Morality is a natural selection

A twisted, blood-spattered car wreck, an innocent pedestrian struck dead by a drunk driver or a Holocaust victim starved into the image of a corpse: these images are anathema to modern society.

A twisted, blood-spattered car wreck, an innocent pedestrian struck dead by a drunk driver or a Holocaust victim starved into the image of a corpse: these images are anathema to modern society.

People are inherently revolted by injustice and suffering.

It’s called morality, and it’s our most precious evolutionary trait.

Two hundred years after the birth of Galileo Galilei, the Catholic Church finally yielded to the Italian astronomer’s “heretical” findings and accepted that the Earth revolves around the Sun. They’ve even given him a statue at the Vatican.

Two hundred years after the birth of Charles Darwin, evolution continues to be roundly denounced.

Just ask the multi-million-dollar creationist lobby. Or the $27-million Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Or Canada’s own science minister, Gary Goodyear, who, on Monday, dodged questions about his belief in evolutionary theory.

What gives? When is Darwin due for the Galileo treatment?

For creationists, evolution is a far greater threat to society than the movement of planetary bodies could ever be.

Accept evolution, and you accept chaos, murder and anarchy.

“If you reject God and replace Him with another belief that puts chance, random processes in the place of God, there is no basis for right or wrong,” writes Ken Ham, the author of The Lie: Evolution.

Set morally adrift by the writings of Darwin, leaders like Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler were prompted to kill millions without fear of repercussion, says Answers in Genesis, a prominent US-based creationist advocacy group.

“Because Darwinism undermined the authority of the Bible on origins, it meant that, logically, there was no accountability to God for the mass murder they used to implement their ideas,” wrote Answers in Genesis contributor Raymond Hall.

If evolution truly releases humanity from murderous inhibitions, why wasn’t Darwin’s eureka moment immediately followed by a celebratory axe-murder of his next-door neighbour?

Evolution is much more than the oft-misquoted phrase “survival of the fittest.”

Today’s Starbucks clerk did not evolve from generations of ruthless survivalists, marching into the future on the corpses of the weak and sick. Any society populated by ruthless, unfeeling killers—held back solely by the verses of a 3,000-year-old book—would never have lived long enough to move out of caves.

Tribes that cared for their elders and protected their weak thrived.

Tribes where lawlessness and cruelty reined free died out—presumably in a theatrical Lord of the Flies fashion.

Morality, as much as opposable thumbs, is a survival mechanism.

“The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered … more tender and more widely diffused,” wrote Darwin, in his quintessentially tedious prose.

Evolution has made us physically adverse to the sight of suffering and weakness. It has trained us to stop others’ suffering purely to assuage our own feelings of revulsion.

Buddhists don’t have a problem with Darwin. The idea of empathy as selfish motivation is something long referred to as “the seed of compassion,” by the Dalai Lama.

Archeologists working outside the town of Dmanisi in the former republic of Georgia recently discovered the toothless skull of a Homo erectus—our immediate ancestor.

Amazingly, the individual had lived almost two years without teeth.

Since there was no creamed corn or food processors in prehistoric Eastern Europe, researchers theorized the individual had been cared for by other members of the tribe.

The skull represented the earliest scientific evidence of human caring.

Whatever the anti-Darwinian rhetoric of the religious establishment, the fact remains evolution is already winning.

Canada may reference God in our Charter Of Rights And Freedoms, but we don’t condone slavery, infanticide or the indiscriminate killing of homosexuals.

Not pursuing these dubious acts is in direct violation of biblical verses.

The Heaven-sanctioned massacre of neighbouring cities is a recurring theme in the Old Testament.

Nevertheless, most would balk at a priestly order to plunder Atlin.

Atheist or churchgoer, modern humans don’t spend much time defiling the corpses of their enemies.

Evolution has whipped us into a workable society far more than scripture. Nature is a harsh place, and the only thing that’s gotten us this far is our inherent compassion, empathy and charity.

Ultimately, a science minister who doesn’t believe in evolution is like a defence minister who doesn’t believe in gunpowder.

The theory guides so much of scientific knowledge that appointing a minister with evolutionary misgivings is plain foolhardy.

Creationists may consider themselves heroes, stubbornly holding back chaos with the word of God, from which they believe just and lawful society flows.

But justice and law have always been there—thanks to natural selection.

Contact Tristin Hopper at