Is a better understanding of evolution the solution to our modern problems? This is certainly the thought of many scientists, sociologists, and behavioral researchers today. They believe that a better understanding of evolution will help us to discover new solutions to the problems that plague our society. For example, adultery is blamed on an evolved tendency to cheat because promiscuity yields more offspring than monogamy, and gang violence, which primarily exists among young men, is blamed on an evolutionary competition for resources and females that stretches through our ancestry.1 But is a better understanding of our alleged evolutionary past really the solution to our problems?
Evolution suffers some major flaws in trying to provide a solution to moral dilemmas. First of all, in order to provide answers to moral questions, evolution must first provide a foundation for morality. But evolution can’t do that! If we all evolved from animals, then humans are nothing more than highly evolved animals.
Animals have no sense of morality, nor are they held accountable to anyone or anything. Schools of barracuda swim the open seas together searching for victims, much like a gang does. But does anyone decry the actions of barracuda? Of course not! They are animals, just doing what animals do. One male elephant seal may mate with dozens of females, but no one chides him for his promiscuity. He’s just doing what elephant seals do. A female praying mantis eats her mate after he’s fertilized her eggs, cowbirds abandon their eggs in other birds’ nests for them to raise, and rodents sometimes eat their own babies.
No one gets upset at any of these animals for doing these things. They are doing what comes naturally to them. It’s just survival of the fittest. So, in an evolutionary worldview, why does anyone get upset at humans when they do things like this? If we are just animals, then we are just doing what comes naturally. Why should we be accountable to anyone or anything for our actions?
What or who provides a foundation for morality?
This brings up another problem. If humans for some reason are the only animals in an evolutionary view that are accountable, who are we accountable to? Who makes the rules? What or who provides a foundation for morality? There cannot be absolute morality because there is no absolute standard. Morality must be relative, but relative to what or whom? Some argue it is relative to the situation. But this fails for several reasons. First of all, what is the standard for deciding what someone should do in any given situation? There isn’t one! Some have suggested perhaps it should be whichever decision will have the least negative consequences. But no one can possibly know all the consequences of their decisions. And by what standard do we decide what is a bad consequence and what is a good one? You have to propose yet another arbitrary standard based on mere opinion. One such standard is whatever promotes the most happiness for the most people. But what if what promotes happiness for others results in misery for me? Should I make myself miserable to make others happy? Who’s to say that my being selfish—which, according to evolutionary ideas, is a good thing—is wrong? After all, evolution is about survival of the fittest, not promoting happiness for others.
Or perhaps morality is relative to the society or to the individual. If this is so, then no society could tell another society that what they are doing is wrong. If this is true, then Hitler and Nazi Germany were perfectly correct in exterminating millions of Jews and other peoples as their society contracted together to accomplish this goal. The Islamic State’s (ISIS) violent actions against Christians, civilians, and other soldiers is acceptable within the societies that agree to submit to their form of Sharia law. The ritualistic killings of albino people in some African nations isn’t wrong. After all, it works for their society, so who are we to tell them that they’re wrong? And yet few people would condone or support these actions as acceptable for any society.
And things just get worse if morality is relative to the individual. If this is true, then no one could tell anyone that what they are doing is wrong. After all, it might be right for them even if it’s wrong for you—there could be no justice system. Everyone would simply do what was right for themselves. In this case, what is wrong with human trafficking, sex slavery, child pornography, pedophilia, bestiality, gang violence, or rape? After all, it might be right for me or promote my happiness in some way. If morality is relative to the individual, then you have no right to tell me what I am doing is wrong. This is an absurd way to live.
Now, this isn’t to say that evolutionists aren’t moral. They have concepts of right and wrong, just like everyone else. The point is that evolutionary ideas utterly fail to provide a firm foundation for morality. So holding to moral values when they don’t have a foundation in which to ground them is inconsistent. Really, they are borrowing from a Christian worldview in order to even say that certain actions are right or wrong. And if they can’t even provide a foundation for morality, then how can they hope to provide an answer to moral questions? They can’t! An understanding of evolution merely adds to our moral problems; it does nothing to relieve them.
Now, evolutionists are correct in one thing: understanding where we came from is essential to understanding and answering the problems that plague our society. But looking towards our supposed evolutionary past is not the answer! God provides the true history of the universe and mankind in His Word. It is in God’s Word that we see why things are the way they are today and what the solution to these problems is.
There are moral absolutes because morality comes from our Creator.
