The Morality of a Tiger

January 22, 2020

The author Gilbert Keith Chesterton had some wise things to say on the subject of evolution. While he would not be classed as a Bible-believing Christian or a young earth creationist, he certainly spotted many of the flaws behind evolutionary theory, of which he was highly critical. One of his more well-known anti-evolutionary quotes is to be found in his book Orthodoxy, in which he wrote:

Darwinism can be used to back up two mad moralities, but it cannot be used to back up a single sane one. The kinship and competition of all living creatures can be used as a reason for being insanely cruel or insanely sentimental; but not for a healthy love of animals.(1)

Chesterton asked his readers to consider their reactions to a tiger. Evolution might lead one to suppose that humans and tigers are close. We are both mammals. We are both warm blooded. Therefore, we get over-sentimental about them, simply admiring their beauty and ignoring their claws.

Another evolutionary response, however, sees tigers as examples. They tear apart their prey, so we, if we are to be as successful as tigers, may do likewise. Chesterton labels both responses as “mad”. He said, “The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism and modern cosmic religion is really in this proposition: that Nature is our mother.” The biblical approach is to recognize the tiger’s beauty, which comes from God, but not to imitate it because we are created for better things.

1. Chesterton, G.K. (1927), Orthodoxy (London: John Lane), pp. 204–205. (return)

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