can they give him a permit to build the first floor, but deny him a permit to build the second?  What principled distinction (as opposed to religious wishful thinking) have they invoked which denies such investigations the title of “scientific”?

Or is there no principle, but merely a “holding of the line” where certain cherished religious and moral beliefs are threatened?  And if it’s the latter, how can the TEs blame young earth creationists, who similarly “hold the line” when views that are in *their* opinion central to Christian faith are threatened?

TE has not addressed these questions well.  A year or two ago, they had some columns here by a man named Hutchinson—excerpts from his book.  He made a very poor defense of his distinction between science and scientism, and many commenters under his articles pointed out the gaping theoretical holes in his argument.  He never replied to any of the comments.  And he is considered by some TEs to be one of the “big guns” on deeper theoretical issues.  So your excellent question remains unanswered.

 


hanan-d - #76241

January 29th 2013

Eddie, 

Thank you for the reply. You put the TE problem incredibly succicinctly, especially how you refer to them “holding the line.”

Hmm. Does this mean it is time to chuck TE? Sigh. I am so confused.  


robynhood - #76244

January 29th 2013

Hanan-d:  Welcome to the forum - I am relatively new here too.  First let me say that I can relate to your sentiment about being confused.  Searching for ‘truth’ is a difficult journey and it seems there are about as many different version of the truth as there are people searching for it. 

I agree that you ask an extremely good question - one that goes straight to the heart of TE, and one that I would like an answer to myself.  I think it reveals that TE is certainly not without its problems, but then I’m not sure there is any philosophy/world view that is without problems.

“Holding the line” is a good way to put it, in my opinion, but that would really only be a bad thing if Theism is false.  Since there doesn’t seem to be any scientific way to prove that Theism is false, at least some of our view must come down to faith.  (...faith in God, faith that there is no God, or at very least, faith that our perceptions are correct.)

TE strikes me as an attempt to accept both Theism and Evolution even though there is a tension between the two.  It’s something like accepting both Quantum Mechanics and Relativity even though we know that the two theories are in conflict and require modification.  It’s the best we can do with our limited knowledge at this time. 

So perhaps it’s too early to give up on TE.  Even if everything did have a completely naturalistic explanation (even if determinism could be proven) I doubt that would rule out all forms of TE.

Good luck to you on your journey.


hanan-d - #76251

January 30th 2013

Eddie,

Coming from a complete ignorant point of view on the issue of sociobiology, why do you believe its conclusions are wrong? Is it even reasonable to accept Evolution and reject the concept of sociobiology (as Collins seems to do in his book)? After all, if you DO accept Evolution, then you agree man evolved slowly in different stages. Well, what was man doing all those years? Were they just sitting around doing nothing? They were obviously building some sort of social groups, learning how to deal with one another, hunting together etc etc etc. How could morality NOT evolve through natural means then?


Roger A. Sawtelle - #76214

January 28th 2013

Jon,

Thank you for your response. 

I was hoping for more information concerning the Irish case, since you are closer to the situation than I am. 

I certainly do not agree with anything you say.  However you did bring up the problem of pediphila, which is serious problem for the the Catholic Church.  This seems to indicate that there are at times gaps between our morality and our practice.  

Issue never was with you but with See-no-evo.  I find it sad that he (or she) is willing to make judgemental accusations about those who think that there are circumstances in which abortion are or may be justified, and then fail to defend this statement. 

Regretably the situation here in the US seems to be very different from that in England.  We have people in Congress talking about non-legitimate rape and millions voting for them.  We have people trying to limit women’s access to birth control through health insurance.  We have states who are trying to foce the shut down of clinics who provide abortions.

I am not in favor of abortion per se, but honestly I think that such a decision must be between tha woman, her spouse, her doctor and God.  Certainly there can and must be some legal guidelines, but to say that abortion is never the right choice is not practible or right.  This is what many conservative Christians, Catholic and evangelical, are insisting and according to See-no-evo where he stands. 

