A lecture summary of “Is Evolution Evil?”
On February 28, Trinity Western University hosted an academic debate on scientific, societal, philosophical, and theological impacts of the Theory of Evolution, entitled “Is Evolution Evil?”. Grant Havers, Chair of the Philosophy Department, was pitted against Chris Morrissey, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Redeemer Pacific College.
Morrissey began the debate with an argument in favor of treating the Theory of Evolution with seriousness and respect. Relying heavily on quotations from Popes Pius XII, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, alongside clips from Star Wars and the theme song from The Big Bang Theory, Morrissey argued that although the treatment of the theory as means to explain the entire mythos of the universe.
Using the metaphor of The Force from Star Wars, Morrissey appealed to what he called Natural Law, or the natural order of the universe, both physical and metaphysical, which is governed by the Almighty. He argued
that the Theory of Evolution points to the reality of Natural Law, conveying a physical truth about the known universe. Morrissey, as TWU’s resident expert on Saint Thomas of Aquinas, urged the audience to follow the Thomistic teaching of embracing of all truths; wherever they are found, as actual truth is always part of the Divine Truth of God’s Natural Law.
On the other hand, Grant Havers commented on a late 20th century philosopher, James Rachels who argued that to believe in the theory of evolution would require dismissing all notions of human dignity. Havers argued that in order to support the Theory of Evolution, any notions of man being created in the image of God or of being a uniquely rational being, separate from the animals, would have to be discarded. Both Christian and secular humanist teachings must be removed in order to follow the logic of Evolution.
Havers then went on to appeal to the Theory of Natural Rights, first purported in Enlightenment Europe. The Theory sets the foundation for the modern social contract, which
assumes that society emerges out of a contract wherein humans agree to obey law and order because it is in their interest to do so. The Social Contract, according to Havers, must exist outside of Nature, and society must be built in defiance of any natural laws, including natural selection and evolution. Havers then used quotations from to argue that Darwin himself was a Social Darwinist and that the Theory of Evolution will inherently lead to a corruption of man’s natural rights through the strong eliminating the weak.
After finishing his argument, Havers went head-to-head with Morrissey in an open-question period. They answered questions from students and most of the Philosophy department on their own, distinct definitions of Nature and Natural Law. Morrissey eventually yelled out that “Modern Rights are just a Law-rent interpretation of Natural Law,” to which Havers responded with a smug grin and diatribe about Canada’s Political Parties.
The night concluded with no consensus being reached.