I don’t know. You tell me…
On The Stone the other day, I read an article by Frans De Waal, called ‘Morals Without God?’, in which — among other things — he makes an evolutionary biological case against the so-called moral argument for God’s existence. (I’m sure you’d at least be familiar with one popular form of that argument. It goes like this: ‘if there’s no God then everything is permissible’.)
I think this quote nicely captures the heart of De Waal’s position:
If we consider our species without letting ourselves be blinded by the technical advances of the last few millennia, we see a creature of flesh and blood with a brain that, albeit three times larger than a chimpanzee’s, doesn’t contain any new parts … No one doubts the superiority of our intellect, but we have no basic wants or needs that are not also present in our close relatives.
Some of the evidence he marshals for this is absolutely fascinating! Like the fact that many animals display responses that look a whole lot like a rudimentary form of our own preoccupation with justice and fairness. You really should go and read the article in full.
The funny thing is that even after a couple of days digesting it, I’m still not worried about it. I guess it’s just not that shocking to me to be told (a) that morality is all about relationships and sociality, and (b) that this is something the human and non-human creation have in common.
I already believe that the God I meet in Jesus Christ is three persons in eternally loving relationship. The doctrine of the Trinity tells me that relationships are at the heart of reality. Now evolutionary biology is saying the same thing. Wow! Good for evolutionary biology.