How Christian is Christian Darwinism? (Part 1)

There are a considerable number of Christians today who profess to be Darwinists.  I must confess I find this situation a bit perplexing.  Calling oneself a “Christian Darwinist” is about as consistent as claiming to be a Muslim who rejects the existence of the prophet Mohammed.  But, who really cares about consistency these days?  It seems society, as a whole, has grown quite content with inconsistency–at least in the realm of religion and morality.  In matters of science we are objective metaphysical realists.  With religion and morality, on the other hand, the sky is the limit.

I can claim to be a Buddhist Christian who worships the Fairy Goddess living in my left index finger and no one will question me–that’s just “my point of view.”  Contrastingly, if I claimed that both the geocentric and heliocentric models of the universe were compatible and asserted to uphold the truth of both, I would be chastised for being a fool.  Why?  Because, logically, it is impossible for both models of the universe to be true–the truth of one negates the truth of the other.  They are antithetical views of reality which are wholly incompatible.

Why do we ignore the law of noncontradiction in the realm of religion and morality and uphold it with an iron fist in the realm of science?  The answer is simple: we don’t really believe in religion.  We dish out mindless platitudes regarding the importance of religion–we say that it is vital for establishing “meaning” and “purpose” in our lives.  However, this “meaning” and “purpose” is considered entirely private and subjective (this is code language for “fanciful” or “made up”).  I find this popular understanding of religion rather quaint–I like to call it the “warm and fuzzy” view.  Religion has nothing objective or real to say about reality–it just makes you feel “warm and fuzzy” inside!

Those of you who hold the “warm and fuzzy” view are probably wondering why I’m so perplexed by people who call themselves “Christian Darwinist.”  Such a claim seems entirely reasonable to you.  For the term, “Christian”, simply denotes something that makes a person feel warm and fuzzy inside–it is their own personal delusion (opiate) which gives them the sense of meaning and purpose they need in order to survive as a human being.  The second term, “Darwinist,” gives reference to objective truth about reality.  There is no contradiction–what’s the big deal?

On the other hand, if you are like me, you find the “warm and fuzzy” view of religion pathetic and weak.  After all, if “God is dead” then religion is just a crutch holding you back.  You are pathetic and weak for pledging your allegiance to a set of myths and fairytales which really aren’t objectively true.  You are also a liar and a fraud, because you claim to believe in something that you actually don’t.  Embrace reality for what it is and stop living a double life!

If you reject the “warm and fuzzy” view of religion what is your alternative?  Obviously, to accept that religion makes objective statements about the nature of reality which are true and can be known by human beings.   Also, to recognize that those who are authentic in their religious belief will be metaphysically consistent.  If you find that this is your position, you will be incredibly perplexed by those who claim to be “Christian Darwinists.”

Why?  Because, like the geocentric and heliocentric models of the universe, Christianity and Darwinism make antithetical claims about the nature of reality.  For starters, Christians hold a teleological view of reality–that is, they believe there is a final end or purpose to reality.  They believe that God created the heavens and the earth, that He ordered the cosmos and fine tuned the physical conditions on earth to sustain life.  In short, Christianity teaches that their is real design and intentionality in nature.  Darwinism, on the other hand, teaches something quite different.  Darwinism is fundamentally non-teleological.  It teaches that there is no final end or purpose to reality–matter and energy simply exist . . . period.  There is no real design in nature, just the appearance of design.  In short, Darwinism teaches that the universe is simply the product of brute physical processes.

These two worldviews are completely incompatible.  If God exists, and He played an active role in the advent of biological life—either by guiding the evolutionary process or setting the initial conditions or laws of the universe—Darwin’s theory of unguided, naturalistic, evolution is necessarily wrong.  Under the Darwinian framework, we are merely the result of chance and necessity—random variation (genetic mutation) and natural selection.  Any worldview which claims God intended life to arise or inserted the information necessary for life to arise, or guided the evolution of life, challenges this basic claim.  Likewise, if the physical/material world is all that exists, if reality is fundamentally non-teleological, if the emergence of life is the outcome of unguided brute physical processes, then Christianity is necessarily wrong.

I suppose this could be a sort of litmus test for orthodoxy.  Do you find the label, “Christian Darwinist,” groundbreaking and thoughtful or oxymoronic and incoherent?  If you find yourself in the first camp you probably hold a “warm and fuzzy” view of religion.  If this is the case, do us all a favor, and drop the Christian part (you don’t really believe in it anyways).  However, if you believe that Christianity makes objective statements about the nature of reality, if you believe that Jesus Christ is the Divine Logos (the reason and purpose behind all of existence) and that, “in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,” and that, “all things were created through him and for him,” (Colossians 1:16) stop pretending to be something you’re not and drop the Darwinist label.