This seems more ideological than theological.  For instance some surveys have been done.  They show that 60+ Catholics that consider themselves Pro-life, that is anti-abortion, also support tighter gun controls to try to prevent mass shootings in the US.  On the other hand relatively few of those Protestants surveyed who consider themselfes Pro-Life were in favor of tighter gun controls.  

Evangelical leaders have not come out against the sale and distribution of military style automatic and semi-automatic weapons and clips!   

I do not like to criticize anyone, much less fellow Christians.  People deserve the benefit of the doubt, but much that is going on in the evangelical world in the US from my vantage point in terms of politics, science, and theology seems sadly out of step with the Logos, the Kingdom of God.           


Jon Garvey - #76215

January 28th 2013

Roger, the most encouraging thing in your post was the information that Catholics and Evangelicals align differently on abortion and gun-control! All too often from over here it seems like Americans sign up to a team and have all their views on politics, theology, ethics, and science sent to them in a package.

In a way I shouldn’t be surprised that Catholics are more consistent and theology-driven than Evangelicals, whose freedom from church authority paradoxically seems to encourage another conformity. You’ll understand that over here even the most conservative simply can’t understand how one defends unbridled gun owner ship and rejects state health-provision on the basis of Christianity.

But then, stick most British Christians into a second century church and they would rapidly feel out on a limb re their views on abortion, divorce and some other issues.


W D - #76220

January 28th 2013

“For example, Newton’s laws of motion and gravity allow several competing theistic and atheistic interpretations.”

 

It doesn’t allow any such thing.  All it “allows” is that force equals mass times acceleration etc.  Theism and atheism are irrelevant to the laws of motion.  Whether or not a god or gods exist, force still equals mass multiplied by acceleration (within classical limits). This is in contrast to Dawkins explanation of the emergence of morality as reflecting evolutionary advantage.

 

“If we do not restrict ourselves to atheism and instead allow for the existence of a creator…”

 

I love it how “allow for” is a convenient euphemism for “make up”.  Dawkins theory doesn’t require atheism.  Atheism is irrelevant.  His theory simply shows that a certain phenomena arises from evolutionary origins.

 

Theists love to say “but XYZ fairytale isn’t ruled out”.  Ignoring the crucial point that it is not for anyone to rule out your theory but for you to back up your ideas with evidence and reason.  If you cannot then it is properly and rationally regarded as nothing more than make believe belonging in the same categorical group as the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

 

“Describing how something came to be is not equivalent to knowing everything about why it exists.”

 

Yes it is the same.  To assume that “why” means something different is to assume that there is intelligent purpose behind it.  This is merely assuming what you want to conclude, circular reasoning, and is a waste of time.  While it is possible in a purely hypothetical sense that there could exist intelligence in the Universe outside of the lifeforms we are familiar with (e.g. aliens, god, the flying spaghetti monster etc.) it is irrational for you to presume from the outset that there is such an entity and to use this as justification to conclude that “how” and “why” are different things and thus tend to support (or at least allow for) the existence of a creator, the very thing you have assumed from the outset.

 

“if science could demonstrate that human morality arose through an evolutionary process, then it would imply that our ethical foundations have no objective status or truth content.”

 

If morality arises through an evolutionary process then this does not imply there is no objective status or truth content to morality.  Indeed if morality were purely subjective then this would imply that any moral code is equally as likely as any other to dominate.  However, this is not the case.  Our environment, our nature and the physical laws of the universe all conspire to create the conditions in which particular moral codes have an inherent evolutionary advantage.  This implies that certain mores are in fact objective in nature in that they are based on evolutionary advantage (an objective fact) and not on the subjective whims of individuals.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #76221

January 28th 2013

W.D. wrote:

Our environment, our nature and the physical laws of the universe all conspire to create the conditions in which particular moral codes have an inherent evolutionary advantage. This implies that certain mores are in fact objective in nature in that they are based on evolutionary advantage (an objective fact) and not on the subjective whims of individuals.

