When most of us think about a moral dilemma, it involves moral choices we might be forced to make in particular life situations. Perhaps an unmarried adult child is coming to visit for a few days and is bringing their “significant other” with whom they are currently living. Do you let them share the guest bedroom? Insist they sleep in separate rooms? Suggest they stay at a hotel? Another moral dilemma might involve a family member who is openly gay and decides to marry his “partner?” How does a Christian handle such a situation, particularly if they receive an invitation to the “wedding?” Like it or not, an unpleasant quandary – a moral dilemma – is thrust upon you.
The questions in moral dilemmas arise from the belief that there are indeed morals which define how we ought to behave. But what if morality itself becomes the dilemma? Are there really morals which we should strive to live by? We would argue that in order for there to be moral choices, there must of course exist a God who has told us right from wrong and instructed human beings to do right and shun the wrong?
In our culture, though, which has largely thrown God away, it has become passe to believe in or certainly to obey any such being. It is worse than passe – it is ridiculous and “unevolved” in the eyes of the world today. People in 21st century America tend to make their own decisions about what is right and wrong, which coincidentally often agrees with the herd mentality of the hour. People would be incensed to be told that what they are doing or believing in is morally wrong. In fact, though, most decisions about “right and wrong” are now made by those who “control the message” – the media, celebrities, university professors, popular politicians – while most others more or less fall into line. Our culture still believes in right and wrong – we just have new gods.
The above moral dilemmas are cases in point. Is sexual fornication – such a quaint term – or homosexuality, morally wrong as the Bible teaches or just two among many sexually equal choices that are perfectly fine choices, as the new gods proclaim, while they freely denounce other actions that they disapprove of? But if, as we wrote last week, all of creation, including mankind, is a mere product of the random processes of evolution, can there really be any right or wrong at all? If we are mere stardust, and this life is all there is, who is there to give us any guidance at all that we are obliged to listen to? Without God, what possible difference can there be to the universe whether we revere grandma or eat grandma? If we are merely products of evolution, why is the concepts of right and wrong so entrenched in human nature? Why is it so important to defend our own actions as right, while condemning the actions of those “others” as wrong, even evil? Do the stars care about our judgments? Is evolution even slightly concerned with our character? No! So why are we completely caught up in the idea of morality, even though we may completely disagree with each other about what is right and wrong? Where do these deep-seated human attitudes come from if there is only evolution to answer to? In an interesting series by the Dutch public broadcasting system, VPRO, that very question was put to Darwinian paleontologist, the late Steven Jay Gould in part 6 of their 7-part series, “A Glorious Accident”:
Interviewer: You said morality cannot be taught by nature – if you seek in nature for morality, or free will or rationality you won’t find it.
Stephen Jay Gould: I said you won’t find morality which is a question of how we ought to behave… Moral questions are questions about oughts. Nature as science understands it is a factual set of properties. There’s no way you can go from the facts of nature to the oughts of actions. They’re just different things.
Interviewer: Nature is non-moral?
Stephen Jay Gould: Yes.
Stephen Jay Gould: Non-moral. It’s just not a, not a theme.1A Glorious Accident (6 of 7) Stephen Jay Gould: The Unanswerable Dutch Public Broadcaster VPRO
When pressed as to why we should be moral, Gould could only appeal to pragmatism – we should be moral, so we won’t kill each other. But hey, why not kill each other? Who is to say that would be wrong? Evolution is served very well by killing. Men in competition for mates and necessary goods would all try to kill their rivals, driven unconsciously by the all-important evolutionary drive to survive and reproduce. How could that possibly be judged as wrong? It just is the way it is. Whoever survives will go on to reproduce, provided that some biological females also survive. And if the females should decide for whatever reason that they are not sexually attracted to the available males, evolution has already solved that dilemma by increasing the size and strength of the males, while keeping the females smaller and weaker, so that the survival of the species would not be hindered by something as silly as mere feelings. Evolution is inexorable and not hampered by niceties. The female would simply have no veto power in the matter. As we discover in the book A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, by Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer. Rape, according to them, is simply a part of the evolutionary process by which a less desirable male continues to propagate his gene pool. The authors helpfully point out that rape isn’t a question of morals:
The biologist George Williams, in his 1966 book Adaptation and Natural Selection, clarified what Darwin meant when he wrote of natural selection’s rejecting all that was “bad” and preserving all that was “good.” First, Williams noted, these words were not used in a moral sense; they referred only to the effects of traits on an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce. That is, “good” traits are those that promote an individual’s reproductive interests. We evolutionists use the term reproductive success to refer to these reproductive interests, by which we mean not the mere production of offspring but the production of offspring that survive to produce offspring (Palmer and Steadman 1997). A trait that increases this ability is “good” in terms of natural selection even though one might consider it undesirable in moral terms. There is no connection here between what is biological or naturally selected and what is morally right or wrong. To assume a connection is to commit what is called the naturalistic fallacy. In addition, Williams clarified that natural selection favors traits that are “good” in the sense of increasing an individual’s reproductive success, not necessarily traits that are “good” in the sense of increasing a group’s ability to survive.2As quoted from, The New York Times on the Web, Natural History of rape
So, rape is not wrong, but merely an essential tool of evolution. We need to seriously consider the implications of the evolutionary theory.