According to Genesis, humans are not merely animals but were created distinct from animals—in the very image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). There are moral absolutes because morality comes from our Creator. It has always been this way since the very beginning (Genesis 2:17), and what is right and what is wrong is revealed for us in His Word and is written on our consciences (Romans 2:15).
Originally, there were no societal problems because God created everything “very good” (Genesis 1:31). However, the first two people, Adam and Eve, chose to rebel against God. That one choice introduced sin into the world. Romans tells us that we all sin because sin spread from Adam to all of us (Romans 5:12). Genesis quickly reveals how their one choice led to many other sinful choices by their descendants; their son murdered his brother out of jealously; a few generations later Lamech took on two wives, contrary to God’s design of marriage between one man and one woman; within 1,600 years the world was so corrupt and every man was so evil that God destroyed the world in a global Flood (Genesis 6:5), sparing only the righteous Noah and his family.
These problems were all the results of sinful mankind acting on his sin nature, passed down from Adam. The problems our society faces today come from the same root cause—sinfulness.
God’s Word provides us with all the answers we need to the problems our society faces. Evolutionary ideas simply contribute to the problems by providing a philosophical rationale for certain immoral behaviors.
Let’s take racism as an example. Racism is an ongoing ugly reality for many people. Does an evolutionary or a biblical worldview provide the answer for combating racism? Well, according to evolutionary ideas, humans evolved from animals. Darwin taught that certain races of humans evolved at different rates, so some humans were more evolved than others. Evolutionist Stephen J. Gould once said, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory” (Ontogeny and Phylogeny, 1977).
Although many try to deny it, evolution provides a rationale for a racist philosophy since some groups of humans evolved with different characteristics. Rather than providing an answer to oppressing others based on race, it can be used to perpetuate the problem. But the Bible provides an answer for racism. Human beings are all descendants of Adam and Eve, so we’re all one race divided into different people groups. We’re all equally sinful and all equally in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no room for despising others based on their ethnic characteristics in a biblical worldview.
Another example is the sanctity of life. In an evolutionary worldview, people are just animals. There is no consistent foundation to say human life has inherent value or dignity just because it is human. So why should we not kill one another if life has no inherent value? What’s wrong with school shootings, abortion, euthanasia, or honor killings? If humans are just animals, then none of these things ultimately matter because human life has no inherent value.
Contrast this with the biblical worldview. Humanity is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) in the very image of the Creator (Genesis 1:26–27). Human life has inherent worth and dignity because each and every human being is created in the image of God. And God has commanded us not to murder (Exodus 20:13), so the taking of an innocent human life is wrong. While an evolutionary worldview devalues human life, a biblical worldview recognizes that life is sacred and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
Evolutionary answers to these problems are merely a feeble attempt to treat the symptoms rather than going to the heart of the disease—changing external behaviors and not the heart. Mankind is racist, immoral, and inconsiderate of human life because we all have a common problem—sin. We can attempt to treat each of these symptoms in our society, but there will always be some new expression of evil unless we get to the root. And that root is a rejection of Christ and rebellion against God.
Ultimately the answer to the problems of this world is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Scripture makes it clear that not just a few, or some, or even most, but all of us stand guilty before God because of our sin (Romans 3:23). We have all sinned and are desperately wicked, and therefore we all deserve the same penalty—death (Romans 6:23). Society is rife with problems because it is full of sinners living in rebellion against God and acting on the desires of their sin nature, not because of evolutionary leftovers. So what is the answer to this problem?
The only answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the answer for every problem because He has solved our greatest problem—the problem of sin. Jesus stepped into history, lived a perfect life, and chose to die on the Cross, taking our penalty, death, and wrath upon Himself. But he didn’t stay dead; He rose from the grave, defeating death and He now offers eternal life (John 3:16) to all who will repent and put their faith and trust in Him.
But the gospel doesn’t just give us eternal life. The gospel transforms people by regenerating them by the Spirit and replacing the old sinful man with a new man: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The gospel provides the only hope for our society.
It is the gospel that transforms hearts and minds to become more like Christ.
If we want to see change in the culture, we can’t start by trying to change attitudes or opinions. We need to start by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel that transforms hearts and minds to become more like Christ. It is the gospel that replaces the sinful nature with a nature that seeks to serve God. And it is the empowering work of the Holy Spirit that enables us to fight against our sinful tendencies and love those around us.
As Christians, we need to be active in sharing the life-changing message of the gospel with people who desperately need to hear it. Only then will we see change—change that will last for eternity.