In my previous two articles, I addressed the views of Ken Ham on the subject of race. The assertions that Ham makes about race aren’t grounded in biblical teaching or scientific fact. Contrary to Ham and other creationists, race is indeed a biological reality. As part of their strategy to discredit Darwinian evolution and to promote biblical creationism, creationists often seek to link Darwinism to “racism.” Knowing that the crusade against “racist” ideas is a popular one, creationists hope that the charge of “racism” will eventually lead to the discrediting of Darwinism. The efforts of contemporary creationists to promote racial integration and miscegenation and to disconnect citizenship from heredity have rivaled the most committed secularists.
In his AIG article on race, Ham admits that most secular scientists and organizations agree with him. This is true at a time when Darwinism is held by secular scientists with unquestioned certainty. This leads us to the million-dollar question: if Darwinian evolution is inherently “racist” and Darwinism enjoys an essentially unchallenged position in academic circles today, then why is it that these same academic circles – colleges and universities, scientific journals, and government-funded endowments – aren’t promoting the “racism” which Ken Ham says is inherent to Darwinian evolution?
Darwinian evolution and the campaign against “racism” (that is, against the white race) are firmly established in American and Western institutions. The contentions of Ken Ham and other creationists would predict the exact opposite to be the case. Ham and Co. would predict that the ascendancy of Darwinian evolution ought to effect a surge in “racist” and presumably pro-white sentiments, and yet the exact opposite is true. The most natural explanation for these false predictions is, frankly, that Ham is wrong on his association of a robust racialism with Darwinian evolution. I contend that Darwinism naturally leads to naturalistic egalitarian morality: that the success of Darwinism has precipitated the modern obsession with equality in the modern Western world. It is this premise that I shall now establish in the ensuing articles by looking at the philosophical implications of the Darwinist worldview. First, we shall see how Darwinism inevitably breeds atheism.
Darwinism as a Precursor to Atheism and Naturalism
Ham suggests that the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is what produced the development of the modern concept of human racial distinctions. Ham asserts that prior to Darwin, people might apply the word “race” on the national level, but not so much to a transnational group of people based upon common physical characteristics. As I noted in my previous articles, this isn’t an accurate assessment. Taxonomists had already established the basic racial classifications that we understand today long before the career of Charles Darwin. It simply isn’t true that “everything changed in 1859.” That said, creationists like Ken Ham are about half-right in that the publication of On the Origin of Species was revolutionary – just not with regards to race.
The real paradigm shift accompanying the book’s publication was a transition away from teleological thinking. Teleology is the study of purpose. Prior to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, most naturalists1 were also theists (many of them Christian theists) who believed God had created the universe and made Earth especially as a habitation for life under the care and dominion of mankind. When naturalists studied animal and plant life, they were investigating the function and purpose of the many organisms inhabiting the earth. They observed that plants and animals were adapted to particular environments, and they attributed these adaptations to the design of their common Creator. To these naturalists, the world was filled with purposeful design, and mankind was the crowning achievement in that design. Charles Darwin’s proposal was truly revolutionary when he attributed the apparent design in living creatures to purposeless chance.
Darwin did not invent the concept of evolution. Prior to Darwin, the concept that life had gradually evolved was beginning to gain more traction. One prominent evolutionist was Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin. Most evolutionists still retained at least some belief in the divine, even if theirs was no more than a generic deism. Evolutionists widely believed that some intelligent Designer was necessary to guide the process of evolution along.
Darwin’s theory of natural selection changed this, positing a purely natural mechanism for the emergence of all life. His theory held that over long epochs of time, species had accumulated many mutations to their genetic code. While many of these mutations were detrimental, some were beneficial. These beneficial mutations would confer upon their organisms a greater ability to survive and reproduce in a harsh environment, with the result that these beneficial mutations were more likely to be passed to succeeding generations. As different populations migrated into different environments with different characteristics, the organisms there would acquire different traits based upon what gave them the greatest advantages in that particular environment.
For example, animals with fur in warm environments might be more likely to survive with shorter fur, while animals in colder climates would require longer fur in order to survive. Another example is how the finches on the Galápagos Islands that Darwin studied would vary in their beak length depending upon the consistency of the seeds they would eat after a wet or dry season. Darwin postulated that eventually the differences between two distant populations would become so significant that members of the respective populations would no longer be able to interbreed. This is referred to as speciation, in which multiple species derive from a group of common ancestors. Ultimately, Darwin believed that natural selection leading to speciation is the cause of all biological diversity. In this way, the environment plays a significant role in the development of different organisms by means which were observable in the present day.
To many naturalists this meant that, for the first time, the existence and diversity of life could be explained by natural means without recourse to supernatural design or purpose. This was truly a watershed moment in the history of biological inquiry! The importance of Darwin’s hypothesis cannot be overstated. By undermining the place of teleology in the study of natural sciences, Darwin paved the way for atheists and agnostics to claim that a belief in God or any other divine being was not necessary to explain the existence of life. Because God was now perceived as unnecessary, many people began to question and ultimately reject belief in a deity whose existence was now viewed as superfluous. This paradigm shift has gradually undermined the Christianity-rejecting deists’ belief in an amorphous deity, bringing about the adoption of more explicit agnostic and atheistic beliefs in place of theism.