I think I agree with you.  Yes, I think that our environment, human nature, and physical laws work together to encourage certain behavior.  You use the word conspire, which implies rational planning and execution.  If that is true, then this objective fact indicates there is a rational design behind the universe.  Things do not work together by accident.

One problem with evolutionary advantage is that it is future oriented.  It is not always clear that adaptation is the most advantageous for the future.  It seems to me that the best set of mores is that which are oriented to the common good as opposed to individual agrandizment.  This to me obviates Dawkins’ selfish gene and atomistic point of view.  If anything it favors group selection.

If morality is objective, it favors a theisitc point of view.  Our universe exists, evidence indicates it for the purpose of giving humans a place in which to live.  The earth exists to produce our species through a particular set of of circumstances.  However we can still act out of selfish motives and destroy each other and destroy the world created for us. 

Life has meaning or it does not.  If it does not, what good is it?  

You are right, subjective meaning is meaningless.  Objective meaning does not come from materialism, because it must be rational and matter/energy is not rational.  It does not think.  God thinks.  God is rational.  God is the Source, the Logos, and the Telos of the universe.       


bill wald - #76227

January 28th 2013

If you concluded that life has no meaning, would you not still want a “better” world for grandkids, if you had grandkids? If we had no more meaning than dogs and cats, I would still want a more peaceful world and a happy (pleasing?) existence for the grandkids - and for the dogs. cats can take care of themselves. <G>


Seenoevo - #76224

January 28th 2013

Yesterday, after the March for Life on Friday, I went to my very first gun show.

Both events were packed. And both were very worthwhile.

 

I don’t think I’ll say much more on this now.

Silence is golden.

Sometimes.

 

Proverbs 29:9.


GJDS - #76236

January 28th 2013

Reply W D

Morality may be subjective, or it may be provided by someone in power as the norm (e.g. monarchs and tyrants), or it may be something that people pay lip service without any particular commitment to right or wrong – even if we can agree on what is right and wrong, good and evil, or it may be a belief system that puts morality on an authoritative basis.

Atheists may accommodate any or all of these views; an observer would make some sort of evaluation of another person’s morality based on the acts of such a person. Dawkin’s reliance (and atheists in general) on the often discussed ‘emergence’ is a lame attempt to seek a basis for a woolly relativistic moral outlook. The notion that human beings evolved to the point that as a species we can destroy all life on earth, evolved into the actions of atheists such as Stalin causing the death of millions, Hitler, and I would add, the ability for others to justify their pathological actions in the name of religion, are strong arguments against some type of natural emergence of morality.

Relying on nature, environment, or any naturalistic basis for morality is, imo, begging the question; just how has the universe conspired to achieve morality? No law of science that I am aware of defines, or brings, morality. One may look back to ancient view on natural justice, perhaps as a characteristic of human nature. This outlook seems to defy atheistic outlooks, and suggests a universe that has a god-like property.

The theistic view is that a basis for morality is offered by the faith that people espouse – those of us who adopt this position would also be judged based on our actions and ‘worthy character’ or otherwise. It is this universal aspect of morality that cannot be rationalised by atheists, no matter how often they claim observations and testable hypothesis in this area.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #76238

January 29th 2013

GJDS:

The theistic view is that a basis for morality is offered by the faith that people espouse –

I am sure that this is a theistic view, but it is not the same as my theistic view.

It is my view that morality is based on one’s understanding of the divine in all its forms which in turn determines one’s worldview.  If oner believes in an absolute God, one has an absolute morality.  If one believes in a relativist Divine, then one has a relativist morality.  If one believes in a relational God, then one has a relational morality.

This is in accordance with what you said, one’s morality is based upon one’s faith, but it is my contention and maybe W.D.‘s that it should be possible, if not simple, to determine which worldview is best, absolute, relativist, or relational, and from there move back from there to determine which morality and understanding of God is best.

Thisd only works if one believes that the universe has structure, meaning, and purpose and thus created by some sort of a Divinity.  If the universe is simply a collection of matter, then it has no form, meaning, or purpose.  

