94  Conscience and ethics

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Conscience and ethics are hardly things that would have evolved in a merciless fight for survival that has been going on for millions of years. Conscience does not increase one’s chances of survival. Pure instinct deprived of conscience would probably result in most cases in the elimination of the enemy race.  Conscience, on the other hand, keeps one from acting on purely unscrupulous or selfish motives.

The world of evolution (as formulated by evolutionists themselves) is a world of pure accident devoid of essential being. Life and death, to be or not to be – everything is of equal value because everything happens purely by accident, without any plan or objective. It would most certainly be difficult to anchor ethical obligations in a meaningless and erratic world without the solid foundations.

Evolutionary ethics as they generally are formulated (and which are by definition without meaning or objective) still strive according to some famous philosophers towards an overall goal. Friedrich Nietzsche formulates this as development into a “Superman” and Teilhard de Chardin (with a pseudo-Christian touch) speaks of the “Omega point.” From the point of view of evolutionary theory, assisted suicide, abortions and some genetic manipulations (as instruments of further evolutionary development) could be assessed quite positively. The conscience, on the other hand, is generally opposed to such practices (1).

If the human race would really be the product of a pitiless evolutionary fight for survival there would be no reason to hinder evolutionary progress with ethics and morals. The survival of the fittest cannot be the basis for our ethics. How could ethical questions even occur to us if it were really the case that the egoistic urge to survive had been the ruling principle of animal behaviour for many millions of years? How could it be that egoistic creatures would suddenly start thinking of the well-being of others?

In the animal world (2) we see individuals cooperating to hunt, fend off enemies and care for sick family members. Reciprocal altruism (feeding and delousing each other, symbiosis involving two different species) is frequently observed among animals. Human ethics, on the other hand, is concerned with thinking about the morally correct thing to do regardless of one’s own advantage. Human ethics comprise a reflection on what is really the right thing to do and not what would be most advantageous to me or my family in this moment (utilitarianism).

Most European philosophers are not consistent in ethical matters. Their scientific background is the theory of evolution, but their ethics and principles of practical action are still based (either consciously or unconsciously) on the Bible. A quotation from English naturalist Thomas Henry Huxley from the nineteenth century is interesting in this connection, “I must admit that I was confused when I set out to establish foundations for moral behaviour in our chaotic times without using the Bible” (3).

Apparently it is not possible to base ethics worthy of this name on the theory of evolution. The attempts that have been made in this direction read like a list of the darkest periods of human history: Hitler and National Socialism; Marx, Stalin and Communism. The worst crimes in the history of humanity have been committed under the erroneous belief of the theory of evolution.

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(1) Marcel Wildi, Evolution und Schöpfung und die jeweiligen Konsequenzen für die Ethik, Seminararbeit, STH Basel, 1992.
(2) Frans de Waal, Der gute Affe, dtv, München, 1996.
(3) Octobible-Führer der Expo Tabernacle, Lausanne, 1992, page 15.

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