In our country there would have been a period in which whatever the Pope said was what should be obeyed. For many centuries, the Ten Commandments were the ground rules. Has there not been a century when the king’s word was the final word (ever heard of Henry the 8th)? A few weeks ago in an input focussing on gender, the lecturer said that whatever the law said was to be followed. In my opinion, there also needs to be an examining of the law before it is obeyed. Who constructed the rules by which we live? Where do our morals come from? Are there such things as ‘intrinsic values’ or are our ‘morals’ imposed on us by the state and culture we live in? Where do the definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ come from? People tell you to speak ‘your truth’. Does that mean whatever seems good to you?
Personally, when I begin to think about these issues, the starting place for answers has to be where we came from; we have to go right back to the beginning of the world. There are two commonly acknowledged possibilities: the theory of evolution and creation. Back in National 5 Biology I was taught that I originated from primordial soup. The Darwinian belief that humans (and all living things) are nothing more than an accident of history, “cosmically inconsequential bundles of stardust, adrift in an infinite and purposeless universe” is a belief that is now “widely embraced within the scientific community” (Raymo, p.160). In the book Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life, Steve Stewart-Williams asks questions about evolution and its link to morality; if morality is a direct product of evolution, why are people constantly arguing about what is right and wrong? Why do we spend so much time teaching our children to be ‘good’ and instilling virtues like generosity in them? Why do we experience inner conflict between what we think is right and what we actually desire to do?
On the other hand, various evolutionists believe that the rules and morals we have are defined by society. However, some people believe society is not reliable because over time it has developed and seems to constantly change its tune (think about how slavery and capital punishment used to be perfectly normal in our country). Maybe in 200 years, humans will look back in horror at things we legislated during 2017? Strange thought.
Those who believe in creation say there is a super-natural God who designed us in His image and left us a moral code and set of guidelines. People who accept this as true also believe that you are ultimately accountable to this Creator-God; this belief is the main influence behind their actions. On the other hand, many people don’t believe there is enough evidence for this God and therefore disregard the principles set out.
I think it is important to discuss social justice and respect. I also consider it crucial for everyone to know why we are doing that and how our other beliefs are (perhaps unconsciously) influencing our actions. I would love to hear your insights on the subject. Please feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section.
I have found two interesting articles on creation and evolution and how they relate to morality. If you would like to read more, choose the case you wish to investigate:
Human nature informs morality, but morality sometimes counteracts human nature. Morality starts from evolved dispositions, but takes on a life of its own outside the individual’s skull.
We are ultimately accountable to our ‘Creator’?