God: The Source of Morality

By Roger Marshall*

“Religion’s role in the issue of immorality” was the title of Dr. Victor Evelyn’s letter to the editor (Barbados Advocate, Nov. 20th, 2004). In that letter Dr. Evelyn claimed, “Morality exists, has existed and will continue to exist outside of religion.” After asserting that Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah are simply “different names for the same myth in whose honour so much blood is shed and so much hate and invective is unleashed”, he concluded that “Religion has been repeatedly a stumbling block to the development of morals in the communities of men.” To back up his claims and assertions he cited atrocities which were backed by religion (and more specifically “ Christians”) such as the Inquisition, the European slave trade, the displacement of the Native Indians of North America by “The religious Bible-carrying Europeans who tricked, cheated, robbed, massacred and marginalize them” and the Jewish holocaust which was engineered by Adolph Hitler who “regarded himself as doing ‘God’s’ work when as a Christian he brutalised and murdered the Jews.”

In his most recent letter entitled “Compassion and deep thought needed” (B’dos Advocate, Dec. 12th, 2004) he further asserted his belief that “all religions are fundamentally false” and that Christianity in particular has the “worse history of leading society into degenerate behaviours than any other.” In light of these comments it is thus apparent that Dr. Evelyn is either an agnostic or an all out atheist. It would be interesting to know his view on origins, since people of his persuasion are usually evolutionists, I will assume that he is probably one as well. As Nobel Prize – winning biologist of Harvard University, Dr. George Wald once said: “The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation (evolution); the only alternative, to belief in a single, primary act of creation (by God as taught in the Bible). There is no third position…” (parentheses and emphasis mine). In other words one either believes in supernatural creation or naturalistic evolution, and since Dr. Evelyn believes that God is a myth, then his only option for origins is atheistic evolutionism. His letter therefore raises the fundamental question as to what really determines morality. Is morality determined by human government, is it determined by the masses or is it determined by a transcendent moral governor of the universe i.e. God?

If human government determines morality then what gives people the right to dissent when governments legalise atrocious practises. For example, today many years after the events, we still denounce things such as the infamous transatlantic slave trade, apartheid and the Jewish holocaust, just to name a few. Currently many protest the U.S. lead invasion and occupation of Iraq etc. But if government determines morality then according to the rulers who orchestrated these acts of cruelty there was nothing wrong with their actions. On the other hand if morality is determined by the masses then why are governments seeking to crack down on things such as child pornography, the illegal drugs trade and other forms of vice? Because to the masses involved in these practices there is absolutely nothing wrong with their nefarious activities.

If man is just an animal, the end result of a long purposeless series of genetic mistakes (mutations), as the atheistic proponents of Darwinian evolution believe, then where did man get his concept of morality? How could an animal (with its basic animalistic instincts of getting all it can at the expense of the weakest, in the brutal evolutionary “dog eat dog” battle of survival of the fittest) make a transition to become interested in things such as right and wrong, social graces, etiquette, protocol, reverence, truth, honesty, manners, gratitude, fairness and kindness etc.? In fact it is the survival of the fittest philosophy (the get all you can mentality no matter who you hurt in the process, because you only go around once, after all, when “yah dead yah dead”) that is used by many to explain and justify mankind’s history of savagery against his fellowman. This is seen as man just naturally exhibiting his inherent animal instincts (inherited from his wild animal ancestors in the jungles of Africa where human evolution is said to have started) and therefore it is believed that nothing is intrinsically wrong with such actions. It’s just how life is “eat or be eaten.”

In fact, if man is just an animal morality does not really exist, it is only a subjective construct of the human mind (like the concept of God, as the atheist tell us) therefore it all depends on who gets the upper hand in society to impose his or her concept of morality on the others, again in the age old battle of survival of the fittest. If this is the case then why would people of Dr. Evelyn’s persuasion complain about atrocities that have been carried out under the banner of religion (or Communism or Nazism or even Democracy for that matter)? If Darwinian evolution is true then we would have to conclude that such actions, even under the guise of religion, were and are just testimony of the many ingenious ways by which man the animal instinctively carries out his survival of the fittest mentality by any means necessary. In other words we are just witnessing the evolutionary laws of the jungle at work in all spheres of human society.

On the other hand, if there is a moral governor of the universe who sets the rules of right and wrong then men are first accountable to Him for their actions, and secondly they are also accountable to each other (since man is created in the image of God) for whether or not they conduct their lives according to those rules which God has imposed upon the consciences of all men, even though may not of heard about or read the Bible. As the Bible itself says: “For when Gentiles (i.e. non – Jewish people), who do not have the law (i.e. the written law of God given to the Jews in Mosaic covenant), by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them, in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Romans 2: 14 – 16; parentheses mine). So more than morality existing outside of religion morality actually emanates from God Himself. The choice is left to man to live his life according to the dictates of his God – given conscience or else stifle his conscience and proceed in his evil deeds. The consequences of the latter, as human history shows, are devastating.

*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.