Gorillas, Endangerment, and Evolutionary Morality | The Institute for Creation Research

Gorillas, Endangerment, and Evolutionary Morality

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revealed their latest Red List of Threatened Species at their World Conservation Congress in Hawaii on September 4, 2016. There, thousands of scientists and celebrities discussed recently extinct plants and others nearing extinction, but the primate declines grabbed the headlines.1 Two of the three great-ape kinds are rapidly shrinking. Illegal hunting continues to diminish the now "critically endangered" gorillas and orangutans, while chimpanzees are listed as merely "endangered." Why should these losses sadden those concerned?

IUCN Director General Inger Andersen told IUCN News, "To see the Eastern gorilla—one of our closest cousins—slide towards extinction is truly distressing."

"Closest cousins" refers to the supposed evolutionary relationship humans and gorillas share by having descended from the same primate ancestor somewhere in the last ten million years. Therefore, in Director Anderson's view, humans were not made by God in the image of God. Instead, mankind represents a less-hairy hominid that evolved from an unknown ape-like creature.

If we are all products of evolution, then what basis do humans have for real morality? Does Inger Anderson's lament go beyond mere sentiment? On what evolutionary mooring would she base her great distress about great-ape extinction?

The Bible says God made humans in His image, and this includes our shared knowledge of good and evil—an intrinsic knowledge called conscience placed into humans from the beginning. But good and evil have no place in evolutionary thinking, which strictly embraces survival and sees death as a means for the best life forms to survive.

If evolution made humans as mere advanced animals, then morality is an illusion that brains create to somehow aid their species' survival. In other words, why do those who say that the physical universe consists merely of matter and energy react to threatened species as though moral laws that protect those species also exist?

Metaphysical realities like the intrinsic value of human life, love, truthfulness, good, evil, and even math and logic, have no root in our culture's materialistic view of reality.2 So on what moral basis does Ms. Andersen find extinction "truly distressing?"

Extinction should cause concern. But that concern comes from a Christian view of the world in which God ordained mankind to care for His creation. Did the actual image of God, including the knowledge of right and wrong and deep-seated emotions like concern or distress, come out of Inger Anderson's mouth in the same breath as her implicit denial of that very image?

Evolutionarily, if an animal can't cut it—if it can't adapt fast enough to survive—then in a sense it doesn't deserve to survive. But in reality, each plant and animal holds inherent value as God's creation. Every extinct animal therefore represents a lost opportunity to study those attributes of the Creator that He instilled into that creature.

Why should illegally hunting endangered animals distress those who believe that the physical universe is all that there is? That mindset offers no answer beyond personal preference. In contrast, those who attribute lasting value to God's creations have a real basis for concern.

References

  1. Four out of six great apes one step away from extinction. IUCN Red List. Posted on iucn.org September 4, 2016, accessed September 7, 2016. 
  2. Plantinga, A. 2004. Evolution, Epiphenomenalism, Reductionism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. LXVIII (3): 602-619.

*Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on September 26, 2016.

The Latest
NEWS
"100-Million-Year-Old" Bacteria?
Researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology have recovered what they claim are 100-million-year-old microbes. Drilling 74.5...

NEWS
Origin of Tectonic Plates Best Explained by the Flood
A new study published in Nature Communications claims to have figured out how the tectonic plates may have originated.1 It’s been over...

NEWS
Give Today and Support Biblical Creation Ministry
North Texas Giving Day is here once again! Will you help us reach the next generation? Your generosity will empower ICR and our Dallas Museum—the...

NEWS
Mammalian Brains Prove Evolutionary Disconnect
The evolutionary model of brain development predicted that the complexity of neural connectivity should have increased as brains became larger and the...

NEWS
North Texas Giving Day Next Week!
North Texas Giving Day is almost here! Will you help us reach the next generation? Your generosity will empower ICR and the ICR Discovery Center for Science...

NEWS
Celebrating One Year at the ICR Discovery Center
Thank you to all who joined us for the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History’s First Anniversary Celebration! ICR staff enjoyed meeting...

NEWS
New Evidence Hurts Feathered Dinosaur Theory
Is a dinosaur still a dinosaur if it has flight feathers? A new study points to some fascinating evidence that contradicts the idea of feathered dinosaurs...

NEWS
New Planetarium Show: Exploring Deep Space
The ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History is celebrating its first anniversary since the Grand Opening on September 2, 2019. To commemorate...

NEWS
Inside September 2020 Acts & Facts
What's the story behind ICR's new President? What milestone are we celebrating this month at the ICR Discovery Center? How do comets affirm...

NEWS
Sunflower Heliotropism: August Sunlight for Making Tons of Seeds
August is an important month for sunflowers—those gigantic, bright-yellow flowers with brownish, round seed heads bordered by radiating yellow ligules...