Did Morality Evolve?

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A recent article gathers data from neuroscientists to try to answer the question “is there a moral center in our brain?” The conclusion? Well, apparently no specific part of our brain handles all moral decision-making, but “neuroscience research shows that certain, specific brain regions are often involved when we’re faced with a moral dilemma.” The author states that research shows that when the moral question is more rational and impersonal, brain regions typically used for abstract reasoning become active. However, in emotional, personal situations, the brain’s emotional processing areas light up. But is moral decision-making really all about sections of our brains and chemicals? Not at all!

Morality

Moral decision-making is much more than just what our brain is doing. It’s about doing what is right based on an absolute standard. And the only absolute standard is God’s Word. Our morality needs to be based on the firm foundation of God’s infallible Word. As the Creator, only God has the authority to set the rules, and we aren’t at liberty to change or ignore them.

The Only Absolute Standard for Morality

Sadly, our culture largely no longer recognizes God’s Word as the authority, and increasing numbers of people believe man (and thus morality) evolved by natural processes. Morality has become relative, and our society is simply doing what’s right in its own eyes (Judges 21:25). But this doesn’t work! If morality is relative, then who sets the rules? The government? Society? The individual? Whoever has the most power and money? And if morality is relative to a society or to the individual, then no one can tell someone else that what they’re doing is wrong. After all, according to this thinking, what they’re doing might be right for them. By this bad thinking, who are we to call what ISIS is doing in the Middle East, or mass shooters, or child abusers wrong? It might work for them or their society, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Now, most people don’t think this way, and are quick to condemn certain activities like the ones I just mentioned as absolutely wrong. But it’s inconsistent for them to do so because they don’t have an absolute standard by which to condemn or condone anything. The only absolute standard for morality is the Word of God, given to us by our Creator.

The article also talks about how moral decision-making is about weighing the consequences for oneself and others. But, again, you can’t base your morality on this shaky foundation. After all, no person can see the future to see how their decision will ultimately affect themselves and others. And just because an action might not have a major negative consequence doesn’t make it right!

Again, our morality can’t be based on just what the consequences are. It must be based on a sure foundation—God’s Word.

We Are Not Just Physical Bodies

I also saw another article that talks about certain rituals that will help your brain be happy, such as labeling emotions, being grateful, or hugging other people. This article had a similar message to the morality article—you are a physical being and are really nothing more than the reaction of chemicals inside your brain.

Of course, such an idea comes from the secular bias that there is no soul or immaterial part of a human being. But we know from God’s Word that this isn’t so (Genesis 2:7). There is a spiritual side to us as well as the physical body that God has created. Now, this doesn’t mean that we neglect our physical body. God has designed our bodies in an incredible way and there are certainly things we can do to help our brains release chemicals that help keep us healthy and happy. But we are so much more than just that! We are also spiritual beings that need fellowship with our Creator. For example, one thing on the list to help you be happier was being grateful. But grateful to whom? Without a Creator who has given us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25), who do we have to be grateful to? Gratefulness to nothing is ridiculous. But gratefulness to God for all His goodness is commanded in Scripture because it brings glory to God and, apparently according to neuroscientists, it even helps us feel better as we do what we were created to do—praise God in thankfulness!

Recently, in a discussion with a secularist, this atheist told me that morality in humans is innate because of evolution. But I then asked, if humans have evolved by natural processes, how do we know that what is innate is the correct morality—and how do we know that others have evolved the same innate morality?

Actually, I do believe morality is “innate” in the sense that God’s Word tells us that God put it there:

. . . who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness . . . (Romans 2:15)

When we read research about our brains, we need to remember what God’s Word teaches about our being spiritual as well as physical beings. Morality and happiness are not things that are solely dependent on our brains and chemicals. Instead, we need to look at these things through the lens of God’s Word because God’s Word is the only sure foundation on which to base our thinking.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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