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Downstream of Darwin
Survival of the Fittest
Dolphins Shagging Donkeys
I’ve written about it before but I don’t think evolution is true. I just don’t. Not many people know this because it’s never brought up in school, but Darwin’s theories arose as a counter to another, at the time far more popular, hypothesis about the origin of species. Namely, hybridization. Before Darwin came along (the late 1700s, early 1800s) it was en vogue amongst academics to suppose that the myriad of species we see here on earth are the result of far fewer “stock species” or “base species” which had since intermingled and interbred. A zebra, for example, might be the result of a horse that got a little randy with a tiger, or a walrus the result of a seal’s flagrant impropriety with an elephant. That sounds silly of course, and to my knowledge nobody actually proposed the pairings I just gave you, but that was the basic idea. I’m sure at the time they had far more “reasonable” suggestions for hybridizing pairs than horses and tigers, but, even if they did, they would’ve gone on to suggest that those hybridizations would themselves have went on to hybridize further with other things. So my made-up examples, extreme as they are, are actually not too far off the mark from what was actually being proposed.
They had evidence for all this of course. Evidence which, at the time anyway, seemed fairly substantial. I won’t bore you with the details but in some ways it actually had more of a basis in observable reality than evolutionary theory does. Hybrids are real after all. They happen, and you can see them happen. Horses and donkeys can breed to make mules, lions and tigers can breed to make ligers, and a geep can be made from crossing a goat and a sheep. By contrast still, despite all the assurance that it’s the “scientific consensus”, nobody’s ever seen an animal give birth to a new version of itself. But oh, “It happens SLOWLY… over BILLIONS OF YEARS!” you shriek.
But that’s not observable reality. It might happen, but you can’t observe it happening, and science is supposed to be about what you can observe.
The point is that before Darwin, the scientific consensus was heavily in the camp of hybridization and Darwin set himself against that. Thus we read in “The Origin of Species”:
“When in any country several domestic breeds have once been established, their occasional intercrossing, with the aid of selection, has, no doubt, largely aided in the formation of new sub-breeds; but the importance of the crossing of varieties has, I believe, been greatly exaggerated, both in regard to animals and to those plants which are propagated by seed. In plants which are temporarily propagated by cuttings, buds, etc., the importance of the crossing both of distinct species and of varieties is immense; for the cultivator here quite disregards the extreme variability both of hybrids and mongrels, and the frequent sterility of hybrids; but the cases of plants not propagated by seed are of little importance to us, for their endurance is only temporary. Over all these causes of Change I am convinced that the accumulative action of Selection, whether applied methodically and more quickly, or unconsciously and more slowly, but more efficiently, is by far the predominant Power.” — Charles Darwin, Origin of Species
The question is why. Why was Darwin so against the current of hybridization that was popular in his day?
Well, I have a sneaking suspicion, one which is admittedly just me reading between the lines of Darwin’s work and which is never found explicitly in his writings… sure. But I have a sneaking suspicion…
That Darwin did it to save God.
How’s that for a twist?
Didn’t see that coming did you?
But no, it’s true. Hybridization as a theory for the origin of species was at the time thought in some circles to be a slam dunk refutation of the Biblical creation story. Because if you recall, the first chapter of Genesis has a repeated refrain in it: “according to its kind.”
Livestock and creeping things and beasts according to their kinds, birds according to their kinds, fish according to their kinds. Kinds of course coming from the root word “kin”, meaning family or race. In Darwin’s era people assumed that the Bible was saying that God ordered the world into different family groupings of animals and to suggest, instead, that all these “kinds” we see around us are a great hodgepodge of bloodlines of all manner of different animals…
Well, personally I don’t get why it’s such a big deal but, back then, it felt like one. Hybrid theory felt like a direct assault on the Christian idea of God.
That’s one reason why Churches at the time mostly embraced Darwin’s work. Today, after the Scopes Monkey Trial and living through the New Atheist movement which was spearheaded by evolutionists like Richard Dawkins and so on, we are prone to think of Darwin and Christianity as enemies. In Darwin’s own time however, it was not so. It seems to me rather that he was viewed as a sort of scientific lifeline for the Christian faith. Kinds existed. Just like the Bible said. Sure, any given Kind might change a lot over time, okay. But they exist. Christians could read the Bible and not get tripped up over the idea of kinds anymore. Huzzah! Thank you Mr. Charles.
Now as I’ve already said I actually do think Darwinism and Christianity are incompatible. I think the Christians of Darwin’s time who accepted his theories were wrong to do so and I think the modern assumption that the two theories are opposed is absolutely correct. But what I think isn’t the point. The point is that one could (and I think there are reasons to do so) read Darwin as an attempt to salvage Christianity. Or at least to salvage God. Darwin himself, not overly overtly religious, nonetheless rejected as “absurd” any idea that one would have to give up God in order to accept his theories. Indeed a lot of Christians today, perhaps even the majority, have come to view Darwinism and The Big Bang and a primordial volcano Earth covered with dinosaurs as simply part and parcel of their religion.
