The Problem of Natural Selection

One of the most influential books of the 19th century, and possibly since the 19th century, that has shaped the way man views his origins and ethical codes of conduct is Darwin’s Origin of Species. Darwin proposes the concept of Natural Selection within this work and this concept is later applied to humans, specifically with ethics. After Darwin’s theory was accepted by the scientific community, many people began to theorize that morality was nothing more than an evolutionary construct that has aided in man’s survival. From this belief there has been a justification of rape, a denial of man’s purpose, and a denial of ethics in general. If, however, Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection as a metaphysic was disproven through design theory, one could begin to speak of a universal moral code once again. It is therefore absolutely imperative for Christians, in the hope of seeing some form of morality return to the West, to counteract and disprove Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection as a metaphysical explanation for all things.


Migration and Natural Selection

One of the problems with Darwin’s theory that he attempted to answer was how similar species could exist on different continents – or on different parts of the continents – when there were rivers, mountain ranges, and entire oceans that separated the species. One proposed idea at the time was that God had simply created the species and placed them on their locations. Darwin rejected this idea of specialized creation and sought after a different hypothesis.[1] By rejecting the idea of special creation, Darwin had to explain how certain species could migrate across entire oceans, which provided a difficulty.

In an attempt to explain the natural progression of species, Darwin explained that other natural elements could have easily caused the migration of species from one area to the next. In the case of plants, Darwin believed that seeds could have been picked up by animals and carried to a new location,[2] or carried by glaciers to new lands.[3] He believed that mammals, however, could have crossed land bridges that use to exist but no longer do. The reason other animals appeared so similar though separated by thousands of miles was not because God placed them there, but because migration through natural elements had occurred.

This migration, however, relied heavily upon the idea of Natural Selection. It would make no sense for one type of plant to migrate from Europe to Africa if it did not have the ability to adapt to its new environment. If a lion began to track its prey all the way up into Europe, the only way that lion and its offspring would survive in Europe is if it had the ability to adapt, otherwise Natural Selection would simply eradicate its presence in Europe. In order for similar species to exist on other continents, they had to be fully adaptable.

One common nomenclature for Natural Selection is the misnomer “survival of the fittest,” but this is not what Natural Selection is. People often think that Natural Selection picks the “strongest” over the “weakest,” and if this were the belief then the theory would have been disproven years ago (as a cockroach, which is weaker than a bear, is much more abundant and in more environments than the bear is). Instead, Darwin defines his theory by stating, “It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing every variation, rejecting that which is bad and preserving that which is good. We see nothing of these slow changes in progress until the hand of time has marked the long lapse of ages.”[4] In other words, the strongest is not necessarily picked for survival, but the most adaptable variation to the environment is selected. As Dr. Bill Dembski states, “According to Darwin’s theory, speciation occurs through the joint action of variation and natural selection. Organisms exhibit variations, and nature selects those organisms whose variations confer some advantage upon them.”[5] Thus, whenever a new species inhabits a new geographical land, Natural Selection will determine if its variations will allow it to survive.

This theory, in terms of migration, naturally leads to the extinction of either native species or alien species to any specific area. Since Nature selects that which is best suited to the environment, certain species will beat out and eliminate other species in competition. As Darwin again states, “As new forms are continually being produced others must inevitably become extinct, unless we believe that the number of specific forms goes on perpetually increasing.”[6] In a hypothetical situation, one can imagine Animal A being a native inhabitant of an island. There is nothing but plants on the island, which Animal A slowly devours because there is no competition. A drought occurs and a land bridge appears to the island. Animal B, which is smaller and weaker than Animal A, begins to inhabit the island. Because Animal B is used to competing, it begins to eat all the plants on the island quicker than Animal A can get to them. Eventually, Animal B takes over as the predominate species on the island. The point being, because of migration species will eventually be eradicated if they are not the most optimal species in their domain.

Anthropological Evolution

The inherent problem with Darwin’s view is that, if accepted in full, one must apply it to mankind, which has horrible consequences. Michael Ruse has stated succinctly that evolutionists “…see that no [ethical] justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will…. In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding.”[7] If evolution – or more appropriately Natural Selection – is true then man lacks any proper foundation for morality. Morality simply becomes a method used for survival, dispensable whenever that moral code is viewed as antithetical to the survival of the species.

