Does It Matter If We Evolved?

What are the consequences for morality if we evolved, if everything came from a materialistic process?

There are a lot of folk who don’t think it matters whether the Darwinian story about the biological realm is true or not. It doesn’t matter whether we evolved and here I’m talking about the entire enterprise. I’m not just talking about minor changes that we see in the biological realm but the Molecules to Man Hypothesis—Darwin’s Tree, Macro Evolution, the General Theory of Evolution, the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis—that’s what I’m talking about. This is the standard view of science today to a whole lot of people including Christians. 

I want you to think of the ramifications of that because if we are the product of, as one scientist put it, “a material process that did not have us in mind,” then there is no ultimate meaning for life. Now, there is meaning of life to people. People can make their own meaning, but there is no way to declare that one pursuit of life is any better or ultimately meaningful than any other. It’s just a matter of individual preference, and morality can’t enter into that because, if evolution is true and it’s a materialistic process, there is no way that any immaterial moral obligations are going to spring into existence. Yes, you can have social taboos that maybe help us survive a little bit. But the presumption that survival is a moral good also is unjustified on a Darwinian view of things. It’s just what happens! It’s not, “morally good,” in that sense. You can have moral feelings, maybe, but you cannot have moral obligations in the deep sense. So, not only is meaning lost but morality is lost too. And when those two things are gone you have gutted what most people think are the foundational elements of the human experience. 

Politics is a moral enterprise from top to bottom—that is: What is the right use of power? All rights claims are moral claims that I ought to acknowledge. The right of somebody else is based on some moral notion, and when people assert moral claims they are asserting transcendent claims. They aren’t just saying, “This is my own personal opinion. It has nothing to do with you. Just forget what I said.” 

Does Darwinism matter? It matters in everything. If we are the result a process—a material interaction that did not have us in mind—then there is nothing more to this enterprise than molecules clashing in the universe. That’s it. That’s where Darwinism lays.

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Greg Koukl