But I wonder if they have really thought that through.
For what is more poisonous to the idea of the Christian God than asserting that Nature is a thing Red in Tooth and Claw?
That is, my friend, what you are asserting.
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Survival of the Fittest
A child in Congo lives in a hut with a dirt floor. Her father has died, a victim of the war that has been going on since 2012. Weeks before her mother vanished. She went off into the bush seeking food and never returned. She has died probably. Killed by an animal or a stray bullet, or perhaps taken as a slave for rape. The little girl is hungry and her body is beginning to shut down from lack of food. All that was left in the hut she has eaten and fear of the unknown world has kept her inside. Finally though, necessity drives her, and she ventures out beyond the door of her hut into the jungle.
There is nothing to eat.
The little girl walks alone for hours, and then alone for hours more, until at last she is well and truly lost in the woods and will likely never find her way home. The sun is low now. It is late afternoon. Her calorie reserves will soon be depleted and she will stop and sit down and cry and fall asleep and never ever wake up again.
But then she spots a rabbit. The kind with the black tuft of fur along its back so common in central Africa. Her mouth waters. She remembers her father bringing a rabbit back home to the hut and her mother cooking it in a stew. She will live if she can catch this rabbit. Her young teeth have never eaten raw meat before but she will learn. She will learn and she will live and she will go home.
She does not know how to hunt.
She is too young to have learned.
She operates only on instinct and breaks after the rabbit in a run. Screaming, tearing through the bush with no concern for thorns or prickles or tripping roots, the little girl runs as though her life depends on it because it does. And she is fast. Faster than you could ever imagine a girl her age being.
But the rabbit is faster.
She doesn’t catch it.
In Darwinism, this is God’s will.
As I said, I wonder often if Christians have actually thought this through.
For for a God to fit into Evolutionary Theory, into Darwinism, one can only posit that that God has set up the world to be a crucible. A proving ground. A place of scarce resources that is far, far too crowded. If God created his creatures through evolution then he did so by throwing them to the wolves and only accepting those who came back. He is a cruel God. A monster. A God who would have accepted that little Congolese girl if she’d been born with a mutation to be just a little be faster. But a God who, because she wasn’t, was quite content to watch her die.
For that my friends is the evolutionary model. The Darwinian story. Survival of the fittest. The strongest. The fastest. The smartest. The most ruthless and the most ready to shed blood. We exist, you and I and everyone alive today dear reader, only because we are the product of a million years of victors. All the others… the weak, the sickly, the deformed, the slow, the stupid… they died before they could reproduce.
That is God’s will.
That’s how God creates.
God, actually, despises the weak and wants them to die.
That’s Darwin’s God.
That’s the God of all the so-called “theistic evolutionists” out there who have decided they can’t trust their Bibles.
But it’s not the God of Jesus.
"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…" — Matthew 6:26, Jesus
And it’s not the God I see when I go out into the world either.
No instead, I see a creation that is far more cooperative than it is competitive. A world in which plants make oxygen for animals and animals make CO2 for plants. A world in which chickens eat corn kernels and then fertilize the stalks that fed them with their poop. I go out into the world and I see all manner of creatures which are defenseless. Animals which never got Darwin’s note that they ought to have evolved plate armor and razor-sharp teeth and ten penises. That they ought be spraying sperm into the air 24/7 for their mates who are equipped with sponge-like vaginas. No instead I see butterflies. And mice. And bunnies and starfish and ladybugs and vines and algae and moss. I see a world which has not hyper-optimized itself for warriors or reproducers. A world which has not selected for the strongest, or the most violent, or the most promiscuous.
I see a world which has instead optimized for beauty.
For, yes, even Love.
That’s what butterflies are. Completely defenseless, flagrantly uncamouflaged, slow, and exceedingly easy to catch.
Yet they exist.
And the world chose them because they are beautiful. God chose them because they are beautiful. And God, for the same reason, also chose you. I mean, my goodness go look in the mirror. Your eyes alone are two of the most gorgeous jewels in the whole universe.
So no. I don’t believe in Darwin’s God.
Much as I appreciate the man, and (in my opinion) his attempts to salvage religion from the hybridizers… I think fundamentally he got it wrong. I think he looked around at the Industrial Revolution happening all about him in England, with its cruelty, its dirt, its disease, and its harshness… and then he went out and read that into the world. I think he unintentionally projected the cruelty of Man upwards onto the Heart of God.
But as it says in the Book of Wisdom,
“God did not invent death, and when living creatures die, it gives him no pleasure. He created everything so that it might continue to exist, and everything he created is wholesome and good.” — The Wisdom of Solomon
God did not create The Thunderdome. He did not create a crucible where every organism has to prove itself by outcompeting everything else.
That’s not where we live.
