January 17, 2006
Charles Darwin was a human being, a naturalist. Following his mid-nineteenth century trip on the HMS Beagle he devised some very interesting theories about species and change which are worth considering. They are, however, not Gospel-truth and significant questions remain like "Given random selection why don't species devolve?" But then again, if one looks at the full ramifications of Darwin, especially in how it supported nineteenth century racist assumptions about the superiority of various races, not only is it "interesting to study Darwin, it is imperative from a historical perspective that we understand the toll taken on humanity by concepts supported by Darwin.
"World Civilizations," the capstone "Humanities" course I teach at Grove City College, begins at the Enlightenment and scientific revolution and moves through the political and industrial revolutions to trace the rise of nationalism with its accompanying racism and imperialism to bring us to the twentieth century, the bloodiest century in the course of human history. During the Enlightenment, mankind began moving God to the periphery of philosophical considerations resulting eventually in the very Nietzsche-like assumption that "without God all things are possible." Indeed, much was. Which is why I focus the course on the January 1942 conference that Nazi officials held at the Berlin resort of Wannsee. There, in a little over four-hours, while dining on roast turkey and pork, Party and other government officials settled on the final solution to the Jewish question. Darwin's ghost hung heavy over that conference where Jews where legally reassigned to another species, comparable to vermin. With that done, the "if" of the Jewish question was settled and the only issues remaining were the "how" of eradication. Twelve million people died in the death machine that was the German work camp and concentration camp system, six million of them were Jews. The goal was to kill all twelve million Jews in Europe.
The men who reached their decisions that day were not monsters. Reinhardt Heydrich , the SS general who orchestrated the conference, was an Olympic fencer, a concert-quality violinist, a pilot who participated in the aerial attack on Poland and a dedicated father and husband. The rest were SS soldiers, Nazi Party officials and representatives of the Ministry of Justice. The word that best describes them is "banal." Ordinary men who made extraordinary plans, all facilitated by a world view derived in large part from Darwinian concepts. They were directly responsible for the deaths of twenty-four times as many people as the atomic bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Their decisions resulted in four times the civilian deaths caused by all Allied bombing and the Red Army's advance through Poland and Germany combined. Without God, so much is possible!
That said, if there was irrefutable evidence (beyond the program planners at the three major networks) that humans are merely an advanced form of animal evolved from some primeval sludge rather than created in the image of God, I would not have my faith shaken in the sovereign power of God who, any way I look at it, is beyond my comprehension as to how he created all things. He did.
The Bible presents a wonderful and easily comprehended if not entirely understandable account of creation. Whether one takes it literally or symbolically, it portrays a God who made all things out of nothing. And that is something Charles Darwin, and modern science, cannot explain. Nor should it concern us that we cannot. Some things are best accepted on faith, especially since the only hope for human salvation lies in believing the unbelievable.
The beauty of trusting God is that while there are many things we do not know, we do know that a truly sovereign God is capable of all things. I'm with the Apostle Paul on this one. Put your faith in the eternal God of the universe. Charles Darwin, by comparison, is food for worms.
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