Image via WikipediaFor centuries Christianity has claimed that it inhabits the moral high ground.
This position has gone unchallenged until recent work in evolutionary theory has been able to provide a genetic/biological understanding of morality.
Belief in evolutionary biology and psychology is a superior belief compared to the Christian belief system, when making any decisions, especially those with a moral or ethical component.
In short, Evolution provides a higher moral ground than Christian ideology is able to provide.
Evolution tells us that Man/Woman has gradually improved from a lessor biological (and hence psychological) state, and that this improvement has occurred over vast spans of time. While on the road to improvement, certain biological features have remained for various reasons, and can be shown to have originated in lower life forms. Hence we have a biological connection to all of life on earth.
Christian ideology, which is based on the creation story, has no such connections, and hence no moral imperative to honor those connections.
The creation story, as told in the book of Genesis, provides the basis for christian morality and ethics. It is significant that this story indicates that all of life on earth is created separately from one another. So the zebra, for instance, was created separately from the elephant. The man was created separately from the baboon. And of course, since the woman was so obviously similar to the male, she must have been created separately, but using parts from the male. (One can only assume that the female zebra was also created using male zebra parts, for this logic to have any consistency).
But I digress.
So the creation story not only separates species as having no connection, it also separates tribes of humans, when you get a little further along in the story (so Caan becomes an inferior tribe which modern day religions, like Mormonism use to justify racism), thus providing justification for the extermination of said tribes.
This is the basis upon which all christian morality rests.
Evolutionary theory has a better foundation and hence a superior moral position.
In the Evolutionary way of thinking, all of life is connected and has a shared past. So in a very real sense what I do to any part of life on earth, I do to myself. There is a "circle of life" of which I am but a small part. From this position comes a strong respect for all of life, and a strong motive for protecting said life. Whereas the christian position, based on creation theory, is that I am separate and dominant, and can therefore do as I like with no regard for the "other". I am superior. This is immoral at its best, cruel at its worst.
It was the christian settlers who wiped out the American buffalo by slaughtering them for sport with no regard for the buffalo or for the effects of such "dominance" on the life of the settler, much less on the life of the American Indian. Whereas the American Indian, with no such christian belief was careful to only kill what they needed to provide food and shelter for their families, and they always conducted these buffalo hunts with great respect for the buffalo (often with ceremonies honoring the buffalo for giving its life).
Likewise the early christian settlers didnt hesitate to steal from the Indians, when they found food supplies carefully stored for the winter, siting these supplies as "gods providence" for them. Since they were "superior" to the Indians, and on a mission from "god" , any and all mistreatment of the American Indians was justified. This is just one example of a long list of outrageously immoral and cruel conduct on the part of the christian settlers in regards to the indigenous people they encountered.
How might this have been different had these early settlers been schooled in an understanding of evolutionary principles?
Well, first of all, they wouldnt have been traveling to an unknown area believing that there would be provisions for them when they arrived, "gods provision". Second of all, they might not have made the trip at all, because they wouldnt have been trying to establish a place of paradise, a "heaven on earth", you know "manifest destiny", we are to be a "light set on a hill". That type of thinking.
So lets say they arrived on the shores of America for other reasons, and understood evolution. Then they would have realized the interdependance of life and adapted to life in the wilderness using the strategies the Indians were uniquely qualified to teach them. More importantly, they would have respected the American Indians culture and skills, and NOT forced upon them the "god says I am superior to you and you must do as I do" mentality.
This is just one among many examples I could give of the inferiority of the christain foundation in matters of morality.
Let's look at a current moral dilemma that sparks heated debate. What is the moral high ground in regards to an embryo that genetic testing has shown to have an incurable devastating condition like spinal bifida ?
Well, an understanding of Evolution tells us that for any given moment of conception that it is possible for the genetic combination of the sperm and ovum to produce a defective embryo. Often the female body automatically expels these unsuitable products of conception, but sometimes this doesnt happen and the embryo emplants to begin growing as a fetus. It is at this point that a moral decision must be made, to allow the fetus to continue and become a full term severely damaged newborn? or stop the process before it inflicts horrible suffering for the newborn and the family.
What is the moral high ground?
The christian position, (based on the Genesis story of creation) says that god caused this particular sperm and ovum to unite, and therefore it would be immoral to stop what god has started. So irregardless of the overwhelming stress this will put on the husband and wife (who now have a nine times greater chance of divorce), not to mention the financial burden to society for the childs care (most families dont have millions available to provide medical care), and the emotional cost to any other children they may have, this pregnancy should be allowed to continue. This is cruel and immoral.
But if instead of relying on a fictional account of our origins, we instead look to the factual evidence from Evolutionary studies, then we have a clearer viewpoint from which to make such a decision. Although sad and difficult the moral choice is to stop the fetus (which cannot think nor feel yet) from becoming a thinking feeling newborn destined for horrible suffering for itself and for those responsible for its care. This is moral and kind.
So when contemplating private moral decisions, or broader societal decisions, pause for a moment and ask yourself "am I basing my assessment of this situation on the fictional story of creation, or am I using the knowledge we now have of our origins that is more accurate, to determine the best course of action"?
This is the moral high ground.