This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page


The Story of Evolution, Spring 2005
Second Web Papers
On Serendip

Morality of an Evolutionist


Austin Andrews


Religious people have it easy. The moral rules they should live their lives by are outlined plainly on the page of a religious text. They don't need morally sound parents to teach them about these rules nor do they have to reflect or ponder on their own as to how they should live their lives morally. Christianity, for example, has the Ten Commandments laid out right in front of them clearly and concisely. How simple! Just ten simples rules by which to lead your life. No thinking necessary. Evolutionists don't have it that easy. They must deliberate for themselves how to lead their lives by learning from laws, family, and intuition.

For the modern evolutionist, it is not too hard to find places that can be helpful in finding morals that fit a lifestyle. Laws are the easiest to find and follow. It is against the law to kill or steal; so there you have it: an evolutionist can simply follow the laws that the United States has put into place and lead a moral life. You can't lie under oath or rape another human being. All of these are important morals by which someone should live, in addition to them being basic laws. They force you to treat yourself and others with respect and kindness and have repercussions when not followed not only legally but also consciously. One might say that by following laws, the evolutionist did not put any thought into what morals she would live by. But neither do people who follow the morals set forth by a religious text. Mere humans created laws, someone may mention, whereas God created the Ten Commandments. Not true. Stories and lessons in religious texts are just that: stories. They were written down and passed on by "mere humans" thousands of years ago. So, federal law and religious law are actually quite comparable.

Morality has a lot to do with the way a person is raised as well. People are usually either raised religiously or evolutionistically. Depending on the family of a person, they learn their morals from a religious text or learn morals from parents, siblings, extended family, and family friends who also follow non-religiously based morals. It's a lifestyle choice: live by God's morals or your own. For families who believe in a religion, they can pass on the word of their religious text and successfully lead a moral life in that manner. For those that believe in evolution, or don't believe in a religion, they can pass on the morals they have learned from friends or family that holds the same beliefs. In some families I'm sure evolutionistic morals have been passed down from many generations, while others are just starting their newly found evolutionarily moral lives.

Another factor in morality is intuition. Maybe this intuition is from family or community values or maybe it is hardwired. Hardwired meaning that we are born with some sort of basic knowledge of what is right and what is wrong what is moral and what is immoral. I believe that at least some of our moral values are hardwired, but still influenced by outside values. It seems ingrained in most human beings that when you do something right or "moral", you feel good about yourself. When you do something wrong or "immoral", you feel bad about yourself. As a child growing up, you encounter different experiences that teach what makes you feel great and what makes you feel terrible. As you mature, you turn these lessons into morals by which you can live your life, no Ten Commandments necessary. Some theories agree with this idea of hardwired morality. They essentially say that a human's innate sense of what is right and wrong allows them to survive and reproduce more successfully. Therefore, a greater number of morally sound humans are in existence today due to natural selection. The innate human ability to have morals seems to play an important role in how evolutionists choose their morals and then live their lives morally.

A religion or a religious text is not necessary to lead a morally sound life. Some people may find it easier because the rules are laid out clearly and concisely. Some may find it more reliable since they believe it has the dependability of God within those rules. I believe that the evolutionists have a more sound idea of morality. Because they have to decide what is immoral and moral for themselves, they hold a stronger conviction of this moral. They are therefore more likely to live by their morals on a consistent basis. In many cases, it seems probable that religious people would go against morality because their morals are not as ingrained or deeply believed by religious people when compared to evolutionists. Many criminals are religious, and many even blame their wrongdoing on the belief that God told them to commit the crime. That's hardly morality.

Morality is learned through a lifestyle: either a religious one or and evolutionistic one. Morals are comprised of family history, intuitive senses, and federal laws. For now, that's as far back as the origin of morality can be traced. Even religious morality can only be traced back to religious texts. How did the people who passed on those stories decide what was moral and what was not moral? For modern evolutionists, many different sources can be used to aid in deciding how a life should be lived morally, but finding the foundation of these is a difficult task. Sometimes a beginning just cannot be found.


| Course Home Page | Forum | Science in Culture | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:51:47 CDT