MORALITY AND NATURE: EVOLUTIONARY CHALLENGES TO CHRISTIAN ETHICS

with Helen De Cruz and Yves De Maeseneer, “The Imago Dei: Evolutionary and Theological Perspectives”; Aku Visala, “Imago Dei, Dualism, and Evolution: A Philosophical Defense of the Structural Image of God”; Olli-Pekka Vainio, “Imago Dei and Human Rationality”; Johan De Smedt and Helen De Cruz, “The Imago Dei as a Work in Progress: A Perspective from Paleoanthropology”; Tom Uytterhoeven, “Co-creating Co-creators? The ‘Human Factor’ in Education”; Johan De Tavernier, “Morality and Nature: Evolutionary Challenges to Christian Ethics”; and Taede A. Smedes, “Emil Brunner Revisited: On the Cognitive Science of Religion, the Imago Dei, and Revelation.”

Authors

  • Johan De Tavernier


Abstract

Christian ethics accentuates in manifold ways the unique character of human nature. Personalists believe that the mind is never reducible to material and physical substance. The human person is presented as the supreme principle, based on arguments referring to free-willed actions, the immateriality of both the divine spirit and the reflexive capacity, intersubjectivity and self-consciousness. But since Darwin, evolutionary biology slowly instructs us that morality roots in dispositions that are programmed by evolution into our nature. Historically, Thomas Huxley, “Darwin's bulldog,” agreed with Darwin on almost everything, except for his gradualist position on moral behavior. Huxley's “saltationism” has recently been characterized by Frans de Waal as “a veneer theory of morality.” Does this mark the end of a period of presenting morality as only the fruit of socialization processes (nurture) and as having nothing in common with nature? Does it necessarily imply a corrosion of personalist views on the human being or do Christian ethics have to become familiar again with their ancient roots?

Ancillary