We are as a culture opposed to slavery, but is slavery intrinsically wrong? If morals are simply pragmatic social constructs, without reference to an all-powerful God, on what basis can anyone today claim that the former enslavement of Africans, for example, was immoral? Why all the judgmentalism? After all, the scientific consensus of evolutionists at the time was that blacks were lesser evolved beings. The people just “followed the science,” and science said the evolutionary gaps between blacks and whites was far greater than the evolutionary gap between blacks and apes. Under that school of thought, owning a black person was not any different than owning a canary, cat, or cow. For that matter, evolution never did and still does not care whether we own a man or a canary, as long as the conquering species improves its chances for survival.
What about racism? Is it intrinsically immoral? Why would racism of any one group against another be wrong? What mere human being – with no more value or meaning than a frog, has any compelling authority other than their own diminutive opinion, since the stars surely do not care, nor does evolution. In fact, if someone should decide that racism, rape, slavery, oppression, murder, or any other practice is wrong, upon what basis do they believe that? And who besides an all-powerful God has the moral authority to impose their own views of morality upon anyone else?
Ah, but of course, some people’s hubris makes them believe they should be able to make up the rules of morality as they go along and impose them on other less enlightened souls. We are not sure upon what basis these folks attain to the status of “enlightened superiority,” when there is no fixed eternal standard to look to, but they wear the crown, nevertheless. These gods, the arbitrators of right and wrong for today’s culture, have decided that “sexual morality” is so yesterday. Even recognizing gender differences based on biology – formerly known as scientific distinctions – is now anathema. In fact, according to current god-thought, it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against biological females, who must now compete against (bigger and stronger) biological males who self-identify as female. These biological males now dominate much of women’s sports.
Of course, there are some who are having a hard time ditching yesterday’s sense of fairness, who are thus seeking justice for biological females in sports. “Democrat Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bill That Would Ban Biological Males From Women’s Sports.” But why? The stars above certainly don’t care about fairness. Evolution is about survival of the fittest, not right, and wrong. If morals are not determined by God, but culturally determined by the mere preferences of those in charge at any given time, and completely vulnerable to the winds of change, what difference does it make? Do black lives matter? Our current cultural “gods” may care, or pretend to care, but in a world of essential meaninglessness, why should anyone care about anyone else’s life? All that matters in evolution is self-interest that enhances reproduction and survival. To own humans based on skin color, or to kill 6 million people based on ethnicity, or to discriminate against biological females doesn’t really matter in the end if we are all just physical beings who live a few short meaningless years and go into nothingness when our “candle goes out.”
The truth is we all inherently know God exists and created all things, but we push that knowledge aside to worship ourselves and creation. (Romans 1:19-25). God allows humans, who have been given free will, to act on their desires (Romans 1:26) and live any way they choose (Romans 1:26-32), though they will be held accountable for their choices. Christians embrace the fact that God is the one Who is the moral barometer, Who tells us right from wrong. Rape is wrong, Murder is wrong. Sexual impurity is wrong. We also know that racism, sexism, and class distinctions are wrong because in the body of Christ we are all equal:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
The church is ONE BODY, and we are to LOVE one another.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
There is indeed a God, our lives are not meaningless, and morality is not arbitrary. God gave human beings a moral code, and it is perfect and good, the basis for a moral life. But there is another dilemma – even human beings who believe in and deeply respect God’s moral law cannot keep it perfectly. We are a fallen race. As Paul says in Romans 3:10:
None is righteous, no, not one.
Based on God’s unchanging standards, we are far from righteous. Thankfully, God does not leave us in that helpless condition. Paul goes on to say in Romans 3:20-24:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
God’s gift of salvation by faith is offered to all, whether you are someone who has tried to keep God’s law all your life, and know in your heart you have failed, OR whether you have thrown God and His law aside and are following the moral dictates of the gods of culture but have found that way of life to be a dead end. There is a way out of this dilemma for anyone who calls upon Jesus. God wants all people to be reconciled to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son. As Paul writes, again in Romans:
For “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13Ω
© 2020, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
|↑1||A Glorious Accident (6 of 7) Stephen Jay Gould: The Unanswerable Dutch Public Broadcaster VPRO|
|↑2||As quoted from, The New York Times on the Web, Natural History of rape|