the truth about evolution: what separates us from the animals

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

February 12, 2009

Note:In honor of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, I plan to dedicate much of the month of February to a new series called ‘the truth about evolution’. In this series, I hope to present a respectful, yet challenging dialogue on the evolutionary argument.

For me, one of the key questions in the discussion on evolution vs. creationism (and/or intelligent design) is not one on points surrounding the fossil record, or even young earth vs. old earth theories. But rather one of the most important questions in my opinion is about the difference in morality between man and animals. Morality could be one of the most significant differences between us and them.

evil_animalsLet me first point out that we are ‘like’ animals in many ways. In body structure we are very similar to monkeys. In respect to other biological functions we are able to predict how the human body will react after testing medical treatments in mice. I’ve even heard it said that pigs actually offer the closest biological similarities to humans that there can be. But this ‘scientific’ fact does not anywhere contradict what the Bible also says about life on earth. In fact the Bible seems to support the idea that creatures were created somewhat progressively and increasingly complex. This would certainly agree with the fact the we have many biological similarites (and differences).

Let me also say that the Bible is not a scientific document, it is a theological one. And the two realms do not necessarilycontradict each other. Saying that they do is like saying that science and politics contradict. The truth is that the two can (and do) co-exist often in perfect harmony.

However, one of the things that the Bible says about man is that (a Triune) God created us in His image (Genesis 1:26). Through this passage and many others, we also know that God’s nature includes much more than some sort of physical presence. And one of the things that we learn about God throughout the Scriptures is that He is a moral being.

We also know that one of the ways that our ‘creation’ was different than that of the animals is that God ‘breathed’ life into us (Genesis 2:7). It seems to be that this act is the one that separates our ‘life’ from the life of all of the other animals.

On a basic level morality means that we have a ‘code’ of right and wrong. We call these opposites sides of the moral spectrum ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

Good is often displayed by selfless and noble acts. Extreme good is illustrated in the act of one who puts his own life at risk for the sake of another.

On the other hand, evil is displayed by purely selfish and destructive acts. Extreme evil is probably best illustrated in the horrifying acts of a serial killer.

Regardless of religious belief, most would agree that not only does this morality exist, but is also an important part of how our society even functions today. We have built entire justice institutions about enforcing this type of morality because we know how destructive ‘evil’ acts can be on society. This very fact supports the idea of a ‘free will’ that overrides common animal instinct.

primatemoralityNow, if we look at the animal kingdom, this type of morality is non-existent. While we do see acts of rage sometimes in animals, it is always done out of instinct for self-preservation. And in extreme cases where an act of rage is done to protect another, it happens because of a sense of ownership for those being protected (for example, the ‘alpha’ in a pack protecting his group from an attack from another animal). Even in these cases, you will not see acts of noble bravery like you do in humans.

On the flip side, evil acts in animals are also non-existent. In fact many Richard Dawkins followers would even make the argument that animals are not inherently evil. In nature we do not see senseless acts of killing. Animals kill, but it is out of a survival instinct and not out of a selfish and destructive motive. Animals certainly behave in a way that we do not understand, but scientists generally do a great job of explaining the reasons for these events as purely natural.

The bottom line is that the good and evil of man is unique to our existence. Some may try to argue that this type of morality has evolved too. But the truth of the matter is that morality has no other purpose to evolve. Morality does not advance the survival of any species, and if it does then why is it still so unique to humans? And if morality is so important for the evolution of species, then why are non-moral life forms not more extinct?

The morality of man is something that absolutely separates us from the animals. I believe that this morality is something that has been given to us by our Creator, because it is also His nature and we were created in His image (with His nature). But that’s just me…

What do you think?

 

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16 Comments

  1. Lavonda Pflug

    I agree. My dad used to say, “You'll never find an animal as sorry as some people.” Sad but true. But you'll never find an animal as good as some people either. Most certainly, morality separtates us from the beasts of the field.

    Reply
  2. Lavonda Pflug

    I agree. My dad used to say, “You'll never find an animal as sorry as some people.” Sad but true. But you'll never find an animal as good as some people either. Most certainly, morality separtates us from the beasts of the field.