Morality, according to the repercussions of Darwin’s theory, is entirely subjective and deals solely with biological survival, Natural Selection, and “migration” to new cultures – not with an all powerful Being who has dictated a moral code. With this, things such as bestiality, pedophilia, and even rape become acceptable biological traits, not moral taboos. Randy Thornhill has even said, “[Rape is] a natural, biological phenomenon that is a product of the human evolutionary heritage..akin to the leopard’s spots and the giraffe’s elongated neck.”[8] The article goes on to state that the reason men rape is because it acts as an essential function to who men are – it is a left over patter. He uses the example of a fox that will use the same trail over and over again because he has worn a rut in the trail. Likewise, men have a biological rut where rape used to be acceptable, thus that “biological tradition” is still in play. Though humans might say rape is wrong now, this is merely a subjective moral code that can be eradicated when necessary.

One additional problem with Darwinism is on his view of variations; it is true that all species of animals have different biological variations that are both visible and internal, but humans act as the lone exception to this – thus men have not evolved, or worse, different races are actually different variations that are leading to a new species. The only biological difference between humans is the color of the skin. If this is accepted to be a variation, then all men are in the beginning process of becoming a different species. If this is the case, then all races are actually in competition for survival and one race will triumph over the other races. Darwin even wrote, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world…. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”[9] There should be no mistake on interpreting Darwin – he is arguing that the European races would one day eradicate the African races because the European races were better adapted to survive, thus the African races would become extinct.

A Darwinist has to accept the above as true, otherwise the theory of evolution crumbles. If one were to go back four thousand years and travel to the Far East, the Middle East, Europe, and modern day South America, one would find different colors of men, but this is as far as the differences would go. The cultures and technology would have differed somewhat, but biologically the men would have been the same. According to Darwin’s theory of migration and Natural Selection, though species are similar, there are still subtle biological differences because after the species has migrated to a new environment, it will change slightly in order to adapt to that environment. Humans, therefore, should have slight changes. As the only major biological difference between races is the color of the skin (there are no changes in running, jumping, intelligence, etc), a Darwinist must accept that these differences in color are the beginning of a new species. If this is not accepted, it means that man has remained unchanged though he has migrated more than any other species on earth. This, of course, would cause the theory of Natural Selection to collapse, thus an intellectually consistent Darwinist must accept that all the colors are really different species evolving, and that some people of one color will be superior to others of a different color.

With both of these ideas in mind, one must understand that if Darwin is correct, ultimately there is no morality. The laws that society is founded upon become subjective. When one eradicates morality the law follows shortly because morality influences the law. Morality influences the law, but is not coexistent with it – however, when humans make morality subjective or merely something subject to survival they inevitably affect how the law operates. Instead of men having innate rights, laws are simply enforced for the sake of utility. Phil Johnson even says, “Modernist lawmaking is based not on morality but on ‘utility’ and ‘rights.’ The state has authority to regulate personal conduct to the extent necessary to serve the general welfare (utility) or to protect rights (such as a right to be free from discrimination). Otherwise, the most basic modern right is the right to do as one likes – as long as one is not thereby damaging the general welfare or infringing on the rights of others.”[10] Morality, in this instance, becomes more about the consequences it brings on society instead of being innately good. Morality only exists so long as it is beneficial to the majority.

Likewise, Darwinian evolution provides absolutely no purpose in life – man is simply here as another species. It eradicates the need for religion, as one textbook says, “By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”[11]Religion is no longer needed as man’s existence has been shown to be one of simple reproduction. Another textbook argues that Darwin was fully aware of this implication. In fact, it says, “Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless–a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit. Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.”[12] Darwinism simply leads to despair and no hope in humanity – man is nothing more than another species struggling for existence, a struggle it will eventually lose.

The ultimate problem with these implications is that it leaves man acting within a moral system, but with absolutely no belief in a universal moral code – any action can therefore be justified so long as someone shows how the action will enhance the propagation of the species or social group. Genocide is justifiable if the majority can show how eradicating the minority is beneficial to the species’ survival. Rape is justifiable if the rapist can show how he could not possibly impregnate (or have the chance to impregnate) a woman in any other manner. Yet, no Darwinist or human being can possibly live this way. The sad truth is that the only human beings who truly live out a Darwinian ethic in their lives are serial killers, rapists, and genocidal dictators. The only people who can truly say they live the Darwinian ethic are generally found in the deepest prisons with the longest prison sentences.

