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~ Darwinism at Easter ~
Darwin's theory of evolution was based on 19th century science. Today, with our sophisticated technology and discoveries (such as the DNA matrix), we should know better. Indeed, Darwinism itself has evolved a bit, but also morphed beyond bad science into our politics, economics, education, and human relationships. Such an intrusion is like the elephant in the room every one pretends does not exist, or, worse, really do not see it.
An English philosopher, Herbert Spencer, coined the term, "survival of the fittest," a signature of evolution Darwin called "natural selection." An agnostic, Spencer taught that science was the only guide to learning and religious faith was a futile endeavor rooted in the Middle Ages. He was instrumental in advancing the acceptance of both biological and social evolution.
"Survival of the fittest" can be transliterated into the popular notion, "might makes right." We now have a quasi-religious, philosophical basis for war, ethnic cleansing and intellectual elitism. A racial war to rid the United States of its indigenous people, the Native Americans, was deemed as unavoidable by Theodore Roosevelt who also believed English-speaking people should dominate the world. (The elite "Rhodes Scholars" institution was declared, by founder Cecil Rhodes, to be dedicated to the racial advancement of English-speaking people.)
Hitler was an evolutionist and wrote of the mandate of racial conflict in his famous book, "My Struggle." The National Socialist party declared such evolutionary and natural selective declarations like, "The Jews formed a sub-human counter race, predestined by their biological heritage to evil, just as the Nordic race was destined for nobility" and "History would culminate in a new millennial empire of unparalleled splendor, based on a new racial hierarchy ordained by nature herself." (Morris, 1989, quoting Gann).
What bearing would a creationist stance have on the notions of racial supremacy? Perhaps none, considering the slave masters in the US before and during the work of Darwin were creationists yet still found a way to rationalize the needed belief in the inferiority of their Black slaves. Even now, after the physical emancipation of the slaves, social Darwinism has become a strong rationale and guides the thinking of many, even those of "religious creationists", towards Blacks, Jews, and other races. They do not even realize that, while espousing creationism biologically and biblically, they are practicing Darwinism socially and politically.
Consider these quotes regarding the impact of social Darwinism
on our culture:
"The transformation of universities with Christian roots and purposes like Yale and Harvard into "godless" institutions, is just a mirror of what has also happened in our society...
"Education today continues to be influenced by Spencer's Social Darwinism theories. Social subjects like multiculturalism, sex education, DARE and self esteem programs all take focus and time away from education basics like reading and math. In a system in which God doesn't exist like Social Darwinism, the burden of teaching social issues and values to children falls on the elite, the most educated and knowledgeable, not the parents...
"The principle of eugenics, or improving the human species through controlled hereditary factors was originated by Francis Galton, an English psychologist and half-cousin of Darwin. In 1905, Dr. Ploetz founded the Society for Racial Hygiene, the beginning of Germany's eugenics movement. Dr. Ploetz went so far as to suggest that a panel of doctors be present at the birth of each child to judge whether the child was fit to live, and if not, the child would be killed. We now see some of today's doctors wanting to "play God" in similar ways...
"Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, figured prominently in the American eugenics movement. In Birth Control Review, which Sanger founded in 1917, she published such articles as 'Birth Control and Positive Eugenics' in 1925 and 'Birth Control: The True Eugenics' in 1928.
"According to Robert G. Marshall and Chuck Donovan in their book Blessed are the Barren, Sanger is clearly shown to have been a proponent of the Nazi-like eugenics movement, which sought to improve the human race through selective breeding. This application of Social Darwinism justified the twisted idea of evolutionary superiority to promote sterilization and population control."Sanger spoke of sterilizing those she designated as 'unfit,' a plan she said would be the 'salvation of American civilization.' Sanger also spoke of those who were 'irresponsible and reckless,' among whom she included those 'whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers.'
"...[A]t a March 1925 international birth control gathering in New York City, a speaker warned of the menace posed by the 'black' and 'yellow' peril. The man was not a Nazi or Klansman; he was Dr. S. Adolphus Knopf, a member of Sanger's American Birth Control League, which along with other groups eventually became known as Planned Parenthood...
"Nietzsche, who is most famous for his 'God is dead' philosophy, adapted Darwin's ideas and promoted a 'superhuman' or 'super-race' philosophy. He took the idea of natural selection and suggested that warfare, eugenics and the merciless extinction of inferior races was appropriate...
"One must wonder how the roots of the 'survival
of the fittest' philosophy have affected the latest world conflicts
including the atrocities in Kosovo, Somalia and Sudan." (The entire
"Fact Sheet," from which these quotes were taken, published by the Rocky
Mountain Family Council, can be found in the What's New/Articles section
of our web site titled, "Social Darwinism
Considering all this, how much more clear and obvious Jesus was not a social or biological evolutionist! He asked the "unclean" Samaritan woman for a drink from her own water pail and included women in His inner circle. He declared the meek and humble would inherit the earth, not the strong and aggressive. When His disciples were arguing over spiritual supremacy, Jesus told them that the "least" of people are greater than John the Baptizer and the kingdom of heaven belongs to children. He told the highly evolved and powerful Pharisees and Scribes that prostitutes would enter heaven before they. When His disciples were still upset that He obviously was not planning to overthrow the Roman Empire's oppression, Jesus announced that His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus remarked how much easier it is to shove a camel through a needle's eye than for the rich and powerful to enter the kingdom. His heart was in the poor, the prisoners, the sick, afflicted and marginalized and in those we can find Him.
The inexplicable angst, prayers and suffering of Christ's passion were not about social or political evolution or about the supremacy of one people over another, not even of one religion over another. He instructed His followers to spread His Good News to all people, not to convert them to Judaism or even adopting its dietary and ritualistic laws that Jesus, Himself, practiced while on earth. His resurrection was a triumph over physical and spiritual death, a triumph He promised we would share. Jesus' Gospel was not one of prosperity or even happiness, but of union, sanctification, and immortality in His loving heart and kingdom.
Not believing in biological creationism is not a requirement of salvation. Biological evolutionists are invited to enter the kingdom of heaven. Although those who practice social and spiritual evolution, even without knowing it or doing it in the name of Christ, miss the essence of the Gospel: "Love Me as I have loved you."
Let us think on these things as we conclude our Lenten practices and prepare
to celebrate the triumph of the resurrection, the triumph and transcendence
of Life itself, in which every one, "Jew or Greek, free or slave," is invited
to humbly, gratefully and ecstatically enter. In the name of Christ, we
join Him in extending that invitation.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
in the Christian Faith ~
Spiritual Resource Services © April 12, 2006