Okay, so here is my beef. If you are going to believe in evolution, then be consistent about it. Don’t say you believe in the evolution of species—which generally presupposes God as either nonexistent or irrelevant, and blind chance as the motivating force of reality—and then use theistic and creationist terminology.
What am I talking about? Well, some time back I saw one of those nature programs on PBS. Now I like PBS. I find many of its programs interesting and informative. But I have to take their worldview with a grain of salt. (Should I say “lump”? How about enough salt to make soup in Lake Superior?) Their programs that deal with nature and science always have an evolutionary bias. I have come to expect it, and can usually choose to ignore it. (“Liar!” I get somewhat upset every time.)
But this one program sticks in my mind, and I can’t just forget it. I am watching this program on birds and wetlands. Most of you know how much I like birds, so I am really enjoying this program.
Well, suddenly this nice nature walk turns into a lecture on conservation. No problem—except that in the middle of this treatise on evolution and the competition of species, with a good dose of environmental concern thrown in, we start hearing about “man’s role,” “mankind’s responsibility,” and our “stewardship of the earth.”
Hello! Does anybody out there understand the concept of stewardship and responsibility? Stewardship means you are holding something in trust for someone else. Responsibility means we will answer to someone else for our actions. If we are stewards of the earth, to whom are we responsible? Doesn’t saying we are stewards of the earth assume that there is someone (some One?) to whom we will answer for how we treat this earth?
By the way, while we are talking about this stuff—there was another thought that occurred to me while watching this program. As is typical with such PBS fare, humanity got the rap as being the bad egg in the universe’s Easter basket. I guess you could say, we are the thorn in Gaia’s side.
But let us assume for a minute that the philosophical bias of this PBS program is true—that we all arrived here on the evolutionary highway. Isn’t evolution essentially amoral and ethically neutral? If evolution is true, there is no good or bad involved—just what is, i.e., what has evolved. No one faults foxes for eating rabbits, or lady bugs for eating aphids. So why does mankind, only an evolved primate, become the pimple on evolution’s face? (A face that had its cosmetics applied randomly, I might add.)
It seems to me that if man has developed the intelligence to learn how to exploit the environment, to rape the land, to wantonly kill and destroy animal and plant species—well, who is to complain? (And to whom?) Evolution, along with the chaotic blind goddess Chance, has brought homo sapiens to this point. We are the top competitors in the field, the masters of natural selection. So what if we kill off spotted owls or dodo birds or Bengal tigers… we have evolved to the point of being able to do so. Who is to say we are wrong? Who’s to say there is such a thing as wrong?
Unless, evolution is a bunch of bunk, and random acts of nature did not bring us to this point…
Unless creation is a fact, and there is a Moral Agent who started the whole shebang going…
Unless there is a Creator, and HE did make us, and we are going to answer to HIM one day!
Then you do have stewardship
And moral choices
And right and wrong—including how we treat the environment!
You can’t have your cake (of moral responsibility) and eat it too (i.e., have it devoured by blind, random chance).