That’s not what this is.
Society sure seems to think so though. And unfortunately Darwin’s theories are for the damned.
Downstream of Darwin
Every Bad Thing in the 20th Century was a result of Darwinism. Sounds extreme but it’s true. Racism, Nazis, Communism, Capitalism. Once you believe, once you believe in your bones, that the world exists as a proving ground for the fittest… well, that has consequences. Morality changes. Your ideas about what’s right and wrong are suddenly in flux. If God, our Creator, the Ultimate Source of Being or, if you don’t believe in God, simply Nature itself, has created us by selected for the strongest, smartest, fastest, and most ruthless…
Then why on earth stop now?
Why not create a system where people have to fight, day-in and day-out, for every scrap of food they get, and for the roof over the heads, and for the clothes on their backs? Why not allow giant, “more fit” companies to come in and steam roll over mom and pop stores? Why not outsource all jobs to the third world, making wages a race towards the bottom, where everyone competes to be the most desperate and most willing to abase themselves for a salary?
Under Evolution… that’s just Nature.
And why not be a Eugenicist? God… the Universe… Nature… The Great Eugenicist has already been at work. Forever and anon weeding out the week and the stupid since the dawn of time. Why not be a racist? Afterall… do you not possess “the selfish gene?” Is it not then perfectly rational, under evolutionary theory, to devote yourself to ensuring genes closer to your own reproduce and to stamping out genes which are more dissimilar to you? In fact… isn’t that what Nature would want? What Nature would reward?
And if you feel all those things are true but that you’ve been on the wrong side of it… that you’ve been the one being stamped out… then why not be a Communist. A Communist or one of its many, not so subtle variations. If evolution is true then basic Marxist theory is correct, and we should absolutely look at the world primarily through the lens of Oppressor and Oppressed. Of Winner and Loser. Of Proletariat and Bourgeoisie. From there it is a short jump to assume the same is true in all aspects of life. That Men, for example, have, as a class, been the eternal oppressors of Women, or that every form of inequity in society is only because somewhere someone is being more bloodthirsty, more violent, and more ruthless than everybody else. We even read this view of Nature onto history, and assume, quite without reason, that premodern people were ghastly cannibalistic monsters whose only form of entertainment was to rape and pillage.
Quite simply we find ourselves Downstream of Darwin.
Downstream of a very bad idea.
The idea that at base the world is a place of violence where only the strong survive.
Atheists believing that idea is one thing. Far worse are all those Christians who do too. They are unknowingly making the whole thing worse by adding God to it. After all, if God set the universe up that way that must be how He wants it. So if you’re going to be an evolutionist please, for the sake of everyone’s mental health, also be an atheist. An indifferent universe without a deity is at least tolerable. One with a ghastly Thunderdome God in charge of the whole thing is not.
And just so you know, all my blustering about how Darwin’s theories led us down these awful paths is not just hot air. No, people openly said as much. They justified all the things they did on evolutionary terms. Colonizing Africa, Nazism, Capitalism... Darwin found ready acceptance amongst people who wanted to feel okay about raping the world.
The Christian Answer
I don’t believe in Thunderdome God. The God of the Bible, the God of Jesus, created a world optimized for Beauty and Love not violence and death. The story of Genesis says that He made it perfect… a place where nothing ever died. But then it Fell. Its creatures chose evil. They chose it consciously. They wanted it.
And things have been in a bad way ever since.
The basic form of the world he created though, the form of Eden… it’s still here. You can see it every day. In trees. In flowers. In butterflies and bumblebees and the sleek coat of a stag running through the forest. The Goodness of it all. The fundamental wholeness of it… it’s still there.
It’s all still right there.
But it is marred. Broken. Badness has entered into it and God is currently engaged in a millennia long process to pull that Badness out.
And he will.
As Tolkien said, everything sad is going to come untrue.
And no I can’t account for everything. If God did not make them to kill then I do not know why The Tiger has its fangs nor how it got them. I cannot account for the insatiable hunger of The Great White Shark, or the disgusting survival strategies of the parasites.
I only know it’s not supposed to be that way. I know that’s not how God wants it. And that position, that belief that it’s not supposed to be this way, is what you give up when you walk away from Genesis. When you start trying to shoehorn God into natural selection and a prehistory that is fundamentally uncaring and violent.
Yes, I can argue with you all day on the science if you want. I can debate with you on the irreducible complexity of the cell or on the total inability of Science to demonstrate abiogenesis. I could even fight you on the math of it. Point out how, even given billions of years there simply isn’t enough time for all the gene mutations to happen that would have needed to happen for us to get here from amoebas or whatever.
But I don’t need to.
Fundamentally I just need to get you to see that the World is actually optimized for Love. Not conquest. Not teeth. Not claws.
Fundamentally I just need you to try to believe in the God of Jesus again.
Do that and I think as a culture we can start swimming back upstream.
Amor Vincit Omnia.
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