Design as a Response

Though Darwin’s theory has dominated the scientific world, there is an alternative in the Design Hypothesis. The Design Hypothesis comes from the lack of evidence that all life could have begun by chance or through natural selection. There simply is no evidence that all of life began as a simplistic single cell organism.[13] Instead of tearing something down and failing to leave a plausible solution, the Design Hypothesis offers an alternative to Darwinian evolution.

The Design Hypothesis teaches that if life began as a complex organism that was irreducibly complex – thus Natural Selection could not have possibly created it – then it had to be designed. For instance, assume a machine takes twenty-two individual parts in order to operate. If just one part is removed the machine will not function. The Design Hypothesis teaches that if the first building blocks of life were complex biological machines that – if one part were removed, would fail to function and reproduce – Darwinian evolution through Natural Selection would fail to be true. Bill Dembski, a leading proponent of the Design Hypothesis, summarizes the hypothesis by saying, “Whenever we infer design, we must establish two things – complexity and specification. Complexity ensures that the object in question is not so simple that it can be readily explained by chance. Specification ensures that this object exhibits the type of pattern that is the trademark of intelligence.”[14]

This theory has been validated by recent scientific discoveries. Because of microbiology, scientists have discovered that even the most “simple” and basic cells (foundations for life) are actually highly complex – they are, in fact, more complex than any machine man has ever created.[15] Even though certain discoveries have lent credit to Natural Selection, all discoveries in microbiology have eliminated Natural Selection as a viable theory when discussing the metaphysics of biological life. These discoveries help to prove the Design Hypothesis correct and validate the belief in a Supreme Creator.

One of the other benefits of a Design Hypothesis is that it aids society in the field of ethics. Nancy Pearcey has noted, “Design theory thus provides the scientific basis for the recovery of a holistic, teleological worldview. It releases us from the modern dualism, making it reasonable once again to speak of morality as a form of objective knowledge.”[16] The belief in a Designer who took the time to create everything lends credit to having a universal moral code revealed to creation by the Designer.


Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection, though helpful in understand certain elements of creation, fails to explain the metaphysical beginnings of biological matter. Darwin’s theory relies on the idea that everything can be influenced by Natural Selection, thus all life had to begin as a simple cell, free of complexity. It goes on further to state that man has no purpose and that ethics is nothing more than an evolutionary byproduct. Man, under a true Darwinian view, is justified in doing anything he pleases so long as it propagates his species. This view, however, collapses against scientific evidence and human experience. Humans seek after morality and live in a moral way, thus contradicting the Darwinian theories of ethics. Likewise, as seen through microbiology, even the most “basic” cells are highly complex and irreducibly complex – no evolution can occur. Darwin’s book has been extremely influential for science and ethics, but it is time Christians begin fighting back with the truth – it is time for Darwin’s influence to end.

[1] Darwin, Charles, Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Condensed Version of the first Edition of 1859, ed. R. W. Sheldon (Victoria: Trafford, 2004), 244.

[2] Ibid. 142

[3] Ibid. 143

[4] Ibid. 30

[5] William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 83.

[6]Origin of Species, 43

[7] Jane and Ruse Maienschein, Michael, comps., Biology and the Foundation of Ethics, by Various (London: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 27.

[8] Randy and Palmer Thornhill, Craig, “Why Men Rape,” The Sciences, January/February, 2000, 20.

[9] Darwin, Charles, The Descent of Man, ed. James Moore (Cambridge: Penguin Classic, 2004), 524.

[10] Philip Johnson, Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 139.

[11] Douglas J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology (: Sinauer Associates Inc, 1998), 5.

[12] Joseph S. and Miller Levine, Kenneth R, Biology: Discovering Life (Washington D.C.: D.C. Heath and Co, 1992), 152.

[13] Lee Stroble, Case for a Creator (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 224.

[14] Dembski, Bill, Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies, ed. Bill and Richards Dembski, Jay Wesley (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 227.

[15] Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (Grand Rapids: Free Press, 2006), 171-173.

[16] Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 223.