Since Christians understand that humans are created in the Image of God, it follows that humans fulfill their nature when they live in accordance with God’s nature.  If God is Love, then our morality must be based on love.  If God character is something else, we must base our morality on that.            


Roger A. Sawtelle - #76239

January 29th 2013

Bill,

If there is no meaning, there is no better and there is no worse, there is only blaah.

If a peaceful world is the universal goal, why is war and conflict endemic in our world?


Seenoevo - #76246

January 30th 2013

Robynhood wrote:

“…I can relate to your sentiment about being confused. Searching for ‘truth’ is a difficult journey and it seems there are about as many different version of the truth as there are people searching for it… TE is certainly not without its problems, but then I’m not sure there is any philosophy/world view that is without problems.”

Confusion and searching, differing versions and multiple problems. All regarding the truth and the truth of philosophies and worldviews.

Certainly, such a state is common in this world.

However, should it be common among Christians?

How could confusion over the truth be acceptable for a Christian, when the Bible, which the Christian claims to believe in, talks so much about the truth and about the certainty with which a Christian can know the truth? Just some of the many verses on knowing the truth:

 

“Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” [John 8:31-32]

“And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever,
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” [John 14:16-17]

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” [John 16:13]

“Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart;
they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.
You did not so learn Christ!—
assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.” [Ephesians 4:17-21]

“if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” [1 Timothy 3:15]

“For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” [2 Timothy 3:6-7]

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,
and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.” [2 Timothy 4:3-4]

“We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” [1 John 4:6]

 

It would seem that in regard to the truth, confusion and Christianity would be contradictory.

 

P.S.

By “truth”, I don’t mean, for example, the truth of the exact number of chromosomes in this or the safety of the carbon footprint of that or the effect of chemical synapses in something else. By “truth”, I mean the truth of who we are, where we came from and where we’re going. And I mean the truth regarding what is good and what is evil.


Seenoevo - #76247

January 30th 2013

W D wrote:

“If morality arises through an evolutionary process then this does not imply there is no objective status or truth content to morality… Our environment, our nature and the physical laws of the universe all conspire to create the conditions in which particular moral codes have an inherent evolutionary advantage. This implies that certain mores are in fact objective in nature in that they are based on evolutionary advantage (an objective fact) and not on the subjective whims of individuals.”

A couple thoughts:

1) ”Evolutionary advantage” is not an objective fact, for evolution is not an objective fact. Something like “reproductive advantage” or “survival advantage” would be closer to objective facts.

2) Any code deriving solely from advantages allowed by environment, nature and physical laws is more properly called utilitarian, not moral.

3) Morality distinguishes between right and wrong, and more specifically, between good and evil. Evolution theory has no claim to right or wrong, nor to good or evil. In evolution theory, there is only what survives and what doesn’t. In evolution, life is no better than death, for in evolution, there is no “better”, only what “is”.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #76249

January 30th 2013

Seenoevo wrote:

By “truth”, I mean the truth of who we are, where we came from and where we’re going. And I mean the truth regarding what is good and what is evil.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.”  I hope that you know Jesus and thus know the Truth, but your writing does not convince me.  You confuse the Bible with the Logos, Jesus Christ, God’s Word and Truth. 

John 1 reveals that God the Father created the universe through the Logos, God’s rational Word, Jesus Christ.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about change, about repentance, about salvation, so change is not foreign to Jesus Christ.

If you really see-no-evolution, then you have not read the Bible where God’s people evolved from a couple to a family to an extended family to a confederation of tribes to a kingdom to a religion to the Kingdom of God, that is the Church. 

And since the 1st century the Church has evolved from the Orthodox to the Roman Catholic to Protestant to Pentecostal.

Christians do not agree about many things.  That is why there are so many denominations.  That is why we have government at different levels to determine what are the laws we live by.  We agree that Jesus Christ is LORD, but there is much room for discussion in the details, unless one has an absolutist interpretation of the Bible.  


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