Joint Publication Board of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science and Meadville Theological Seminary of Lombard College
Zygon vol:49 issue:1 pages:171-189
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 which 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?