Human Morality as a By-Product of Natural Selection

Is biology or natural selection a valid foundation for our sense of objective right and wrong? Charles Darwin provides us with an interesting “extreme example” of what it means when biology or natural selection forms the foundation of morality:

“If…men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering.”[1]

In similar light, if the actual conditions of our rearing was like that of the Nurse Shark[2] we would bite, wrestle and shove our partners while procreating – which would be tantamount to rape. So to answer the initial question, biology or natural selection cannot provide a valid foundation for objective morals because if our conditions were different, our morals would be different. This renders our sense of good and bad as meaningless and subjective, as it is subject to biological conditions and could have been different if our biological “rearing” was different.

If there are objective morals, then natural selection cannot be a valid foundation, as an objective conceptual anchor would best explain our sense of objective right and wrong. Isn’t this best explained by God?

[1] Charles Darwin. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Second Edition. New York. 1882, page 99.


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Comments (4)

  1. @ʿAbduḷḷāh: In this case the law court wold become meaningless – why judging, if everything is neither good nor bad, its always neutral, no matter what youre doing?!

  2. Abdullah: From an ontological perspective the view that they are objective is as valid as saying that they are not. We are discussing here the source and nature of morals not how we get to know them – which is an epistemological question. I hope this helps.

  3. I thought about this many times. I was an atheist before until recently. Things make no sense to me when I stand with Atheism and I struggled very hard to get my difficult thoughts and confused mind to get fixed. Its not always very easy.

    As an atheist, after thinking honestly, deeply, relevantly I had to conclude that our existence is of no meaning and sense which I was not able to agree with. Recently I was convinced with Islam by just hearing the recitation and the discipline. But still i am too weak to comprehend everything.

    Any way IERA and Brother Hamza are doing a great job.

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