This does not mean that Darwin’s theory is adequate to explain away the existence of God. There are multiple reasons to reject the conclusions he proposed about the existence of life, even if we accept his observations regarding the environment’s impact on genetic traits. As I mentioned in my previous article, Darwin’s proposal that random beneficial mutations could ultimately account for the existence of all life on earth runs into insurmountable mathematical difficulties, given how exceedingly rare (virtually nonexistent) such random beneficial mutations actually are in reality. The issue of irreducible complexity is another problem that Darwin’s theory encounters. The problem appears when analyzing biological systems with multiple components, all of which are essential for proper function. If one of the components is missing or defective, the entire system fails. There are numerous examples of irreducible complexity including the bacterial flagellum, the eye, and the blood-clotting cascade.
In addition to these problems, atheistic naturalism runs into several insurmountable philosophical difficulties, as Greg Bahnsen brilliantly establishes in his famous debate over God’s existence with atheist Gordon Stein. For these reasons, the atheists’ appeal to Darwinian evolution as the intellectual foundation for their worldview amounts to little more than wishful thinking. Nevertheless, contemporary atheists continue to appeal to this theory as the prima facie evidence that God is at the very least unnecessary. This is typified in the statement of atheist Richard Dawkins: “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Charles Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”2 Dawkins isn’t alone. Many atheists agree with Dawkins about the explanatory power of Darwinism for the origin and existence of life without the necessity of appealing to the supernatural.3
The Implications of Atheistic Materialism
Many disciples of Darwin, such as Thomas Henry Huxley, viewed Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the proof necessary to assert the sufficiency of naturalistic means to explain life without resorting to a deity. If naturalism is true and physical nature was enough to explain order and perceived purpose, we are left with no particular reason to affirm the existence of a spiritual realm. There is no need and no evidence to believe in God, angels, immortality, or an afterlife. All that exists is matter, which belief is called materialism. The adoption of materialist philosophy in the West after the advent of Darwinism has had profound implications in every area of thought, beyond the obvious implications for biology. By robbing nature of perceived purpose, philosophical naturalists armed with Darwin’s theory of evolution managed to rob nature of meaning and value. While this was certainly not the intention of Charles Darwin himself when he proposed his evolutionary theory, nevertheless the floodgates have been opened.
If materialism is true, then it follows that there is no spiritual or non-material reality providing the universe with any transcendent meaning or value. Ultimately, everyone and everything can be reduced to a constellation of molecules moving through space. At death our physical bodies begin to decay, and our consciousness ceases. The universe is running down, and eventually the planet and universe will cease to exist when entropy (or disorder) reaches the point at which the universe experiences a cataclysmic heat death. This is not disputed by atheists, but is universally affirmed as part of the atheistic-materialistic worldview.
From this perspective, there is no objective source of meaning or value for human life or experience. Emotions such as happiness, sorrow, fear, excitement, and anticipation are all reducible to the interactions of neurotransmitters in the brain. There is no concrete basis for morality, since morality doesn’t apply to mere molecules in motion. In spite of atheistic attempts to formulate a theory of morality based upon evolution of community standards, atheist Richard Dawkins has been most forthright about the nonexistence of good, evil, or justice in an atheistic materialistic universe. He writes, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”4 This logic is unassailable from a materialistic, atheistic perspective. Living beings and even humans cannot have any more significance than rocks, since we are made of the same matter as rocks and other naturally-occurring inanimate objects.
For example, when someone murders someone else, this ultimately is no different from a comet colliding with a star or a planet; and no one would think of accusing the comet of murder. Moreover, whatever we accomplish in this life has no lasting value beyond our own life, since there is no reward or punishment in an afterlife. Atheists universally acknowledge that the universe will ultimately die due to the progress of entropy in keeping with the second law of thermodynamics; all life will permanently cease to exist. So even if a man is able to achieve great fame and renown for his accomplishments extending far beyond his own lifetime, it will all be for naught in the end. In this worldview, life has absolutely no meaning and no purpose.
As Darwin’s theory was perceived to demolish the need for teleology or purpose in the universe, belief in materialism has steadily become more prominent. It is my contention that egalitarianism has filled the void left in the wake of the deconstruction of traditional Christian morality by atheistic materialism. The deconstruction of traditional Christian morality has brought about the rise of secular humanism as the West’s primary moral philosophy.
The rise of Darwinian evolution as the standard explanation for the origins of life naturally directed Western thinking to the conclusion that a belief in matter was the only requisite for understanding natural phenomena. To fill the void of meaninglessness, atheistic secular humanists have created a system of morality based upon equality. I will seek to show how this egalitarianism naturally flows from Darwinian presuppositions in the next article, thus establishing how Darwinism actually gives rise to the “antiracist” and otherwise antichrist morality that characterizes our humanist society today.
- The word “naturalist” or “naturalism” can have different meanings. When I speak of naturalists here, I am referring to those who study the natural sciences. Philosophical naturalism refers to a worldview that categorically rejects the supernatural and posits naturalistic explanations for all phenomena. Historically, most of those who studied the natural sciences were also theists, so they were not philosophical naturalists. ↩
- Richard Dawkins, 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: Norton. p. 6. ↩
- For more information on this topic, I recommend the article “Can We Finally Retire Scientific Superstition?” by Donald Devine. ↩
- Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. pp. 131–32. See the full quote here. ↩