THE REAL PROBLEM WITH EVOLUTION

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by Paul Giem

Reprinted (with modification) by permission from Perspective Digest.


Ask people about evolution and you will get divergent answers. Some will embrace the concept. Others will have scientific problems with it. Still others will have theological problems with it. And some, myself included, will have both scientific and theological problems with it.

In this discussion I am not primarily interested in scientific problems with evolution. I am interested in the theological problems with evolution. And I believe that many people do not understand the real problem with evolution.

Not the Real Problem

Some might expect that, as a Seventh-day Adventist, I would say that the real problem with evolution is that it destroys the basis for the Sabbath. But the real problem with evolution is not that it does away with the Sabbath. Evolution does make it much more difficult to believe in the Sabbath. But that is not the most important theological impact of evolution.

The real problem with evolution is not that it destroys Biblical authority. Evolution does make it much more difficult to believe in the authority of the Bible. But that is also not the most important theological impact of evolution.

Nor is the real problem that evolution promotes atheism. Evolution does make it much easier to believe in atheism, and harder to believe in a God Who cares and can intervene. But that is not the most important theological impact of evolution.

What is Meant by Evolution

Before discussing the real problem, perhaps I should define what I mean by the term, because evolution can simply mean change or development, like the evolution of weather patterns, stars, or automobiles. This is not the evolution to which I refer. Evolution can mean the emergence of new species or genera. This also is not the evolution to which I refer. Evolution can mean the theory of common descent of all life. This also is not the evolution to which I refer, although we are getting closer. Evolution can mean the idea that nature is a closed system, and that there is no interference with the universe from a God "outside" of it. This also is not the evolution to which I refer, although we are almost there.

The evolution to which I refer is Darwinian evolution and its Neo-Darwinian descendant--the theory that all forms of life are the result of random variations (or mutations). It holds that the variations most successful at leaving offspring gradually (or rarely, more rapidly) supplant the others. Most laypeople know this process as the "survival of ths fittest". The theory does rule out Divine intervention at any stage in this process, but this is not its most important characteristic. The key point is the mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations.

Theological Implications

Keep in mind tha our interest here is not the various scientific problems with the theory. It is rather with the theological implications. The real problem with evolution is that its direct implications destroy altruism. If Darwinian evolution is true, the principle of love is detrimental to humanity's development. For according to evolutionary theory, the way of progress is for every organism to engage in an unceasing struggle to outperform its competitors, first in living, then in leaving viable progeny. Cooperation is allowed, but only as long as there is mutual benefit. Those organisms that allow others to gain at their expense are at a disadvantage and eventually will lose the struggle for survival. They are hosts, and the other organisms are parasites.

Since according to evolution humans are simply animals with a more highly developed brain, if we wish to improve our species, the conclusion follows that we should also not allow other humans to benefit at our expense, unless they share enough of our genes to make it worthwhile. This leads directly to speciesism, as animal rights activists would call it. But it also leads directly to racism and tribalism. In this view, Hitler was basically right. Perhaps the only thing he got wrong was the identity of the master race. It was really the Jews.

On a personal level, psychiatrists have a diagnosis for people who do not let morality or sentimentality get in the way of their personal goals. They have antisocial personality disorder. Many people have a misconception about antisocial personality disorder. They think of antisocial personalities as people who are basically loners, people who avoid associating with other people, or perhaps people who are always angry at someone else. In fact, antisocial personalities can be quite charming most of the time. It is just that when their desires conflict with the rights or well-being of others, their desires take precedence and they feel no remorse for the damage they cause to others. They basically live by the creed of Machiavelli.

That creed has no room for altruism. The golden rule is totally foreign to it, let alone the self-sacrificing love exhibited by Jesus. So if the defining characteristic of God is love, Darwinian evolution strikes at the heart of theology. For the theory of evolution says that the way we have progressed in the past, and presumably the way to progress in the future, is to disregard the principle of love. The only pertinent question when considering a course of action is, "What's in it for me or my kin?"

Evolution destroys the basis for love. That's the real problem with evolution.

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