Evolution as Philosophy

Originally published in Creation 4, no 3 (October 1981): 33-34.

Why in our sophisticated and technically advanced culture should a significant group of secularly educated Christians be in rebellion against the teaching of evolution, a concept which has been incorporated into the faith of a large segment of the Christian community?

It is to help answer this question that this article has been written.

Many of these Christians have been educated in the most respected universities of Australia, England and the United States of America. Some are lecturers in these universities. Many are researchers and teachers. These Christians are a concern, particularly to the non-Christian academic community, because of their stand in favour of the literal Biblical Creation account. They are a concern to the secular humanist and to his educational system because of their persistence in bringing the Biblical Creation account into the classrooms as a viable alternative theory of origins.

According to Professor Peter Medawar:

For a biologist the alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all.

What Medawar has really said is that for himself and those colleagues of similar religious pre-suppositions, the idea of thinking in terms of an infinite Creator instead of an infinite process, of a sovereign God, instead of chance and time; of an immutable Lawgiver, instead of immutable natural laws, is totally unacceptable. These scholars must assign to Creation the eternal and infinite characteristics of the Creator, just as the wise men, intellectuals and priests of the ancient Egyptian, Chaldean, Persian, Greek and Roman cultures did before them. As for the concept of a personal, loving, heavenly Father:

How can the mind of man which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? . . . Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind if there are any convictions in such a mind?

So thought Charles Darwin.

In one of the local news agencies I recently picked out a school project resource material book entitled Early Man. The author makes the following statement;

Man did not descend from apes in the same way as children descend from their parents. They could be called very, very distant cousins who might have come from the same family grouping millions and millions of years ago.

We have observed what elements of religious faith lie behind the above instruction for children, but what can be said about the philosophical implications of such statements?

R.L. Wysong in his book, The Creation-Evolution Controversy, gives the following example of a university student’s analysis of the philosophical implications of evolution:

Animals are our relatives, everybody knows that. They’re here as a result of blind, purposeless forces and so are we. Who is to dictate what is right or wrong for us?

If man is the result of an impersonal process, plus time, plus chance, what can be said then about his intrinsic worth? It is not surprising that behaviourists like B.F. Skinner, who have had no small impact on teacher training and education theory, think of the individual as a machine whose net worth depends solely on how “it” is programmed by the environment.

The general theory of evolution serves as the philosophical foundation of the contemporary humanist. The philosophy of Humanism’s debt to evolution theory can be defined by the following affirmations from the Humanist Manifesto I:

  • First: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
  • Second: Humanism believes that man is part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process. . . .
  • Fifth: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any super-natural or cosmic guarantees of human values. . . .

Who is to dictate what is right or wrong for the individual? Without God who is the lawgiver? It is society or society’s leaders. Humanism is not a passive philosophy hiding in the cloistered halls of higher education waiting prey for some misguided intellectual. As Paul Blanchard, writing in The Humanist magazine, extols:

I think that the most important factor moving us toward a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is 16 tends to lead toward the elimination of religious superstition. The average American child now acquires a high school education, and this militates against Adam and Eve and all other myths of alleged history.

How many Australian school children have fallen victim to similar systemised propaganda?

The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche [1844–1900], was most notably known for his vehement attacks on Christianity and for his “God is Dead” philosophy. He had also developed a philosophy of heredity from Darwin’s postulate of evolution that the fittest for survival dominate the species. In Existentialism — For and Against Paul Raubiczak, professor of philosophy at Cambridge University, observes:

He [Nietzsche] continually demands the breeding of a new master race and the prohibition for its sake of the reproduction of all the “discontented, the rancorous, and the grudging,” the sterilization of criminals and “the annihilation of millions of misfits.” The spectre of the Nazi gas chambers looms behind such statements. . . We must not forget that it is not only Nietzsche’s philosophy, but also the theory of evolution which leads to such consequences.

Opposed to this view of man as merely animal is the view of Scripture:

When I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places—What is man, that you think of him; mere man, that you care for him? Yet you made him inferior only to the angels; you crowned him with glory and honour. You appointed him ruler over everything you made; you placed him over all creation: sheep and cattle, and the wild animals too; the birds and the fish and the creatures in the seas. O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world!(Psalm 8)

But evolution is not just a philosophy—it is a religion with scientific vestments.


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