DEALING WITH DOUBTERS
“My Genes Made Me Do It”: Is Ethics Based on Biological Evolution?
By Paul Copan
What the Naturalists Are Saying
It is quite common to read in the philosophical and scientific literature that ethics is nothing more than the result of biological processes and social forces. Atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell asserted that “the whole subject of ethics arises from the pressure of the community on the individual.”1
Philosopher James Rachels says something similar: “Man is a moral (altruistic) being, not because he intuits the rightness of loving his neighbor, or because he responds to some noble ideal, but because his behavior is comprised of tendencies which natural selection has favored.”2
Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson says, “Precepts and religious faith are entirely material products of the mind.” He claims moral feeling is rooted in “the hypothalamus and the limbic system” and is a “device of survival in social organisms.”3
Science philosopher Michael Ruse maintains that morality is simply the “ephemeral product of the evolutionary process, just as are our other adaptations,” such as our hands and feet and teeth. “Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, and has no being beyond this.”4