    Reply
  3. Lavonda Pflug

    I agree. My dad used to say, “You'll never find an animal as sorry as some people.” Sad but true. But you'll never find an animal as good as some people either. Most certainly, morality separtates us from the beasts of the field.

    Reply
  4. BibleDude

    LOL! Thanks for sharing Lavonda! That's a cool quote from your dad!

    Reply
  5. BibleDude

    LOL! Thanks for sharing Lavonda! That's a cool quote from your dad!

    Reply
  6. BibleDude

    LOL! Thanks for sharing Lavonda! That's a cool quote from your dad!

    Reply
  7. Marlo

    great post, Dan. I am currently taking a class on Creationism and it is fascinating. I just completed “Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. Interesting stuff indeed. I was brought up on evolution and even read Origin of Species as a teen but it never quite fit for me. You raise some great questions about morality.

    Reply
  8. Marlo

    great post, Dan. I am currently taking a class on Creationism and it is fascinating. I just completed “Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. Interesting stuff indeed. I was brought up on evolution and even read Origin of Species as a teen but it never quite fit for me. You raise some great questions about morality.

    Reply
  9. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by Marlo! It's always great to hear from you! This is a pretty amazing debate… I actually just recently had a conversation with someone who was pretty convinced that there wasn't a God, and because he was an engineer by trade his reasons were very 'evidence' based and calculated. However, I still felt like it was a little short-sighted regarding some of the other solid reasoning supporting the Christian viewpoint. And this is a big key to the debate, I believe…

    Reply
  10. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by Marlo! It's always great to hear from you! This is a pretty amazing debate… I actually just recently had a conversation with someone who was pretty convinced that there wasn't a God, and because he was an engineer by trade his reasons were very 'evidence' based and calculated. However, I still felt like it was a little short-sighted regarding some of the other solid reasoning supporting the Christian viewpoint. And this is a big key to the debate, I believe…

    Reply
  11. Marlo

    great post, Dan. I am currently taking a class on Creationism and it is fascinating. I just completed “Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. Interesting stuff indeed. I was brought up on evolution and even read Origin of Species as a teen but it never quite fit for me. You raise some great questions about morality.

    Reply
  12. Marlo

    great post, Dan. I am currently taking a class on Creationism and it is fascinating. I just completed “Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. Interesting stuff indeed. I was brought up on evolution and even read Origin of Species as a teen but it never quite fit for me. You raise some great questions about morality.

    Reply
  13. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by Marlo! It's always great to hear from you! This is a pretty amazing debate… I actually just recently had a conversation with someone who was pretty convinced that there wasn't a God, and because he was an engineer by trade his reasons were very 'evidence' based and calculated. However, I still felt like it was a little short-sighted regarding some of the other solid reasoning supporting the Christian viewpoint. And this is a big key to the debate, I believe…

    Reply
  14. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by Marlo! It's always great to hear from you! This is a pretty amazing debate… I actually just recently had a conversation with someone who was pretty convinced that there wasn't a God, and because he was an engineer by trade his reasons were very 'evidence' based and calculated. However, I still felt like it was a little short-sighted regarding some of the other solid reasoning supporting the Christian viewpoint. And this is a big key to the debate, I believe…

    Reply
  15. kiff

    I believe u have it backwards, our morality is exactly what created religion. People need an answer why we are more civilized than our animal counterparts. The truth is, we evolved to be more conscious of our good and bad morals, so man created religion as a guideline. A way to control the masses into a more civilized way of thinking. And so there fore morality is absolutely crucial to the survival of our species. Without this “answer” or religion we have created, people would feel aimless in their pursuits for morality.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      LOL… good one. But that doesn’t quite address the ‘why’ the moral systems would have needed to evolve. And it assumes that moral structure is the only thing that a religious belief fills. Sorry, not buying it… but I really appreciate the attempt to explain it! Seriously, thank you!

      Reply

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the truth about evolution: what separates us from the animals

by Dan King time to read: 4 min
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