Can We Blame Our Social Problems On Our Animal Past?

It is difficult to look at the cover of our journal for this month and not find the picture to be comical. The more you look at the picture however, the more you may realize that there is an issue projected by the picture that our civilization is struggling with. There is no question that the very existence of our society is threatened by the enormous abuse that permeates every part of our population. Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, steroids, and sexual abuse lie at the base of most of our violence and everyone wants to put the blame somewhere. If we could determine the source of all of this, perhaps we could address the problems and stop the violence. This has led some social scientists to suggest that it is our biological inheritance and evolution that cause all of our social problems.

The question being raised is whether the ills of man are driven by our genes and evolution. Is domestic violence a leftover trait from the territorial protection drives of our animal-ancestors? Is sexual promiscuity just a leftover from our Darwinian-driven animal makeup to promote our own gene pool? Are alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and pedophilic sin all genetically based?

The first point that needs to be made here is that those who suggest that all of our social ills are a product of our evolution and our genetics are assuming that there is really no solution to the social ills of man. If all we are is a group of animals that have inherited a makeup that we have no control over and no ability to change, then the ills of mankind are with us forever and can be controlled only by brute force. This is unworkable for many reasons, but the most fundamental one is that brute force addresses the symptoms but not the cause. Naturalism offers no solutions, and makes huge assumptions to try to make its case for the cause of our ills. In this journal we have pointed out for over 36 years studies and evidences that say we are not just mechanical robots driven by our genetic makeup and our evolution.

The second point that needs to be understood about this issue is that positive results are seen in the Christian community that show that there are solutions to social ills, and in fact society as we know it would not exist if the teachings of Jesus Christ had not been followed. In the 1800s a group of atheists decided to build a city with no churches in a place called Liberal, Missouri. This was to be a town totally free of religion and religious influence--especially free of Christianity. O. E. Harmon tells the story in his book The Story of Liberal, Missouri reprinted in 1995 by the Liberal Area Civic Group. J. P. Moore also has the story in a book titled This Strange Town: Liberal, Missouri. What happened in Liberal is that the town became so corrupt and violent that the atheist founders gave up the experiment, and Harmon quotes one of them as saying that he never again wanted to live in a town with no churches.

It is not just the fact that atheism has been unsuccessful when it is in control--whether in Liberal, Missouri, or communist Albania, but also that the Christian system has been successful, and the closer the Christian effort is to the biblical model, the more successful it has been. From the very start, Christianity has not been a political device. Jesus made it clear when he said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). Christianity is not an American institution and it is not a western cultural concept. The first-century Christians functioned under a political system that was anything but a democracy. Jesus taught the Christian system clearly in Luke 22:25-26 when He said "In the world, kings lord it over their subjects and wield authority over them, but you are not to be that way. Your greatest man must take a junior role and your leader act the servant's part." In John 13:4-17 Jesus acted out his teaching by washing the feet of his disciples. When He finished doing that task, which was considered to be the lowest form of social activity in that culture, He said to them, "Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me `teacher' and `Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." One of the fundamental truths of the Christian system is "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

It is important to understand that virtually all religious systems recognize benevolence as essential. What sets Christianity apart is that its teachings do not just deal with superficial benevolence, but that the Christian system teaches the development of a heart that is dedicated to serve. Serving your fellow human beings brings joy, peace, fulfillment, satisfaction, and the ability to withstand the violence and selfishness that permeates the world community. People who come to Christianity to escape a problem and never get into the Christian system enough to serve and to find the joy of serving are disappointed because their own selfish needs were not immediately satiated by their entrance into what they understand Christianity to be.

There are many roots to the problems that afflict man. It may be that there are genetic tendencies that provide some of us with a greater sensitivity to substances than others. Our genes may give some of us a greater libido than others. The circumstances of our surroundings and family history may make life harder for some than for others. The fact remains however, that having a genetic predisposition or an environmental pressure to something does not mean that we are programmed to failure and have no control over our destiny. Christianity offers the potential to overcome whatever life has brought to us and allows all of us to have the promise of something better.

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun05.