Darwinian Naturalism for All of Life
"It is amazing how unquestioningly and enthusiastically American Protestants embraced Darwinism. This ought to tell us something about the shallowness of their religious beliefs, together with their belief in the progress of democracy."
John Lukacs, Democracy and Populism
In 1859, Charles Darwin published his seminal work On the Origin of Species. It purported to explain how life arose on Earth in all of the expressions which we see today. A few years earlier, in 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had published The Communist Manifesto.
In science, biological evolution and geological evolution took over the field, which had been well plowed by Enlightenment thinking. Even though today’s scientists for the most part no longer hold to Darwin’s ideas precisely as he articulated them, these ideas still form the unquestionable foundation of thought for most scientific endeavor. Listen, for example, to the effusive praise of Edward O. Wilson, writing an introduction to a reprint of four of
However, many Christians are not so aware of the impact of Darwinian naturalism in our government, law, and economics. Politically, secular humanists tend to push for globalism and Marxists believe in a coming new world order. Their whole concept of justice, freedom, the role of government, and more is framed in terms of their ethical relativism and belief in self-realization. The twentieth century provides grizzly examples of what happens when these ideas are carried out consistently; one only need look at Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse-dong, and Pol Pot. Marxism in the political realm always ends up with centralized control of everything and a program to eliminate all opposition.[iii]
“Unfortunately, the check to collectivism did not check the growth of government; rather, it diverted its growth to a different channel. The emphasis shifted from governmentally administered production activities to indirect regulation of supposedly private enterprises and even more to governmental transfer programs, involving extracting taxes from some in order to make grants to others – all in the name of equality and the eradication of poverty but in practice producing an erratic and contradictory mélange of subsidies to special interest groups. As a result, the fraction of the national income being spent by governments has continued to mount.”
He concluded, “On both sides of the
In the realm of law, naturalism leads to a belief in positive law. Since everything is evolving, there is no fixed order, no fixed standard of justice (such as the Ten Commandments), no eternal Law Giver (such as God), and not even any natural law. The law is what we make it. Crime becomes the fault of society, and criminals must be re-educated, which explains why prisons are now labeled “correctional facilities.” This also leads to the centralization of power in the state, for the state is the instrument used to make and enforce laws.
Economically, naturalism often proceeds to socialism or communism. Notice what the Communist Manifesto promotes:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c., &c.
As can be seen from this list, Marxism also has ramifications for society and the family. The same could be said for any naturalistic system. Marx’s collaborator Engels wrote The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. In this work, he described how to do away with monogamy and advance a “return” to group marriage. He basically described four steps to be taken:
1. Put all women into outside labor. “The emancipation of women is primarily dependent on the reintroduction of the whole female sex into the public industries.”
2. Socialize property. “With the transformation of the means of production into collective property the monogamous family ceases to be the economic unit of society. The private household changes to a social industry. The care and education of children becomes a social matter.”
3. Institute free love. “Will not this be sufficient cause for…a more unconventional intercourse of the sexes and a more lenient public opinion regarding virgin honor and female shame?”
4. And start with ‘no fault’ divorce. “If marriage founded on love is alone moral, then it follows that marriage is moral only as long as love lasts.”[v]
Thankfully, our country did not succumb to a Marxist form of government and society. However, the ideas of Darwinian naturalism have percolated and spread to become ubiquitous. And, in fact, the major public alternative to socialism in
The major engine for the spread of these ideas has been the public school system. As children of the Reformation in
I am sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.[vii]
Other theologians like R. L. Dabney and J. Gresham Machen saw equally clearly the threat.
It is virtually impossible to overestimate the impact these ideas have had on our society. As Phillip Johnson says, “What has really happened is that a new established religious philosophy has replaced the old one. Like the old philosophy, the new one is tolerant only up to a point, specifically the point where its own right to rule the public square is threatened. When I want a long and fully descriptive name for it, I call the established religious philosophy of late-twentieth-century
Roaring Twenties, Depression, and War
The established religious philosophy of late twentieth century
The American victory in World War II was certainly one of the high points of our nation’s history. The unprecedented mobilization of the entire nation for the war effort and the sacrifice of millions of Americans who defeated the evil Axis powers stand as high tribute to the courage and character of the American people. Sadly, however, the war also became the entry point for more permanent expansion of government powers, such as withholding income tax from wages. The amazing economic progress which followed the war cemented in many American minds the materialist dream of happiness through consumption.
[i] David Noebel discusses the ramifications of this kind of thinking for 10 areas of study: theology, philosophy, ethics, biology, psychology, sociology, law, politics, economics, and history (Understanding the Times [Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1991]). Other areas, such as education and art, could also profitably be examined. On this score, Julian Huxley wrote, “The concept of evolution was soon extended into other than biological fields. Inorganic subjects such as the life-history of the stars and the formation of the chemical elements on the one hand, and on the other hand subject like linguistics, social anthropology, and comparative law and religion, began to be studied from an evolutionary angle, until today we are enabled to see evolution as a universal and all-pervading process” (cited in Henry Morris, The Long War Against God [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989], 19). He put these ideas into practice as the first Director-General of UNESCO.