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Darwin’s Contemporaries

From Issue: R&R – Issue 43 #8

Throughout human history, ideas have arisen that represented diversions from the prevailing beliefs of society. Sometimes these new views have been correct and beneficial to the development of society and the positive growth of wisdom and knowledge. Consider, for example, the progress that has been made in medicine. Doctors once thought that the existence of germs was sheer fantasy, and they continued to unwittingly contaminate their patients with contagion due to their own unwashed hands.1 Indeed, a plethora of useful advances have been made in a host of fields of inquiry, from transportation to road construction, from communication to computers.

On the other hand, new ideas have also been foisted upon humanity that have been negative, harmful, and even destructive to human progress and well-being. Such has been the case with various false religions—like those that advocate the extermination of those who disagree (e.g., ISIS), or those that practiced child-sacrifice (conduct vehemently condemned by the God of the Bible as an abomination—Jeremiah 32:35), or those that have perpetuated class distinctions/castes (e.g., Hinduism). And think of the economic ideologies that have brought untold hardship, misery, and even world war into the lives of countless millions who have groaned under their oppressions, including communism, socialism, and fascism.

But what of Darwinian evolution? Has the teaching of atheistic evolution exerted a positive influence on society? Have people been enriched, elevated, and ennobled by the teaching of evolution? Has evolution fostered the discovery of new vaccines, better surgery techniques, or advancement in technologies? The truth is that evolution qualifies as one of those sinister beliefs that has degraded human beings and stifled the progress of scientific investigation. Like all false religion, the secular religion of evolution has left a long and ugly trail of damage in its wake.2 Even an atheistic evolutionist of the stature of Richard Dawkins conceded: “My own feeling is that a human society based simply on the gene’s law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live.”3

It is hard to believe that such patently ludicrous, outlandish, false ideas can make such headway, literally sweeping the intellectual field, dominating the scientific community, completely saturating the public school systems of entire nations, and permeating much of society, including the entertainment industry. Yet, it is also true that many honest, informed, sensible people remain committed to truth to the extent that they are undaunted and unaffected by the widespread, unilateral propaganda. Indeed, even at the time when Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, when others in the scientific and theological communities offered theories that challenged the biblical view of the origin of man and the animals,4 a host of reputable, knowledgeable British scientists felt compelled to express their concern with Darwin’s theory. While desiring unfettered5 scientific investigation, they were concerned with unproven theories that conflicted with rational belief in the Bible. While some scientists dismissed divine revelation and essentially adopted atheistic views, other scientists saw no incompatibility between science and an accurate interpretation of the Bible. In fact, in 1863—four years after Darwin’s theory was published—over 700 highly credentialed scientists, doctors, and academicians committed their names to a declaration that expressed their united conviction that true science cannot and will not conflict with the Bible. It reads:

We, the undersigned Students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret, that researches into scientific truth are perverted by some in our own times into occasion for casting doubt upon the Truth and Authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God’s Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ. We are not forgetful that Physical Science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly; and we confidently believe, that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular. We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ. We believe that it is the duty of every Scientific Student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong; rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree.6

Looking back on this event over a century and a half ago, Darwinian thinking has made exceptional strides in drawing adherents. But truth has never been established by the number of those who accept error. It has always been the case throughout world history that when error, resistance to truth, the denial of spiritual reality, and the acceptance of false religion prevail—even in the name of “science”—there are those who do “not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2), who “keep their wits about them” and are able to withstand the peer pressure to remain fixed on truth and the knowledge of the one true God. No wonder the Bible repeatedly warns of the absolute need to follow the truth wherever it leads—and to defend it. Consider these admonitions:

  • Jesus declared, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
  • Isaiah invited, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).
  • Paul insisted, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
  • John echoed, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
  • Peter stated, “Be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
  • Paul rebutted Roman procurator Antonius Felix’s allegation that Paul was speaking nonsense: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).
  • Paul urged Timothy to “wage the good warfare” and to “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12).

The spiritual battle for the souls of human beings will continue until the Master of the Universe calls earthly existence to a close. God help us to remain faithful even amid spiritual turbulance.

Endnotes

1 Kyle Butt (2022), Is the Bible God’s Word? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), pp. 129 ff.

2 Kyle Butt (2002), “Hitler—The Ultimate Evolutionist,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=866; Kyle Butt (2008), “The Bitter Fruits of Atheism (Parts I&II),” Reason & Revelation, 28[7/8]:49-55,57-63, July/August; Mike Houts (2007), “Evolution is Religion—Not Science [Parts I&II],” Reason & Revelation, 27[11/12]:81-87,89-95, November/December; Eric Lyons (2005), “Atheism or Christianity: Whose Fruit is Sweeter?” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1576; Eric Lyons (2004), “Atheism and Liberal, Missouri,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1447; Trevor Major (1999), “Ethics and Darwinism [Parts I&II],” Reason & Revelation, 19[1/2]:1-6,9-13, January/February; Kathleen Hawkins (2014), “Richard Dawkins: ‘Immoral’ Not to Abort Down’s Fetuses,” BBC News Ouch, August 21, http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-ouch-28879659.

3 Richard Dawkins (1989), The Selfish Gene (Oxford: Oxford University Press), p. 3, emp. added.

4 For example Sir Charles Lyell (1863), The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man (Philadelphia, PA: George Childs); C.W. Goodwin (1860), “On the Mosaic Cosmogony” in Essays and Reviews (London: John Parker & Son), second edition.

5 i.e., unfettered by church dogma.

6 The Declaration of Students of the Natural and Physical Sciences (1865), (London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.), https://archive.org/details/b22371382/mode/2up.


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