Who is reading this? I am confident that you are a human being, and that means that you are rational. And I also know that you can distinguish right and wrong in your decisions through ‘love of self and love of neighbour’.
If we look at evolution we know that the principle is clear: our characteristics are in our system, and our structure is a mixture of our parents’ structures — plus the effects of personal experience. And the mixed qualities of our systems are passed on to the next generation
But we are aware that there have been, between chimpanzees and us, the primitive archaic human beings — such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans*. They, and others, would generally be described as archaic sapiens — above the chimpanzees but below us.
But what does that mean? Were these archaic people able to behave rationally at some level, and did they have capacity to distinguish evil and good which required them to choose the good and to avoid the evil? Will we find them in Heaven, or otherwise?
But the problem relates to us too. We assume, as Christians, that love of God and love of neighbour are essential. But an atheist might argue that we merely follow the moral rules because we have inherited the genes needed to keep society effective — and so produce the next generations. They might argue that Christianity is simply a human development which happens to assist our society to continue and grow.
I am conscious that I am capable of making rational decisions, and that I can choose the good and disdain the bad. As a full time, full life, Catholic, my religion assures me that these faculties are created by the Almighty — and have eternal outcomes. So what would I say to someone who claimed that this is simply the actions of my genes: choosing the good and distaining the bad are no more than simply aspects of evolution?
- Neanderthals and Denisovans. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/dtcgenetictesting/neanderthaldna/