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Evolution and Ethics

Human Morality in Biological & Religious PerspectiveJoseph Poulshock

Evolution and Ethics examines the burning questions of human morality from the standpoint of Christian thought and contemporary biology, asking where the two perspectives diverge and where they may complement one another. Representing a significant dialogue between world-class scientists, philosophers, and theologians, this volume explores the central features of biological and religious accounts of human morality, introducing the leading theories and locating the key points of contention. Central to these discussions are the questions of whether human actions are ever genuinely selfless, whether there is something in the moral life that transcends biological function, and whether one can sensibly speak of an overall purpose to the course of evolution. Evolution and Ethics offers a balanced, levelheaded, constructive approach to an often divisive debate.

Discovery Institute Fellow Joseph Poulshock recognizes that Darwinian explanations like “kin selection” can account for altruism within groups of closely related individuals. However human social interactions clearly require explanations which go far beyond Darwinian explanations. That is, nearly every major religion has proscriptions similar to the “Golden Rule.” For instance, Christian notions of being the “good Samaritan” and Hebraic moral codes calling for kindness to foreigners, require explanations beyond reference to “selfish genes.”

Poulshock explains that social groups with strong moral codes eventually become governed by those codes. Thus it is ideas—communicated through written and spoken language—which seem to have the greatest impact upon human ethics.

Other Contributors not affiliated with Discovery Institute include Larry Arnhart, Christopher Boehm, Craig A. Boyd, Robert Boyd, Michael Chapman, Philip Clayton, Loren Haarsma, S. Mark Heim, David Lahti, Philip Clayton, Jeffrey P. Schloss, Thomas Jay Oord, Gregory R. Peterson, Peter J. Richerson, Philip Rolnick, Holmes Rolston III, Michael Ruse, and Rene van Woudenberg.