Christian Ethics -- By: G. Coleman Luck
BSac 118:471 (Jul 61) p. 228
[G. Coleman Luck is Book Review Editor for the Moody Monthly and a member of the faculty of Moody Bible Institute.]
Unless willing to live as mere brutes or beasts, all men must have some sort of system of ethics or morals. Non-Christians, in a forlorn search for a satisfactory standard, have offered a multitude of suggestions. Principal among these are the systems which may be termed evolutionism, utilitarianism, civil authoritarianism, individualism, and altruism.
Evolutionism ingratiatingly suggests that whatever advances the supposed triumphant progress of evolution is right whereas anything that hinders it is wrong. “All through evolution, he [Lecomte du Nouy] argues, there have been just two kinds of living creatures—you can call them good and bad, or evolvers and adapters. The bad kind, the adapter, has always done the expedient thing. It has conformed and appeased. It adapts itself to environment and circumstances—and then stops progressing. The other kind of creature is stubborn and rebellious. Refusing to conform, it chooses rather to surpass itself, and so evolves into something better. In the clash of these two motives du Nouy finds his difference between wrong and right.”1 Unfortunately no one has yet told us where an authoritative statement is to be found as to exactly what hinders or helps evolution. Is the individual to decide for himself? The most awful crimes, such as genocide, could be condoned on the basis of such ethics—indeed not merely condoned but even commended.
Utilitarianism, in a practical, matter-of-fact way, argues that whatever works well is good. The old adage, “Honesty is the best policy,” is an example of this sort of thinking. Honesty is to be pursued not for itself, but because in the end it works better than any other “policy.” As in other non-Christian systems the follower of utilitarianism is left with no objective standard. In the various choices facing a human being in his every day life, where is he to find, among the conflicting voices of the philosophers, authoritative guidance as to what works well and what does not? Utilitarianism also leads on in a most natural way to the vile doctrine that “the end justifies the means.” Horrid crimes can be excused on the
BSac 118:471 (Jul 61) p. 229
basis that they will finally produce a good end result, and therefore “work well.”
Civil authoritarianism unlike evolutionism and utilitarianism is able to produce an objective standard of a sort. This philosophy proposes that whatever “the government” says to do is right and whatever it tel...
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