Survival of the Fittest vs the Golden Rule

Where does morality come from? How do humans decide how to behave? As a Christian we see that moral behavior is a product of my belief in a Creator God. But what if a person does not believe in God? What dictates his morality?

Image © Krieg Barrie from

Image © Krieg Barrie from

In a sermon on “Evolution and the Christian Faith,”  Phillip E. Johnson notes:

“‘If there is no Creator who has a purpose for your life, then there is no such thing as sin, … ‘Sin would mean that you are in a wrong relationship to your Creator. Well, you can’t be in the wrong relationship with the particles. They don’t care. So you don’t need a Savior to save you from the consequences of your wrong relationship with the particles.’”

Leaving some to conclude,

“When you give away creation, you have given away everything.”1

That’s a pretty harsh conclusion, isn’t it? But we can hardly deny the truth of it when we look around at what has happened in society since the theory of evolution has become the popular way to explain the existence of our world.

Evolution teaches that only the strongest, healthiest, and smartest survive – a concept that is completely incompatible with the Golden Rule.

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

I’ve found that the Golden Rule is harder to teach than you might think. Out of context many people don’t immediately assume that it is a text from the Bible. You could say it was just a good rule to live by. But in 20 plus years of teaching in one capacity or another I’ve found that, without the opportunity to back that statement up with a belief in God, it has little impact on individual behavior. The response I most often get when I try to explain the Golden Rule to one of my students is, “Why?” In fact, they often completely turn the concept around, “They’re not going to treat me the way I want to be treated. Why should I be nice to them?”

By today’s standards, the Golden Rule is counter-intuitive.

The Golden Rule says, “Share.”
Survival of the Fittest says, “Take yours first and let the rest fend for themselves.

The Golden Rule says, “Lend a helping hand.”
Survival of the Fittest says, “If you can’t keep up, get out of the way.”

The Golden Rule says, “Look out for one another.”
Survival of the Fittest says, “Every man for himself.”

Counter-intuitive or not, our Creator has both told and demonstrated to us how we should behave as we represent Him.

“Your relation to God and your fellow men demands a change in your life. In the Sermon on the Mount the injunction of the world’s redeemer was: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” These words are of the highest value to us, a golden rule given us by which to measure our conduct. This is the true rule of honesty. Very much is comprehended in these words. We are here required to deal with our neighbors as we would wish them to deal with us were we in their circumstances.” (E.G. White, Testimonies of the Church, Volume 4, p. 359)

But without God, there are no such requirements. Facing each day without the belief that each of us is a special creation of the God of the universe leaves each of us to find meaning and truth in our own way. And that has led to moral relativism and situational ethics – the belief that there is no absolute truth, no right and wrong and no consequences for poor choices.

Where does that leave us?

Well, according to William Watkins, it leaves us with ten core beliefs that govern the lives of those people today who claim there are no absolutes.

Here are “The New Absolutes.”

“(1) Religion interferes with freedom and must be banished from the public square.
(2) Human life is valuable only as long as it is wanted.
(3) Marriage is a human contract made between any two people, and can be terminated for any reason.
(4) Family is any grouping of two or more people.
(5) Sexual intercourse is permissible regardless of marital status.
(6) All forms of sexual activity are moral as long as they occur between consenting adults.
(7) Women are oppressed by men and must liberate themselves.
(8) People of color should receive preferential treatment.
(9) Non-Western societies and other oppressed peoples and their heritage should be studied and valued above Western civilization.
(10) Only viewpoints deemed politically correct should be tolerated and encouraged to prevail.”2

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer God’s Absolutes. God absolutely created each of us, loves each of us and wants to spend eternity with each of us.

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” John 3:16-17AMP

Now that’s an absolute, I can live with!

  1. Terry Mattingly, senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, from his column “Phillip E. Johnson”
  2. William Watkins, The New Absolutes (Bethany House, 1996)
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