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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Sunday, November 09, 2003

 

A brief history of Darwinism and the Church
The following is a version of a comment I left on the message board of my biology senior seminar class. It's chock full of generalizations and oversimplifications, but I think the core holds true.


The (American evangelical) church tends to be in diametric opposition to Evolution for a single reason. That single reason happens to be a little thing called "history."

Darwin happened upon his theory at a most inopportune time, from my perspective (not, I think, from God's, oddly enough). The Origin of the Species was published right around the same time that Marx and Freud were publishing their works, and as such, "Darwinism" tends to (and tended to at the time) get lumped in with Marxism and Freudism as the Big Three ideas that changed dominant Western philosophy--standard fodder for freshman Western Civ classes. They were all seen as an attack on God and the development of a New and Scientific Way of Looking at the World, one that would do away with Silly Old Myths and would usher in a new era of Progress, Harmony and Capital Letters.

There are two problems with that, though, and they are related very closely. The first problem is that Darwin's theory did not, by itself, create an "-ism." We don't speak of Einsteinism, Newtonism, Watson-Crickism or Planckism. These people all advanced scientific ideas just as Darwin did, so why do we give him an "ism" and not them?

Because, very quickly, evolutionary theory was whipped up into a full-on worldview, along the lines of Marxism and Freudism, one that was hostile to God and His Church, and that did indeed intend to knock down Christ and replace him with random chance and protoplasm. This is, as Justin pointed out, a very unscientific thing to do. It is inductive rather than deductive reasoning, and is pure folly.

Obviously, the church is going to be hostile to Darwinism--but Darwin and those who came after him failed to make a clear delineation between Darwinism and Darwin's theory.

The second, related reason is that all those theories have failed, and failed miserably. Marxism has brought little but death and misery to the world (see: Stalin, Josef and Tse-tung, Mao atrocities of). Freud's theories have been all but gutted, and those ideas which have proved truly durable and useful could have been found in Paul's Epistles--and when Freudianism has influenced public policy, it has done countless damage. And Darwinism, any philosophy that tried to turn Darwin's theory into an ideology, gave us eugenics, the Nazis and/or ruthless mistreatment of the poor.

Very understandably, the Church is wary of something that has been hyped since inception as its death knell, and that has brought so much misery into the world. What both the Church and science should know, take to heart, and declare is that this is not science, this is science misapplied! Science is a tool, a very useful tool--and it can crush skulls just as it can pound nails.

So, what would have happened if Darwin had come up with his theory some other time, when it wasn't flanked by monstrous, anti-Christian philosophies, or siezed on by a people aching to escape God's sight?

No doubt, like Galileo, he would have been resisted. But I'd guess that, like Galileo's ideas, they would not have spawned a new, hostile religion, and would have been accepted in time. Perhaps, perhaps not--but things would certainly have turned out very different in the relations between the Church and evolution.

We are all a product of our history, and the Church cannot escape it. And neither, we should remember, can science.
Agree, disagree, have more information on the topic? Please, feel free to leave a comment. No profanity!
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